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Parvenu

Book 4: Nevermore

By MultiMapper
Copyright ©2002-2018 MultiMapper.
All Rights Reserved.
For full disclaimer and Copyright information visit Copyright/Disclaimer Page. Continuation of viewing this document is deemed acceptance of all terms on the preceding link. While these stories are provided for free, I would appreciate it if those who were able would consider contributing to this artist via my Patreon.


Chapter 23

Agent Roberts stopped in the doorway and smiled at the sight of the puppy curled into a ball at G's side.

Ginh Zah immediately looked at Agent Roberts suspiciously, as if evaluating his status as a potential threat.

"Dinner's ready. G needs to wake up so that he can eat." Agent Roberts gently explained.

After a moment to consider, Ginh Zah moved from G's side up to the pillow, then proceeded to lick his face.

G's eyes suddenly opened and he automatically backed away from the licking assault. After a moment to realize his situation, he wrinkled his nose as he muttered, "Demon breath."

Agent Roberts smiled, then gently said, "Dinner's ready. I thought you'd probably be hungry."

"Um... yeah. Thanks." G said as he surveyed his surroundings.

"You fell asleep on the way home so I carried you inside so that you could get some rest."

"Oh, okay. Sorry you had to do that." G said as he forced himself into a sitting position.

"Don't worry about it. I didn't mind at all." Agent Roberts assured him, then added, "Come to the dining room when you're ready."

G looked down at the puppy as he said, "Yeah. We'll be there in just a minute."

* * * * *

As people gathered in the dining room, they began to quietly speculate on what was keeping their host.

"I assume that Zanner and Dex are helping him, since they're not in here with us." Mr. Hansen said as he looked around.

"Should we go in and offer to help them?" Corabeth asked uncertainly.

"When I talked to Agent Roberts earlier he seemed confident that he had everything under control." Miss Oaken stated simply.

"Well, whatever he's making smells wonderful." Paul interjected.

Everyone fell silent as Zanner and Dex walked into the dining room. Zanner was carrying a covered silver serving dish and Dex was carrying a large bowl of salad.

Agent Roberts followed with an enormous serving platter.

When he placed the platter in the center of the table, he revealed that the roast had already been carved into generous slices.

"That looks awesome!" Paul said excitedly.

From the level of enthusiasm, Agent Roberts wondered just how far Paul was from going 'full demon'. Before he could pursue that line of thought, he thought to ask, "Is everyone here?"

Before anyone could answer, G hurried into the room with a puppy following closely behind.

"Now we are." Paul said happily.

"Good. Dinner is served." Agent Roberts said with a smile.

"Mah Zah, Ginh Zah, it's time for you two to go home and have your own dinner." Paul said seriously.

The puppy barked once in G's direction before hurrying toward Paul.

"Yeah. I'll see you later." G said with a smile.

Agent Roberts noticed the momentary smudge of darkness which whisked Mah Zah and Ginh Zah away.

"This looks wonderful Agent Roberts. On behalf of all of us, I'd like to thank you for taking such good care of us." Professor Everstone said gratefully.

"It's been my pleasure." Agent Roberts assured him, then continued, "We don't stand on ceremony here, go ahead and help yourselves."

Zanner leaned forward to reveal the serving dish filled with potatoes and carrots, swimming in gravy.

"That looks incredible." Mr. Hansen said appreciatively.

"Dig in." Agent Roberts said happily, then began to serve himself from the salad bowl, which was near his plate.

The others around the table began to do the same, each taking what was nearest to them.

"I'm sorry about only having water for you to drink. I don't really have anything else in the house." Agent Roberts said regretfully.

"I don't think any of us would want something to muddy the palate and risk detracting from the pleasure of this meal." Professor Everstone assured him.

"Paul, can you get me some meat?" G asked as he held his plate out.

"Sure." Paul said easily, then skillfully used the serving fork and spoon to maneuver two slices of roast beef onto his plate.

"Make sure that you get some of the gravy with that, it's amazing." Zanner said to G.

"It sure smells awesome." G said as he moved his plate and waited for a turn at the potatoes.

"The dressing on this salad is quite interesting. What is it?" Mr. Bentley Brown asked curiously.

"I have no idea. The boys made that." Agent Roberts said honestly.

"We went through the cookbook and after about a dozen different salad dressing recipes, we finally found one that we had all the ingredients for." Zanner explained.

"It's very... pleasant." Mr. Bentley Brown said simply.

Agent Roberts smiled, feeling fairly certain that that was about as close to a compliment as it was possible to get from Mr. Bentley Brown.

"Agent Roberts, this roast is cooked perfectly and the flavor is incredible." Miss Oaken said appreciatively.

"Yes. If things don't work out for you in the intelligence community for some reason, it's good to know that you have another set of skills to draw upon." Professor Everstone said with a slight smile.

Although Agent Roberts was severely tempted to object and declare his ineptitude, his years of training in managing unexpected situations, allowed him to accept the unearned compliment by graciously saying, "Thank you."

Agent Roberts noticed that Zanner and Dex were watching his reaction carefully, but neither seemed to be inclined to divulge his secret.

"I suppose we can't put it off any longer. We need to discuss what has been accomplished and what still needs to be done." Professor Everstone announced, then prompted, "Mr. Hansen?"

"We had originally intended to install a physical barrier to prevent anyone who would have breached the spatial fold from gaining entry to the protectorate. It turned out that once the space was unfolded that a barrier was already present. After evaluating the newly discovered barrier, Zanner and Dex devised a rather effective camouflage spell that will hide the protectorate, even if the spatial fold were to be completely dismantled for some reason." Mr. Hansen reported seriously.

"What further steps do you feel need to be taken to ensure the safety of the protectorate?"

"We still need to discuss that, but whatever supplementary spells we decide upon would only be to augment what's already in place. As it currently stands, the defense of the protectorate is adequate."

"We also got the druids to do a blessing on the land of the protectorate, making the whole thing into holy ground." Dex added.

"Given what resources you had at your disposal, that was a clever inclusion in the project." Professor Everstone said professionally.

"If anyone needs help with the earth element, just let us know so that we can work it into our schedule for tomorrow. Zanner and Dex should have time to help you out."

"Very good. Excellent work." Professor Everstone said approvingly, then turned and asked, "Miss Oaken?"

"G's primary focus was to augment the existing illusions and expand them to function along the entire perimeter of the barrier. Corabeth has been working to institute a reactive 'Wall of Force' in the airspace above Brynnhollow. While we still have a little detail work to do, what's been done so far has worked perfectly." Miss Oaken reported.

"What do you see as your next step in reinforcing the barrier?" Professor Everstone asked seriously.

"We need to institute Corabeth's 'Wall of Force' at the ground level. While there are still a few details to iron out, that's the primary objective that I'd like for us to tackle next."

"That sounds reasonable." Professor Everstone agreed, then continued, "Paul and Filipe have done an outstanding job fashioning an aerial obfuscation spell to protect the Southseid colony from aircraft and satellite surveillance."

"We used Agent Roberts idea about hiding their shadows and it really worked out great." Paul happily added.

"Once that was done, we began to work on modifying the existing barrier spell to incorporate some of the elements of Corabeth's 'Wall of Force'." Professor Everstone explained.

"Yeah. Speaking of that, when you have a few minutes I'm going to need to ask you some more questions about the spell. So far, what we've come up with isn't anywhere near as effective as yours." Paul told Corabeth seriously.

"Sure. Just let me know when." Corabeth immediately agreed.

Agent Roberts got the sense that Corabeth was enjoying the fact that she was considered an expert in something and that Paul, the new guy who had impressed so many people, was seeking her help.

"Has anyone found new evidence regarding the interconnection of the barriers?" Professor Everstone asked curiously.

"I could sense all of you through the primary elements. It was almost like you were right there with us." Dex said timidly.

"Yeah, I sensed that too." Paul confirmed.

After a moment to see if anyone else were going to answer, Professor Everstone continued by asking, "Do you have any theory as to what that might mean?"

"They're connected, without a doubt. I can tell by the 'flavor' that the created elements within the barriers are all the same." Paul stated with conviction.

"Yeah. I can't 'taste' as much as Paul does, but I can tell that much about it." Filipe confirmed.

"What about the multilocation thing you were talking about?" Agent Roberts asked Professor Everstone curiously. "Does this help to confirm that?"

"Not in itself. However, it would seem to make it that much more likely." Professor Everstone said thoughtfully.

"Before we go any further, I think you should know that Archdruid Highley took it upon himself to summon his faithful followers to witness the work we were doing on the protectorate." Agent Roberts reluctantly announced.

After a moment to consider, Professor Everstone slowly said, "That's unfortunate."

"They were already there when we got there and there wasn't really anything we could do about it." Zanner anxiously explained.

"I will need to call Mr. Darroch to report this. We aren't equipped to deal with a circumstance such as this." Professor Everstone said gravely.

"What do you think he's going to do?" Agent Roberts asked cautiously.

"He will no doubt dispatch a team to evaluate the situation and take appropriate action."

"Uh oh. That doesn't sound good." Paul said slowly.

"Regardless, we will do what we have to. And if you think this scenario through to its logical conclusion, you will realize that this is necessary." Professor Everstone said firmly.

"Yeah. I can see that." Paul reluctantly agreed, then continued by asking, "Would it be okay if I talked to my dad for a minute when you're done?"

"Yes. Of course."

"I'd like to call my dad too... if that's not a problem." Dex timidly added.

"Of course. You're free to call your parents anytime you like." Professor Everstone said sincerely.

"Everyone listen..." Agent Roberts said suddenly, drawing everyone's attention. "Before you start making too many calls, you need to know that the phone service I have here is what's called a 'party line'. That means that any of my neighbors can pick up their phone at any time and listen in on your conversations."

"Then maybe it'd be better if we used Facetime or Skype." Dex said consideringly.

"Yes, that would probably work out a lot better..." Agent Roberts said before slyly adding, "Except for the fact that there is no internet service in Waxell."

"No internet service? At all? Is that even a thing?" G asked in wonder.

"Cell phones don't work here either. We've already tried." Paul interjected.

"That's right." Agent Roberts confirmed, then continued, "It's okay if you make calls on the landline, just be careful of what you say. You never know who might be listening."

"I knew about the cell phone, but are you saying that there's no internet at all? How do you do... anything?" G muttered in confusion and disbelief.

"Paul, I think G needs you. It looks like the foundations of his world have just been shaken." Agent Roberts said gently.

"Yeah. I got this." Paul said as he draped an arm around G's shoulders.

"Agent Roberts, before we continue, did you happen to notice anything from your unique point of view that should be brought to our attention?" Professor Everstone asked with interest.

"I'm not sure if this is what you're asking about, but there are a few things that I've been curious about."

"What might that be?"

"I was thinking back to when we first assembled this team. You had a series of objectives in mind and chose these people to address those concerns. My question is, with the way this project has grown beyond its original scope, are we still going to be able to achieve all of our initial goals? Being stretched as thin as we are, are we sacrificing quality on the altar of expediency?"

"The short answer is, 'Yes', if we had unlimited time and unlimited personnel, things would have been handled differently."

"With things being as they are, how likely is it that we will be able to achieve everything that needs to be done?"

"In all honesty, I can't say for certain that we will be able to meet all of our goals. It would be impossible for me to follow behind everyone and check up on them. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Such is often the case when you trust your teammates to do their jobs." Professor Everstone said professionally.

"I'm sorry Professor. I'm really not trying to accuse you of not being an effective leader. It just occurred to me that with things growing so far out of control that we might have lost sight of our reason for being here in the first place."

"When we assembled the group we were forced to make some assumptions based on previous experience. It turns out that one of those assumptions was that the Southseid barrier spell would be earth based. It turned out to be water based, so adjustments had to be made. Following that, we have adapted the plan as needed to accommodate each new unexpected revelation. Looking at what's left to be accomplished and what we have achieved so far, I believe that we can complete our mission with the personnel and resources at hand."

"Thank you Professor. That's what I wanted to know." Agent Roberts said contentedly.

"Before we conclude, Mr. Bentley Brown, do you have any observations or insights that you would like to contribute to the conversation?" Professor Everstone asked professionally.

Mr. Bentley Brown appeared to be surprised at being asked, but quickly set it aside and said, "My primary focus has been to see that the Third Grail is being used properly and is being protected. So far Paul's use of the relic has been appropriate and I have no criticisms or suggestions. Regarding your greater mission, I would suggest that when you've completed your individual tasks, you reassemble your group and go to each barrier to assess their post-modification conditions. If there were going to be a reaction to the interconnection, it should manifest by that time."

"Yes. That does sound like a prudent course of action." Professor Everstone agreed, then looked around the gathering and asked, "Has anyone had to compensate for the interplay amongst the barriers?"

"I could feel the vibrations through the elements, but I didn't have to change anything because of it." Paul said immediately.

"I could feel it too." Dex confirmed.

"By my understanding of such things, an Oriad shouldn't be sensitive to the use of magic." Professor Everstone said slowly.

"I'm only aware of it when it's directly connected to a primary element and I'm not aware of it at all if I'm not actively channeling the earth." Dex explained.

"Even so, it's good to know that your participation is as something more than a conduit." Professor Everstone said honestly.

"But them sensing the connection means that if there was a major disruption in the water element at the Southseid site that it could impact the other two barriers... right?" Agent Roberts asked uncertainly.

"That's the assumption that we're working under." Professor Everstone confirmed.

"We're not doing anything to disrupt the basic elements at the root. We're just adding touches to the existing barrier at the tips of the branches." Paul assured him.

"If no one has anything else to add, I need to make a call to Mr. Darroch before it gets any later." Professor Everstone said as he pushed away from the table.

"Remember that I want to talk to him when you're done." Paul hurried to remind him.

"Yes, yes. I'll let you know as soon as I've finished." Professor Everstone said with a smile.

"Agent Roberts did all the cooking, so who wants to help us with the dishes?" Zanner asked as he stood.

Filipe immediately stood to volunteer. The rest of the kids were less enthusiastic, but nonetheless did their part.

"That was a fantastic meal, Shawn." Mr. Hansen said sincerely.

"Yes. I can't remember the last time I had roast beef that good. It was really exceptional." Miss Oaken said pleasantly.

"I wish I could take credit, but it was really a group effort. Conrad helped me with the shopping, my sister helped me interpret the recipe, Zanner and Dex helped me not only with the preparation, but also with the table, and it's thanks to Dex that the silver actually looks like silver." Agent Roberts explained.

"Well, just in case you had any doubt, everything that all of you did was worth it." Miss Oaken said firmly.

"The meal was excellent. Thank you. If you will excuse me." Mr. Bentley Brown said as he stood.

"Yes, of course." Agent Roberts said as he watched the dour man go.

"He seems to have warmed up to us." Mr. Hansen said with a barely restrained grin.

"Not so much to us, but I think Paul's impressed him." Agent Roberts said speculatively.

"Paul's impressed a lot of people." Miss Oaken said frankly, then added, "At the end of his first week at our school, Paul gave a demonstration for all the wizardry students to show what he was capable of."

"I take it that his demonstration went well." Agent Roberts said with a slight smile.

"Paul did a combination of overlapping spells so complex that I doubt any six students working in unison could have achieved the same thing. While none of his individual spells were all that remarkable, the way he combined them and his execution was absolutely brilliant."

"I heard about that. In fact, it was all that anyone could talk about for days afterward." Mr. Hansen added.

"I was there and saw the whole thing. It was every bit as amazing as you've heard." Miss Oaken said honestly, then added, "And if I understood what I was told, that was also the day that Paul was officially adopted by Mr. Darroch."

"With all of that I could easily see a person of Paul's age getting a swelled head and becoming somewhat unbearable. But it seems that he somehow avoided that fate, because he seems perfectly balanced in his approach to the world. He has somehow managed to be both confident and humble regarding his abilities."

Miss Oaken nodded her agreement, then added, "My guess is that his family is supportive of his efforts, but also honest. In my experience, attitude problems can usually be traced back to the home."

"Are you done with your plates?" Filipe asked as he entered the dining room.

"Yes. Thank you." Agent Roberts said as he leaned back in his chair to allow Filipe easier access.

"Do you need for us to leave you your glasses or anything?" Corabeth asked as she approached.

"No. I think we're all done. Thank you for volunteering to help clean up." Miss Oaken said gratefully.

"Yeah. No problem." Corabeth said easily.

"Why don't we move to the living room so that we won't be in their way?" Agent Roberts suggested.

Miss Oaken and Mr. Hansen apparently agreed, since they both stood in unison.

Agent Roberts led the way as he passed Zanner and Dex as they entered the dining room.

* * * * *

When the three adults walked into the living room, they found Professor Everstone talking quietly on the phone.

The others took seats across the room to afford him some measure of privacy.

After a few minutes of silence, Miss Oaken quietly said, "I think it's a really good sign that Corabeth has been included in the cleanup effort. I've been getting the sense that she's been feeling left out."

"Paul and G mentioned something about Corabeth not being as 'all purpose' as the other kids, and that they would do their best to let her know that they appreciated what she could do." Agent Roberts said seriously.

"Part of that's my fault. In her Wizardry classes I've been encouraging her to focus on developing her unique ability. In doing so, she hasn't diversified her studies to include other useful spells." Miss Oaken said regretfully.

"I think that you must have done the right thing for her or she wouldn't have been included on the team. If they wanted someone more 'well rounded', they would have recruited them."

"I'm just glad that things have worked out the way that they have. Not only has Corabeth been able to make a unique contribution, but she's also been learning to stretch her other abilities and discover new talents."

"It probably doesn't hurt that Paul has acknowledged her ability in front of everyone and asked for her advice." Mr. Hansen added with a grin.

"That alone made the whole trip worth it." Miss Oaken said frankly.

"How is G reacting to being in her shadow?" Agent Roberts asked curiously.

"Actually, he seems to be strangely comfortable with it."

"Maybe that has something to do with him sort of being in Paul's shadow already."

"I really don't think so. I've met G on several occasions the past few years. He's his father's son, without a doubt. G can be assertive when the situation calls for it, but he's also comfortable letting someone else take the lead. I can see that being an incredibly useful character trait in the outside world."

"Excuse me." Professor Everstone said as he put his hand over the mouthpiece of the phone. "Would one of you go and tell Paul that his father is available to talk to him."

"Yeah. I'll get him." Agent Roberts said immediately.

* * * * *

"Paul, your dad's ready to talk to you." Agent Roberts said as he walked into the kitchen.

"Thanks!" Paul said happily as he dashed out of the room.

Agent Roberts looked around at all the clean dishes stacked everywhere and asked, "How are you guys doing?"

"Paul and Filipe just did the greatest cleaning spell. If my mom knew a spell like that I'd never do dishes by hand again." Dex said frankly.

"Did you ever think that she may already know it and she just makes you do dishes to teach you some kind of lesson about hard work or something?" Zanner asked speculatively.

"That does sound like something that she'd do." Dex reluctantly admitted.

"So, if all the dishes are clean, is all that's left to put them away?" Agent Roberts asked curiously.

"Yeah. It took us some time to deal with the leftovers but this is all that's left." Zanner explained.

"The china, crystal and silver all go in the dining room. If you'll help me carry that in, we should be able to get everything put away in a few minutes."

"Just show us where things go." Corabeth said as she carefully picked up some crystal glasses.

* * * * *

Before they had finished putting everything away, Paul had rejoined them and said that everything was going well at home.

"Is it okay if I use your phone for a few minutes?" Dex asked cautiously.

"Sure. There's an extension in the kitchen if you'd like a little privacy while you talk. I think we're just about done in there."

"Yeah. Thanks." Dex responded timidly.

"Just remember that it isn't a secure line. Watch what you say." Agent Roberts cautioned him.

"I'm just going to let them know that I'm okay." Dex said before leaving the dining room.

"Do you know what we're going to be doing tomorrow?" Zanner asked Agent Roberts curiously.

All the other teenagers around the room stopped and listened for the answer with interest.

"No. Professor Everstone hasn't said anything to me about that." Agent Roberts answered, then added, "Let's finish this and go ask him."

The teenagers worked with renewed vigor to put the last few items away.

* * * * *

"Professor, I'm glad we caught you before you turned in for the night. The kids were just wondering if you've decided on what we'll be doing tomorrow." Agent Roberts said as he led the collection of teenagers into the living room.

"Actually, I believe the next logical step should be to evaluate what the needs are at each site and then collectively discuss how best to address those needs." Professor Everstone said frankly.

The kids looked at each other quizzically then, as one might expect, Paul began the discussion. "The big thing left to do at the Southseid site is weaving a 'Wall of Force' enchantment into the existing barrier spell. Even though Filipe and I can probably manage it, I'd feel a whole lot better about it if Corabeth were there. She might be able to see ways that we can make it stronger or more efficient or something."

"Besides that, she might be able to add some kind of 'air' feature to the spell that we aren't able to." Filipe timidly added.

"Zanner, do you have any thoughts about modifications for the protectorate?" Professor Everstone asked curiously.

"Not really. The space fold should be able to stop anyone trying to get in. If they can somehow get past that, the physical barrier is so powerful that I don't think anyone could break it. But even if they could somehow get through, the entire protectorate is now blessed as 'holy ground'. If any magical being tried to do anything harmful or defile the protectorate, the land is now empowered to defend itself." Zanner said carefully.

"What if a magical being opened it, then let mundane human soldiers in? Would there be anything in place to stop that?" Agent Roberts asked curiously.

"Well, if they somehow managed to do all that, then they'd have to face the nephilim." Zanner said simply.

"Right. Yeah. I can't imagine that ending well for them." Agent Roberts said slowly.

"What about the Brynnhollow barrier? What do we still need to accomplish there?" Professor Everstone asked curiously.

Both Miss Oaken and G looked to Corabeth to answer for them.

"We need to add a 'Wall of Force' at the ground level. We've got most of that figured out, but the only problem we're having is trying to find a trigger for it."

"How do you mean?"

"Currently, the defense triggers if the person approaching wasn't invited. Unfortunately, there's nothing in place to defend against aerial drones or remote control ground vehicles infiltrating the area. They could literally make it all the way to downtown Brynnhollow without any resistance at all."

"So, if I'm understanding this correctly, the Southseid and the Protectorate barriers are both always on and you enter by way of an exclusion to the usual rule, is that about right?"

"Essentially, yes."

"And what you're trying to do is make Brynnhollow's barrier to be perpetually 'off' and turned on by exception when the wrong person approaches." Agent Roberts slowly continued.

"I think I can see where you're going with this. You think that we should throw up a barrier and allow people to pass through it only when they pass the test..." Mr. Hansen trailed off.

"...instead of only stopping them if they fail." Zanner completed the thought.

"Although the initial construction of such a barrier might be challenging, it still seems to be the most effective way to protect the people of Brynnhollow." Professor Everstone said firmly.

"And we could modify the existing trigger in, like, five minutes." G interjected.

"That sounds good, but is it going to be a problem to set something like that up?" Agent Roberts cautiously asked.

Corabeth was at a loss for what to say. When she noticed Corabeth floundering, Miss Oaken said, "Without getting into the technical details, the short answer is 'yes'. In fact, there is no practical way that G, Corabeth and I are going to be able to institute a 'Wall of Force' barrier on that scale."

"But..." Agent Roberts said in a leading tone.

"Listen. What I'm about to suggest is dangerous. I'm not saying that we should do it, I'm just throwing it out there for the sake of discussion. While I'm familiar with the theory and I even teach it to my students, I can't say that I've ever heard a reliable account of it ever actually being performed."

"Excuse me, but did she skip the part where she explained what she was talking about or did I blank out for a minute?" Paul asked as he looked around the gathering.

"I believe that Miss Oaken is speaking of the possibility of us conducting a meta-magical manipulation using the entire region as a spell diagram, the three barrier sites as elemental channels and the magic of the relics to fuel the spell." Professor Everstone said gravely.

"That's insane!" Mr. Hansen immediately barked.

"You'll get no argument from me." Professor Everstone said frankly.

"But..." Agent Roberts said, once again in a leading tone.

"But, in theory, it could work." Professor Everstone said simply.

"What you're talking about is beyond the capability of witches. Even the angels wouldn't be reckless enough to try something like this. " Mr. Hansen reasoned.

"Yes. I know." Professor Everstone said simply.

"But you're thinking about doing it anyway." Agent Roberts said frankly.

"Mr. Hansen is quite right regarding the folly of attempting a spell such as this, or at least he would be if not for the fact that everything we need to make it work has already been provided for us." Professor Everstone said carefully.

"From the beginning it's looked like someone planned all of this for a greater purpose. The three colonies are already set up in a pattern like a spell diagram and they're each set up with a different elemental base." Agent Roberts said thoughtfully.

"Just because we have the diagram laid out for us doesn't mean that we're qualified to use it. No one less than an elder god would be able to command such magic." Mr. Hansen protested.

"That is also true." Professor Everstone carefully admitted.

"But..." Agent Roberts prompted.

"But I believe that Paul, G and Filipe may possibly hold the answer of how to safely wield such vast magic."

When no one else seemed inclined to speculate, Agent Roberts cautiously asked, "Because they can combine their talents and work collectively?"

"Exactly."

"Wait! You're not seriously thinking about doing this are you?" Mr. Hansen asked disbelievingly.

"At this point, I haven't eliminated any possibilities."

To Be Continued...

Editor's Notes: I was told when I received this chapter that it was hoped that I had eaten a nice dinner, or I would most surely be chomping at the bit, so to speak, since the meal was described so well. I can't argue with that, either.

I have had a feeling for quite some time that it might end up that the three sites needed to be combined. I also believe that the whole shabang was sitting there waiting for just such a group as we now have assembled to take the bull by the horns and just fix the mess once and for all.

Reminds me of an old song by Ray Charles, "It's Scrying Time again."

Couldn't resist.