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Book 7: Unsung

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Chapter 2

"For those of you who haven't met him yet, this is my coworker from the FBI, Agent Shawn Roberts." Conrad announced to the gathering.

Ares watched and waited, not sure what fresh new surprises Conrad had in store for them.

"For whatever reason, it turns out that Shawn will be working to help the people of Brynnhollow."

"How is that going to work as far as our mutual respect and taming the magic?" Ares asked before he could think better of it.

"Not a problem. What really matters is what's between you and D. I just stopped in to make introductions and answer what questions I could. The Wudewas should just about be gathered by now so I need to go do the same thing with them." Conrad said frankly.

"What do we have to do next?" Ares asked quickly, before Agent Fastbeck could leave.

"Think about your friends and acquaintances in Brynnhollow so that when the time comes to share the magical flow, you won't have to cast around in a panic." Conrad said simply, then turned and stepped through the archway.

"I'll do as much as I can to keep you from being too overwhelmed." D promised.

"Just speak up if it's too much. I can help too." Paul quickly added.

Ares looked at the father and son for a moment, then said in realization, "I think it's going to be okay."

* * * * *

"Are you doing what he said? Thinking of people?" Dark asked quietly from Ares side.

"Yes. Even though I don't know everyone in Brynnhollow, there are people like Carn and Mason who do. I know that if I direct a significant flow toward them that they'll be able to spread the magic far and wide."

Ares noticed that Paul had gone to talk with Cain, Deimos, Jim and Tannis. It filled him with contentment to see the boys from such different backgrounds getting along so well.

"Part of me just wants to protect them." Dark said distantly as he followed Ares' gaze.

"I know. No matter how old they get, they'll always be my little boys."

"Another part of me is convinced that they're the ones who are going to protect us."

"I think that's the point of all of this. We're all going to have to care for each other. That's the only way it's going to work."

"You guys hang on for just a minute. Don't go anywhere, I'll be right back." Agent Roberts said quickly before dashing away.

"Actually, I have quite a lot to prepare before it gets too late. Please make my apologies to Shawn if he notices. We'll speak again later." D said as he quietly followed Agent Roberts into the vinculum chamber.

"What do you suppose that's all about?" Dark asked as he watched D go through the archway.

"I don't know, but from his expression I'd say that it's probably not something too urgent. I wouldn't worry too much about it." Ares said speculatively.

"Dad! Paul said that I did my fire spell just right and he's even gonna show me how to do it with demon magic!" Deimos said excitedly.

"That's only if you say it's okay." Paul interjected, letting it be known to all that Ares had the final say in the matter.

After a moment to consider, Ares finally said, "Yes. But only after the barrier spells are done."

"But Daa-ad!" Deimos whined.

"Work first, then play." Ares said firmly.

"He's right, Demi. We need to stay focused on what we're doing to be sure that it's done right." Paul said seriously.

"Okay. Just remember, you promised." Deimos said sternly.

"I'll remember." Paul swore, then looked back at the archway with surprise.

"Ares! There's someone that I want you to meet." Agent Roberts said quickly.

Ares and Dark stared wide-eyed at the ten-foot tall beastly monster following Agent Roberts.

Time seemed to stand still as Ares and Dark stared disbelievingly at the Bigfoot monster before them. Rhuru-wra appeared no less shocked by the Karasu Tengu and Nāga looking back at him.

"This is Rhuru-wra. He's another bridge, like you. He's going to take on the magic and share it with his people." Agent Roberts said pleasantly.

"It's nice to meet you..." Ares said uncertainly as he looked up into the gentle beast's eyes.

"Rhuru-wra can't understand our language, but he wanted to meet you anyway."

"If he can't speak our language, how do you know what he wants?"

"Agent Fastbeck can speak his language... well supposedly, Agent Fastbeck can speak and understand all languages, but we haven't had a chance to test that out yet." Agent Roberts explained.

As Ares looked deeply into Rhuru-wra's soft brown eyes, he caught, just for an instant, what Rhuru-wra was feeling.

"Whether you call us bridges or heroes, we're just the ones who care enough to risk ourselves to help our people." Ares carefully explained.

Rhuru-wra rumbled a soft, inquisitive growl that made Ares freeze in thought.

"I can get Agent Fastbeck to translate for us if you want." Agent Roberts reluctantly offered.

"No. I understood... well, not the words, but I got the sentiment."

"I do that too, sometimes." Agent Roberts admitted.

"Rhuru-wra wanted to know if I'd be willing to put myself at the same risk if I were helping his people instead of my own."

"That's a tough question." Agent Roberts said thoughtfully.

"Yeah. Would I risk my life to save people I don't know? At what point is my life more valuable to me than the lives of people that I don't know or at least don't know very well?"

Rhuru-wra growled long and slow as he looked Ares in the eyes.

"Thanks." Ares responded with relief, then told Agent Roberts, "Rhuru-wra let me off the hook and told me I didn't have to answer."

"It's still a good question. It seems like one of those things that could help you later on if you take the time to think about it now."

"That might be the case if you were capable of turning off your emotions and accepting whatever you came up with as 'decided'. But I'm pretty sure that a thinking feeling person caught in that moment would still have to wrestle with the decision, regardless of how much he had considered it beforehand."

"Still, I think it best to have already sorted out what you believe in such a circumstance. Otherwise you'll be more likely to react emotionally since you don't have any logical arguments already made upon which to base a justification."

Rhuru-wra growled and yipped a contribution to their conversation.

"He wants to know..." Ares started, but was interrupted.

"...about the third bridge. Yes. I'm beginning to understand him." Agent Roberts said seriously.

"Do you know if they've decided who it's going to be?" Ares prompted.

"I don't know if that's been decided yet." Agent Roberts slowly responded.

"Before we go any further, we need to talk to whoever it's going to be." Ares said firmly, then turned to find Rhuru-wra nodding in agreement.

"What's the rush all of a sudden?" Agent Roberts asked curiously.

Before Ares could answer, Rhuru-wra forcefully growled a response.

"Yeah! What he said!" Ares said determinedly.

After a moment to consider, Agent Roberts finally said, "Okay. I guess that I can't argue with logic like that. Stay right here for a minute and I'll see what I can find out for you."

"Hold on! Whoever it turns out to be, we don't just need to know who he is, we need to talk to him. I don't know everything about all the other spells you're going to be doing, but the three of us, the 'bridges', need to work it out so that we'll all know what each other are doing. What we're trying to achieve." Ares fought to explain.

"Got it. I'll be right back." Agent Roberts said before dashing away.

Ares watched as Agent Roberts entered the vinculum chamber, then turned to Rhuru-wra and said, "I don't know where that came from. I really don't know anything about magic."

Rhuru-wra growled, even though Ares could guess what he was going to say.

"Yeah. I know. But I still don't like feeling like I'm not in control of my own actions." Ares said irritably.

Rhuru-wra gave a low growl followed by a sound that could almost be described as a chirp.

Ares carefully considered for a moment, then slowly said, "I guess you're right. We've been given a chance. Even if we have to jump through some hoops, if it helps the people we love..."

"Guys, we've got a call out to the other bridge. It turns out that he's one of the Archdruid's brothers." Agent Roberts said as he hurried to rejoin them.

"Good. That should be all that we'll need to prepare. As soon as the three of us are sure that we're all on the same page, we should be ready for business."

"Just what is it that the three of you are going to be doing?"

"We're going to 'tune' the magic so that it will be ready to use when it's needed."

"I thought you didn't know anything about magic." Agent Roberts said slowly.

"I don't. That's just what Rhuru-wra told me."

"But he doesn't know anything about magic either."

"True." Ares easily agreed, then added, "What's more, I don't even know what we're going to say to this person who's going to be working with us."

Rhuru-wra let loose with a quick growl ending in something of a whimper.

"He doesn't know either." Ares added.

"Yeah. I heard him." Agent Roberts said to Ares, then turned to Rhuru-wra and said, "I'm not sure if Conrad, Jarvis and I all got the same gift of translation or if you're just very expressive and relatable, but I can understand most of what you're saying. I get the feeling that you can understand us too."

Rhuru-wra growled a quiet response.

"Well, yeah. I think the general idea is the most any of us could hope for in a situation like this." Ares responded.

"Friend-Shawn, a team has been dispatched to retrieve the one you seek. He whom you seek should join us shortly."

Ares eyes went wide at the literal monster that had stepped through the doorway. To Ares eyes, the being before him seemed to be a grotesque monstrosity that had been assembled from moldy, half-decomposed bits and pieces of several different bodies resulting in a freakishly tall being with multiple arms, fanned out almost like wings.

"Reaper? Did you mean to stop casting your illusion?" Agent Roberts asked cautiously.

"The time will soon be upon us when other concerns will take precedence. Rather than expect others to adapt to my appearance under those conditions, it is better that I present my true self now."

A loud growl from Rhuru-wra drew all attention.

"Well, of course you'd agree with him." Ares responded playfully.

"Whilst I am here I must retrieve Balthasar so that we may return to our preparations." Reaper said seriously, then looked to Rhuru-wra and continued, "It pleases me to know that we will be able to do this for you and your people."

Rhuru-wra growled seriously in response.

"Yes. Regardless of species, we are all brothers of a kind." Reaper said wistfully.

"I'm ready if you are." Paul said as he walked to Reaper's side.

"I believe that I would enjoy visiting for a while longer, but regrettably, we have obligations." Reaper regretfully explained.

"Do you think it would be better if I changed too?" Paul asked uncertainly.

"Consider your appearance whilst using the height of your powers. If that is likely to cause distraction for those in close proximity to you, attempting to perform spellcasting, then consider allowing them the courtesy of time to adjust."

"Yeah. When you put it like that I probably should, just to be safe." Paul said in a conflicted tone.

"Anyone who knows you won't be bothered by it either way." Ares quietly assured him.

Paul slowly began to morph into his demonic visage, horns and all.

"When the magic hits us, what's going to happen to the rest of us? Are we all going to transform into our full animal forms all of a sudden?" Ares thought to ask.

Reaper and Paul shared a concerned look before Reaper finally explained, "That which happens when you experience the most stress and lose control is the most likely outcome."

"We're going to have to be sure that anyone with an aquatic animal form is close to someplace safe for them." Ares said anxiously.

"Without phones or radios, that could take a lot more time than we have." Agent Roberts said frankly.

"Deimos? Can you come over here for a minute?" Ares asked loudly.

"Yeah. What's going on, Dad?" Deimos asked as he broke away from the group of boys.

"Will you fly into Brynnhollow and let Carn know that here in a little while that it's possible that people will suddenly start changing into their animal forms, maybe without warning. Tell him to be sure that people with aquatic forms are near water for the next few hours." Ares explained as the boys slowly gathered around.

"They're probably going to ask me all kinds of questions about what's going on." Deimos said cautiously.

"Tell them what you can, then get back here. I want you close by when the magic starts flowing." Ares said firmly.

"Is there anything I can do?" Cain asked as he stepped to his twin brother's side.

Ares was about to say that there wasn't, but suddenly changed his mind.

"Go find Queen Marimba and tell her all about what's going on."

"Doesn't she already know? She can see the future, can't she?."

"Yes. In fact, according to your mom, she can see more than one possible future. So the best thing we can do right now is let her know which future is playing out so that she can react properly to it."

"Can someone go with me? I mean, she's kinda creepy." Cain asked uncomfortably.

"Good idea. Jim and Tannis can go with you if you want. Just be sure to come back as quickly as possible. I want you here when the ceremony starts."

"We're almost in her back yard. It won't take us long." Cain assured his father.

"Good. Then go." Ares said to his sons, then watched as they both hurried away.

* * * * *

As Ares, Dark, Reaper and Paul walked toward the Vinculum archway, a man's voice tentatively asked, "Shawn? Are you out here"

"Yeah. Sorry Otis, I didn't mean to be gone so long. Come on over here and meet Ares, the bridge for Brynnhollow. It's actually good that you're here. When things get crazy, I may need for you to take a message to him." Agent Roberts said as he motioned for the man to join him.

"Um... I don't..." Otis stammered.

Agent Roberts followed his frozen stare that was fixed on Reaper.

"Oh, yeah. You met Reaper earlier, but this is how he really looks. What you were seeing before was just an illusion to make us comfortable with him." Agent Roberts explained.

"Sorry. I didn't mean..."

"Don't worry about it. We're all making adjustments to lots of new things." Ares assured him.

Otis glanced in Ares direction, then gave him a small grateful smile.

As Otis walked to Agent Roberts' side, Paul and Reaper walked past him and through the archway.

* * * * *

Between Ares and Agent Roberts, they were able to fill in quite a few of the blanks for Otis as to who and what the people were that he had encountered thus far.

"Did someone out here need me?" A man asked as he poked his head through the doorway, interrupting their conversation.

"That depends. Who are you?" Ares asked uncertainly.

"This is Den Markura, he's one of Archdruid Highley's brothers." Agent Roberts explained, then to Den he said, "I think you're going to be one of the bridges that's being used to distribute magic amongst the people of the protectorate."

"But I'm not a... Um... I mean, I'm just a human." Den stammered.

"You're also a practicing druid who has been empowered to bestow blessings." Agent Roberts said frankly.

"Well, yeah. For what good that does."

"As I understand it, over time a priest can develop the capacity to manipulate true magic in the form of blessings and curses. I believe that we're working under the assumption that you'll be able to channel magic in the form of blessings and that when it's needed, those whom you have blessed will be able to store and release those blessings back into the world, in the form of benevolent 'tamed' magic." Agent Roberts fought to explain.

"I don't have the first clue what you're talking about."

"If you'll agree to it, we would like for you to act as a bridge between the magic users and the people of the protectorate, both the Nephilim and the blessed congregation." Agent Roberts said more simply.

"Isn't this the kind of thing you keep Jarvis around for?" Den reluctantly asked.

"He's going to be needed elsewhere. Do you think you'll be able to manage it?"

"I don't know."

"Den, a lot of people are going to be counting on you. Not just the Nephilim, but also the Brynns, the Wudewas and the people of Waxell."

"No pressure." Otis interjected.

Den glanced at him uncertainly, then broke into a reluctant grin.

"I thought so. As much as you pretend to be oblivious or not to give a damn, at the core you're actually a do-gooder like the rest of us." Agent Roberts laughed.

"Yeah. Yeah. Just don't spread it around. The people back home count on me to be the level headed voice of reason. If they found out that I was acting like some big boyscout, they'd probably never trust me with anything serious again."

"I don't know how much sense that makes, but I'm buying it." Agent Roberts said frankly.

"So where do we need to be and what do we need to be doing right now?" Otis asked curiously.

"Now that we've got all the bridges together, I think they probably have a lot to discuss. As far as I know, everyone else is meeting with their groups right now, making plans or crafting spells. I need to talk to Conrad and Jarvis for a minute. You can hang out here if you want. I shouldn't be too long."

"Do you need for me to do anything?"

"Just wait here. If there's something for you to do, I'm pretty sure that it'll find you." Agent Roberts said confidently, then walked to the arch.

* * * * *

When Ares noticed Den's uncomfortable expression, he quietly asked, "How are you doing?"

"If you guys are going to expect me to do something, you're going to need to fill me in on what it is. Telling me that I need to be a bridge doesn't really tell me a whole lot."

"I know. I wish I could fill you in on all of what's going on, but I don't know much more about it than you do."

"Tell me what you do know."

"The witches of Brynnhollow have been cursed to prevent them from accessing their magic... for the most part, anyway. But even if we can't perform magic like uncursed witches, we can act as storage containers for magic. We're designed to contain and process that power, so we're ideal for storing the magical deluge that they're planning on releasing to us." Ares carefully explained.

"Okay... I think I got that." Den said slowly.

"Good. My part in all of this is that they're going to direct a large magical flow at me and I'm going to share it with the people who I trust, love and respect. The magic will flow through me to them and on to the people that each of them love and trust."

"And that's what you want me to do? I'm not a witch. If you turn a flood of magic toward me, I'll probably just be blown away by it." Den said frankly.

"All I can figure is that you must have a really good support network. As far as I know, my primary qualification for doing this is my relationship of trust and respect with one of the people who will be directing the magic when it's released."

"The only people involved in this that I've said more than two words to are Jarvis and Shawn. As far as I know, neither of them will be releasing or directing magic."

"No." Agent Roberts said simply.

None in attendance had noticed him stepping through and didn't know how long he had been standing there

"Your Magi will be Reaper and your spellcasters will be Dag Hansen and Jarrell Couleigh. I don't know what the qualifications are for someone to be a bridge, but maybe they do. I just know that they wouldn't have chosen you if you weren't the exact right person for the job." Agent Roberts explained.

"But what am I supposed to do?" Den asked imploringly.

"Rhuru-wra and I are bridges just like you and we don't know any more of what's expected of us than you do." Ares said frankly.

Rhuru-wra let out a long slow bleating growl to confirm what Ares was saying.

"So he's a bigfoot and he's going to spread magic to other bigfoots." Den said slowly.

"That's the plan." Ares said frankly.

"And you're a witch who will spread the magic given to you amongst the other witches." Den said as he looked seriously at Ares.

"Yeah." Ares cautiously agreed.

"So why don't you have one of the nephilim doing this instead of me?" Den asked curiously.

"Mainly because we couldn't trust them to work with us. Once they had unfettered access to the magic, they would most likely turn it to their own use." Agent Roberts said grimly.

"But you trust me?" Den asked incredulously.

"Well, to be honest, after evaluating all the choices before us, we came to the conclusion that you're the guy. If we're going to move forward with this, we're going to need your help." Agent Roberts finished firmly.

"But I'm not a witch. I can't manipulate magic like you do." Den reminded him.

"From the way it was explained to me, over time religious people naturally... or maybe supernaturally, gain the capacity to process and store magic. Those who function as religious leaders have the ability that much more so."

"Okay. I'll grant you that, but why me?" Den insisted.

"Jarvis would have been our first choice, but the Magi are going to need him with them when the ceremony starts. The Nephilim are disqualified, due to their inherent natures. The congregants are disqualified due to their inability to do the job. That leaves you and your brothers as the only people able to process the magic of the protectorate." Agent Roberts said seriously.

"Then why don't you choose Jud?"

"A bridge has to have a certain personality type. From everything that I've heard, you have it. Jud doesn't."

"Wait. Are you saying that Den and Rhuru-wra have the same personality type that I do?" Ares asked cautiously.

"Yes. That's what I'm saying. Den, will you do it? Yes or no?" Agent Roberts asked firmly.

"Um... yeah? I guess..." Den slowly responded.

"Good. You guys work it out. I need to get back to the Magi."


"I don't think so, but it turns out that I'm seeing to the coordination of a lot of different things. Right now I think that everything is going okay, but I wouldn't count on it staying that way."

"Before you go, isn't there someone better that you can ask to be the Nevermore bridge?"

"No. There isn't." Agent Roberts said before stepping through the archway.

"So, if I'm understanding what they're saying, I'm not needed here for anything." Dark said simply.

"First of all, they don't know everything. It looks to me like they're making up most of this as they go along. Second, I need you. I won't do this alone so don't even think about trying to back out on me."

"But they don't need me here."

"If they need me, they need you. They might not know it yet, but they do." Ares said firmly.

"Okay. Got it. I won't duck out on you in the middle of all this. I promise."

"I'd appreciate that."

"Well, it sounds like you've got a plan, but I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do." Den said frankly.

"Think about the people that you'll share magic with when you're hit by the sudden rush." Ares said seriously.

"I grew up here. I know the members of the church. So my first impulse would be to share with my brothers, then the congregation. I suppose after all that, I'll share with the Nephilim, even though I don't really know any of them."

"Make sure you tell Agent Roberts about that. It might be as simple as having one of the nephilim with you when you're dishing out the magic." Ares said firmly.

After a moment to consider, Den quietly said, "Actually, that could work."

A growl from Rhuru-wra drew both their attention.

"Good point." Ares agreed, then looked to Den and said, "There's no reason for us to stay in Brynnhollow. If it'll help you connect with your people, we can go to your realm."

"That place is as foreign to me as this one is. I just don't think that I'm the right person for the job."

"Maybe that's one of the qualifications." Otis quietly suggested.

"Actually, it could be." Ares reluctantly admitted.

"I think I remember them saying that you needed to talk to me about something. What was that all about?" Den cautiously asked.

"We were just wanting to make sure that all three of us are doing the same thing when we... process the magic. It's going to be important that all the magic be usable when we're done with it." Ares said frankly.

Rhuru-wra let loose a long chattering barking growl that was very expressive.

"He makes a good point." Ares said thoughtfully.

"What point was that? I missed it." Dark asked cautiously.

"If we were all supposed to do exactly the same thing in the same way, there wouldn't be any reason for three of us to do this." Ares said as he looked around at his companions.

"From the sound of it, it would be too dangerous for one person." Otis offered.

"If that were the case then they'd have one of us leading a group to manage a coordinated effort. This is something else."

"A ritual." Den hesitantly offered.

Rhuru-wra growled a quick response.

When no one translated, Dark cautiously asked, "What?"

"He said that all of this is a ritual." Ares said thoughtfully, then looked at Dark and added, "He's right. Everything we're doing right now needs to be done. Figuring this out is actually a step in the overall project."

"So, are you saying that we're already performing the ritual, even though we're not aware of it?" Otis asked uncertainly.

"Yeah. And what's more, it looks like we're each going to be accomplishing the same thing in different ways. That's why we had to get together to compare notes, so we could realize that. If the rest of us tried to process magic the same way that Den's going to do it, it wouldn't be useable when it's needed."

"Wait! I still don't know what it is that I'm doing!" Den objected.

"Tell me, when the surge of magic hits you, what do you think you're going to do with it?" Ares persisted.

"I don't know! The only thing I know how to do with magic is to use it for a blessing. I don't know what good it would do if I did that, but I really don't have any other magical abilities." Den finished anxiously.

"You don't need any. You've got exactly what you need. That's why you're here." Ares said with a smile of accomplishment.

Rhuru-wra gave a quick supportive growl of affirmation.

"But what good does that do anyone?" Den asked in puzzlement.

"By 'taming' the magic and turning it into blessings, you make it possible for regular 'blessed' humans to store the excess magic." Ares said simply.

"I guess it could work that way." Den reluctantly agreed.

"You mentioned your brothers earlier. Can they bestow blessings too?" Dark asked quietly.

"Yes. Our father trained all of us the same way."

"Then it sounds like you'll have everything you need to perform your part of the spell." Ares finished with a smile.

"What about you guys?"

"I'm a witch, so I was born with the capacity to process and store magic. From what I've been told, I'll be expected to 'tame' the magic by 'flavoring' it with benevolence and good wishes, but the hardest part is already done for me. The entire population of Brynnhollow is already hard-wired to do exactly what we're planning to do."

"What about Rhuru-wra?" Otis asked hesitantly as he looked at the Bigfoot.

After a long growled and chittered response, Ares translated, "From the sound of it, his people have a low-level psychic ability. They aren't exactly telepathic, but they all share a 'group awareness', almost on a subconscious level. Rhuru-wra believes that he'll be able to channel the magic into that and share it evenly amongst his people. He won't tame it as much as his whole colony will flavor the magic with their collective intent."

"So do we just have to wait for them to be ready for us to do our part?" Den asked cautiously.

"I think that we need to make ourselves ready. I need to get all my support people together with me and spend some time with them. When the time comes for me to share magic with them, I need for our bond to be as strong as possible."

Rhuru-wra slowly growled in a low rumbling tone.

"He wants to gather a few of his people together and tell them what's going on. He wants to prepare them for what's to come." Ares translated.

"I guess I should probably do that too." Den said in a wavering tone.

"You've got two different groups to help, don't you?" Ares asked cautiously.

"Yeah. The part with my brothers and the congregation doesn't bother me. Having to work with the Nephilim... the only contact I've ever had with them was through my father. They're so...alien... I can't see myself linking with them or 'trusting' them. They're monsters."

Rhuru-wra immediately spoke up, obviously in offense.

"No. Of course not. I've gotten to know you and I'd never think of you that way."

Rhuru-wra let loose a slight growl, but even Dark and Otis caught the meaning of it.

"Yeah. I'll go talk to them and try to get to know them. Hopefully it'll be enough to get the job done." Den said anxiously.

"Actually, I have a feeling that it's probably the only way to get this job done." Ares said frankly.

"If the Nephilim have really been kept hidden, then there's probably no other way that it could work, is there?" Dark asked curiously.

"I don't really know much about it, but it sounds that way." Ares said, then looked at Den inquisitively.

"Jarvis is the only one who talks to the Nephilim regularly. He might know of something else we could do, but as far as I know, you're right. This is the only way that the Nephilim and the congregation could have both been utilized." Den said thoughtfully.

"Go find Jarvis and talk to him, see what insights he can provide. Maybe he can even recommend one of the Nephilim for you to talk to and get to know." Ares slowly suggested.

"Yeah. That sounds like a good idea." Den admitted, then quietly added, "At least it's a place to start."

"I can go with you if you want." Otis volunteered.

Den looked at the relative stranger with surprise at the offer.

"Ares has someone here to help him and bounce ideas off of. Maybe it'd help you to have the same thing." Otis explained, then added, "Besides that, I don't really have anything else to do. Maybe if I tag along with you there'll be something that I can do to help."

"Yeah. Sure. Thanks." Den said choppily, then turned to the others and said, "I'm going to go back to the protectorate now and see what I can arrange. Send someone to get me if you make any discoveries or need anything."

"Count on it." Ares said with a smile.

After a glance at Otis to see that he was ready, Den led the way to the archway.

To Be Continued...

Editor's Notes:

I love the way people are becoming closer together, all the different types of folks seem to be able to work together and hopefully things will come together and bring all the pieces into proper alignment.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher