someone from his past comes to haunt him
|Cyrus patiently waited for the first rose ceremony to be over. His charges went from twenty-four to twelve. It was a rather dull affair, they jazzed it up with tense music to make it more intense than it really was. Whisper called.
"Yes?" Cyrus asked.
"All of our government jobs have been canceled. They farmed most of them out to the Griffins Pride. Your membership was rejected, based on the events of today," Whisper said.
"Who signed the rejection letter?"
"Muzzle Flash, but Azrael approved it. It does say once the heat dies down, you are more than welcome to apply again."
"What jobs are left?"
Whisper sounded nervous, "VIP protection detail. Since you are now associated with Enchanted hearts, ninety percent of those jobs are young starlets."
Cyrus punched the wall, "Great. Do you know who did the intel for this job?"
The clicking of keys filled his ear, "Anonymous tip. The scrying department confirmed the existence of the Tupilaq. You know the rest."
"Where are the police with their investigation?"
"Cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head. His body showed signs of being cut by a serrated edge to mimic an animal attack. The coroner will know more after the autopsy is complete."
"I want background checks on all the girls left. Leave no stone unturned and email them to me when you are done."
"You are awfully testy."
"You were when your career came down around your ears."
"I suggest you get on with meeting someone, or that info you need may not make it to your phone." Whisper sounded terse.
A caterer came in and said something about dinner being served. Cyrus headed into the lavish dining room, with the crystal chandelier. The hopefuls patiently waited as Justin chose who would sit next to him.
Cyrus saw the chef and waved him over, "Can you make me a double cheeseburger, with a chocolate shake, and onion rings?"
The chef chuckled, "You spend a lot of time on the road?"
"Yeah, is it too much to ask?" Cyrus l wasn't sure if the chef was insulting him or being nice.
The chef grinned, "I was going to make something for myself. Its no trouble. I will bring out to you in fifteen."
"Thanks, man I will be sitting at the lone table in the corner," Cyrus looked at the placard on it, children's table was writing in impeccable script.
He took a seat and waited for the chef to return. For the moment, it seemed the contestants had forgotten about him. After a shitty day, he was finally alone with his thoughts, for thirty seconds.
Delicate hands placed a decorated clutch across from him. A flowing dress decorated the slim form like plumage. Chin length hair had a feathery appearance. A bright smile greeted his expressionless face.
"Is this seat taken?" Her voice was soft, musical, and easy on the ears.
Cyrus glared at her conflicted for two reasons. One, he really did not feel like dealing with anyone. Two, his promise to Whisper. The obligation to Whisper won the day.
He gestured to the chair across from him, "Please sit. I have questions for you."
She continued to stand, "Well?"
"Well, what?" Cyrus was confused as to why she was still standing.
"Aren't you going to help me find a seat?"
"Is this a trick question?"
"You are not a gentleman, are you?"
"I thought it was fairly obvious I wasn't."
She pulled out the chair, and daintily sat down. The smile still hadn't left her face. There was a softness to her eyes when she looked at Cyrus. It made him feel uneasy.
"Isis Bradshaw. Don't you remember me?" she asked. Her tone implied he had hurt her feelings somehow.
Cyrus studied her, something about Isis set her apart from the other girls. She seemed somewhat familiar, "I think I knew you, but I can't place where we met. I am terrible with people."
Isis held up a wine glass, swirling the red liquid around, "I am not going to tell you where we met. I will answer your questions, though."
"Did you see where the beast came from?" He asked. Cyrus kept staring at Isis. Where did he meet her? When did they meet?
She giggled, "You hate not knowing, don't you?"
"More than you will ever know. Answer the question."
Isis drained the glass of its contents and set the glass on the table with a soft clink. She stared into the glass, "It didn't come from the front, because it met us at the door, it killed the guard, and ushered us into the ballroom."
The caterer came and handed them their meals, Isis had something that looked and smelled terrible. Cyrus's mouth watered at the sight of his meal. Isis looked at her food and then, over to Cyrus. She had a pleading look in her eye.
To avoid problems, Cyrus cut his burger in half and gave her some onion rings and poured some milkshake in her glass, "There is no need to thank or say anything."
Isis hid her smile and nodded, "Got it."
"Does your family have enemies?" Cyrus asked.
Isis nibbled on an onion ring and closed her eyes, "They don't make them like that anymore. As for your question, my father is a top tier rancher and leather manufacturer. Of course, he has enemies."
He continued to study the woman across from him, "You don't plan on telling me how we met?"
Isis was enjoying her little game immensely, and her body language agreed. "Why does it bother you so much?"
"I don't think about the people I save. Once the job is done, I move to the next and never look back." Cyrus bit into his half of the burger, it was the best he ever had.
"Who takes care of you?"
Isis placed a soft hand on his calloused knuckles, "How do you live with everything you see?" There was genuine concern in her voice. It was weird.
Clients always reacted to Cyrus differently. Most were formal and kept a healthy distance. Some were welcoming but didn't take it further. Isis was the first to show him any empathy. It was a surreal experience.
"Today was was tame compared to some of the other jobs I have worked. You learn to shrug the awful stuff off, carrying it with you can get you killed..." Cyrus trailed off. He had revealed more about himself than he intended.
Rather than spend the remainder of dinner in an uncomfortable conversation. Cyrus wolfed down his meal and headed off to find out where the creature came from.
He walked the halls looking at the various objects in glass cases. He looked at the oil paintings noting the resemblance between the people.
"Okay, I am the perpetrator...This is so much easier with someone to bounce ideas off of." He turned around and headed back to the dining room. Whisper still wasn't answering. He walked over to Isis, who had just started a conversation with Justin.
Nigel stood in front of him, Mafia slicked back hair and ridiculous aviator sunglasses, hands folded in front of him, "What do you want?"
Cyrus had about enough of this greenhorn, "What is your problem with me?"
The amateur lifted his shades, the artic was warmer than his eyes, "You are an auramancer, I don't think I need to explain further."
Justin pulled him back, and something odd passed between the two. Nigel gave Justin an apologetic look, and for minute Nigel looked Vulnerable.
Isis put her hands on her hips and tilted her head to the side. Her eyes still wore the soft expression when she looked at him, "Oh, so now I exist?"
"Whisper isn't talking to me, and I need someone to bounce ideas off of. I know you better than anyone else, and who knows, I may even figure out where we met."
"Cyrus, I say this with as much respect as possible. An angry rattlesnake has more personality than you. Maybe you will remember your manners next time."
Four other girls stood beside her, raised their hands, and went, "Whoo." They proceeded to high five each other and walked off with Justin. Nigel turned around and flipped him the bird.
Cyrus punched the wall again. Whisper had always helped him through the investigations. That was a lie, Whisper was the brains of the operation. "I guess I should learn how to do this..."
He started at the front door, "The guard was dead in the gatehouse. It didn't trigger any alarms." He wandered from the door, and he noticed a study with all sorts of books on the shelves.
He started looking at the titles and soon found a book on control magic. He leafed through it, getting the gist of possession magic work. According to the dusty tome, possession magic was a very complex and dangerous discipline. Spells varied in range and strength.
Lesser spells only had a fifty-yard range, the more versatile possession spells were good for a hundred yards. A couple could be cast from a kilometer away but didn't fit the situation.
He walked outside and formed a yard counter. He measured from the gate to the front door, "Seventy-five yards, it would have to be a spell with a hundred-yard range."
The driveway and the surrounding estate looked like something out of a fairytale in the bright moonlight. Crickets were rapidly chirping in response to the heat.
When he got back to the door, the familiar soft expression of Isis greeted him. "Things with Justin go south?"
"I am not here for Justin, my family owns the mansion. Basically, I am here to make sure nobody breaks anything. What were you doing?"
"There was a book of possession magic in the study. The would-be assassin cast the spell from the gatehouse. It is within spells range."
Isis kept looking at him with her soft eyes, "You still don't remember me?"
Cyrus sighed and rubbed the back of his neck, sheepishly, "No, I don't."
Isis grabbed him by the hand and pulled him towards the door, "I need to show you something. Maybe it will jog your memory."
"I can't. I figured out how the attacker did it. Now I need to figure out how they got the Tupilaq into the building. Are there any secret passages?"
"There is a secret passage in the basement. My family made whiskey during prohibition and ran a speakeasy. The brewery was hidden somewhere in the wine cellar." Isis said.
"Are you any good with magical traps?" Cyrus asked her.
Isis raised an eyebrow, "What did you have in mind?"
Isis stopped and grabbed a book on magical seals and traps before they went down to the wine cellar. "Are you sure this is going to work?"
"I hope so."
The wine cellar had been cleaned thoroughly. Not a speck of dust to be found anywhere, bottles included. Isis found the switch for the secret area and pressed it. Cyrus pushed her behind him, energy danced along his knuckles, and a blade of jagged light extended from his hand.
Cyrus kept his eyes glued to the false shelf. Isis peered out from behind him, holding a wine bottle like a club, "How much is that worth?"
"Around a hundred thousand," Isis said. "Ironically, it is the least expensive item down here. Daddy got his hands on a Screaming Eagle Cabernet, and that was five hundred grand."
Cyrus looked around the hidden area and found the tunnel door, "I'll stand guard, you seal it off."
"I feel that you are very bossy. Who put you in charge?"
"Kraft did when he hired me."
"What happens if we need to get everyone out, and we have this sealed off?" Isis asked.
Cyrus gave her a tired look, "What would a smart person do? I say this because you are an intelligent person."
"I should use a spell that is released with a simple command word?"
"Make sense to me."
When the secret passage had been sealed, Isis motioned him to follow her. She led him through the luxurious home, to a door with sign a teenager would have on theirs. "This is the room I grew up in until I was sixteen."
She unlocked it and entered. The room was feminine, decorated sensibly, brightly colored, with lots of lace. She knelt next to the canopy bed and reached for something underneath it. She pulled out a shoebox, and rifled through its contents and pulled out a discolored paper.
She marched up to Cyrus and handed it to him. It was an article, "Vigilante of Hastings saves millionaires daughter."
"I don't understand."
"Let me tell you are a story, only my closest friends know..."