Ethans inadvertantly causes trouble in his new home.
|Ethan stared at the electric blue liquid. It looked alive as it writhed within the bottle. "First, some explanations. Where is this place?"
Mrs. Reynard whispered something to Mr. Nottle, who left the room. "We don't know. We know the first settlers came here about a five hundred years ago. Rathmore consists of two islands about the size of Australia."
"You said Rathmore was enchanted?"
"Magic exists here and everything else that comes with it. Science has very little to do with anything here. Some constants are present, geometry, counting, etc. However, your technology gets altered the moment it arrives."
Ms. Reynard smiled. "You certainly are more inquisitive than...it doesn't matter. For instance, a pair of top-level alchemists fell in love with the idea of a railway."
"What happened?" Ethan was up to his neck conversation wise and reveled in it. Back home, it was almost like his parents couldn't wait for him to leave.
"They purchased a locomotive from the early 1800s and reassembled it here in Rathmore." Ms. Reynard's eyes glistened with tears. "The first test was catastrophic. The engine seemed fine at first, and then it turned into an iron golem powered by steam. Fifty people lost their lives that day. It ran out of coal in the middle of its rampage and powered down. My father was among the dead. The golem remains in Townsquare, so we never forget."
Ethan's mind chose to dismiss the ridiculous story at first until he remembered he had entered Rathmore through a hole. "What if you created an engine using magic?"
"It's been tried. Magic is too unpredictable."
With shaking hands, Ethan pulled out the smartphone. Ms. Reynard dove under the desk the moment she saw it. Ethan's pulse pounded in his head, and his rear end felt superglued to the chair. "How dangerous is this thing?"
Two paperwhite hands gripped the edge of the desk, and then, a pair of blue eyes peered over the hardwood. "The former mayor of Rathmore owned one. It would ring, go straight to speakerphone, and then spew dark secrets about everyone in the room. When no one else was around, the device needled him to insanity. He killed himself a month after it came into his possession."
He set the device on the desktop and watched it like a hawk. Silence filled the room for five minutes, nothing. He kept it in full view. "Why not leave Rathmore?"
"We can't depend on the doors to work when we want them. Some doors open up to the past, others to present-day earth. They also stay open for three days.
The squirrel faced Mr. Nottle returned with a rolled-up made from leather. It flopped to the floor and unrolled, while Mr. Nottle back away from it like it carried a deadly disease. His hand trembled and pointed at the cell phone. "What is that doing here? He gripped Ethan by the shoulders. "Is that the only device you brought with you?"
Ethan pulled out the Bluetooth speaker, "It wirelessly hooks up to my smartphone."
Mr. Nottle examined it. "I understand your attachment to your devices. Promise me you will destroy them if they start turning."
"I promise." it was time for a subject change. "Tell me about Faerie Fire." Ethan reexamined the bottle on the table. "It looks cool."
A bejeweled hand snatched the bottle from him. "Best not to look at it for too long," Ms. Reynard said as she put it back in the drawer. "Faerie Fire hit the streets about two years ago."
"How fast has it spread?"
Mr. Nottle unrolled a map across the desk. "It started here, or at least it was the earliest case I was able to find." His index finger pointed small town with mining picks over it called Slate Cairn.
"The blue marks are users from two years ago. Yellow marks are users from a year ago. The red are new users in the last six months," Ms. Reynard said in a sad tone.
The map told a sad story. Faerie Fire users tripled in the last six months. "Where do I fit in?"
"Desperate times, call for desperate measures. The Council of Rathmore refuses to make expenditures to improve city watch. We want to train someone to fight outside the law. Someone who has abilities and training beyond the norm."
The outside of the silver-haired teen remained calm. Inside, Ethan was screaming with joy. They wanted to turn him into a superhero. How could he refuse? "You want me to become a superhero."
Ms. Reynard and Mr. Nottle looked at each other with bewildered expressions. The squirrel faced Mr. Nottle spoke first. "Could you explain?"
"A superhero is someone with powers and abilities beyond the norm. They work outside the law and investigate crimes. Best of all, they punch things hard and look awesome while doing it."
Ms. Reynard giggled, and then tears came to her eyes, "Ethan, could you make up a list of the things you will need. I need to speak to Mr. Nottle alone."
Ethan left the room and waited a minute before he opened the door just enough to hear the pair talk.
"I feel so guilty, Mr. Nottle."
"You brought a new child into your life..."
"I am happy Ethan is here. I wish I had given birth to him instead of Francis." Ms. Reynard said with a sob.
"Francis was a troubled young man. I know not what caused him to become a firestarter, but he had his redeeming moments. I know you didn't mean what you said."
"I meant every word, Mr. Nottle. He enjoyed torturing animals as a young boy. Then, there was the chamber of madness he created. Three young women met a grisly end there. He was a monster long before Faerie Fire polluted his blood."
"Do you regret laying him to rest?"
"No, the city watch had no evidence, and they were never going to find any. Francis was like a child eating candy. He was never going to stop. Still, I feel guilty for favoring Ethan. A mother's love is supposed to be unconditional."
Ethan couldn't help but feel a little sorry for Ms. Reynard. He swore he would work hard as Rathmore's first superhero.
Ms. Reynard emerged from the study. If she had been sad or crying, it didn't show. She flashed him a motherly smile. "Ethan, thank you for waiting. Would you like to see your new room?"
"I would like that." They proceeded to walk through the luxurious home. "I heard your talk with Mr. Nottle," Ethan said.
"I have reached my limit for conversations about my son. I want to focus on you and Constance..."
"Who is Constance?"
"My niece from your father's...I mean from Lord Reynard's side of the family. Her parents squandered their fortune and left her penniless. My husband spoiled her outrageously before he died."
"Good for her," Ethan said. His tone defined indifference. "I know what I need for your project."
"You have my undivided attention."
"First, I need a trainer. While it is fun to experiment out in the field, it is preferable to know what you're doing when lives are on the line."
"I happen to agree. I have been shopping around for one who I can trust." The pair passed a weapon display. Ms. Reynard pointed to the mounted tools of destruction. "I suppose you will need a weapon or two, correct?"
"Yes," Ethan said. He studied the swords and daggers on display. "None of these will do. I need something that can fill a variety of roles."
"Why not carry a weapon for every occasion?"
"A wise man once said, I would rather face a man who has practiced a thousand moves once, than a man who has practiced a move a thousand times."
"That makes sense. I feel a hug coming on."
Ethan felt Ms. Reynard's arms around him, and the toxic grandma perfume threatened to knock him out. In the same breath, it felt good to be wanted. He didn't trust it to last.
"What else do you need?"
"High-quality armor...Do you have pistols?"
"We do, but they are light years behind your world's firearms."
"My armor has to withstand being fired upon."
"Excuse me?" Ms. Reynard asked. Her face was locked in a horrific expression. "Superheroes get shot at?"
Was this lady from the moon? "Ms. Reynard, we are not dealing with pickpockets or petty thieves. The people behind Faerie Fire are going to fight tooth and nail to keep business going."
"We could throw the whole superhero idea out the window. You could be my heir and son..." Ethan's hand forestalled her from talking.
"I am going to be a superhero, whether I have your support or not."
Ms. Reynard pressed him close to her. Her grip on him tightened. "What if you get hurt..."
For the second time since they met, Ethan shoved Ms. Reynard away. "Stop that. I could slip on a puddle of water the size of a quarter and fall down the stairs tomorrow. Should I stop climbing the stairs?"
"I was a horrible mother to...I want to make it up."
"Did you try to save him from himself?"
"Then stop trying to fix him through me."
Ms. Reynard stopped at a large wooden door. "Here is your room. I will see you at breakfast." She said, in a miserable tone. She pouted down the hall.
Was he too hard on her? It wasn't an easy question to answer. The situation was made more complicated by his parental issues and problems with authority. He knew things were going to get worse before they got better.
Ethan opened the door, and his jaw dropped. His eyes couldn't decide what to look at first. The walls had various murals of ancient battles. All of them painted in Celtic style. "Damn, this is awesome."
He examined the tables with nick nacks and curios. His favorite was the knight helm with the visor. "I want this as part of my armor."
Everything made of wood was decorated and carved by high-level craftsman. He looked at the empty end table. "I know what belongs here."
He reached into his duffel bag and pulled out the statue of Captain Canuck. "What do you think, dude? Cool, right?"
A knock on the door interrupted his nightly conversation with the acrylic figure. "It's open." He drew the Blackhawk pistol from the bag and pointed it at the door.
A gangly, freckle-faced girl, in a green gown, entered the room. She held the hand of another girl wearing a bright-colored silk sari and bindi. Their hands shot skyward the moment they noticed the pistol.
Ethan lowered the pistol, "Can I help you?"
Freckle-face stepped forward. "I am Constance Reynard, and this is my fiance Lady Clara Schaefer." she extended a hand.
"Ethan Argent. I am going to be helping Ms. Reynard with her faerie fire project." He said in a gruff tone. "Congratulations on your engagement."
Both girls burst out into fits of laughter, "You don't look very prepared...Whoah."
Ethan lifted both of them with one hand each, "Don't worry about me. Worry about the jerks selling Faerie Fire."
Constance glared at her housemate. "You're an idiot. All it takes is a few words, and your inherent powers are useless." To emphasize her point, she made weird motions with her hands, "Bloc draíochta."
A delicate hand covered Clara's mouth in shock. Her exotic features didn't look impressed with Constance. "Was that necessary?"
Constance crossed her arms. "Overconfidence is the enemy of any professional. I am merely reminding him of that."
"You might want to try your little spell again," Ethan said. His hand was alive with tiny sparks. "That has to pierce your pride right down to the bone."
Constance's hands were a blur of motion, "Lets see how you like being under my control. Bhfuil croí." She gave him a triumphant smile. Her hand pointed downward. "Now, lick my boots, dog."
"You are scaring me, Constance. I can't say I appreciate this side of you in the least. Shouldn't Ethan be licking your boots." Clara said in a harsh tone.
"Yeah, it seemed like a dumb thing to do. I appreciate the offer, though." Ethan said. He savored the moment as Constance's face fell. "You both can leave. I need some time to process everything."
Clara walked up to him, "I am sorry..." she brushed his arm with a soft hand. Ethan shivered involuntarily and felt a little strange.
"I don't want to hear it, leave," Ethan said
The next morning Mr. Nottle lead Ethan to the dining table. Ms. Reynard was talking to a strange humanoid. Bright red skin, white spiked hair, tied into a ponytail. Her nose would have made Cyrano De Bergerac jealous, and her clothing marked her as a samurai.
"Ethan, meet your instructor, Koharu Masamune."