“Where have you been?” demanded Alma as I stepped out of the car.
“Is something wrong? We just stopped to watch some fireworks that started on the way back.” I replied. They had been beautiful, and I was guessing Aaliyah was behind them, given how perfectly timed they were.
“I tried texting you. I tried calling you. Mila would only tell me that you were on your date.” stated Alma.
I could feel the energies of her magic in use, so I asked her “Why are you so upset? You knew about the date.”
“Why didn’t you answer your phone?” she demanded.
Mila stepped in front of me and calmly said, “He never received any messages. I intercepted them as well as the call. We were on a date. You were trying to interrupt it.”
“You had no right. This is important, Mila!” exclaimed Alma, her voice raising.
“What is?” I asked, wishing someone would inform me what had happened.
Neither of them responded, too caught up in their quarrel, but my phone started buzzing in my pocket. Alma’s messages were arriving now. The first two said nothing other than Alma wanted me home immediately. The next few said to call her the moment I was free. I froze in place staring at the last message: “James, I found him. Please call me.”
“Wait. If you’ve found him, why didn’t you capture him… or… what you normally do?” I asked.
Alma turned to glare at me before saying, “Someone didn’t want me to deal with his tenants without first proving their guilt.”
“Oh. I do appreciate you sticking to our agreement, but I think I would’ve forgiven you in this case.” I assured her.
She didn’t look amused as she said, “Mila, mind gathering everyone? This’ll be a good training exercise.”
“What!? He’s dangerous, Alma. I don’t want anyone getting hurt.” I told her, remembering what the man did at the amusement park.
“I know, which is why this will be good training. You have very skilled employees, James, but they need some actual experience in these matters if they are to be properly prepared to defend themselves.” she stated.
“You already admitted that the man must be very skilled with magic, so none of them are prepared to face him. I doubt I’m prepared to face him.” I argued.
“Since your… change, I haven’t landed a single spell directly against you. You’ll be fine. As for the others, I’m not planning on having them fight him. They’ll be taking care of his creations if any are in the area.” she replied.
“And what if he escapes us?” I asked.
Alma laughed, saying, “Really? You think someone could so easily run from us?”
Alma did have a point. Excluding Aaliyah, I couldn’t think of anyone near as fast as us, but I still felt taking the others was risky.
Instead of stating my fears, I asked “How did you manage to find the man? Well, assuming he is a man. After seeing your text, I… well…”
“Yes, he’s a man. Surprisingly, he even looks old. I was expecting something more deceptive.” she admitted.
“Since Lady Pendreigh promised not to tell you, I’ll…” started Mila before Alma covered her mouth.
Mila’s voice was suddenly coming out of the phone in my hand, saying “have to inform you that she asked Portentia to patrol your hotels.”
“What? Why would you put her in danger?” I asked, before remembering what I’ve seen of Portentia getting injured. She healed instantaneously.
“I needed the man to slip up. When I finally realized I could force him to make a mistake, I couldn’t think of a reason not to utilize Portentia’s misfortune. If you could convince Portentia to switch jobs for me, I’d quite happily employ her and pay her handsomely.” she told me. After a moment’s pause, she added “Oh. I will pay you for the damages incurred to your hotels.”
“Damages? What happened?” I asked.
“Nothing major. People slipped up an inordinate amount is all. There were a few minor injuries, a broken table, and a number of broken dishes that I’m aware of.” she replied.
“I’ve already billed her for the total damages, master.” stated Mila.
All too casually, Alma then informed me “You get to inform Portentia that she’s not coming with us, by the way.”
I stared at her, wondering why she hadn’t mentioned this sooner. I could’ve had Portentia off on a job. Frowning, I wondered how Portentia kept repeat clients with the number of mishaps that happened around her. The clients certainly wouldn’t know the mishaps were a result of Portentia’s presence, but they probably had a disagreeable time due to them.
“What? She’s your employee, and I cannot guarantee everyone’s safety if Portentia’s around. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if a building collapsed with Portentia there.” she claimed. Then, more to herself, she said, “I still wish I understood what makes her safe here.”
“Regina.” I told her.
“What? What do you mean?” asked Alma, looking slightly worried.
“Regina’s magic keeps my estate from misfortune.” I informed her.
Alma stared at me incredulously. Then her look softened to one of wonder as she said, “I had no idea the girl could perform such a feat. She really was remarkable.”
I nodded. Alma was probably assuming Regina had made some sort of enchantment over my estate, which was fine. I shouldn’t have said anything. As I thought of Regina’s ghost, my unease grew. Alma had been pulling the strings when Regina died. Had she been there, my friend would still be alive. If I let this happen, were more of my friends going to die?
Against the werelions, we had assumed there would be only one to fight. Completely caught off-guard, we fought with all we had and still would have died if not for the intervention of Death herself. Now we were assuming there would just be one man and his terrible creations, but did we really know enough to face him?
“He’s on the move.” stated Mila.
“We need to move. Most of them have gathered at least. Can you track him, Mila?” asked Alma
“The princess is allowing me the use of one of her satellites, so I should be able to follow him, assuming he doesn’t disguise himself while under cover.” she replied.
Alma nodded and said, “Forget briefing inside then. We’ll brief everyone on the way. Mind pulling the… Ah. Thank you. Please announce that we’ll be leaving in one minute.”
I heard the limo before I saw it turn the bend toward us.
“Master, should I bring the DB5 as well? I don’t have adequate weaponry in the limousine.” stated Mila.
“Yes, please.” I told her. Seeing Alma looking at me curiously, I said, “I’m sure the twins have told you about the firepower in my car. Might as well have her along just in case.”
“You’re adorable.” she replied with a smile.
Some of the others were on their way out to us. I frowned, seeing Jarod smiling and laughing with Ai and Mai. He had no magic. He didn’t even have either of his suits ready. I knew he could fight very well, but he couldn’t exactly punch a zombie, not when some of them were capable of exploding.
“James, relax. I’m just here to watch and maybe ask Mila to fire a few rounds off from the DB5.” claimed Jarod as if he had read my mind.
“We’ll take care of him.” stated Ai.
“We might not be a match for you anymore, but we’ve still got far more experience.” added Mai.
“What’s happening?” asked Cosette.
Cosette wasn’t trained nearly well enough to be coming along yet, despite being a vampire.
“Perhaps you should stay here. We’re going to be getting into a fight.” I told her.
“Let her watch with Jarod. She needs to see more of what her family does.” suggested Alma.
“I already told you that I’m not interested.” stated Cosette.
“You might live over a thousand years, so you have plenty of time to change your mind.” replied Alma.
“You’re free to come if you want. Just be careful.” I told her.
“What’s happening, boss?” asked Brandon
I was about to reply when Portentia stepped out behind him, fully dressed in her uniform with Midnight in hand. I knew Alma’s reasoning on why not to bring Portentia was sound, but I was certain telling her to stay behind would crush her, not that she was likely to pay heed. She didn’t believe in luck, despite affecting it greatly. She believed in saving people, and would surely try to follow us. Furthermore, she might actually be of help, given her weapon and ability to regenerate. I really hoped I knew what I was doing.