“When did you find time to learn Chinese?” asked Alma after I arrived at Adelmar’s estate for dinner.
“Well, I have a very fluent secretary who made me take the time.” I admitted.
“Ah. She can be pushy, can’t she? Congratulations on your victory. I am astounded that he submitted so easily.” commented Alma.
Nodding, I said, “I’m thankful he did. I really didn’t…”
“Want to hurt him? He was only a pawn, but he does have his uses. Welcome to my home, James Michael Somerset III.” stated Adelmar from the balcony above us in a voice that boomed throughout the room. He started casually walking down one of the two curving sets of stairs down from the balcony as he said, “Your fight was terribly dull. I completely agreed when you said the man wasn’t capable of real battle, at least not on your level, but your use of his spells was simply marvelous, James. I wish you could have felt the awe from a couple of witnesses as I did. They were…” Adelmar stopped, glaring down at me as my phone was ringing.
“Sorry. I apparently forgot to mute my phone.” I told him, quickly pulling it out. I paused from muting it, wondering why mother was calling.
“Yes, yes. I see that your mother’s calling. You’ll hate me if you don’t take that call, so get on with it. I’m sure she wants to regale you with details of the attack against her.” stated Adelmar, looking somewhat angry.
I stared at him in shock as the phone rang some more. Mother was attacked!? I quickly answered the phone.
“James! Your father and I… well, I’ll tell you in person. Can you come over?” she started.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Yes. Well, no… I’m not injured. Really. A certain superhero you know saved us.” she stated.
What!? She knew about Portentia?
“James, dear, please come visit us as soon as possible. We have much to discuss. I have a feeling that you’ll believe what your father and I saw. He’s… not taking this well.” she told me.
“I will. I’m not in the country at the moment, but I promise to come see you as soon as I’m home.” I told her.
“Why aren’t you in the country? Are you taking spontaneous vacations now?” she asked.
“Oh. Not exactly. I was meeting with some of Alma’s family.” I admitted.
“You two aren’t engaged without telling us, are you?” she inquired.
“No, mother. I’ll let you know when that day comes.” I promised.
“So you are planning to marry her?” she asked.
“She’s right next to me. Let’s talk when I get home.” I suggested.
She sighed and said, “Tell her ‘hi’ for me, dear. I love you.”
“I love you too. Tell father I’ll be there as soon as I’m able. Bye, mother.” I replied.
“Bye, dear.” she told me just before hanging up.
Adelmar sighed dramatically, his anger appearing diminished as he stared at me from the stairs where he had stopped. Then he said, “Just go. I did leave you after you had a meal prepared for us, so I will consider this fair play. My cousin’s plane is already being prepared, and I’ve arranged for your dinner there.”
I nodded, turned toward the door, and took Alma’s hand when she moved to follow.
“And James…” started Adelmar. “There won’t be another abduction attempt on your parents. I’ve seen to that as well.”
He wasn’t lying, which surprised me somewhat. Turning toward him, I said, “Thank you.” Then I ran out of the door with Alma in tow.
Not having to deal with security at the airport was still strange to me, but I appreciated the expediency despite the questionable legality.
“What are you doing?” I asked when I saw Alma casting strange spells after we were underway.
“I’m creating a tailwind for us and providing a few other little adjustments that should help hasten our flight. I’m truly sorry that your parents have been brought into this. That should not have happened.” she assured me.
“They know about Portentia.” I stated.
“I heard. We can assume she took a head injury in front of them.” she replied.
“Maybe. They could probably guess if they saw any of her skin. I doubt there are many in the city with skin that white.” I told her.
“No, James, there aren’t. They could easily suspect in that case, but your mother sounded quite certain. I imagine her mask was destroyed, so they would have no doubts. You should ask your secretary why Portentia was there. I doubt she had a stroke of good luck.” suggested Alma.
“No need to bother my mother, master. I can verify that she scheduled Portentia to look out for your parents.” announced Mila from my phone. “Though I certainly don’t have as many facts as her to utilize, I still can see how a second abduction might have seemed prudent while you and Alma were out of town. Would you care to see a video of the attack?”
“Yes, please.” I told her. The more I knew, the better prepared I could be for my parents’ questioning.
The large T.V. across from me turned on, and Alma moved over by me to watch as well. My parents were shopping in Bonnaire’s, which was surprising given how father hated the expense. As I watched, the security gate closed off the front just after a woman entered.
“How could they have known my parents would be there?” I wondered aloud.
“They didn’t, master. This group had followed them for several blocks.” replied Mila.
“My family actually does drills for occasions such as this.” confessed Alma. “They’re reasonably efficient.”
I didn’t really want to know how someone practiced taking over a store, especially not while watching the woman and my parents being surrounded by armed people in masks. Portentia’s entrance was anything but subtle. She cut a hole through the security gate, dove inside, and immediately attacked.
Though I normally would appreciate witnessing Portentia’s restraint, these people were after my parents. Her skill with Midnight was quite obvious in how precisely she sliced apart the firearms present, disabling attackers with a single hit from the blunt end immediately after. Then the woman who I had thought to be another hostage yelled something, and Portentia’s head exploded. At least, I was guessing her head exploded from the horrific chunks flying behind her, but she stood there, maskless and uninjured. Did her head grow back between images? Movies away from home were slow to my sight anymore, and security footage seemed especially bad.
“Remarkable.” stated Alma.
I had to agree. Portentia wasn’t even delayed by the apparent loss of her head. Even her long, white hair was back. She struck the woman once, and reached a hand toward my parents. Their hesitation was obvious, but they followed her nonetheless. I wouldn’t have a convenient explanation for what they had seen.