“The High Council wants to see us?” Mark asked, following Charlie down a hallway.
“That’s what I was told.”
“Wow… any idea what they want?”
Charlie shrugged. “Probably about this Browning situation. We’ll know soon enough.”
The two men entered the Council Chambers, finding the room darkened as usual, save for the single spotlight in the middle. They stepped into the light and were soon surrounded by the four members of the Council, who stood just beyond the circle of light. After a few moments, one of them spoke.
“We have a situation. Our efforts to recruit Tamara Orson away from the Masons have met with failure. The Masons have placed her in the care of David and Madeleine Brighton. We cannot reach her, for to do so would be costly and impractical. Worse, the events surrounding our failure have led someone associated with the Masons to hack the computer systems of our legitimate business. They now know of our continued existence and our involvement in targeting Tamara Orson’s family. It will not be long before the Security Council targets us and our assets. The two of you are more closely imbedded within the Masons than any of our other sleeper agents. From your experiences working with them, what is our best course of action?”
“In my opinion, the answer is simple,” Charlie replied. “We eliminate the Security Council.”
The four High Council members glanced at each other before one answered, “You think this to be a simple task? The Security Council consists of four of the most adept sorcerers of a generation. Even if we were successful in eliminating them, it would only expose us further and bring about open war. War, as you well know, is a scenario that would heavily favor the Masons. We would be outnumbered.”
“Eliminating the Security Council is still our best option,” Charlie insisted. “Right now, all their attention is focused outward, leaving them vulnerable to an attack from within, specifically from me. If I can take all four of them out in quick succession using mafia-like hits, the Masons will be in disarray as they rush to find new leadership. That will make them vulnerable enough that we can activate our sleeper agents.”
Though he had remained quiet thus far, Mark said, “I have a question.”
All eyes turned to him. “Yes?”
“What of this cyberattack? Has anyone managed to trace the hacker that got in?”
“Our agents did attempt to track down the perpetrator, but as mentioned, he was aided by a sorcerer. This is how he breached our defenses and escaped undetected. Our trace programs were blocked by opposing magic, which we have yet to be able to identify.”
Mark’s eyes brightened at this. “Might I have a look at the results? I’ve done quite a lot of observation work for the Masons. Maybe I’ll recognize the user.”
After a moment, the Council nodded in agreement and caused a manila folder to appear in front of Mark. He took the folder and perused the pages for a few minutes, finding a detailed account of the detection of the hacker, what files had been compromised, and their failed attempt to trace his location. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, but he soon arrived at the final page. Since sorcery, and aura energy in particular, cannot be measured scientifically, sorcerers had long developed the ability to capture a moment in time of sorcery being used. The end result was much like a photograph, but one that could only be examined by another sorcerer. This was how the Masons had managed to maintain power for so long, using this technique to not only know when magic was being used, but also who was using it, as every use of magic gave off a signature unique to the user. After a few moments, Mark’s eyes popped open.
“I know who was working with this hacker. I recognize this magic. It belongs to David Brighton!” Mark said.
“How can you be certain?” one of the Council asked.
Mark replied, “I spent weeks observing him and gauging his power in preparation for the Masons revealing their existence to him. In addition, I knew him well before he had discovered sorcery. There is no doubt. This is David Brighton’s handiwork.”
“It would make sense. He’s the one that got the Security Council onto Browning’s trail to begin with. Still, this goes much farther than that. Either he’s going rogue or the Security Council has authorized this attack,” Charlie surmised.
“Yes, though I’m not sure which,” said Mark. “Going off on his own is definitely something David would be willing to do for what he perceives as the greater good, but it’s also possible that the Security Council signed off on this. In the short time he has known them, David has managed to gain their trust in ways I never could.”
“I think that settles it. The Security Council must be dealt with,” Charlie said, turning back to the High Council.
“I disagree,” Mark replied, earning a glare from Charlie.
“Explain, Dr. Iger,” said one of the Council.
Mark took a deep breath before speaking. “With respect, I am the only one here who has seen what potential David Brighton possesses firsthand. If he has somehow gathered enough information to suspect the continued existence of the Illuminati, we are all in very real danger. He is resourceful, intelligent, determined, and an amazing magical talent. Tamara Orson may well become more powerful than him one day, but today, David Brighton is the single biggest threat to us all. The more he continues to pry, the more dangerous the situation as a whole becomes. He should be eliminated before anything else happens.”
Charlie snorted. “One kid fresh out of college poses more of a threat than the four most influential sorcerers in America? Iger, you forget I’ve also met David Brighton. I never once sensed the sort of massive potential you’re describing. He’s strong for his age, but deep down, he’s still just a punk kid.”
“That’s because he knew by then of this secret society that ran the world of sorcery in America and made sure to hide his full power until it was needed. Further, this illustrates my overarching point: if we underestimate David Brighton, we do so at our own risk.”
“So, he hacked our systems. Big fucking deal,” Charlie scoffed. “He’s just a dog chasing a car and happened to catch it this time. Doesn’t mean he knows what to do with it. The Security Council is the greater threat.”
“ENOUGH!” the High Council shouted, silencing them both. “It is clear to this body that both David Brighton and the Security Council pose an immediate threat to us. That said, it is good that we have summoned you, Charlie Larusso. With your particular set of skills, we can remove both of these threats with a single stroke…”
“And that’s the situation,” Ben said, finishing his report to the Security Council. “In short, it seems clear that, despite their crushing defeat years ago, the Illuminati have somehow endured. It appears they conducted the attack at the Grand Canyon, as well as the attempted kidnapping of Tamara Orson. I have briefed the President of this and informed him of our intent to resolve this situation by any means necessary. He agrees and has vowed to lend whatever support the Constitution allows, especially in ensuring we are not exposed.”
“How certain are we of the source?” Madeleine asked.
Ben replied, “Dave wouldn’t disclose his source’s actual identity, but referenced him as The Wizard. We’ve cross-referenced that name and matched it to an incredibly skilled hacker and member of Anonymous, one that’s been on the radar of several agencies for three years now. Though he’s caused the occasional headache for some governmental entities, his activities have primarily been focused on exposing corruption, rather than creating havoc. It’s clear that this Wizard doesn’t do what he does for kicks. I think he’s really trying to do good in his own way.”
“So, you believe him?” Steven pressed.
“I do,” said Ben. “You have the recommended plan of action laid out before you, but it still requires unanimous approval from the Security Council. Shall we vote?”
“I vote yes,” Condoleezza said with no hesitation.
After a moment’s thought, Steven replied, “I also say yes.”
“And it’s a yes for me. Madeleine?”
Madeleine pursed her lips as all eyes turned to her. “I remain uncomfortable trusting an anonymous source, particularly one known to be affiliated with what some would call a group of anarchists. Still… I am no fool. I cannot ignore the evidence before my very eyes. If the Illuminati have returned, we must take decisive action. I vote yes.”
Ben nodded. “Very good. We all have our assignments. Let’s move.”
“This is not going to work…”
“Iger, shut up and stick to the plan!” Charlie hissed. “I’m in charge, and you’d better not forget it!”
“I will do exactly as I’ve been ordered by the High Council to do,” Mark replied through gritted teeth.
The two men watched and waited in the skies above as the Security Council ended their meeting and went their separate ways. Their first target was Madeleine Albright, the oldest and least dangerous of the four. She was in New York with Patricia Jenkins in tow, their goal to try and enlist foreign support from the United Sorcerers of the World, the equivalent of the United Nations, in their efforts to root out the Illuminati. But even as secure as the USW headquarters were, they would be exposed and isolated on approach. That would be Charlie’s opening.
While Charlie would serve as the triggerman for this operation, Mark had the vital assignment of being his backup and lookout. Though he disagreed with the direction the High Council had chosen, he knew that both he and Charlie would be in danger of exposure or destruction without their best efforts. As such, Mark already had a lock on the locations of their other three targets. They would have to execute all four hits in quick succession to ensure they weren’t discovered until it was too late. All Charlie had to do was disguise himself as Dave Brighton and use techniques familiar to the young sorcerer to frame him for their deeds. Eyewitnesses would ensure that the Masons removed Dave as a threat by the end of the day.
Seeing their first target on the move, Charlie said, “Ok, they’re alone. Here we go.”
“How much support do you think we’ll be able to garner?” Patricia asked, following Madeleine through the abandoned warehouse district that served as the front to the USW headquarters.
“Unclear,” Madeleine replied. “Most will likely be hesitant to believe that the Illuminati have resurfaced without a preponderance of evidence. We must anticipate being on our own for now. But if our plan to root them out is successful, I believe we will have more than enough to convince the rest of the international community to support us in the long run.”
“I can’t believe it’s actually come to this…”
“I sympathize, but be assured that-”
Before Madeleine could finish her sentence, a flash of light split the air. The burst was so brilliant and so sudden that Patricia fell to the ground as she recoiled from it. After a moment, she stood and rubbed her eyes to regain her bearings.
“Shit! What the hell was-”
Patricia gasped as her vision came into focus. Madeleine lay sprawled out on the ground, blood gushing from the wound in the side of her head. A few feet away, an aura arrow was embedded in the wall. Patricia rushed forward and attempted what limited healing spells she knew, but it was too late. Madeleine Albright was dead. Just as she was about to burst into tears, Patricia saw something out of the corner of her eye. It was only for a moment, but she saw Dave Brighton standing across the way with a bow in hand and a satisfied smirk on his face. He winked at her before teleporting off to parts unknown.
“It can’t be…”
“How bad do you think things could get?” Eyota asked.
“Based on what we’ve seen, it could be rough for quite a while,” Condoleezza said. “If the Illuminati are back, as it seems likely they are, they won’t appreciate it when we squeeze their assets to force them into a corner. You’ll want to be sure all known unicorn herds are protected from any acts of retribution.”
“Agreed,” Eyota replied, looking out at the beautiful creatures in the valley below. “I’m quite sure they would be able to defend themselves, but no sense in taking unnecessary risks. They’ve been under guard since the unicorn murder weeks ago, but I’ll double our men to be on the safe side. I will also make the rounds to as many of them as I can and let them know of the coming danger. Perhaps Maddie Brighton could be of assistance…”
“I think that’s a good idea. She’s-”
As before, a flash of light burst through the area, blinding Eyota for several long seconds. When he was able to see again, Condoleezza Rice lay dead on the ground, shot clean through the head with an aura arrow. Horrified, Eyota looked around for the perpetrator and caught a glimpse of Dave Brighton hiding in the trees with a bow in hand. He smiled for a moment, then disappeared.
“Dave? Why would you do this?” Eyota wondered, in shock at what he had just seen.
“And that’s as much as I can tell you of the situation, Dr. Powers.”
Megan sat back in her desk chair and gave a heavy sigh. “Dr. Chu, do you really think the Illuminati have returned?”
“I think it is now more likely than not,” Steven replied. “I would like your assistance as we move forward. We need to learn how the Illuminati have kept their presence hidden all this time. As you are a master theorist, I would ask that you construct as many plausible scenarios as you are able to. Perhaps one of them can help lead us to the facts in all this.”
“I’d be delighted, Dr. Chu,” said Megan.
“Excellent. The Security Council will expect your report-”
Another flash of light. Another pinpoint aura arrow, this time shot through Dr. Powers’ office window. At the end of it all, a third member of the Security Council was dead on the floor. Dr. Powers, academic as she was, had no practical knowledge of healing spells, but it wouldn’t have mattered in any case. Dr. Chu was gone in an instant. Against her better judgement, she risked a glance out the window to try and see who had done this. For a brief moment before he disappeared, she saw Dave Brighton perched in a tree outside her office building with a bow in hand.
“What madness is this?”
“I’ve gotta say, it makes perfect sense,” said Henry, inspecting the remains of their cabin near the Grand Canyon.
“I agree,” Ben replied. “With everything Dave discovered, there seems to be no other logical explanation. The Illuminati murdered Latonya and Jabar to lure Tammy here, knowing she would be powerful enough to get here on her own if enraged enough. Seems they decided she was too powerful to be left alone. Either they had to have her, or neither of us could have her.”
“Lucky for us, it didn’t work,” Henry chuckled.
All of a sudden, Ben’s eyes went wide. Unbeknownst to everyone else, he had performed the mind merge technique with his colleagues on the Security Council. While the others had not done so with each other, they agreed that having one of their own with an unbreakable connection to the others might be helpful at some point in the future. Thus, it was blatantly obvious when he felt a feeling of emptiness spread within his mind. A few seconds later, there was another pang of the same sort, and then a third. He didn’t know exactly what had happened, but he couldn’t deny what his senses were telling him. Three of his closest friends were gone.
“Mr. Secretary?” Henry asked.
In an instant, Ben raised a dome of aura energy around the two of them, stopping an incoming aura arrow dead in its tracks. Though Henry was still trying to grasp the situation, Ben had the presence of mind to scan the area for threats. To his surprise, he saw the person that had launched the arrow from the across the clearing.
“Dave?” Ben asked, unsure if he was seeing clearly.
Dave said nothing, instead readying another arrow and launching it at Ben. Ben replied by summoning his Spartan shield and spear, stepping back into a defensive stance. Dave continued to fire arrow after arrow at him, inching closer to Ben all the while. At last, he stood mere feet away, and Ben could see his cold expressionless stare.
“Dave, what the hell are you doing?” Ben growled.
“What must be done.”
By now, Henry had recovered enough to try and attack Dave from behind, but Dave anticipated this exact action and ensnared Henry in a mass of vines made from his aura energy. Henry struggled as the vines pinned him on his back, but Dave’s aura energy was too strong to break through with normal sorcery. He got to work figuring out how to break free, hoping he’d be able to get loose in time to help Ben.
“Just you and me,” Dave said to Ben.
“Why are you doing this?!” Ben demanded.
Dave gave him no answer, instead launching into another offensive. This time, he channeled his favorite element of wind, swirling it around him in a protective sphere of compact air. As he advanced, Ben attempted to skewer him on his spear, but the winds surrounding Dave deflected each attempt. Dave then began peppering the ground around Ben’s feet with blasts of aura energy, forcing Ben to retreat and take to the sky. With a moment to breathe, Ben targeted a boulder on the ground below and obliterated it was an aura blast, then drew the remaining granules to him. After compressing them further, he formed his Sand Shield and turned to intercept several aura blasts from Dave. Thanks to Ben’s defenses, the blasts were simply caught up in the shield, swirling around until Ben launched them back at Dave. As Dave dodged the reflected attacks, Ben caught a glimpse of something in his eyes.
Wait… he’s surprised? Why would Dave be surprised? He’s seen me use this exact technique before…
Focusing once more on the task at hand, Ben flew forward and engaged Dave at close range, attacking with lightning-fast martial arts strikes. All the while, Dave seemed taken aback at the techniques Ben was using, and had particular difficulty diagnosing the Sand Shield’s weaknesses. Dave pounded at it again and again with every opening he found, but nothing had any impact. Through this, Ben began to suspect the truth.
Something’s wrong… this can’t really be Dave! The real Dave Brighton would have bested me by now.
A moment later, Ben saw an opening. Taking advantage of Dave’s unsteady footing, he executed a quick leg sweep and knocked Dave’s weight out from under him. As Dave fell to his back, Ben pounced on him, pinning him under his shield.
“Not good enough, Dave,” said Ben. “That is, if Dave is your actual name.”
Dave’s eyes went wide at hearing this. Though Ben had leverage on him with his Spartan shield, Dave managed a gust of wind strong enough to get Ben off him. Before Ben could recover, Dave activated a mirage spell, surrounding Ben with dozens of identical Daves. They were not solid and could do no damage on their own, but they provided a welcome distraction for Dave to make his move. But just as Dave was about to strike with an aura arrow, Ben unleashed his trump card.
“SCORCHED EARTH!” Ben shouted.
In an instant, a dome of fire appeared around Ben and flew out in every direction, striking each of the mirages of Dave at once. Just as quickly as they had appeared, the images were gone, leaving only the original Dave standing alone and exposed.
“Time to end this,” Ben growled.
Just as Ben was about to launch forward and skewer Dave on his spear, he felt a sharp pain in the middle of his back. Ben’s eyes went wide with shock and horror as he looked down to find an arrow piercing his chest. Looking back up, the Dave in front of him had vanished, and he caught a glimpse of Dave behind him as he fell to the ground.
“NOOOOOO!” Henry shouted, at last wresting himself free from Dave’s trap.
Before Henry could even attempt to counterattack, Dave vanished into thin air. Henry rushed to Ben’s side, finding him struggling to breathe as blood leaked from his mouth.
“Ben… oh, god!”
“Try not to talk. You’ll be ok,” Henry replied.
“No,” Ben croaked, feeling his end approaching. He grabbed Henry’s collar with his last ounce of strength and said, “Maddie… Brighton… page… three… ninety… four…”
A moment later, Ben’s body went limp and he exhaled his last. Henry’s face twisted in pain as he watched the light go out in his friend’s eyes. Ben Carson, a man he had trusted and worked with for years, was gone. He stood, feeling a strange sense of quiet and resolve descend upon him. Henry knew what he had to do.
“Dave Brighton… you will pay for this.”
“That was too close,” Charlie muttered as he caught his breath.
“You’re welcome, by the way,” said Mark. “You’re damn lucky Carson didn’t kill you!”
“I had it under control…”
“You most certainly did not! If I hadn’t snuck in behind him with my own David Brighton disguise spell, you’d have been dead where you stood! If that happens, your disguise disappears on your death, alerting them to your treason and possibly exposing the rest of us.”
“We got the job done. That’s what matters,” Charlie sighed.
“Only part of the job. We still need the Masons to get David Brighton out of the way. But after four murders with eyewitnesses, there’s no way he won’t be arrested.”
“That punk is so toast,” Charlie smirked. “Once they arrest him and put him in a holding cell with jammers, all we’ll need to do is stage a little… accident…”
Henry sat in the surveillance vehicle parked down the street from Dave’s apartment, readying himself for what was to come. His stomach still churned at the events of the day. Not only had Ben Carson died in his arms, but he had then learned that the rest of the Security Council had also been murdered by Dave Brighton. Eyewitnesses confirmed each account. More troubling still was that each attack had come without warning; nobody had sensed his power when he struck.
“Was Dave the one using sorcery undetected all this time?” Henry wondered. “It can’t be that simple…”
Much as he wanted to believe that there was more to this, Henry knew the only way to know for sure was to first take Dave into custody. The evidence was clear, and he had a job to do. Justice would be done.
“Chief Ironside,” said the driver, “the jammers are now operational. Anyone within a hundred yards of the van will be unable to practice sorcery.”
“Ok. Let’s do this,” Henry replied.
Henry and his two top agents strolled up the sidewalk and approached Dave’s door, knocking three times upon arrival. They fully expected Dave would not answer, but they knew he was there, thanks to Patricia’s surveillance scans. After a moment, the opened, revealing Dave Brighton, much to their surprise.
“Chief Ironside!” said Dave. “Guess the Security Council met? What’d they decide?”
Henry shook his head in disbelief. “You’re really gonna try that with me?”
“Try what with you? Is there a problem?” Dave asked.
“Dave? Is something the matter?” Maddie wondered, sauntering up behind him with Tammy in tow.
“Mrs. Brighton,” Henry said, “I think you should take Tammy into the back bedroom for now. I don’t want her to see this.”
“See what, exactly?” Maddie prodded, her eyes narrowing.
“Please. Do as I ask,” Henry whispered.
“This is our home, Chief Ironside, and I do not appreciate your tone. Now, please tell us what this is all about this instant,” Maddie replied forcefully.
Henry sighed and produced a pair of handcuffs. “Fine. Dave Brighton, you are under arrest for the murders of Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Steven Chu, and Ben Carson. You have the right to remain silent-”
“The Security Council is DEAD?!” Dave exclaimed in disbelief. “How?!”
Henry grabbed Dave’s wrists roughly and cuffed them. “You should know. You’re the one who killed them.”
“Dave would never do such a thing!” Maddie protested, stooping down to console a crying Tammy.
“I didn’t!” Dave pleaded, trying to break free but finding his sorcery blocked.
“Don’t even try to resist, Mr. Brighton,” Henry said. “We have jammers in place. Your powers are neutralized. Take him.”
As the two agents escorted Dave back to the van, Maddie held a bawling Tammy against her chest, trying everything she could to soothe her.
“How could you ever think Dave is capable of something like that?” Maddie whispered, glaring daggers at Henry.
“Mrs. Brighton, there are multiple eyewitnesses,” Henry replied.
“Be that as it may, I can account for Dave’s whereabouts-”
“Save it for the courtroom,” Henry said, turning to leave. “Oh, there was one other thing. I was with Dr. Carson when he died. His last words were for me to tell you something.”
“And what is that?” Maddie asked, eying him with suspicion.
“All he could say was your name, followed by ‘page three-ninety-four’. Does that mean anything to you?”
She shook her head. “No, I cannot say it does…”
As Henry opened the door, Tammy looked up from burying her face in Maddie’s chest. “You’re wrong about my Daddy Dave,” Tammy growled at him.
Henry said nothing more, shaking his head and closing the door behind him.
“I’m so sorry you had to see that, Tammy. I should have listened and taken you in back,” Maddie said.
“Sissy, what’s gonna happen to Daddy Dave?” Tammy asked, her eyes still wet with tears. “He didn’t do anything wrong, did he?”
“I don’t believe so,” Maddie assured her. “I don’t know what is happening here, but I intend to find out.”
“I’ll help!” Tammy declared.
“Will you?! That’s wonderful!” Maddie replied, cracking a genuine smile that she desperately needed. “Tell you what. You think about what Henry’s message could mean. Page three-ninety-four, right? If you come up with any ideas, we’ll see what we can do.”
“Ok! What will you do?”
“Even if he’s innocent, Dave is still in trouble. I’m going to enlist a friend to help him…”
“There they go,” Mark said, keeping an eye on the MBI van using a telescopic vision spell as they floated in the skies above. “David’s in the back. The jammers will keep him subdued until they get him into lockup.”
“Excellent. Once he’s there, we’ll make our move,” Charlie replied. “Should be easy enough to stage a little accident. What do you think? Maybe teleport him out of the cell to make it look like he’s trying to escape? That’ll get him killed for sure.”
“Too complicated. Better to stage a hanging,” said Mark. “If done right, it’ll leave no loose ends.”
“I like it.”
Dave squirmed on the uncomfortable metal bench in the back of the transport van. The cuffs were tight enough on his wrists that he could feel them cutting into his skin. It was the strangest sensation, being unable to use his powers. He knew his Channel was on his hand, but it was as if his mind was too distracted to generate any sorcery. It would have been a fascinating experience, were it not for the circumstances.
“So, what next?” Dave asked.
“We’re almost to HQ,” Henry said shortly from the front seat.
“Do I get a lawyer?”
“Once we’ve processed you.”
Dave sighed in frustration, beginning to think through everything that had happened.
What the hell is going on here? The Security Council… assassinated? And Henry thinks I’m the one responsible? Something’s not right. Shit… no way Henry will tell me anything more; he probably hates my guts right now. I just don’t get how someone could convince him so thoroughly that I did it, especially when I didn’t! None of this makes any sense…
At that moment, the transport van lurched as if it had hit a slick spot. Dave gripped his bench seat as best he could and glanced through the window into the front seat, where Henry and his lieutenant were working to maintain control of the vehicle. Henry looked back at Dave with fire in his eyes, almost as though he suspected that Dave was causing whatever was happening.
“Don’t look at me,” Dave told him, holding up his wrists. “My hands are tied, with magic-suppressing handcuffs, even!”
Henry rolled his eyes and grunted in reply before turning his attention back to the road. His lieutenant was still trying to keep the van straight, but all could tell that it was a losing proposition. Dave tucked his head down between his knees and braced for impact a moment before the van careened off the road.
“What the hell is going on down there?” Charlie wondered, watching the transport van.
The two men could scarcely believe their eyes as they saw the van run off the road, crashing into a nearby fire hydrant. Instead of spilling into the street, however, the water from the hydrant seemed to take on a life of its own. It formed a stream that floated around to the back of the van and began to pound on the doors. The doors shuttered for a few moments, but soon gave way and popped open, allowing the powerful stream of water to enter the vehicle. A moment later, Charlie and Mark saw Dave being swept away in the flow of water, soon disappearing into the sky above without a trace. By the time Henry realized what had happen, Dave was long gone.
“What in the world was that?” Charlie wondered, dumbfounded as ever.
“I have a strong hunch,” Mark replied. “When I went after the Brightons in England, I encountered a mythical creature who fought me off, the Lady of the Lake, as you’ll remember from the trial.”
“She was a master of all manner of water-based sorcery,” Mark explained. “I have no doubt that she’s behind the crash.”
“Well, let’s get after her, then!” Charlie huffed. “We’re too close to success to give up!”
Mark just shook his head. “Charlie, going after her, even together, would be us signing our death warrants. We couldn’t even touch her.”
“And what do you think the High Council will do to us?!”
“We’ve done enough. I think they’ll be pleased,” Mark said. “David Brighton is now public enemy number one and a fugitive from the law. He won’t be able to do anything to us, not without attracting the attention of the Masons. Strong as he might be, he can’t fend off us and the Masons, right? Though he’s still alive, I feel confident we can report him to have been neutralized.”
Charlie sighed in frustration. “You’d better be right about this…”
As she perused through her Incantus, Maddie was startled by an authoritative knock on her door, the second such knock in one day. Placing the large book beside her on the sofa, she walked to the door and checked the peephole, seeing Henry Ironside waiting for her.
“What is it?” she asked with impatience the second the door swung open.
“Where is he?” Henry countered, his face almost snarling.
“You know damn well who, Madeleine Brighton! Where is your husband?!”
“Calm yourself, Chief Ironside,” Maddie replied, her voice hard and scolding. “You will not speak to me in such a manner, certainly not in my own home. In any case, I have not seen Dave since you arrested him this morning. Are you saying you have misplaced my husband?”
Lowering his voice, Henry said, “I apologize, but it’s not been a good day. Our transport was pushed off the road by an unseen force. Once the commotion died down, Dave had vanished. Has he contacted you?”
“No, he has not. I’m terribly sorry for your accident; I do hope nobody was hurt.”
“Well… if he does contact you, let me know right away. Failure to do so will result in your arrest, as well. I’d hate for it to come to that, Mrs. Brighton. Tammy’s been through enough, don’t you think?”
“I wholeheartedly agree,” Maddie said with as even a voice as she could muster. “Is that all?”
“That will be all. Sorry to have to trouble you again.”
Closing the door behind her, Maddie strolled back to the sofa and refocused her attention on her Incantus. A few minutes before, Tammy had suggested to her that Ben’s message of page three-ninety-four might have something to do with the spell book, leading Maddie to investigate. After flipping through the pages, she at last landed on page 394.