Okay, I don’t know about you, but after last week’s chapter, I could use another snack, AND nap! We last left you in a doorway. Kayleigh is trying to save you, heavy footsteps are behind, and the Silver Fox is beckoning you forward. But congratulations! You all worked together to vote unanimously for: B.  run back to the warehouse. Maybe it was Jacob upstairs looking for you.

So I hope you remembered sensible shoes, because that Grinnald guy seems pretty fit!

Chapter 22: If You Don’t Know Who To Trust, Turn To Page 46

“Well, hello there,” a familiar voice says behind you. Grinnald. You turn to find him standing in a doorway, smiling benignly, but withsomething glinting behind the lenses of his glasses. “You’re a long way from home. Where’s Jacob?”

You start to stammer an answer, but he interrupts you. Holding the door wide, he gestures you to come inside. You BOLT back the way you came, toward the warehouse door, paying no heed to Grinnald’s calls for you to stop, because unless you are with Jacob– or maybe Neil– you do NOT feel safe at this point.

Just as you reach for the door, a hand grasps your shoulder and jerks you to a stop. Dang! Grinnald is faster than you! And stronger! And way older! How is that fair? You realize that maybe you should have done more than walk the mile in gym. Before he can spin you around, the door to the warehouse slams open from the inside, and Jacob comes barreling out. Oh sweet relief! You are saved! Where did that bit o’ silliness come from?

“Oh, thank God!” Jacob squeezes you to him. Ow, the guns are more than just showpieces. Need to breathe… He releases you and turns to Grinnald.

“You found her! I’m so glad you got my text.” You turn sheepishly to Grinnald, and he smiles, uncomfortably.

“Yes, well, I believe I may have frightened you more than helped. Sorry about that.”

What were you thinking, running away from him? Oh yeah, that you really don’t know him from Adam, and he was beckoning you inside a darkened doorway. Dignity restored? Check.

“Listen you guys,” you begin, “Kayleigh wasn’t trying to take me too the dark lord or whatever, she was trying to save me FROM him! She wanted me to hide in there! She said she has no control over her actions after sunset… and… and if he finds out she betrayed him, she could get in so much trouble…” Tears bubble up out of your eyes unbidden, and in the back of your mind you realize you’re a bit hysterical now, but there’s no stopping it, “and… I fell… and all the bottles of holy water broke… and now we don’t have anything to poison him with…”

Jacob grabs you by both shoulders (although this would have been a good time for a hug) and hunches down so he’s at eye level with you. “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay,” he half-smiles for a second, “good for Kayleigh.” he nods to himself, before turning to Grinnald. “Okay, we need a new plan.”

Your tears have (thankfully) dried up as quickly as they started, and you swipe at your eyes with the back of your hand, knowing how filthy you are and hoping you don’t give yourself some horrible disease. Grinnald is looking pensive, so you add what’s been on your mind the most these last few minutes.

“And we HAVE to rescue Kayleigh.”

“Let’s get inside.” Grinnald gestures to the still-open doorway where you found him.

The three of you hurry toward the door, and just as Grinnald enters, a figure leaps down from the roof right in front of you. You’re not sure exactly what sound just came out of your mouth, and don’t think you could ever purposefully duplicate it, but it had to be heard for a 3-mile radius.

“Sorry,” Neil apologizes, as he straightens from his crouch and gives you a lop-sided grin. “Thanks for texting me.” He nods at Jacob.

You enter the building together and sit around a bare table set up in the middle of what seems to be another abandoned warehouse.

“Let’s review, shall we?” Grinnald, the only one standing, begins while he paces, his hands clasped behind his back.

“The Ancient One will soon be at Heather’s party…”

Neil speaks up, “Finn is all set to help us with the switch.”

“Can we trust him?”

“Not really, but at this point, he’s scared of the Ancient One, and he’s scared of us, so I think he’s pliable.”

“Kayleigh tried to protect you,” Grinnald smiles a small smile in your direction when he says this, “but she will soon not be in control of herself.”

Jacob speaks up, “The holy water’s awash…uh, no pun intended.”

“We need to move fast.” Neil jiggles his leg nervously as he speaks.

“Weapons?” Grinnald asks.

Jacob pulls a stake and a small dagger from inside his jacket, and Neil sheepishly holds up his hands.

“Hmmm.” Grinnald doesn’t seem too impressed.

“Wait!” You reach for your bag. “The holy water bottles broke, but there were…” you pull out the giant book to better see the rest of the contents of the bag, “…stakes!” (you pull out two) “…and this…thing.” You pick up the object that had glittered at you from the bottom of the bag. It was a tiny, tiny knife. Like, the size of a pairing knife. The handle was encrusted with jewels, which still glittered in the dim light.

Grinnald’s sharp intake of breath tore your focus from the knife back to him. “The Sword of Ithenia.” His face was white as a sheet. Sword? More like pen knife, but whatevs.

“Where did you get that?!” You look up at Grinnald, confused. “It was just in the bag by my bed. I figured it came from your house. Jacob?”

But Jacob is holding the book in his hands, reverently. When he speaks, his voice is just above a whisper. “The Compendium.”

Now everyone around the table is looking like they’ve found the holy grail, except you. Jacob turns to you. “This book has been lost for centuries. Many believed it never existed.” He began frantically searching the pages as he spoke, finally stopping on one, and reading, “The Sword of Ithenia is the only wrought object that can forever destroy the Ancient One.”

Neil picks up the ‘sword’, clearly in awe. “Then let’s go! We’ve got what we need, now. We can finish this!”

“No!” Grinnald stops everyone, “It must be her.”

Neil and Jacob simultaneously say, “What?!!” and “No Way!”

“The blood of her grandmother, and her grandmother before her runs through her veins. It must be her.”

Okay… GULP!

Grinnald addresses you now. “It’s you he wants. We will provide a diversion, and you must let him get in close to you. Then PLUNGE the sword into his heart!” You find yourself trying to remember if the heart is really on the left or more in the middle before your rational mind kicks in and says WHA?!!!!!

Neil glances at his watch and says, “Well, we’re out of time. We have to get to that party NOW.”

Around the corner is Jacob’s car, and you all pile in. Neil is in the back with you, while Grinnald, frantically looking through the Compendium, is in the front with Jacob. Neil reaches over and squeezes your hand, but your stomach is fluttering so much looking at the sword clutched in your other hand that it doesn’t register.

“You should put that in your jacket pocket.” He smiles sympathetically at you. As you do, it hits you. “Kayleigh.”

Jacob turns toward you in his seat. “What?”

“She brought these things. She stole them from him.”

Grinnald nods, “Of course.”

At that moment, Jacob pulls the car up in front of Heather’s. You let Neil and Jacob flank you a little ahead. Hey, you’re the one that has to go all stabby in a minute. They can walk first.

Jacob knocks and the door is answered by Heather herself, who smiles at you triumphantly and ushers you in.

There, across the giant foyer (you never knew Heather was so loaded! This place is like a mansion!) is the Ancient One. And struggling in his arms is Kayleigh.

A great raspy voice speaks, “Give me the girl, or I’ll kill this one!” at the same time, one whispers in your mind, “Come to me…”

Do you:

A.  Try saying something like, “Hey, let her go, then I’ll come to you.”? Maybe somebody here has good negotiating skills. (and you have that sword tucked away in your jacket pocket.)

B.  Shove Heather into the ancient ugly dude, in hopes that in the confusion, Kayleigh will be able to break free?

C.  Totally let fear cripple you and hide behind Jacob? With the three guys there, one of them HAS to have a plan, right? Right?

Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.