“POLICE! Drop your weapons!” Anne screamed at the two men as they came into the room. Both were dressed like SWAT and holding stubby submachine guns. They professionally scrutinized the scene and lowered their submachine guns. Anne glanced at Erik. He didn’t look confused or tense. He just looked annoyed. Anne guessed that the two tactical guys were also Avalonian.
“Police? What the hell are the police doing here?” asked a woman’s voice. A tall, statuesque woman walked in behind the two tactical guys. Anne swallowed hard and lowered her own pistol. That elegantly coiffed brunette with the hard blue eyes was Mrs. Maritza Holland, the wife of if not the wealthiest man in the city, definitely one of the top five. Mrs. Holland was a big player in the society circles and could squash Anne’s career without breaking a sweat. So, why was she here?
“You! What the hell are you doing here?” Mrs. Holland asked as she caught sight of Erik.
“The Saint’s work,” Erik quipped. The two tactical guys traded a wary look, but Mrs. Holland didn’t seem fazed.
“And you kidnapped a cop? Then, you use one of my safehouses? Are you out of your mind?” Mrs. Holland asked, storming over to Erik.
“The detective was the reason we’re here,” Erik answered, “Your safehouse was the closest when we were ambushed picking her up.” Mrs. Holland looked over at Anne with an intense scrutiny.
“Detective, are you alright?” Mrs. Holland asked.
“I think so ma’am,” Anne answered, surprised by the question, “Are you an Avalonian?” Mrs. Holland whirled on Erik.
“Exactly what did you tell her?” Mrs. Holland asked.
“We were in the middle of explaining who we are when you came bursting through the door,” Samantha snapped, and then looked mortified as Mrs. Holland glared at her.
“Lady Maritza, can I speak with you privately?” Erik asked.
Lady Maritza? Anne thought to herself, Exactly who is this woman, and why does everyone but Erik looked cowed by her?
I’m not sure we can answer that right now, but yes, she’s important in our world, Samantha answered in Anne’s mind, Sorry, but you’re ‘yelling’ your thoughts right now.
“Very well,” Mrs. Holland answered. She motioned for her two guards to remain as she followed Erik upstairs.
“So where were we?” Samantha asked, “Oh yes, the barrier came down in 1635, and we started our centuries-long war with the Dark Towers.”
“Um, should you be telling her this?” one of the guards asked.
“Yes,” Samantha answered, “Of course, the early years were dark. We had no idea of how to fight the Dark Towers’ monsters. They’d swept away our few outposts and pushed us back to the walls of Avalon. Then a coalition of psychics and magic-wielders helped to defeat the Dark Towers army at our walls. We learned how to fight. If In the years since, we’ve allied with the Elven Empire and the Dwarven Kingdoms. We managed to not only push the Dark Towers back, but actually managed to capture one.”
“We also had a lot of help from Britain and America,” Veronica admitted, “We couldn’t have reclaimed Freesport without their help.”
“The governments know about Avalon?” Anne asked.
“With the elves’ help, we managed to establish a stable gate on a South Atlantic island. Technically, we belong to the Commonwealth for diplomatic purposes on this world.”
“Then why have I never heard of any of this?” Anne asked, agitated.
“The Treaty of London,” Veronica answered, “The governments kept us quiet and we keep the monsters from coming over to this side.”
“Explain yourself Jaegar,” Lady Maritza demanded as soon as the master bedroom’s door was shut.
“The elves handed us intelligence that the Dark Towers had a major operation starting, and it involved that woman,” Erik answered, “The Saint asked me to get a small team together and deal with the woman.”
“So why is she here and not dead?” Lady Maritza asked.
“Because she’s not a summoner nor a bargainer,” Erik answered, “We don’t know why the Dark Towers wants her. So, I went to collect her tonight and ran into a snatch team led by Arem.”
“That’s impossible. That elf is dead,” Lady Maritza said, her face paling.
“That’s what I thought too,” Erik said, “But I saw him tonight. I fought him. It was Arem. He demanded that I hand over that woman to him. Not a chance in hell. We need to find out what’s so special about her, and that is probably going to mean getting her back to Avalon.”
“That may be more difficult than you expect,” Lady Maritza said, “Your little firefight drew official notice.”
“What notice?” Erik asked, “There shouldn’t have been any bodies for the police to find. Death breaks the connection with the Earth’s wild magic and forces the monsters’ bodies back to Avalon.”
“Bodies no, but the police managed to recover lots and lots of spent bullets, casings, and the destroyed radio of the detective downstairs. They are in a frenzy to find her. Getting her out of the city, much less to Avalon Island will be challenging,” Lady Maritza explained, “You should have come to me as soon as you landed in this city.”
“You weren’t supposed to know we were in the city,” Erik said, “This was supposed to be a quick hit and extract. Everything we had said that she was working with the Dark Towers.”
“Are you sure she isn’t?” Lady Maritza asked.
“Samantha is, or the detective would already be dead,” Erik said. “I trust my people.”
“I’m sure your people are trustworthy,” Lady Maritza said, “What I don’t understand is why the Saint would trust you. Especially after the Commandant Affair.” Erik managed to get his sudden anger under control, but Maritza could see the blow had landed.
“You’d have to ask the Saint,” Erik managed, “He recruited me back into Blackguard for this mission. And since you are now aware of the job, are you going to help us extract, or do I have to do this myself?”
“Oh, I’ll help,” Lady Maritza said, “If for no other reason than to get you out of this city before the Americans realize what’s going on.”