Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Agents, pt. 3

     Jedstaff was a short, pudgy man, with wide brown eyes and a well tanned face. His impossibly thin neck stuck out from his shirt collar and overalls like a single thread holding up his well rounded head. I wondered immediately how this odd person could help us. He welcomed us into his house. We stepped inside gratefully, since the weather was still cold and snowy.

     Though Jedstaff looked old enough to be my grandfathers' grandfather, when he spoke, he had the voice of a young man. An impediment in his speech caused him to say all his S's as TH's. "So, Tytus," he said as we entered, "what brings you here? It's been a long time since the Agents needed me for anything."

     "It's not that we haven't needed you," Tytus said. "We just haven't been able to contact you."

     "Don't I know it!" Jedstaff exclaimed as he set a tea kettle over the fire. "Those blasted monks have had me in and out of their prisons so much, the rats and I are on a first name basis!"

     "Regardless," said Mentus, sitting down at Jedstaff's table, "we need you now. I assume you know of the Beast?"

     "Don't assume," Jedstaff said touchily, "I was the one who warned you about it all those years ago. Remember? When Tytus was off flirting with that young lady, I told you. I said, 'Anyone who comes into town with the evil monks of Angyular has got to be trouble.' And I was right, see?"

     I was confused. "What do you mean? What does that have to with the Beast?"

     Jedstaff noticed me for the first time. "Who's this young fellow?" he asked Tytus.

     "A new recruit, of sorts," Tytus replied. "He gave us the warning about the Beast."

     "All I did was carry the letter," I said.

     "May we please return to the important matter at hand?" Mentus asked, sounding a little annoyed at Jedstaff's manner. "The Beast has been summoned by the chief monk Pardsticle and is as we speak ravaging our contryside."

     "Of course, of course, Mentus." said the odd little man. "Now, what exactly do you need? Traps? Snares? I've got plenty of both. Weapons? Heh, heh, let me tell you, no one but the blacksmith has a better selection than the one I have here."

     "We need spears and javelins," Mentus said. "Two longbows and a crossbow. Here--" he produced a small sack of coins and dropped it on the table. "That should be sufficient."

     "You're in luck," said the odd little man. "Follow me."

     He led us into the basement of his house, a dark room filled with weapons, traps and torture devices of all kinds.

     "There are your bows," Jedstaff said, motioning to a weapon rack that held several. "I assume you'll want arrows too?"

     Mentus nodded and began to select them. Tytus chose three javelins from another rack. Jedstaff picked up an old crossbow, examined it, then carelessly tossed it aside. He selected another and nodded to himself. He handed it to me with a grin.

     "Welcome to the team, sonny," he said. "Any enemy of the monks is a friend of mine. I'd like to take care of that chief monk myself, humph! But I've tried several times and each time it gets more difficult. They say that the spirit they worship granted that fellow immortality a long time ago."

     "Do you believe that?" I asked. My uncle had said the same thing, but he took everything with a liberal amount of salt.

     "Absolutely not! It stands to reason that if you can stick a spear through something and it dies, you can stick one through another and it'll die too, sure as shooting shamrocks. All I need to do is get a good spear, and one good thrust."

     Tytus called to me from the doorway to the basement. They were ready to leave. I started toward them when I halted and sniffed. "Do you smell something?" I asked Jedstaff.

     He took a deep breath. "Oh, no," he said, "something's burning."

The Agents, pt. 2

     Tytus put the letter on the table. He looked across the table to me. I still couldn't see his face under his ever-present hood, but he seemed concerned. "Did  you read this?" he gestured to the letter.

     I shook my head. "I was told to give it to the Agents unopened. Was the seal on the envelope broken?"

     Mentus, one of the leaders of the Agents of the Night, was sitting across the table from me. He chuckled softly. "It's easy to reseal an opened letter, my friend," he said. "But your innocence is refreshing. Who told you to deliver it?"

     "My uncle," I replied. "He's a friend of one of the Agents in our village. He said I needed to take it to their leader and tell them it's urgent."

     Tytus sighed. "Maybe you'd better hear what it is in that letter." He looked to Mentus for permission. The middle-aged leader nodded.

     "Well," Tytus started, "It seems our 'Angularian brethren' are about their evil deeds again. The chief monk Pardsticle has summoned the Beast."

     "The Beast?" I asked. "It exists?"

     Mentus looked at me sharply. "Of course it exists," he said. "Why should you think otherwise?"

     "I thought it was only a legend," I replied.

     "Trust me, it's real," Tytus said. "We fought it many times back in the old days. Now it would seem the monks have use of it."

     "And its master, or mistress, really," said Mentus, giving Tytus a queer look across the table. Tytus said nothing.

     "What are they going to do with the Beast?" I asked, unsure of what had just happened.

     "The letter doesn't say," Tytus replied. "But two villages have already been ravaged by the wretched creature. We need to take care of this threat right away."

     "The only way to do that is to meet it head-on in battle." Mentus said.

     "Exactly," said Tytus. "We'll draw it away from the villages and townspeople. And perhaps we can finally make this the last encounter."

     "I wouldn't count on it," Mentus said grimly. "But to meet it in battle we'll need some weapons more fit for the job. Spears and javelins, longbows and maybe even a crossbow."

     "Well, then," Tytus said, the faintest of smiles gracing his features for a moment. "I think we know just who we need to go to."

     Mentus looked back, also smiling slightly, engaged in the same joke. "I suppose we do."

     "Who?" I asked, feeling completely in the dark.

     They both looked at me and said, "A prophet without honor."