Destroyer(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 5)(28) by Connie Suttle
Yippee! Ashe sent.
"Dude, turning to an itty bitty bat is no cause for celebration," Sali pointed out.
You can hear my mindspeech? Answer if you can.
"I hear you. Won't you fry those tiny wings if you fly around too much in this heat?"
It's either that or run na**d through the street to get back home, Ashe pointed out.
"Young one, perhaps you'd like a ride?" Ashe flapped around to see who'd spoken. She was ancient and lovely, with blue-black hair captured in a braid down her back and dark eyes that held wisdom and pain in their depths.
I'd accept a ride, Ashe agreed.
"He speaks with his mind? That's wonderful," she stated. "I am Opal Tadewi, one of Alvin's friends."
"Alvin?" Sali blinked.
Principal Wright, Ashe supplied.
"Oh. Man, I didn't know he had another name besides Bear."
"He does," Opal smiled. "Young one, you may sit on my shoulder," she tapped her right shoulder with a finger. "Perhaps you will tell me which house is yours?"
Sali gathered Ashe's clothing and followed Opal and Ashe down the street.
* * *
"Hey, Mrs. Evans. Ashe turned." Sali lifted Ashe's jeans and sneakers.
"Who is this?" Adele saw Opal as she walked around Sali.
"I am Ashe's ride for the present," Opal smiled. "I hear you had a traumatic experience last night. Is there anything I can do?"
"I'm all right, I just feel a little confused," Adele smiled. "I have coffee. Would you like some?"
"I'd appreciate a cup. Young one, perhaps you'd like to get dressed?" She addressed Ashe, who still perched on her shoulder. Ashe flapped away, following Sali up the stairs.
* * *
"Man, Mom will blow a gasket when she figures out I don't have any clothes here. They're all at Mr. Winkler's." Ashe came out of the bathroom, fully dressed again, his hair ruffled from pulling the T-shirt over his head.
"Marco said Cori was coming home for dinner with her mom and Dori," Sali said. "Maybe she can go by Winkler's place and pick up stuff for you."
"That's fine, but what then? Mom signed a paper, making Mr. Winkler my guardian. Does she remember that at all, or are her brains completely scrambled?" Ashe turned a worried glance on Sali.
"No idea, man. Maybe you should talk to Mr. Winkler first. Or the Grand Master."
"They've got their hands full, don't you think? Zeke Tanner is still causing trouble, Dawn Smith is trying to kill my mom, Randy's under house arrest when he didn't do anything, and the Elemaiya are showing up for who knows—uh-oh." Ashe's eyes widened in alarm.
"What? That uh-oh didn't sound good, dude."
"Sal, they were trying to get me, last night. Why didn't I see this before? Oh, man, this is a hundred times worse."
"See what?" Sali asked.
Ashe almost ran through his bedroom door, heading for the stairs. Sali trotted behind, still asking questions. "Where's Mr. Winkler?" Ashe's sneakers squeaked on the tiled kitchen floor as he sailed into the kitchen.
"He's still with Marcus and the Grand Master at our house," Denise DeLuca answered.
"I need to talk to him," Ashe breathed. Sali caught up and bumped into Ashe, nearly knocking him over as Ashe stopped still to call Winkler on his cell.
"Is he always this abrupt?" Opal smiled at Adele. Sali righted himself before pulling Ashe back from a near fall.
"Not always, unless there's something important going on," Adele replied. "Honey, what's going on?"
"I sort of know more than I did," Ashe said. "Mr. Winkler, can I see you for a minute?" Ashe asked when Winkler answered the call.
"Thanks," Ashe hung up. "Mom, I need to go to Sali's house. I'll be back." Ashe raced out the door, Sali close behind.
* * *
"You're sure about this?" Winkler knelt beside the chair Ashe had chosen in Marcus' den. Marcus, Sali, Trajan and the Grand Master were waiting for Ashe to explain why he thought the Elemaiya had been waiting for him to appear to save his mother the night before.
"Well, they were waiting for me in England, when they tried to take Dad," Ashe pointed out.
"So, Dawn Smith is not only involved as Tanner's informant, she may be dealing with the Elemaiya, too?" The Grand Master attempted to puzzle things out.
"I think Wildrif is pulling strings in all this," Ashe muttered bitterly. "You think he's taking money from all sides?"
"Could be," Winkler's forehead wrinkled as he considered the idea. "Kid, I never thought I'd miss that crazy talent you have, but I do now."
"We'll just have to figure this out the old-fashioned way, until the crazy talent comes back," Ashe said. "I have a headache, again. Sal, got any aspirin?"
* * *
"Do you have a last name?" Curtis Roberts asked.
"None that matters," Wildrif shrugged.
"You say you're the one providing all the intel? Through Tanner?"
"Yes. He has failed to pay for my services or provide proper compensation of any kind. Therefore, I offer my services directly to you."
"What can you give me on that kid? The one in those photos?" Curtis asked. He studied Wildrif as his new informant considered the request. Curtis thought Wildrif looked much like the homeless people he sometimes passed on the street. Dressed poorly in ill-fitting clothing, Wildrif wore shoes too large for his feet, his mismatched eyes made everyone around him uncomfortable and he needed a bath and a haircut.
"The child is dangerous most of the time, but I have recently learned that his power is diminished. If you can arrange to take him before his power returns, you might command it instead of the pretender, Matt Michaels."
"Where did these photographs come from?" Curtis held up the two photographs he'd discussed with Arthur Vaine.
"An acquaintance, who owed me a favor," Wildrif dismissed the photographs with a wave. "He is no longer alive—William Winkler and the boy saw to that."
"That's too bad," Curtis muttered. "Look, how about I set up an account for you and deposit what Tanner was scheduled to get, then hand you some cash and find a place for you to stay? You can clean up there and I'll have my associate, Mr. Calhoun, get shoes and clothes. Just give him your sizes and he'll take care of it."
"I'd appreciate that," Wildrif nodded, his colorless hair floating about his head.
"Calhoun, make sure he has a new cell phone, too," Curtis waved his assistant away.
* * *
"How long? Your best guess, Rabis?"
"I see your power returning in two days, my Queen." Rabis bowed to Friesianna so she wouldn't see his eyes. He was giving her truth, he merely refused to let her see what else he knew—that she would contact Baltis the moment she held enough power to do so. After that, who knew what might come? Everything was becoming unsettled with those surrounding the boy, too, and Rabis was more worried than ever.
"Where is Parlethis? I wish for him to attend me," Friesianna snapped as Rabis straightened.
"I will find him for you immediately." Rabis bowed again and left Friesianna in her tent.
* * *
"Climb up the conventional way?" Winkler settled beside Ashe on the roof of the Evans home.
"Ladder," Ashe nodded.
"Heard your dad is on his way home. Know anything more about that?"
"No. I was hoping Nathan would have more when he was up and around, but he didn't stop at the house."
"You think your dad knows about your mother's near miss and sudden memory restoration?"
"No idea. I can't really explain the memories returning, either. One minute she doesn't recognize me, the next, everything's like it was." Ashe considered telling Winkler about the visit from Griffin and the note he'd found in a book, but held off. There was enough trouble, without letting Winkler know about impending god wars. Absently, Ashe rubbed the medallions around his arm. How could he unlock their secret, when he'd lost that ability?
"Did you catch up with Shirley Walker's werewolf nurse?" Ashe asked instead.
"Yeah. He's in a lot of trouble. Said Zeke's wolves were holding his wife hostage and said they'd kill her if he didn't do what they asked, which was to give you a big dose of an opiate painkiller."
"What will happen to him?"
"The Grand Master left that with Shirley, so I don't have an answer."
"He should have told you and the Grand Master. Before he gave me that crap, I could have done something about his wife."
"After you woke up."
"I would have."
"Yeah. Water under the bridge, kid. Water under the bridge. How's the gunshot wound?"
"Not bad." Ashe pulled back his right sleeve to let Winkler see for himself. "Almost closed."
"Impressive. Have you healed that fast, before?"
"Don't think so. Last time I was shot, it took a lot longer."
"At least something's going right."
"I guess. And Dad's coming home. I don't know what's gonna happen with all the extra vampires."
"Hector and Edmond have been recalled by the Council." Nathan lifted himself onto the roof and came to sit next to Ashe. "I have heard from Aedan. I did not inform him that Adele seems to have lost whatever it was that separated her from him. Perhaps it will surprise them both."
"I hope it's a good surprise," Ashe muttered.
"Ashe, Aedan did not mean to treat you so harshly. I believe he thought to protect you. I don't have a reason for the Honored One's reversal in this, but I am inclined not to inquire. I do know that Wlodek always keeps his word, and Aedan says he has been released from his service to the Council for at least fifty more years."
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