Familiar Faces - Chapter Twenty Nine: Blasphemous Rumours (part two)

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  • 1. Welcome back to Familiar Faces - Chapter Twenty Nine - Blasphemous Rumors (part two)
  • 2. As soon as they got back to the legacy house, Emma and Aldric spread the contents of his father's safe out on a table. There was a wide variety of items; Newspapers, letters, a journal, a set of keys, money, a baseball and a map. "What is all this stuff? What's the significance?" Emma wondered. "Some of it I can see immediately, but others like this baseball confuse me." "I didn't know he'd saved it. I gave that to him. Little League, when I was eight. I hit a home run, and started having dreams of being the next Babe Ruth. Dad joked that next thing he knew I'd be signing autographs, maybe he should get one before the price went up. In a very serious manner, I borrowed his pen, and signed the ball with a flourish. He acted very impressed that I'd given him my first autographed ball." Aldric grinned with the memory. "The letters are from Almeric to Dad, same summer as the ball. He was at music camp, and must have written home a few times."
  • 3. "I recognize some names on this map; it looks like it's supposed to be Three Lakes, but it's not the Three Lakes we know now." Aldric pointed at the map "There's only one lake shown, and this river is gone." "The headlines on the newspaper refer to the Earthquake, they say that the river was diverted, and new lakes had been created." Emma looked up from the table. "Maybe the map is pre- earthquake.?" "There's a notation here that says Cigam Society. I've never heard of it, anything about Cigam in the news?" "Not by name. it mentions a scholarly retreat, being blocked by a new mountain formation. Rescuers were killed by avalanches trying to reach survivors."
  • 4. "Maybe there's something about it in the journal?" "That will take time to dig thru through. Why don't you get started on it, and I'll call your Dad. I think, I can give him a general idea, where this Cigam might be located. It may still be blocked off. Maybe they could do a fly by." Aldric thought about it. "If it's blocked, then it's just a dead end. If no one can get into it by land, Frankie can't be there." "It might not be blocked now. It's worth checking out." Emma reached over, and picked up the journal. "I'll see if I can decipher anything in this, while you talk to Dad."
  • 5. At that moment, David was greeting various Three Lakes residents, and trying to find out if anyone had seen Almeric or Frankie. He wasn't having much luck; no one could remember seeing a child fitting Frankie's description. A few people knew Almeric's name. but no one could recall seeing him recently. "Have you talked to Sarrie? She keeps a watch over the town, got a keen eye. You'll find her at the lumber yard most days, flipping cakes."
  • 6. "I think we've spoken to her already, but maybe I'll swing by and see her again." "Well, if Sarrie don't know em they ain't here, or they don't want to be seen. Even if they don't want to be seen Sarrie knows." Before David could respond, his phone rang. Excusing himself, he stepped outside to answer.
  • 7. "Hey Dave, its Aldric. Do you have any news for us?" Aldric tried to sound hopeful, but he knew that if David had found anything he would have called. "Nothing conclusive yet, they found the gas station where the phone call came from, and lifted fingerprints from the phone, and some tire tracks. There wasn't any other evidence around. We've been canvassing the village here in Three Lakes for a while, talking to people, asking questions. No one's seen them recently, but I'm pretty certain this is where Almeric came after college." "Really? If he went there once, he might return. I think Emma and I will head up there. I want to tell you what we found first. Maybe you can check it out."
  • 8. Aldric explained the map that they'd found, and the references to the earthquake. He also tried to explain the ring, and the effect it had had on his mother's ghost. "I think the ring is what Almeric wants, but I don't know why he wants it. Emma's reading the journal now, trying to see if there's any thing in it that will explain. I'm hesitant to turn the ring over to Almeric before we know for certain what it does. We know what he did the last time he had an item of power. However, if it will get Frankie returned, that's what's most important at the moment."
  • 9. "Frankie's safety is paramount. But, I don't want to give your brother anything that might make it easier for him to do damage, in the future. We need to capture Almeric, and get him secured. Not just for Frankie's safety, for everyone's." "Once we know where they are, we can formulate a plan of action. If it comes down to Frankie or everyone else, I'm going to fight for my son." Aldric sighed. "Emma and I will be there by daylight, we can talk about it once we're there." "I know you won't be able to make her stay home, I'd wish you'd try. Don't come up tonight. The roads are dangerous in the dark, and the two of you need some sleep, especially Emma. None of this is good for her, or the baby." Fatherly concerns over David got back to business. "I'll gather a group, and see if we can find this Cigam Society. That's a fairly large area though, it might take awhile."
  • 10. Glancing at the clock in the foyer, Aldric gave a frustrated sigh. "I guess you're right Dave. I'll try to convince Emma, that we should wait. I don't know how much sleep either of us will be able to get. Are there any messages you want me to pass out? Most of the family seems to be here. Elliot and Deanna left a bit ago to grab their kids, and head home, but Elle and Dov are still here. Eva's been in and out, Ted's staying with the boys." "Just let them know what I've told you, and that we'll be in touch as soon as we find out anything else."
  • 11. Throughout the afternoon, and evening; friends, and members of the Familiar family, had been arriving at the house. They continually offered their assistance and their thoughts. There wasn't a person in town unaffected by Frankie's disappearance, everyone wanted to help find him. Frankie was more than just Emma and Aldric's son, more than just David and Titania's grandchild. He was related to the majority of the town, he was also the designated legacy heir.
  • 12. Everyone wanted him found.
  • 13. Everyone was doing his or her part to try to locate Frankie. "If you hear anything, you'll let us know won't you Mata?" Effie asked as she approached the wolf with respect. "What could you do, if you knew where the pup was, little one? You could not tell its people, they would not listen to you. 'Quit your yapping' is what they would say to you." growled Mata in response.
  • 14. "We could make them follow us. If you make enough noise and create a ruckus, they will respond." Rowan wouldn't be dissuaded in her attempt to find the boy. Frankie was her favorite people; she liked his belly rubs the best. "Most likely they would think you wanted to play. 'Here girl fetch!' Bah! Most humans are useless." "They are not! They're just a bit slow. Their senses are weak, and they often miss the obvious. But, if you try hard, and keep repeating the process, you can train them."
  • 15. "I admire your loyalty little one. If we hear anything, we will let you know. Better we will let Luke know. Unlike your useless humans, he will hear us when we speak." Mata was very pleased with the newest member of his pack. "I will see what I can do." Giving a final growl of goodbye, Mata padded off in search of his pack mates. It was a long way to the hills. It would take time, and many voices, to send the message.
  • 16. Disconnecting his call to David, Aldric went in search of his wife. He found her in the study. Emma was absorbed in the journal they had found. "Finding out anything interesting?" he asked. "This is fascinating reading. Can't be true, but still it's fascinating." Emma looked at her husband. "It's all about some group that called themselves the Cigam Society. Like on the map. There are some pretty outrageous claims in here."
  • 17. "Whoa, what is this place Dave?" Durin Familiar asked, as a small combined group of Heroes and Criminals landed. "I assume that we've found the Cigam Society. What the Cigam Society is, or was though, I don't know. I hope that we'll find out once we explore a bit." Was David's response to the young Captain Hero "Search for signs of Frankie and Almeric first though." "I don't think that there's any way they could be here Dave. This place is surrounded by sheer cliffs on three sides, and the forth is a straight drop over the edge of the mountain." Bud's vampire vision hadn't been able to locate any breaks in the cliffs leading up here. "Nevertheless go slow, we don't know what we'll find."
  • 18. As the group explored the ruins, they found a bunch of odd items, but they didn't find any recent signs of life. There were buildings that apparently had been used for housing; rotting bed frames, being all that remained. Other buildings contained stores of food, and still others appeared almost ceremonial. After a quick check around and finding no one currently present; the group began searching for clues, as to the purpose of the buildings.
  • 19. On the edge of the clearing, David and Durin found what appeared to be an abandoned mineshaft. The warning sign reading: Danger! Collapsed Passage, didn't dissuade Dave from attempting to break it open. However, the bars held tight." "It's locked on this side Dave, and, the lock is old and rusted. There's no way Almeric could have taken Frankie in there." "I know, maybe the passage would lead us somewhere. Urrgh!" A final try to pull down the bars only succeeded in straining David's back. "Let's keep looking; I'm going to check on the other guys. Why don't you take a look through the storage rooms?"
  • 20. The main building, in the center of the enclave was a hodgepodge of eclectic items. Jars of murky liquid were stacked on shelves, a pot of green goo bubbled continually in the center of the room, and stacked in the corners were piles of moldy books. Trusting his regenerative powers Bud bent, and tentatively stuck a finger into the pot. The liquid was sticky, but cool to the touch. Pulling a vial from his utility belt he took a sample for testing. David and Puck exchanged looks of bewilderment over everything they were seeing. Very little was familiar to either of them. "I'll start on the books," said Puck "Hopefully, they won't fall apart when I touch them."
  • 21. "Hey guys I found the stash!" Shouted Durin. "Well don't drink anything. It's been fermenting for decades, maybe longer." "Too Late *hic*" one sip and Durin was out for over an hour.
  • 22. "A definitive history of the Cigam Society, by H.W. Jacob" read Puck. "That looks like the place to start." Dusting off the cover of the book, Puck sat down and began to read.
  • 23. What was in the book was decidedly, an interesting read, though Puck wasn't quite certain if it was real or fiction. The book described a history of a people that claimed to be hereditary magic wielders. It claimed that the source of their power was located within this very mountain. Originally, those that carried the blood remained close to the source, but eventually their population increased, and they began to venture farther, and farther afield. Only those of the purest blood were unable to pass for humans. Even some of the purest could pass, if they kept their hair long. The two species were extremely compatible, and over time, many of their kind mixed blood with humans. Those of the blood, called themselves The Cigam Society. It was determined, that the farther from the source, the weaker the power became. Therefore, this retreat had been built, over the source. Those of the blood should return, and rejuvenate regularly.
  • 24. The book went on to claim, that the members of Cigma were primarily scholarly. They sought to use their power to develop new, and better ways to improve life for themselves, and for others. It was noted that many items, now deemed commonplace, had originated from Cigma studies. Such items as smart milk, and energizers, had been developed at the retreat. The book also contained a listing, of vegetable, and fruit strands; that when juiced, could create crude potions. These strands had quickly taken over the native plant population, and it was rare to find a garden containing less powerful strands. Other potions had been developed, as well. Potions that cured the common cold or flu, as well as more powerful potions, that could cure less common aliments. Ailments that only effected those of the blood.
  • 25. Only those with the blood could contract ailments such as Vampirism, Lycanthropy, and Plantrophy. For many years, the people of the blood remained true to their original purpose. Eventually however, there was a division in the population. Some members, wanted to use their magic powers, to assist them in gaining other forms of power. They sought to manipulate the world's population in order to gain gold, property, and political or social standing. After years of fighting, the two sects had clashed in a battle that drained the source nearly dry. The draining of the source, had caused earthly destruction, and had cut off the source of power. From that point forward, no one could directly touch the source. While the power could still be felt, it could no longer be used.
  • 26. After the battle, those that remained at the retreat, had done their best to shield the source. When someone with a corrupted sense of power entered the valley; their power turned on them, and compelled them to leave. If they remained, they did so in a state of lethargy, often becoming physically ill. There were, among those of the oldest blood, artifacts of power derived from the source. These artifacts were also shielded, and could be used for protection against corrupted beings.
  • 27. After the battle, many with the purest blood had left the surface. They traveled the worlds seeking new sources for the power. These aliens, as they came to be known, returned to their home world's atmosphere periodically. Using a method,they had discovered during their travels, the aliens would abduct test subjects, and implant new pure blooded beings into the ones they felt would be able to nurture the power.
  • 28. It was prophesied, that one descended from those of the purest would, some day, mix blood with one descended of the oldest. When a child of that union matured, he or she would be able to open the source of power to all, once again. Warnings were issued, to protect such a child from those that might attempt to corrupt its power. "Dave you gotta read this," exclaimed Puck. "Just a moment Puck," David said over his shoulder, as he shook hands with Bud. "Thanks for coming up Bud. If you'd take those samples to Misty to be analyzed, I'd appreciate it. You better get moving though, it'll be daylight soon."
  • 29. Almeric had left the cabin, and pitched a tent to sleep in. Late in the night, after assuring that both the cub, and his friend were asleep, Squatch returned to the fire. As he stared into the fire, Squatch turned his thoughts to the conversations he had had with Ricky; when his friend, had first reappeared. The boy Squatch had known, was gone. In his place was a young man, scared of what he believed he had done. When Ricky had related his story, Squatch had seen portents of what was to come. He had listened, as Ricky told of his college experiences. There had been blank spots in the most recent memories, times when Ricky would seemingly wake from a dream, unable to remember.
  • 30. It had taken time, but eventually the two had filled in the blanks. It had taken more time for his friend to accept. Eventually, Ricky had begun to question why. When he did so, Squatch had been able to answer some, but not all of his questions. Squatch had explained to his friend the history of the mountains and of the blood. Of how two sects had battled bitterly, had in causing the destruction of their own haven, wrecked havoc on all of those that carried the blood. Those like Ricky.
  • 31. Among those of the old blood that remained on the surface, many kept the legends alive. They sought out others, like themselves, with whom to mix blood. The more the blood was mixed among, the stronger the blood became. Many sought to bring back the old way, the scholarly way of life that had been celebrated on the mountain. Richard Davis had been a man with a scholarly bent, that had believed in the legends. His blood was as old and as strong as any blood that remained on this world.
  • 32. Lisette Davis had not been like her husband. Though she carried the old blood, hers was corrupt, and it had corrupted her. She could have turned away from the path of corruption, returned to the true path. However, she had no wish to do so. Lisette's sole purpose had been to see the return of power in her lifetime. Everything she did was driven by that desire, including her seduction of, and marriage to Richard Davis. Lisette had initially cloaked her purposes from her husband. She had believed him to be weak in spirit, if strong in blood. When she knew she was pregnant, she had been pleased. Lisette had believed the child would undoubtedly be responsible for the reopening of the path.
  • 33. There were some who had no idea that they carried the blood. Their families had lost the knowledge of power. When Richard Davis seduced the family maid, Nicole, he had done so with scientific purposes in mind. He felt that a child from Nicole could be more powerful, due to the recessive quality of her blood. When Nicole had found herself pregnant, Richard had promised her and her child his support and protection.
  • 34. The births of Richard Davis's two sons had pleased him greatly. In each of them, he could see the blood shine. Immediately upon their births, he had begun making plans for their futures. The best schools with the best teachers, and when they matured he would tell them of their history and of the legends. His sons would work together and return the power to the world.
  • 35. Lisette had not been pleased to discover Richard's dalliance with the maid. Lisette neither understood, nor cared about the potential strength in Nicole's blood. In her mind, the woman was a peasant. Lisette threatened to take her son, Almeric, away from his father. To raise him outside of Richard's influence. Richard had used his considerable worldly power to keep Lisette, and Almeric, in his home. He knew that as much as she craved magic, Lisette equally craved more worldly powers. She wanted gold, and social standing, both of which he had the ability to provide or to deny.
  • 36. Richard had not fully seen the depth of his wife's corruption. Soon after Aldric's birth, his mother had been found dead in the servant's wing. There was no evidence of foul play, but Richard had known who was responsible. Seeing his wife for what she was, Richard had used an artifact of power to protect the infants. Throughout their childhoods, he had taken his family to the valley to recharge their protection. That those same trips stifled his wife's power was a side benefit.
  • 37. Richard could not force his wife to care for the children, but he could force her not to harm them. The protection would fade as they matured. Richard intended to explain their history, and to teach them to protect themselves before it faded. That Lisette doted on her son Almeric, while ignoring Aldric was disappointing, but acceptable. Lisette, frustrated at being thwarted by her husband, bide her time. What she was unable to do for herself, she was certain her son would do for her.
  • 38. For most of his life, Almeric had striven to do as his mother wished. He took her preference for him, to be a sign that he was better than Aldric. Unlike his mother, his father hadn't shown preference to either boy. His father's scholarly pursuits had kept him seemingly distant, and distracted. At his mother's urging, he did what he could to increase the distance between his brother and his father. During their time at university, Almeric had intercepted messages between the two, and each thought that the other was refusing to communicate. Due to the meddling, Aldric missed receiving the invitation to dine with his parents that final night.
  • 39. Richard was disturbed by his younger son's refusal to appear at the dinner table. He wanted to talk to Aldric about the girl. Richard wanted very much to meet Emma Familiar. From what he knew of her family's history, she should have been an excellent match. On paper, Miss Familiar's bloodline was pure and strong. However, from Almeric's reports on the girl, Richard wasn't certain he approved. Saying goodnight to his wife and son, he had gone upstairs to send Aldric another email.
  • 40. After his father retired, Almeric and his mother had one of their 'discussions'. Lisette pushed at her son to stop his brother from winning the heiress. Almeric pushed back, claiming that he did not wish to marry Emma, they were not suited for each other. That Emma seemed very suitable to his brother was obvious. In the end, what did it matter to Lisette, which son married the heiress? Lisette had lashed out at Almeric, and told him the truth that had been hidden all their lives. Almeric and Aldric weren't twins at all, but were half brothers.
  • 41. "You disappoint me, Almeric. You must stop their relationship. I can understand that you wouldn't wish to sully yourself with a girl that would find Aldric acceptable. However, if you don't want her, then you need to be certain that he doesn't have her either. You can have the next heiress." "How am I supposed to do that, Mother? The fool's besotted, he'd forgive her anything at this point." "Then take care of him, I don't care how, just do it. The power in her blood can not be combined with his. They wouldn't know what to do with it, if they even recognized it."
  • 42. "What power are you talking about mother? I don't understand what you mean by power." "Perhaps I should have explained it to you before. If you understood, you might have tried harder to succeed." Lisette had sneered. "I won't explain now, when I can no longer trust you. Take care of your brother. Ensure that his blood will never be passed. Perhaps then, I'll tell you a secret. One that will give you everything you desire."
  • 43. "And if I refuse? Why should I care for your schemes? I'm sick of them mother, I'm sick and tired of not having control over my own life. That's what I desire, freedom!" "After all that I've done for you, you dare to question me, to insult me, and to deny my requests? Get out of my sight Almeric. Don't come back until you've done as you were told."
  • 44. "Frammit!" Almeric yelled in frustration, throwing down his drink. He then turned to leave the house.
  • 45. As Almeric walked out of the room he heard the whoosh of flame. A spark, spurred on by alcohol, began to engulf the rug. Pausing shortly, he considered putting out the blaze. "Why should I? A little smoke damage to her precious antiques will show her." Almeric had instead, continued out the door, and returned to campus.
  • 46. The flames quickly engulfed the house, jumping from one item of furniture to another room by room.
  • 47. By the time the firefighters were called by a neighbor, most of the house was a loss. When questioned, the fire marshal had blamed a stray spark from the fireplace, and once again issued warnings, and reminders to install fire detectors.
  • 48. Among the ashes, the firefighters had found burial urns for Richard and Lisette Davis. When contacted by the police, Almeric had been stunned to learn of his parents deaths. Never in his wildest dreams had he believed the fire would do that much damage. His mother had upset and angered him, but he had not wanted her to be killed. Unable to admit what he believed he had done, and afraid to confront what he now knew of his brother's history, Almeric had delayed telling Aldric about the fire. That night, Almeric had received his first visit from his mother's ghost. From then on, his memories were full of blanks.
  • 49. Frankie quickly grew bored, why would anyone want to live here? The day before the newness of his experience had been exciting, but now he had other thoughts. There wasn't a television, and when he'd tried to turn on the radio Squatch had growled, and told Frankie to go outside to play. Looking around outside Frankie couldn't find anything to play with, there weren't any toys, or swing sets, or cousins, or pets. More importantly, there was no toilet.
  • 50. His Uncle's suggestion to use a tree hadn't set well. Eventually though, his fear of wetting himself had overcome his trepidation, and Frankie became one with nature. He drew the line at bathing from the water barrel, he'd wash his hands and face but he wouldn't strip.
  • 51. Once Squatch was awake, things became more interesting. The creature had begun the day with an energetic jig in front of the radio. Squatch had been pleased to see that Frankie knew how to slap dance. Slap dancing was the secret to long life. Once he was done dancing, the creature had presented Frankie with a fishing pole, and taught him how to fish.
  • 52. While they were fishing, Frankie took the time to examine the creature. He was still a bit scared of Squatch, but he was starting to get more comfortable around him. "What are you?" Frankie finally asked. He knew that it wasn't polite to ask, but he was curious. He hoped that the creature wouldn't be offended. "I am a Sasquatch," was the reply. "Some call us Bigfoot's, but that is not true. My feet are not that big, see?" Squatch raised one of his feet, and displayed it to Frankie. "They look pretty big to me." "Ha! You should see the feet of a Yeren! Those are big! They deserve the nickname, I do not."
  • 53. "Is your name really Squatch?" asked Frankie, "Don't you have a real name?" "You would not be able to understand my real name, if I told it to you. Squatch is what I am called by your kind, and that is fine." "Why do you live out here? Why don't you live in town with people? Don't you like people?" Frankie was building up to his normal babbling state. "I like people just fine, but most do not like me. When I first came here, most ran from me. Those that did not, became my friends. It is better for me to remain hidden; those who are my friends visit, and share the news. When I need something, they get it for me. However, I do not often need anything. I have all that I need here." "But, you don't have a computer, or a television or a Nintendo, all you have is a radio!"
  • 54. "Your kind lead lives that are too complicated. That has always been your way. If those who had come before, had been content with what they had," Squatch shook his head. "They were not content, they wanted more and in trying to get it, they destroyed all." "Who were the ones that came before? What did they want? What did they destroy?" "That is a tale for another day, when you need to know I will tell you. For now we will eat and eat well." "But?" "Someday, Frankie," promised Squatch. "When you need me, I will be here."
  • 55. Emma and Aldric arrived in Three Lakes around mid-day. After briefly joining up with David, in order to exchange news, the two had taken on searching themselves. As they walked from property, to property, they contemplated what they'd read in the journal. The information in it had been similar to what David and Puck had found in an old book. Emma's father had suggested that their son, their very normal, very rambunctious little boy might fit the prophecy. Emma and Aldric pushed that aside, they would deal with it once Frankie was found. On the final pages of the journal, Richard Davis had annotated the history of the society with his personal history, and that of his sons. After reading it, Aldric had spent the night, and most of the drive up the mountain digesting what he had read. In a way it made sense, it explained so much about his childhood, about his mother; correction, his stepmother. Absorbed in his thoughts, Aldric almost didn't recognize the woman.
  • 56. Coming up behind Emma, Aldric stared at the woman. "Aren't you?" "Aldric Davis! Why it's been years, is this your wife? I feel so bad about your little boy, but I just can't believe Ricky would have anything to do with it. I told that man last night that I didn't believe him, and I won't believe you either. You always were at odds with your brother Aldric, but I won't have you telling these tales." "Almeric called us and admitted to taking Frankie. We know that they're in this area, if you have any idea where they might be, please tell us." Emma wondered who this person was, and how she knew Almeric.
  • 57. Aldric provided introductions between the two women. He then asked Debbie if she remembered anything that Almeric might have said, about Three Lakes. "Well, I do know that he loved this place. He talked about it constantly; said it was wonderfully peaceful." Debbie Johnson, Almeric's high school sweetheart, told Aldric. "Ricky wanted to bring me here to show it to me, but we never came. It was too long a drive for a couple of high school seniors with curfews. One year, while I was at Sim State, my girlfriends and I spent spring break here. I understood then what he had meant."
  • 58. "Now that I got Annie," Debbie said, pointing to the little girl behind her. "We come up here every chance we get; she loves it as much I do. I wish I could help you Aldric, but I really don't know where your brother would be. I'm a parent myself, I can't imagine what I'd do if I lost Annie. I'd tell you if I knew I swear." Emma nodded, and handed her a card. "Thank you Debbie, if you do hear anything, call us please. Anytime day or night, we're staying here at our house until Frankie's found."
  • 59. Frankie couldn't understand why his parents hadn't to get him come yet. Uncle Almeric had said that they'd be here the night before, this morning at the latest, but it was almost dark and they still weren't here. Didn't they want to see him? Frankie wanted his parents to meet Squatch, to see the fish he'd caught, and the boots. He was about to go pester his Uncle again, when Squatch waylaid him to do some more fishing for dinner. Frankie didn't know how to tell his friend that he was sick of fishing, and even sicker of eating fish.
  • 60. "We've been over every inch of this village twice now, where could he be?" In the past twenty- four hours, Frankie's parents had run through a gambit of emotions. They were past worried, past scared, and moving towards hysterical. Every time one of their phones rang, they jumped a foot, hoping it was Almeric. Instead, all they had heard were reports from David. The search was continuing, it was expanding, they were bringing in more people.
  • 61. Sarrie wished she could help the couple; she could see that they were upset, so very upset, about their child. She knew the man they asked about, had seen him the previous year. Sarrie knew everyone in the valley. Eventually, even the most reclusive found their way to her table. Most just wanted a hot meal, but others liked to talk. Sarrie had a sympathetic smile and ready ears. She didn't say much but she heard everything. What she'd heard today was worth passing on. She'd take a trip into the woods when her shift ended. If the boy were in the woods, Squatch would know.
  • 62. "Sarrie was here; your brother and his wife are in the village. Will you go and meet with them now? Take the cub, Ricky, return him to his family." "Did Sarrie have other news?" Almeric asked Squatch. "She told me, those who search claim to have found the retreat. The green one has been asking questions. He wants to buy it." This was good news to Squatch, the grandfather had seen, and he had recognized what he had seen. "Good, that's good. Now they know." "And will you go?" "Not yet," Almeric replied, dismissing his friend, "perhaps after dinner."
  • 63. Shaking his head Squatch stepped out of the cabin, he had hoped that Ricky would do the proper thing and return the cub to its parents. It was not right, keeping Frankie hidden from them. Since nightfall, Squatch had been hearing the calls. Looking around to be sure Frankie was occupied elsewhere, Squatch gave a reply. "You have news? questioned the wolf. "You have seen the pup?" "Yes my friend the cub is here. He is safe. I do not want the humans in my grove, but if you lead them close, I will bring their cub to them." "It is early moonrise, the message must travel far, it will be received by the time daylight burns." "I will have him at the cabins by dawn. Thank you my friend."
  • 64. Inside the cabin, Almeric stared into the fire. He contemplated what he knew, and what he felt his options were.
  • 65. Looking up, seeing the figure standing beside him, Almeric knew he would never be free of his mother's grasp. Even here, in the safest of places, she could now haunt him. She was getting stronger. The shields no longer protected him. She had corrupted him too much. "The power is returning, I feel growing. It feeds me. Soon I will have no need for you, and your fear. All will fear me." Almeric remained quiet, acknowledgment only made it worse. If he ignored her, she would fade. Over time, he had learned a few things about Lisette Davis's spirit. If he had known them from the start would she have gained the power that she now had?
  • 66. Almeric knew that no amount of begging would ever free him from her hold. Lisette had no remorse over using her son. He was nothing more than a tool, that she could use to gain her own desires. In the beginning he hadn't known what was happening. She hadn't take control immediately, she had only planted suggestions. When her suggestions failed, she blamed the failures on Almeric. Failure only increased Lisette's anger. Feeding on the anger she had become stronger, and been able to wrench control of her son. If she wanted it done right, she would have to do it herself.
  • 67. His guilt over her death had allowed her in. Those who kill without regret aren't in danger from the spirits of their victims. Because Almeric felt responsible for the deaths of his parents; his mother's, already powerful spirit, had been able to feed on his guilt. As she became more powerful,l she had been able to gain control over portions of his mind. By reinforcing his guilt, and adding in other strong emotional ties such as fear, hatred, anger, even love, she had increased her power. Realization of his actions, and disbelief that he could be responsible for those same actions had propelled Almeric towards the valley, and towards his old friend, Squatch. The residual shields provided by the Cigam's had for a time, strengthened Almeric, and held Lisette at bay. Now those shields were failing him.
  • 68. By now, Emma's family knew of the shields, they knew the history of the valley. They could take steps to protect it, and themselves. He had done all he could to help them. There was potential for great power. All they needed was to accept what they were. Would the kid, be the one to open the source to all? If Frankie were the one that had been prophesied, what would that do to him? How would it change him? Almeric hoped that the kid could handle it.
  • 69. Almeric hoped that he had done the right thing, directing his brother towards the truth. With truth, came the ability to defend. She wanted the source returned; she wanted Frankie in order to open the source, for her own use. Once the source was opened, she would still need a conduit, a puppet to do her bidding. Almeric wasn't willing to be that conduit any longer. He stood and began to pace.
  • 70. Pulling a bottle from his pocket, Almeric Davis took the final step necessary to rid himself of his personal daemon. Almeric would no longer be of use to his mother; she would have to find a new puppet.
  • 71. "Uncle Almeric, Squatch says you should build up the fire. We're almost ready to . . . Uncle Almeric?"
  • 72. It was a long walk to the village. One that Squatch did not make often. When he needed supplies, Sarrie brought them in her SUV. That night Squatch made the walk, and he carried the cub with him. Squatch would mourn the friend he could not save, and protect the one he could. _________________ Thanks for reading, Happy Simming! I'd like to give a general shoutout to all the wonderful creators that donate their time and talents to the simming community. Thank You!