It’s been one hour since we lost contact with the Cleveland teams, I was now in my office with Victor, Yal, and Kalron. The four of us, were in a video conference call with August, Reza, Konrad, and Luigi.
“So, three confirmed demon bases, and we’ve lost our Cleveland team?” August asked. His demeanor clearly showed a slight hint of edge, and I can understand his frustration with our situation.
“I understand the mission in Indianapolis succeeded,” Reza calmly said, his eyes showing a large amount of resolve and determination, which I haven’t seen from him before.
“Yes, we’ve confirmed the location of the demon base in Indianapolis. For Grand Rapids, we narrowed it down to several blocks or so, but Cleveland, well, we’ve lost contact with them an hour ago,” Yal said. The spymaster had his arms crossed, and his voice, tone, and general behavior was hard to read. I think, just like everybody else, he’s worried for our agents in Cleveland.
“What are the odds, of our agents being dead?” Luigi, the co-chair in the WCC asked. He was not mincing words, he asked the question everyone had in mind, but dreaded to ask.
I turned my attention towards Kalron and cocked my head, as if to tell him he should answer.
Kalron cleared just throat, exchanged looks with me, and then answered, “Sir, to be honest, we don’t know.”
“They could be demon puppets by now, maybe even, already turned into Anami,” Victor piped in.
“So, what do we do now?”, Konrad asked. He was in the same screen as Reza, and it was clear, both of them had something in mind.
I returned the question, and asked, “What do you suggest?”
“I say, we act swiftly, the demons have certainly been alerted of our actions, if we don’t act fast enough, we might lose them again,” Konrad explained, as Reza nodded in agreement beside him.
“I agree with Konrad,” August remarked.
Luigi followed by adding, “I think we have enough agents for a simultaneous attack on the three facilities.” Luigi let out a small sigh and then continued, “am I correct?”
“We have the numbers,” Yal confirmed. The older elf briefly closed his eyes, as if to think things through, and then further added, “we can mobilize our teams tonight, I suggest we reconvene for another meeting at noon.”
With that we ended our conference call.
Yal was visibly miffed with how things were going.
“Are you okay Yal?” I asked.
“I’ve been through worse, but this situation is deteriorating fast, I suggest we go back to the realm, and update your grandfather.”
“Okay, let’s leave for the realm in one hour,” I replied. I then directed my attention on Kalron and said “Find out as much as you can before we go to the realm, the more information we have, the better”
“Of course, your highness”
I then gave my boyfriend a light hug and a peck on the lips. “It appears, we won’t be having any sleep tonight, this is going to be a long day.”
“It certainly will be but don’t forget to rest Chris,” Victor replied.
I crossed back into the realm with Yal, Kalron, and Etalos in tow. I left Nomir back at the house to serve as dad’s security, and also, to handle communications with the other races, should the need arise in our absence.
As soon as we arrived in the palace, Etalos was in a hurry to drop by our office in the realm, while Yal, and Kalron joined me, walking towards Patri’s office.
Grandfather was on his phone as we entered his office. He beckoned for us come into the room, and make ourselves comfortable, as he wrapped up his call.
“With the look on your faces, I gather things haven’t gone as planned,” Patri said, with a flat tone and serious expression.
“Patri, you’re right, we might have lost several agents a few hours ago,” I replied. I paused, took a moment to compose myself, and continued, “The mission in Indianapolis was a success, we’ve made progress in Grand Rapids, but we’ve lost contact with the Cleveland teams, both the scouting, and extraction teams have been lost.”
Patri’s expression was a mix of sadness and anger. Sadness for our lost agents, and anger against the demon scourge.
“The VHC and WCC are aware of the situation,” Yal said.
“I assume, a decision has been made?” Patri asked.
“Yes, your majesty, we’re to mobilize again this evening,” Yal replied. The spymaster was all business and the air of familiarity between him and my grandfather, was clearly diminished
“I see, I think it’s best, if Rehanmir and Jetan are deployed as well. Their skills will surely be of use to the upcoming operations. Chris, you can transport them with you back on Earth, right?”
“Do we have enough agents stationed on earth?” Patri asked.
“We have enough for now, we have 51 agents in New York, on standby,” Yal replied.
“Let’s look into deploying more, I’m sure Akros, the Royal Guard, and Civil Guard, have more to spare,” Patri said.
It did not take more than half an hour for my uncle, and Jetan, the head of Akros to join us.
“So, I gather this is urgent?” My uncle asked.
“It certainly is my son, your nephew, has informed me things have turned for the worse back on Earth. I believe, your presence, and Jetan’s will be needed there.”
“Oh, a mission?” My uncle asked, his expression told me he was excited to be part of the action.
“If I may ask sir, does the prince really have to be part of the mission? I mean, he’s heir to the throne, what if…” Jetan interjected, leaving the ‘what if’ at the end of his question unasked.
Patri gave Jetan a light smile, as his fingers softly tapped on his desk.
I decided to speak, to avoid any awkward moments, “Jetan, I believe Patri is making a calculated decision.” I paused as I looked at both Patri and Yal, then I continued, “Involving the crown prince in this mission allows us to achieve several things. First, it serves as a show of force by the elves, it will demonstrate to the other races, that we elves are strong, and not to be trifled with. Second, if the mission is a success, it will boost morale in the realm, and further boost the prince’s popularity and legitimacy as heir here in the realm.” I then cocked my head towards Patri and asked, “did I miss anything?”
Grandfather’s smile grew wider by the second, and he then burst into loud laughter, “You catch on fast Chris, you’ve hit it right on the spot. I see, you’re quite the politician in the making, you do me proud young one.”
“So, what are we dealing with?” My uncle asked.
“Three confirmed demon locations, there will be another meeting with the VHC and WCC at noon, earth time. I’m assuming the vampires and werewolves are in the process of hashing their own plan of action as we speak,” Yal explained.
For the next hour or so, we talked about the information Kalron brought with him. We also discussed the pros and cons, of several plans to discuss in the conference with the other races.
The group planned to leave for earth in 3 hours. Yal decided to pay his ministry a visit, while my uncle and Jetan held an emergency meeting with the heads of the other security agencies in the realm, namely, the Royal Guard, and Civil Guard.
Etalos joined me in my study, with a worried expression on his face.
“What is it Etalos? What’s the matter?”
“Chris, uhm, a letter from Prince Havar just arrived.”
“Huh, what do you mean?”
“Here,” Etalos said, as he handed me an envelope.
I opened the envelope and read it.
I believe our previous conversation ended prematurely. If you’re back in the realm, and have the free time, to accommodate the ramblings of an old man, such as myself. I would appreciate it, if we are able to continue where we left off.
Havar beyn Haldruin
I gave it a moments thought, and asked Etalos, “Do you know how to reach his office?”
Etalos gave me a confused expression but nodded in the affirmative.
“Tell them, I'm available now if Prince Havar is in the Capital. If not, we can reschedule it some other time.”
“Of course, I’ll let them know.”
Within a few minutes Etalos’ phone chimed, the young elf glanced towards my direction and said, “Prince Havar is in the capital now. He’s available to meet you, whenever and wherever you please.”
“Hmm, he appears to be too agreeable to respond that quick, don’t you think?”
“I have a bad feeling about this Chris, your grandfather and uncles warned us about him.”
“I know, but the things is, I know what his motives are. I won’t fall for whatever he has in mind, and you know Etalos, whatever this spell he plans on launching, I doubt the existence of such a powerful spell to be real anyway. I think, we have something to gain if we talk to Prince Havar, you know, keep the opposition at bay?”
“What do you mean?”
“If I talk to him, maybe he’ll slow down with whatever machinations he’s been plotting. If he thinks he has eyes and ears in Patri’s inner circle, he might be less of a hassle in the council meetings.”
“Ahh, sneaky,” Etalos said as he gave me a conniving smile. He then typed on his phone and almost instantly, a meeting between me and Prince Havar was confirmed in a hotel in town.
I arrived in a five-star hotel in one of the city’s commercial districts. Etalos was at my side as we entered the opulent lobby.
I did not forget to turn on my detractor ring so that no one would recognize me. There still has been no official photograph or video of me released to the public but several stolen shots and videos have started to circulate in the realm’s media. Believe me when I say, almost every picture, or so called news, about me sends the media into a frenzy. I am long overdue for some sort of official introduction to the public, all the mystery surrounding me has made the masses crave information about me even more.I’ve heard of various rumors circulate about me, from the laughable, such as me being a playboy, to things that are downright scandalous, such as me gunning for the crown.
Etalos followed me through the hallways of the hotel, we ended up in a meeting room. He excused himself, as I entered the room where I found Prince Havar sipping wine.
Havar gave me a smile, as he stood and approached me. “I’m glad you could fit me into your busy schedule,” he said.
I smiled and replied, “It’s a pleasure, anything for one of the realm’s governors.”
“Ahh, just a minor governor,” Havar smiled as he feigned humility. In my head, there’s no way being the Governor of Katar counts as a minor position, that’s the only autonomous city in the realm, Katar stands in equal status with the other four provinces.
“So, to what do I owe the pleasure of this invitation?” I asked, as I sat in front of him.
“Earth,” he replied.
“What of Earth?”
“You grew up there, am I right?”
“Yes, I’m from Earth.”
“What do you think of its future?”
“What do you mean?”
“Does the Earth have any future? I mean, you have seen how the humans defile and destroy it. In a few decades, I doubt even our powers could undo all the damage they will have done.”
“So, what do you have in mind?” I asked.
“We elves, have always been the most connected with nature, look at the realm, there’s no pollution, the capital, and all our cities live in perfect harmony with the environment. We are the stewards of the Earth, we can recreate all of this, no, we can do better than this, we will not only survive, but we will thrive on Earth! Think of the possibilities.”
“Your Highness, I understand and see where you’re coming from, but I’m afraid, for the very same reasons the elves fled to the realm, there’s no way our kind can return to Earth.”
“That is another thing I wanted to talk to you about.”
“What of it?”
“We have stayed long enough in this realm, it’s been good, but nothing will replace Earth. There is a way for us to return.”
“What do you mean?”
“Have you ever heard of the Astra Spell?”
“I’ve heard whispers,” I said, my voice was soft and I did my best to not show my revulsion at the thought of mass murder.
Prince Havar gave me a soft smile, “It seems, they have told you it’s genocidal, am I correct?”
“Far from it,” he smiled.
My eyes blinked fast and I gave the prince my full attention. “What do you mean?”
“You have access to the Tower of Knowledge, am I correct?”
“How’d do you know that?”
“It doesn’t matter. So yes, you have access, right?”
“Look into it, the Astra Spell is more than what it seems.”
“You’re speaking in riddles.”
“In time, you’ll understand.”
“Just to be clear, Prince Havar, I have no intention of killing humans.”
“Is it murder if the act comes from God?”
Prince Havar smiled again, “the demons are on the move, humans feed their hunger, humans alone are already enough of a threat, imagine the heightened threat of demons feeding off those disgusting creatures,” his voice filled with spite and condescension. “The barrier has been strengthened but all it takes is another world war or demons taking over Earth, in either scenario the barrier will surely fail, we will go extinct, and you know what, in both scenarios, humans play a key role in it.”
“Do I have to remind you, that I’m half human,” I asked.
“Hmph, do you feel human. You are more elf than human. In fact you are the perfect specimen of an elf. Do not fool yourself, you’re no human. I understand your feelings of familiarity to humans, but you know I am right, the moment your powers awakened you have ceased to be human.”
“I don’t agree.”
“Sooner or later, you will see the truth.”
“And what is this truth you’re talking about?”
“You are no ordinary elf, and the fate of our kind rests in your hands. The Astra Spell, look into it. Remember your highness, it is not murder if it’s the will of the gods”
What the hell is this guy talking about. He’s clearly deluded! “I’m leaving,” I replied.
Prince Havar smiled again, he stood and gave me a warm embrace, as I prepared to leave, he whispered into my ear, “The light of Gaia shines in you”
I left feeling disturbed and confused. Prince Havar is certainly troubled, but he doesn’t seem to have the means to turn his wishes into reality. It appears, he doesn’t really know how the Astra Spell works, must be some made up spell he thought of, or maybe something different, that has been entrenched into mythology.
Rehanmir, Yal, Jetan, Etalos, Kalron, and me returned to earth at 11am. Dad was surprised to see my uncle and Jetan enter the dining room.
“It seems like I’m becoming the transportation mode of choice,” I joked.
“Certainly saved us time,” my uncle replied.
“Early lunch?” My dad asked.
“Yes dad, we have a meeting at noon”
“Trouble?” Dad asked with concern.
“Yes, trouble indeed,” I confirmed.
“Don’t worry about it William, it’s nothing we can’t handle,” my uncle said, to alleviate the worried expression on my dad’s face. Dad can be quite the worrier, but I can’t blame him for worrying this time around.
At exactly 12 noon, the meeting began.
I was joined by Yal, Prince Rehanmir, Jetan, and Kalron, in representing the elves.
Reza, Konrad, Victor, and Jeppe were on screen for the VHC. While Luigi, Juan, Olaf, and August were present for the WCC.
The atmosphere was definitely tense.
“I wish we were having this meeting under different circumstances,” Reza started, his voice was calm and collected. His gestures, exuded class and were all measured, he certainly was serious today.
“So, we’ve lost contact with 9 of our agents?” Olaf asked.
“Yes,” Yal confirmed.
“Three confirmed demon bases, all of which, we have varying amounts of information on,” Kalron added. He was doing his best to be calm, but I could sense him being nervous with how tense the situation is.
“How many generals are we up against?” Konrad asked.
“At least one,” I replied.
“We’re not sure how many?” Luigi asked.
“No, we don’t know if the facilities are by different generals,” Yal replied.
“A full on strike is what’s on the table, right?” Juan, the WCC’s co-chair, asked.
“Are we prepared for this?” Jeppe asked.
“We don’t have a choice, they could move at any moment, we have to hit them now,” Olaf argued.
Kalron shifted in his seat, but spoke anyway, “We should assume that we’ll be facing demon controlled humans, Anamis,and expect demons as well.”
“If we’re facing Anamis, every team should have an elf, our magic could contain their corruptive powers,” my uncle said, his arms crossed as he sat steadily on his chair.
“How many do we send? Let’s remember how demon enhanced humans took down FRUSI,” Reza said.
“Three large contingents, each composed of several teams,” Konrad started. “1 primary team composed of 7 agents, with 4 or 5 support teams, each with 5 agents. Will that be enough?”
“I suggest we add surveillance teams, and emergency extraction teams too. Drone support, and choppers should be on hand too,” I added.
“So how do we go about this?” Victor asked.
“We werewolves are most familiar with Grand Rapids, we can take the lead on that,” Luigi said.
“Luigi and I, will take the lead on the Grand Rapids operations,” Juan said in support of his co-chair.
“Konrad, and several senior Stratos agents can handle Indianapolis,” Reza replied. “With the information Kalron has collected, I believe the vampires should take the lead in that city.”
“So, Cleveland for the elves then?” Yal asked, clearly surprised that the other races did not jockey for position to show off their skills in handling the most dangerous site.
“I’ll join you there,” Victor piped in.
“I’ll be there too!” August followed.
For the next hour, we discussed the finer details of the operations, our attack was to commence at 11pm, our agents will fly out of New York before sunset.
My uncle will take the lead on the Cleveland operations, he will be joined by Jetan, 2 vampires and 3 werewolves.
I will be joined by August and Victor, together with another vampire and werewolf in one of the support teams. Yal, and Nomir will be part of a second support team too. Etalos will remain with dad in the house, before leaving for Cleveland I made sure the shields on the house were strong enough. I asked Leo to stay the night at my place, I felt he was safer there under the protection of my shield.
Over the course of the day, we continued to monitor the three cities. The surveillance drones we flew did not show us any major movements from the demons, the surveillance systemswe’ve hacked into said the same thing.
It was lightly snowing in Cleveland, the air was cold and the industrial neighborhood stood quiet.
At 10:56pm, I found myself in a full battle outfit. Dark shirt and pants, with leather gloves, boots, and tight Kevlar jacket. Night vision goggles, and an earpiece completed the attire.
My uncle and his team were a block away from us, the rest of our contingent were in their own positions surrounding the suspect compound.
My heart was beating fast, and somehow, I was more nervous than usual. This is real, I am about to face real-life demons, not just their spawns, but demons, and maybe even a general!
As the clock hit 11pm, we made our move, each team was to enter the warehouse compound at their assigned areas. My team was to take the southern side of the compound.
With a quick spell, I gave myself and my companions the ability to jump high, we all easily cleared the 15 foot concrete walls.
Another spell, and we landed softly, without a sound on the snow covered ground.
The place was eerily quiet and empty.
“Kalron, any movements?” I asked, as he had his sights on us with the drones.
“No, you’re clear”
Just as the words escaped his mouth, more than a dozen figures started to appear a few feet from us. Cloaking magic! This certainly was not elvish in nature, as the cloaking spell dissipated, a hint of negative energy wafted through the night time air.
“What the hell?” Victor said, as he saw our enemies appear in front of us.
“Cloaking magic, it loses its power when someone gets close enough, it’s a cheap version of an invisibility spell. Whoever cast it, was not willing to spend any more energy trying to hide their minions,” I explained.
“Humans,” August stated. “Demon enhanced humans, I can smell the mixture in them.”
The demon enhanced humans swiftly ran towards us, some pulled out guns, and started firing at us.
I immediately raised a shield around our team, my shield was a welcome treat, I could feel the bullets were laced with magic, and Kevlar vests won’t protect from that.
The humans had an empty look on their faces, it was as if they were simply shells of their former selves.
“I can’t read their minds! I can’t predict their actions!” Victor shouted.
I let out an energy blast and all 14 of our attackers fell to the ground.
“Wow...” one of our agents noted after my attack took out all our opponents at once.
“Don’t celebrate just yet, this is far from over,” I remarked.
Within seconds, the badly damaged humans, started to stand. Some had broken bones, some were severely bleeding but it seemed that their injuries didn’t bother them at all.
Victor and August worked together to take down 5 of them, our two accompanying agents took down another 5, while I took down 4 on my own.
“What now?” August asked.
At this point we were still outside, we had to start searching the buildings.
As we approached one of the buildings, 3 shadowy figures leapt in front of us, then another 7 appeared behind us.
I reached out with my senses, and my aura told me several things. “The three in front of us are Anami, they were part of the scouting team. The other 7 are humans”
“They’ve fully turned?” August asked as he set his gaze on the vampire and two werewolves that served for us last night.
“They’re still turning, I might be able to help them, but at this point they can’t think on their own, they’re dangerous. Don’t let them injure you, Anami scratches and bites are hell, avoid them at all costs!” I exclaimed.
The 7 humans behind us stood their ground and held their right hands out in the open. Purple orbs formed on their open hands.
“What the...” an agent stated.
“Demon magic, I believe they’ve replaced their life force with demon energy, once they throw those balls at us, they’ll die,” I explained.
All 7 balls were thrown against us, my energy shield easily deflected the attacks.
Sadly, I was correct, as the dust settled, all 7 lay dead in front of us, now we were left with 3 newly born Anamis to deal with.
With things being this bad, I can only hope the other teams are holding out and making progress of their own.
The Anamis let out a loud growl and launched themselves against us. This is going to be a long night.
I dodged one attack after another, I told my companions to keep away.
I conjured ropes of energy and wrapped them around the three Anami. They resisted and writhed in pain, but their struggles were futile. It would take much more than that for ropes of energy to break.
“What now?” Victor asked as he looked at the 3 struggling Anami.
“They haven’t been fully turned yet, I think I can help them,” I said.
I reached out into their minds and bodies with my thoughts and energy. I felt the darkness spreading inside them, the fragments of demon soul were trying to latch onto their very existence.
I cast 3 simultaneous healing spells to no avail.
I then cast 6-layered Magnus Spells, with healing, containment, and purification spells on top of one another.
It worked, as I saw the light return in their eyes.
“Huh? What happened?” One of them weakly asked
“It’s alright now,” I replied.
“What did you do Chris?” August asked.
“I couldn’t rid them of the demon infection, I merely contained the darkness within them, that’s the best option we have for now,” I replied.
Just as I finished speaking, three hooded figures slowly approached us. There was a certain darkness that emanated from them. The closer they approached, the heavier the air felt around me, my skin tingled, and the sicker I started to feel. I’ve never felt that kind of energy before, it was vile and repulsive, yet somewhat alluring, at the same time.