Master PC – Mind Magi
Part Three—The Right and The Easy
Chapter Sixteen—Lordship Validated
Just as with Erin so many months before, the nearly all-consuming need to rush to Whisper’s rescue fed my adrenalin. The run up the emergency stairwell was nearly instantaneous. I didn’t even feel the effort, almost like I flew rather than ran. The door leading to my floor burst open before I reached it. I was certain no one was waiting in the hall so I took it.
The door to our room was ajar. I didn’t hear the shower or any movement inside, so I pushed it open and looked around.
A man sat at the table where Whisper’s laptop was still open and presumably showing her profile in Master PC. He had been looking at it but my entrance captured his attention.
“Ah, Mr. Setton I presume,” he said with a touch of jovial cheer. My anger and fear were threatening to override my reservations about what to do. He sat there watching me. His eyes were dark blue, sharp and anxious. He wore an expensive looking suit that brought out the color of his eyes. His hair, dark brown, was short and well groomed. There wasn’t a lick of facial hair.
I walked past him to the bathroom. Whisper was gone.
I came back out and reached for the man but he said, “Stop!” and held up a small corked vial. He held it so close to my face that I had to back away to focus on it.
“Do you know what this is Mr. Setton?” he asked with a sneer.
In the vial was a black swirling substance. It wasn’t really air or liquid. I stared at it, watched it and noticed to my shock and horror whisper’s face appear and vanish within the constantly moving vapors.
“By the look on your face, I would say you do. Interesting...” the man commented.
I looked past the vial to the man. His look was contemplating.
“Who are you?” I asked.
He looked up, drawn out of his reverie. “Me? Oh, I’m not so important so long as you do what you’re told.”
I reached for the vial but he snatched it away.
“No, you can’t have that. You wouldn’t want anything to happen to your little girlfriend, now would you?”
“You didn’t answer my question. Who are you?”
“Since you insist, my name is Leland Arrett, a Dragon of the Mind Magi.”
“You should have taken the hint when the other Dragons failed to bring me in.”
“Hint?” He raised his eyebrows and had a cocky smile. “You should have known better than to resist the Dragons. Even if one or two fail, the others will come for you. Some will be direct, while others use different tactics to make you do what is desired.”
“Such as taking hostages?” I replied. Then I looked at the vial in his hand again. “And what else?”
“Yes, even more insurance.” He held up the vial but kept it closer to himself. “This is your girlfriend’s soul.”
I took a step back. “You... You killed her?”
“Oh no, no, no, no, no. Her body is with associates of mine. Essentially, she is in a coma. However, if anything happens to this,” he waved the vial, “then she will die.”
“How do I put her back?” I kept my eyes on the vial.
“Simply do what you’re told and it will be taken care of for you.” That brought my eyes back to Leland.
“Do what I’m told?”
“And what exactly is it that you want?”
“Not me. My Master. And all you have to do is stay in this hotel.”
My anger burned. “Stay in this hotel,” I repeated. Leland nodded. “In other words, stop doing anything to mess up whatever scheme your master’s working on.”
Leland’s eyebrows rose. “Whatever scheme my Master is working on is none of your business. So essentially, yes, stay out of it.”
With the speed of a striking rattle snake, I had Leland by the throat. “And what makes you think I can’t save my girlfriend and take down your master?”
“Because without her body, she will wither and die. Now take your hand off of me!” His face was red and quickly heading for blue.
I started to let go and he relaxed believing that he had won the duel with words. It wasn’t over. “Sleep!” I cried and he slumped onto the table. I snatched up the vial and held it reverently.
I picked up Leland and tossed him on the bed like a discarded coat. Sitting in the chair he had occupied, I looked closer at the vial. “Whisper... Where are you?”
Her face appeared again. She looked sad. I could see her lips moving but no sound came from the small glass tube. I was tempted to pull out the cork but didn’t because I wasn’t sure what would happen if I didn’t have her body with me too. Leland was probably right. I would probably need him to put her back.
I put the vial in my jacket pocket after making sure the cork was secured. Rage threatened to spill out of me. I was so tempted to do things to Leland; things doctors would never be able to undo.
Then I looked at Whisper’s laptop. The screen saver had kicked in and required a password to get back to the OS. “Good girl!” I whispered.
After shutting down her computer and packing everything up, I went back to Leland. Searching his pockets, I found his cell phone. I pulled up his call list but it was empty. I checked voicemail and text messages but they too were empty.
“You know where she is. You will tell me,” I mumbled as I laid a hand on his head. I sought his memories of the day, but he blocked me just as the other Dragons had done earlier. I pushed harder, determined to get what I was after. He fought me, backing away a bit and then standing to take the brunt of my assault. I was so frustrated, angry and scared I almost screamed. Suddenly there was no resistance.
I was in total blackness and it reminded me of the Void.
~You fool. Now I have you trapped. All you had to do was sit tight. Your girlfriend would have been just fine. Now you’ll remain trapped here. I’ll put her back together again, but you I will leave to rot!~
He sounded like he was standing next to me, but I couldn’t see him. ~Show yourself.~
He appeared in front of me, floating in the darkness and still dressed in his fashionable suit. ~The other Dragons told me what you did, what you were capable of. I knew if you forced your way in I would be able to lead you here. Now my friends will entertain your stupidity with pain unlike anything you could imagine.~ Other shapes moved in the darkness. I looked but never could see what was there. ~I am Lord over this domain. I am what you might call a... necromancer. A Mind Magi of the dead.~
~I’d say I’m impressed, maybe even scared, but I’ve been here before.~ What I wasn’t going to tell him was that without one of my girls grounding me to the real world I didn’t know the way back. If this was the Void and not his twisted version of it I could be in deep trouble.
He floated away from me. ~The only way you could have come here before is either with my help or if you died. I know I’ve never brought you here and you looked perfectly alive back in your room...for now.~
The shadows in the darkness moved closer. I allowed my anger and fear to show. My mark lit up. It had never shown light before but now it acted like a flashlight. The light spread out and I felt like I was glowing. The shadows stopped and backed away.
I heard whispers then, echoes of voices. Leland looked around as if the shadows were talking to him. Finally he looked back at me, his smile gone.
~You have been here before! They told me about you, the ‘shining one’. You took a soul away.~
He had to be talking about when I had saved Renée.
He looked at the shadows, pointed at me and whispered something. Again and again he repeated whatever he said but it seemed the shadows were not obeying his command. I moved toward him and the shadows moved away from me. ~Lord over this domain? It looks like your lordship is over.~ I grabbed him. ~Now you’re going to tell me what I want to know.~
Leland continued to look to the shadows for help. I pulled his face back around and held his jaw so he couldn’t look away. ~Tell me!~
~I can’t tell you what I don’t know,~ he replied. ~The other Dragons took her body after I removed her soul. When everything was over they were going to tell me where to meet them so I could put her back.~
~When will they contact you?~
~Tomorrow, at midnight.~
~Who sent you to do this?~
~I don’t know. I received my orders by text message.~
~Then you’re no use to me. I should leave you here, leave you in a coma with no escape.~
~You still need me to put your girlfriend’s soul back into her body.~
~You don’t listen do you? I’ve already done that. Another friend of mine died in my arms. I chased her soul here, brought it back and put it back into her.~
He grinned regardless of my threats. ~Sounds like an amateur job. Any doctor can bring a patient back with normal medicine. But what do you do when the soul hasn’t been in the body for hours?~
It was my turn to grin. I grabbed his head with both hands and sought the answer. He had allowed me to follow, not believing he would need defenses. Now I could get anything I wanted from him. Focusing, I sliced into his mind, his memories, seeking the knowledge I needed.
Leland Arrett used to be a gambler. He made his living playing horse and dog tracks. Later he worked casinos. His specialty was poker. His gift with the dead allowed him to cheat in ways that no modern security system could detect. After House Nickelson contacted him for recruitment, he didn’t change his career much.
I didn’t care for his personal history. What I was after was more defined; specifically, his skill and knowledge of his ability. Leland fought me, but after he had relaxed his defenses, he didn’t have a hope of stopping me.
Once I was finished, I knew how to get back to my body. I knew how to not only correct what he had done to Whisper but how to repeat it. I didn’t care to know but I accepted it as a package deal.
I pulled back from Leland. He looked completely horrified. He knew that I had taken his memories and realized that he had no value to me. I grabbed him and took us back to our bodies.
We were standing in the hotel room again. He shook in my grip. It wasn’t an attempt to escape, it was simple fear. “What are you going to do to me?” He asked with a quivering voice.
“You’re going to call your friends and tell them that I am looking for them. You’ve lost me and need help finding me.”
He swallowed as I handed him his cell phone. “Hey, Russ? It’s Leland. Yeah, I told him but he knocked me out and left. I need help finding him again. He might even know how to find you. Meet me in the lobby here at the hotel he was at and we’ll go from there.” He paused. “Right. I’ll be waiting.”
He hung up and I snatched the phone back from him. “Stay,” I commanded and went to collect the pack Whisper normally carried. “Lead the way,” I told him and he turned to do just that.
We got in the elevator and I hit the button for the lobby. “Now to correct your mistake of calling me ‘Mr.’,” I said as the elevator started down. “As of this morning, the Mind Magi Council voted and I am now Lord Setton of House Nautikuus.”
Leland glanced at me. “So?”
I held him with a steady gaze. “What happened to the rule of no aggression towards the House Leaders?”
“Those so-called Leaders are nothing more than power-hungry louts too involved in their own schemes to care about the rest of the world,” he spat. Obviously he had issues with the other House Leaders.
“Yet you and the other Dragons are accepting missions to kidnap and hold their families hostage while whoever this Master of yours is goes around doing who knows what? That doesn’t sound like a solution to me. In fact it sounds like you’re pulling some kind of desperate act to get their attention.”
“What do you care? You’re one of them even if you are new. What did you do? Pay them off? Fuck the Ladies?”
“No, I simply presented ways to improve how the Houses could be run. Obviously my ideas were good otherwise I’m sure they would have rejected my Lordship.”
“Oh, don’t go getting a big head. First, you’re still a kid. You don’t know half of what those damned leaders get involved in. Like this crap with the Prophecy. Like any Mind Magi would actually want to bring about Armageddon.”
“Funny you mention that. I also petitioned and got passed the abolishment of the First Law.”
He just looked at me. “Why would you go and do something like that?”
“Because my parents were that crazy,” I said with a mixture of pride and skepticism.
Leland had looked at me with fear previously. Now he scrunched into the corner of the elevator trying to get as far away from me as possible.
“If you haven’t noticed Leland, I’m not some harbinger of doom. I’m really no different than you or any other Mind Magi out there.”
He didn’t say anything else, just watched me for signs of his coming death. When the elevator stopped at the lobby and opened, he waited until I was out of the doors and then darted past me. I grabbed his arm and stopped him from running off. “Just because you think I might smite you down at any moment doesn’t mean I’m going to let you go running off in fear for your life. You still have to help me find my girl. Once I have her, you will be free to leave.”
He watched me from the corner of his eyes. Sweat trickled down his face.
I shook his arm. “Calm down now. Being terrified of me won’t change the situation.”
He nodded and swallowed. I tried to help him calm down some but ultimately it was his decision.
I led him over to the side of the lobby. There were couches arranged so groups could have relative peace while talking. I picked up a newspaper laying on one of the coffee tables and handed it to him. “Try to look like nothing’s wrong. I’ll be right over there.” I nodded toward another couch. “Remember, you can’t outrun me. Just do what I want and there won’t be a problem. Betray me and... Well you get the idea.”
He nodded and took the paper. I went and sat down so I could see him and the main entrance. I also had a view of the entrance from the parking garage. As long as Russ wasn’t already there and sitting behind me, I would see him coming.
Now all I had to do was wait. I rubbed my hand over the pocket that held the vial. Part of me hated what was happening and another part knew this could have happened to any of my girls. Whisper had known she was in danger. The only thing going for her was the fact that they didn’t know who she was. I was hoping that her memories were safe since I had her soul.
Twenty minutes later, Russ walked in the front entrance. He was the speed Dragon I had faced that morning.
Leland snapped his paper and folded it. The two approached each other and I sat watching. They talked. I was sure Leland would say something to give me away but they turned and headed for the entrance. I got up and followed.
Russ must have either arrived in a cab or ran. However, since Leland was with him, Russ waved down a cab. Lucky for me, two stopped. They got into the first one. Leland glanced back at me as they left. I went for the other cab.
In the cab I told the driver to follow the first one. I didn’t know New York that well but then I didn’t really care where we were going. I wouldn’t be going back to the hotel.
About ten minutes later, the cab in front of mine stopped and the two men got out. I passed a twenty to the driver in my cab and got out too.
I watched from the distance. Russ and Leland knocked on a door to a warehouse. Someone big let them in. It must have been Roy, their heavy Dragon.
“Great,” I said under my breath. “Right into a nest of vipers.”