Note: I will be posting a chapter from The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle each day until the book has been fully posted. I am doing this as a way to entertain those who have been coping with the new life of social distancing, social isolation, and quarantine in the world right now in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once complete, I will hold the book on in full on my site until 1/1/2021. On that day, it’ll no longer be accessible for free.
I ask people to share links freely while the book is available, but please do not copy or do anything else without expressed permission from me, the copyright holder.
If you would like to skip ahead, you are always welcome to purchase a copy, just click the link HERE (or click up top at the menu bar) to go to the book’s page where there are links to where it is available in both print and ebook. Enjoy and I hope that you and your family are doing well!
The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle
by Jeremy C Kester
(c) Jeremy C Kester – All Rights Reserved
Gravel against rubber was deafening against the silence in the car. Large trees loomed over the older Victorian-style home. Even in day they cast a dark shadow over the home. A few lights that were left on inside contrasted against the blackness around them.
Neither Brandt nor Cadence had spoken any further as the car slowed. Brandt placed the gear into park and then quickly exited. He opened the rear door and pulled Agnes from the car taking great care not to bump her while lifting her up. Cadence left the vehicle as well and pulled the random bags that she had rescued from Agnes’ house. Once inside, she took the bags to a small room that had been prepared for Agnes. It was a room long empty like most of the rooms in the house.
She stepped downstairs to see that Brandt had remained in the foyer. In his arms was the young girl, her curly red hair covering her face.
“Take her upstairs,” he said as he cautiously handed young Agnes over to Cadence. She nodded and took Agnes. She eased up the steps trying to listen to anything that her master might say. As each step passed, she only heard silence.
Brandt seldom included her in what he playfully called a ‘debriefing.’ As such she was always curious as to what he told the conduits. Nothing regarding his assessment of her ever drove the desire. She wanted to know his feelings. He would never tell her as to whether he was scared, or whether the mission went as planned. He told her what to do; she obeyed.
She laid Agnes into bed carefully and then pulled a blanket up to cover the young girl. Standing over the bed for a moment, she feeling sorry for the young girl. So much had been taken away from her. How anyone would want to continue on after losing everything as Agnes had was a question she wished that no one should have to answer.
Cadence returned down the stairs curious where her master had gone. She moved towards the back of the house to find him. Expectations were that when he noticed her, he would dismiss her presence. It was surprising that it was the opposite.
“I am waiting for them to show up,” he said plainly. “You should stay. It’s about time I start treating you better than an apprentice. Better than my master had treated me.”
Cadence tried but she was unable to restrain herself from smiling.
“I trust she is safe?” the snide voice of Lef appeared startling Cadence. Lef was upside down walking along the ceiling.
“She’s upstairs,” Brandt brushed off the question. Turning to face the conduit, he asked pointing a small knife at it: “you have to know something about what the hell is after that girl.”
Cadence sat down on a small stool near the edge of the room.
“We know nothing of it.”
“Lies,” Brandt said, his words hissing from between his teeth. “Filthy lies.”
“Truth clouded. We know of nothing.”
Brandt was about to react again before Cadence spoke. “She was moving the fire.” He shot her an angry glare. “When she was screaming, the fire on the house moved with her screams, as though she could control it,” she explained.
“Impossible!” Lef snorted. “You Sentry cannot possibly control things in that way.”
“I think that Cadence was seeing things,” Brandt tried to counter as he waved dismissively at her.
“I swear that I was not seeing things, Brandt!” It was the first time that she had ever used Brandt’s name directly instead of referring to him as ‘Master.’ Noticing it immediately, she retreated back lowering her gaze. It was more out of surprise from herself than any fear of retaliation from her master.
In a calm and stern tone, he said, “it is impossible for any of us to exhibit any power without direct contact. You know this, Cadence. Mind to your emotions.” His gaze returned to the ugly creature hanging from his ceiling. “I’ll concede however, that the girl was remarkably strong given her age.”
“Explain yourself,” Lef said.
“I couldn’t hold her when I tried to pull her to the car. She was overpowering me,” she said trying to brush off her misstep.
“I hit her from behind and knocked her out,” Brandt explained further. “I think that it is just the stress, but I can’t shake how this all feels a little beyond my grasp.”
“You have no grasp! You are a dense sod!” Lef squealed delightedly.
The quick sound of a blade leaving its sheath rang through the air as Lef realized the tip of Cadence’s sword only a molecule’s distance from its throat. “Watch your tongue, filth!” she exclaimed.
Krag then appeared with a sizzle and pop.
“Lef isn’t worth the trouble,” Brandt said. “If he was I’d’ve killed him long ago.”
“The sword in the sheath, young lady,” Krag said.
Brandt walked over to a small window along the side of the room. There was only a simple set of blinds that kept light from transferring between the outside and inside of the house. His fingers parted the blinds as though he were looking for something. In truth, he was stalling. “Put Iliad away,” he instructed as he waved his hands. Cadence did so.
“I still like you,” Lef said with an evil-looking, little grin. The sharp, needle-like teeth protruded past the curl of its mouth. “Only you.”
Cadence rolled her eyes and grunted disapprovingly. “I don’t think anyone likes you.”
Krag interrupted. “I do not believe what you saw was real.”
Cadence cringed at the creature’s speech. She did not enjoy listening to the conduits speak at all. “I know what I saw,” she mumbled under her breath. She was certain of it, but to satisfy those in front of her she kept it to herself.
“Let’s get back to the problem that I have with all that just happened,” Brandt said. Lef and Krag both turned to look at him. Neither showed any surprise that Brandt had an issue.
“Tell,” Krag squeaked.
“There is something else going on here. I can’t put any sense to it. First Agnes’s parents are both killed. Neither of them should have been vested by any stretch of imagination. Both were extraordinarily skilled, especially her mother. And then there is the demon that attacked tonight. Had it not been for my unease in leaving her home tonight, she would have absolutely perished tonight.”
“More deaths,” Lef said.
“Wait,” Brandt shook his head confused. “What did you say?”
“There were more of us who died?” Cadence suddenly spoke up. She was unsure of where the idea entered into her mind, but she knew it at that moment. “Sentries are being killed?” She looked at her master who nodded in turn. An affirmation of her fears.
Lef giggled; Krag nodded. “Is truth that is spoken,” Krag said. “Agnes needs to be trained.”
“She’s not ready,” Brandt argued.
“Like earlier talk, she is to be trained,” Krag said. Brandt punched the wall. “Train her as if you would this one,” the creature continued, pointing his slender, pointy finger at Cadence. “It is two, but Cadence will be capable on her own.
“I’m not ready!” Cadence said in a defensive manner. It was less to do with a lack of belief in herself and more a fear of leaving. She needed to be there, not that anyone would understand her concern.
“Hold on,” Brandt said, putting up his hand towards the conduit, but then he faced his apprentice. “You have been ready, Cadence, but you aren’t leaving me yet.” This calmed her some.
“Can you handle apprentices two?” Lef giggled sarcastically. That vile creature was a miserable entity that took some delight at causing in other’s troubles.
“Some spirit of good you are,” Cadence remarked in reference to Lef.
“Two will be no problem. Cadence can assist where it’s needed.”
“She is not of age for a master,” said Lef.
“Better still than some that are out there.”
“No difference,” Lef remained defiant. “She is not to train her.”
Brandt walked over to the conduit on the ceiling. His face was calm. Lef stepped back as Brandt got closer. Brandt could taste the stench that came with a conduit as conduits never bathed. “I’ll train as I see fit,” Brandt said smoothly as he grabbed one of Lef’s ears as Agnes had done. The conduit began to screech and fuss as before. “You trolls have been little help to me and my apprentice already. You can’t even tell me whether that girl is truly in danger or not, or whether she is going to be fit to train. I have a feeling you two genuinely don’t know or you simply wish not to tell. So if you don’t mind, I’ll take care of things how I please.” At the last word, Brandt yanked down, pulling Lef from his spot and dropping him towards the floor. Lef vanished before hitting the floor.
Krag, uninterested in what had been just going on, said, “be careful, Brandt. No one knows what darkness can bring forth when it sees opportunity,” before it vanished as well.
“What are we going to do?” Cadence asked, a look of concern on her face.
“We are going to train her. And hope we don’t die.”
“She was really strong. And that fire… I am sure I saw her move it.”
Brandt sighed. He wasn’t thrilled that she was bringing that up again. “All I see is a frightened little girl who just lost her parents and now has to go the one place with the one person she would choose last on this planet. It won’t matter whether she is or isn’t some great powerful being like what you think you saw. She is going to be difficult. She’ll see me as cruel and you as a coward. We will have our work to just get her passed that.”
“I just feel that something is wrong here.”
“It makes two of us. Now go get some sleep. She’ll be a handful when she wakes up tomorrow. You’ll need your strength to help hold her together.”
If you would like to skip ahead, you are always welcome to purchase a copy, just click the link HERE (or click up top at the menu bar) to go to the book’s page where there are links to where it is available in both print and ebook.