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
Cadence watched the locket spin in Agnes’ hand as she drove. The light flickered around the polished silver. “Amazing that it survived the fire,” she said. She was trying to get any response that she could.
Agnes just gave a faint, “yeah,” as a reply. She appeared completely entranced by the necklace.
Cadence focused on her driving trying to ignore the glittering object and the young girl. Just as the young girl sitting beside her was, she wondered if the entire incident from the night before was just in her imagination. “Your friends were looking for you last night,” she broke through the silence. “You should call them when we get back to let them know you are OK.”
There was a grunt. Barely an acknowledgment. The girl wasn’t paying much attention. Understandable. Having the find was more important, or at least more distracting. Her parents. It was what she had left of her parents. Any other distraction was nullified by the curious object in front of her. Light speckled around it capturing-
“Agnes,” Cadence said while nudging the young girl.
Another grunt. Not that she could have expected much more than that. It was a response though, and she was going to go with it. “You need to call your friends.”
“He won’t let me.”
“Doesn’t matter. I will let you. But you need to do it. They tried to get to your house while it was on fire. They were looking for you.”
More emotion than expected came from the girl. “They didn’t get hurt did they? Are Emily and David alright?” She slumped back down. A frown drooped on her face as she stared at the locket now on her lap. “I should’ve went to see them and not my house.”
Guilt shown upon the girl’s face, as though she needed more of that. Cadence placed her arm onto Agnes’ knee. An awkward squeeze followed. “Just call them. They understand more than you realize.”
Agnes nodded. Silence took back over between them.
Once again she looked over at Agnes. All she could see was a young, innocent girl. She told herself it must have been just the stress of the event. A girl her age was not yet supposed to wield any control over their power. It must have been an illusion. As Brandt said: it didn’t happen.
Gravel crunched beneath the tires again as the car made its way up the driveway. Brandt was sitting meditating on the front porch of the house.
It was a run down, wooden addition to the home. It had the look of having been painted white some years ago, but with no effort to keep it as such. The posts were carved simply. No ornaments were whittled into them appearing more for functionality than aesthetics.
Agnes looked up and felt as though she were trying to swallow an orange whole. She was sure that Brandt would be furious.
“Don’t worry about it,” Cadence said as she waited to leave the car sensing Agnes’ stress. “He’ll say what he has to say and then leave it alone. If you don’t say anything back, he’ll be quick.”
Agnes nodded and began to pull on the latch. Her movements were of a child unwilling to move on but meanwhile knowing that she had no choice. Her feet felt heavy stepping to the ground almost flopping out of the car. She carefully wrapped the locket into her palm and squeezed it. For some reason the thought of her master seeing it was almost as frightening as confronting him itself.
She pushed herself up from the seat and closed the door behind her. Cadence did the same on the other side of the car and stayed back waiting for Agnes to move. She wanted to ensure that she protected the young girl in case she wasn’t quiet.
Each step closer felt like a chore. Agnes kept a close watch on Brandt’s eyes which had not opened yet. As soon as the sound of her foot hit the first step of the porch, Brandt opened his eyes with a serious stare at her.
“That was foolish of you to run off like that,” Brandt lectured. His body was unmoving.
Agnes continued up to the top and stood respectfully with her head lowered. Cadence stayed behind right at the bottom of the steps.
Agnes kept repeating to herself the advice that Cadence had just told her, but an anger kept wanting to boil over. She wanted to lash out. She didn’t understand yet it didn’t matter. Brandt was to blame for everything. She just felt that way.
Brandt continued, “you cannot think that was a good idea, that running off by yourself after what happened last night, after what happened to your parents, was the right thing to do.”
“Shut up about my parents,” Agnes hissed right as she told herself to stay quiet.
Brandt sighed deeply. He knew that he was being goaded into a fight. His fault. Normally he would have just let it happen… before he had concern over the young girl. Calm had to prevail.
Behind Agnes, Cadence tensed up. She was ready to leap up and pull Agnes away or block her master. Brandt was not against hitting. No master had ever been.
“I am sorry, but I am not going to let you turn this into a fight, Agnes,” he said. “You need to just be more considerate of what-“
“I don’t want to be considerate of you! I want to leave!” She felt the locket tighten in her grip.
“You can’t!” Brandt yelled. “You were entrusted to me and you will stay HERE!” Could she understand why? Could she understand that he was entrusted by her parents to protect her? Although he was certainly resistant, it was his duty. He didn’t want to taint their memory by letting her slide. But at her age, at her pain, could she possibly understand where his anger was coming from?
Cadence swiftly ran up the stairs and came between the two. Upon this, Brandt backed down, however Agnes did not. Dammit, he did not mean to lose his temper like that. Anger would only deepen the divide. As if the girl needed more of that.
“I don’t want to stay here!” Her face was only a shade lighter than her hair.
“Where are you going to go?” Brandt responded again having regained his calm. “There is something out there that is trying to kill you, that is hunting you. Do you really think that you can survive out there?”
Without thinking about the question Agnes shot out “yes!”
“Come on, just go inside,” Cadence said to Agnes as she tried to push her away. Agnes easily relented and Brandt took the moment to return to his meditation.
The door slammed, Agnes immediately ran up to her new room. It took a moment to find it, but when she did, she slammed the door there as well. Cadence stood and watched the event before turning back outside to grab Agnes’ bag.
“Thank you,” Brandt said to her as she passed him. His eyes were still closed.
Caught off guard, Cadence replied, “for what, master?”
“For taking care of her and reminding me to remain calm. I wish she could understand her burden as well as ours. It will not be easy for her.”
Saying nothing she continued on. She felt it odd that her master thanked her in such a way. Though Brandt treated her well, thanking her was not within that treatment. She felt herself blushing from it, but also she felt a strange empowerment. Maybe it was her time; maybe she was ready.
She entered the house and took Agnes’ belongings up to her door. Quietly she placed her ear to the door. She didn’t hear anything, so she called Agnes.
“Yeah,” Agnes replied. Her tone was not changed from her encounter with Brandt.
“I am leaving your stuff out here. Let me know if you want to talk.”
A more hushed tone came from the other side of the door. “Thank you,” Agnes said.
“You’re welcome,” Cadence said in return after waiting a moment for anything else from the girl.
Inside the room, Agnes sat knees up with the locket open in front of her. All of the moments before washed away as she gazed at it. Although she had regretted letting her temper get the best of her, in that moment it was as if it had ever happened at all. Only thoughts of loss swirled in her mind. Seeing the picture in the locket brought her no ease either. It only made her miss her parents more.
“She’s going to try running again,” Cadence said plainly. Nothing indicated that it was true. She felt that she needed to say it so that they would take Agnes more seriously. It didn’t matter though.
“Then stop her must,” the squeaky conduit, Lef said.
Brandt and Cadence were both sitting in the common room. She was studying another ancient text on different demons. Such was her usual activity. When swords were not being wielded, books were. The two conduits were each walking in circles in midair.
“She’ll be fine here,” Brandt dismissed. He had a glass of warm beer in his hand. “She just needs a few days to adjust.”
“Dangerous,” Krag immediately responded.
“Don’t mistake my calmness for foolishness, troll,” Brandt snapped. “She will be safe.”
“No safety will here be found,” Lef giggled.
Brandt shot a cruel look at the air-walking Lokapāla. Its tiny tongue licked its apparent lips as it salivated over the knowledge it felt it had over Brandt. “What in the gods’ names are you referring too? What are you keeping from us?”
Krag halted its movement as well and floated up to the ceiling. Standing (or hanging depending on one’s perspective) from the ceiling upside-down, Krag also looked discerningly at its mate. “You spoke out of turn.”
The book that Cadence was reading relaxed and fell slowly to her lap. “What are you talking about? What is going on?”
Brandt leapt up in such great speed that Lef hadn’t realized the movement finding its neck with Brandt’s hand around it.
“You cannot choke,” Lef laughed as Brandt squeezed. Then Brandt smirked in an angry way and narrowed his eyes. Suddenly feeling the sensation, the creature began to squirm. “NOT NOT NOT!” it squealed.
“Tell me and I shall not disintegrate whatever it is you consider your soul.”
Alarmed, Krag immediately blurted, “she may be the Apex.”
“How do you know?” Brandt hissed. “There’s never been an Apex Sentry before. It is the stuff of myths!” Brandt paused as though second guessing himself. His grip loosened. He let the conduit go. He turned to Cadence with a realization then shook it off. “No… even if she is showing her strength at such an early age, I cannot accept that this is what she might be.”
“Not possible!” Lef exclaimed. “The little brat cannot possibly be! But funny it is that she have that burden,” and the little spirit laughed in a manner that made both Brandt and Cadence wince.
“What does it mean if she is?” Cadence asked.
“We are all going to die.”
Up at the top of the staircase, Agnes covered her mouth, her eyes wide with fear.
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.