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 knocked on Agnes’ door. It was approaching 11 in the morning and neither she nor Brandt had seen or heard from Agnes. Fortune had it that they were sure that the young girl hadn’t fled again.
Cadence had already finished most of the morning’s training exercises. Normal days would then see her studying some ancient text, or even continuing to train with weapons she was unfamiliar with. Much of a Sentry’s training involved channeling power and strength through the weapons they held. It was why most of the weapons that they used were blades. Pistols, arrows, or any other weapon that needed to be released could no longer channel energy. With mortals, it wouldn’t much matter, although if a mortal was seeking to breach the other realm to gain power or immortality, those weapons would not be effective in truly ending the threat.
Cadence’s choice weapon was a rapier that was forged sometime during 1542 by an Italian monk. The swept hilt was highly complex and ornate having both gold and silver intertwined and holding multiple jewels including flawless diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. The handle was wrapped in human leather. More specifically, it was the skin from a Sentry that had been a friend of the monk and who had perished in a grizzly death after a long fought battle with a demon. The monk felt it to be fitting that a weapon be cast in his friend’s honor. The monk himself was a fascinating man, but it is a story for another page.
In addition to the flesh wrapping the handle, the monk intricately wrapped the man’s finger bones around tightly as though he were holding the weapon. The juxtaposed nature of the beauty of the hilt against the darkness of the handle was enough to frighten most away from its use, until Cadence’s family came into possession of the sword in the late 1700’s.
It was of perfect balance and unimaginably sharp. It was the only one of its kind. It was a rapier of unsurpassed craftsmanship.
Having her most preferred weapon be that rapier, Cadence was very skilled at fencing. She had been taught the skill from a young age. Fencing was only a small portion of the immense talent she had for any bladed weapon. Even at her young age, that talent was earning her a high reputation.
Brandt had just left on a mission. He wanted her to stay behind and continue her routines. Instead, she wanted to check on the young girl. Brandt had asked that Agnes be left to her own devices so that she could work through the events that had plagued her through the last week. Of course Cadence chose to ignore that instruction.
There was no answer from Agnes. She knocked again. Quietly, Cadence placed her ear to the door to see if she could hear anything.
“You can stop knocking and come in,” Agnes called from the other side of the door. Cadence stood still for a moment beginning to second guess her going in. “I can sense you,” she called again.
Cadence sighed. Strangely, she felt obligated to enter the room now. Twisting the knob, she pushed forward into the room as though her entry was going to frighten someone. It felt empty in there with the modest bed, the few chests, and bags that were salvaged from the other night’s escape.
Agnes sat on the bed facing the window. Cadence felt that the girl looked tired, but really she was just bored.
“Hi,” Cadence said shyly.
“Hey,” Agnes replied dryly. “Sorry about everything.”
“What do you mean?” Cadence was surprised at the apology. She had not expected anything of the sort. She failed to understand what was meant by it.
“For the stuff I did. I didn’t mean any of it.”
“It’s ok,” is all that Cadence could muster as a reply. She stood inside the room not knowing whether to move inside or leave. It felt awkward. Agnes’ quietness did not help her feel any more welcome.
“You can sit down. I don’t mind.” With that, Cadence moved towards the bed and sat down facing her back to Agnes. The bed groaned loudly as she shifted her weight onto it. She thought to herself how she never noticed it before. It seemed to linger in the room for entirely too long, taking extra time with no other sounds to push it from memory.
“I heard you talking last night,” Agnes said finally after the two girls had sat in silence for a few more minutes. Cadence felt ashamed for a moment despite her taking little part in much of the conversation. “I’m scared,” Agnes said plainly.
Not knowing how to reply to the brazen admission, Cadence asked, “of what?”
“Is everyone really gonna to die because of me?”
How am I supposed to answer that? How can I even know? Cadence thought to herself. She felt an immense sadness for the young girl before her, and she was deeply intimidated. More moments went by. There was nothing other than silence as Cadence tried to figure out what to say.
“You don’t have to stay in here if you don’t want to.” The sudden appearance of Agnes’ voice startled Cadence.
“I want to-I wanted to,” Cadence stammered. She blushed, embarrassed that she somehow could not muster the confidence to talk to a young girl that she had talked to before. How was this time really any different than the other times? Had the words of Krag and Lef affected her so?
“But you are afraid of me,” Agnes interjected.
Cadence felt that she needed to explain herself but continued to be at a loss for words. In truth she was certainly afraid of Agnes, but equally so she was also empathetic. Curiosity was there as well. Cadence nodded her head in a slow rhythm until finally saying, “yes.” As soon as the word was past her lips, she wished that she said the opposite.
“What did Brandt tell you about me?” Agnes seemed understanding of the answer. Nothing in her demeanor changed as though it were exactly the answer that she expected. It was.
“That you and him don’t like each other,” Cadence replied quickly and feeling foolish for doing so. “That he’s known you since a little baby and always called you a brat.” Stop, Cadence, she thought to herself as she kept talking.
“I don’t like him,” Agnes said matter-of-factly.
“He’s a great master,” defended Cadence.
“That’s ok. I just don’t like him.”
Agnes shrugged. Cadence turned to catch the last glimpse of it. “I just never did.” She couldn’t explain it either. It was a resentment she built up as a child not wanting to become a Sentry that grew into a hatred of Brandt. She didn’t mean it of course, but she went with it. There was no way of explaining that to Cadence, much less to anyone. She barely understood it anymore herself.
Silence returned between the two girls. Talking between them was awkward. Neither knew what to say. Cadence looked around to find something that might break some of the tension she was feeling. Her eyes scanned over the packed belongings that they had brought in after Brandt knocked Agnes out. Nothing caught her eyes until she saw the two short swords. “Are you good with those?” she asked pointing to the swords.
Agnes turned and saw what Cadence was pointing to. “I’m ok,” she shrugged. “My mom trained me on them, but she always said I was too impatient.”
“It takes time,” Cadence said. “I mean, I sometimes can’t get the arts down. That connection we have with our weapons. Brandt says I think too much. That’s why I practice all of the time. I’m really comfortable with my rapier-“
Agnes spun quickly, “can I see it?!” She was excited. “I mean, I saw you had it and it just looked so beautiful and I wanted to see it really badly but I just couldn’t think of the right way to ask you and I was afraid you’d say no…” The last few words trailed off as Agnes realized the feelings that matched those words.
Cadence laughed despite being taken a little off-guard. It took a second for her to realize what Agnes even asked. “Hold on,” she said as she stood up and left the room. A minute later and she re-entered Agnes’ room with her rapier in hand.
“I was given this by my grandfather,” Cadence explained handing Agnes the sword.
Agnes twisted it slowly, examining each subtle detail. “This is a powerful weapon,” Agnes commented. “I can feel the love it was built with.”
Confusion took over. Cadence knew all of the power that her sword had. It took her time before she was able to sense it through the weapon. The young girl’s response was instantaneous. Weird.
“My father had a rapier,” Agnes continued with a hint of remorse in her tone.
“I’m sorry,” Cadence said, feeling that it was the appropriate time. “I’m sorry your parents are gone.”
“It’s ok. It’s not your fault.” Agnes paused for a moment again looking at the sword. She ran her fingers along the bones in the hilt. “Your sword is really beautiful.”
“My grandfather, my poppop, gave it to me before I came here to apprentice.”
“Was he a Sentry too?
“No, my grandmom was though. She left the sword to my poppop when she died.”
“Are your mom and dad Sentries?”
“My mom is.”
“What’s your dad do?”
“He stays at home. Watches my little sister.”
“Will she be a Sentry?”
A shrug. “I dunno. Haven’t asked. I don’t know if I want her to be.”
It was a strange battle between comfort and sadness Agnes found in listening to Cadence. Although it hurt knowing her own parents were gone, at the same time it was nice to hear the joy coming from Cadence.
“It was made with a lot of love,” Agnes said quietly referring to the sword. Cadence was amazed, and a little jealous, on how easily Agnes connected. “You should be more confident,” Agnes continued. “Iliad wants to help you, but he says you fear yourself too much.”
“How’d you know that was the sword’s name?” Cadence asked, astonished.
“Iliad was a Sentry. His lover connected his spirit to the sword.”
Agnes stood up and handed the sword back over to Cadence. As she rounded the end of the bed, Cadence eyed her closely. She didn’t carry herself any differently than any other 12-year-old would. There was an awkwardness to her steps that Cadence hadn’t noticed before. She watched Agnes intently as she contemplated how she had never known such things before. She was always told that the sword was named after the Greek myth. But the manner in which Agnes spoke of the rapier resembled the confidence of an elder, not a frightened young girl.
Cadence turned away trying to hide how true it felt. She felt suddenly as though she were the one that needed the comforting rather than Agnes.
“I thought my sword was named from the Odyssey. That’s what I was always told.”
“Where’s that from?”
“It’s an old legend by Homer.”
“You mean Bart’s dad?”
Cadence wanted to giggle. “No. You know the sirens and the legend of the titans?”
“Oh, ok,” Agnes nodded, a small grin spread across her face. There was something nice about being able to have a conversation with Cadence. “I never heard it. Can you tell me that story sometime?”
“Sure,” Cadence responded, sheathing Iliad.
Looking up at the young girl, Cadence asked quietly: “what were your parents like?”
Agnes looked perplexed as though she had never thought about that question before. “They were nice,” she said before sitting next to her new found friend. She had to think about it for a moment. Of course they had been gone so often before they died Agnes began to wonder if she even knew them. “My dad read to me every night,” she said.
Cadence remarked longingly: “I wish my dad still read to me.”
“On the nights he was away,” Agnes continued. “I would wait up until he could call me. He kept the book with him to read to me.”
Distracted, Cadence interrupted in a tone of desperation: “can you teach me to connect to Iliad like you did?”
Agnes was taken aback.
She looked at the sword as well. She knew generally how to handle one, but she wasn’t nearly as skilled as Cadence. Brandt would have his turn training Agnes on such things, but she felt Cadence would be easier to learn from. “Can you teach me to duel like you?” she asked.
Cadence smiled excitedly while nodding her head. Quickly she reached over and hugged Agnes. “Thank you,” she told Agnes. Not giving it any resistance, Agnes hugged her in return. She was happy for the moment. She felt that maybe she would be ok. Maybe her parents knew who they were giving her to, and that it would be alright.
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.