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
David was droning on and on about the assignment that they had to complete. Emily was paying attention, but Agnes had long since checked out. They had come over nearly walking in on a practice session.
It wasn’t what she thought she would have been doing with her free time, but Cadence was convincing in getting her to train. Well, convincing enough to get her out there. Overall effort was another matter. There was no way anyone would be able to get her to try hard. Try, yes. At least she was doing that.
Agnes had been playing with a battle axe trying out a few techniques that Cadence had shown her. It was certainly easier to handle from Agnes’ perspective. There was less speed needed, less grace. Agnes never counted herself as one for grace. The axe fit her brutish desire to just charge forward.
When the doorbell range, it had set off a fury of activity from Agnes. “Oh no! I forgot!” she blurted aloud.
“What did you forget?” Cadence’s voice showed her level of annoyance that whatever was about to happen was not something that she was going to welcome.
Agnes lowered her head. She said in a sheepish tone, “I invited my friends over. We have a project we need to work on.”
“Oh no,” Cadence said, her voice raised as her eyes widened. “No, no, no, no. Brandt is going to kill you.” Sure, killing was an exaggeration. Or was it? Who knows. He would certainly be far angrier than either of them wanted to deal with.
Agnes was embarrassed. The doorbell rang again making her jump. “I know. I am sorry. But we need to work on a project.”
“We can’t have friends over,” she said before looking at the young girl. She remembered her earlier childhood and wished she had had friends to be around her. She sighed. “We need to get the weapons cleaned up from the house. Just keep them from looking into the yard back here. We can’t have them asking too many questions, Agnes.”
“You are so lucky that he isn’t here right now.”
Most of the house fortunately was clear of any indication that there were three Sentries living there. Brandt kept the place sparsely decorated to a point that one would wonder if the house was lived in. It was the only time the Agnes was thankful of it in her very short stay there to that point. There were only a handful of broadswords, axes, polearms, and knives lying around. Each fit nicely into an empty closet that was offset from the living room.
“What took you so long?” Emily said as soon as the door began to open.
“Sorry, I didn’t hear the bell,” Agnes lied.
Both David and Emily looked confused. The bell was very loud. At least from where they were standing it certainly appeared that way to them. They chose to not even ask though. Their friend had a good excuse to be distracted. David smiled and Emily simply averted her eyes both at the same time without any intentional coordination. Agnes blushed knowing that it was a weak excuse. She was thankful that her friends pretended to accept the reason.
Once the pair was let inside, Agnes shuffled them upstairs to her room. Neither of them noticed that she was being somewhat bullish in her urging. Both Emily and David continued discussing whatever they had been talking about before they arrived. Agnes could have cut herself in easily, but she was too distracted to even pay much attention.
Only when they settled into her room did Agnes relax enough to join in.
“Where is your guardian… that Brandt guy?” David asked abruptly interrupting his own conversation.
“He’s out on a job,” she replied too-quick-to-not-be-noticed.
“Wow,” Emily joked. “Sounds like you don’t want us to find him.”
Agnes laughed a nervous laugh. She was worried about his whereabouts, but she didn’t want to tell them exactly as to why. Other than the laugh, she barely acknowledged Emily’s comment and moved on.
“What do we have so far?” As soon as the question left Agnes’ lips, David began reciting everything about the project from the point of assignment (which occurred prior to her parents’ passing) all of the way through Agnes’ absence to the moment they were sitting there.
Agnes stopped paying attention almost the moment after asking the question. Her mind drifted completely elsewhere. Most of her thoughts were reminiscing on the times that the trio spent time together at her old house. It was so much nicer then. There were no worries about hiding anything as her parents were stringent about keeping the charade under practice. No weapons were ever left on display or just lying around there. Everything was centered on the possibility of anyone stopping by at any time for any reason. It worked. It allowed Agnes to have friends.
Many Sentries believed that it was best to live their lives in full view of mortals. It made it easier than living as a recluse. At least it made it easier to those willing to put in that effort. Many more Sentries did not believe at all that it was worth the effort to put up a façade other than to completely reject culture and essentially hide. Brandt was one of those who believed such. Cadence’s family was another.
The belief was to limit social interaction and be off-putting to mortals discouraging their interest. People couldn’t be trusted. It was best to keep them away.
Admittedly, only to himself at least, Brandt had softened over the last many years. It was primarily his teaching of Cadence that had changed the man. She affected him. Over time he felt as though she were his own daughter and not just an apprentice. He had always been much tougher before her, taking after his own master, Saidi. Her gentle yet unmoving demeanor combatted that instantly. She could take anything he threw at her (literally and metaphorically speaking) without becoming angry or upset.
She was harder on herself than he could ever be.
Brandt had been accustomed to breaking an apprentice through intimidation. What could he do to someone who if intimidated simply took it, outperformed what was asked of them, and then immediately resumed their prior demeanor without showing any signs of having been affected by that said intimidation? Cadence was the perfect student. Eventually he didn’t even try to berate her. Not intentionally anyway. It no longer had served him any purpose.
He had always known that Agnes would be a bit different though. He was prepared for her. He thought she was coddled in ways that he didn’t agree with. He just wished that he didn’t take Agnes’ apprentice until she was of age.
The loss of the Pyle’s was a blow to Brandt as well. Though he and Agnes had been rocky in their relationship, he had always been good friends with her parents. But now he would lose the time he had left with Cadence to take care of a young girl he didn’t know he could care for.
“Agnes!” David yelled once more shaking the girl from her thoughts.
“Huh? What?” she replied. She was confused as to why David was suddenly yelling for her.
“David was asking you what you thought. You weren’t paying attention.” Emily was paging through one of David’s comics without much care. He had been trying to get the both of them to share his interest in them for some time. It was a recent issue where they changed a couple of major characters to girls. He thought that the pair would like that. Emily was only mildly amused by the whole thing, but was reading it nonetheless. It wasn’t holding her attention enough to distract her from everything else going on.
She always considered herself good at multitasking anyway. She was to varying degrees. It depended on what the tasks were; she was able to somehow divide her attention up equally while still retaining what was going on in the world around her. Her mother said that it was a trait of a good mother. Emily told her mother it wasn’t going to happen.
“I am sorry,” Agnes said. Her face flushed red with embarrassment. “I wasn’t paying attention.”
“We know,” Emily jibed.
“What were you saying?”
David looked at her waiting for another comment from Emily. When none came he finally explained again what was going on with the project.
“So what do you need me to do?”
“Can you present the project to the class?” David asked, a look of hope on his face. He hated doing anything that involved speaking in front of the class.
Agnes frowned. She would have preferred to have done something else, anything else. “Isn’t there something else that I can do?”
“Emily and I pretty much did everything already. We didn’t want to make you feel like you had to worry about doing the project when you…” his voice trailed off as he was still unsure of what to say. He was worried that he was going to an area that was going to upset Agnes.
“If you don’t present,” Emily cut in quickly while turning a page in the comic, “then you wouldn’t have done anything. And David and I really don’t want to go up in front of the class.”
“I would’ve helped. I really wanted to. I thought that you guys were going to wait until I could help again.”
“David doesn’t like waiting. And we thought that you would be better at presenting than we would. It’s only fair. You wouldn’t need to do anything else and you can just present. We won’t say that we didn’t share the work with you.”
Agnes’ frown didn’t change. She wasn’t happy about the situation at all, but she understood why they were asking her, and she wasn’t going to tell them no. Nothing about it was anything that she wanted to look forward to. None of it would matter for her eventually anyway.
But her parents always said that it was better that she finished school and learned whatever she could. Agnes didn’t want to disappoint her parents.
“Alright,” she relented morosely. “I am a little cold,” she said standing up to put on her cardigan. As soon as it was on her she began playing with the buttons on it. She plopped down onto her bed.
“You could ask Miss Devlan is she’ll let you out of the project,” David suggested. Emily shot him a disapproving look.
“No,” she said with a long sigh. “I can do the presentation for you guys.” She felt guilty that she didn’t want to do it. She didn’t want to let her friends down though. They had been right in either case: this was a fair way to divide the work.
Agnes didn’t like to do anything in front of class. It wasn’t so much that she was afraid. She just didn’t like her classmates other than her two friends. She felt that sitting in class with them was more than enough interaction. Standing in front of the class was like trying to have a friendly conversation when a few of them were better served by her fists.
Emily and David on the other hand were usually afraid. Nobody jeered at them due to fear over Agnes’ retaliation, but they still were genuinely afraid. Agnes could at least spare them the embarrassment. It was the least that she could do, that she should do.
Once it was decided, David turned to Emily who was still nonchalantly paging through the comic, “what’d’ya think? You like it?”
“It’s alright,” she answered in a bored tone.
David huffed. He was used to that answer. The day that answer changed, he might pass out. “Do you want to read it?” he asked turning instead to Agnes. Agnes felt the genuine desire that David had for his two friends to enjoy the same things that he did as much as he did. He wasn’t getting anything from Emily, so it was Agnes’ turn now.
“Sure,” she said with only a slight bit more enthusiasm than her accepting the position of their project’s presenter. “I’ll give it a shot.”
Truth was that Agnes was interested. She needed something to distract her from everything that was going around. Comics may very well suit that purpose. She didn’t want to be too excited about it though.
All of her books had been lost after the fire demon attacked. When packing up originally to leave, she hadn’t taken them into consideration, ignoring the potential need to find entertainment. Brandt wouldn’t have a TV, and undoubtedly any books that he did have were old Sentry literature meant more for the boring task of training than for anything involving escapism.
“Awesome!” David blurted out with too much energy. He realized it as Emily gave him a playful look.
“I don’t get you,” she said.
“Who does?” Agnes added, trying to slip back into the world that existed before everything changed for her.
The three entertained the laugh and continued to talk through the night.
Cadence smiled as she sat outside of the step. Both she and Agnes, unknown to each other, shared the brief moment of peace. It was much needed as they would be harder to come by in the days to come.
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.