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
It took nearly 15 minutes for the group to arrive back at Brandt’s home. Cadence had stopped convulsing by that time, but was still bleeding and was now unconscious. Agnes quietly shuffled Emily and David into her room.
“Just stay here,” she instructed. Her face was stone. All of the terror that had occurred before was pressed below the surface. It had possibly cost Cadence her life. She needed to steel herself against it now.
“What happened? What were those things?” the pair of friends asked almost in harmony. Their hearts continued to pound now more from confusion than from the panic that had been there before. All this was before David acknowledged to himself that he was missing class. Stress beyond stress.
“I don’t know if I can tell you,” Agnes said suddenly keenly aware that others outside of her kind had seen what happened. No wonder Brandt had instructed her to grab them and drag them along.
“Why not? What’s going on?” Emily asked.
Agnes turned and looked at her two friends. She was scared. Without answering, she turned back and walked out. Emily got up and followed her before David scrambled to stop her.
Cautiously, Agnes stooped down the stairs and around to the kitchen. There was a fury of activity as two people in doctor’s scrubs worked feverishly.
“I had to walk out in the middle of surgery,” one of the two said. It was an older woman with dark skin and a pair of thick black glasses that hid slightly behind a thick crop of dark hair. Her accent sounded Indian to Agnes. “What happened?”
Brandt stood off at the corner of the room. His chest was covered in blood. One arm wrapped his chest and the other held up a bloody hand to his mouth. “Something has been trying to get to Agnes. I am not quite sure what it was, but it must be behind what is killing our kind. I had Cadence watching over the girl.”
The words made Agnes feel more responsible for Cadence’s condition. She sunk back a step as tears welled up in her eyes. She fought to push them back so that she could focus on listening to what was being said.
“This isn’t too bad,” the other stranger commented, more relaxed than the first. “It’s physically healable, but it definitely cut her aura. I don’t know what that’s going to do to her.”
“It what?!” Brandt said moving away from the corner toward where Cadence laid. His hand dropped from his face.
“She was injured in the same we can cut any spirit, only in a way I have never seen.” The other said. “Were you a moment more delayed, she’d be no more.” It was a larger man, nearing in size to Brandt. His hair was longer in length and was a dark blond. His complexion was darker though, as if he had spent more time in the sun than an average person. Agnes felt the words from the stranger were sterile and insensitive.
Brandt shook his head in denial. “Impossible. I’ve not seen any spirit cause this type of injury. It cannot have had the art of the palika. That is the gift only the Sentries can master.”
The two standing over Cadence each worked separately on the girl. One worked on the body; the other worked on the soul. Repairing one without attending the other would mean Cadence’s death. Their movements were purposeful and efficient. Neither seemed the least bit affected by the emotion in the room. Cadence found her hands shaking as her fingers toiled with the buttons are her cardigan. She was more nervous and scared after each passing moment.
“I cannot speak to what it was, but no normal spirit can cause the injuries both in the physical world and to the soul like whatever you think you saw did. Is it possible that it was a rogue Sentry?”
“Impossible. It was not a Sentry. I sensed nothing indicating that it ever could have been one. It was something different. And now if what you are telling me is true, then it is something that we need to figure out,” Brandt replied.
The smaller woman looked up, “yes, we must figure what it was out, but for now, let us get this girl well. You can resume your hunt later.”
“How is she?” Agnes asked. Her face was solemn, lowered. She dared not look at Brandt fearing that what she would see would only fuel the depression she was feeling. She thought that it was all her fault. She was responsible. If she wasn’t so paralyzed with fear, perhaps she could have intervened sooner.
“She is as well as she will be for now,” he replied. The sound of the door latching echoed in Agnes’ ears. It sounded like a death sentence. Quietly, a hand rested upon her shoulder. “Don’t think about blaming yourself on this one. You are younger than any Sentry in your position, and I’ve never seen an apprentice of your level handle a fight even as well as you. Cadence is alive. That is all we can ask.”
“But I couldn’t attack. I could’ve saved her.”
“And there’s no point in worrying about what was. Be present in the moment or else you will run the risk of losing sense of where you are. You can be upset, but don’t let it consume you.”
Agnes nodded. Nothing in the words truly brought any comfort to her, although she tried to listen intently. She wanted to be strong.
“What was that thing?” she asked.
“I don’t know. I’ve never seen anything like it. And I’ve never felt something so evil.” Brandt let the silence resume between the two of them as he reviewed all of his decisions up to that point. No matter the number of different scenarios that he tried to run through, the result appeared to end up the same.
In contrast Agnes felt that every scenario would have resulted in something different: Cadence’s lack of injury. But another smaller fear began to creep up through taking her focus. Agnes turned to look at Brandt. His eyes were focused forward appearing to stare into open space. “Do you think that was what killed my parents?” Agnes asked, her voice barely above the sound of a whisper. With it followed a shaky nervousness of knowing an answer to a question that was too frightening to know the answer to.
“How are your friends?” Brandt asked trying to keep the silence absent from the conversation.
Agnes shrugged. “I dunno,” she managed to say. “I didn’t check on them yet.”
Brandt wrapped his arms around her shoulders. “I know that you didn’t mean any of this, but no matter how many times I say it, you will still feel that you are responsible for this, for Cadence, for your friends getting involved…”
“But I let them follow us,” she argued. “I shouldn’t’ve let them follow us. Now I can’t be a Sentry if they know what I am.”
A slight smile curved the side of Brandt’s mouth. He didn’t want to show the amusement that he was seeing in this, but he couldn’t help but to enjoy a moment when all else was so dire that such an innocent worry could exist. “How can’t you be a Sentry? Because your friends found you out?” Agnes nodded. Brandt let out a hardy laugh as Agnes shied away from him. Her lips pressed together and her eyes narrowed at him. She was both embarrassed and angered by the outburst.
“It’s not funny.”
Brandt stood. “Let’s go check on your friends. They’ll need to know what’s going on. I don’t think that hiding it right now will help, and neither does Krag. Lef… well… we’ll ignore him,” he waves dismissively.
Agnes wrapped her arms around her chest and lowered her head as she followed her master. The door creaked as Brandt pushed the door to Agnes’ room. As it opened, he saw the two young kids sitting on Agnes’ bed. He felt sorry for them upon seeing them.
Emily was sitting with her legs dangling off of the bed. One shoe was on her foot and the other was half off as she kicked her leg back and forth. Her hands were gently left to her sides as they played with the sheets on Agnes bed.
David was off of the end of the bed sitting on the floor. His knees were up to his chest with his arms wrapped around them. Neither of the pair looked as though they were happy to be there, at least the look of fear had left their faces.
The sun was still shining high in the sky. By Brandt’s estimate, school would only be letting out shortly, giving him some time to talk to Agnes’ friends before they went back home. The last thing he needed was a chance that parents would be meandering by questioning him as to what was going on.
And he needed to convince them to tell the school that they skipped class on purpose.
David was the first to look up, the look of fear resumed in his eyes when he saw Brandt and Agnes. Though he was happy to see his friend again, the man scared him. “My parents are going to be so mad that I skipped school.”
“Mine won’t care,” Emily interjected. Her eyes didn’t raise.
“Can you let them believe that that’s what happened?” Brandt said plainly. His tone carried a weight of you will do this or that sword you saw me swing will be at you although his meaning was a poor attempt at humor.
Emily’s eyes rolled. “Like my parents will believe me that there were these scary looking monsters that came and attacked my friend and one of them hurt my friend’s friend where we ended up missing school so that we could take the friend to a place other than a hospital.”
“I am sorry, guys,” Agnes said. Her voice was hushed as her eyes looked at her friends.
“Is your friend OK?” Emily asked first.
David followed, “did she die?”
“She didn’t die,” was all that Agnes could think to say.
“She’ll live,” Brandt said cutting her off. He stepped forward. The two kids winced back slightly at his timbre. “But I need to talk to the both of you before I take you back to the school.”
“Were those demons?” David asked pointedly.
“Are you some kind of Demon hunter or something?” Emily immediately rebutted.
“We are in a manner of speaking, something neither of you should know.”
David looked back and forth between the tall, intimidating man and his friend Agnes. “Agnes is too?” Brandt nodded as David processed the affirmation.
“I’m not a very good one,” Agnes said quietly.
David’s sudden burst of excitement sounded over Agnes so no one heard her. “That is real?! Awesome! Have you-“
“This isn’t something that can be talked about.” Brandt interrupted. “It isn’t normally allowed that mortals know about us.”
Emily was quiet. She watched Agnes whose head was lowered and had stepped back into the corner. As Brandt and David went back and forth, she loudly asked Agnes, “is that how your parents died?”
Both Brandt and David stopped talking. David glared at Emily in disbelief. He couldn’t imagine what had driven her to ask Agnes such a thing. They had talked about not brining that up, to not say anything to Agnes about it. But he should have known that Emily was not one to hold back a question like that. Even less so than Agnes, Emily had no filter that prevented her from asking stupid things.
Brandt on the other hand watched Agnes. It was the right question, and he could tell that Agnes was almost happy that she was able to talk about it with someone that she loved. It would help her. She didn’t love either of the two people that she lived with, and why should she have to?
Agnes’ head remained lowered as she nodded slowly in response to Emily. Emily slowly slid off of the bed letting the one shoe fall off to the side, and she walked over to Agnes with the limp of someone walking with only one shoe. Once the two girls were in arm’s length, Agnes went forward grabbing her friend into a tight embrace. Quietly she sobbed.
David took a moment before he followed Emily’s lead and came over and hugged the two of them.
Brandt remained still, and smiled. “I told you to let it be,” he quietly muttered to the side, careful not to let the kids know of Krag’s and Lef’s presence behind him.
“Letting mortals into our work will not bode kindly to humanity. It will put the girl in danger.” The pair were careful not to let their voices above a mouse’s whisper. Brandt winced as they spoke, the noise piercing his ear like nails being raked against a chalkboard.
“Just go. She needs the support. And we are all in great danger. Her parents weren’t the beginning, and she won’t be the end. Get out of my presence, trolls.”
With a silent pop, the pair vanished.
Brandt stepped to the side to let the three of them talk for a moment. He knew that it would only take a short time to bring Agnes away from the negativity she was feeling. Weighing the three of them, he ducked out.
“And you don’t know what that thing is?” David asked. Emily thought that he was being too forward, but instead of trying to fight him about it, she chose to let it be.
Agnes shook her head. “None of us know what it is. It was the first time we saw it.”
“But you really think it killed your parents?”
A shrug came from the girl.
Emily hugged her again. This time Agnes sighed heavily as though she were trying to fight back tears. The three sat and talked about it drifting from the weight of death to the gossip of three outcasts in school. Brandt eventually came back into the room and said “we should get you two back to your homes.” The reality of why they were there set in again, but quietly the three got up and followed him out of the room.
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.