Metrick stood in front of the board members. He had just made his report to them about the series of events that had taken place only the day before. He particularly enjoyed telling them about Pothics' death.
Next to him stood a figure that looked more than reminiscent of Pothic. Another Nephilm, Lotton was second in command of security. With Pothic gone, he had assumed temporary command of security. It was rumored that the board would appoint a new chief of security soon, and Lotton fully expected to be that appointee.
Metrick stood nonchalantly in front of the desks as if nothing had happened. But Jarrod Sims was furious. Sara seemed upset, but also understanding. Peter did not reveal his emotions. He rarely did.
"You couldn't prevent the change over," said Sims. "You didn't bring us the sword. And Pothic is dead. Not to mention we lost a good number of operatives in this. What have you got to say for yourself?"
"Shit happens," said Metrick. There was no fear in him, not even of the board members. It proved to be a constant irritant to Sims, but it amused Sara.
"Don't be flippant with me," screamed Sims. "Everything we've worked for is gone. Because you screwed up."
"Not me," said Metrick, "Pothic. I told him not to underestimate his opponents. He didn't listen to me. He figured just because they were humans or druids, they would be easy to defeat. He was wrong."
"What about the change over?" Peter James asked. The third member of the board rarely spoke.
"I told you," said Metrick, "Kiethran used a Banishment power on the Nephilm. You can't blame them for running. If you had been there, I doubt you would have stuck around. No one has ever exhibited that power so soon after becoming a druid. Clearly, this Kiethran Tannish is no ordinary druid."
"HE agrees with you," said Sara. "We've learned that Tannish is descended from Merlin. That means his potential is very great. He'll have to be dealt with eventually."
"Well," said Metrick, "not for a while. As you said, we lost many good operatives this time. And there are still other plans in the works. Plans that need to continue to go forward now that the change over has been completed. We can't afford to launch a full-scale attack again so soon. We need to replenish our strength. And we need to learn as much about Kiethran Tannish as we can. There's no telling what else he can do."
"We agree," said Sims. "And apparently, so does HE. Effective immediately, you're the new chief of security for Casmarat Endeavors, Incorporated."
"Now wait a minute," interjected the Nephilm standing next to Metrick. "Head of security is the fourth highest post in the corporation. Metrick has no Nephilm heritage whatsoever. That position has always been held by a Nephilm. As the second in command it should fall to me, not this human."
"Now it's being held by a sorcerer," said Sara. "This order comes directly from Him. If you have a problem with it, I'm sure he'll be glad to explain it to you. Just let me know and I'll be more than happy to set up an appointment for you."
Lotton didn't say another word. The last Nephilm that He explained something to was no longer with them. Lotton had no intentions of being the next one.
"Good," said Sims. "Metrick, make sure that security runs as smoothly as ever. I won't brook any decrease in efficiency simply because you're human."
"You won't notice any difference," said Metrick. "In fact, I have a few changes in mind that should help enhance security a bit. I'll let you know exactly what they are when I have all the details worked out."
"Fine," said Sims. "Now get out of here. Before I forget who you are and feed you to the riff raff on the lower levels."
Metrick turned and left the office, Lotton close at hand.
"I don't blame you for being upset, Lotton," said Metrick. "But orders are orders."
"Yes, sir," Lotton hissed at him. "You can count on me, sir."
Metrick just smiled. Pothic had had Lottons' total devotion, mostly because they were both Nephilm. Metrick had no Nephilm influence in his heritage. Lotton would serve Metrick purely because he had been ordered to. If Lotton were given the chance, he would betray Metrick as quickly as Metrick had tried to betray Pothic.
"Lotton," said Metrick, "I know you don't like me. I can't say I blame you. But to be honest, I don't give a damn. I'm in charge now and you'll do what I tell you to. If you don't like it, I'm sure we can find something else for you to do."
"That won't be necessary," said Lotton. "And as long as we're being honest, you're right. I don't like you. Sorcerer or not, you're still a human. The board has faith in you and I will not second-guess them. As long as you remain loyal to the organization, you'll have no reason to fear me."
"Fine," said Metrick. "You know, you might not be so bad after all. It isn't many subordinates who would be so bold with their superiors. It shows you have courage. I may be able to use that in the future."
"Just remember what I said," said Lotton. "As long as you remain loyal, I'll do whatever you tell me."
"Fair enough," said Metrick. "Since I'm taking charge of all of security, I'll be needing someone to take my place in charge of the sorcerers and wizards. I'm putting Lintron in that position. That way you won't have to deal with humans any more than necessary."
"I appreciate that," said Lotton. "I'll see that your things are moved into your new office first thing in the morning."
"Good," said Metrick. "And see that all security measures are adjusted to reflect my new position."
"They will be completed by morning," said Lotton. Without another word he left Metrick and went to make the security arrangements. Metrick went to his office where Samantha and Lintron were waiting for him.
Lintron stood by the window watching the people below go about their daily lives. Sam sat in one of the chairs, her arm still bandaged from the wound caused by Shallon.
"How are you doing?" Metrick asked Sam as he took his seat behind the desk.
"It will be okay," said Sam. "It's almost healed. It should be okay by morning."
"Well," said Metrick, "it seems there's to be a change in command structure. Beginning in the morning, I'll be moving to an office on the twenty third floor."
"They made you chief of security?" asked Lintron.
"Yes, they did," said Metrick, smiling. "Lintron, you'll be taking my place over the sorcerers and wizards. You can move into this office whenever you want."
"I'll bet that ruffled a few feathers," said Sam.
"Nothing I can't handle," said Metrick. "Sam, you'll be coming with me as usual. You'll be my official advisor."
"A promotion," said Sam. "That should be exciting."
"What about Tannish and the others?" asked Lintron. "What do you plan to do about them?"
"Nothing for now," said Metrick. "We don't know enough about Kiethran. His use of the Banishment power was totally unexpected. We can't risk another encounter with him until we know more about him."
"Very well," said Lintron. "I'll put some people on to watch them."
"Make them warlocks," suggested Sam.
"A warlock would be useless against them," said Lintron. "Their power won't work on druids, you know that."
"Precisely," said Sam. "Which means they won't be considered a threat."
"Excellent idea," said Metrick. "See to it, Lintron. Now, let's go up and see what my new office looks like. I'm sure I'll be wanting to redecorate."
Kiethran shook hands with Tobin. Tobin and Sharon had stayed for nearly a week after the defeat of Pothic and Metrick. Now they said it was time they got back to their own responsibilities.
"I'm glad you were here," said Kiethran. "We couldn't have done it without you."
"It was a team effort," said Tobin. "Everyone played a part. I'm just glad it will be another thousand years before we have to go through it again."
"Tobin," said Kiethran, "that Banishment power I used. I can't seem to access it again. I thought you said that once a power manifests itself, it was part of a druids' power."
"Normally, yes," said Tobin. "I would imagine that the unusual stress of the situation allowed you to use it long before you were really ready. It usually takes decades for a power like that to manifest itself.
"As you saw, the power is quite draining. I dare say you won't have access to it again until you are ready for it. But you know that one day you will have it. That's more than most druids ever know."
"Thanks again," said Kiethran. "And you, too, Sharon."
Just then there was a knock at the front door. Shallon opened the door and saw two deliverymen holding a large crate.
"The clock," said Kiethran. "I sent it out to have it repaired. Right this way, fellows. Just set it in the hallway if you would."
The two men struggled with the crate and set it into the hallway where Kiethran indicated. Kiethran signed the delivery receipt and the two men left. Carefully, Kiethran unpacked the crate to show the grandfather clock fixed as good as new.
"They did a nice job," said Sharon.
"Yes they did," said Kiethran. He went upstairs and when he returned he was carrying the Sword of Michael. He walked over to the clock and opened the compartment just below the clock face. Then, he reached inside and flipped a lever that revealed a secret compartment behind.
He placed the sword inside the secret compartment onto a special hanger apparently designed just for that purpose. Then he closed the secret door and looked at the clock. There was no hint of a secret compartment.
"They did an excellent job," said Kiethran.
"That should keep it well hidden from any prying eyes," said Shallon. "At least if anyone should break in, they'll have one heck of a time finding it."
"That's not likely to happen," said Kiethran. "As long as Panthax and the rest of us are here, no one should be able to break in without our knowing about it."
"Well," said Sharon, "I'd better be going. My husband is probably getting worried about me. He knows my druid duties often take me away for days on end, but he can't help but worry when I'm gone."
"Thanks again," said Kiethran. "Hopefully, the next time you come by, it will be for a social visit."
"Thanks," said Sharon. "I'll keep that in mind."
She suddenly vanished as if she had never been there. Her teleportation ability allowed her to return to her home much quicker than any conventional means.
"I should be going, too," said Tobin. "My plane leaves in about an hour."
"Can we give you a ride to the airport?" asked Kiethran.
"No, that won't be necessary," said Tobin. "I'll catch a cab. It will give me a chance to prepare myself for the flight. Flying is one thing I never seem to get used to."
He shook hands with them once more, and then walked out of the manor. Kiethran, Shallon, and Tammy watched him walk up the street basking in the sunlight.
"Well," said Shallon, "I think I'd better call the contractor. There's some damage we need to have repaired. It shouldn't take too long."
"You know," said Kiethran, "I've been thinking. I know that Mykaa made some investments that means we don't have to worry financially. But we still have to keep ourselves busy."
"Got anything in mind?" asked Shallon.
"What about a nursery?" Kiethran asked. "When Christen and I were driving around, I noticed an abandoned one just a couple of miles from here. It shouldn't take much to fix it up. And with our druid abilities, we shouldn't have too much trouble growing plants."
"Sounds like a good idea," said Shallon. "I must admit, I do like to get out of the house from time to time."
"Can I help?" asked Tammy.
"Certainly," said Kiethran. "Although you're going to have quite a bit to do with your school work and all. But I'm sure we can find some time for you to help out."
"It will take some time to get it up and going," said Shallon.
"Well," said Kiethran, "it seems we have plenty of that. I'm sure Metrick will think twice before sending anyone after us. At least for a while. And Steve said he'd keep an eye on Casmarat Endeavors, Incorporate. He'll let us know if they are up to anything."
"Seems like we have a lot of work ahead of us," said Shallon. "So, who's up for some ice cream before we get started?"
"Me, me, me," said Tammy, holding her hand in the air.
Kiethran just laughed, took Tammy by the hand, and followed Shallon into the kitchen.