The ward of castoria, p.2
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       The Ward of Castoria, p.2
 

           Robin Silverglate

  Chapter 1

  A New Assignment

  Dane Stormwood was surprised that Tetari had seen another attack in the Reflection so soon after the last one. Usually, he had more time between assignments, but it looked like he would have to go back sooner than anticipated. Dane did not mind the continuous work. In fact, he thrived on it. He loved being a member of the Vanguard and Protector of humans who had been targeted for a dismal fate.

  “It’s the father,” stated the elderly woman, but she soon checked herself and said, “No, it’s the daughter.” Tetari looked frustrated as she stared at the wall behind Dane. Her eyes were glazed over with a silver sheen that showed she was in the midst of a vision.

  Dane was worried. He had never seen her look so confused before. “Tetari,” he said with respect, “Please stop for a moment.”

  Her eyes returned to normal. She slowly walked to her chair and exhaled deeply as she sat down. “I’m unsure who will be next. I see flashes of images that baffle me. At times, I’m positive that it is the father. But then, the vision of the daughter is clear to me, as well.”

  It was unlike Tetari to be so indecisive. Usually, her visions were vivid enough to see the person who was attacked, as well as the location and time of the incident. “Would it help if you start from the beginning again?” he asked as he sat down in the chair next to her.

  Tetari sighed and her eyes once again glazed over with the silver sheen. Dane waited patiently as he watched over Tetari. Her wrinkled face puckered even more in the uncertainty of her visions. After several minutes of silence, Tetari finally said, “It is no use. The visions are too fragmented. You and Beckwyn will have to guard both the father and daughter in order to be sure. I also see that you will not have much warning with the attack, so I think you should find a way to stay closer to them than your usual methods.”

  “Yes, Tetari,” Dane agreed. He listened intently while she described the remaining information she could see. One Ward was a thin-framed middle-aged man with graying hair and the other was a teenage girl with long, straight brown hair. Dane was thankful she could also see an address of a house in a middle-class neighborhood in Gaithersburg, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. It would make his job a little easier.

  “I’m not sure when the attack will occur,” Tetari continued. “I see such puzzling signs. However, I think it could take place anytime this week.”

  Dane regretted that she could not be more specific with the timeline. The number of attacks seemed to be increasing and for them to allocate two Protectors for up to a week’s time was a large commitment. He stood up and moved toward the door. He had to find Beckwyn as soon as possible.

  “Dane,” said Tetari just before he left the room.

  “Yes?”

  “You need to watch over the girl.”

  He was confused. “Does this mean the daughter is the one who will be attacked?”

  “No,” said Tetari. “It could still be the father just as well. What I mean, is that you must be the one who protects the daughter and Beckwyn should protect the father.”

  Dane found this order strange. Usually, she did not care which Protector was sent out on the assignment. They were all equally skilled in this matter. But he did not question her methods and simply said, “Yes, Tetari. I swear I will protect her.”

  Dane closed the door and walked swiftly down the hall. It occurred to him that everything needed to be done quickly lately. There had been six attacks this past week. In fact, one of his Protector brothers was still in the Reflection finishing up an assignment. He wondered why there had been so many attacks recently. As it was right now, the Vanguard was able to handle the situation, but he did not know if they would be able to fulfill their duties if the attacks continued to increase at this alarming pace.

  As he left the Main House and walked into the courtyard, Dane heard someone call his name. He reluctantly turned to look at the man who was approaching. He knew exactly why the man was searching for him and tried to stave him off. “I’m busy, Feredir.”

  “Sorry, Dane,” Feredir said in a friendly manner. “She wants to see you.”

  “Not now,” said Dane impatiently. “I just got another assignment.”

  “Yara won’t like that you’ve refused her again.”

  “It can’t be helped,” explained Dane. “Please tell her I’ll visit as soon as I get back.”

  “All right,” said Feredir in a dubious voice. “I’ll tell her, but I doubt that’s going to hold her off for long.” He then moved aside so Dane could pass. Dane felt immediate relief when he realized he had successfully avoided Yara again. He couldn’t give her what she wanted. Recently, he’d found it easiest to just avoid the problem by being busy in the Reflection. In that respect, he was grateful he had a duty to protect the girl.
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