Little Cottonwood Cyn
Matt rubbernecked. looking at the interior of the cavern he’d just drove into. There was a parking lot with only about six other cars, scattered around the subterranean chamber that could hold 20 or 30 more cars. The air was fresh despite being a closed in garage. Subtle lighting kept the darkness at bay. He was still closing the door to Anderson’s Caddy when he found the man standing in front of a physical door in the wall of the cavern. It looked like a huge metal, bank vault, door from the Wild West days.
The most remarkable thing about the cave was the golden mana light surrounding each parking stall and the door they were now standing in front of. Andersen reached for a hand-print field of light held by an Edwardian filigrée network of golden lines.
“This looks like my grandmother’s ring,” said Matt. The Mananok language still felt interesting to his tongue, but the grammar and lexicon felt as natural as English or French did to him, now.
Andersen noted Matt’s gesture. “They both date from the same era, no doubt. Rockwell had to hide the Nauvoo Legion up here in natural caves during Buchanan’s Blunder. We’ve been here ever since.” He pressed the hand-print and the massive vault doors opened. The floor in the hallway beyond was covered in cream colored tiles with a brown and grey rosette every so often. The walls and ceiling were covered in an aged, but well cared for, plastered surface.
Their footsteps echoed as they walked down the corridor, especially the slapping from Matt’s flip-flops. The corridor curved once. Then, after it straightened out, it seemed to go on for half a mile or so. It ended in a cul-de-sac of sorts with three doors. Two on either side and one on the end. They took the stout wooden door to the left which opened to a huge dining hall, about sixty-five by forty feet. It smelled of eggs and bacon and other intriguing things. The floor was in the same pattern as the corridor, with more rosettes.
There were two people sitting at one of the smaller tables with full plates in front of them. One was dressed identically to Andersen and the other was a teen dressed in casual clothes, Both were glowing with mana.
“Lars, you old reprobate!” roared the other Destroying Angel. “So, you finally trapped him up by Duchene, did you?”
“Good to see you, Dan! And yes, I did get him, just last week.” Anderson sat in a chair near his old friend.
“So,” continued Dan, “how is the more important hunt going?”
“What do you mean?”
“The one for a little wifey!” He laughed and slapped Andersen on the shoulder.
“Actually, I think I found the one.” He smiled and blushed at the same time. He ignored Matt who was left standing on his own.
Matt pulled up a chair by the other teen and sat. “I’m Matt,” he said in English. The boy didn’t seem to understand. So, he switched to the camp language. That didn’t get a response. So he tried the only other language he knew: French.
“¿Su nombre es Mateo?” the boy asked in an accent so strange that Matt could hardly guess it was supposed to be Spanish.
Matt was about to answer when Dan said “Sorry, Matt I should have introduced you...” he was cut short by the arrival of four people from the same door they’d used, two adults, two teens. All glowed.
“Look who the mountain lions dragged in!” shouted Andersen, as he and the other adults ignored the teens.
Matt felt sorry for the boy he’d tried to talk to as the adults were babbling in Mananok. The two other bewildered looking teens didn’t seem to understand either. Matt motioned to them and they gingerly approached and sat at the ornate, antique wooden table, clutching their books in front of them like shields.
“I’m Matt,” he said, extending the hand.
The boy next to Matt looked at the other three, then pointed at his chest and said something that sounded like “Nehto.”
Before they could respond, four more people came into the room. The two adults, dressed in black, headed straight for the cluster of Destroying Angels, leaving the teens at the door. Matt waved them over and began introducing them: “I’m Matt, this is Justin, Joel and that I think is Nehto.”
“He speaks Mexican,” suggested Justin.
Suddenly Nehto said “Eu não sou mexicano ; Eu sou brasileiro!”
“Mexican?” asked Matt, gesturing toward Nehto with his palm up.
“Brasileiro!” Nehto said thumping his chest.
“Il vient du Brasil,” said one of the new boys.
“You speak French?” asked Matt, in the same tongue.
“Yes,” he said in an accent from the east of France.
“My name is Matt,” he reached across the table and the new boy shook it with a very weak grip. Matt nearly crushed the boy’s hand.
He took it back quickly, shaking it, and said “My name’s Luc de Bellevue. I come from France.”
“Sorry about the hand.” He looked at the last arrival and raised his eyebrows.
“Oh, I’m Owain Turnbull, from a small farm outside of Hobart.” He looked from one boy to the next, then he said “Hobart, Tasmania.” Again, he looked from boy to boy and then said, “Australia? I’m sure you’ve heard of that place!”
“Oh, yeah, Tasmania, the island off the coast of Aussieland!” said Joel, reaching over to shake hands. Both were still grinning when the sound of chairs scraping across the tile floor interrupted them. Five of the men began to walk toward the door, leaving Andersen behind.
“See you, boys!” said one. “Enjoy the mayhem!” said another. “Sois sage!” said a third and “Não se preocupe, Neto. Eles vão te tratar bem.” “Just remember, Andersen will never kill you!” They all laughed and left.
Luc and Nehto, each, got a sudden, worried look as their adult left. They all looked to Andersen, expectantly.