There were rare exceptions in which Igor visited the planet Earth. After the war that extended into Orpheus a result of the betrayal of Lucius, Igor had to assume his post as commander. Igor possessed incredible skills, being a cold, calculating, ruthless fighter in the art of killing demons. Having trained and commanded all the troops of warriors, he was very grateful for the position he occupied. This way, he could remain in Orpheus and need not be sent to Earth. In fact, he abhorred this planet. He felt disgusted living in this world as decadent and coveted, and thought it was unfair the way his species was treated, sacrificed, and forced to blindly serve the human race. It was not for nothing that many Guardians on Earth deserted their posts and joined and took refuge for a possible revolt.
The mediator and the commander made the crossing in the morning. Before reaching the congregation, Igor asked Hector if they could do another round. He wanted to see the other portals that have been generated in the neighborhoods. He needed to investigate for clues and collect traces . A few hours later, the mediator said, “I’d better go to the congregation. I do not feel the urge of prowling these portals at dusk.”
“Chill, Hector! Why are you so afraid?” The commander gave a mocking laugh. “What is the reason for your nervousness?”
“Igor, unlike you, I was never trained to be a warrior.” He took out a handkerchief and wiped the sweat that began to break out on his forehead. “For these and other reasons, I like keeping my ass safe, especially regarding this recent invasion of the Guardians of Darkness. I’d rather not risk it.”
“It makes sense! If they decide to return, many will come in and I am only one.” Igor played in the embrace of the mediator. “Let’s get going.”
Igor was amazed when confronted with the Congregation. The two-storey house was in deplorable condition. The door that led to the entrance had been literally torn off. Mark and Nathan tried to fix it so as not be so exposed. A large part of the first ﬂoor was carbonized including the furniture. However, the rooms which were located on the second ﬂoor were the hardest hit, virtually destroyed by the fire. The Guardians were cleaning and throwing away the charred furniture.
All dirty and sweaty, Mark wiped his hand on his pants and greeted the commander. “Wow, what a pleasant surprise, Igor! It is an honor to welcome you to my humble home!” Wiping the sweat from his brow, he lamented, “Unfortunately, the damn demons destroyed much of it.”
“Don’t be so depressed, Mark. We still have room, the kitchen,” He directed one mischievous look at the regent. “And our comfortable library!” Nathan said, smiling at the regent.
“Is it, my boy? After helping me with this lot, I have another task for you,” Mark smiled triumphantly at him. “Can you give a good tidy in the comfortable library?”
Nathan, whose hair was glued to his forehead and with a sweaty shirt, scowled at the Guardian. He said, “There’s no need to be so cruel. I just wanted to cheer you up a bit.”
The commander cleared his throat and changed the subject. “Is the girl still here, or did Julio take her?”
Mark, focused on his work as a carpenter, looked at him confused. “Kate? Oh yeah ... She remains here with us.” He gave one last check to see if the door was well-placed. “Do not mention even in jest to send her to Julio’s congregation. Jake would handle that himself, to put fire to the rest of the house.”
“Sorry?” Igor asked, confused.
Mark replied, “They are ... let me simplify ... as they say, boyfriend and girlfriend.”
Igor nodded to the conductor as a sign of disapproval. “Mark, you know more than anyone that the Guardians should not relate to other species.”
“If you are brave enough and do not fear death itself, go to the guy and tell him that.” Still staring at the look of objection from the commander, Mark added, “She is not human, so no rule is being circumvented.”
Igor did not answer and just raised his hands in surrender. “A wise decision!” The conductor smiled at him.
With the concerted door, the three Guardians and the mediator climbed to the second ﬂoor. Igor stood open-mouthed looking at the whole mess and imagined that the fight had definitely been arduous and stressful. Mark called the others to join him. It was unfortunate that Julio and his Guardians had already gone. They would certainly have loved to meet the commander of the Kingdom.
“Everyone, this is Igor. He has been a Guardian of Orpheus for more than four centuries,” Mark introduced Igor to his Guardians.
Everyone looked at him astonished. They were now gathered in the library. Igor was robust with brown hair and green eyes. He wore black pants and a long coat of gray, even if the weather was a bit stuffy. Being a very friendly commander, he greeted everyone and patiently answered several questions asked by young Guardians. Kate was in the bedroom and did not participate in the conversation.
After formally meeting the commander, Lana and Olivia excitedly went to the kitchen to prepare dinner while the others remained in the library. Jake left and followed the two. He came close to Lana’s ear and said, “I noticed that you found the good commander attractive.”
“What are you trying to say? Have you been drinking?” she replied blandly towards Jake.
“No. I just noticed the way you looked at him.” He released a hilarious look at her. “Do not deny it. There are facts that prove that my theory. For example, when you prepare lasagna, it is with ulterior motives!”
Olivia laughed and said, “Jake! Leave her alone. You know very well what happens when she gets angry!”
“Good point ...” Jake said, smiling. “Sam would not like anything about this story!”
Nathan walked into the kitchen and asked curiously, “What are you up to? What would Sam not like?”
Jake launched an accomplice’s look at Lana and disguised, “Nothing ... We were just commenting on how he was cool with us.”
“Do not give me that blatant lie! Since when did you have secrets?” He crossed his arms.
“Nathan, get out! If you continue with this, you will not get to eat my lasagna!” Lana was not kidding.
“All right! This always happens to me! I’ll look for Kate. At least she appreciates me,” Nathan said and went out looking for her.
An hour later, dinner was served. Olivia called on everyone. After all, she was grateful that the demons did not destroy the kitchen. The starving Guardians lost no time and soon settled at the table. The commander and the mediator then sat down. Looking around, Igor asked, “Isn’t the girl coming to dinner with us?”
Jake gave Nathan’s ear a ﬂick and said softly, “Where’s Kate? You said you would look for her?”
“Ouch!” the boy whimpered and rubbed his ear. “She’s still in her bedroom. She said she would soon come down.”
Mark gestured Jake to get her. He stood up and headed toward the girl’s room. The door was ajar so he entered without knocking. He stopped when he noticed that she was standing, staring idly at her old teddy bear on the bed. Jake hugged her.
“What is it, beautiful? Why are you looking at Chucky like that?” Jake asked.
“Chucky?” She stared at him and wondered.
“Yes. Your bear looks like that ugly and scary doll in the movie!” he laughed, pointing to the bear. “Only in animal form!”
Kate pushed the boy and gave him a hard punch in the stomach.
He grunted in pain and spoke, “Are you kidding? Have you not seen that movie?”
“He is not ugly and is not even scary!” Clearly losing patience, she muttered sulkily, “I do not want you to call my teddy “Chucky.”
“I cannot help it. If you look closely, you will notice that it is missing an eye!”
Kate went to the bed, grabbed a pillow and threw it with all her might towards the Guardian’s head.
“Sorry! I surrender!” He raised his hands. “Stop this drama and just tell me, what’s wrong with him?”
Kate sighed, shaking her head. “It’s very strange. This morning, I had kept it inside that box with the photos. When I returned to my room later, he was back on top of my bed. I asked the others but no one came into my room. Was it you who put him back in bed?”
Jake could not resist laughing again. He said softly, “Have I not spoken? It’s like Chucky!
Kate put her hands on her hips and looked at him skeptically, “I’m serious! Don’t you find it strange?” She sat up in bed holding the bear. “I’m sure I kept it in the box earlier today. I’m not crazy.”
The two jumped in fright when they heard a knock at the door. Nathan put his head into the bedroom. He said, “Hey! Do you want a special invitation to dinner?”
“We’re going!” Jake said and grabbed her hand. “Kate, listen. You’re right, it is strange. After dinner, we will discuss this, I promise. I will not make any more jokes. Now go, and don’t comment about it with anyone else, understand?”
She nodded and the two headed for the kitchen. Mark smiled and spoke, “I see that our dear guest decided to show up for dinner!”
When the commander and the mediator took a good look at the girl, they both looked at each other in horror.
“My goodness!” exclaimed the frightened mediator, rising in a leap from his chair with an expression of horror on his face.
“Yikes!” Igor stammered, choking on the water he drank.
Everyone was stunned with these exaggerated reactions. Jake was the first to speak. “I know ... She is really beautiful. I also felt like that the first time I saw her.” He glared at the two. “But at least I had the decency to disguise it.”
Kate felt embarrassed and with a strong hand, she squeezed Jake. “Sorry. It was not my intention,” said the commander still coughing, trying to explain.
“It’s okay. I’m used to causing this kind of reaction in people,” Kate said, casting a coy smile for the two to unwind from such an embarrassing situation.
At that time, Igor was unable to describe the types of turbulent emotions that rolled inside him. The first sensation that hit him like lightning was the nostalgia. The instant he laid eyes on her, his mind traveled many years ago to the time of the revolt that occurred in Orpheus. The girl was an identical replica of Sofia. It was evident in all her features - in her voice, face, body, beauty, and eyes ... The same blue eyes. If not for the hair, he could say that Alex’s wife was right there in front of him. Analyzing the girl carefully, he concluded that the hairs were in fact, the only feature that distinguished them from one another. Sofia’s was golden and curly while Kate’s was black and straight.
When he looked at the mediator, he was still in shock. Igor did not have to guess what he was thinking and it was then that the commander realized and was relieved that he was present there, and not Alex.
Mark threw a questioning glance towards the mediator. The commander cleared his throat and continued to break the climate that was becoming increasingly embarrassing and said, “I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry. Can we continue with dinner?” He pointed the girl to a place at the table next to Jake. “Sit down and make yourself comfortable.”
During dinner, everyone remained engaged in uncomfortable silence. After finishing dinner, Mark motioned for Igor and Hector to accompany him to the library. The others remained in the kitchen. While the girls were in charge of cleaning the dishes, Jake and Nathan whispered in a corner. “What happened to them that time? They seemed to have seen a ghost!” Nathan asked incredulously.
Jake, who was looking for a clean cup on the counter, replied, “I do not know ... I’m even wondering now. Their reactions when they saw Kate were anything but normal.”
Olivia, who was washing the dishes, played on both. “Are you still in primary school?” She wiped her hands on her apron and spoke, “You know what, Jake? There is nothing sexier than an experienced Guardian like you standing there acting like a brat in front of his girlfriend.”
Kate looked at Olivia and answered, “I have to disagree with you on ...”
“Good! She defends her man,” said Jake interrupting the two, feeling vainglorious and throwing a wink to Kate.
She ignored him and pointed to the redhead.
“Sorry, Olivia. I don’t just talk ... The only part where I disagree is that you said I was his girlfriend.”
Nathan, Olivia and Lana started laughing. When they finished drying the dishes, Kate went to her room bumping into him, who stood still staring at her face.
“Can’t you two get back to being enemies?” said Jake to Olivia and went to the room puffing.
In the library, Mark, Igor and the mediator were drinking coffee that Lana made for them right after dinner.
“Now, can you explain to me what that was? Why was it such a surprise to see Kate?” Mark asked suspiciously and went, “Is there something in this story that I’m not aware of? I know perfectly well that her aura was not the reason!”
Igor launched an accomplice’s look at Hector. He knew they both shared the same opinion regarding the similarity between the two women. Hector said, “Mark, you’ve probably heard of Sofia, the ruler of the kingdom that was murdered. I’m not sure you not know her because you were not present during the revolt. You were sent to Earth at a young age.”
“What does this all have to do with Kate?” the conductor asked curiously.
Igor nodded to Hector, slightly shaking his head. “Nothing. We were only surprised that her attributes were so like Sofia’s, especially her eyes.” He took a sip of his warm coffee. “Don’t worry! They are just similarities.”
Mark felt very confused. The two would not have been so shocked just because they found two people similar to each other. He imagined that there were more complications behind that excuse. It was obvious that they were hiding something. Mark decided to leave everything quiet for now. As soon as an opportunity arose, he would contact Julio and investigate further into this story.
The mediator was also skeptical regarding the girl and needed to talk in private with the commander. Aware that Mark would not leave them alone, they used a bogus excuse to get a little more privacy. Hector asked the regent, “Mark, my coffee is cold. Could you please warm the coffee that’s left in the kettle for us?”
Igor, not believing what Hector had asked, gave him a sharp look and kicked the leg of the mediator under the table. “Do not repair his mannerisms. You need not bother.
“I can bring another hot kettle. Let go of being silly!” Mark said, taking the kettle out towards the kitchen.
Igor quickly spoke between his teeth and said to the mediator, “What are you thinking? Do you suspect something?”
“Igor! Do you think the girl has some association with Sofia?” He put the cup back on the table and began to wonder. “Do you believe it is possible? No, it cannot be. I also wondered about it when I saw her.” He stood up and said in a low voice to Igor, “There is no evidence that the baby could have survived. All contemporary accounts claim that Sofia died while pregnant with the little baby in her womb. You must agree with me that it’s all just a big coincidence and nothing more.
Ready to open his mouth to argue, Igor hesitated when he heard a noise coming from the door. The conductor returned with the kettle of coffee which was now steaming. Mark said, “Now my friends, the coffee is warm! Are ready for a next round?”
Jake went quietly to Kate’s room, holding himself before knocking. He wondered what happened. Why was she so angry? First, there was that weird thing with the bear and now all this angst, talking nonsense like that in the kitchen and passing the greatest shame in front of those debauched Guardians. Was she in PMS?
Basically, he foresaw the reason. After they left Gabriel’s filthy tavern, Kate remained aloof and silent until they returned to the Congregation. She had been intrigued by the onslaught of Sabrina and the comments that Gabriel had directed towards him and the former Guardian.
Jake remained standing against the door. He did not know whether to enter or go away. Taken by an insane instinct, he decided to leave his cowardly side. He arranged his hair, straightened his shirt, took a deep breath, knocked on the door, and asked, “Kate?
Can I come in?”
After an eternity, she said, “If it is to make jokes or to be funny, you can go!” she said bluntly.
“Hey, baby. Don’t talk to me like that. You are hurting me!” he said quietly with his forehead against the door.
A few minutes later, she came and just put her head out, blocking the passage with her hand. “You did not answer my question!” she said.
He pushed her back and opened the door. He held her tightly around the waist and began to kiss her. At first, she resisted and tried to push him back but he was stronger and would not budge. With the intensity of the kiss, Kate surrendered and began to respond. However, it was short, just enough for him to taste her. Jake stopped kissing her and whispered in her ear, “Are you calm now?” Giving kisses down her neck, he said, “Why won’t you tell me what’s going on? Why are you acting like you and I are so tense?”
With her eyes still closed and feeling the kisses on her neck, she said, “I don’t know. I’m not cool. There’s this inexplicable event involving my teddy bear and the bizarre behavior of those two when they saw me at dinner time.” Sighing, she said, “E...”
“E...?” What else is tormenting you?” he asked, dreading the answer.
“Who else, Jake? How many women have you slept with?” She crossed her arms and said accusingly, “It was you who told me that most of the Guardians only love one woman. These were your adventures before, during, or after Barbara?”
He looked surprised at Kate. It was the first time she had shown she was jealous. He did not know whether or not to like this unexpected attitude, especially after she included the name of Barbara.
“Pay attention! I never cheated on my wife! What I’ve been doing with other girls after her death does not have any relevance.” He narrowed his eyes and said harshly, “Please do not talk more about this topic!”
“All right! I understand. No need to get stressed!” Still defying, she asked, “You did not answer my question. How many were there, Jake?”
He frowned. Would she not stop? Without a word, he turned to leave the room. Kate could not believe his reaction. She pulled his arm and asked indignantly, “Is that the attitude you will take, going out like that? Turning your back on me without answering me?”
“No! I’m going to my room. You know how it is ... I have a list of all the women I’ve slept with. It’s all written down!” sarcastically he said . “Would you stop being jealous?”
She glared at the Guardian. “This is your little game then ... Okay. I just need to know one thing ...” She dropped his arm. “Why did Gabriel turn against Orpheus and lead a sect of humans?”
He parted his lips in surprise. Where was she going with this issue? He said, “Not now, Kate! I’m not going to talk about it!”
“Oh, yeah? When will you want to talk? Don’t you feel well talking about it because it is directly related to Barbara’s death?” She tilted her head to the side. “Do you think I’m stupid? Do you think I don’t know that Gabriel’s revolt led to the death of someone he cared for, too? I just don’t know where Barbara fits into all this!”
“Kate, I already told you that this is not the right time. We will end up fighting!” He was panting and said it in a louder voice than normal.
She gave a dry laugh. “We’re not already?” She put a finger on his chest. “What were you and Gabriel talking about behind my back during that hour in his office? I heard you two whispering ... Besides, you mentioned my name and Barbara’s. You also spoke about the other girl. Who was she, Jake? Was she Gabriel’s wife?”
Jake sighed wearily. This subject was too delicate. In fact, it was highly painful especially for him. Talking about the death of Barbara aroused feelings he tried to leave dormant therefore causing him anger and regret. More than that, it aroused doubts and a huge rage from which it took decades to overcome. However, he didn’t want to argue with Kate. He was in love with her and would do anything ... Opening the game, he confessed, “That’s right ...” He closed his eyes quietly. “The revolt is directly linked to the death of these Guardians.” He took her hand and kissed her. “Kate ... If you promise me you’ll wait until nightfall, I’ll tell you everything.”
A little calmer, she nodded and gave him a hug and a quick kiss on the lips. Kate was resentful for giving him a hard time. She just wanted to know the truth. She was tired of mysteries, especially those involving her life itself. Slightly relieved, Jake stared seriously and asked, “Is this why you said that time in the kitchen that you were not my girlfriend? Why are you suspicious and jealous?”
“No. I just told the truth. You’ve never asked me out on a date,” Kate replied.
“Women!” He turned away from her, putting his hands behind his head. “So, is this the problem? I think I would really have to show you my list!” He laughed at his own joke. “What do you want, a ring? Aren’t my actions enough to prove how much I love you? I need to try harder to convince you.” Tired, he paused and continued, “Kate ... I told him that we’re together, no matter what name you give to title our relationship.” He sighed and shook his head slightly. “I already explained that in my world, everything is different. From the moment you decide to take me and stay with me, we make a promise to love each other, and you become my wife.”
“I know ... Excuse me, that was not my intention ... I’m just confused and nervous about what is happening. Also, I can’t stop thinking about what you said about most of the Guardians loving only one person.” she admitted and looked down, embarrassed. “Have you ever loved a woman ... What makes you think you love me?”
“And what makes you think otherwise? For some time, has it been going through your mind that my feelings for you are not true?” He looked hurt. “Do you want to know why we Guardians stay with the same woman? When we find the right partner, we don’t exchange her for another, as do humans. Who likes changing clothes all the time?”
Kate said, “Jake, it wasn’t my intention to offend you. You don’t need to talk about it.”
“No I’ll tell you ... It’s because we value and believe in true love. We do not give up or lose heart at the obstacles. It’s true ... In life, nothing is perfect. There are challenges which only love can win. Love is above all. Behind it, there is a force so great that it’s likely that you’ve never even dared to imagine ...”
Kate was distressed and embarrassed. She should not have touched on that subject. Barbara was his weak point. Jake spoke as he looked at her in an intimidating manner. He knew how to leave her speechless and wisely put his point of view. Not satisfied, he continued. “You must understand ... Barbara will always occupy a special place in my heart. I thought she was irreplaceable, that I would never love again. However, when I saw you for the first time in university, I felt moved. I realized I was wrong. It was then that I realized that I had another chance ... I could love again ...” He came and took her face in his hands and said softly, “Kate, I believe in our love ... Would you want to be my wife? Forever?”
She nodded and pulled him into a hug. “Jake ...”
Sensing something vibrating in his pants pocket, Jake looked away from her and picked up the phone that was still vibrating. He was surprised to check the call on display.
“Gabriel, hi! Have you found out something about that subject?”
“You cannot imagine what I have for you!” Gabriel said.
“Stop making me nervous and talk!”
“Are you ready to listen? It’s too much ...” Gabriel replied.
“Gabriel!” he growled impatiently.
Gabriel answered, “Calm down! I’ll tell you. But if you are standing, you’d better sit down before you start to hear what I have to tell you.”
Kate noticed how he turned white after the call from Gabriel. As he put the phone back into his pocket, sat up in bed and said nothing. Jake looked amazed and was breathing raggedly. She was naturally scared.
“What did Gabriel say?” she asked. He did not reply. He just stood staring for a while. “You’re scaring me! What’s going on?”
Jake remained bewildered. Still sitting, leaned his elbows on his knees and ran his trembling hands through his hair. Nervous and panting, Kate looked confused and asked him, “Are the demons coming back? Are they coming to kill me?”
He stood up, grabbed her by the arms and told her with an unfathomable expression, “Kate ... Right now, the demons are our least concern, believe me!” He pressed her arms tighter. “I will lock you in the room and the door only opens when I return. Do you understand?”
“Jake ... You’re making me scared!”
“Just promise me you will not leave!” he said in a stern tone and then hugged her tightly. After depositing a kiss on her forehead, Jake left the room, slamming the door.