Soon after the absurd and inconsistent conversation with Mark about the girl, Jake was really bothered. Although Kate did not have a human aura, he knew she was different and special. He did not believe in any way that her body could be the target of possession or that she was associated with the Kingdom of Darkness. He was sure, but he could not prove it just yet.
He decided to make his own arrangements to discover something more of this mysterious case. Jake decided to do everything in secret without any guardian, especially Mark, suspecting something. If by chance he was caught doing so, he would spend the next century serving his punishment. He took his cell phone from his jacket pocket and dialed a number that he hadn’t used for decades.
“Gabriel, hi! It’s Jake! Sorry for calling. I need your help. It’s urgent.” An agonizing silence stretched for a few moments. “Gabriel, are you there? Please answer!”
Gabriel answered, “Jake, you know how dangerous it is to keep in touch. We cannot risk that!”
“Please, only you can help me.” Jake heard a long sigh.
“All right, I’ll help you. Let’s meet at the suburbs tonight,” Gabriel said.
“Great, I’ll be waiting for you.” With his voice strained, Jake added, “Thanks for your help.”
“Listen. Before anything else, I need you to promise that you will not use your powers, come what may. You know perfectly well that can be tracked, leading to the discovery of my whereabouts,” Gabriel replied.
“Be rest assured. I promise!” ensured the Guardian and finished the conversation with his friend. Jake went to the kitchen and ate. After that, he hurried back to his room. He was impatient and wanted to clarify that dilemma once and for all. To avoid suspicion, he dismissed the heavy weapons even though he could not use his supernatural powers. He just hid a dagger on the inside of his boot that had a slightly longer barrel. He wore a pair of black jeans and a black shirt. He finished it off with a black leather jacket. Okay, now he seemed like a villain.
The Guardian rode his car, a black Toyota, and went to a secluded alley. The place where Gabriel lived was foul and hideous, full of evil, and corrupted with humans who worked for a sect led by Gabriel. They could keep in contact and interact with the creatures of darkness. Jake could never kill them and be done with that unholy brotherhood as its members were part of the human race. If the Guardians of Orpheus killed them or disobeyed the rules of God, conﬂict would arise.
Jake parked his car near an abandoned building. The street leading into the bar was completely isolated, where only marginals roamed the neighborhoods. The smell of garbage and urine permeated the air. Plugging his nose with his hand, he headed for the entrance to the lair. He knocked on the door a few times. Nothing. He hit harder. Nothing. He heard some whispers coming from inside the room. Who was on the other side had possibly had detected his presence. The situation would be dangerous, he knew. However, did not hesitate or back down as he needed answers. He plunged headlong into his mission.
The door was made of steel, strong and secure. Should he break it down, he thought. However, did not want to cause trouble early. Jake decided to act civilized and spoke, “I’m not here to cause any trouble. I just came to talk with Gabriel. He’s my friend.”
“We have no friends from the Guardians of Orpheus. Go away!” a high-pitched voice answered from the other side.
“Really? Tough luck, then. I will not go away until I talk to him,” Jake said.
There was an extended silence. The Guardian began to get impatient. Another voice, a bit more serious this time, pronounced, “What’s your name, boy?”
The Guardian did not find it a good idea to reveal his identity to a lot of insane humans. If Mark suspected that he was strolling alone, he would be screwed. It’s the least fun to be gagged and tied up in a trunk for decades. Swallowing hard, he decided to risk it. “My name is Jake. Gabriel and I were partners at the time he was a Guardian of Orpheus just like me.”
A moment later the door opened, making a scary noise. He walked in slowly. Cigarette smoke and the stench of darkness covered the whole environment. He looked at the filthy and sticky ﬂoor. He felt sick even move. Later, he saw a multitude of men. Some were playing at a round table where an unfortunate audience had gathered. In one corner, there was a bar. Many people were talking and drinking rum on the counter. There were also two large pool tables. The men who were playing were arguing about something. The place looked more like a dirty watering hole, not to mention those nasty humans and toothless, looked at him suspiciously. Jake swept the room with his eyes to find the doorway leading into Gabriel’s office.
Once he found the door, he walked towards it. Men who were playing games and drinking stopped and stared at him. However, Jake was not intimidated by them and continued with the route. Approaching the door, he felt a presence and a stronger smell characteristic of the darkness but he gave no importance it. Anyway, the place stank of rot and was operated by normal creatures.
“If I were you, I would not open that door, boy!” warned a bald man whose smile showed a half-dozen rotting teeth.
“That’s it! Do not be curious or the bogeyman will get you!” laughed another who scratched his belly while sucking on a toothpick.
Ignoring the men and their sixth sense, Jake came to the door. By rotating the knob, he was surprised by a creature with such quick reﬂexes that he could not identify it. Jake was hit on the head. With the force of the impact, he was thrown back, causing everything to fall down. The creature seemed to be a huge hellhound. The demonic dog opened his huge jaws and dropped a gooey, slimy drool. The mouth of the beast was adorned with the same sharp teeth of a shark. Flexing his arms tightly in fighting the dog failed to prevent the beast from getting to his throat. The ferocious bites slashed across his neck, affecting mainly his main veins responsible for pumping blood to the brain and heart. He screamed as he felt the dog’s claws pierce his lower back. The Guardian began to lose consciousness. It would not take even a minute to faint. What was worse, he could die. He looked from the corner of his eye and saw the toothless human screaming and making a big fuss about the fight.
“Die, Guardian traitor!” screamed the potbellied man.
“This is Rex! It ends here, bastard!” shouted the bald man with bad teeth.
Breathless, Jake closed his eyes. He could not use his supernatural powers as he was very weak. Then, he visualized Kate’s smile and her beautiful blue eyes. Focusing on what remained of his energy, he lifted his leg, threw the strongest kick, reaching the testis of the animal. The demonic dog let loose his neck and howled loudly. He took advantage of the vulnerability of the animal to attack it. He rolled over and held it down. Raising his other leg, he reached for the dagger that was hidden in his boot. Tightly closing his hand on the hilt of the weapon, Jake endlessly stabbed the heart of the animal that roared in pain due to the intensity of the blows suffered. With the lifeless dog beginning to dissolve into mist in his arms, the dagger slipped through his hand and slowly hit the ground, covered in blood. Jake laid a hand on his neck and tried to stop the bleeding where the beast had attacked him aggressively.
Jake woke up groggy in the darkness. His eyes narrowed as he distinguished the details around him. He was lying on a single bed in a small room that was covered by a penumbra where a cold air came in through an open window. He saw that bandages covered the damage. In a lot of pain, he tried to get up. He was stopped by a hand.
“Slow down, buddy! Where do you think you’re going?” said a soft voice. “Are you planning to take a walk in the neighborhood?”
“Is that you?” Jake coughed and asked weakly.
“Sure, busybody. Who else?” Gabriel was a young man in the same age range as Jake. He had dark blond hair with a ﬂush cut in military style and blue eyes. “You should have listened to the humans.”
Jake gave a dry laugh. “Very funny. What the hell was that, a werewolf?” He looked surprised at Gabriel. “Since when did you have a dog from hell?” he asked, still smiling. “Rex? Really?
The former Guardian looked at his old friend and laughed. “You haven’t changed a bit, Jake,” he said.
“Where do you think all my charm comes from?” He looked at Gabriel and asked seriously, “Tell me. Where did you get all those nasty people? Most of them are toothless or with rotten teeth. Is this part of the curriculum? Is there any requirement that members of the sect must have oral deficiencies?” Jake frowned and grimaced. “I really was not impressed with the dog. But, those with gingivitis ...”
Gabriel let out a long laugh. “No, of course not!” Still laughing, he explained, “Did you forget the lessons? It’s Ambrosia. The humans drink too much of it and when they realize it, it is too late. The potion is aggressive towards humans.”
It was true. Jake did not remember this detail. Ambrosia was not made for humans. The drink gave them great strength and a sense of power but in return, the humans suffered some mutations and loss. Gabriel lit the lamp. He grabbed a mug with a viscous liquid and handed it to Jake. “Drink this, big boy. You are still very weak and your neck is in the process of regeneration. The bites were very deep. You could have died, you know?”
“Biting? That would be the understatement of the year! The damn dog ripped out a piece of my neck!” Jake protested indignantly, then picked up the mug. He sniffed the liquid and returned the mug to Gabriel saying, “You should not waste this Ambrosia on me. I know how hard it is for you to get this.”
“Drink it up!” Gabriel threw an entertaining look at the Guardian. “Do not tell me you’re afraid of being toothless! Trust me, you need it! You are a strong guardian, but still vulnerable.” He pressed his friend’s hand around the mug. “It’s the least I can do for you. You almost died for me. Thank you for not using your powers. I know that if you had used them, it would not hurt as much.”
Jake replied, “Okay. It would take much more than a rabid dog from hell for to kill me.”
Gabriel leaned back in the chair that was next to the bed and said, “Long time, no see. It’s been decades. If I’m not mistaken, the last time I saw you was when Barbara died.”
Jake tightened his jaw and stopped drinking the liquid.
“Sorry. I thought you had already overcome that.”
“I’m over it,” Jake closed his eyes and let out a sad sigh. “I really need your help. You are the only one who can give me the kind of information I need. I promise you will be well-rewarded.
“Ambrosia?” Gabriel looked suspiciously at him.
“Yeah, I can get a significant amount,” Jake replied. As he spoke, he turned his neck to check how far it was with the healing process.
“Jake, you need too! Today was proof that without Ambrosia, you’d be in trouble,” Gabriel said.
“I do not care. What I need to know is beyond me and only you can help me.” After drinking, he handed Gabriel the empty cup.
Gabriel rubbed his eyes with his hands and straightened in his chair. “What is the name of the girl?”
Jake became mute. After he licked his dry lips, he answered, “She’s no one important.”
Gabriel knew him very well. They had shared a room in the congregation for many decades. Partners were much more than friends; they considered themselves as brothers. Due to a fatality of destiny, they had to separate. Each went to one side. Jake remained as a Guardian, fulfilled his duty, and acted in accordance with the laws of the Creator. He had always been faithful. As for Gabriel, he went into the wrong direction. He rebelled against the light and went his own way, ﬂeeing and deserting his obligations. He did not actually convert into darkness. Instead, he was a recluse who lived in the underworld and maintained contact with the demons and creatures of Zebheus. Gabriel led a cult of humans who smuggled Ambrosia. He needed the potion to live, prolong his life, and keep his powers. He knew that the girl was important to Jake as he did not disobey the law and did not break the rules. He lied to Mark and entered the suburbs looking for him. Jake wouldn’t do it if she was not worth the penalty. “What exactly do you need from me?” asked the former Guardian.
“Information. A girl who has recently moved to Alcantes has a distorted aura. No Guardian can identify it as her aura is represented by a blur. Before you argue that she is being possessed by some entity or associated with the creatures of darkness, I can guarantee that this is not the situation. Her case is exceptional; she lacks a human aura.
Gabriel looked at him thoughtfully, stroking his chin. “She can be an alien,” he said seriously and in seeing Jake’s reaction, he had to laugh at his own joke.
“Shut up! I’m serious!” challenged the Guardian.
“Hey, okay! No need to get upset. The case is very complicated. My guess is that she is carrying some protection. It may be that her aura is being blocked by magic so no one can identify it.”
“How is that so? What are you talking about?” Jake asked, confused.
“It’s only speculation, but there are rumors that some Zebheus sorcerers practiced this kind of magic in the past and they were convicted. These were considered illegal spells. This possibility may be relevant in the case of the girl,” Gabriel frowned at him. “Honestly, it’s hard to say. As you described it, it fits in the first stage of possession when the human aura conﬂicts with an invading entity.”
Jake shook his head. “I know these details. I am a Guardian, remember?” He wiped off a bit of dried blood that was on his arm. “She does not have the corresponding behavior and physical evidence. I thought she could be a medium but Mark ended my hopes, claiming that they did not have that kind of autonomy.”
Gabriel said, “He’s right. A medium can even be equipped with some skills and perform spiritual charms when he has some degree of experience and a more advanced age. I suppose it is not the case.” He smiled at Jake. “Or are you in love with a grandma?”
“I’m not in love! Just for your information, she is a very pretty girl,” Jake said.
“Gotcha! Medium and alien, we can cross off our list,” Gabriel joked.
“You’re loving this, aren’t you? You crook!” Jake stared at him, frowning.
Gabriel was still smiling but reassured him, “I’ll get in touch and thoroughly investigate this case with the creatures of darkness. If the girl is under the protection of a spell of possession or is being targeted for such, I’ll find out who the witch or the responsible entity is.”
“Thank you!” Jake sighed with relief.
“One more thing. I need not remind you that if by chance or miracle it is a human, you cannot ...”
“I know!” Jake cut him dryly. “Do not worry. She is not human and my only interest is to help her.”
“All right, I believe you. Let’s find out where your girl got into trouble,” he nudged the Guardian. “Now, it’s time to rest. You need to be brand new when you return to the congregation.”
Jake said, “Let me guess,” he paused and added in a tone of suspense, “Mark will tie me up and leave me in a trunk!”
They both laughed. Gabriel stood up, turned off the lamp, and left the room so Jake could rest and continue the healing process.