Chapter 27:


Mylo and the Summoned Hero

Mylo ascended the sturdiest ladder he'd ever met. It was rock solid, coated with some rubbery substance that gave sweat and rain no quarter. A shame he should make its acquaintance so late.Bookmark here

But as far as the day was concerned, it was early. 5 in the morning and the sun had been up a few hours, but only now started to pull away from the horizon.Bookmark here

Humming as he went, Mylo climbed the new spotting tower.Bookmark here

At the top, he brought himself level with the platform and peered. The deck stood windswept and empty, only a large aerial, whose purpose he couldn't guess, rose to greet him.Bookmark here

"Kasumi?"Bookmark here

From somewhere close at hand, Mylo heard a muffled cry of: "First rule!"Bookmark here

The aerial stretched up another fifty feet. And it was wide enough. Mylo checked around the other side. He found more empty platform and a view of Old Edule.Bookmark here

Don't tell me she can turn invisible now.Bookmark here

He called again, and the hairline seem of the aerial's access panel clamshelled open. The grumpy pearl within said, "If you're going to insist on my real name, can't you start with my last name and an honorific?"Bookmark here

Mylo thought about it for a moment. "Then why did you chose a first name for your alias?"Bookmark here

"That was a screen name. It's different."Bookmark here

He stumbled over a little—not the name, but the enforced distance. "Miss Hoshino...."Bookmark here

Kasumi sighed. "Close enough."Bookmark here

They failed to match gazes for a while. For his part, Mylo found he couldn't stay angry over their little fight—holding a grudge is easier when carrying a wound, and he was healed now.Bookmark here

"Here. Your fire sword." Mylo unclipped it from his pack and handed it over.Bookmark here

Fascination returned to the hero's eyes. She came out of the aerial so she could unsheathe it and flail about.Bookmark here

"Nice! You are forgiven."Bookmark here

Mylo decided not to ask what for. He had a pretty good guess: probably because he had stopped being fun for a while.Bookmark here

"So what happens now?" Kasumi asked.Bookmark here

"That depends."Bookmark here

They scanned the sky. There should have been some of the Jagai's agents, perhaps armored, perhaps plainly dressed, skimming through the streets and over the walls looking for them. Lydia Wode didn't seem the type to give up easy. But for now at least, it seemed clear—a typically empty Edule.Bookmark here

"Seems you've made some enemies, and they know your base is Edule," Mylo said. "So—"Bookmark here

"Roadtrip!" Kasumi flared. "I haven't done one in years! Are you packed? Can we go now? Let's go!"Bookmark here

He didn't even have to ask. So much for worrying for so much nothing. Mylo smiled.Bookmark here

"Sure."Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

"So." Lydia Wode appeared and took a seat on the box Paul Etier was about to unpack. "New place, very mod. Not a bad pad, for an exile."Bookmark here

The detective scowled at her. "I thought you would be out hunting down Mylo. Or have you delegated that to your little army?"Bookmark here

"It's the Jagai's army, and no. That little throwdown by the north gate seems to have stirred up something below. Fasral are swarming out of the ruins."Bookmark here

Paul dropped his guard and his brandy.Bookmark here

"They're heading north, towards the open tundra. Until they're over the horizon I'm not taking any chances, though. The infantry are busy protecting the town—these are the Jagai's citizens at stake."Bookmark here

"Thank you."Bookmark here

The priestess turned a searching eye on the detective. "And what of you? Surely a packrat like you keeps his gear and old spells."Bookmark here

It was true, and undeniably so with all of his old inspector hats on the hat rack.Bookmark here

"Yes, but my trying to track Mylo would be futile."Bookmark here

"Oh really?"Bookmark here

"I taught him all my tricks." Partially true, and Lydia raised a doubting eyebrow to let the detective know his little lie wouldn't hold up in court.Bookmark here

Lydia watched him for a while, deciding what to do. "Well. I guess we lose this round."Bookmark here

"Indeed." Paul stifled a smile.Bookmark here

She turned to go—not that she needed to.Bookmark here

The old detective felt the rueful tang of opportunity's door closing and locking and deadbolting. But this was for the best, he shuddered at the memory of dark red eyes full of pain, betrayed. At this point, clinging tighter would only drive Mylo further away.Bookmark here

He bowed her out. "I hope you'll keep the Three Feather Cafe well visited in my stead. It would be a grave loss to civilization were they to cease operations."Bookmark here

"Chin up, inspector. Or didn't you see?"Bookmark here

Lydia fished for something, and Paul did have information to be caught. His eyes were still sharp enough and his mind keen enough to truly see. Mylo's barrier had been brittle and weak when cast from his chest—close to a strobilus's net. But then when the Pelgram brought the buildings down, Mylo had raised his right hand and cast the barrier there. An instinctive move, yes. But cast to far from his net, and with no channels to conduct, it should have been futile. Yet the detective had watched several head-size chunks of rubble hit the barrier, which held.Bookmark here

Oh no, you do not get information out of Paul Etier so easily.Bookmark here

He bluffed, "I do not know what you are talking about."Bookmark here

"Really? Ah, what a shame."Bookmark here

"Farewell, Lady Wode."Bookmark here

"Next time I'll skip the middle man." Lydia smiled and disappeared.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Last night's fight had blocked the rubble dump at the north gate, and what with nearby fasral activity, the carts took bits of unwanted building to the west gate instead, unloading them at the edge of the forest. In this trickle of activity, no one noticed one of the carts dropping a pair of figures off after its cargo.Bookmark here

"Thanks man."Bookmark here

Brendan nodded. "Stay safe you two."Bookmark here

The cart rattled on as Mylo and Kasumi melted into the woods. Kasumi again was—to Mylo—inexplicably bagless. He thought he was traveling light with a single backpack, but Kasumi breezed along in her green robe and brown shoes.Bookmark here

Pine needles rustled under foot. Mylo suggested they stay off the roads for a while—the trees here stood well apart and kept their branches high off the forest floor. Kasumi agreed—at first.Bookmark here

"Kitty's calling!"Bookmark here

Kasumi ran onto the road and waved at a traveler in a long brown hooded cloak, who rushed up the embankment to join them.Bookmark here

"So," Mylo asked, "where were you in the fight last night?"Bookmark here

"Hey, that rhymed!" said Kasumi.Bookmark here

Couzinet grimaced. "I...thought you were going to get killed and didn't want to join you."Bookmark here

The trio set off, picking their way between the pines. A few times Mylo looked back. Edule's skyscraper spires stood impassive to his departure, which was happy, but not the joyous escape he'd once envisioned.Bookmark here

He was about to look away when the sunlight was caught for a moment by something blue and insubstantial as smoke, bending south between Mylo and a cloud. Blinking, he lost whatever it was and couldn't reacquire.Bookmark here

Kasumi tugged at Mylo's sleeve to hurry him along. She and Couzinet were waiting for him. "Hey, keep walking. And stop being so quiet. You still haven't told me about that utility spell you learned."Bookmark here

"Oh, it's just for sending letters long distance."Bookmark here

"A pen pal spell! That's adorable. Got anyone to use it with?"Bookmark here

"Just one for now."Bookmark here

Together they slipped away from Edule, taking Mylo south toward warmer climes, adventure, and, if he was lucky, those shady trees with the broad ribbon leaves which adventurers told him had such good branches to climb and sit upon.Bookmark here

Marshall Eastman
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