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“What do you mean, we’re all dead?” Andrew demanded.

“Why don’t you ask your father? He’s the start of all of this.”

Andrew’s face contorted in anger for a brief second, “What does my father have to do with anything?”

The dead man on the started coughing, splattering of blood coming to his lips. He looked to be striving to remain conscious, to remain alive.

“It started with the summit, all those years ago. Your father began the treaty to lull the demon realm into a sense of complacency. He planned to build up an army in secret, and then attack the demons in a sneak attack. It’s a plan he has had in the works since he started the treaty.”

Andrew shook his head in disbelief, “No, that’s not possible, my father is an honorable man. He’s a man of duty. He’d never break a treaty.”

I had to agree with him. I had met the man myself. It didn’t seem in his nature to do something like break a treaty.

The man coughed again, trying and failing to raise his hand a cover his mouth, “If we had killed you, it would have put a halt in his plans. It would cause the demons to go on high alert. He’d lose the chance. We didn’t expect the Demon King himself to be here.”

Andrew continued to shake his head, turning away in thought.

“Why is too late? Andrew can talk to his dad. We can put a stop to his plans.” I insisted.

The man was already shaking his head, “It’s not him that you need to worry about. It’s the Necromancer.”

“What does that mean? People keep telling me to follow the dead. What does that mean?”

The man’s labored breathing, if that’s what you could call it, became even worse, “I… follow… no… The Necromancer… you need to stop the Necromancer first.”

“What does he have to do with this?”

His eyes began to gloss over, “Find… the… Necromancer.”

“Okay, we’ll find him, what does he have to do with this?”

There was no answer. I grabbed the man by the collar. He didn’t respond. Stephan let go of his arm and rested it on mine.

“I don’t think I can do any more with him. I can try one of the others?”

“No,” Rune shook his head, “I don’t think we should disturb the dead any longer. I want to find this Necromancer and find out what he has to do with all of this.”

“I…” Andrew started and then swallowed hard, “I need to… I need to go see my father.”

Everyone began talking at once.

“No, you should stay here,” Rune demanded.

“We need to stick together,” Alex agreed.

“If your fathers the problem, you can’t help him,” Daniel added.

“We should all approach him together,” I stated.

Andrew glanced at each of us before responding, “It’s what I need to do. I’ve spent so much of my life in the dark. I always just did what I was told. Stayed out of the way. For it, dad never showed me an ounce of affection. Once my mom passed-”

Andrew winced for a second, what he was going to say passed.

“If it’s any consolation,” Allan spoke up, “I agree with Andrew. Sometimes, someone has to walk a road alone.”

I glanced at Allan with surprise. Why would he agree on this? I’d figured he’d approach this with the most pragmatic view of any of us. Rune stated as much, causing Allan to sigh.

“Ridiculous,” Allan pushed his glasses back up on his nose, “We should approach this problem on multiple levels. It makes sense to send Andrew to find out what his father is planning. Meanwhile, we can discover what the Necromancer is up to.”

After a moment, each of the other boys lowered their heads. Andrew gave Allan a nod and turned to the rest of us.

“I’ll be back. I’ll just get to the root of this rumor. I’m sure it’s completely fictional. This is all probably just the star cult trying to give us the run around.”

We nodded in turn, and Andrew turned to leave. When he made it to the door, he stopped and turned back.

“Jane… be safe. I… just be safe.”

I gave him a smile, “I’ll watch after the boys for you, keep them out of trouble.”

Andrew returned a weak smile, and then took a step out the door. I don’t know why this felt so final. It was almost like I was never going to see Andrew again. That was, as Allan said, ridiculous though.

“So, now for our job,” Mr. Xavier spoke up, “How are we going to find this Necromancer?”

“I can find him.” Stephan said in a low voice.

He was placing a blanket over the deceased man who had just awakened, then stood up, glancing at each of us.

“I can feel him,” he continued, “I am sure I could point you straight to him. It’s not something I like to talk about, but I seem to know where he is, all the time, as if I was connected to him or something. He’s that direction. I don’t know how far away, maybe a few hundred miles.”

“So, do we just pile into a car and head out there?” Alex asked.

“That plan is as good as any. So, who has a car?” I asked.

We all glanced at each other, until every eye was on Mr. Xavier.

“What, me? I just got my driver’s license like last week! Why do we have to take my car? Do you know how much gas costs?”

“Please?” I asked, batting my eyelashes in a disgustingly Samantha like way.

 “I know you’re manipulating me.” Mr. Xavier sighed, rubbing his face, “Fine, I’ll take you. I suppose it is the world in jeopardy, I can spare some gas money for that, but you owe me.”

I wasn’t sure what he meant by ‘owing him’, but I was willing to take what I could get. It seemed like we were about to go on another adventure, and I had only just finished up the last one. Before we left, I ordered the boys to start picking up.  My door was smashed in and my house had been turned a wreck. If mom woke up to see this, she would definitely have a heart attack. I know Abaddon promised a team would come, but how long would that take? Hopefully, she didn’t wake up before the team could wipe her memory, but I was definitely going to mitigate the damage if I could.  

While the boys picked up, I went upstairs and checked on my mother. He did seem to know his stuff, as she was looking much healthier. In fact, she was looking a bit healthier than before he had even visited. Suddenly, I wanted to know if Abaddon did anything when he checked on my mother! He was a devil, after all!

I fixed her blanket and then kissed her on the forehead. I knew that I snuck out a lot and took advantage of the fact she worked all the time. If she knew half the stuff I did, she would probably kill me. However, she took care of my sister, my brother, and I without fail. Wow, this house really was getting crowded. My life was changing rapidly, and I realized that I wasn’t the same girl who used to read fantasy novels on a park bench.

“Jane, we’re ready.”

I didn’t realize it, but I had been sitting on my mother’s bedside, gently stroking her woolly hair while completely lost in thought. I had let the time pass me by. I nodded and stood up.

“What’s wrong?” Stephan asked, cocking his head questioningly.

“I just… I feel like things are about to change?”

“Change?” Stephan cocked his head, clearly not having any clue what I was talking about.

“It’s just… I don’t know, a charge in the air. All this talk of the end.”

“You’re worried?”

“A little bit, aren’t you?”

Stephan gave a wry laugh. “Ah… well, I, for one, already reached my end. Except… it wasn’t the end. It was only the beginning. Do you know what I mean?’

“That you’re undying?”

“Hah… well that… but I guess, an ending can be looked at like a new beginning.”

“I see…”

I gave him a smile to alleviate his worries, and the two of us went downstairs. I was shocked to see that they had managed to repair all of the damage. So much for a clean-up crew, the boys alone were enough that I would never have guessed anything happened. Someone had to have used some kind of magic, because even the door was fixed. As to where they put the bodies, that was for the cleanup crew to figure out.

Taking one last look at my house, looking as normal as always, I shut the door. An end brings new beginnings, huh? Well, first you had to survive the end if you wanted to see what comes next.

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