Filthy streets, a stench of rot, wet roads damp with the despair of those that lived in the slums. Common in this not so well off part of the city, so nobody outside paid much attention this problem. A perfect headquarters location for people who didn't want to be noticed.
Such a gentleman was approaching the area, dressed in rags, arched over, shuffling his way to the unseen border. What you must remember is everybody has their secrets, everybody has something they don't want the world to know. This gentleman is included in this, except he has more secrets than anyone else in the city could possibly imagine, and more than he wanted to have on his shoulders. As he crossed the invisible border between the wealthy part of the city and the slums, he began to straighten up, as he did so he clicked the fingers of his left hand and his clothes began to liquefy and reshape. Changing form over his body, turning into a navy blue suit. With a handkerchief hanging slightly out of the top pocket. The suit slightly open showing a waistcoat
He was a young man, mid-twenties, clean shaven with his hair combed back to show the whole of his handsome complexion. Green eyes shone confidence, but were still dangerous and could strike fear into anybody who tried to get in the way of this young gentleman. A gold chain hung from his a hook in his waistcoat into a small pocket on the left, from this the gentleman drew out his gold pocket watch and checked the time. Ten o'clock in the evening, he wasn't running too late at least so continued to walk at a relaxed pace, admiring hidden treasures within these slums.
For every person he passed he handed them a small token that they took gratefully to their homes to feed their families, the tokens were worth a months' food to these people. However, there was one home where the young gentleman realised leaving a token would not quite cut it. A small girl was sitting on the doorstep her face in her hands, sobbing gently to herself. Now the young gentleman wanted to stop, knew it was morally right to stop, and yet was also late for his meeting deeper into the slums.
He sat down next to the girl and asked for her name. She looked up slowly, the skin around her eyes red from the tears. She managed to say 'Sally' between the sobs.
'My name is Charles' the young gentleman gave a warm smile that brought a small smile to Sally's lips. 'Where are your parents?'
'Inside, but the man told me it wasn't safe inside anymore' Sally began to cry again.
Charles slowly lifted himself to look through a window into the house to check out what was going on. As soon as he took one peak in, he immediately dropped his head again realising the danger. Now glad he had stopped to help the little girl he asked her if she wanted to join him for tea so that she wasn't on her own. The little head nodded.
'Okay Sally, now trust me and hold on tight' Charles lifted Sally onto his lap and held onto her so that she could place her arms around his neck. Making sure Sally was secured, Charles now look around and evaluated the area looking around at the buildings trying to mark how long until he got to his home in the slums. He then checked the time on his pocket watch, one last look around and then he began to do the only thing he could think of doing in this situation.
He began to run, muttering along the way neither to himself or to Sally, though somehow she realised it was important for this man to mutter. Behind them there a almighty roar and the crashing sound of wood being broken open and splintered all over the streets.
The street lights helped Charles navigate his way but he knew it was also a good way for their pursuer to keep track of where they were. Then again, he didn't know if their pursuer could see in the dark. He had fought things like that before and going into a dark area was the worst thing to do. Charles continued to evaluate the situation in his mind running numbers through his head. Percentages, possibilities, characteristics and plausibility.
He was going to have to think of a way to see what he was up against, perhaps to gain some speed and use the time advantage to take a few seconds further to look at what he was up against. When it was in the house all he had seen were the red eyes and the horns curved towards its snout.
It fit the characteristics of a few creatures he had come across but he couldn't be sure as to what was going on. Why would any kind of creature be interested in the slums of London? And why would that creature take the liberty of making sure little Sally was outside for Charles to find.
'How much do you trust me, Sally?' Charles questioned the little girl in his arms.
Sally look straight into his eyes to show her fear of the thing behind them, but she still let him know that she trusted him whatever he was planning. Charles nodded and began muttering again, then gave a little jump.
They began floating in the air, speeding faster than Charles could ever hope to run. Using this boost he spun round, now floating backwards so that he was still heading towards his home. In the distance he could just make out the beast that was hunting them, and then a fireball the hunter sent towards them.
Charles spun round so the ball of fire hit him in the back, he still managed to curve in the air slightly so that he landed on the ground on his back rather than landing on Sally.
A trickle of blood seeped down his head with the red river slowing into the streets. Charles leg too had suffered a slight injury, such as his trousers being torn and a nice gash taking up half the height of his leg. He grinned into Sally's eyes, reassuring her it was going to be fine.
The young gentleman could have fainted there and then, yet mankind will always prevail when the end is honourable enough. The end result of this was keeping a child safe and away from a creature that was hell bent on showing them how much pain it could inflict on their helpless bodies.
Sally was placed to one side, surrounded in an invisible bubble so that the beast couldn't get hold of her. Then Charles stood in the middle of the street, facing the beast. His heart beating so fast he knew he should still stop and give in.
'Fighting your kind in Munsrato was fun enough, show me what a king really has behind his hoof. If I have all the characteristics correct that is' smirked Charles, looking straight at emptiness. He pushed both hands forwards palms in front. There was a roar and a massive thud as the beast was lifted off the ground and pushed further away from Charles and landed with a crunch.
Charles began to make his way towards Sally but was thrown off his own feet and flew face first into a building opposite Sally, a crack as he broke his nose. 'That's for the queen I'm guessing' chuckled Charles, getting up. He rubbed his hands together, and was now looking into the red eyes of the beast. A bulls heads forced up close to his own.
'Nice evening for a walk my lord. Here, let me give you a hand' Charles forced his palm onto the beasts chest and it flew into the air landed a few streets away this time. Charles ran to Sally and picked her up, securing her like he did before. He ran the last few minutes to his home.
Knocking furiously at the door he had to yell for more urgency as he heard hooves on the cobblestone streets.
'Password' a man's voice called from behind the oak doors.
'Let me put this bluntly, my young apprentice. If you don't open this door now, I will tear it down and then tear you apart, then feed you to the beast that is trying to rip me to pieces for killing it's mate. Open the damn door Snasvielg' Charles roared at the top of his voice.
The door swung open and Charles dove in so that the young man on the other side of the door could slam it closed. Charles put Sally down on the ground again then held his palms onto the door, muttering as fast as he could, protecting them from the beast on the other side.
The door felt a massive push as the beast tried to push its way in, only to fail. He only tried once and knew that he was not going to get anywhere with this. One more mighty roar and the beast retreated.
The young gentleman collapsed on the ground gasping for breath. Sally scuffled over and held on tightly, not wanting to let go of Charles, feeling safe and secure near him.
The young man stood in front of them, his eyes wide in surprise. His scruffy black hair portraying how he felt, a mixture mostly containing panic. 'A gentleman arrived a few minutes ago, said he was an old friend. Mr Gregough Jones. Also the council are already in the meeting room. They've been waiting a full fifteen minutes sir'
Charles just looked up to his apprentice, his mouth open in shock. 'Snasvielg, I have nearly just been killed by what appears to be a new enemy. We have a new guest at headquarters and I'm late for a meeting. What in the Eternal Mothers name made you think I was ready to hear all of that? Send Gregough to the drawing room, ask the council to wait but send Sophie and Violet to the guest room. I will make my way to the guest room when myself and Sally have recuperated a little. That'll be all for now.'
Snasvielg bowed his head slightly, turned on his heel and left through the small corridor into the main house.
Sally gave her surroundings a proper look, still clutching onto Charles. Wood flooring, polished to perfection. The walls painted crimson, yet decorated with the odd painting to show significant events. 'Where are we?' she finally queried.
'Now, if I were to tell you where we really were it would sound like nonsense. So let me just say this is my home, I built it by my own two hands, with the help of my friends who I had met on my travels' Charles gave a weak grin, he placed his right hand onto his upper left arm. A white light shone from beneath his hand.
'What are you?' Sally asked in amazement, watching his hand and seeing his leg heal up from the encounter of the beast. The blood that had trickled down his face now moved up and back into his head. His scalp repairing itself, no trace of scarring anywhere on his body.
'I'm an explorer. I've travelled the four corners of our world and have seen wonders you cannot even dream of. From the banks of the river Nile, to the Himalayan mountains. And beyond these wonders to see even more wondrous things. Let's say Mr Jones is not from around here'
'The things you can do though'
'I have lived in the shadows for some time, so that I can protect our world. What you saw outside is proof of what I am up against. Do you know much about Greece?'
Sally shook her head
Charles chuckled to himself 'remind me to read you Ovid's poems one day in the future. Then you will know what you must do in your life too. Do you trust me Sally?'
The little girl nodded and gave a small smile. The first one she had truly broken to Charles.
'Come here' Charles held her tightly 'I'll look after you now. Don't worry, you will never be alone.'
Charles slowly got up, leaving Sally to stand on her own while he did so. He then held out his hand for her to take and they began to walk through the small corridor into the main house until Charles stopped at one specific painting. A group of young people, teenagers ranging from seventeen to nineteen. With Charles standing in the middle of the painting, his right hand held out in front of him, his companions doing the same placing their hands under Charles.
'This is the only painting in existence of the entire council, do you see me in the middle, Snasvielg you met just now is a new addition for our team. My apprentice, only seventeen himself. On my left, that's Sophie, I met her in America, her family moved there to get away from England. Next to her, that Violet, she's also from America, again wanting to get away from the bustle of England. On my right…'
'That's the man' Sally interrupted, pointing at the man to the right of Charles 'he told me it wasn't safe, he made sure I sat outside my home.'
'He's literally my right hand man, Mr Jones. He took you out of your house?' Charles looked perplexed staring at the Gregough in front of him. 'He knew the beast was in there. Come quickly, I have to go and see him.'
Charles rushed on, dragging Sally behind him until they reached the stairs and then went up onto the second floor, took a right turn, then a left into a large bedroom with a large bed. Inside were waiting two women of whom were muttering amongst themselves until they heard the door open to allow entrance for Charles.
'Ladies, thank you for coming up to the guest room on such short notice. I would just like you both to be the first of the council to meet our newest recruit' at this Charles moved to one side so Sally could take a step into the room.
There was a mix of emotion in the two women. Female intuition made them both think of how helpless this child looked and how they just wanted to pick her up. Whereas Charles words of recruits made them stop and think.
'Recruit?' the younger of the two women spoke first, Sally recognised her as Sophie from the painting. Blonde hair flowing to her shoulders, it almost looked as if she had jewels in her hair where it sparkled from the light. She was as pale as snow with her light blue eyes radiating kindness. She seemed the more feminine of the two that stood before them.
Violet seemed more of a tomboy, even though she still wore her dress, as did Sophie, like a lady of the day should do. She was a little more tanned with red eyes glowing dangerously in the dark, black hair slowed to the small of her back, braided into a long tail.
'Yes Sophie, recruit. Don't worry, she will not be joining missions. But I believe her to be a likely candidate for the Guardians, when she is older of course' Charles replied, giving a slight smile.
Violet took the first step forward and looked Sally directly in the eyes 'why can I see what I am seeing, Charles' she turned to look up at the young gentleman now 'two horns, rage, revenge, a lust for blood. These are not the emotions of a young girl, what has she been through?'
'That is why I am going to see Gregough as soon as I know the two of you have the situation in hand. And as both of you asked her name, this is Sally. She will be staying here with me. Please can you get her accustomed to the house and also anything she wants she can have' Charles now turned to look down at Sally 'this is your room now. I will see you in…' he checked his pocket watch, unchained it from his waistcoat and gave it to Sally 'the first time the biggest hand hits the five. I'll be back, I promise.' Charles looked into Sally's eyes and kissed her forehead.
He then left the room to see Gregough, pushing the door of his drawing room off its hinges in anger as he looked at the calm man in front of him.
'Did I really use to look as young as in that painting in the corridors?' the man chuckled, feeling his silver hair 'damn I age well don't I?'
'You've hit that age more times than any of us Mr Jones. Now what on this world were you playing at with the king of the minotaurs?'
Gregough barked a laugh 'you probably know what I was playing at, making sure a little girl was safe. I could never have escorted her to safety, I haven't got the advantages you have. I'm just a man'
'You're the man, Gregough, blessed by the Eternal Mother herself. You were given powers I could only dream of' Charles roared, taking one massive step towards the old man in front of him and holding him by the throat. Rage seeping out of his eyes in the form of quite real flames. 'She could have died if I hadn't of come along when I did.'
'Don't you think I didn't think of that? Don't forget, I know all of the times for your meetings, I know your time keeping so I could accurately say when you were to arrive at the little girls home. I'm guessing she has a brand new room and it currently being attended to by Sophie and Violet' Gregough didn't even sound like he was being strangled, it was the same deep tone as before. Green eyes looked calmly into the sharp eyes of Charles. 'Slais, if I were you I would put me down and then consider reforming my heart strings so they were flowing in the right direction. If you don't do so it'll kill you in ten seconds. Your choice.'