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Chapter 19: Epilogue


 

Normally after solving a case, The Three would just collect payment and leave the area immediately afterward, having already secured another job to do. This time, they decided to hang around to make sure that Tonja was going to make a full recovery. They had all taken a shine to the girl, particularly Logan, which was a rare occasion. Logan usually regarded most people outside the team as completely worthless.

The Three visited Tonja in the hospital regularly while she recovered. Astonishingly, the young girl didn't lose any of her fingers or toes to frostbite. Her injuries were mostly minor, just scratches and awful bruising. That was another thing about Tonja that had impressed Logan, the sheer toughness of the petite girl. Her seemingly inexhaustible will to survive was apparently accompanied by physical fortitude as well.

Tonja was embarrassed to be visited by The Three while her face was swollen and discolored. She insisted on trying to cover as much of her facial injuries with makeup before they arrived. She wanted to brush her hair and her teeth too. It was strange to Logan that such a young girl would be so hung up about her looks, especially after surviving a Werewolf attack. He could only guess that Tonja was at a conscientious time in her life where she was hindered by her physical appearance. Most young girls were overly cognizant about their newly developing bodies and looks.

After Serje was killed, Captain Dragomirov held a press conference the very next morning, reporting to the public that Serje Niko was a cold-blooded serial killer who had preyed on his fellow high school classmates. The police had successfully cornered and shot the perpetrator to death. His killing spree was finally put to an end. Unfortunately, the poor girls and Lieutenant Yakov Smolin had lost their lives to the murderer before the police could find and kill him. So far, none of the girl's bodies had been recovered despite the indefatigable efforts of the local authorities.

After the press conference, the Captain fielded a few questions but didn't answer most of them. The secret of Serje's shape shifting ability must be kept at all costs. Most of the details were inconsequential. Regardless of how hard the media pressed, he would refuse to answer anything that challenged the official version of the story. Dragomirov was confident that the local police and his colleagues at the FSB, would do the same. Of course, conspiracy theories would soon erupt from this case, as they always did, but the truth would be successfully buried and would stay that way.

Captain Dragomirov left the press conference and met Trisha Lamont at his hotel room. Since he had found romance, he was going to stick around in Tuhloon for a few weeks, putting in for a long earned vacation to spend time with his new girlfriend. Trisha was eager to see him and just as eager to strip out of her colorful outfit and climb into bed with him. They spend many afternoons in bed together, enjoying each others company.

Father Vincent made his rounds, visiting the families of those who had lost their lives in town. Serje's grandfather was dismal, saddened by not only the loss of his grandson but also by the horrible crimes Serje had committed. Father Vincent spend an entire day with him. Hopefully, the old man's faith would be strong enough to see him through the difficult time. Although some felt it was a waste of time, others found that faith was a very powerful and effective healing mechanism. Father Vincent promised to continue to pray for him, much to the old man's appreciation.

Serje's grandfather had accompanied The Three on several occasions to visit with Tonja in the hospital while she recuperated. It seemed spending time with her was therapeutic for the old guy. He was very fond of Tonja and she triumphantly cheered him up, making him smile and laugh for the first time since Serje's death.

Trisha Lamont received a severe admonishment from the Dhelfoi because of her refusal to stay out of the fight between the hunter's and the abhorrent enemies. They asked her to take time off, without pay, a punishment that Trisha didn't mind in the least. She and Captain Dragomirov could spend many weeks together alone, strengthening their new relationship, undisturbed by either of their jobs.

As for her involvement with the aberrant, Trisha had no regrets. Both Merte and Serje had to be stopped. She had become convinced if they had united as a duo, as Merte wished, they would have gone on killing many more innocent people. Their evil actions had to stomped out as soon as possible, so Trisha had helped do so. No one would ever be able to convince her that she had made the wrong decision. If faced with the same decision in the future, Trisha would do the same thing and would probably be permanently dismissed by the Dhelfoi. It was a small price to pay, as far as she was concerned. What was the use of being expertly skilled with magic if she never used it for good?

Jewel and Sephon both took their payment for hunting down the Werewolf and left all of the money anonymously on the doorstep of Lieutenant Smolin's house for his widow to find. They couldn't deal with idea that a newborn child would be born without a father and the young wife be left without any means. Certainly, his wife would receive some funds from the government because her husband was killed in the line of duty, but they weren't sure if it was going to be enough. Sephon and Jewel felt a lot better knowing that they helped Lieutenant Smolin's new family after he was gone. It was nearly one hundred thousand in US dollars.


 

* * *


 

The Three stopped by Tonja's house before leaving Russia. She had been discharged the day before, after spending a week in the hospital, making them promise to visit her before they left. Since they had already been held up as long as they had, they didn't mind spending one more day visiting.

Tonja's parents' house was still being repaired, the broken windows were finished, the doors had been replaced but the structural damage was going to take a lot more work to complete. Father Vincent had already left Russia a few days before, back to California.

Logan eyed the countryside and the quaint buildings. Now that the threat of the Werewolf was gone, he could appreciated the beauty of Tuhloon. There was no longer a cloud of imminent danger which seemed to paint the very air, dull the colors and stifle the trees. It was as though both the Iyo forest and the town of Tuhloon were content now that Serje had been killed.

The Three were mulling around in the front yard, enjoying the sunny warm weather. There were birds singing, insects buzzing and some flowers were in bloom. The cool breeze blowing down from the mountainside was fresh and smelled sweet. The trees were swishing in the light wind, as if whispering to one another.

Tonja appeared from within the house and quickly gave each of them a hug. She had been sworn to secrecy, the Dhelfoi would be watching her to make sure she never told anyone about everything she had witnessed. As far as Tonja knew, Serje was just a serial killer that was tired of being bullied and the police shot and killed him in the woods after he kidnapped her. She was in high spirits even though a shadow of sorrow still hung over Tonja from the loss of her friend and the death of all those people, including her sibling. Although hateful toward her, Merte had been her stepsister nonetheless. She had promised Father Vincent to visit Serje's grandfather everyday and to keep him in her prayers.

After saying goodbye to Sephon and Jewel, Tonja came over to Logan blushing fiercely.

Logan lit a cigarette a blew a large cloud of smoke over their heads. The girl was antsy, fidgeting nervously, playing with her hair absentmindedly. Logan sighed, “You got something you want to say?”

“Can I speak to you privately?” Tonja said quietly.

Logan wasn't sure what in the hell a fifteen year old girl would have to say to him, but he shrugged, “Sure, I guess.”

They walked back toward the house, away from Sephon and Jewel.

“I've fallen in love with you, Logan,” Tonja said quietly.

Logan resisted the urge to laugh. How cute, puppy love. Jesus Mary. So the girl had a little crush on him. No big deal. All he had to do was be nice and gently let her down easy.

Tonja wasn't finished, “After I graduate high school and college, I am going to apply for citizenship for the United States. I will find you and we can be married. I know it will be a difficult for me to make it to your country and that you might meet someone else before then, but I have made up my mind. I want to spend the rest of my life at your side and I am going to come to find you as soon as I can.”

Logan's jaw hung open so wide that he almost lost the cigarette. He stared at her in disbelief. The girl wasn't joking. She was resolute. Although her eyes were downcast and she was still blushing, he could tell Tonja meant every word.

So much for letting her down easy.

Logan was unsure of how to handle the situation. He cleared his throat and began, “Look, kid---”

Tonja interrupted him, “I already know what you are going to say.” She met his gaze defiantly, “That I am just being a silly little girl. That I will forget you after a few months and meet someone else my own age. But you are wrong! I know what is in my heart! I love you more than you can ever know. You risked your life to save me numerous times and I will spend the rest of mine trying to make you happy. I owe my life to you.”

“Don't forget that I had a lot of help,” Logan pointed out, “Lieutenant Smolin died trying to protect you. I wasn't the only one putting my ass on the line to keep you safe. I think you're giving me far too much credit, kid.”

Tonja shook her head, “You would have died to protect me as well. I watched you place yourself between me and danger several times. You are the bravest person I know. I want to marry you so that my children have your courage and strength.”

Logan was speechless. She was still looking at him, ready to defend her position if he argued with her over it. Talking her out of anything wasn't going to be easy, Logan decided. He had gotten to know Tonja over the last few days. Her stout refusal to give up, her unwavering will power and her honesty wasn't something that he could just brush aside. Logan was probably her father's age and wasn't getting any younger but that didn't seem to matter to her. Deciding there was nothing he could do to deter her, Logan just shrugged again and said, “Okay.”

Tonja hugged him tightly, “I don't expect you to wait for me. You do what you have to do. But when I come for you, if you're still single, I know we will be happy together.”

Logan decided to let nature run its course. Tonja was absolutely right. In a few months, she would forget all about him and then, she would meet someone her own age. Logan wasn't going to worry about. It would work itself out. He always had bigger fish to fry. He didn't return her hug, just patted her on the back a few times.

Tonja released him and met his eyes, “Goodbye, Logan. I will see you in a few years. I love you.”

Logan smiled, despite himself, “Take care of yourself, Tonja.”

Since Sephon had already prepared a teleportation circle at the abandoned school, he and Jewel were ready to leave. Logan, however, still had questions that needed answering. He called Trisha Lamont and asked her to meet them at the Pavlo's Bar.

They were driving from Tonja's house with Sephon behind the wheel and Jewel in the back seat, enjoying their time off, appreciating the fresh air. Jewel suddenly asked, “So what did Tonja want to talk to you about, Lo?”

Sephon butted in, “Yeah. What was up with all the secrecy?”

Logan lit a cigarette and blew a large cloud of smoke out through the passenger window then chuckled, “Get this. Tonja said she's fallen in love with me. Says she's going to travel all the way to America to find me and marry me in a few years.”

Sephon and Jewel exchanged glances.

Logan looked over at them, confused, “Neither of you are laughing. Why not?”

Jewel said, “Lo, it was pretty obvious that Tonja had fallen for you.”

Sephon nodded in agreement, “I figured you'd know already, Shithead.”

Logan still couldn't figure out their reactions, “Why are you so serious about it though? I think its fucking hilarious.”

“A girl like Tonja isn't just feeding into some immature fantasy, Lo,” Jewel told him, “She's dead serious about it.”

Logan took another big drag and spoke with smoke coming out of his nostrils, “So? What does that have to do with me?”

Sephon sighed and said, “She'll come looking for you, Shithead. One day when you least expect it, Tonja is going to show up on your doorstep. I wouldn't laugh it off.”

Logan grinned, “If she does come looking for me in five to ten years time, I'll be in my forties, wrinkled and going gray,” Logan said, “She'll take one good look at me and run for the hills.”

Jewel frowned at him, “I wouldn't be so sure of yourself, Lo.”

They arrived at Pavlov's and were surprised to see Captain Dragomirov there with Trisha. The two of them were holding hands and were obviously very affectionate toward each other. “Yes,” Trisha told them with a smile, “We are a thing.”

After they had ordered beers and made some small talk, Logan asked, “There's one thing that's been bothering the entire time about this case. I'm not sure if you'll be able to answer it for me, but I wanted to ask you anyway, Trisha.”

Trisha took a long pull on her mug of beer, “What is it?”

“How was Merte able to operate right under the nose of the Dhelfoi?” Logan asked, “I know you agents have special detection spells for magically inclined humans so that you can keep tabs on them and recruit them if they become too powerful. So how did Merte slip under the radar?”

Trisha didn't answer right away. She ran a finger absentmindedly along the length of the sweaty mug, “I think Merte figured out how to traverse the Dream Realm early on. As she grew more powerful, Merte somehow became aware of the Dhelfoi or at least that someone was watching her closely, so she purposefully used the Dream Realm to escape detection. By the time you came along, she had already mastered her skill at subverting so you had trouble finding her as well.”

“Makes sense,” Logan said. He remembered how, when he was using his psychometry to track Merte, it seemed as though she was purposefully avoiding him. The entire time, it seemed that she was always one step ahead of them. It wasn't his imagination after all. Merte had been aware of them the entire time and was willfully avoiding them.

“The Dhelfoi are very powerful, Logan,” Trisha told him, “But they are not infallible. Many mistakes are made all the time. We have a high turn around of agents because they are few who can handle the job for a long period of time. Our training program is great but it is mostly raw experience in the field is what we are lacking the most.”

“I have a great respect for the Dhelfoi as far as their responsibilities go,” Logan admitted, “I don't blame someone at all for quitting though. Watching innocent people die horrible deaths over and over again and not being able to do anything about, hell, that would get to anyone.”

Jewel spoke up, “Trisha, from what I understand, you're saying that there could be more Merte's out there that are operating under the radar of the Dhelfoi?”

Trisha sighed, “That's exactly what I'm saying. There will always be Merte's out there causing just as many problems for humanity as the supernaturals. It's hell trying to keep track of them all, culling the dangerous ones and trying to keep them from being discovered by the public. That's why you hunters are so well paid.”

Captain Dragomirov spoke up, “The rest of humanity isn't standing by. We ordinary humans try to help the Dhelfoi and the hunters as much as possible. We are limited in our efforts though because of the very small amount of people in power who are made aware of the situation. Even though humanity is constantly under assault, there are those in power, Globalists and Socialists, who are more preoccupied trying to seize power over the populace rather then protecting them.”

“Don't forget the Communists too,” Logan said with a clever smile.

Dragomirov smiled at him dryly, “Yes, let's not forget those red bastards either.”

Jewel said, “Well as long as there is evil in the world, there will always be good guys to stop it.”

Sephon spoke over his mug, “Depends on what you consider what evil really is.”

“Please,” Logan said, leaning back in his chair, “Enlighten us, Brother Sephon.”

“Well,” Sephon said slowly, “We humans are the supernatural's prey. Because they stalk and eat us, we view them as evil. In reality, they're just trying to survive like the rest of us. Here in the Waking Realm, humans are normally at the top of the food chain. When supernaturals get thrown into the mix, we're toppled from the top and we don't like it.”

“Of course we don't,” Logan said, “This is our world. We'll defend our right to exist to the death.”

Sephon nodded, “As well we should, but we shouldn't ever forget the fact that supernaturals also have a right to live, just maybe not along side humans.”

“If they want to kill people,” Logan growled, “Then fuck them. I say we kill every last one of the motherfuckers.”

“I'm just glad the hunters and the Dhelfoi are on our side,” Captain Dragomirov said, raising his mug, “A toast to hunters, the Dhelfoi and humanity!”

“Cheers,” said Jewel.

Na Zdorovi,” Trisha said.

Salud,” Sephon said.

“Here, here!” cheered Logan.

There would always be more supernaturals to hunt down, danger always lurking around every corner. The Three appreciated the short amounts of time of peace in between cases. The hunters spent the rest of the afternoon with Trisha and the Captain, enjoying themselves before they would set out on their next dangerous job.

 


Submitted: November 24, 2018

© Copyright 2021 Cthulu45. All rights reserved.

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