After the return of magic, the one group that every preternatural fears is known simply as “The Council.” A mysterious lot, they’re believed to be the most powerful of each of the preternatural races, but since there has never been an open council position that anyone knows about, the truth of this is unclear. What is known is that they concern themselves with the policing of the preternatural races. Most people never see them, and most people prefer it that way. Riley and her crew seem to be summoned to see them more often than they’re comfortable with.
The public line put out is simply that since no man made court of law could control, or hold, a supernatural being, the Council is there to make sure things don’t get out of hand. In addition, preternatural species all have their own rules for ascension to power that mundanes would never understand. In the case of disputes between groups, the council is billed as a court of mediation, but regardless what the publicity says, rumors abound about who they are and why they’re here. Some live as a part of the world with a corporate identity, or as an artist, or any number of other types of lives that mortals live, but some want nothing to do with the world, and live lives that inspire much conjecture because of the limited information available.
Some believe their plan is to take over our world, and that if the mundane government had its way, the Council wouldn’t exist, but the mundanes know they can’t build jails strong enough to hold supernatural beings without help. Others believe the Council has no desire to control our world; their only goal is to make sure the preternatural beings don’t destroy it or the people who live here.
Among the other beliefs are that they can influence events if need be to ensure things go the right way, their way, but no one knows if this is true, or just one of the many rumors floating around. The only thing that is known for sure is that they are delegates from the Rulers of Atlantis, sent to keep an eye on things. Exactly what that means is as big a mystery as everything else about them.
I’d lived in the Metroplex, the region around Dallas, my entire life before testifying against Joey, but I had no idea where we were. The building loomed above us. Its dark glass surface reflected the fading daylight oddly, adding unusual blues and greens to the reds and golds of the sunset.
Inside, I saw numerous carbon copies of the men accompanying us. Some sat behind desks on either side of the revolving door while others were strategically positioned around a chrome and glass lobby with its inlaid marble floors. No one spoke. None of the men inside greeted the four returning or acknowledged in any way that we’d entered. They just watched. At a chrome and glass reception desk in the center of the large lobby, the only female in sight watched, but said nothing. They all projected that same creepy stillness.
We took the elevator to the top floor. Stepping out on to plush pile carpet, we entered another reception area that guarded a single large door. Here, the desk, the door, and the furniture had the look of heavy, solid wood. This receptionist looked up at us but didn’t speak either. One of our guards waved his hand, and the door swung open.
Beyond the door was air. Oh good. I really don’t like heights, and this was dizzying. About twenty feet back, floating in the air, a man sat behind a desk. We walked forward. My brain screamed at me that I was about to step out into nothingness, but I kept walking. My heart was pounding as I stepped through the door—and onto a solid floor. With each step, my internal screaming returned, sure that the floor would end at any moment, but I kept walking. My eyes told me I was walking on air, but I could feel the floor, solid beneath my feet.
The man behind the desk scared me more than seeming to walk on air. Strikingly handsome, he stood around six feet tall, and he had dark hair. He almost pulsed with power. He appeared human, but dragon fear washed over me, so strong I couldn’t tell where my fear stopped and Jason’s began. I could only assume the man had the same effect on Cam.
Three chairs appeared before the desk. They hadn’t been there when we entered. We sat. He smiled at us like we were children on the first day of class.
“So nice of you to come. I trust you will not try anything foolish.”
Other than my inability to move my limbs, I hadn’t been able to feel the control they had on us, but I knew when it was released. Our movements were now our own, but he was right, none of us was going to try anything foolish.
“Who are you? What do you want?” Cam spoke first.
“Ah, the wolf.” He looked surprised. “Who knew you’d be so outspoken. Good. Good.” He smiled again. “In answer to your first question, my name is Derek Chastain. I represent the Council of Light.”
My breath caught in my throat, but I pushed past it. “What do you want with us?”
“We simply wanted to meet you, and assure you that we had nothing to do with the theft of this spade you seek.”
“You couldn’t have told us that over the phone?” Jason’s resentment was plain in his voice.
“Would you have believed us?”
“Point taken,” I said, “but isn’t this a bit drastic for someone just wanting to proclaim their innocence?”
“If that were all it is, you would be correct. However, we have another point that we wish to discuss with you as well.”
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