Megan Enraged - Book 2 of Wizard - a Love Story
Chapter 11: Tragedy Strikes
Copyright© 2013 by Misguided Child
David was excited as he drove the Bronco to Phoenix. Udit and Brennan were with him on the trip.
Udit felt like Avasa was the daughter that he never had. He also felt responsible for Ava since he was not able to save her father and husband. Udit didn't feel it was right for Ava to travel without a chaperone. He didn't believe a man anxious for her company and a stranger qualified as proper chaperones. "Besides," he convinced himself. "I've been stuck up in these mountains while everyone else went to Phoenix for years. I should go down to see how the town has changed. It's been, what, twenty years since the last time I visited Phoenix?"
Cory had asked Brennan to pick up their luggage so that Cory could become better acquainted with Megan and Sean. Brennan was hesitant to leave his friend. In his mind, Brennan had been protecting Cory all his life. He had also been providing the balance when the Irish Wizard became angry and tried to do something unwise. At least, some of the Wizard's actions had been unwise. In Brennan's opinion, some of Cory's actions had been downright stupid.
"What kind of trouble can I get in here, Bren," Cory had asked in frustration as he waved his hand to take in the mountains around the ranch.
"Famous last words," Brennan rumbled, grumbled. They were standing in the yard of the ranch house with Udit and Sean. "He could get into trouble in a locked room in the middle of the desert and no one within a hundred miles," Brennan said to Sean and Udit in frustration.
Sean had to smile at the exchange. It reminded him of the relationship between him and Udit.
"Don't worry, Mr. Sherman," Sean said with a smile. "I'll keep him out of trouble."
"Humph," Brennan snorted. "You're another one of those Magi that couldn't stay out of trouble if your life depended on it." He looked back and forth between the two Wizards, sighed, threw up his hands and said, "Okay, okay. I'll get the luggage." Brennan pointed a finger that was nearly the size of Sean's wrist at Cory, and warned, "You, stay in the house. Don't go anyplace else. Don't do anything else. Just go in and sit down."
"Yes, momma," Cory said in a high pitched, girlish voice.
"Damn Wizards," Brennan growled as he turned and stomped towards the Bronco where David was anxiously waiting. Sean thought he could feel the earth tremble at his steps.
"You stay out of trouble, too," Udit said as he patted Sean on the shoulder. "I know trouble finds you more often than you find it, but I want you safe."
"I know Udit, and I will. Thanks," Sean said putting a hand on the old Shaman's. He sent a tendril of love to the old man and was rewarded with a smile before Udit followed Brennan.
"He loves you," Cory commented as they watched Udit walk away.
"Yes," Sean said softly. "I love him, too." Sean looked up at Cory and smiled as he said, "I'm not sure if Brennan loves you or wants to break your neck."
Cory chuckled saying, "Most of the time he wants to break my neck. But, in the wee times between, he loves me, I think, and I love him."
"How long has he been with you?" Sean asked curiously.
"All his life," Cory said with a touch of sadness. "When I was very young, um, I think about twenty eight or twenty nine, I killed a Warlock. The Warlock had a prisoner, a toy for the Warlock, that I freed. That was Brennan's mother. She had been, um, ill used. Brennan was born almost eight months later. His mother wasn't really quite right in the head after her ordeal. I think the only thing she lived for was her baby boy. Even that couldn't keep her going forever though. She died a little over five years after Brennan was born."
"Couldn't you have healed her?" Sean asked curiously.
"Son," Cory sighed as he turned towards the ranch house with Sean. "We Magi can do a lot of things and heal a lot of things. But, there are a few things that we can't do. We can't erase memories and we can't make someone want to live. Ask your Poppa about memories that make a person want to crawl under the bed to hide and never come out. I've a feeling he'll know what you're talking about."
Cory was silent for a few steps as he considered his next words. "Our memories are what make us what we are," the Irish Wizard said, softly. "The memories of our triumphs and failures and the decisions that led to them are what make us lay awake at night or able to sleep like babes. Those memories are what let us look a man in the eye and declare ourselves to be men. Those memories are what let us meet each new day with hope or terror. So, be careful of the memories that you glean."
"What happened after you saved her?" Sean asked quietly. He was feeling Cory's emotions. At the moment they felt like a fresh wound. He knew it was the curse of never being able to forget memories.
Cory shrugged and said, "She couldn't face another day of terror. She didn't want to live. The only reason she lived as long as she did was for her baby. She finally believed that Bren would be safe if she left, and then she died. By the time she died, I had fallen in love with the little tyke. I couldn't send him away. I should have but I couldn't. He grew up learning to fight the Darkness. He has saved me countless times over the years. I've saved him and had to heal him countless more times." Cory shook his head and gave a rueful laugh. "I've tried to persuade him to find a good woman and settle down too have some wee ones of his own. He's always said he will when it's time."
"The sacrifices that people make for us continues to amaze me," Sean said, quietly, as they reached the ranch house porch.
"That is does, lad," Cory said in the same quiet tone. "That it does."
The drive into Phoenix was filled with laughter, and a little embarrassment. David spent much of the drive telling Brennan about Sean's escapades. Udit related some of the things Megan had done to add to Brennan's understanding of the life he had stepped into. Brennan couldn't stop laughing at the story of Megan's handling of the three hunters.
"She's a bright one," Brennan said when he could get his laughter under control. "I feel sorry for any man she sets her hat for."
"That would be Sean," Udit said with a smile. "There's a connection, an understanding, between those two that is uncanny." Udit trusted Brennan, but a man couldn't reveal what he didn't know. Brennan didn't need to know all their secrets, yet.
David, recalling some of Sean's practical jokes, caused Udit some embarrassment. Brennan was concerned that Sean may have a mean streak that accounted for the jokes he played on people. Udit immediately defended his charge.
"Sean doesn't have a mean bone in his body," Udit said pointedly. "He usually has a reason for his jokes. He was using his talents to help pull jokes for a while. The purpose behind them was looking for ways to use his talents in a practical way. That, combined with a very sharp sense of humor and an inquisitive mind, were the reason for those jokes." Udit smiled, and said, "Seth chewed him out like the boy was in boot camp for a joke Sean pulled. Sean is allowed to pull practical jokes on people, still, but he's not allowed to use his talent with jokes now."
"Yeah, like pinning your moccasins to the rug," David chortled.
"Like that," Udit agreed with an embarrassed grin. "His jokes usually have a reason behind them, now," Udit continued.
"What could be a reason to pin your shoes to the rug?" Brennan asked curiously.
"Um, I was pretty nervous about the Delegation coming," Udit admitted.
"Nervous!" David hooted. "Imagine a ten dollar watch with one wind to many," David corrected.
"Okay, it was an understatement," Udit admitted. "Anyway, my point is, he tried to get me to relax. Words didn't work so he took action. I was pretty mad when I tried to take a step and fell. Sean was watching and caught me on a cushion of air so I didn't hurt myself, but I was still mad."
"And, what did that accomplish?" Brennan asked, curiously.
"I forgot to be nervous about the Delegation because I was so mad at Sean," Udit said with a shrug.
Brennan nodded thoughtfully before saying, "He's pretty smart, too."
"He sure is," David said with a fond smile.
"One of the smartest," Udit agreed at the same time.
Udit was amazed at the growth of the little town he remembered so clearly from twenty years earlier. He knew that Phoenix had grown since he visited in the late fifties. This much growth was troubling. Where would all these people get water? This was a desert, after all.
They had time to pick up the luggage at the hotel before Ava's flight came in. David walked Udit and Brennan through the events surrounding Shamash's attack and the attack itself.
"Amazing," Brennan murmured as he surveyed the area where Shamash had died. "There's not even a stain left."
"My understanding is that, all moisture in his body that could have stained anything was used," Udit said quietly. "Even the bones crumbled to dust when the birds carried the dried out pieces of flesh away."
"Wow," was all Brennan could say.
David had suggested meeting Ava by himself and letting Udit or Brennan drive the loop around the airport until David and Ava returned to the Arrivals curb.
"Are you out of your mind?" Udit barked. "Every insane driver in Arizona is driving around this airport and you want me to drive?"
"Don't look at me," Brennan warned. "These blokes are all driving on the wrong side of the road. I think I could sort them out but it might take a couple of days."
So, the trio parked in short term parking at the airport and trouped into Terminal One of the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
David was wearing worn boots, blue jeans, and a western styled shirt with a bolo tie. His hair was tied back by a leather thong with a turquoise stone attached.
Brennan was wearing steel toed dress boots, gray slacks, and an off white shirt that was open at the collar. Flecks of red could still be seen in his longish, iron gray hair and flowing, gray, handlebar mustache when the light hit them just right. The man's height was imposing, at six foot six inches, but his breadth was what caused men to step wide, and women to feel a flutter in their hearts.
Udit was wearing his moccasins, worn blue jeans, and a faded shirt of an indiscriminate color. The shirt certainly didn't look like anything that came from a clothes rack in a store. It seemed too big for him because of the way it hung on his tall, thin frame. His broad brimmed, faded brown hat encased his gray hair and slightly shaded his eyes from the florescent lights as they walked.
He was smiling as they walked through the terminal. Udit knew that every wrinkle in his face smiled with him when he smiled. He was smiling in anticipation of seeing Avasa again, and at the stares the three of them were getting. He glanced at his companions and had to admit they were a strange looking band.
Ava's eyes widened when she entered the passenger area, and saw Udit and David. David was in front and that caused her to smile to herself. She was well aware of David's infatuation with her and thought it was cute. He was, after all, much younger than she. She would be fifty this year. Ava wasn't sure how old David was but was sure he wasn't much older than twenty-five or thirty years old. David was closer to her daughter's age than her own. She didn't want to hurt his feelings and still hadn't decided what to do about him. Ava hadn't expected to need to deal with the issue as soon as she got off the plane.
Udit meeting her gave Ava a warm feeling. She had been angry with the old Shaman when they were reunited at the ranch. She had blamed him for not saving her father and husband when they were attacked. She finally accepted that Udit couldn't have done anything to save her loved ones. Somehow, he had slipped into that place in her heart that her father had occupied.
Ava walked forward and met David. He had almost run forward and jostled several of the other passengers in the process.
"It's good to see you David," Ava said warmly as she grasped his arms and leaned forward to kiss him on the cheek. It was a natural action of a friend meeting another friend. It had the added benefit of ensuring the eager young man didn't try to wrap her in an improper embrace.
"Welcome back," David said excitedly, not seeming to notice that his greeting was less than he had envisioned. "I'm so glad you're back. I've missed you."
"And I've missed all of you too," Ava answered warmly before edging past him and going to Udit.
"What brings you out of the mountains?" Ava asked the old Indian with a grin.
"You do," Udit answered curtly. "I figured you'd get lost and everyone would have to come looking for you. I'm saving us all some time."
"Well, I'll just hang on to you so I don't get lost then," she said smiling as she grasped his arm and gave it a hug. Ava was satisfied at the smile that bloomed on the old Shaman's face.
"Avasa, I'd like to introduce you to Brennan Sherman," Udit said nodding to the big man standing beside him.
Ava had seen the man but assumed he was waiting for someone else, despite his interest in their greeting.
"Brennan," Udit continued. "This is Avasa, Sheila's mother."