Lenci and Beck went outside where the sun was about to set. Everyone stood in pairs in a circle, Lenci and Beck’s space the only spot to be filled. They stood in their spot and looked around the circle at Warden and five other pairs of people. They were all young like Lenci and Beck.
“Thank you for joining me here, everyone,” Warden began. “As you’re all aware, Aiden has been released. We will be sending Kuval and his Keeper, Sadie, to track down the demon and trap him temporarily.”
Everyone nodded to a man with tan skin, blue black hair, and a neat beard. He wore a dark blue Indian kurta with gold trim. Beside him was a pale woman with short hair, the left half pink, the right half black.
After everyone acknowledged the pair, Warden continued. “We do however find ourselves in need of a new Edifice for Kuval’s demon. Breaking the lock has left our dear friend unable to contain demons.” An audible joint sigh of sadness for this man swept the circle in waves before Warden moved on. “I will be taking Nuri and Mizu with me to find a new Edifice.”
This time everyone nodded to a dark skinned woman with darker hair that flowed beautifully down her back in thick braids. Her partner was an Asian man in a suit with his dark hair parted to one side.
“The rest of you will be assigned new secure locations with new guidelines. None of you are to leave your houses until otherwise notified. No phone calls, nothing. This is an absolute lockdown until things are under control. You may have tonight to catch up with one another. I know it’s been a long time since we’ve all been in one place. And in the morning we’ll be welcoming a new Keeper to our ranks. Lenci has chosen Beck to be her new Keeper and he has accepted. He will be titled in the morning before everyone is sent to their tasks and locations.” This time it was Beck’s turn to be acknowledged and he nodded back at everyone. “I will be making preparations if anyone should need me. Enjoy your night.” He bowed and went into house directly behind him.
“Let me take you around real quick.” Lenci led Beck across the circle to the Indian man. “Kuval, old friend,” Lenci said in a soft voice. “I’m so sorry.”
“Lenci. As am I. I heard what happened to Fredrick. Awful to wake to that.” He grasped her hand in both of his. “This must be his replacement then?” He looked to Beck and reached both hands out to him.
Beck gave him his hand and said, “I’m Beck. It’s nice to meet you.”
“And you. I wish you better wisdom than our late Fredrick.” He released his hand. “This is my Keeper, Sadie.”
“Pleasure,” Sadie said in a British accent. “Mind if I take you around to meet everyone while these two catch up?” She looped her arm through Beck’s and led him away.
Lenci chuckled as she waved to Beck. She turned her attention back to Kuval. “Are you okay?” She asked him with sincerity.
“I’m sore but I’m alright. Better than being killed I suppose.” He shrugged with a wince.
“I’m glad you weren’t killed. Good men like you are rare in any time.”
“Thank you.” He smiled weakly. “Shirts are a pain right now though. Like being titled all over again.” Kuval reached a cautious hand to his shoulder.
“That’s bad. How did they do it?”
“A symbol I’ve never seen before. I’m assuming it’s the key to the lock they put on us. It stretches across my whole back. I can’t be titled ever again.”
“I can’t imagine.” Lenci looked at him with sympathy. “What are you going to do then?”
“Warden is letting me decide what I want to do. He’s offered to let me stay on and teach the new recruits and rebuild our forces. I would retain my immortality. Or I may become a mortal and live a normal life for the rest of my days.”
“What are you going to choose? That’s a tough decision.”
“I’m not sure yet. A normal life sounds good after all this.” He laughed. “But I don’t know how to live a normal life with what I know. I don’t know how to do nothing when I could be helping. I’m still deciding. He told me to take as long as I need. Maybe I’ll go spend some time out in the world as a normal person and see how I like it.”
“Good idea. See both sides. I think I should go talk to Warden about a few things. Can I meet up with you again later?”
“Of course. It’s always nice to see you, friend.” He grasped her hand one more time.
“You too.”
Lenci knocked on the door of Warden’s house and waited. He answered and ushered her in.
“What can I help you with?” He asked.
“Don’t give me that. You know exactly what you can help me with.” She stood with her hands on her hips. “Why am I not going with you to find the new Edifice?”
“Because Nuri is coming with me.”
“I want to go too. I could help.”
Warden set his hands on her shoulders. “My Lenci. My strongest Edifice, my best warrior. You cannot come with me this time as much as I desire it.”
“Why not?” She looked up at him with pleading eyes. “I can protect you and the new Edifice. I always go with you.”
“Not this time.”
“What’s so different about this time?”
“This time,” he moved his hands to cradle her face, “you are the target. You are what the enemy is searching for. The Demon Master knows who you are already. He will come for you. You need to stay in hiding. You can’t go all over the globe with me this time.”
“I can’t hide and do nothing.”
“You won’t. You’ll hide and you’ll train Beck. He needs your attention right now. Prepare him for the next new moon and the many more to come. Prepare him for battle that might be necessary. And most importantly, keep your demon secure. Keep yourself secure. Don’t let me lose you.” He kissed her forehead. “Please. Do this for me. Until the danger passes.”
“Alright, Ward. For you, my dearest friend.” She leaned into him for a hug and felt his strong arms of comfort wrap around her. “I better go see how Beck is doing. Thanks for seeing me.”
“You’re always welcome.” He let her go and watched her walk out the door.

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