1328 Maryzell Ln
Agent Van den Broeke frowned, eying the laptop screen, thrumming her hand against the tabletop. She’d searched the web far and wide, and there nothing about what happened at the mental hospital. Odd, damned odd. There was no mention of Kruhl, herself or Teressa anywhere on the web or the local newscasts.
She didn’t know what to make of it, she’d assumed their enemies would plaster their images all over the news. Why then hadn’t they? If this Odalrik was so powerful, why wasn’t he making use of that power and throwing everything he could at them? He must have some reason to keep the incident quiet.
She’d long since discarded her smartphone, knowing how easy they were to track. What if this alleged sorcerer had another means of finding them? She shivered at the thought and bit her lip. The agent reflected on Kruhl’s description of her encounters with the strange hooded figure. Like the once-king she considered it odd the specter of Odalrik, if it was indeed him, would demand Kruhl tell him where the sword was, if it was already seized by those in his thrall.
Either he had some motivation to deceive Kruhl, or there was another party involved. She gritted her teeth. If there was someone else mucking about in this mess, it would only spell trouble for the rest of them.
“What is AEGIS, Ameliavandenbroeke?” Kruhl’s voice spoke out of the darkness and Amelia turned to regard her tiny frame.
“Amelia van den Broeke,” Amy said, pausing between each part of her name.
Kruhl blinked, and a feral smile crept across her delicate face. “Very well, Amelia van den Broeke, what is AEGIS?”
“The Agency for Exemplar Governance, Investigation, and Security,” she replied. “It’s an arm of the government that assists individuals with special abilities to learn their powers and protect ordinary people from those who misuse them.”
“So then, you are a teacher and a soldier?” Kruhl asked, cocking her head, golden eyes widening.
“Not exactly,” Amy shook her head. “I’m no teacher. You might say those who help others to use their powers are, but I’m closer to a soldier. I protect others and seek those who would do them harm and bring them to justice.”
Kruhl bit her lip, seeming to contemplate what the agent said, then nodded and pulled up a seat beside her. “This device,” she nodded toward the laptop and leaned in peering at the keys and then up at the screen. “How does it work? Why does that rectangle glow like that?”
“That’s not a question I’m qualified to—”
“These characters!” Kruhl exclaimed, sweeping her hands across the keyboard, fingers jabbing at Amy until she slipped hers away. “The order is wrong, but it’s the Angol alphabet.”
“The English alphabet,” Amy corrected, sliding the computer out of the others reach. “And they’re out of order by design.”
“English.” Kruhl tested the word on her lips. She remained quiet, eyes fixed on the keys before shaking her head and glanced up at the agent. “Does it not seem strange to you we speak the same language?”
Amy pressed her lips together and nodded. “The thought had crossed my mind, but I’ve been a little more concerned about staying alive. There was an ancient group of peoples, in our own history, who called themselves the Angles. They occupied what is now modern England. I wonder… do your people have maps?”
Kruhl’s eyes peered up at her, and she nodded. “My father had one commissioned of Eirdon, Angol and much of the lands across the ocean to the South and East. It is one of the most extensive in all the lands. It hangs on the wall of my bedchamber.”
“How well do you know it?” Amy asked.
“I burned it into my mind. I need only close my eyes and I can see it as clearly as if I were looking upon that glowing rectangle.” Kruhl gestured at the laptop.
Amy nodded, keyboard clacking, as her fingers zoomed across its surface. When she finished, she turned the screen toward Kruhl. “Look familiar?”
Kruhl leaned close, studying the features of the map laid out before her, taking it all in. “It is,” she said, lips parted in a scowl. “But the names and borders are all wrong. This island here is Eirdon.” She paused, pressing her finger against the screen at Ireland.”
Her finger slid down the map, stopping over an area that read ‘France’. “The upper part of this kingdom should be Nustra and down here we would have Quitar, Gascol and Septa. Over here, her finger strayed to the east and then north. “There is Burgne, and Austere, Sveba, Sa—”
She stopped peering up at the agent blinking as realization dawned on her. “This map is not of my world, is it? It’s of yours.”
Amy met her gaze and dipped her chin up and down. “A region we call Europe.”
Kruhl did not answer, but instead studied the map, frowning. A few seconds passed before she turned back to the agent and sank her teeth into her lower lip. “How could our realms be so similar?”
“Well, I’m no expert on the matter, but our scientists have theories concerning alternate or parallel universes. It’s possible you are from a reality very like our own.”
Kruhl regarded her, a long sigh escaping her lips. “Your words are strange. Are you suggesting I come from a different version of this universe?”
Amelia nodded. “More or less.”
“If that is true, I do not like the odds of ever returning home.” Kruhl hunched over, looking into her open palms. “Which means I may very well spend the remainder of my life in this body.”
Tears splattered her cheeks and her hands shook. “There are no Assar on this world. Did Reesha know this when she sent me here?”
Her lips trembling, she spoke, each word interjected by a sob. “Would you help me with something?”
Amelia regarded her out of the corner of her eyes before nodding.
“Will you come up with a name for me?” Kruhl asked turning her golden eyes upon the other woman. “If I am to live amongst you, it would seem appropriate that I have one of your names.”
“I’ll give it some consideration.”
Kruhl rose to her feet, leaned in and kissed the agent on the cheek before disappearing down the hallway.
Amelia watched her go, folding her arms across her chest and let loose a breath. Even knowing what she did of Kruhl and how she had treated her former subjects, she couldn’t help but feel sorry for the once-king, but try as she might she couldn’t think of a single way she might help her.
With a shake of her head, she closed the laptop down, returning it to the shelf where she’d found it and trailed Kruhl down the hall thinking to console her. When she got to her door and raised her fist, she froze.
She lowered her hand and stared at the door, lips pressed together. Maybe something different was necessary. She turned away and moved down the corridor. Teressa was better at this sort of thing.