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Family Matters: The Society Book 4 By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 29537

Updated: 2019-06-11 15:00


Chapter 22

Evening faded into night by the time the clean-up was done. Ivy had to trust that all the body parts were taken care of as she couldn't see much. She realized there was nothing she could do about the spots of blood that were no doubt scattered around the ruined building. She only hoped that enough time and bad weather passed between now and someone investigating the site for the more obvious signs to dissipate. As she made certain the news clipping with the photo that brought Frankie to her was burned with the rest of the evidence, she didn't think anything remained to link her to the site even if it was found.

"That should be all we need to do here, " Ivy told their leader. "Now we just need to untie Russell and Alex and get everyone back to the Shadow Council building."

She suspected that night time was perfect for moving this group through the world. She couldn't imagine anyone seeing them in daylight and being fooled into thinking they were regular people. They might have the same basic mass as a human, but they certainly didn't move like regular people. They seemed to flow rather than walk, although she was willing to bet that part of that was due to their cloaks. She wasn't sure how they managed to get here without attracting notice as it must have still been light when they left the building.

"Remove the bonds and carry the Chiffons to the transport, " the head golem ordered a pair of his compatriots. Two golems flowed forward, used their claws to snap the ropes and then lifted the still unconscious men as though they weighed nothing.

"Transport is this way, Dr. Chambers, " the head golem said, gesturing towards one of the holes in the wall. The two golems carrying Russell and Alex were already moving through the hole in the wall, so Ivy followed, unwilling to let them out of her sight. While Alex was still drugged, Russell was drugged and hit in the head. She saw the blood on his skin before the light faded, but knew she could do nothing in the dark. Their breathing was still regular and deep so she hoped there was no permanent damage.

'Note to self, ' she thought as she walked. 'No more sarcasm around golems.' She looked over and saw one of the golems still carrying the guard's clipboard. The chained pen swing merrily catching small glints of light as it moved. While Russell and Alex being referred to as The Chiffons was amusing, she thought she had better tell Bert that while she appreciated the save, in the future not every attacker needed to be smacked in the head with his clipboard.

The building they were in was part of a large complex of industrial buildings, none of which saw productive use in the last few decades. Rubble was strewn about the ground, much of it half buried in long grass and tangled weeds causing her to devote the bulk of her attention to not tripping over hidden obstacles.

Her arm throbbed in time with her heartbeat, but she didn't feel any sharp pains so she figured she hadn't damaged anything too badly, despite the new injury. Around her Ivy could see the outlines of more than twenty large scale industrial buildings and wondered what the site was once used for. While she couldn't determine its prior use, especially in the dark with no visible signage, Ivy figured at some point someone would redevelop the site and it would probably end up as trendy and expensive lofts. For now, that day was well into the future and it was just a moldering wreck.

'A wreck with several expensive cars parked behind it, ' Ivy corrected.

She wasn't sure if these were the vehicles Frankie and his people arrived in or the ones the others used and after a second of contemplation decided she didn't care. They were parked in the center of the complex so none of the cars would be immediately noticeable by anyone simply passing by. She was sure that Frankie chose the spot so that when he pressured her for Nick's location no one would hear her screaming. The fact that the same caution would now help time erase the details from the scene of his death made her give the expensive cars a grim smile before she turned away.

The parade of golems angled away from the fancy vehicles and Ivy found herself climbing onto an old yellow school bus that had clearly seen better days. The school's name had been spray painted over so it was illegible and the windows had some sort of black out film over them.

Given their passengers, Ivy decided the blacked out windows were a good idea. As she stepped inside she realized the seats were worn, but not torn or otherwise dilapidated. She sank into one of the seats and saw Russell and Alex placed into the seat across from her. The others filed in and once they were past, Ivy used the overhead light to check on the two men.

Alex was drooling a little, which didn't seem life threatening and Russell had a shallow cut surrounded by a bruise at the edge of his hair line. The cut looked like it started out much wider, judging from the pattern of dried blood on his face and the bruise seemed to fade even as she looked at it.

She sighed with relief and settled back into her seat for the drive. The golem in charge slid behind the steering wheel and started the bus's engine. His cloak fell away from his hands and in addition to the claws and scales, Ivy could see the various magics that held him together dancing over his skin.

It was similar to the other golems and Ivy found herself relaxing a little at the sight of Theodore's bindings even as she wondered exactly what he created. She glanced over her shoulder at the quiet rows of cloaked golems. They sat silently, waiting for the next order to be given, the next task assigned. They filled the rows like mannequins, feeling no need to move until another order was given.

The golem with the clipboard sat behind her, the clipboard balanced on his knees. The metal clip was bent and the sign in sheet was streaked with blood. Oddly, the filled bus and the clipboard made Ivy feel as though she was on some sort of demented school field trip.

The bus sputtered to life and they pulled out of the lot, leaving the fancy cars behind for someone else to find and wonder about. Ivy turned back to face the front, as the rows of silent and still golems sort of creeped her out. As they pulled away from the dilapidated industrial complex Ivy wondered if it would become some sort of urban legend in the future. The abandoned cars in the industrial complex.

'I suppose stranger things have happened, ' she thought. She rubbed her good hand across her face and realized she was both exhausted and hollow. 'I should probably eat something at some point, ' she thought as the bus bounced over the rutted drive, leaving the abandoned complex behind and rejoining the rest of the world via a paved and at least moderately maintained road.

Despite feeling as though the last few hours took place on the dark side of the moon, the drive back to town was a short one. They used side streets instead of major arteries, drawing less attention to their golem filled school bus, and in less time than she expected, they were pulling into the underground parking facility beneath the Shadow Council building.

The bus pulled up near what looked like a service entrance and the golem driving it left the engine running as he opened the door. To her surprise several of the Teds, the maintenance golems, were waiting near the service entrance. She looked to the head golem, still seated behind the steering wheel.

"Protocol dictates we not appear in the upper levels of the building, Dr. Chambers, " he told her.

"Oh, of course, " Ivy said.

The Teds filed onto the bus and lifted Alex and Russell from their seats. Alex mumbled something as he was carried off the bus and Russell snored softly. She took both sounds as a good sign. After the men were carried off, Ivy stood. She looked back to the rows of golems.

"Thank you for your assistance tonight, " she said. She wasn't sure what their protocol dictated for post attack mode, but figured politeness couldn't hurt. 'Especially not to those who used their claws to shred my attackers.'

"Is there anything I need to do before you return to your…quarters?" She asked. As she spoke Ivy noticed a few of them running their fingers along the charred bits of bone they carried from the site.

'Definitely souvenirs, ' she decided looking towards the driver.

"No, Dr. Chambers, " he assured her. "We are ready to retire until you once again have need of us."

"Great, " Ivy said. "Then I'll leave you to it." She turned and descended the bus steps, leaving the bus and rows of golems behind. The bus door closed and then trundled away into the depths of the garage. Ivy decided she didn't need to know where it ended up and turned her attention to

uch. In addition to the symbols there was a keyhole drilled into the concrete and faced with a brass setting. Ivy looked at the symbols as Jane stepped back.

The symbols were part of an incantation. 'Or several incantations woven together, ' she thought. She saw a protection spell which was familiar to her and some sort of traveling spell which she only vaguely recognized. She stepped back and straightened looking at Jane.

"The binding will allow you to set the location, " the golem said. She looked pleased with herself.

"Location, " Ivy repeated feeling slow.

"To link this room with your home so that you can travel between the archives and your home without going through the main lobby and alerting Mr. Bridges to your presence. You may work in peace and receive reports in a secure location. It will enable us to maintain our…pretense."

"Of course, " Ivy said. She wondered if secure reporting was required for the pretense or if Jane had learned to set conditions.

Jane smiled. "I will leave you to refresh yourself and return shortly with what you require."

"Thank you, " Ivy said feeling too tired to argue. She wondered if Jane would consent to having the golems follow Hamilton without having that link. Jane moved to the assistant's exit and Ivy decided she was too chicken to ask. 'At least right now.'

Jane left the room and Ivy turned to Fig. "I'm sorry you had to wait so long, the food does look lovely though."

Fig nodded and shrugged.

"Right, what can you do when people decide to abduct you, " she replied with a little laugh. She thought of Jane bringing clean clothes and the blood crusted on her arm and Russell's face. "I don't suppose you could bring a bowl of water and a couple of wash cloths, maybe a towel?"

Fig nodded enthusiastically and moved quickly to the assistant's exit. He disappeared, the panel sliding shut behind him. Alone with the two sleeping men, Ivy moved to the food. She was too tired and too hungry to fix a plate and pretend to be civilized at the table so she picked up a slice of sausage and began nibbling.

By the time Jane returned carrying a garment bag and a small parcel, Ivy managed to eat enough so that she no longer felt hollow, but was not full enough to feel sleepy. While the wine was tempting, Ivy opted for coffee and felt more awake than when she arrived. She wiped her hands off on the ruined jeans.

Jane laid the garment bag over the back of one of the vacant reading chairs and handed Ivy the packet. Ivy guessed the golem considered it a priority.

'Well it is probably best to get it done before the others wake, ' she decided.

If there was any blowback for her actions at least the others couldn't be blamed. Ivy took the parcel and unwrapped it. It consisted of two items, an old fashioned looking key on a long red ribbon and a folded piece of paper. Ivy held the key in one hand and unfolded the page.

The incantation was simple. Just a few words spoken to link two spaces, to turn the concrete panel into a door that opened in a place she chose. While the spells setting up the door in the first place were long and complicated, they were already complete. All that remained was her magic and her choice of location.

Ivy read through the instructions and moved over to the fireplace. She knelt in the swept firebox and fitted the key into the lock. She set the page down on the floor in front of her and placed her hands on the symbols as directed. They felt warm to the touch even before she started pouring her magic into them.

Ivy took a deep breath and closed her eyes, feeling the symbols as almost living things beneath her touch. She thought of the private sitting room in the quarters she and Russell shared in Wildwood. She focused on the blank wall where they had yet to hang a picture. She fixed an image of the space in her mind and gathered all her strength.

It was like shifting heat to her fingertips to burn through the ropes, but much more intense. Here she wasn't just focusing heat, she was focusing all of her power, every aspect of it. Through her closed eyelids, Ivy could see the glow as the symbols filled with her magic and grew from warm to hot.

She pushed more and more of her magic into the wall until she heard a soft click, similar to the one she heard when Jane opened the panel. Feeling the time was right, she spoke the words of binding. There was a brilliant flash and Ivy was knocked backwards. She sat down hard on the hearth and let out an off sound as her eyes flew open and her rear end connected with stone.

Ivy looked at the concrete. The bare concrete was now covered with what looked like a wooden paneled door. Ivy noticed the key was twisted as though the door was now unlocked. She leaned forward and pushed it open.

Peering through, Ivy could see her sitting room back in Wildwood. She moved to her knees, leaning in and poking her head through the doorway, assuring herself that she could move between the two spaces. She heard the clicking of Bugsy's nails on the floorboards and pulled her head back, shutting the door swiftly before he could move from the bedroom to the sitting room. At the moment there was enough for her to deal with. She didn't want to have to add Bugsy to the mix.

Ivy locked the door and pulled the key from the lock. She looped the ribbon around her neck and slid the metal panel over the door so it looked as though the back of the fireplace was brick once more. Ivy stood and stepped away from the fire place. While she worked, Fig arrived bearing a bowl of water and several towels and wash cloths.

Jane looked pleased. Ivy thanked Fig and handed the paper with the incantation back to Jane. The two golems left and Ivy decided to clean up ad change clothes before settling herself with another plate of food to wait for the men to wake up.

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