Back to Colorado. DIA was just as Eileen remembered it, almost unnerving to have been there just a few days after she initially came there. However, this time, Keyes wasn't waiting for her and Connor. It was just her by herself.
Thankfully, Eileen couldn't see anybody who might have been waiting for her. Even her phone was completely devoid of messages. It was as if she wasn't even spotted yet. They had a great deal of freedom within the cult, but someone like her would have surely raised some kind of suspicion. It wasn't exactly a short flight back to Denver International Airport from the U.K.
For once, she was free, but what exactly should she do? It was this reason she kept notes on her phone's note app. She had to find that girl and that cabal, where the were-lion was taken, and where those other had been around the campus. It was quite a ways away from where she was, but there were shuttles, buses, the whole like.
But there were always more magical means. Something she wasn't afraid to try. When she first entered, she couldn't sense any magic in the air. It was more distant, like any practitioners were either long gone, well-hidden, or simply so spread-out they were almost undetectable. Wouldn't object to leaving a trace. Sort of her mark on the land. Eileen did have something she was willing to try out after all.
The first thing Eileen had to do was find some place where she couldn't be seen. Thankfully for her, DIA was for the most part in the middle of nowhere. There had been some development nearby, such as extended-stay hotels, some restaurants, and a few offices, but for the most part, the local economy really centered on the airport.
Eileen ducked out to a corner, where she could find the figurine made for her. A small pewter horse, although something caught her eyes. She looked out the window, and rolled her eyes. Funny, there was that statue of a nightmare, with red eyes that seemed to glow. She remembered the first time they came.
"That thing gives me the willies," Connor had said, looking at the nightmare.
"It's really the glowing eyes," Eileen said, and indeed it still creeped her out.
"That statue's supposed to be cursed," Keyes explained, "It was supposed to have fallen down and crushed one of its sculptors to death."
"Then why in the heck did they put that giant 30 foot statue up there?"
"Don't ask me," Keyes said.
Back to reality, she thought. Now she had to get out of the airport somehow. The problem was, there was almost no way to walk out on foot. There were a lot of areas where pedestrian traffic was either not allowed or was impossible due to there being no sidewalks, and no way to simply walk around with sheer drops.
However, Eileen could sneak out through the parking garage. Even if it meant going nearby that freaky statue outside. For some reason, she spotted someone holding a sign labeled, 'Koki Kazunari'. And then she ducked out of sight.
It was someone she knew who worked for the Twentieth House. Joe, who allegedly operated out here. She didn't know where, specifically, just that Keyes was borrowing his car. Eileen ducked behind a trashcan out of his sight, then vanished into the parking garage, although Joe did look over at the car that nearly ran into her and blared its horn.
She still kept her eye on Joe, even when she ducked behind a car, and looked through the windows. (Luckily for her there was nobody in the car.) Joe eventually seemed to appear, leading someone else she thought she recognized. That Japanese-looking person who was sitting nearby her on the plane had joined Joe. Weird, what was he doing here?
Eileen kept her distance, still trying to keep behind cars. Who was this Koki person, and why were people in the Twentieth House picking him up? She was already beginning to doubt them enough for lying to her.
Eventually, Eileen jumped, spotting an Eagle flying into the parking garage. It didn't fly anywhere near her, thankfully, but it seemed to land in the path of Joe and Koki. She nearly gasped, when the eagle's form shifted and contorted, becoming more and more humanlike. Eileen narrowed her eyes a bit and looked at the shadows - strange, there were people hiding in there.
"...Uh oh," She could overhear Joe say to Koki.
"Release him to us, and you won't get hurt!" The eagle said. Strange, she thought his voice sounded odd, almost unfitting.
"Who are you?" Joe asked.
"Unimportant - it's important that you release him to us. Or else."
The people hiding in the shadows emerged...but strangely enough, they seemed to be shapeshifting. Although Eileen could see through it - they had put on some kind of glamour to appear to be were-bears and were-hyenas. Eileen looked a bit more closely at the eagle. Strange, why couldn't she see any glamour on him? Upon blinking harder, she realized something else...there wasn't any glamour on him.
Koki seemed to reach for something he was carrying, like a sword.
"What if we don't go with you, though?" Joe asked.
"Then you will be forced to come with me. On the Nightmare there." The eagle pointed in her direction Eileen sweated a little, before looking behind her. Right there was that demonic Nightmare statue, except it had swerved towards them. Wait, was there a controller nearby?
"Don't dare," she heard Koki say.
The apparent were-bear and the hyenas went closer to Joe and Koki. Maybe Joe and Koki couldn't see it, but Eileen saw through their disguises. It was obvious as day to her.
She frowned a bit, and then whispered something to herself, dispelling the glamour. Immediately, the ursine and hyenas returned to normal, leaving only a group of confused people in there...as well as an eagle, who still seemed to be normal. Strange, was there some kind of werebeast that was helping the Twentieth House? And why wasn't she and Connor told?
"Who's there?" The eagle said. Koki and Joe were looking confused by now.
Eileen didn't say anything. She still wanted to see what was happening. Was this some kind of play? It seemed like Koki and Joe were still confused, as if they weren't in on this, like some kind of macabre enforced method acting.
"What, why were they just wearing disguises?" Joe asked, "Seriously, what's going on here?"
"Forget that, who're these people, and what do they want with us?" Koki asked.
"You have an intruder...a traitor lies in your mist. Doesn't that torment you? They lied to you. Torment, doesn't that Torment you, Koki Kazunari, or rather...Torment?" A voice said.
Koki grabbed his head and fell to his knees. It was one of those painful headaches he had, striking again. Eileen almost jumped up, but then looked towards the statue of the nightmare. It was looking right at her.
"Behind the car...that girl Sloth had been following. Kill her. She's the source of it all, Torment." That voice said again.
Now Eileen jumped - it saw her. She hopped up, being spotted by the eagle man, as well as the others and scrambled around looking for some place to hide. She didn't even hear when Joe asked her name, surprise that she was even here.
Having nowhere else to go, Eileen jumped over the wall and out of the parking garage. Despite being a good two or three stories up from the ground, she still had a plan. She threw the pewter horse out, and it grew to full size. With her other hand, she sent out metal lances, slowing her fall, at least until she fell to the next level below.
Her lances extended, sending her away from the building. The others were looking over the ledge, still in disbelief that it was her. The eagle had shifted back into a non-anthropomorphic form and flew out of the parking garage. Just in time to catch Eileen trying to jump onto the pewter horse, now the size of a real horse.
She told the horse to run on out, only to be disrupted by the eagle starting to attack her. Eileen shielded her eyes, calling her old lances from the building back to her, eventually shortening into small claws. During the scuffle, both she and the eagle had scratched each other, although the eagle fared a bit worse than she did.
The eagle tried to attack her again, only for Eileen to shout a few words, blaring some wind back at the Eagle, sending it flying. She finally nursed some of her wounds, superficial scratches, but painful ones at that.
"What have I done now?" She asked herself, as her pewter horse continued to run north. Back to where she could have eventually found that cabal again.
"So how exactly does this 'Controller' stuff work?" Peter asked.
"It's a bit hard to explain," Alana told him, "Something more like extending your will into something, and then controlling it. Or just giving commands to it."
"Well, what other stuff can you control? I hope you can't control me."
"We had a golem-creator in the cabal before, but he was killed when Sharlow betrayed us. This was one of his pride and joys."
Alana lead Peter to the basement, past where Mara would sleep and opened up the door to what should have been the rumpus room. Instead, it seemed almost like some kind of workshop, and smelled somewhat of wood and metal.
"Wow, what's all this?" Peter asked.
"Various things to control. Lots of puppets, see?" She pointed to marionettes and puppets, some of which were hanging from the ceiling, or were attached to the walls. All of them were in various stages of repair of disrepair. Some looked to be missing arms, some were incomplete, and some even looked like they had sustained damage in battle,
"Sheesh, never send marionettes to do a person's job, huh?" Peter said.
"Well, those were just the easiest ones to make. He also would make these." She pointed to a few metal figures. All Peter could see was that some of them looked like metal action figures, or tin soldiers. Although some were missing, unbeknownst to him that some of their pieces were still being picked up around the pacific island.
"So was this Gepetto's pride and joy, or whatever?" Peter asked.
"He was actually named Emil, not Gepetto, but we gave him that nickname," Alana said, "He had to make stuff like this as a joke." She gestured to an almost flawless replica of Pinocchio from that animated movie that was hanging from the wall, almost untouched, "But his pride and joy was the Iron Man in here." Alana opened another door, revealing something that looked almost like Frankenstein's monster.
"Something literal, huh?" Peter asked, "What's so special about this? Aside from being the size of Frankenstein?"
"He was called the Frankenstein monster," Alana corrected him, "Well, this golem was called the Iron Man. He was Emil's pride and joy because it was a somewhat-realistically scaled golem that could move realistically. You've seen how Journey sends her plushies, they move somewhat falsely. This thing here was Emil's attempt to make a realistic golem. Or a shabti, if you were Egyptian."
"Nope, no Egyptian blood in me as far as I know," Peter said, "So, this thing could move realistically, huh?"
"Indeed," Alana said, "I've summoned it once to fight Sharlow when he was trying to capture Journey. It's really hard to control because well, you try and make this thing move."
"I can probably pick it up and pose it, I just gotta transform first," Peter said.
"No no. Think like remote-controlling it. I've tried controlling it but it didn't work very well. He sort of uhm...say you ever play that game where you had to hit the q w o p keys to make the guy run, but he instead runs like this?" Alana stomped around the room, raising her legs up high and exaggerating all of her motions.
"I think so, Qwop or whatever?" Peter asked.
"Yeah, that. Let's just say it's not easy to get this thing to move. Emil could do it. I almost got it once, but seriously. This thing is hard to control."
"You have to move it out of the basement? Yeah, how did you do that?" Peter asked.
"We used summoning cards. They let you summon objects like this. Except we're almost out of them. We need someone to be able to make summoning cards, that way I can summon the Iron Man outside the basement."
"Well don't ask me," Peter said, "What makes you think I know anything about them?"
"I'm sure you don't," Alana added.
They were interrupted when Mara walked down into the basement, looking for them.
"I've got a feeling," the fox said, "We have someone who needs our help.
Whatever the heck this thing was, it wasn't letting up anytime soon. Sooner or later, anything grew fatigued that didn't happen to be an automaton like her pewter horse was. She could have sworn this thing was flying after her for hours.
She herself was getting a bit tired from this run. Eileen was putting a tad too much energy into controlling this horse, which continue to run north. After awhile, she thought she sensed something.
Eileen hoped it might have been some kind of help, either Twentieth House wizards or even a local cabal. She didn't know enough about cabals in the world, admittedly so now would have been a good time to learn.
However, she jumped a bit when she saw four figures approaching her in the shadows. One of them was a tad too familiar - that were-lion from earlier, Peter.
"Help! This thing is chasing me! It wants me dead!" Eileen shouted.
When she got closer to the four, she could identify the others - the two controllers, as well as a nine-tailed fox woman. They were waiting for her. Unfortunately they were right in her path.
"Look out!" Eileen shouted as the horse ran closer and closer to them. She shut her eyes and braced for impact. She was soon snatched off her horse not by the eagle but by a pair of thick furry arms. She opened her eyes, upon feeling something large and furry against her side.
Right there was Peter looking down at her with a smile.
"Lion reflexes, you should try it out," he bragged.
"This isn't the time!" Eileen shouted.
The arms released her as she fell right to the ground with a thud.
"Fine fine fine," Peter said, turning his attention to the eagle that was dive-bombing them.
Eileen managed to come to her senses enough to watch something collide right with the eagle. One of the two controllers had tossed the panda plush at it, and actually managed to hit it. The eagle was pinned to the ground by the now much larger stuffed animal, and struggling to get out.
"Wow, great shot," She admitted.
Eileen scrambled to her feet, noticing what looked to be an army of toy soldiers marching towards the struggling avian. They soon surrounded the struggling bird and held their guns towards it. This probably wasn't going to scare the eagle.
"Watch it!" Eileen said, "That thing doesn't feel pain - it's a were-eagle."
As if on cue, the eagle started to grow, much bigger than the plush. It turned quickly into its anthro form, am then glared at Eileen. He opened his beak and tried to let out a predatory scream, but eagles couldn't really do that very threateningly.
"Alright," Peter said, "On three! One, two, THREE!"
He dove at the eagle and knocked it to the ground, several bones cracking as the mass of cat pinned it. Everyone, even Mara cringed a bit upon hearing the cracking.
"Wait, Peter!" Mara said, walking towards the suppressed eagle, "I think I know that person."
"Well he won't be going anywhere, I think I broke his ribs." Peter grunted.
"Get off him."
Peter stepped off the eagle, letting Mara get a good look at the twisted mess. Alana ran over, as did several of the toy soldiers who were still under her control.
"It's him..." Alana said, gasping.
"Adahy, what happened?" Mara asked.
Adahy the eagle seemed to twist his head, making eye contact with Mara. He simply glared at her with a predatory gaze.
"Adahy? I slew him just awhile ago," the eagle said. That voice clearly did not match his body at all.
"Begone from our friend's body, demon!" Mara shouted, four small blue flames forming around her hands. She tossed the bolts of foxfire at the eagle, coating it in a blue flame.The eagle simply chuckled, in a strange mixture of avian chirps and this demonic laughter, trying to stand up as best as it could with how many bones it had broken.
Several of the toy soldiers fired bolts of mana at the eagle, some of them leaving small cuts and burns in his skin, letting the foxfire get to him.
"Grab him Peter! The foxfire will not hurt you if I do not want it to," Mara instructed.
The lion walked right over to the eagle and grabbed all its limbs, holding him in a "T" formation.
"I want some answers, now," Mara said to the burning eagle, "Who are you really?"
"Does it matter?" the eagle said.
"Yes it does. You are wearing our friend's body and you're clearly NOT Adahy. You even said you slew him! Who are you really?"
"What makes you think I'm going to tell you that?" The eagle laughed again.
"Because if we slay your host body, you'll die too. You're being held by a were-lion. I would not suggest lying to us if you want to live."
"Then kill me and release your friend from this suffering!" The eagle said, "I'll only be recovered in a heartbeat."
Eileen stepped forward, making eye contact with the eagle. He simply looked back at her.
"Weren't you told of that plan you stupid wench?" The eagle asked her.
"What plan? All I know was Joe was there too, you tried to attack someone being escorted, and then you chased me here," Eileen said, "So no! I do not."
"Ah, you must have been one of those disposables."
Peter squeezed the eagle's talons, breaking his wrists.
"This is the part where you tell your plan and who your master is," Peter said,
"Especially because you arrogantly think that we won't survive to see what kind of world they'll create."
"You're wrong - this is the part where I simply leave this empty shell and return. Bye!" The eagle seemed to go limp in Peter's grasp, as the foxfire burned away.
"Oh wake up, you're not being helpful," Peter said, dropping the eagle, who simply fell to the ground like a ragdoll.
"He's dead," Mara said.
"But what was he?" Alana asked.
"It must have been something like a vengeful spirit or an Incarnation inside his body."
"Now wait a minute," Eileen said, "What exactly has been going on? Did the Twentieth House do this?"
"Describe to us what you saw that sent this eagle after you," Mara said.
Eileen opened her mouth to speak, only for Mara to remove her necklace and thrust it on her.
"I almost forgot," She said, "Put this on - and give it back as soon as you're done."
"What is that?" Eileen asked, eyeing the strange stone on the pendant. "An oathstone. Put it on," Mara said.
Alana still seemed to be keeping an eye on the nine-tailed woman. Almost as long as Alana could remember, Mara kept the oathstone around her neck. It kept her from lying, since gumiho had an almost uncontrollable instinct to lie and deceive.
"How do I know if-"
"Look at it this way, you're our prisoner," Peter said, "Put it on, or else you'll be taken captive."
"Captives do sound nice-no wait! No, we're above that," Mara said, shaking the pendant a bit.
Eileen gulped, took the pendant from the fox-eared woman and slipped it around her neck. She knew how much damage other spirituals could cause, and she was outnumbered. She didn't feel any different when she placed it on, surprisingly.
"Now what happened?" Mara asked, "Why was this animated body chasing you?"
Now she felt the effects of the oathstone. Eileen wanted to lie, just to prove she could, but couldn't seem to find herself saying it. She tried it again, only to find something stopping her like her conscience.
"Sor-I mean that Incarnation took us back to the House in Britain," Eileen said, "And then I spoke to Topham. He lied to us about summoning Incarnations - he claimed these were the Incarnations that were under our control. Sloth was always looking out for us, so that's why we summoned him."
"To make sure you weren't lying," Alana said, "What do you know about the island, or Sharlow?"
"I do not know," She said, "We were not told about the other one so we would not summon them. Connor and I were told Sloth was safe because he trusted us. He trusted everyone."
"Now, what about that eagle? Why did you come back here?" Mara asked.
"I did not know about this plot at all. I came back to find you. I had to ask you a few questions because I think Topham may have been lying to us. Especially since you mentioned Sharlow. I know Sharlow; he cannot hurt a fly unless it hit him first. He would never order the death of your parents. But I thought maybe someone was lying to us. Sharlow has been hiding from us and hasn't made himself known," Eileen said, "Can I take this off? This is a bit uncomfortable."
"You came to find us, so does this convince you that maybe there is something going on at the Twentieth House?" Alana asked.
"Yes, yes it does. I saw a Japanese man being escorted out of the Denver International Airport. I spotted other people from the Twentieth House with glamour like what Connor used to look more threatening. That eagle tried to attack, but I could see that this had to have been some kind of show. But Joe did not know what was going on. I am not the only one being lied to."
"Thank you Daisuke for that Oathstone," Alana said, "Mara, can she take it off yet?"
Eileen reached to her neck to remove that accursed pendant.
"Hold, I want to ask her something," Peter said.
Mara nodded, and Peter smiled.
"Don't you think I'm hot like this?" he asked, flexing his muscles."
"PETER!" Journey sputtered, diving her elbow into his side, only he didn't shrug at all. In fact he barely felt it.
"I'm gay," Eileen responded, before widening her eyes and pulling off the pendant as fast as she could, "Take this damn thing away!"
"Now THAT I did not expect, and I'm sure you weren't lying, either," Peter said,
"Maybe I should ask Journey to wear-"
"Suck it!" Journey said.
Mara took the pendant back, slipping it around her neck. Almost immediately she sighed, feeling a weight slip off of her shoulders. It took a lot of willpower to be honest without the oathstone around her neck. Especially since the presence of a were-lion was tempting her to try things...
"We'll be going back to the house now. We have to give him here a proper burial."
She gestured to the limp body of their former friend.
"Something is up, that is like...necromancy isn't it?" Eileen asked. "If the Twentieth House is engaging in Necromancy, then we have something going on," Mara responded, "I may not have been part of them like you were, but I do know that necromancy is strictly forbidden.
"Wait a second, what about my horse?" Eileen asked.
"Oh, it hit the sound wall over there," Peter said, pointing towards a sound wall, where Eileen's pewter horse was lying on its side, still trying to run.
Rated mature for violence.
Yes, Eileen is gay. This was actually planned in 2006, too.