It's been a few weeks, but I was being productive on some paid projects, so I hope you will pardon the lack of updates.
Anyway, we'll be leaving Efraim for the moment and returning to Kenseth and Angela, who had just met Angela's mysterious benefactor.
The tall man slowly circled the room, occasionally glancing toward Kenseth and Angela.
"You may call me Tobias," he said. "Right now all you need to know is that I have been watching you."
"Why would you be watching me?" asked Kenseth. "I have done little that might draw attention from the wider world. In fact, I've gone out of my way to not be noticed."
Tobias smirked and stopped his slow walk, arms clasped behind his back. "You have done that because I asked your parents to keep a low profile and to pass that trait on to you. In fact, you have done very well in that regard, but since I've known you since the day you were born, I had a leg up on keeping tabs on you."
Kenseth nodded, not seeming to be all that surprised. Angela's face was expressionless, other than a slight tinge of worry.
"Master," she said. "Why are we accelerating the timetable?"
"Because circumstances are changing rapidly," said Tobias. "In fact, they have changed considerably since this morning. I had hoped to postpone our meeting a few more days, but that's now unavoidable. The forces aligned against us will shortly be aware of what we are trying to do, and so we must stay one step ahead of them."
"You need my skills, obviously," said Kenseth. "But I'm not much more than a brawler. I can swing a sword and shoot an arrow, but it's not like I've been out on the training field every day."
"You have a particular talent you are aware of only in the fact that it hasn't manifested yet," said Tobias.
"So my mother told me," said Kenseth. "I always knew someone, you as it turns out, was watching me. I could feel your eyes from time to time, but my parents always told me not to worry. Why aren't you talking to them? They're both still alive and not far from here."
"Their part in this drama is over," said Tobias. "That being said, I speak to them frequently. We didn't want to involve you before it was time, but we didn't want you to be completely ignorant of your potential, either. Just in case someone picked up on who your parents were, we wanted you to be ready to defend yourself."
"Excuse me," said Angela, "But I'm kind of in the dark here."
Tobias smiled again, "Kenseth here is the son of two very talented people who helped me out before he was born. In the process, they were exposed to some magical energies which I thought might affect any children they might have. They only had our Kenseth here, but I was right."
"What can he do?" asked Angela.
"We still don't know," said Tobias. "Other than he might be able to level entire cities, or simply fry an ant. The possibilities are numerous . . . and quite exciting in a way."
"I'm glad you approve of your little experiment," said Kenseth, "But I still haven't said yes, and I still have no idea what's going on."
"Right now, another one of my associates is retrieving an object of considerable power," said Tobias. "Once retrieved, which I believe will happen in the next day or so, the forces we are fighting will find out what we have and will suspect what we are trying to do."
"You still haven't told me anything," said Kenseth.
"Of course not," said Tobias, breaking into a huge grin. "That would take all the fun out of it."
"I was supposed to tell you we are going on a journey and that we need your sword arm," said Angela. "I have my own magical talents, plus I'm pretty good with a staff."
"Both of you will be needed in the days ahead," said Tobias. "We are assembling a small group, about a half dozen people, to undertake this mission. The reason we needed to make contact with you now, Kenseth, is your parents entrusted you with a talisman, and asked you to hide it even from them. Do not tell me where it is," he said, putting his hand up to stop Kenseth from interrupting.
"I will leave this book here," he continued, pulling a small book from his jacket and placing it on the counter by the wall where the wares were displayed. "I want you to read this. It contains much information. Then you will come see me tonight and we will talk more. Angela will show you the way. Now, if you will excuse me, I must depart before I am discovered."
Waving his hand, Tobias opened another portal and stepped through it. "Be mindful of who you talk to, and we will speak later," he said as the portal closed behind him.
"That was interesting," said Kenseth. "I'm glad you know even less than I do, it makes me feel important."
"You're funny," said Angela.
Just then, a shadow darkened the door. Whirling around, Angela's hand went to her belt and the dagger she had sheathed there. Three men dressed in black entered. They were not armed, but they did not look like they had come here for pleasantries.
"Good afternoon," said the man in front, a small, thin man with a clean-shaven, angular face. "I hope we are not disturbing you, but I am afraid we have business with the proprietor that can not wait."
"I'm as close as you're going to get right now," said Kenseth. "What can I help you with?"
"We wish to have the Talisman you were just discussing with our friend, Tobias," said the small man. "He is mistaken in what is about to happen, and we would like to guarantee your safety and prevent any accidents in your future."