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After the Creature’s defeat, The Kinsmen resumed their discussion.

“He’s already hunted. How can you risk the other members of the Seven?” Azrael asked.

“They have their own stalking darkness, each his own. They can protect each other. Each man has strength where his brother is weak. They can uphold each other, but only if they know each other,” the Major contended. “They must meet. This must be. The Seven must be given the chance to stand.” He looked up at Samuel. “Destiny can not be denied. We may fool ourselves that what we do marshals some defense against happenings, but the truth is, what must be will be. Neither I nor you nor even all of us can stand against this if it is truly part of the weaving.” He reached out toward Samuel. “What must be, must be.”

Samuel turned away to look at his wife. Rachelle was sad and worried, he could tell. Taking his wife into his arms, he said. “I need time to consider this.”

“So do we all. “ Jacob said with a nod to the Major.

“We do not have much time left, Kinsmen. He must go to Denver soon or not at all”

Samuel nodded sharply and faded from sight. Jacob and Azrael followed leaving the Major alone to consider the shape of Destiny.


Turnbull cautiously used Corporal Allingham’s Dustbuster to sweep up the remains of the intruder. Mikkel watched him but refrained from giving advice as he realized how very agitated his charge was. Renfield wasn’t scared of the Creature, and Mikkel listened as the young Mountie told him about several incidents in his past. No, Renfield Turnbull was concerned about JD and about the Safety of the Consulate.

Finally, Mikkel interrupted. His charge, he was learning, could easily drive himself to distraction with worry. There was no Meg to temper and balance his concerns, and with the secrecy, no one he could fully share his worries with. If he kept up, the young man would have an ulcer before he was forty.

“Every evil that storms in is balanced by a good that knocks on the door, Renfield,” he said gently.

Turnbull twisted round to look at him. As he did there was a soft knock on the front door of the Consulate, causing them both to jump.

“Be careful of what you wish for.” Mikkel heard the amused voice of his Commander in his ear. Turnbull was staring at him in wonder.

“Maybe we ought to see who is knocking on the door at three in the morning?” he suggested to Turnbull. Out of the corner of his eye, Mikkel saw the Major come out of the room where young Dunne was sleeping. The boy would never know how hard he was fought over or how many people worried for his well being.

The Major gave him a nod and then a lopsided smirk. “Constable,” he said gently. “Perhaps you should let in our guest?”

Turnbull started and all but saluted as he went to the Consulate’s front door. As he gingerly opened it, the person standing on the stoop was the last person he expected to see.


“Your coat is getting paler each time I see you,” the Major said as his living heir sat carefully down in one of the plump armchairs in the parlor. “Soon it’s going to be as pale as my own.”

“Yes,” the heir replied. He ran a tired hand through his shaggy unkempt hair. “Yes it’s almost time, isn’t it.”

“It doesn’t have to be,” Samuel said materializing with the others. “Choices have yet to be made.”

“That may be true, but why are you interfering in young JD’s choice?” the man said. Turnbull came up to him and offered him a cup of tea and a biscuit. He gratefully accepted. “Thank you. I haven’t had much to eat in the last couple of days. There’s too much that needs doing.”

“I could make you something a little more filling,” Turnbull offered. The Kinsmen may have overwhelmed him by their nature, but this man was one of his heroes and a great hero at that, even though he wasn’t Canadian. “It wouldn’t be any trouble, Agent Grendel”

“Are you sure?” Grendel sighed. “I don’t want to put you out any further than you already have been.”

“Not a bit of it, Sir. Let me get some food together.”

“Thank you Constable. I appreciate all that you’ve done. It’s not an easy thing to host the Kinsmen, protect an important Charge, and deal with a creature of Darkness, all while holding the border. That’s really quite amazing.” Grendel looked kindly at Turnbull. Renfield flushed as he hadn’t done since he first found himself working with another of his heroes, Benton Fraser.

Turnbull quickly skittered off to the kitchen, enthusiasm boiling over. Behind him, Grendel watched with concern. The Major’s heir turned to face the ghostly Guardians.

“That young man will expect nothing less from himself than complete service,” Grendel said with a worried look. He quirked an eyebrow at the young Mountie’s guardian, Mikkel, who grinned in return.

“He’s a great one, but you don’t wish to get in his way. I thought my great-grandson was difficult. He’s easy compared with this one!” Mikkel’s tone conveyed his amusement as well as his pride in his charge. “Don’t you worry about him, Renfield Turnbull will survive most anything. It is for him to be the steadying force, to stand in the midst of the whirlwind. He will be well.”

“It is to be hoped, though fate can lead to strange happenings and even stranger places.” John Grendel looked at the gathered Kinsmen. “I have seen far too many fall.” He looked down at his hands. “I think sometimes that I should die of grief, for grieving seems to be all that I have in life.” The Major reached toward him in concern. “However Hope is not lost, nor am I a stranger to it. The weaving of the web shows that moment by moment. There is far more than I can see.”

“There is far more than even any of us can see,” the Major replied, disturbed more than he could voice by the despair in the man who had succeeded him.

John Grendel shot him a soft smile. There was a light in his expression that made the tired eyes sparkle. His heir hadn’t given up.

“We can’t afford to fail, My friends. No matter the Darkness against us. We must continue to stand or everything is lost,” Grendel reminded them. “The time has come again for the Seven to stand if they choose to do so. I have no doubt in the courage and determination of these men. But it is their hope that I am worried about.” He speared each of the ghosts with a glance. “You would deny them that. JD Dunne is the thread that binds the Seven. It has been so before and will be again. Why do you stand between this boy and his Destiny?”

Samuel’s face hardened. “His Destiny is your Death.”

“The future is unwritten yet, cousin.” Grendel looked at the Guardian fully. “It is not for you, even you, North Warder, to choose for another soul, much less a living soul.”

“He is your Death,” Azrael spat out.

“We nearly didn’t survive the nightmare last time,” Jacob weighed in. “To watch it happen again is intolerable.”

Grendel wearily sat back in the chair and tried not to sigh. “If this is the fate appointed to me, you cannot change it. Only my choice can, mine and the other living caught in this web.”

“Have we no Choice here, then?” Jacob quarried.

“You are no longer in this world as living beings, but yes you can choose,” Grendel replied cautiously. “But a Guardian’s choice must be bounded by the needs of the people, not the desire to see someone avoid suffering because of their Stand. The people need the protection that the Seven will provide if they chose to be the strength that they are. You should not be interfering in that. The needs of the people are more important than my life. Far more important.” He paused and carefully added. “Each of you fell as a result of your Stand. Would you change it? Would you surrender it?”

Each of the Guardians acted as if they had been struck.

“No...,” Jacob hesitantly began.

“No nothing, West Keeper. The truth and only the truth. Each of you sacrificed your lives as a result of your willingness to stand in defense of this fragile world and it’s people. You stood as living Guardians in one of this world’s darkest hours. Would you un-do it? Would you let them suffer the consequences of your choice not to defend them? It would be a far different world that we the living inherited if you had chosen that. The important threads of history are not always the ones the world sees, but the ones that seem lost though are known to the Creator. We are the threads that are lost to sight, but our strength allows the rest of the weaving to continue.” Grendel looked carefully at each of them, trying to overcome his exhaustion enough to be eloquent enough to convince them. “No one, not even we can see the whole pattern until it is completed. We each agreed to stand not knowing what the final outcomes would be. We must not be divided. There are enemies enough in the darkness to stand against. We must not become enemies to each other.”

“He is your death,” the Major said unhappily. Here was the crux of the matter. JD Dunne’s ancestor the Sheriff had made the wrong choice, disastrously wrong. It was going to happen again. Now he needed to make the choice that he’d long feared. JD was in his charge, he’d promised Rachel, but by doing so he would end the life of this man who was so very dear to him and who had suffered far more than any human should have. “If he is to be my death, so be it. Death isn’t an end, you yourselves are evidence of that. It’s just a step, and one that I often think would be welcome. I am tired, worn out beyond measure. My burden has been heavy, but I would not choose differently. If he chooses to commit to the act that ends my life, I am prepared. The Seven must stand. I would die gladly for that.”

“You’d die for the possibility!” Samuel forced out of his clenched jaw.

“You did for the sake of your nation. No matter what lies they told about your end.” John Grendel looked solemnly at him. “You died for the possibility of the freedom of your people. The worm did not conquer them, though many of them had your blood on their hands. Would you have changed the choice? You know that you can’t change the outcome, that is in the hands of Destiny. Sometimes it’s unexpected. Sometimes it’s what you think is going to happen, but years later the aspect changes and it becomes clear and is not what you thought it would be. You can’t argue that what happened to each of you had an impact that is still being felt. Why do you hold me to a lesser standard?”

“Lesser Standard?” Azrael hissed. “Boy, you’ve already suffered too much.”

“I have stood, and there is not one choice that I have made that I would take back. I have my regrets, truly, but I can dimly see what has been woven by a greater hand than mine. I have stood and Heaven willing I will again,” Grendel sighed softly. “This is my choice. If JD Dunne is to be my death because he can not see what I am so be it. He is a good young man and doesn’t deserve to have his path altered because of a war that he doesn’t know about. He is needed in Denver. He is needed as part of the Seven. This must be. All that will come of it is more precious and important than you can imagine. Have a little faith. Let this happen as it must. It is not your choice…It’s his.”

“The choice of another…” Jacob began slowly.

“Is something that only he can make. I have suffered as the result of the choices of others all of my life. I have seen the darkest impulses of mankind. The hidden depths of Evil that people can choose. I would wish, sometimes, to unmake the choices that others have made. To avoid the Evil, but it can not be. What is willingly chosen can not be changed. And choices must be made freely by all. JD Dunne is to choose much in this life of his, one that I hope is spared to be a long and happy one this time. The choices he makes with it are his. You have no right to change that.”

“However, Nothing says that we can’t try to convince him not to choose Darkness, at all. The Sheriff chose blindly out of his loyalty and his insecurity. And the fact that he was too damn green to be in such a situation.” Mikkel laughed at the insight. He’d always known the law, but here was something he hadn’t considered. “The Rules say nothing about us making attempts to show him what the consequences of his choices are. We can try to persuade him not to be a young idiot. That one’s got a lot of potential, especially if he’s the thread that binds the Seven. Nothing says that we can’t reach out to him, to help him see so that when the choice comes that he doesn’t choose blindly or in a panic. The Sheriff did that…sort of. My memories are a bit vague on the subject.”

“Convince him to choose the right thing? To take the greater path?” Azrael mused.

“Certainly, it is a feasible choice. One others have made, as I recall,” John Grendel laughed softly. Had the Guardians forgotten that most basic of the Laws that governed them? “The Forces of Evil will be desperate to overcome him, to lead him into that darkness. You have seen what happened to the young Sheriff of Four Corners. Are you really prepared to let this boy be dragged down to that?” Grendel felt the storm of their powers rising as each realized how close they had come to condemning JD out of hand for choices that the boy hadn’t yet made. They’d been dancing close to the edge. If even the dead Guardians that defended the world could be led into false choices, What chance did the living have? He must be more careful or he could fall into shadow and his exhaustion was making him slow.

“Can we convince him?” Jacob asked softly. “All around him, lately, the people who stand in life have worked hard to defend and protect their charges. He hasn’t noticed. Has not seen..”

“I wouldn’t be too sure. JD Dunne is still bound to the concept that life is ‘real’ and is as solid as the word ‘reality’ would allow for. But I wouldn’t count on it remaining so. There’s a sound framework there.”

“The woman,” Jacob gasped.

“Rachel?” the Major questioned.

“In part but not by a Gift. The Dunne Family was denied that because of the Sheriff’s part in the murder of a Guardian.”

“Not her, Kinsman. Though she gave him a foundation of love and hope. The other.” Jacob was stunned at the sudden insight.

“What? The old woman?” Azrael demanded.

“Mrs. Leviwitcz?” the Major asked aghast that he hadn’t noticed it until now.

“I believe that you remember her. You were asked to aid the suffering in that nightmare. Deborah bat Daniel Missenbaum, Widow of Jacob Leviwitcz.” Grendel gave the Major a long look. “A guardian in her own right.”

“But JD Dunne shows no signs of understanding or seeing!” Samuel exclaimed.

“He’s still young, Cousin Samuel. And has a weight of his own grief to overcome. He’s worked long and hard for his mother’s need. There hasn’t been much time for him to see or understand.”

“That’s why the Creature is so hot to have him now!” the Major cried smacking his fist into his other hand. “There isn’t much time. If he is to corrupt JD he must do it before the boy understands the world around him. If he has the strength to be one of the Seven, he’s got to have the heart. The last Seven failed because they hadn’t reached that point. Too buried in bitterness and upset. This time around there’s too much in the world for it to appear simple or the ‘right thing to do'. If JD chooses hope first then they can’t overcome him, or through him the others. If he can see, then he won’t be so confused. If he can understand, he’ll reject the lie. This time might be different!”

“Don’t get your hopes up too far,” John Grendel warned. “The thread of my life spins to it’s end, though what role the Seven will play in it has yet to be seen.”

“Though it’s a pattern, they don’t have to choose the same way,” Jacob declared. “They don’t have to chose the mistake again. There’s the potential for a different choice!”

Grendel shook his head in amazement. “There has always been the potential for a different choice, cousin. There’s always been. Life is a repeating pattern of differences.”

“Why have we been so blind to such a basic thing?” Samuel demanded feeling as if there were a flaw in him and he didn’t like feeling failure.

“I am not sure. The four of you carry a weight of poisoned bitterness that I have never understood. Much that has been done seems wrongly woven,” Grendel admitted. He could feel the slight brush of another’s presence and caught sight of a worn-out worried old man standing in the shadows of the garden outside. His eyes widened as he took in the sharp desperate look in those green eyes. The man hung his head and looked at them with a pleading that went right through the living guardian. A slight breeze ruffled the worn out black clothing though no wind stirred in the garden of the Consulate.

The ghost stood still, but one hand ran fingers worriedly through the short shock of pale hair. His lips formed the word ‘Please’ though there was no sound. It pierced Grendel to the core. This phantom he knew existed but had never seen. Grendel watched as the man turned away dragging his damaged leg after him.

Grendel knew the others were shocked but it was the expression of inarticulateable longing on the face of the Major that ripped thorough him. Of all of those present, only the Major had known the previous Seven well. The broken ghost of the Seven’s once proud leader drew all of them, but the Major’s face revealed all of the Kinsman’s sorrow and longing for a man he had once learned to call friend.

Turnbull returned at that moment with a tray. The young Mountie’s eyes widened as he followed the ghosts’ gaze to the shamed phantom in the garden. Without hesitation Renfield crossed to the front hall and opened the door.

“Would you like to come in. Sir?” he called gently welcoming the ghost in.

“Ain’t got a right.” The voice of the long dead gunslinger sounded hollow as if he’d spoken from the bottom of a well.

“If you won’t come in, the we must come to you,” Grendel said and drew the other Guardians with him. Samuel, he could tell was much affected to see the once proud man brought so low. The Northern Guardian was a creature of Justice and there was no Justice in the plight of the worn out ghost before him. Chris Larabee had done no wrong but he had been devastated by the breaking of his fellowship. The Seven had failed disastrously and he was bound to this world, never able to rest because of his self appointed guilt. His men had done the harm and as their leader he felt responsible. It bound him to this world, long after he should have found rest.

As it was, the previous Seven’s Leader couldn’t look at any of them. Larabee’s eyes were firmly planted on the ground though all of them wished that he’d look at the Major just once. They had been friends and what had happened hadn’t changed that. The Major didn’t hold Larabee accountable, but the gunslinger had held himself responsible every pain-filled day of the rest of his life. It was a guilt that continued even now.

The Major’s eyes were bright with unshed tears. His desire was to help this man, but he felt the barrier between them. Larabee would never accept that it hadn’t been his fault. He found his heir watching him as he tried to find some way to reach the tormented soul before him.

“Why are you not at rest?” Azrael asked with pity. Her expression had softened. She almost looked as she had before the Major’s death had hardened her heart.

“Can’t rest. Not now, not ever,” the ghost said plainly. “I failed them. You know what happened. I’d give anything to take it back. But that ain’t possible.”

“What is it that you seek?” Jacob asked. There was little that he could do for the soul before him. He’d tried to reach Larabee in life, but he hadn’t been able to break through the shell of the man’s false guilt and as a result had been able to do little to ease the man’s suffering.

Grendel waited for the ghost’s answer. There was a feeling of wrong here and as he drew closer to the ghost it grew deeper. He felt the awkwardness of the weaving. Without a doubt there was much binding this soul that needed to be taken care of. Much that was wrong.

Each of the others could feel it too. He could tell. Even Turnbull seemed aware that this was not the way it was supposed to be. The young Mountie wanted to reach out to the phantom of the old gunslinger and help, somehow. But there was nothing that he could do. Renfield’s distress and compassion were palpable presences in the highly charged web of this situation.

“You have come here,” Samuel said at last. “What is it that you would see from the Kinsmen?”

For a moment Larabee’s ghost was silent, his very posture declaring his shame and guilt. But the phantom swallowed and spoke. “He’s here. Ain’t he?”

“Do you mean JD Dunne?” Grendel asked softly. For a moment the Major’s heir was afraid that his words would hurt the man. Larabee nodded, still unable to face the Guardians.

“Yes, he’s here…” The Major began but for some reason Larabee didn’t seem to hear him.

“He’s here,” Grendel repeated and the ghost nodded.

“What is it that you want of JD Dunne? He is not the living man that you knew only a descendent of the same name.”

“I know that he ain’t our JD,” Larabee’s ghost said finally. “But he is JD and he’s going to the others.”

“Yes, That is so,” Jacob said measuringly.

“I know it ain’t my place…” Larabee began. He stopped for several minutes and swallowed again as if trying to call up enough courage to say it. The tears that the Major had been fighting were now flowing freely down his face. His grief at the fragile shell that had been the proud and confident man he’d known seemed to overwhelm him.

The gunslinger’s ghost didn’t see him at all. Maybe he wasn’t able to, Grendel thought trying to get a hold of himself. All he felt was pity for the man before him. Chris Larabee had suffered so much loss in his lifetime, and yet here he was still bound to this world and not at peace. Still separated from those he loved for a variety of reasons. Still trying to help the others, to somehow make it right.

“JD is going to Denver,” Grendel said firmly. He was startled when the ghost raised his head and gave him a look that went right through him.

“You sure?” The phantom gunslinger’s voice held an anxiety that Grendel knew carried a weight of need. The need to know that it wasn’t going to happen again. It was a reassurance that he couldn’t give the man. It might, but then again. It might not. He needed to know that the Seven stood a chance, a chance that his own men had lost.

“We are going to see to it,” Samuel said firmly. The Northern Guardian had evidently changed his mind during their conference, but as yet Grendel wasn’t sure why he had.

“I know he’s going to choose bad,” Larabee said hesitantly.

“That isn’t decided yet. Much can happen before then,” Jacob said.

“Yes,” Azrael added gently. “We are going to try to help him see the world and it’s hidden depths before the choice is made.” She moved to comfort the ghost. The endless burden of bitterness and cynicism seemed to fall from her, leaving her image brighter and somehow lovelier. The ghostly Larabee ran his callused hand over his face. “Don’t rightly know what to ask you for, but wasn’t expecting that. Please help him. Don’t let them follow us. We failed….” Larabee’s voice was barely audible. “Please.”

“Peace to you,” Grendel said garnering Larabee’s attention. “No matter what happens, be at peace. All that can be done to help and protect JD will be. I promise.”

“What about protecting you?” the ghost demanded. “We protected JD too much. It didn’t help when he needed it. He shouldn’t have died. JD shouldn’t have died either. It shouldn’t have happened.” One hand continued rubbing through the pale hair. Larabee’s grief was so open and yet he couldn’t see the Major standing near him. Grendel could see his predecessor’s face, wet with tears and twisted in pain for the trapped soul before him. There was no doubt that the Major had dearly cared for each of the Seven in life and was greatly grieved for each of them in death.

“Have faith, even now. The future is unwritten,” Grendel said calmly. “No matter what, believe in hope, even when it doesn’t look like there’s a prayer in the world that it will work out. It will. Not sometimes as we want or expect, but it does.”

Larabee starred at him for a long moment and then nodded once. “Thanks,” he said softly and faded from sight.


The visitation of the shattered ghost of the previous Seven’s leader left them all a little off balance. Turnbull insisted that John Grendel eat, and the Agent ate without demure. It had been too long since he’d eaten a real meal and it took a while to assuage his hunger. Renfield had prepared a full meal out of things that were in the cabinets. The other Mounties had not yet gotten around to filling them properly.

While he ate, the Guardians debated many and various ideas. Some viable some not. Although Grendel was certain a couple of the thoughts would be fun to watch, they wouldn’t do much to advance their cause.

“I’d like to see him,” Grendel said during a lull. The others went completely silent and stared at him. Even the Major. “He’s still soundly asleep, isn’t he?”

“He won’t wake for a while,” Jacob confirmed. “Are you sure that you want to do this?”

“Very,” Grendel replied. He thanked Turnbull for the food and let the young Mountie take the dishes away, though normally he’d have complained that Turnbull shouldn’t have to do it. Straightening his shoulders tiredly, John Grendel led the way to the small room that JD was asleep in.

He paused on the stairwell to give Turnbull a bright smile as he looked at the freshly polished Dustbuster and the garbage bag. The young Mountie had needlessly double or maybe even triple bagged the dust from the Vampyre’s servant. Renfield lowered his eyes, but Grendel could tell that he was laughing, and it did his heart good to see it.


JD Dunne lay on his side, curled up in a ball under a quilt with stars printed all over it. His denim saddlebags lay in the corner neatly packed. The boy looked even younger than his twenty-two years. His dark hair was tangled and the ragged bangs almost hid his eyes. For a moment fear gripped Grendel. This innocent looking young man was indeed to be the principal player in his death.

He could feel the binding knots in the threads of their lives. JD Dunne was innocent of it all now, but in the future? That was still unknown. John Grendel could see the boy’s life thread winding he could see the kindness and compassion that the boy was capable of. All of the good in the young man’s nature, as well as the flaws of his naivete, his inability to see beyond the confines of his understanding, his ability to make snap decisions that weren’t always correct, and his comforting but exasperating tendency to decide everyone was good without knowing anything about them. Yes, JD Dunne was a complex individual and one that Grendel knew that he cared for.

Everything in the boy cried out for protection and help from Grendel and he wouldn’t let him down. It would be Wilmington who would take the boy on, that Grendel knew from history and from his cursory brush against the man’s mind. Buck Wilmington might be the best friend and brother that the boy had, but there would be many to defend and help JD. Himself included. Often he’d wondered how the Major had gotten so close to the flame that was the Seven that he’d been able to be burned so. Now he knew and without a doubt knew that he would willingly fall before he let the Seven fail.

Grendel felt the Major’s gaze before he looked up and knew the man understood him. If it cost him his life, this was something worth dying for. The Seven would have their chance.

“Cousin Samuel,” Grendel said softly. JD was bound in sleep but he still didn’t trust that his voice wouldn’t wake him.

“Yes, Lad?” The Northern Guardian knelt beside him. There was a curious expression in Samuel’s face.

“I know that it is time for me to come to you for your blessing.”

“Yes.” Samuel reached a hand toward him and was startled when Grendel shifted it to JD.

“Give it to him.”

Samuel looked as if he would complain, but he searched Grendel’s face and then he nodded. The Northern Guardian stretched out his hand to JD.

“May you never be lost. May the protection of Heaven stand between you and Darkness. May the sight given you by those who have loved you remain a light to the end of your days. May you see clearly and with compassion. May you never be blinded by the lies of mankind. May Michael the Guardian lead you and guide your actions.” Samuel brushed the soft dark hair out of the boy’s eyes.

Azrael leaned in next to him.

“May you be well and strong. May your compassion grow. May you understand the sickness in men’s hearts and not be drowned in it. May your hope and enthusiasm be a light to those around you. May you know joy and hope in all times. May your sorrows be brief in their hold over you, and may you be able to help those who grieve. May your skills protect the innocent among you and defend the ones that you love,” she said gently and with a soft touch brushed the top of his head. She frowned a minute and put her hand on his forehead. “He’s running a bit of a temperature.” Azrael turned to Turnbull. “Don’t let him catch cold. He’s got weaker lungs, so every bug is going to take him down.” Renfield nodded.

Jacob hid a smile when Azrael looked at him but Grendel, Samuel and the Major had all seen it. Mikkel too was finding it hard not to laugh. Giving the younger guardian a stern look., Jacob leaned in for his turn.

“May the guidance you received from your mother’s loving heart lead you. May you stand in the Darkness and be untouched. May your will always be your own. May the lies of men never stand in your mind and heart. May the skill you have in untangling Mysteries serve to save the innocent and protect the ones you love. May Truth be your watchword, Hope your shield, Laughter your song, Enthusiasm your armor, and Joy your Fortress. May your path be lit under your Compass Star. May you be protected from false friends and may your heart see truly.”

Jacob looked up at Grendel and at the Major. There was more power as he spoke his blessing than he’d realized. The Major nodded and leaned in to speak his own blessing.

“May Joy be your inheritance. May the Truth be your guardian. May your mistakes be small ones. May you always be forgiven for your errors. May Clarity attend you. May your friends always stand by you, when you stand for right and May they help you when you are not. May your Hopefulness never wain. May you know Love and Contentment. May no Darkness rule you. May Your path be trod with care and deliberation. May you know Peace.” The Major paused. “May the past never hold you. May your blood defend you and not harm you.” He paused again and they knew that he was thinking of Sheriff Dunne. “May your life be long and Joyful. And lastly but not the least. May your mother always be Proud of you and your works John David Dunne.”

“These things we ask in the name of the Creator who made us all,” the Four Kinsmen intoned as one. Turnbull crossed himself as a Catholic. Grendel nodded.

“There isn’t much that I can say to you John David Dunne. So many have blessed you and so many will. Your arm will be the shield of the innocent and the shelter of the oppressed. You will walk in this world as a man, though you will often be considered too young. Your determination will conquer most things you are faced with and there will always be those who love you to shelter you from the grief and pain that comes with life. The greatest blessing that you have is the one you already carry with you. Your Mother’s love. What Blessing that such as I can give is yours fully and whole-heartedly. If the hour comes that my life ends at your hands, know that I forgive you and always will.” Grendel carefully tucked the quilt more tightly around the sleeper. He brushed the hair out of JD’s eyes and felt the lingering touch of Rachel’s blessing. It’s strength made Grendel smile. No he wouldn’t worry so much about JD’s choices.

He would however worry more about the boy’s safety. Boy? Truthfully JD was a young man, but there was still the overwhelming need to protect him. His innocence was bright and tangible. It would be a beacon to the forces of Darkness. So much for the boy having an ‘uneventful’ life.

Grendel led the others out of the room quietly. They needed to plan what they would bring to JD’s protection.


Grendel stood in the early morning light at the door of the Consulate. The situation had been attended to. If there was a chance, then the Seven would take it. He had no doubts about that. Now the Guardians had a plan for getting JD to Denver and they would watch out for him. The Major would continue to ride with him until he was in Larabee’s hands.

A shadow played across his vision. John Grendel felt it and was grieved by it. He didn’t want to say the words but knew that he must. Turning to Renfield who was preparing for the Consulate’s morning activities, he spoke softy, and hid his pain.

“Renfield?” he hesitantly asked. Immediately he had the Constable’s full attention.


Swallowing hard, Grendel said. “Renfield, just remember that names die more often than the man who wears them does. Sometimes falling into the shadow doesn’t mean that someday you won’t return. Especially not when you are needed.”

The Mountie looked perplexed but nodded. He’d remember, but it might take him awhile to understand. Grendel thanked him for his kindnesses and soon left the safety of the Consulate for the uncertainty of his own path. There was much to do.


JD woke that morning with the feeling that something momentous had happened but he couldn’t decide what it was. He’d slept deeply and felt very refreshed. His dreaming had been of his mother and of other things that he couldn’t quite name.

Getting up, he packed his star quilt and the other blankets away. He felt that the day was fresh with new possibilities. Maybe Phillip and Charles would be back tonight and he could find out if there was any more paperwork to do.

No wait, he’s see them earlier than that. He had an appointment at the local Federal Station to take his range tests. He’d better clean his weapons. JD didn’t want to get caught being sloppy. Chris Larabee would never take on someone who was sloppy. Never.

Making his plans for the day, JD felt some of his lost enthusiasm return. The mantle of grief seemed to lift a little and he felt so much better. Maybe he’d go off to McGinty’s for dinner. He hadn’t seen much of Gary and Marissa in the last couple of days.