Return to Nurrengaard (Part 3 of 3)
David J. Duncan
Originally Written 08/96 Revised 06/02

For notes & such, please see Part 1

Chapter 13 [Main Battlefield]

Even as Dave and Ferali attended to business in the Pit, Grimwilkin and the others continued their engagement with the enemy. In the time since the duo had ridden off to their target, the tide of battle had risen and fallen several times. At first, the trolls held the advantage, but then, the allies reestablished themselves. However, against superior numbers, the latter began to falter a bit.

"C'mon, Dave!" Garth hoped. "Get on with it!"

"Have faith in your friend," the wizard advised grimly as he blasted two other demons to a crisp.

Looking about him, the Earther saw the dead bodies of several of their comrades scattered about the field. From past experience, he knew better than to doubt his classmate, but this was getting mighty grim.

Then, the ground shook, jarring both sides, and a scream shrieked, "NOOOO!!"

At that moment, the trolls began dropping like flies. As they hit the ground, they turned to stone statues.

Harokin limped over to the wizard's side, inquiring, "What happened?"

The old man studied the sky intently, noticing that the ebony clouds were thinning out. Within minutes, the sun actually managed to peek through, gradually illuminating more and more of the landscape around them. "It seems that Mr. Dubois and Ferali accomplished their mission after all. Lousain has been banished anew."

"So it's over?" Eadmer wondered.

Grimwilkin requested, "Mr. Singleton, come with me if you would." Waving his hands, he made the remains of the enemy army vanish along with Garth and himself, leaving the two commanders to survey the scene.


Back in the sacrificial chamber, Angie worked to calm Miri even as she examined Dave. Beside her, Ferali kept a watchful eye for new insurgents. Despite the fact that their adversaries had been dispatched, one always needed to be careful.

Having just witnessed the display in front of her, the doctor wasn't too sure about her boyfriend. He had always seemed so kind and cool headed. However, the wild man in front of her presented a differing perspective, which troubled her. Still, that was a matter for later. Right now, she needed to get him stabilized. Ripping off the remains of her left sleeve, she bound the wounded shoulder gently.

In response, he writhed a bit, moaning softly.

The small warrior beside her gazed down on Dave as well. "How is he?"

"I think the wound's been stabilized," she stated. "Still, I won't know for sure until we get to Nurrengaard. As for the mental fit he just had, I was hoping you could tell me more."

The gnome shrugged. "Granted, during the last campaign, he was moody as well. That, however, was the first time I saw him go ballistic like that."

Karen's spirit shook her head sadly. In spite of all of the work that she and her family had done, her friend's damage had continued to worsen. "Someday, I hope you find peace, Dave," she mused to herself.

At that moment, Grimwilkin and Garth appeared in their midst.

"Ah, Miss Blackwell, I presume?" the wizard supposed. Seeing her nod, he continued, "I'm Grimwilkin, a friend of your companions."

Angie stared in confusion at Garth, wondering what was going to happen next.

For his part, he told her, "Trust him. He knows what he's talking about."

She sighed, doubting that everything would be normal again after this experience.

The wizard stooped over the fallen man's body and undid the bandage. The wound hadn't spread yet it looked dark and angry. Upon seeing the malady, he stood up and drooped his shoulders.

"What is it?" Karen wondered from within her glass prison.

"This is the worst thing that could have happened to him," the old man informed them.

"It's a stab wound. Can't the Empress's potion cure him?" Garth supposed.

The wizard glared at the young man. "Even she cannot do the impossible, Mr. Singleton."

Angie's eyes began to water. After all of this tribulation, she could, would not...lose him. Maybe, they needed to talk about such things. Leaning over him, she placed her hands on his side, feeling his breathing grow shallower. "No!" she demanded. "Come back to us! Come back to me! Wake up! WAKE UP!!!!" As she said that, she began to cry.

Her tears fell on the wound, sparking a reaction.

The dark infected matter cleared up. While the area was still inflamed, the threat of infection had been temporarily held in check.

"An...Angie?" he whispered weakly.

She embraced him tightly, nearly suffocating him in the process. While she didn't understand how she did it, he was back.

"Amazing..." Ferali gasped. "How?"

"The ultimate power in the Universe, my friend," the wizard declared. "Love can push back fear and hatred. In this case, it may have bought us enough time to get him back to Nurrengaard. Now go with Mr. Singleton and take Ms. Montoya outside if you would."

The two soldiers complied with his request. Once they had started up the passage with Karen, he turned back to the others. "It's good to have you back, Mr. Dubois."

"It's good to be back," Dave remarked. "I wish I felt better though. What happened? I don't remember anything much after arriving here...."

Angie and Ferali stared dumbfounded at each other.

"What happened to Lousain?" Dave pushed.

"You mean you don't remember?" Grimwilkin probed, beginning to understand what was happening.

"No, I'm afraid not. My head's pounding like there's no tomorrow," the librarian complained, wincing and rubbing his head. The back of it still felt numb.

"We'd best get him back," the sorcerer informed her. Raising his staff, he enveloped himself and his three companions in a flash of brilliant light, sweeping them away from the area, and leaving nothing in their wake.


Chapter 14

One day later, the two armies crossed the mountains back onto the plains of Joltenheim. Unlike before the battle, the sky was now robin's egg blue with puffy clouds and a gentle cool breeze swaying the grasses.

Eadmer and Elsin rode up to the front of their comrades' lines.

"We must part here," he indicated. "Sadly, we cannot spare the time to visit with the Lady of the Light. Give her our regards."

"I will," Grimwilkin agreed, clasping his ally's hand warmly.

"And may you all heal completely," Elsin added.

"Thank you, Milady," Dave expressed.

"I wish you well in everything, my friend," she told him, patting him on the shoulder. Turning to Angie, she requested, "Watch after him. He has many troubles, but will be well worth them all."

"I know that," the doctor agreed, her cheeks flushing a bit. "I hope it all works out."

Elsin smiled warmly. "It will, my Dear. Trust in the Light and all which serves her. You two were brought together for a purpose. I can see that. Trust in him and yourself." With that, she turned and rejoined her husband.

"Farewell!" they chorused, riding away to the West, and leading their troops in that direction.

"They're the best allies," Dave admired.

"Indeed," Harokin concurred. "I wish they could stay with us for awhile. Pity."

"Yes," Grimwilkin agreed. "But we need to return to Nurrengaard. Come."

With that, the commander blew his horn, signaling the troops to begin their long march home.



Chapter 15 [Citadel of the Four Winds, Nurrengaard]

Two weeks later, the group had retraced its earlier steps, completing the roundtrip with their arrival before the city. Karen smiled to herself as she recalled the Empress's kindness on their last trip. Miri and Angie were awed by the complex.

"Is that where we're going? There must be a powerful ruler in there!" she exclaimed.

Grimwilkin laughed, "Indeed, Miss Blackwell. The Empress is powerful yet compassionate. You will get to meet her and Molori for yourself."

"She's the greatest," Dave added.

The guards stood at attention, opening the gates at our approach with chants of "Hail to the Victors!"

As we entered the area, Angie became more awestruck with each step as she encountered the sights. "'s so beautiful!"

"Thank you," a pleasant voice replied graciously.

The group turned to see the lord of the Citadel descending the staircase. He grinned from ear to ear. "The Empress knew almost immediately. Come! She awaits you in the Great Hall."

Following him up the stairs, the fellowship entered the area in question. There, they found the lady in question, now fully restored to her peak. "Welcome back, my friends. And to you, Angela and Miranda, my most heartfelt greetings."

"Unca!" Miri blurted out. "Pwetty!"

Dave squirmed. "Pardon her. She meant no offense."

The Empress waved it off. "And I took none from that remark. Well, little Miranda, hello! You have had quite an adventure! I hope that you like it here now."

The little one smiled enthusiastically.

"Look after her, David. Your brother's daughter will always have a link to this world and to mine just as you, Karen, and Angela do. Now, we must finish our final tasks. Karen, your husband is waiting."

Dave hefted the glass jar with great effort. While the shoulder had healed for the most part during their progress, it still throbbed quite a bit. "Ready, 'Miss'?" he joked.

"Yes. This has been fun, but I want to be back in my own body," she informed him.

With that, he carried her receptacle through the doors and into the side chamber with a great deal of effort. Looking down at the bed, he saw Karen's glimmering form, but Mike wasn't there, leaving him to wonder where he was.

"Do not worry, David," Grimwilkin assured him. "Michael needed a break. Here he comes now."

The man in question ran into the hotel, exclaiming, "Guys, you're back!" He rubbed Angie's shoulder, adding, "Good to see you safe."

"Thanks," she replied pleasantly. Despite the previous history, she knew that he was being sincere in that regard.

Mike discovered the glass jar. "Is that?"

"Yes, but it is for David and Angela to perform the cure."

"Okay," Mike agreed. Peering through the glass, he saw his wife's spiritual form. "Honey, are you in there?"

"Yes!" she sang. "I'm here. Let the Gruesome Twosome do their work, okay? Then, we'll be able to talk."

"Sure," he concurred. "Ready, guys?"

Angie looked at Dave expectantly.

He smiled warmly. "On my count....1...2...3!" In concert, they unscrewed the lid, releasing the spirit from her prison.

The glowing wisp rushed for her body, permeating it within a second's time. For several minutes, she lay silent before her eyes slowly fluttered open.

Dave hugged Angie's shoulders with one arm while cradling Miri in the other as he admired the miraculous sight.

For his part, Mike's eyes watered and he sighed, "Honey, I..."

Her eyes teared up as well. "I know," she whispered as they embraced and kissed each other. For several minutes, they continued this display.

Then, she turned to her old friend. "Dave, thank you again for everything. I know it wasn't easy, and I hope you're okay."

"The shoulder burns a bit," the librarian noted. "Other than that, hey, we're friends, right? You will always mean a great deal to me no matter what. I hope that Mike won't view me as such a threat now."

Her husband flushed embarrassedly. "Dave, after what I've seen over the last few days, I finally understand. I hope you and Angie are happy as well. Friends always?"

"Count on it," Dave agreed, a grin spreading across his face.

"That goes for me too," Angie concurred.

"And for me as well," Karen affirmed, flashing her brilliant smile. "Garth, thank you as well."

"Hey, I couldn't let Dave charge in by himself, could I?" their classmate joked. "Besides, as he said, friends do that for friends."

"Right," Karen agreed. Noticing the gnome in the corner watching the scene. "Sorry, I don't know your name, but I want to thank you as well."

"His name is Ferali," Dave commented. "He's the best companion one could want. He put up with my moods."

"And he followed Dave into the Pit," Garth added.

"It was my duty and my pleasure," the warrior accepted. "I'm glad that you are all safe, and the threat is averted."

"To put up with his moods and follow him into the Pit?" Mike jibed. "Wow. Dave, you owe him big time."

"Stick it," the librarian growled good-naturedly. "Seriously, if you ever need assistance, Ferali, my bow is always ready."

"I'll remember that," his companion-in-arms declared. "And the same goes for my axe, my friend. I hope, however, that we will meet again in happier times."

The two friends clasped hands and embraced. Then, after wishing everyone safe travels, the gnome departed from the room.

"He's something else," Angie admired.

"Nice to see he hasn't changed," Karen complemented. "Dave, you've got a heckuva friend there."

"To have good friends, you have to be a good friend, right?" he noted. Feeling his shoulder throb a bit, he added, "Speaking of being a good friend, you need to get your rest."

"Besides, the Empress would like to talk with you, David, if you get my meaning," Grimwilkin chimed in.

"Okay," Angie stated. "I need to get some rest too, but I would be happy to go with you, Dave."

Seeing the wizard's grim expression, he shook his head. "No...I think this is something I need to hear first."

"O..okay," she sighed sadly, fearing that he was shutting her out.

Recognizing the familiar signs, he raised her chin so that he was looking into her teary eyes. "Hey, I said 'hear first'. You'll know right after that."

"You promise?"

"You bet," he replied reassuringly. "Hey, if I can't trust you, who can I trust?" He hugged her tightly and kissed her. "I love you, Princess. Remember that."

"I'm going to hold you to that, Buster!" she directed.

"And I wouldn't have it any other way," he cracked as he turned to leave the room. "See you in a bit."

Watching him leave the area, the doctor could still see that he was in pain. Of course, he would never admit it in front of her or Karen, but Dave was still struggling with his internal scars and now, there was whatever that darn thing did to him in the sacrificial chamber.

"We'll get through this, Dave. Together, we'll overcome it," she vowed, staring into the now empty doorway. "You're no longer alone...and neither am I."


Chapter 16 [Somewhere in the Mists]

Dave and Grimwilkin stepped out of the mists into the dreamscape, which was the Faerie Empress's home realm. It was a land of bright sunny skies, clear water, fertile ground, and thick forests. In short: an unblemished paradise.

"Wow," the librarian admired.

"Thank you," the Empress accepted, approaching them. "I appreciate your coming here. Please, feel free to sit on the grass and let me look at your shoulder.

Dave did as she asked. Baring the wound, he grimaced, as the throbbing suddenly grew worse for some reason. "What in?"

The wizard guessed, "The evil is reacting to this place, I imagine."

"And to me," she confirmed.

"C...Can't you remove it?" he requested.

She touched the wounded spot with her forefinger, chanting a long-lost incantation. As her energies flowed into him, the injury seemed to improve as it had weeks earlier. Perhaps, there might be a chance after all....

Then, he spasmed, "Arrggh! Stop it!"

Grimwilkin grasped his shoulder. "Calm yourself!"

"St...o...p....I...can't..." he whispered. Then, he snarled, "Ah say no! Quit it!"

"Did you feel that?" she asked, her face betraying her concern.

"A ripple of solid hatred. It seems that the darkness has taken root within you, David," the older man recounted. "Your pain and resentment has apparently given this parasite a place to roost and from which to spread."

"It has taken on a persona of its own," Dave added. "The last thing I remember after Lousain blasted me was this dark thing telling me it could take care of things."

"The darkness has tapped into you and created a negative reflection of yourself. I knew that you had latent abilities untapped from before. That is why you can't remember what happened in Cambridge. Your inner child has discovered how to use that power and has taken the role of the enforcer for you both."

"Wonderful," he sighed. "And you can't do anything?"

"No, I'm sorry," she apologized. "At some point, after your trials have been overcome, you two will need to work out your own separate peace."

"Great," he muttered. "I couldn't trust myself around Karen, and now, with Angie."

Grimwilkin shook his head. "Angela is the key, David. Alone, you have no chance against your demons. With her at your side, you'll succeed. It really is that simple. The love between you both is the key."

"And will you be there watching us?" Dave wondered.

"I have always watched you, David," she assured him. "And I will be there as long as you need me. As you have proven to be a good friend to me, so I am to you. Despite this situation, your inner light burns strongly. Hold onto it and trust in what I've said to you. Now, you must return to Nurrengaard. Go with my blessing. Grimwilkin will show you the way."

"My thanks, Lady," he accepted, bowing before her.

She smiled warmly before vanishing into thin air.

"Now come, David. Your friends await you," the wizard reminded him.

With one last look at the dreamscape, the younger man accompanied his friend through the mists, stepping back toward reality and the demons awaiting him there.



Chapter 17 [Citadel of the Four Winds, Nurrengaard]

Angie wandered through the Central Garden alone with her thoughts. Around her, bright blossoms bloomed, the birds sang, and a gentle breeze rustled through the plants' leaves.

Still, she felt alone. Miri and Karen were relaxing upstairs, and everyone was all right in spite of everything. Well, almost everyone. Despite his reassurances, she knew something was very wrong. His actions in the Pit spoke to that effect. "If he trusts me, why couldn't I go with him and Grimwilkin?" she sighed sadly.

"Because he wants to see what it is first," Karen suggested.

Angie turned to see Karen slowly make her way toward her. The latter looked much better than she had hours earlier. Apparently, the nap had done her some good. "Feeling better?"

"Much better, thanks," her friend told her. "I've been through worse, trust me."

"I'm sure," the doctor sighed. "You and Dave had some adventures together from what it sounds like."

Karen smiled whimsically. "We sure did. Sometimes, I thought we wouldn't make it, but here we are." Furrowing her brow, she probed, "Angie, what's really wrong?"

"Oh, I don't know. I wish I knew how he was doing. I...I care so much, and there are times when he shuts me out."

Karen shook her head, recalling similar feelings. "Don't take it personally, Angie. Dave does that sometimes. These last few weeks scared him a lot. He may not say or act it, but it has."

"So, why doesn't he share that fear with me?"

"Angie, he doesn't even dare to face it himself!" her friend exclaimed exasperatedly. "Look, he wouldn't open up to me on some things either, and I let that drive us apart!"

"But if we don't share, how can we have anything meaningful?" Angie inquired.

The nurse rolled her eyes. "Didn't we see the same thing? You saw him explode, didn't you? That's what he's hiding, Angie! That is the inner child that was beaten and hounded by his parents. Remember, when I told you to be patient, Angie?"

She nodded. "I remember." Bowing her head, she realized, "And that's why?"

Karen continued, "Yes. I must admit to being just as unnerved as you, but if you don't stand by him, then who will? Angie, the longer he's alone, the worse it's going to get for him. And what about you? You once said that you were tired of being alone.'

"I am," she whispered. "I have...had so much bad luck with guys, Karen, especially after the way...Mike and I broke up. I couldn't bear to deal with that again!"

Karen glanced over her friend's shoulder and grinned. "I don't think that's going to happen, Angie, but then, you might ask him yourself."

The doctor turned slowly to see Dave standing in the entranceway to the garden. The concern was clearly etched across his face.

"So, did the Empress...?" Karen wondered.

He shook his head. "She couldn't. And you?"

"I'm getting better. By tomorrow, I should be ready to return."

"Great," he replied happily. "Umm, sorry, but..."

"Ah, yes. I think I'd best see what Mike's doing. Have a good talk with her, Dave. Remember, she loves you," Karen concluded, walking from the area.

After she left, he approached his girlfriend and inquired, "Are you feeling better, Angie?"

"That's my line actually," she deadpanned, trying to mask her doubts. "So, neither Grimwilkin or the Empress could do anything?"

"No. Angie, from what everyone is saying, what you saw has always been inside of me. He's me and I'm him."

She stared at him skeptically. "Who's this 'him'?"

"He's the hurt and abused little boy inside of me," he theorized. "I bumped into him in my mind when we were in the chamber. As for what he did to Lousain, I can't remember. Just like always, I never can recall what happens." His eyes watered and he confessed, "You know, I don't remember half of my life, Angie? Do you know what it's like? To not know what you did yet everyone else does. To be too scared to get involved with someone because you might hurt them or worse?"

"Well then, let me in! Darn it, Dave! Let me in!" she insisted, seizing his arm.

"Why should I hurt you anymore than you have been already because of this?" he protested, wrenching himself out of her grasp.

"Because you would hurt me more by turning your back on me is why!" she countered angrily, the tears now spilling out of her eyes. "'s been a long...time since I...I...have allowed myself to love anyone." She shuddered before a burst of strength flowed through her, allowing her to continue, "You're the best thing that has happened to me, Dave! I won't allow you to march right back out of my life! Not now and not ever!" To cap it all off, she grabbed his head and kissed him passionately.

"Wow..." he whispered woozily, dazed from this outburst. "I didn't know you had that in you."

"Let's just say we've both got some surprises, Big Boy," she slurred good-naturedly. "Just allow me to make the choice to show mine to you at the proper time, okay?"

He examined her head to foot in a new light. While he had always sensed an incredible inner strength beneath her pleasantness, he definitely respected what he saw in front of him at that point. "You got it."

"Hey, you fought for me. Let me do the same for you, okay? Trust me, if you'll let me, I'll be here for the long haul," she persisted.

He nodded and kissed her again. "I hope you like that," he laughed.

"Like it? I love it," she grinned. "Now, let's go join the others. They'll want to know how we're doing."

He cracked, "Lead on Gunga Din."

She shook her head and gave him a gentle slap on the neck. All was well with the world at least for that day. They had survived and would soon be heading home....



Chapter 16

The next day, the group stood together in the courtyard, prepared to depart. During the previous day and a half, they had been treated to great music and wonderful companionship. Now that they were rested, it was time to depart.

"Well, I hope this isn't going to be as abrupt as the last time," Dave snickered while smirking at Karen.

"Dave, please..." she blushed.

"No, not this time," Grimwilkin assured them, dismissing the notion. "If you're ready, we shall depart."

"Before you do, I wish to thank them," Molori requested. "Once again, we are in your debt."

"You helped us. I think that makes it even," Garth told him.

"Right," Dave concurred. "But, let's stay friends."

"Absolutely," the area leader agreed, clasping their hands. "And to you, Ladies, a safe trip as well."

"Thank you," Angie replied pleasantly.

Turning to the wizard, the librarian indicated, "We're ready."

The elderly man nodded and raised his staff, enveloping the group in a bright light, and sweeping them away from that place.


When the light dimmed, they were back in Scituate. Glancing about, the group noted that they were in a park, standing on the dewy grass and staring up at the night sky.

"Himmel Park," Dave noted. "Less than a mile from home. But, Grimwilkin, why here?"

"I don't think he wishes to be seen," Angie surmised.

"Indeed," Grimwilkin agreed. "Well, once again, it is time for us to go our separate ways. Mr. Dubois and Mr. Singleton, it's good to see you both again. Take care, Ladies and the same to you, Mr. Montoya."

"Thank you for your help!" the group chorused at once.

"No, thank you," the wizard concluded as the light enveloped him. "Until we meet again." Then, he was gone.

"Wow, he sure can make an exit!" Mike admired. "Well, shall we?"

"Uh, yeah. I guess we've kept everyone waiting long enough. C'mon, Snuggles," Angie urged playfully, putting her arm around her boyfriend's waist.

He smiled, picked Miri up, put her on his shoulders, and followed her lead down the street.


About twenty minutes later, they stood in front of the Alvarezs' home. Much to their surprise, Grimwilkin had performed one last spell, repairing all of the damage from the trolls' attack.

"He's something else," Karen admired. "Well, Daddy's going to be thrilled by this."

"I'll say," Dave agreed with relief, recalling their conversation in the hospital room. "Well, gang, shall we?" Producing the key, he unlocked the door, allowing them all inside.

The house was completely dark. Nobody was home.

"Where is everyone?" Angie wondered.

"Maybe they just stepped out," Mike supposed. "Hey, what's that?"

Dave glanced through the window to see a familiar pair of headlights pulling into the driveway. "Karen, it's your Dad. He's home!"

Karen smiled brilliantly and rushed outside to her father who was getting out of his car. "Daddy!"

"What? Princess, is that you?" the surprised man inquired with surprise mixed with relief. "Thank God!" They hugged for quite a while.

A few minutes later, he called, "David, are you in there?"

"Yes, Sir! Along with the rest of the group!" the librarian announced while making his way down the front walk. "How's everyone?"

"Better, now that's your home." Seeing the little girl with Dave, he guessed, "Miranda, right? Want to see your Daddy, Little One?"

She nodded uncertainly.

"He's right here!" Karen assured her. Looking into the back seat of the car, she called, "Randy, want to see Miri?"

The nervous father glanced at her, shocked that she would say it. However, a moment later, he saw his brother approaching with his little girl. Relief flooded through every inch of him. Grasping her tightly, he told them, "Thank you."

"When we get in there, you all have a story to tell us," Caroline, Karen's sister, declared.

"Let me fire up the grill and we can get some barbeque going while you spin that yarn," their father suggested, heading into the house.

Knowing how good his grillwork was, the hungry adventurers quickly followed him.


"Wow!" Caroline laughed as she finished the last of her portion of brisket. "You certainly know how to have some adventures!"

"We do," Angie replied, hugging Dave. "I got to see him in action."

"You were doing your best tough guy impersonation, were you?" Randy joked.

The doctor and the librarian looked at each other knowingly. He had no idea how on target his words were. Still, it was best to say nothing at least for now.

"You could say that," she replied cryptically.

"Well, I guess. Okay, Miri, your mother's waiting nervously for you. Guys, let's get together soon, but try not to invite those 'friends' of yours back," Randy concluded, exchanging farewell handshakes with everyone. Then, he led his daughter to the truck waiting out front. After climbing in and honking the horn twice, they departed for the Interstate.

For another hour, the group continued to talk and laugh. Then, Garth stood up. "I think I had better follow Randy's lead. Everyone, it's been interesting. Dave, the adventure was a blast. Let's do something again really soon. Look me up when you're in Western Mass."

"We will!" Angie replied enthusiastically.

"Great! Keep Dave's spirits up," he advised Angie, kissing her on the cheek. Then, he shook his friend's hand. "Remember, Bud, if you need anything, you just holler, got it?"

"Yeah, I got it," Dave told him, grinning from ear to ear. "Be safe, okay?"

He shrugged as if to say 'Who Me?' as he climbed into his Baretta. Gunning the engine, he pulled out of the driveway and sped away into the night.

After he had disappeared from sight, Karen stated, "It's nice to see you two as a team again, Dave."

"Yeah, after hearing all of those stories, it's nice to know that at least one of them is true," Mike gibed. "Seriously, though, where did the bow come from?"

Dave shrugged and answered, "The bow's my hunting weapon of choice. As for the other stuff, it helps to have a hell of a chemistry set."

Mike nodded, not sure what to make of his friend's response. Still, the day had been too long already for his taste. "Well," he yawned. "I think we're ready for some shut eye. Good night."

"Why don't you go on ahead?" Karen suggested. "I'll be there in a few minutes."

He rolled his eyes, disappointed that she wasn't going to follow his lead. "Okay," he relented, stalking back into the house.

"Sorry, guys," Karen sighed. "He doesn't appreciate the finer things." Staring up into the night sky, she saw a shooting star streaking across the inky darkness.

"Penny for your thoughts," Angie probed.

"I was just thinking of how many close calls Dave and I had over the years, Angie," the nurse explained. "This is your first one-your baptism by fire."

"Yeah, I almost didn't make it not to mention I was such a wimp in that prison," she muttered dejectedly.

"You survived, didn't you?" Dave assured her. "That takes a lot of strength and character. Besides, I can think of one reason I'm glad you didn't run away screaming from me."

"And what's that?" she giggled.

"This," he told her, kissing her passionately. "I love you, you know."

"I know." Her face was positively radiant. "But, we're still going to have to figure out what to do with your darkness."

"And we'll do that together," he added, hugging her again.

"Amen," Karen agreed, rubbing his back. "So, do you think Lousain's gone for good this time?"

"Who knows?" he replied. "But if he comes back, we'll be waiting." With that, he led them back into the house and softly closed the door behind them. It had been a long adventure, and now was the time to rest.


THE END (for now)

Okay, I hope you liked your peek into the early adventures of the Duboises. (If you liked this one, I might be tempted to input the others. <grin> ) Having now read this one, you're set for my next piece (which is still unnamed at this point). Brace yourselves! It's going to be a bumpy ride!

If you liked this story, please feel free to read the other Dubois stories at the "Story Emporium" site ( or

Thanks again!

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