That’s no way to treat someone who’s trying to help you,” said Ophelia. She sounded hurt.

Ellie lowered her gun, but kept her finger on the trigger. She watched Ophelia in wonder. Up close, she was even more breathtaking.

I’m sorry, this is a lot to take in,” Ellie apologized.

Ophelia raised her eyes to glance sheepishly just behind Ellie. “Uh-oh. We’re in trouble.”

Ellie turned raising her gun once again, but this time the only thing approaching was the dark stranger. She lowered it to a safe angle, but reconsidered when she saw the look on his face. He was pissed.

What do you think you are doing here?” His voice was agitated and pitched high. He stood with his arms crossed glaring at Ellie, tapping his foot on the scorched pavement. In his hand were the etched bracers she had seen earlier.

I followed you,” Ellie admitted, “and I could ask you the same question. I know there was a murder, and you two looked like you knew what was going on. Was it that thing, that dragon?”

Master,” Ophelia projected.

Not now,” the stranger said out loud, interrupting Ophelia’s attempt at mental communication. “Do you have any idea how much trouble you are in? You can’t know about this. I need you to forget.” He reinforced the word “forget” with a mental push.

Ellie felt the push, but she didn’t forget. “I’m not just going to forget about what I’ve seen here. You can’t make me.”

Master.”

Not now, Ophelia.” The priest pinched the bridge of his nose, and scrunched his face. “Forget.” He tried again, this time without the verbal reinforcement. He didn’t even look at Ellie. He kept his head down as he pushed mentally.

Master.”

Forget.”

Would the two of you please stop? You’re giving me a headache.”

On that we can agree,” said the stranger. “Ophelia, be still.” There was power in his words directed at the monster, as if he were pouring all of his psychic energy reinforcing his command. Ellie felt Ophelia stumble, as if she had been rooted in place by the force of his words.

Master, please,” Ophelia begged, a hint of hysteria rising in her voice.

What is it, Ophelia? Can’t you see I am in the middle of something?”

There’s another one, Master.” This last bit Ophelia spoke out loud.