Billy, Angela, and another man sat a small round table in the facility cafeteria. Billy was sipping a soda while Angela and the man who had been introduced simply as Hugh both drank coffee. The man wore an immaculate European-style suit with three buttons. His hair was jet-black and impeccably combed. He sported a pencil thin mustache that accentuated the rugged lines of his face. Billy thought he looked like one of those villains from the old black and white detective movies made about prohibition in the twenties.
“What a fantastic coincidence,” Angela said across the table in the cafeteria.
“My dear there are no such things as coincidences,” he said in an accent Billy couldn’t place.
“Where are you from again?” Billy asked.
“My family owns a little winery near Troyes in France,” Hugh said, sipping his steaming beverage. “I am Miss Magdala’s guardian and benefactor.”
“And you just happened to have arranged a visit for today?” Angela asked, cocking her head and smiling.
“No. Providence guided Brother Aaron to suggest rather strongly that I should go, that is to say, come, to visit you. The workings of God’s plan made it so for today,” he said, spreading his hands wide. Angela cracked a broad smile and clapped her hands together once, softly, with approval.
“Hugh always gets to take me to dinner or lunch when he visits,” Angela said, with excitement creeping in to her voice. “But Hugh, before we go talk to the Colonel and make plans you really should talk with Billy. He’s been asking questions I’m not allowed to answer.”
“So, it is that time is it? We were wondering when this would happen,” Hugh said softly as he intently studied the surface of his coffee.
“I don’t understand,” Angela said.
“We’ve been watching young Mister Ransom for some time,” Hugh admitted after a short pause.
“You’ve what?” Billy stammered.
“You are gifted young man, in a way most people couldn’t even understand,” Hugh cautioned, laying a light hand on Billy’s forearm. Billy withdrew his arm as though a snake had been laid upon it. Hugh raised his hands slightly in resignation.
“I can answer your questions young man but only if this remains a, how you say, civil conversation,” Hugh said furrowing his eyebrows. “The things I am allowed to tell you are best kept quiet, and secret.”
Angela fidgeted in her chair darting furtive glances at Hugh. Hugh seemed to focus solely on Billy, paying Angela no mind.
“How do you know about me?” Billy asked.
“We know about you because we know about everyone who can do what you do,” Hugh said without hesitation.
“How does she know the things she knows about the ether?”
“She knows those things because she went to schools we guided her to through her parents before the accident that took her legs,” Hugh said, laying a reassuring hand on Angela’s shoulder. Angela hung her head as she remembered.
“So there are others like us, not just the three of us?” Billy asked.
“Oh yes, many more. Some have not awakened to the gift that lies within them. Others have been taken by the adversary and work against us,” he said.
“Who are you?” Billy asked.
“The simple answer is that I am Hugues de Payens, third of that name, and descended from a noble house of France,” Hugh said.
“The complicated answer?”
“We belong to an ancient organization descended from holy and noble roots, which was beset by evil forces from within who were successful in maligning our name and nearly destroying all our members,” Hugh said, folding his hands on the table. “Now, we have rebuilt and serve God independently, without being beholden to any sovereign or Pope.”
“You’re monks or something?” Billy asked, hoping to gain clarity. Angela looked at Hugh and he nodded.
Angela leaned across the table and quietly whispered, “No, Billy, we’re Templars.”
Guardians of the Herald is a weekly serial published and copyright by The Cavalier, Mark Malcolm. For more information about this story please join us on our Facebook page community at www.facebook.com/firstchevalierbooks.