Chapter Nineteen: Ashe
The little goblin was positively having conniptions.
“They used to make goblins do this as slaves,” Rolly whispered. “Men who wanted to find gold or silver.”
How shamefully goblins had been treated by other Beings and humans in the past. But to see Tibo’s face, you would have thought it had happened to him, personally. Yesterday.
It made Ashe ache for him.
“Pull up the rug. It’s there.”
Ashe glanced at Rolly. The banshee nodded.
Ashe and Jaxx knelt and pulled back the beautiful Persian rug.
There was nothing there but floor.
“Are you sure?” Ashe glanced up at Tibo.
Rolly nodded. “If Tibo says it’s there, it’s there.”
“Look here.” Jaxx pointed to one of the boards.
Ashe peered more closely. One corner of it was faded, the shine all but worn off. He pushed down on the spot and the other end of the floorboard popped up smoothly into the air. “Hand me that flashlight?”
Ashe shone it down in the hole. There was a gray metal box inside that took up most of the space. He reached in and eased it out, handing it to Rolly, who put it on the desk. They all gathered around it, but no one moved to open it.
“This could fucking be it,” Tibo said.
“What if it’s booby trapped?” Jaxx asked.
“I doubt it. Why leave the rest of the place wide open?”
“We should at least take a look,” Ashe said, wondering what was inside, and if it truly would answer some of his questions—about his mother, and his father.
“Only one way to find out. Let me do it, in case there are magic traps.” Rolly held his hand over the box until he seemed satisfied it was safe, opened the latch and popped open the box. Inside, there was a stack of folders with a small red dot on the upper right corners.
Ashe reached out a trembling hand and picked up some of the folders, handing one each to Jaxx, Rolly and Tibo.
They all opened their folders.
His was full of handwritten notes. He scanned through them and saw ‘dragons’ and ‘breeding program’ and ‘genetics’ and ‘unexpected results.’ “This one seems to be about the dragon thing.”
Tibo nodded. “This one too. There’s a ton of notes and diagrams. It’s gonna take a while to sift through all of this.”
“Mine’s full of scribbled equations,” Jaxx said. “I can’t make heads or tails of them.”
“Lemme see.” Tibo held out his hand for the folder. He glanced over it and nodded. “I can’t say for sure, but these look a lot like what Shandi was working on.”
“Um, guys?” Jaxx was standing by the window. “Kill the light.”
Ashe turned off the flashlight and looked out the window, over Jaxx’s shoulder. A private security car was parked in front of the house, lights flashing. “That can’t be good.”
Rolly grabbed the folders and stuffed them into his backpack. “Come on. Let’s get out of here.”
The doorbell rang.
They clambered one after the other down the old creaking stairs, as quietly as possible. They had to go right past the front door before they could swing toward the back of the house where they had entered.
As Ashe passed the door, a face pressed against the glass and the beam of a flashlight played across his face.
“Crap, he saw me. Go! Go! We can meet at the guest house.”
They burst out the back door. Jaxx and Tibo ran off to the right. Ashe followed Rolly to the left.
“Halt!” A voice from behind them froze them in their tracks.
The guard came up behind them. “Hände hoch.” He gestured for them to raise their hands.
Ashe did as he was told.
“Was machen sie denn hier?”
“We don’t speak much German,” Rolly said.
“Why are jou here?” The man glared at them.
“We’re just visiting a friend—”
With a roar, something barrelled into the guard from the darkness. It was Jaxx, horns down. The man went flying, and his gun went off with a loud pop.
Someone yelled out in pain.
The guard hit the wall of the house behind him with a heavy thud, and fell to the ground, still.
“Holy shit.” Ashe looked around. “Who got hit?”
“Me.” Rolly was leaning against the wall, clutching his right arm.
“Rolls, you all right?” Tibo appeared from the darkness, his face all twisted up.
“I think so. It just grazed my arm. We should go.” Already lights were coming on in the houses around them.
“Not like I’m really worried or anything,” Tibo said.
“Less talk, more walk,” Rolly replied, his voice pained.
Ashe grinned. He was starting to like the banshee.
“Thanks,” he said to Jaxx, kissing him quickly. “Come on!” He pulled the satyr out onto the street after him.