Dragon Rider – Part Seven

Dragon Rider

Chapter Four Continued

Funestus Black

Funestus remained still and quiet for a few moments, his gaze almost unable to leave Drake’s face.  Eventually, he sighed and slipped into his chair.  ‘Please, sit down.’

Drake did as he was asked.  ‘Let’s just cut to the chase.  You need to find a book?’

The slight curl of Funestus’ lips hinted at a smile.  ‘Alright, as it seems you prefer straight-talking.’  He sighed and placed his elbows on his desk, bringing his hands together as if in prayer, ‘Yes.  I need to find a book but this book is not just any book, it-‘

‘And you want me to find it?’ asked Drake, his patience even shorter than usual.  ‘Surely you could buy someone qualified to do your dirty work?  I don’t find books.’

Funestus’ face lit up with a crooked smile.  ‘No, I suppose you don’t,’ he said, leaning back in his chair.  He studied Drake in silence for a few moments, before continuing.  ‘But as a Bounty Hunter you have the skills required for such a task and as for your heritage,’ he said pointing at Drake’s face, ‘that can only be a bonus-’

‘Why not the dwarves?  They’re bounty hunters.’

Funestus cackled.  ‘The dwarves?  Yes, well, what can I say?  I need someone who can actually do what they’re supposed to.’  He reached into a drawer in his desk and removed a tattered notebook.  He turned its stiff and groaning pages, his blonde hair flopping over his face and covering his pale blue eyes.  ‘I need you,’ he said dropping the open book on the desk in front of Drake, ‘to find that; The Emerald Key.’

Drake looked at the notebook; its yellowing pages revealed a delicate sketch of a green book decorated with the silver crescent of a moon superimposed upon a flaming sun, and strange symbols and text, foreign to Drake, were scribbled all around it.

‘That’s a sketch of a book, not a key,’ said Drake.

‘Indeed.  Let me explain,’ said Funestus, standing up and striding over to the heavily draped curtain.  ‘What you must understand Drake, is that The Emerald Key is not just a book,’ he pulled the crimson velvet curtain back slightly to peer out into the deserted street beyond, ‘it is a key which can unlock all of the secrets of the universe.  It is the first book ever to be written and it contains all the spells, rituals and names of power that you could possibly need to control everything and everyone; humans and Faeries alike.’

‘One book can do that?’ asked Drake, the scepticism thick in his voice.

Funestus turned abruptly.  ‘The Emerald Key can do all of that and more!  Someone without inborn magickal ability can wield magick by using this book.  They can control absolutely every demon just by uttering their true name, can summon the Beasts of Hell at will!  Reincarnate any dead being!  Everything, everything,’ said Funestus, now lowering his voice again, ‘would be within that person’s grasp, simply there for the taking.  Every selfish whim or desire could be accomplished in the blink of an eye-’

‘Do you know where is the book is now?’ interrupted Gizmo.

Funestus shook his head.  ‘No.  It has disappeared.  The trail disappears with this notebook.’

‘Maybe it doesn’t exist, or maybe it’s been destroyed,’ said Drake, unmoved by Funestus’ outburst.

Funestus ignored him.  ‘It is critical that I find that book…if not…well, the consequences are not worth thinking about.  In the wrong hands, it would be a ticking time bomb, a weapon of devastating power that could destroy the whole of the human race.  He swept across the room and sat back down at his desk.  He took a deep breath and steadied himself before continuing.  ‘For your help, you would receive this,’ he said, reaching for a silver case that lay at his feet.  He dropped the case upon his desk and clicked open the clasps.  He swung the case around to face Drake and Gizmo.  ‘One hundred and fifty thousand pounds.’

Gizmo’s mouth dropped open.

‘More than you could possibly make in ten, maybe even fifteen, years.  Find that book and all of this is yours, Drake.’  Funestus turned to Gizmo, ‘Think about all of those adorable children that you help Gizmo.’

Drake remained quiet, unfazed by the sight of the money.  ‘I don’t know.’

‘What?’ asked Gizmo turning in his chair to face Drake.

He shook his head.  ‘I don’t know.’  Drake’s gut feeling about doing this for Willow was not good and now he had met Funestus, and the conversation had progressed, the more that that feeling had grown.  It was now clear to Drake that Funestus wasn’t interested in Gizmo or Willow finding the book, it was Drake he wanted.  Trouble was, Drake didn’t know why.

‘You do realise Drake, that, as the Chief Enforcerer, I have the power to banish you from Devilsgate?

Drake nodded.  This had been a bad idea coming here, putting himself on the radar of the Law Department.  He may as well of run around with a big flashing neon sign on his head.  All of his plans…

‘I could make life really difficult for you Drake and what about the Lost Souls?  Blood will be on your hands.’

‘Drake, you have to help,’ pleaded Gizmo.

‘I can help you Drake.  You do this for me and I will protect you and the Lost Souls.’

Drake felt hot.  He could feel the pressure building behind his eyes, he felt like a tiger caught in a trap, with only one way out; into the hands of the hunter.  ‘I don’t know-’

Funestus stood up.  ‘Well, I am rather busy this afternoon.  I don’t want to push you out,’ he said, moving to the front of the desk, ‘but I do have guests waiting for me in the other room.’  He swept to the door of his office and turned once more to look at Drake and Gizmo.  ‘One other thing.  It has come to my attention that other, more unscrupulous people, are after the book…’  He let his words dangle in the air, like an angler waiting to tempt a fish with bait.

Drake bolted upright in his seat.  ‘Who?’ he asked, knowing the answer to his question already.

‘I have received information that Fenrik “The Spider” Lasko has learnt of the existence of the Emerald Key.  If he were to find it Drake-‘

The hairs on the back of Drake’s neck stood on end, the heat of his hatred ripped through his body like a lightning strike; he could feel the red of his face, the white of his knuckles as he clenched his fists tight.

‘I see that you have had dealings with Fenrik?’ asked Funestus, tilting his head slightly.

‘Yes,’ said Drake.  As you obviously know.

‘Well, it would be in both of our interests to stop him then, wouldn’t it?  You know what he will do with that kind of weapon, Drake.’

Drake slumped back into his chair and rubbed his forehead.  Fenrik was always there, skulking in the shadows, working towards the day when Devilsgate would finally succumb to his awesome power.  But Drake was working too, towards the day when he would destroy Fenrik by whatever means necessary.

But was this the way?

‘You have until noon tomorrow to give me your answer.  My Butler will see you out.  Until tomorrow, good day,’ and, without another word, Funestus turned and swept out of the room.

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