"Joseph is waiting in the parking lot where you first met. Meet him there. Surrender Beloved Reborn to him. He will take her to our brothers and sisters and report to them the secrets we have discovered, now that we know they are true. Beloved will always be safe and cared for as our dearest treasure. The mother is welcome to accompany her. We will care for both of them, giving everything they could desire, for as long as they live. When Joseph has them and is away, he will call you and tell you where you can find your other young friend. We will have no more need for her and she need have no fear of ever encountering us again. Nor should you fear our continued involvement in your life. We will have what we seek, and you will go in peace. Should you fail to surrender Beloved to us, or should you go to the authorities before we have her, no one will never see your other young friend again. We will be like hounds on your trail for as long as you live. We will never cease in pursuing our Beloved. Bring her to us. It is the only path to peace."
I read it to myself first, and then I read it aloud to Darla and Amy. Darla listened quietly and then thought for several minutes. Now that she had even a few minutes distance from her previous terror, she seemed much more calm and thoughtful.
"Who is this other young friend, Mr. ...?" she asked me.
"Sayer," I said. "Simon Sayer."
"The young friend is Sam," Amy blurted. "Joseph, the African man, took her away in her car."
"But who is she?" she asked. "How do you know her, dear?"
"She came and picked us up when Simon's car got taken away," Amy said. "We stayed with her last night and all day today. She gave me a pancake party for my birthday and she played games with me. She's so nice," Amy started to cry. Darla hugged her.
"She sounds really nice," Darla said. "Who is she to you, Mr. Simon?"
"Samantha?" I said. "Oh, she's a friend. I've known her for a few years. We met at blues club and went out for a while, but that faded away and now we're just good friends. She's a great, great person."
"And how...," she started, but I interrupted her.
"I didn't mean to get her involved in all of this," I said. "If I'd known how serious it was, I'd never have gotten her involved. And now she's...," I couldn't finish. "My God," I thought to myself. "What have I done?"
"And how did you get involved in this?" Darla asked.
I wasn't sure what to tell her. She'd seen and heard some strange things in the past few days, no doubt. Maybe she could take the truth. "Mrs. Montagne," I said, "I'm in a line of work where I deal with strange things, things that are hard to understand unless you've seen them before. I get jobs, strange jobs, from different sources. One of those sources came to me and told me there was a young girl who needed help because her mother had been taken away. I followed a few clues and found Amy." I paused and looked at her to see if she was with me. She looked engaged, "So, I told Amy what I'd heard and she chose to go with me. I've been watching out few her for the last few days. We've been trying to figure out what happened to you."
"And I guess you figured it out," she said. "I'm not going to lie to you, Mr. Sayer...,"
"Please, call me Simon," I said.
"Simon, I don't know what to think of you," she said.
"I don't blame you, ma'am," I said. "I understand your position."
"Still, you saved my life and you watched out for Amy. Thank you."
"You're both very welcome," I said. "Spending time with Amy has been a pleasure. I haven't spent much time around kids."
"Well, she seems to like you." Darla smiled. Then she looked at me very seriously. "What do you think we should do for your friend?"
"I don't know," I said with a sigh. "I'm going to tell you what I'm thinking, but I'm not going to ask you to agree. You decide for yourself and I will support your decision."
Darla and Amy both looked at me intently. "Go ahead," Darla said.
"I'm a fairly skilled man along certain lines, Mrs. Montagne," I said. "I don't say that idly and I don't mean to brag. It's just true." She nodded. "I've planted a very sophisticated GPS tracking phone on Amy..."
"Oh that's what it was," she said. "I forgot about that." She started to reach into her pocket.
"Leave it!" I said. "I've got it set up just right and we cannot afford to let Joseph find it."
"First of all, Mrs. Montagne, I firmly believe that Joseph and the Fate that infests him have no intention of hurting you. I believe that with great certainty." She didn't look convinced, but I continued. "With that tracking phone, or even without it in the event that it is lost, I feel certain I could find you and rescue you from Joseph once I knew Sam was safe." Darla looked at me as though she expected to hear more. "That's it," I said. "That's my plan."
Amy looked up at Darla. Darla stared through me, deep in thought. "They'll never leave us alone, will they?" she said finally.
"If we can stop Joseph in time, I think you'll be safe. The note made it sound like that hadn't yet told any of their brothers or sisters about you or Amy. They were waiting to be sure it was true. If I can stop Joseph before he tells anyone else, you'll probably be safe."
"How would you stop him?" she asked.
I said nothing, but I stood and grasped the hilt of the sword that was still stuck high in the wall and, yanking it forcefully, pulled it free. Making sure the were watching, I placed the hilt of the sword to my chest and it disappeared, sinking into me silently.
Amy and Darla both took this is stride. Neither looked even slightly surprised. "You're pretty good with that thing," Darla said.
"I know I can rescue you," I said.
Darla looked down at Amy. Amy nodded up at her. "Okay, Mr. Sayer," Darla said. "We'll do it."
I've known many warriors in my day, great fighting men and women who would gladly lay down their lives for another. Nevertheless, I knew then that I'd never met anyone braver than Darla and Amy Montagne.