If you’d asked me beforehand what kind of lunch you have when you’re turning eighteen, and you’re about to receive potentially life altering secrets from an immortal friend of your grandfather, I wouldn’t have had the slightest clue.
As it turned out, the answer was pizza.
After months of eating undelivered “mistake” pizza from Travis’ and Haley’s family’s restaurants, I shouldn’t have wanted any. Fortunately, Lee let us choose the toppings. It was a small thing, but it made all the difference. It’s nice to have a little control over your life.
We ate it at a picnic table in Veterans Memorial Park right next to the beach.
Unlike the state park on Lake Michigan, Veterans Memorial’s beach turned to grass maybe twenty feet from the shore, so it wasn’t filled with people.
On the weekend, the park’s most popular spot was the boat launch. On Wednesday, that was probably still true, but people launched boats maybe once an hour.
We chose the picnic table furthest from the ramp anyway.
Even though it was a weekday, people still took boats out on Grand Lake. Most of them were likely vacationers from northern Illinois visiting their cottages, or people camping at the state park.
I saw jet skis, speedboats, and sailboats, including a few catamarans.
The air felt warm. A few clouds floated high in sky, hanging above the marina, houses, and factories on the other side of the lake.
Even though we were there for a purpose, it felt good. For the first time that summer it felt like summer for real. It was already July, and I’d missed the first third of it fighting. By late August, college would start.
That would be a change.
On the bright side, I still had a couple months of vacation to look forward to.
Lee ate a couple pieces of pizza before saying, “Now’s your chance. What do you want to know?”
“I know this isn’t a question about Grandpa,” Rachel said, “but what were you trying to do back in the cottage? I know you were trying to make Ray mad. Did that go the way it was supposed to?”
“I’m usually trying to do at least three things at a time. There I was trying to make Ray mad because I thought he might take down the barrier. Physically, I’m human, so unless he could copy my abilities magically, it wouldn’t work. I was also trying to distract them so that your Mom could get free, or so that you or Nick had time to think of something. Either way I had a plan.”
I thought about that. “So… What would happen if someone did manage to copy your abilities magically, or maybe with some kind of non-magical power?”
“Interesting question.” Lee smiled at me, or at least showed his teeth. “It depends. They’d have to have a lot of power behind them to copy the way I do what I do, so it probably wouldn’t work. If they managed to copy my connection to the rest of myself, they’d have the power they need to make it work, but they’d probably just get devoured.”
“Devoured?” That sounded like a vote for the “Lee’s really a dragon” theory.
At the same time, Rachel said, “What did you mean by ‘the rest of myself’?”
“That… gets into the meat of things. I come from a very old species. You don’t have a name for us. We’re not fond of other sentient beings. You might say that’s the reason I’m here.
“A while back, we decided to destroy the younger races we’d discovered. It wasn’t anything personal, we just didn’t want the competition. After a while, I got bored with it, did a few things that made it a lot harder, and left. I hid most of myself in a pocket dimension with a small link that allows me to draw on power when I need it. Outside of that, I set things up so that this body would blend in wherever I happened to be.
Nodding to Rachel, he said, “That answers your question. As for yours, Nick, devoured means devoured–anyone who tries to connect to my real body will disappear utterly, and I’ll have another way to present myself to the world.”
I tried to wrap my head around that.
“So… that means you met Grandpa… how?”
“Every so often somebody manages to trap me. I can break a magical circle, but most of the time it’s not worth it. It takes a lot of energy, and the more energy I use, the more likely I am to be noticed, and I don’t want to be noticed. During World War 2, Hitler’s people ran across my name, trapped me, and kept me for a little while. Then your grandfather came by. He let me out, and we worked out exactly what I owed him for doing it.”
Rachel nodded. “And what was that?”
“I’d assist him in fighting the war, and I’d train any of his children and grandchildren how to fight, and if necessary, protect them. That, and not do anything that puts the human race in any special danger.”