Newark, New Jersey, January 7, 2000
Jeff Degger walked slowly among the crowd of
people coming and going in every direction like drones or an ant colony;
was not really sure which. For the longest time his life had been anything but routine and certainly not standard by any means.
Every day was pretty much the same, but the nights were full of improvisation and quick thinking maneuvers. Otherwise, he
would have already been dead.
For almost ten years Jeff had lived a double life, a life like no other. Five days a week he was a working man on the payroll.
Seven nights a week though he was a protector, his true being, a half dragon half gargoyle born as human and saved by magic.
This was all thanks to the small eye shaped pendant that was under his shirt. Any jeweler would have told him it was worthless.
Contaminated gold, a blue stone that was probably fake and certainly not precious. What they could not see though was that it
was a weapon, a magical weapon and the source of Jeff’s power.
The young man took a moment to watch as people walked from place to place not sparing even the slightest glance in his general
direction, just the way he liked it. It was cold still and no one wanted to waste their time with some young stranger in sunglasses.
The snow had stopped a few days prior to his arrival, but there was still frost and the temperature was an acceptable thirty five
degrees. Cold was nothing new to him, he had live in Chicago since before he could remember, but this place was different,
almost a bitterness in the air, or maybe it was just him.
Jeff adjusted his backpack and pushed his sunglasses up to conceal his unusually black irises. He let out a sigh searching for his
train number, still not sure exactly what he was doing. Degger had to keep reminding himself why he was doing this. He had never
really traveled before especially outside of his native state of Illinois. It was a radical and abrupt change, but necessary to leave his
life behind and move to New York.
After several spin arounds and a double back Jeff found the train number he was looking for. He plopped down in the first available
aisle seat letting out a long breath closing his eyes as the hulk of aluminum and steel began to move. It was several minutes later that
Jeff realized that there was someone sitting in the seat to his right.
“I’m sorry, did I just jump in someone’s grave?” said Jeff preparing to move. Without even sparing a glance from her laptop the young
blonde woman shook her head.
“Not that I know of.” Her voice was sweet and subtle with undertones of strength and hardness that seemed to contrast her slender
form. Jeff had to scold himself for staring, but she did not even seem to notice. Degger pushed his sunglasses back up settling in for the
short ride into the city.
Rebecca Sinclaire read silently over what she had just written less than pleased with her work. As of late none of the theories or ideas
she had contemplated had been impressive and it was beginning to depress her.
The native New Englander brushed her dirty blonde hair aside glancing at the man to her left and immediately did a double take. Her
dark blue eyes focused on the young man who looked no older than twenty five and especially on his pointed ears. The only time she
had seen ears that were pointed was after a Trek Convention came to town. Risking a closer look Becky leaned over mere inches from
Jeff knew she had stopped typing several minutes ago and now he could feel her breath on his skin. Her perfume lingered in the air with
intoxicating delight and Jeff felt he could play dead no longer.
Degger turned his head staring at the young lady through black lenses. She had almost no make up on except for some lip gloss that
enhanced their natural pinkish color. From what he could guess she was probably mid to late twenties in age, but that was just a guess by
the smooth perfection of her face. She smiled childishly at Degger brushing her hair back over her pierced ears.
“Yes?” said Degger feeling slightly awkward by her proximity.
“Um,” she began, but paused seeming to dissect him with her eyes. Becky felt ridiculous, like a curious child, but her foot was in the
door now so decided to ask anyway. “Have you always had pointed ears?” He figured it was about that. Jeff could not hide his ears
and growing his hair longer did not help, he tried that one only causing other problems. Her curious smile was amusing to look at causing
Jeff to smirk slightly.
“Yeah for quite a while now.”
“So they are real,” she replied her eyes still wide. “Can I just...” She raised her had and Jeff leaned slightly inviting her fingers to his
extended lobes. From what Becky could tell it was real or a very good make up job.
Becky had to shake herself out of her awe. “Hmm?” she smiled at the blank expression the man was giving her blushing slightly. “Oh
yeah, they’re real.” The young woman turned away looking out at the world as it sped by. This was certainly not one of the ways her
mother recommended on how to impress a guy. Becky turned back to find that the mysterious young man had gone back to napping
or staring at the train ceiling.
“Oh by the way, I’m Rebecca Sinclaire, most people call me Becky.” Jeff sighed, turning back towards her. Apparently she still
wanted to talk.
“So,” she continued, “you visiting a friend?”
“I’m meeting a guy about an apartment.”
“So you’re moving to the city?” said Becky a bit more excited than she would have like to have sounded. “Where are you coming
from?” Why was she so interested in me, he wondered. There had to be more to her than just morbid curiosity.
“So is this a career move or a spur of the moment sort of thing?” This was starting to get weird, Jeff thought.
“You’re a curious little thing?” said Jeff smirking slightly. He knew he had said something wrong when her smile was suddenly replaced
by a scowl.
“I’m a behavioral psychologist, part of my job is to figure out why people do what they do. Excuse me.” Jeff was unsure how to
respond to that or if he really wanted to.
“So you’re a doctor?” That seemed neutral enough and her features softened again.
“No, I only have my master’s,” she replied closing her eyes. “I screen people who are trying for their pilot’s license for commercial
or private use.” Now Jeff was really at a loss for words. She had “only a master’s degree” when he had not even attended college.
“So what is it you do?” Jeff cringed inwardly, he was afraid she was going to ask.
“Well, nothing at the moment, but my old boss was friends with this guy I’m going to meet for an interview.” Becky roll motioned
with her hand, unsatisfied with his response. “A position as a manager at a grocery store.” It was not that Jeff was embarrassed by
his job, it was just not going to be as impressive as anything when compared to a master’s degree.
Becky just shrugged her shoulders, “Hey, it’s money, right?” Jeff took off his sunglasses to rub his eyes and the shrewd blonde
jumped at the opportunity to see what he was hiding. “So have you heard about all the train wrecks they have been having lately?”
Instinctively Jeff glanced at her forgetting he took off his eye wear. Becky’s jaw dropped open as her eyes locked with Jeff’s black
ones. Jeff immediately replaced his sunglasses turning away from her. She did that on purpose, he was sure of it.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she quickly apologized, “I did not mean to gawk or embarrass you.” He should have changed seats right then and
there, but the warm sincerity in her voice seemed genuine and his legs did not seem to want to move.
“It happened several years ago after a wreck. I don’t know how or why, but they are black now. I try not to frighten people if I can
help it.” Becky turned back to her laptop tying a few things with a childish smile on her face. Now it was Jeff’s turn to be curious and in
a way slightly worried.
“Um, what are writing?”
Becky glanced back at him. “None of your business.” She smiled playfully, her eyes seductively daring him to push the issue, and he
“Are you writing bad things about me?” he asked, playing along. Again she shrugged.
“Depends on your definition. These are just notes and summaries of things I want to investigate or look into.” That was a drastically
unsettling response, but Jeff kept his cool façade.
“So you’re a reporter,” he said flatly.
“Not exactly,” she closed the computer leaning closer to Degger and lowering her voice. “Actually it’s just a hobby. I’m a conspiracy
theorist in my free time. I post all sorts of ideas and stories on the Web site I have under an alias.”
“You’re insane,” whispered Jeff with a smile.
“Awe c’mon, the world is not so perfect and simple as some like to believe it is. I’m just voicing my opinion.” Jeff knew he could not
respond and keep a straight face so he tried to retreat from the subject.
“Oh the world is far from perfect and normal I just think that maybe you are jumping into something that you have no experience with.”
Once again Jeff mentally slapped himself. Whatever points he had been racking up just got blown to hell.
“Enlighten me?” she said flatly tapping her finger on the computer lid. The hole just kept getting deeper by the second.
“I think the train is coming to a stop.” He knew something, something big. Becky felt it, she had a natural instinct about people and lying
and he was not going to slip through her grasp that easily. She was going to find out even if she had to play dirty.
“Here,” she said scribbling on a piece of paper. “These are my home and cell phone numbers. As soon as you get a phone call me and
we can do lunch or a cup of coffee.” Before he could refuse Becky stuffed the paper in his coat pocket. She jumped up from her seat
blowing him a kiss before fighting her way into the crowd. Jeff just sat there watching her walk away with nothing but confusion on his face.
* * * * *
Jeff had walked from block to block having to duck
into a shop every now and then to ask for direction, but at least it was
getting totally lost. Luckily he had planned for such a run around arriving on an early train to give himself plenty of time. Jeff had lived in
Chicago his entire life and had been downtown numerous times, but New York was like on big downtown. There were more people than
he thought possible squeezed into one tiny little area. He was surprised the island did not sink.
Jeff knocked on the apartment door marked 1A with a mail drop slot that read: No pay, no stay. The door unlatched several times
before swinging open with a tall slender man with black curly hair standing in the doorway. He pushed up his round glasses, brow furrowing
as he looked over Degger carefully.
“What, you can’t read? There’s a slot put the check or cash in an envelope and no coins. I’m not a damn slot machine.” Jeff smirked
at the pugnacious Italian man, he looked just like his older brother, except with more hair.
“Uh, Joe Classe, right?” said Degger cautiously.
“Who wants to know, you a cop?”
“Your brother Marty said that he was going to call you and tell you I was coming, I’m Jeff Degger.” The man stared blankly at Jeff, the
situation becoming awkward the longer the silence dragged on.
“Marty, who’s Marty? You’re not one of those door to door people are you other wise I’ll go get my sawed off right now.” Jeff raised his
hands taking a step back.
“Uh sorry, I guess I have the wrong building.” Jeff started to leave when a broad smile spread across the man’s face and he began to laugh,
which sounded more like a hyena.
“I’m just jerking with you,” he laughed punching Jeff in the shoulder. “You need to loosen up and roll with things more.”
“Riiiight,” said Jeff still weary of the man.
“So you’re Jeff Degger, you are not what I was expecting that’s for sure.”
“Oh I don’t know. Marty just blabbed on and on about you as if you were ten feet tall and a real man about town or something. I frankly
was not listening, but if my brother keeps you in such high regard then you are a friend of mine.” Joe locked his door heading towards the stairs.
Apparently there was no elevator and if Degger got the room he requested he was going to get plenty of exercise going up and down eight flights.
“Now Marty didn’t give me any details, but he did say just don’t be surprised by your strange hours and that you’re not like most people.
Then again, any one who actually requests a top floor room in a building that has no elevator has either got to be weird or some kind of health
nut, again, I don’t give a rats ass. I am a firm believer in a man’s business is his business, but if you don’t pay on time then it’s my business.
This is a decent place, real clean, and you are getting a very good deal for it, my friend.”
“The price was right, I’m not in a six figure career so I do appreciate this break.” Joe was right; the building was in excellent condition
considering that it was at least forty years old. The interior was a flat peach with stained brown trim that was the same with the molding and
banister all the way to the eighth floor.
The landlord stopped in front of the door marked 8F and unlocked the door and dead bolt. It was certainly spacious. Two bed room,
one bath, a full sized kitchen, a living room and a perfect view of a brick wall, just the way he wanted it. Cozy, private, and affordable. Jeff
did not have a lot of strings, but he pulled the ones he did have.
“A couple of rules,” said Joe crossing his arms, “no guns, no drugs, and if the cops come asking about you or anything, I don’t know nothing,
we agree?” Jeff smirked at the sheer bluntness of the statement and nodded.
“Don’t worry, you’ll get your money and see very little of me. Like Marty said, I keep strange hours,” said Jeff adding the door key to his
“Marty said he’ll be here some time tomorrow with your stuff, probably early,” Joe chuckled lightly cleaning his glasses with a rag. “I still
don’t get why he is moving it and not you.”
“I’ll be moving it when he gets here. Besides, I paid him a hundred bucks plus dinner and that is still cheaper than a do it yourself truck.”
“Well, you can sleep in my spare room if you want.”
Jeff waved his hand, “Nah, I usually only get about four or five hours a night so I’ll probably just catch a movie or something.”
“Good idea, stay out and get a feel for the place. There sure is plenty to do and see,” Joe handed him a business card. “You give me a
call if you need directions or advice about a restaurant.” Jeff stuffed the card into his pocket next to Becky’s number. Eventually he would
have to call her, but not now. He had always wanted to see New York City and a few years ago he first heard reports about monsters in the
night. Later they became reports on gargoyles. Jeff had told himself that if he ever managed to find his way to New York he would have to
Up until now he was so indulged in his own problems that such an opportunity was never possible. Now Jeff’s problems had moved and
he had chased them like a big game of follow the leader. There was no doubt in his mind that Randolf knew he was in the city. As soon as
they had settled in they would come for him and the fighting would continue.
* * * * *
“As you can see Mr. Redhorn we have accommodated
everything to your specifications. I can personally say that my teams
and I are
proud that you chose to move the New Dawn headquarters to New York.” The middle aged woman lead the two men from room to room
inspecting the building. One was an elder gentleman in a dark blue suit, lines creasing his features. His assistant was younger with fire red
hair and red tinted skin wearing all black with a trench coat.
“Your team has prepared the building to my satisfaction Ms. Connell, I am pleased,” said the elder man smiling softly. The woman
nodded modestly. “I believe my associate and I can finish the tour ourselves, thank you.” The brunette businesswoman nodded again
returning to her duties. Several seconds passed as the two men walked to a secluded corner office looking out upon the city.
“Was this really necessary, I was use to Chicago,” said the red haired man picking a dust spot off of his coat.
“As was I Fet, but this is where the real battles have been fought for control of the world and this is where we will draw our line as well.
The fey have interrupted us long enough, especially with that eternal winter.”
Fet shivered at the memory. “Yes, the smell of fairy magic was almost unbearable. Like everywhere you turned was white excrement.”
“It was not that bad, but such power used upon the world so openly and recklessly was disturbing at best. The residuals of a great magical
battle can still be felt in this city.”
“Another reason why we should not be here,” growled Fet. “Then there is Degger to deal with, you know he will pursue as soon as he
“Yes,” said Redhorn sadly, “he is becoming quite a bothersome fly. A fly that must be dealt with before more damage can be done. We
will begin gathering resources for such action immediately. Have Mr. Brown set up his operations on floor fourteen so he can begin the search
and necessary protocol.”
“I still have never understood why we simply cannot find Degger’s residence and destroy it,” said Fet crossing his arms.
“Do you think he has not anticipated such a maneuver over the years? You underestimate him.”
“I give him only enough credit as he deserves.” Karos Redhorn turned to his servant his expression flat and cold.
“We shall see.”
* * * * *
It had taken a little navigating, but New York was
just like Chicago in one sense. Once you find a major frame of reference
you use that
to find your way around the rest of the city and the Eyrie Building was hard to miss. Jeff had stood atop the Sears Tower looming dark and
tall over all of Chicago, but this building seemed more majestic and in a way more threatening. From the street level Degger could only see
the glass and steel along with a little of the bottom of the castle, but that could easily be solved later.
The lobby of the Eyrie was just as impressive as the building itself. The large cathedral sized windows let the light defuse and play in
interesting ways across the walls and floor.
“I bet this place looks really cool at night,” said Jeff aloud before approaching the security desk.
“Can we help you, sir?” Jeff smiled, something felt strikingly familiar about this whole situation, but he let it pass.
“Yes, I’d like to speak with Mr. Xanatos please.”
“Do you have an appointment?”
Jeff shrugged his shoulders and smiled, “No.” The two guards sighed, the one standing from his chair.
“All appointments have to be cleared prior to arrival through Mr. Burnett’s office,” said the guard. Jeff nodded thinking quietly. It was
worth a shot.
“Well, could I talk to Mr. Burnett then.”
“I’m afraid you would have to clear that with him,” replied the guard.
“Then could you at least give him a call.” The guard arched an eyebrow at the request. “Amuse me,” said Jeff with a sideways smirk. The
guard shrugged his shoulders picking up the phone.
“Who am I to say is requesting?”
“Jeff Degger.” The guard waited for a few seconds as someone picked up the other end of the line.
“Hello, Mr. Burnett, yes this is Ralph at the lobby desk, I have a Mr. Degger here wishing to speak with you,” the guard paused. “Alright,
understood.” The guard turned to Jeff. “What is this pertaining to?” Jeff smirked, he had been thinking of what to say.
“I was inquiring to survey the building’s artwork and sculptures.” The guard waited and finally hung up the phone.
“Mr. Burnett will be down momentarily, if you like there are benches over there.” Jeff waved his hand turning to look at the lobby again.
“Mr. Degger?” Jeff turned to the sound of his name. His eyes fell upon an indiscrepant man in business attire. Fine cut blond hair, standing
ramrod with a flat face and hard eyes, he was either a machine or the most stagnant human on the face of the earth. Jeff smiled at the man who
was observing him closely through a pair of thin glasses. “What about our artwork interested you in particular?”
Jeff smiled, playing along. “I understand that Mr. Xanatos obtained some of the most rare sculptures in the world. I was wondering if it
would be possible for me to see them for myself?” Owen Burnett kept his cool demeanor even when his light blue eyes halted momentarily
on Jeff’s pointed ears.
“I am afraid I cannot allow that. Mr. Xanatos is very protective of his possessions, many of which have not been seen by the general
“I can respect that, but I’m not the general public,” said Jeff just above a whisper, sliding down his sunglasses just enough for Owen to see
his black eye before pushing them back up. Owen did not waver.
“I’m sorry, but I will have to ask you to leave before I call the police.” Jeff raised his hands backing away slowly.
“Hey no problem, I’m not here to ruffle feathers.” Owen watched the young man leave his bare hands touching the pure iron door handles
with no problems or signs of pain. When he was sure the stranger was not coming back he returned to the elevator and back to the castle level.
Owen entered David Xanatos’s office moving towards the large flat screen monitor on the side wall.
“Mr. Xanatos.” The CEO of Xanatos Enterprises looked up from his computer to his personal assistant. “I believe we may have a
“How so?” Xanatos watched as Owen activated the security camera controls rewinding the lobby cameras to only a few minutes ago.
Xanatos watched patiently, his dark eyes focusing on the physical features of the young man whom his aid had been talking to.
“So what do you think?” asked the businessman cupping his goatee. “A halfling, an Unseelie?”
“It is difficult to tell, but he is not human, that much is certain.”
“And what does your… other think?” said Xanatos flashing a devious smile. Owen straightened his glasses.
“I am afraid I did not sense any magic from him and I could not risk searching past the surface for the possibility it would reveal myself.”
Xanatos tapped his chin silently rising from his chair for a closer look. If he was a halfling the billionaire did not recognize him. This mysterious
young man was young, still in his twenties and did not seemed to be affected by the iron that had been installed in the Eyrie from months ago.
“Did he give you a name?”
“Yes,” replied Owen flatly, “Jeff Degger.” Xanatos narrowed his eyes, smiling once again.
“See what you can find about young Mr. Degger and I would ask Detective Maza for any assistance that you need, I’m sure she would like
to know as well.”
“Right away, sir,” said Owen exiting the office.
* * * * *
Jeff strolled through the city streets admiring the
buildings and architecture of a different era. He had heard about
the buildings being works
of art themselves and as far as he could tell it was no lie.
Jeff checked his watch. There was at least five more hours until dusk even after he reset for a time zone change. Abruptly a man slammed
into Degger knocking him to the ground. A moment later the young man was up and running and it only took Jeff a moment to realize his wallet
had been taken.
“Little bastard,” growled Degger jumping to his feet to give chase. Degger had to fight through the people who were crowding the sidewalks,
but the mugger was also having the same ordeal. The difference was that Jeff tried not to knock people over if he could help it. The mugger
began to round the corner when he reached into his pocket throwing a knife at Jeff who was only a second behind. There was no time to move
and his instincts took over as Jeff raised his palm, an invisible magical wall forming causing the blade to fall to the ground safely.
* * * * *
Fet and Karos jumped from their chairs as a backlash
of magical energy touched their senses like a flare being shot off.
“So he did follow us,” said Karos returning to his chair with a saddened expression on his face. Fet turned to the direction the signature
had originated from scowling, his eyes glowing yellow for a moment before returning to normal. Part of him was glad that Jeff had come, but
part of him was also disturbed by the young gargoyle’s determination.
“Tell Mr. Brown to assemble a team to step up his search.” Fet nodded leaving the office.
* * * * *
Owen dropped his cup of coffee. His senses
were tingling from the burst of magic that had suddenly been released and
It felt like someone had come up behind him jamming a feather in his mind tickling it. It was magic, but a kind he had never felt before. It
was a mixed power that was indescribable, so unique yet there was something familiar, a power he had not felt in a long time. It finally hit
him like a two by four to the back of the head.
“Dragon magic,” mumbled Owen picking up his mug as the next though was forced into his mind, the only logical explanation. “Degger.”
Owen burst into Xanatos’s office closing the door swiftly. The billionaire arched an eyebrow at the disturbed look on his assistant’s face.
It was the look that was more disturbing than the abrupt entry. Owen was as formal and mellow as they came, not easily frightened or swayed.
“You look like you’ve just seen a ghost.”
“Not seen sir,” replied Owen regaining his composure, “felt.”
“I thought you said you did not want to scan for magic because they would know you were looking,” said Xanatos curiously.
“I did not have to. Someone just use a brief magical spell, but it was not Unseelie at least none that had existed before.” Xanatos leaned
forward on his desk his complete attention now captured by this new development.
“A dragon, sir,” he replied. “I have not felt dragon magic for some time, but it is to recognize yet there was still something different about it.”
“It is difficult to describe, but as best as I can say is that it felt as if it were part dragon part fairy.”
“And to think, I did not even know dragons had magic,” replied Xanatos trying to make light of a possibly grim situation. “Is such a thing
“Possibly, but such a marriage power could be potentially more dangerous than a nuclear warhead in the wrong hands.” Xanatos nodded
assimilating the new information. It was unfortunate that there were no books available on the actual physics of different types of magic. Such
a thing would be helpful if it was reliable.
“I was hoping that Madoc was the pinnacle of our magical problems, but apparently not.”
“What do you recommend, sir?” asked Owen straightening his glasses. There was only one thing they really could do.
“We wait,” said Xanatos turning to his panoramic view of the city below, “he came to us once then he will come to us again.”
* * * * *
The mugger paused, distracted by the phenomenon that
had just occurred giving Degger enough time to tackle the man wrestling
from the thief’s hand.
“Shit!” growled Jeff. If the dragons did not know he was in the city before they would now. Barriers usually did not require a great deal of
power, but he had reacted suddenly, spiking his energy to form a necessary defense. Such a surge could be felt miles away.
Jeff picked up the thief by his sweater his eyes glowing through his sunglasses. “That was very rude.” Jeff hurled the thug into a brick wall
knocking him unconscious. An approaching siren and a gathering crowd told Jeff it was time to go. He burrowed through he crowd ducking
down the first alleyway he could find grabbing onto a low hanging fire escape. When a witness looked down the alley no one could be found.
Jeff jumped over a couple of roof tops ducking behind a brick chimney in case anyone had decided to follow him. After fifteen minutes of
silence he assumed it was safe. His eyes turned to the Eyrie looming over all some distance away. From above the street level he could see
the castle atop the tower like a surrealist juxtaposition. It did stick out, but a better way to look at it was that it was distinguished and beautiful.
“I think I should start heading back that way if I’m going to do this,” said Jeff walking to the edge of the building. There was a fairly tall high
rise not far from the Eyrie that would be the perfect launching platform, now he just had to get there.
* * * * *
“Detective Maza is here, sir,” said Owen stepping
aside to let the police detective into the spacious office.
“Hello Detective,” said Xanatos with his sly business smile, “I see you wasted no time in running that little errand.” Elisa scowled before
handing the businessman copies of the files she had found. She did not trust Xanatos and was not about to do the man any favors, but when
something involves their mutual friends she can put her feelings behind her.
“I ran the name Degger through all the usual channels and came up with nothing. No convictions, no arrest, not even a parking ticket.”
“So the name was false?” asked Xanatos curiously.
The raven haired woman shook her head. “No, I just dug a little deeper and not in the criminal files. I have a birth certificate, social, and
DL all registered to a Jeffery Degger out of the Chicago area.”
“Someone is a long way from home,” mumbled Xanatos more to himself.
“Then he is human?” asked Owen curiously.
“As far as I can tell,” she replied, “he’s a legal citizen on paper, unless someone did an excellent job of falsifying his records. What did you
think he was?”
“Owen,” said Xanatos touching his nose, “believes that Mr. Degger possesses some… extra abilities.” The detective caught the underlining
“Not just magic, detective,” said Owen flatly, “dragon magic.” Ironically Elisa laughed and shook her head.
“Terrific, we’ve had every other freak and geek why not them all. So what does this mean, another bad guy in town, one with wings and
“That’s difficult to say,” said Owen. “Like all species, there are good and evil. So far he has shown no hostilities when he did wish to see
the gargoyles.” Elisa’s eyes hardened, they had not mentioned that on the phone.
“Or suspects. In either case we can only wait and see. It will be sunset in less than an hour.” Elisa looked over the horizon the sky already
beginning to redden.
* * * * *
Jeff opened the roof door it squeaking from age and
the cold. It was not snowing at the moment, but the higher elevation
temperature dramatically. Some snow was still in the dark corners and the metal rails were frosty. His eyes turned upward to the castle,
now much closer than before. He could make out the sillhouettes of winged statues against the red sky.
“Let’s do this.” Jeff dropped his backpack pulling out a shredded pair of blue jeans. The denim industry was making a killing on the amount
of pants he ruined every year. Anytime he had an opportunity Degger would use a pair of pants that had already been torn by the transformation
just to save a little cash. He stuffed his shoes, socks, watch, shirt, and wallet in his bag closing it. Jeff hung his sunglasses from his white tank
top and closed his eyes.
The transformation did not hurt, but it did feel strange no matter how many times he did it. Membrane wings extended from his back, his
skin turned a blue-green color and his entire face reshaped to a snub beak. Jeff’s hair solidified into five silver spikes and a tail shot out from
the base of his spine.
He touched the eye shaped pendant glowing blue against his yellow segmented chest. It was still light out and a small invisibility spell was
going to be needed in order to reach the castle undetected. He still had to protect his gargoyle form from the sun and invisibility on top of that
would certainly alert any the two dragons to his presence, but it did not matter now. Jeff was sure they already knew so there was no point in
hiding. Catching an updraft Degger glided towards Castle Wyvern atop the Eyrie building.
Jeff landed on the stone tower where snow was still blanketing everything. His gargoyle skin was thicker than a human’s and the cold did
not bother his bare feet. One by one Jeff examined the stone figures. From an artistic view the ferocious figures in dramatic poses were nothing
short of masterpieces. The precision cuts of the statues were equal to if not better than a Greek marble each with a unique expression and
personality. He could not wait to meet them.
* * * * *
“It appears we have a guest,” Xanatos commented over
the buzzing of the security klaxon.
“It’s him,” said Owen even before the security screen activated showing the figure walking around examining the stone gargoyles.
“He looks like a gargoyle,” said Elisa glancing at the sky, “but the sun is not down.” Owen caught the glint of light off the small pendant
gasping with recognition.
“The Dragon Eye.” Xanatos arched an eyebrow while Elisa slapped her face.
“Another eye? What is it with eyes?”
“Eyes are very symbolic Detective Maza. Throughout cultures all over the world eyes have symbolized insight, wisdom, and power. The
Eye of Ra was a representation of the ruler of the gods in Egyptian culture.”
“I believe we can save cross cultural similarities for later. They’re about to awaken and I think we should be there,” said Xanatos moving
towards the door.
* * * * *
Jeff had finished circling the tower and glanced
up to see one more figure above them all. “I guess you’re the leader.
His black eyes turned
towards the horizon as a smirk spread across his beak. “Show time.” Multiple footsteps echoing on the stone fell upon Jeff’s ears and he
quickly scrambled over to the adjacent tower. Three figures appeared right as the first cracks began to appear.
One by one the statues exploded to life, the shards of stone falling to the ground. They roared and stretched as their eyes glowed, the former
statues now able to move again. Brooklyn was the first to notice the three human visitors.
He smiled and waved. “Hey guys, what’s happening?” said the beaked red gargoyle. Before anyone could answer clapping and hooting
diverted the clan’s attention.
“Man,” he said between claps, “you really do not appreciate how awesome that is until you see someone else do it.” Jeff jumped up gliding
over to the Manhattan clan. Although the greeting Jeff received was not what he was anticipating. Two gargoyles drew swords and a woman
in a red bomber jacket pulled a gun. The others dropped to defensive stances backing away slowly.
“Whoa, whoa, time out, I’m not going to hurt anyone.” Jeff took a step back into someone who felt more like a wall than a living being. Jeff
turned and had to look up at the seven foot lavender behemoth. “Um… hi.” Goliath looked down at Jeff growling slightly.
“Who are you?” he asked, his voice like rolling thunder.
“More importantly,” said Owen a scowl on his face, “what are you?” Jeff smirked slightly, recognizing the man, but decided to play dumb.
“That’s a tough question, I’m an interesting mix, but the way to describe me is that I am a dragon gargoyle.”
“That is not possible,” said Owen flatly. Brooklyn stepped in front of his mate and two children pushing them back slightly.
“Dragon huh, just great.” Jeff arched an eyebrow and was about to ask about the response when a half sized guardian beast took out his
knees and jumped on his chest, licking his face.
“Nudnik!” shouted the young male with a beak. “Bad dog, get off of him.” Graeme picked up beast and Jeff moved to one elbow when the
blade of a katana sword touched his throat. He followed the curved blade up to its holder, a jade green female with a dark scowl on her face.
“Uh, I was not going to hurt anyone,” said Jeff flashing the peace sign. Her dark eyes did not blink.
“That much I can assure,” replied the female in slightly accented English. Goliath pulled Jeff back to his feet crossing his arms like an oversized
bouncer ready to hurl him from the building.
“Man, you people are touchy,” mumble Jeff brushing the snow off his clothes.
“I must apologize,” said the man with the goatee entering the crowd of gargoyles. “We rarely receive guest in such a manner. I’m David
Xanatos, welcome to my home.” Jeff shook the extended hand in a slight state of awe. He was shaking the hand of one of the richest men in
“It’s an honor to meet you, sir.” Jeff glanced at the stone walls. “Wow, when they say a man’s home is his castle you really took that to heart.”
Several groans could be heard and others shook their heads, but Xanatos just smiled.
“I’m afraid you’re about six years late with that joke.” Xanatos cleared his throat shifting to a more business like mode now that everyone had
calmed. “On to more important things, why are you here, or is this just a social visit?” Jeff nodded recognizing the professionalism in his tone. If
he was going to get them to trust him he had to tell the truth and lay it out for them. Karos was no fool. This was new territory for Jeff and the
dragon knew Jeff would have to look for allies. The gargoyles were the perfect candidates and in turn, the perfect targets. It was as much for their
benefit to know as anyone’s.
“You’re right, it’s not. I came to New York in pursuit of two dragons that are hiding in human form. One of them is the CEO of the New Dawn
Translation Corporation. The other is his personal servant.”
“New Dawn,” echoed Xanatos glancing at Owen, “I believe we have used their services before.”
“I believe you are correct, sir,” replied Owen.
“Not surprising, most major companies having to deal with any type of artifact or scripture translation do.”
“These dragons are not on our side then,” said Brooklyn frowning.
Jeff shook his head. “I’m afraid not. They are extremely powerful and are not too pleased with me. I’ve been a bit of a thorn in their side for
several years now.”
“Doesn’t sound like you have been doing a very good job then.” Jeff looked at the stocky aqua male who had his arms crossed and a scowl
on his face.
“Have you ever fought a dragon?” said Jeff returning the hard gaze. He felt a hand touch his shoulder turning to see the adult beaked male
wearing a chest plate and shoulder guard.
“I’m willing to help, but you have to agree to answer all of our questions. We need to know what we’re up against, fair enough?” Jeff nodded
at the red male. “Okay back to square one, who are you and what is a dragon gargoyle?” Jeff jumped up on one of the battlement platforms
taking a deep breath.
“My name is Jeff Degger and I’m from Chicago. Almost ten years ago I was in a car accident that should have killed me, but this thing saved
me, sort of,” Jeff held up the eye shaped pendant with the slightly glowing blue gem. “This form you see is now my natural form. The body of a
dragon and a gargoyle with gargoyle instincts and the ability to wield dragon magic.”
“What’s the difference between dragon magic and human magic or fairy magic for that matter?” said the shapely lavender female standing next
to the aqua male.
Jeff shrugged his shoulders. “Honestly I’m not sure. I think the source and the deliverance.” Several eyes turned to Owen who only nodded.
“If you’re a gargoyle why do you disguise yourself as a human?” asked Elisa curiously.
“A man has to eat,” said Jeff with a smirk. “Any other questions?”
“Yes,” said Xanatos raising his hand, “how powerful exactly are these dragons?” Jeff lowered his eyes sadly.
“Powerful enough that I cannot beat them both in direct combat. Powerful enough that I have never even seen them in their true forms and
powerful enough to give us all hell until they are stopped.”
“Then why did you bring this problem to us, like we don’t have enough already?” said the aqua male again.
“That’s enough, Broadway,” snapped Brooklyn scowling at his brother.
“I didn’t bring them,” said Jeff sighing, “I followed them. There are only two reasons Karos would move his head of operations from Chicago
to New York. One, I have caused enough damage and that they were hoping I would just leave them alone or two, it’s strategic. Personally, I
would not bet on the first one.”
“We always draw the best crowds,” said Elisa jamming her hands in her pockets.
“So you have no idea why New York is a strategic move?” said Xanatos.
“Not yet, but I will find out.”
“In the mean time we will continue to patrol as usual,” said Goliath moving to the edge of the castle.
“I would like to help if you’ll let me, since I’m already here,” said Jeff dropping to his feet. Goliath frowned considering saying no. He hardly
knew the suspicious young male, but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.
“Very well, Brooklyn, you and Lexington will go with our guest. Hudson and I will take the river. The rest of you have second shift.”
“Let’s go,” said Brooklyn jumping off the tower. Degger and Lexington soon followed.
“Is it a good idea to let him go with them, what if he is one of the bad guys?” asked Elisa not bothering to mask her concern. Goliath glanced
at the fading figures growling slightly.
“Then he will regret ever coming to our city.”
* * * * *
The three gargoyles scanned over the
city silently for almost an hour before the lack of conversation was too
much for the web-winged
“I’m sorry, but this is still just weird to me,” said Lexington. “You’re only part gargoyle?” Jeff nodded looking back and forth between the
two brothers who were on either side.
“I can turn to stone, but only if I want or have to, the eye shields me from it. I age half as fast as I use to and the real killer is the protective
instinct. That one has almost gotten me killed more than a few times.”
“I think we can all say that,” said Brooklyn with a smile.
“So what are these dragons like, personality wise?” asked Brooklyn looking down for any disturbances. Degger scanned the ground as
well, but the night was quiet, apparently too cold for criminals.
“Karos Redhorn is old, even by a dragon’s standards, but he is extremely powerful in magic. He’s a Heiri; they do not get more powerful
than that. Fet Randolf, his servant, is not as powerful, but is no push over.”
“So how did you manage to get tangled up with them?” asked Brooklyn curiously. Jeff closed his eyes and growled slightly. The years had
help heal his heart but that was a night he would never forget. The mistakes he had made would haunt him until the end of his life.
“When I first became like this I was I was approached by a fairy and a dragon. That dragon was Fet. I refused to work with him and in
retaliation he killed my mother.” Silence lingered like a fog as Lexington and Brooklyn searched for the right words to say, but only two seemed
“I’m sorry,” said Brooklyn followed by Lexington.
“Yeah,” said Degger sadly, “so am I.” Jeff turned his eyes to the ground spotting a shadowy figure creeping up on a couple in the park. “I
think we have our first customer of the night.” The other two looked down spotting the assailant as well. The masked mugger grabbed the
woman’s purse cutting the strap with a knife.
“Wallet, now!” As the man reached for his back pocket he froze, his features going pale. The man turned to see a six foot tall monster with
glowing eyes and blue grass skin. The dragon like beast was smiling displaying his jagged teeth and waving his finger back and forth. Degger
knocked the knife away picking the man up by his shirt collar. The click of a gun hammer from behind diverted Jeff’s attention, turning his head
glancing over his shoulder.
“Ah, crap,” mumbled Jeff. He broke one of his own rules, never assume anything, especially how many enemies you are fighting. “Traveling
in packs now I see.”
“Just for you freak jobs, consider it a compliment,” said the gunman standing several feet away with his partner.
A wicked smile crept across Jeff’s face. “We’re honored.” Lexington and Brooklyn landed behind the gunman and his partner giving Jeff the
distraction he wanted. He dropped the man in hand whipping his tail across the gunman’s hand knocking the weapon away. The man charged,
but Jeff sidestepped using his momentum against him to hurl the assailant into a tree. Even with his two partners down the third man charged and
Jeff punched him square in the face. The two Manhattan gargoyles just stood by and watched.
“This guy has some moves,” whispered the olive green Lexington, Brooklyn just nodded silently. Jeff walked over to the gun crushing it in hand.
“I don’t like guns.” The first assailant recovering from being dropped reached into his sweater. Degger now has his back to the first mugger
while Brooklyn caught his movement, but was too far away to stop him.
“Behind you!” A bullet ripped through Jeff’s right shoulder and the gargoyle screamed momentarily. Instinctively he raised his left hand and
the other slugs struck the invisible barrier falling to the ground. The gun clicked empty several times a look of horror on the gunman’s face.
Degger growled his eyes blazing as a bolt of energy shot out from his palm striking the man in the face. He tumbled backward several times
“Are you all right?” asked the two gargoyles almost simultaneously.
Jeff growled from the pain as he clasped his shoulder, “I’ll live.”
“That was sooo cool,” said Lexington like a kid at the ballpark. Jeff and Brooklyn looked at him slightly disturbed. “Oh, not the getting
shot, but the magic thing. Did you kill him?” Jeff shook his head.
“Nah, it was just a little blast, but he’ll be out for awhile.” Lex picked up the purse walking towards the couple who had been standing like
statues during the entire exchange. The woman looked at her purse then at the olive gargoyle and began to scream like a train horn. Jeff
winced from the screech walking over to the woman.
“Hey, ey, ey, ey, ey, ey! Will you shut up already! Jeeze lady, I just got shot protecting your ass and now you’re trying to make me deaf!”
The sheer bluntness of Jeff’s rant reduced the woman’s scream to a low whimper.
“I always wondered if that would work,” said Lexington to himself a devious smile on his face. Jeff stacked the two muggers while Brooklyn
pulled the one from the tree. With all three together Jeff placed a sleep spell on them just for good measure.
“You really need to get that wound cleaned,” said Brooklyn. Jeff smirked placing his hand over the hole. The eye illuminated as the skin
and muscle returned to place and soon the hole was gone. He shook his head blinking his eyes rapidly to combat the dizziness that often
followed major magic use.
“Whoa,” said Lexington with his eyes wide. Brooklyn was equally impressed, but also caught the subtle body language Jeff was sending.
Using magic took a great deal out of him.
“C’mon,” said the red gargoyle, “let’s go home.”
* * * * *
Jeff stayed at the castle all night, learning about
the Manhattan clan and why they were so on edge. Just barely surviving
a war against a fairy
that wanted to take over the world does tend to do that. The swapping of stories was the part that seemed to go the best for everyone and Jeff
listened wholeheartedly especially about the real cause for that awful winter that just did not want to end.
It had been rough, but Jeff was now sure he had made the right decision coming to them for help. Being in the presence of other gargoyles
helped Jeff understand some of his own feelings and questions he had pushed aside so many years ago because there was no one that would
understand, but not anymore.
The sun broke the horizon as the clan turned to stone a small smile creeping around Jeff’s face letting out a long whistle.
“Yes, I imagine it certainly looks different than it feels,” said Xanatos. “So what is next on your agenda?” Jeff stretched his limbs and wings.
“I’m going back to my apartment to catch a few Z’s. I have a job interview at three.”
“If you like, I am sure I can make space for you on my staff as a security guard or something.”
“Thanks, I appreciate the offer,” said Jeff waving his hand, “but I had some friends pull some major strings to help me move here. It would
be rude if I just ditched them.”
“Honor is an excellent quality to have,” said Xanatos extending his hand. “Until next time.” The gargoyle nodded shaking his hand.
An hour later Jeff exited the lobby elevator back in his good clothes waving at the security guards who just exchanged confused glances.
“Mr. Degger.” Jeff turned to the sound of his name. Owen Burnett handed him a business card. “This number will reach your desired party
from any touch tone phone. If you are in need of assistance do not hesitate to call.” Jeff nodded placing it in his pocket with the others.
The walk back was surprisingly enjoyable. Jeff smiled as he walked pass shops that opened and all the white-collar workers rushing to get
to work. By far the best part of the morning was spotting the moving truck parked in front his apartment building.
“Hey,” shouted the balding with glasses, “are you going to gawk or help since this is your stuff?” Jeff paused looking at his watch then at the
sky and then back at the man.
“Oh well,” said Jeff shrugging shoulders, “the walls are not pretty enough to stare at.” Joe and Martin Classe just shook their heads.
* * * * *
Jeff set down the last box laughing. “Yeah,”
he said ripping through the tape, “and then she started screaming like
there was no tomorrow so
I told her to shut up.” The brothers started laughing again.
“Put her in her place, huh?” laughed Marty unpacking chairs for the table and himself.
“I was just not in the mood for it.”
Joe shook his head. “I still can’t believe this is real, magic, dragons, and gargoyles. The whole world has gone mad.”
“Nah, the whole world was already mad you just needed to catch up.” Jeff took one of the table chairs sitting next to the two men. “And I
can trust you with this, right Joe?” The curly haired man nodded.
As long as you pay on time I don’t care what you are or what you’re doing.” From what Jeff could tell that was the best answer he was going
“Good, now I’m going to get some sleep before my interview. Dinner is on me tonight like I promised.” Both Marty and Joe began to laugh.
“You’ll wish you had not said that later.” Jeff shook his head ushering the two Italians out.
* * * * *
“Well, your resume is not very thorough Mr. Degger.”
Jeff sat up straight with his hands folded sitting across from the gray
haired black man
looking over the papers.
“I have worked at the same store since I was in high school. I know how every inch of this business works, sir.” The burly owner scratched
his fine cut black beard; Jeff could almost hear the debate in the man’s head.
“Yes I talked to David Dodge, he spoke very highly of you.” Jeff smirked slightly. “Well, I suppose the other managers would like the help.
Alright, can you start Wednesday?”
Jeff stood shaking his hand. “Thank you Mr. Russell.”
“Just don’t disappoint me boy,” said Mr. Russell pointing at Jeff before a warm smile spread across his face. The door to the office clicked
shut and the owner shook his head. “He really did have pointed ears.”
* * * * *
Degger sat quietly at the bar sipping his coffee
and reading the day’s newspaper. As he had expected, gargoyle incidents
and sightings had
become so regular that they were stuffed into a small column in the B section.
Jeff read the report and shook his head. “The monsters looked at me with those evil glowing eyes and I swore they were going to attack us
next.” He sipped his coffee again. “That’s New York gratitude for you. At least she could have included the part about her being a bitch and
screaming like a banshee.”
“You know how it is,” said a familiar husky voice standing behind Jeff, “no respect for the working man, or gargoyle in your case.” Jeff spun
around on his barstool a wicked little smile on his face.
The man was an easy six foot three and all bulk that almost seemed ready to rip through his black suit and trench coat. His other two
associates were smaller standing at his sides. Jeff recognized the one with the broken nose and cuts on his face, but the one without a scratch
on him was new.
“Hey Mike,” said Jeff still smiling, “how’s the arm?” The bulky man flexed his arm fully extending it.
“Just fine, thanks.” He cleared his throat. “Mr. Redhorn would like to speak with you.” Jeff’s smile faded and he turned back to the bar.
“Tell Mr. Redhorn to shove it up his scale covered ass.” The youngest man, about the same age as Jeff raised his coat covered hand slightly
muffling the hammer click.
“Don’t talk about Mr. Redhorn that way.”
“Put that away Billy,” hissed Mike to his associate.
Jeff glanced over his shoulder for the moment. “Who’s the kid?”
“Kid?” he snapped. “I’m twenty five.” Jeff just had to smile. At one time twenty five may have been a man, but the only scale Jeff used was
those who had lived and experienced the war they fought and those that had yet to die from it.
“If you’re younger than me and new at this then you’re a kid.” Mike raised his hand before Billy could retort.
“He’s new, Robert is still in the hospital.”
“I’ll send him a get well card and the want ads,” said Degger sipping his coffee again. The bulky man sat on the barstool next to Jeff tossing
a five next to his coaster.
“It’s time to go Jeff.”
“What if I’m not in the mood?” replied Degger sliding his sunglasses down so the man could see his eyes glow, but it did not faze him.
“Humor me.” Jeff sighed collecting his newspaper. They were not going to leave and the sooner Karos was done with his latest persuasion
spiel the better.
The four men exited the coffee shop and Degger felt the gun under Billy’s coat press against his back.
“Oh by the way,” said Jeff smirking at the young blonde haired man. With one hand Jeff crushed the gun, several pieces falling to the frosty
sidewalk. “I hate guns.” Degger climbed into the limousine closing the door while Billy and Mike waited outside.
The young man’s wide blue eyes turned to his superior whose flat gaze was without sympathy. “I tried to tell you.”
Jeff sat back in the spacious car next to the third man named from the coffee shop and across from Karos Redhorn and a woman Jeff had
never seen before. Karos was smiling; the lines on his elder face like canyons.
“Hello Jeff.” Degger sat back with his arms crossed, Fet was not is in sight. “I thought it best if my servant remained at the building.”
“What do you want Karos?” said Jeff flatly.
“Down to business then,” mumbled Karos with a sigh. “Why did you follow me?”
Jeff had to snicker for that one. “Do you really have to ask? After ten years I would have thought you knew. Fet killed my mother, you
protect Fet, I have to kill both of you, pretty simple.”
“You cannot beat us, you have tried several times and failed every one of them,” replied the businessman.
“Maybe not,” said Jeff with a smirk, “but I’m having one hell of a good time making your lives miserable.”
“Are you sure you are not making your own life miserable?” Jeff sneered, his sunglasses concealing his glowing eyes.
“Not you already thoroughly covered that one.” Jeff took off his sunglasses leaning forward. “I know you came to New York for a reason
and like it or not I’m here so I will find out why and I will stop you.” Karos smiled glancing at the woman.
“You have not the resources or the manpower to stop me, young one.” Jeff kept his poker face.
“You’d be surprised what I have.”
“The gargoyles?” said Karos with a devilish smile. “They cannot help you. They are even more useless than you are. The only one you are
fooling is yourself and those poor creatures.” Jeff schooled his anger. He wanted to shoot the old dragon right in the face with the largest magical
blast he could conjure, but remained steadfast.
“I would not underestimate them.”
“I did not want to involve them. All you are going to do is get them killed.”
“They are like me,” said Jeff proudly, “they would rather die than let monsters like you go unchecked.”
“We shall see.” Karos gestured to the door and Jeff took his cue to exit. He slammed the door shut glancing up at Mike Brown
“I guess I’ll be seeing you again.” Mike just nodded. Billy waited for Degger to round the corner before turning to his superior, “Why are you
so nice to that guy?” Mike looked at Billy and smirked.
“Because he is a worthy adversary and after a little time you will come to respect that too or end up in the hospital like Robert.”
Billy shook his head. “You guys are nuts.”
* * * * *
Jeff locked his apartment door looking in his wallet
again and the restaurant receipt shaking his head. Joe was right,
he was regretting
paying for dinner, but would live. He plopped down on his sofa looking at the cuckoo cuckoo clock on the wall. On cue the bird popped
out and let out a long belch on the hour, which pointed to nine. A belching clock, Ryan always did have a sick sense of humor.
Degger stared at the phone for several minutes spinning the pieces of paper in his pocket. “What the hell.” Jeff picked up the phone
and dialed the number Becky had given him.
A sweet voice answered the phone and Jeff had to swallow the lump that had suddenly formed in his throat. “Hello, Becky Sinclaire?”
“Yes? Who is this?”
“Jeff Degger, we met on the train yesterday.” Her voice lit up with recognition. “Yeah I’m mostly moved in, just a few things left to
unpack. I was wondering do you want to have lunch tomorrow?”
* * * * *