Kévin - Chapter 1

BY : seymourphoenix
Category: Misc Books > General
Dragon prints: 136
Disclaimer: I do not own the Jack Dahlish series and I make no profit from this story.

Kévin watched as the three other team members continued their inane small talk. They spoke about the differences in weather and prices compared to their homes. Every so often he would chime in with a translation or cultural comment he thought would interest them but those observations failed to gain traction in the flow of the conversation. He wasn’t sure if the Americans were afraid of deeper conversations or if the idea of only having boring conversations was too culturally ingrained in them.

It was early when the team decided to have their dinner, so early that any sane person would consider it a late lunch. While the team had agreed to his suggestion of a nice local wine with the meal he felt they never took the time to enjoy the flavors. This seemed to be true of most Americans he had met, while they did everything to excess whether it be working, smiling or eating but never truly savored any part of their lives. However for thirty thousand euro he was willing to put up with their quirks for the month as their guide and translator

“Are you ready for your first day on the job? It’s about time to get to it.” The woman who had interviewed and hired him gave a big smile. She reminded him of one of his favorite teachers from his childhood. Even her name, Mary, was the perfect name for a primary school teacher. She took a copy of their bill for expenses and nodded to the team.

The other two members of the team stood up and prepared to leave. Thomas was a giant of a man, with a rough beard which completed his bear like appearance. He stretched and looked out the window of the door. The last team member was an utterly nondescript woman named Jennifer. Kévin had no idea whether she was old or young. His mind wouldn’t settle on whether she was tall or short or fat or thin. Her hair was a light brownish blonde and her face neither smiled nor frowned. She just was. The only remarkable thing about her was her perfectly manicured silver nails. How these people came to be contracted by the French government

As they exited the restaurant Mary handed him an address. “We need to go there and we need a route that will take us along the river.”

Kévin frowned. He had a girlfriend in Bèze and was familiar with the town. “This is just a park for a grotto… I mean a cave.”

“Yes. Thank you but we are aware of that.” She smiled. “We may still need your assistance tonight.”

He shrugged slightly. It wasn’t his business what the Americans were doing. He was hired to translate and give a cultural perspective. “Everyone, follow me.” He gestured to the group.

As Kévin lead them down the winding path toward the Bèze river he began to enjoy the warm spring afternoon. There were a few locals on the streets but not as many as expected. They soon arrived at the river, which was really more of a creek so close to its source. He heard the sound of someone, probably a drunk, in the distance crying out for someone which disturbed the hired hand’s thoughts on what exactly those plants in the river were.

Mary caught up to him quickly. “How do you ask ‘who’s there’ in French?”

“Qui est là?” Americans weren’t known for their language skills but he had thought the French government would require basic competencies in French.

The drunk cried out again.

“Is there another way to say it?” She asked with her ever present smile.

“Qui êtes-vous?” Kévin shrugged. “That means who are you.”

“Could you say it a bit louder? I didn’t catch that.” Thomas called out from behind as the drunk cried out even louder.

“Qui êtes-vous?” As Kévin ennunciated these words the sound of the drunk cried out louder than before. His vision swirled to darkness as whispers in a language he had never heard filled his mind. Stories older than human imagination drove him toward the river. Everything he had ever wanted, all that he was meant to be was contained within that murky water. All he had to do was become one with it and he would have it. He felt as though his body melted away as the water touched his feet. Just a bit more and it would be done.

“Gotcha.” A female voice brought the man back to reality. He looked to his left to see silver nails gripping his shoulder. Jennifer let go of the man as he seemed to come back to himself.

“Putain…” He breathed and waded out of the water and on to the bank.

“Language.” Mary frowned. She turned her attention to Thomas who was now carrying a white bird, slightly larger than a dove, wrapped in his jacket. “What is it?”

“A crieur. Specifically…” Thomas carefully looked at the bird’s face. “It’s a houpou. You’re a long way from Brittany little guy.” He cooed at the bird. “Don’t worry. We’ll get you back home soon.”

“We need to find out why this is happening.” Jenny said as she vigorously shook the water out of her shoes.

“And we will, but first let’s get our guide back to the hotel.” Mary gave a tight sympathetic smile toward the confused man.

“Yes… And could someone explain what is happening?”

“Of course. Let’s head back to the hotel. We need to get the crieur ready for transport.” She nodded and her team immediately followed.

Mary and Kévin walked in silence for a few minutes. When satisfied that the Frenchman was back to normal she started to speak. “What would you say is the cornerstone of French society?”

“Fraternité, liberté et égalité. And complaining.” He answered without a thought.

“Those are all true but there is another. Laicité. Complete secularism within French society. It has been that way since the 1700s. Now imagine that all the legends or at least most legends were true. There are lutins, the tarasque was killed, a vouivre did steal a child to teach a mother a lesson. All of it and hundreds of other types of fairies and goblins and spirits are real.”

“Vous disez n’importe quoi…” He muttered under his breath.

“No. I don’t and you just experienced it. They, as a whole, are called Nox. Most of them have human faces and walk around just like anyone else. You wouldn’t even notice them. Others like our little crieur seem to have a more animal nature. There are others still who experience existence so differently that they can’t or won’t change. France has a problem in your region that they can’t admit to their public. People are being hurt by creatures that have stayed silent for hundreds of years or have never existed in this region. Your governement can’t just get rid of laicité and they also can’t put their people in danger. While there are special people with specific abilities who deal with these problems there are unfortunately only nine of them. That’s a small number and the world is rather large. So, when a country has a problem it can’t even admit to having the company I work for is called in.”

“So you have abilities like those special people?” He asked, only half believing what he had heard. His brain still thought hallucinogens were a more likely answer.

“No.” It was Jennifer who answered. “But we do have rocket launchers.”

“As a last resort!” Thomas cried out as he caught up to them. “You of all people know most Nox are completely harmless and just want to be left to their lives.”

“So, what do you need with me? To use as bait?” Kévin ignored the comment about the rocket launchers. He would deal with one problem at a time.

“You weren’t in any real danger. The water was only a few inches deep so there was no way to drown. It is much easier to show what a Nox is than just tell you about it. You would have never believed that was anything other than a strange bird.” Mary pointed to the bundle Thomas carried. “However, we do need you and not as bait. You grew up in this county. You know what the people are like. You are aware of cultural norms. You know how to speak to people here and many Nox in this region are much more likely to speak with you if there is a local on the team.”

The team walked in silence until they reached the hotel. Mary handed out the keycards to the rooms. “I won’t force you to join us. While we will do our best to keep you out of harm’s way, this will still be dangerous.”

“Then I deserve hazard pay.” He answered as he took the keycard.

“I’ll draw up a new contract.” Mary smiled. “We’ll see you at 8am tomorrow morning.”

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