The man in the red and blue clothes spoke to them softly.
“May I introduce myself, my name is Merlin”.
Ba’al was surprised. “Merlin? As in, the Merlin?”
“Ever since I registered the name as a trademark, there can only be one. So if you find someone calling themselves Merlin, he’s an imposter, and you need to contact me as soon as possible so that I can take legal action. Look, these are the papers that prove what I’m saying” he handed in a series of documents that Ba’al started to read.
“It seems that you’re right, Merlin”.
“Of course I am”.
Mary Clark was always very direct. “So you say we know each other?”
“Oh, no, not in person, but I wondered if you might have received any of the leeters that I have sent you”.
“I think I remember now…” Mary realized.
“So you must know everything by now”.
Mary did not seem very comfortable. “You see, a lot of stuff has happened. I was going to read them, but… they kind of got destroyed when Odin came around with that musclehead swinging his hammer and invoking lightning everywhere”.
Merlin was perplexed. “Wait, so you mean to tell me that you don’t know a thing?”
“Please, God, help me” Merlin prayed.
Ba’al intervened, having finished reading the documents – advantages of being a Prince of Hell: super-reading speed! -, curiously looking at the duo. “Can you explain what this all is about?”
Merlin rolled his eyes. “As I had already explained in those letters…”
“That got destroyed by Thor” Mary cleared.
“I am here because this town has at least two high level magicians that are going to shape the destiny of humanity”.
“There are a lot of people in town who can use magic. Most of us, really. But Mary and I are the most powerful” Ba’al explained.
Merlin shook his head. “You don’t qualify as a magician, Prince”. Ba’al was taken aback by the mention of his title. “Mary is definitely a possibility. But I’m sure that Diane Vines is one of them”.
“Diane? She’s just a child!”
“Indeed, but a powerful one. I would like to examine her in private…”
“Oh, no. Old man with young girl, alone. That’s not something that we can allow”.
“But it’s necessary that I see her” Merlin complained.
“I’ve been to the future, Merlin. Believe me. It’s not something that you want”.
He finally resigned. “OK. But I only want you in there, Mary”.
They all walked through town, towards Diane’s house. Apparently, she was not at home, and had gone to the south of town, to an empty area that nobody used. When they got there, they saw her crouching, looking at the floor with a lot of attention. Ba’al was the one who knew her best, so he approached her.
“Hey, hello there, Diane. How’re you doing?”
“Hello Ba’al. I was waiting for you guys. The old man is Merlin, right?”
Ba’al laughed. “I always forget, your powers are incredible. Yes, he’s Merlin. He wants to talk to you”.
“OK. But you all be careful. The Sacred Tree is growing here, as well as the rest of the orchard, and it’s very important that you don’t touch any of the plants”.
Ba’al now paid attention to the ground. A lot of points had been marked in quite a large area. In fact, even though he could not see the whole thing, he could picture it in his mind, and he was amazed at the complexity.
“Diane, did you…?”
“Do this alone? No, I didn’t. They gave me the instructions”.
“Them. All of three of them”.
Ba’al understood. The girl walked, almost carefree, towards Mary Clark and Merlin. Ba’al walked off, knowing that he was not welcome in that interview. Merlin addressed the girl directly.
“Diane, I know you have great powers. I have travelled here to see the extent of those…”
“Yes, I know, I know. You want to see my power. I’ll show you”.
Merlin commented with Mary. “It gets a bit annoying after a while”.
“Only to men. You guys don’t like anyone outsmarting you” Mary answered.
Diane interrupted them. “There is a Kitty invasion going on. Before, two of them came, one to the centre of town and another here. They have sensed the power of this place. So, I’ve had to kill it, before it destroyed the orchard”. She was pulling something big into scene. “This is its corpse”.
The Kitty looked like a ragged piece of meat, dangling from several bones. The skin was nonexistent, armour and weapons had been destroyed, and the face looked like it had been munched on by a thousand starving hyenas. Mary Clark was proud of the girl, and nodded, as saying, “good girl”. Merlin was horrified.
“What… what happened to the Kitty‘s face?” he asked.
“That wasn’t me, it was San”.
“My pet coyote. I’ll call it. San!” she called.
After that, she whistled with all of her strength. Everything was silent for a bit, and then the sound of a giant approaching happened. The coyote was much larger than any animal of that kind. It was as large as a horse, and all of the present could have ridden it without problems.
“Hey, San, greet Mary and Merlin”.
The coyote licked their faces. It also let Mary stroke it, but was suspicious of Merlin.
“This is incredible, Diane. You need to take one of my tests. I’m sure you are extremely powerful”.
“Well, maybe not now. More Kitties are coming, and Ba’al is the only one in town. We better get there”.
As they got onto the coyote to run for the town, five trails went down into town like missiles. The war against the Kitties had just started.