Clouds brewed, and rain smattered down on sullen sidewalks, pouring down with mighty ferocity. People hurried as they walked, most bundled in raincoats or carrying umbrellas to protect themselves from the worst of the vicious downpour.
Everley Rook felt soaked. Even though he had an umbrella and a raincoat, with hood pulled up, the wind drove the rain down like tiny sledgehammers, always slanting in under his umbrella from some unforeseen angle. And the wind changed, as well, frequently. Whenever Everley switched his umbrella to guard against the worst of the rain, the wind would change course and the rain would come from another side.
Everley peered out of the raincoat’s hood at the bustling traffic. People hurried across crosswalks, cars honked their horns, windshield wipers whipped back and forth, to and fro, furiously, combating the determined rainfall. Lights changed; cars moved; bikers zigzagged.
There was the coffee shop, Everley saw, right across the street. There was the safe haven from this bad weather.
Everley was an only child. He had been born roughly fifteen and a half years ago, on September 19th. His dad had left when he was a baby, and he had no memory of him. His mom, who worked at Froth Coffee on 5th St., had raised him since he was little.
Everley had grown used to coming to the coffee shop after school; it was warm, his mom got discounts on snacks and drinks, and there was a free Wi-Fi network. It was a short distance from his new high school, too.
Everley kept walking until he reached the crosswalk. He waited for the signal at the other side, and then he began walking. He crossed the road and turned down the sidewalk, coming to Froth Coffee.
He opened the door and heard the familiar bell jingle, and then he quickly slipped inside and shut it. He wiped his feet on the doormat and looked up.
The place was adorned with warm lighting, a yellow glow that came down from overhead lights on brown fans that whirled round all over the ceiling. There were eight tables, each made to seat four, scattered around the room, and a chess set in the corner, for anyone who wanted to play. Right now, there were five separate customers in the room, sitting down. The counter at the back of the room was currently manned by Jeff, the coffee shop worker that Everley had known since he was seven.
“Hey, Jeff!” Everley said, waving, and with that greeting, he chose his favorite table, one by the window, in the corner of the room, and sat down. He was tired. It was a Friday, and he had had tests in science and math that day; plus, the rain had worn him out.
Everley yawned and unslung his backpack from his shoulders, setting it on the table. He unzipped it and got out his laptop.
It was a fairly old Apple G4, and it had been his mom’s, before she upgraded to a newer model two years ago. Then she had passed it down to him.
There was a vibrating in Everley’s pocket, and he got out his flip-phone and opened it. The message was from Alice, a friend of Everley’s. What r u doin? Everley answered: I’m @ Froth. He set down the phone and opened up his laptop, turning it on. He stood up and went to the counter, to Jeff.
Jeff was a sort of tall, lanky man with brown hair, a few freckles, and a brown beard. He was thirty-seven, and he had a wife and two kids, Bennett and Bianca. Fourteen-year old Bennett was Everley’s best friend. Bianca was a seven-year old girl with alternately pink- or purple-dyed hair, depending on what month of the year it was.
“Hey, Ev,” Jeff said. “Your mom’s in the restroom; she’ll be out in a sec. Want a shot of espresso?”
Everley grimaced. “Maybe not,” he said. “How about just a hot chocolate today?”
“Sure,” Jeff replied, and got to work. Everley dug in his pocket and dropped a few quarters into the tip jar. “How was Ben today?” Jeff questioned as he prepared the drink.
“He was good,” Everley lied. Bennett didn’t want his parents to worry about him; he was constantly plagued by bullies, but he never told them, and he had made Everley do likewise. Today, Ross, Bennett’s main problem, had stolen his journal. Bennett was constantly recording things in his journal, and he didn’t want anyone, even Everley, looking into it. When Ross had taken the journal, Bennett had almost lost it in the hallway, but a teacher had come around the corner, and before Bennett could say anything, Ross had put the journal down on the floor and walked off. Bennett had picked it up and discovered that Ross had written “Dork” in red pen, all across the page, over Bennett’s last entry.
The restroom door opened, and Everley’s mom came out. “Hey, Everley!” she said, ruffling his blonde hair as she walked past. “How was school?”
“Torture,” Everley said. “I had a science test and a math test. I think I did okay, but it was hard.”
“Well, that’s all right. I just hope your B minus in Science doesn’t plummet any further.”
“Yeah,” Everley said.
Jeff asked, “Whip cream as usual?” Everley nodded, and Jeff finished the hot chocolate and handed it to him.
“Thanks, Jeff,” Everley said, heading back to his table. There was a new message from Alice on his phone: u wnt 2 cum 2 bkstor?
Not right now, Everley answered quickly, then plugged in his computer and booted up the Wi-Fi.
There was a ringing as someone opened the door and the bell chimed. Everley looked up to see a tall man in a black coat and top hat, with a large dark brown beard and curly black hair, carrying a black cane with a silver snake entwined around it, the head forming the handle. Everley couldn’t help but thinking that the man looked strange.
The visitor strode forward, with a quick, almost surreptitious, glance at Everley, making his way with a nearly strutting stride to the counter.
Everley looked down, back at his laptop, opening up Safari and checking Facebook. But then, the lights flickered, and he looked up, raising an eyebrow.
“Electrical must be wacky,” Jeff muttered, then looked up at the strange visitor. “Uh, how can I help you, sir?”
“I’d like two Rooks,” the man replied, and Everley looked up. The man turned to him and grinned, showing several immaculate white teeth and one gold tooth in his mouth. Then he turned back as quick as lightning and raised his cane, pointing it at Everley’s dumbfounded mother. Smoke erupted from the tip of the cane with a muffled boom, enveloping Everley’s mother. Her mouth opened and she screamed, but no sound came out. The smoke sucked back into the cane, and Everley’s mother was gone. The snake handle’s eyes glowed red.
Everley Rook shut his laptop, jammed it into his bag with his phone, and bolted for the door, forgetting his umbrella.
“Not so fast, Rook,” said the stranger, and Everley felt himself jerked back as he tried to run. His legs wouldn’t move, nor would any of his muscles, save his eye muscles. He looked back and forth, but the customers were frozen in their spots, two with drinks to their mouths, one typing at his computer, and another two staring at the wall. Everley didn’t know what to make of it, only that he had to get away, to escape.
“Now for your soul,” bellowed the stranger’s voice ominously, and Everley knew without looking back that he was raising his cane to send out the smoke, like he had to Everley’s mother.
The world outside continued on, no pedestrians glancing into the coffee shop.
The lights turned off, for good this time.
Everley felt the smoke tickle at the back of his neck, and all of the sudden, he broke free and ran to the door, pulling it open and jumping out to the sidewalk, slamming the door shut behind himself. He set off at a sprint down the sidewalk, bumping disgruntled people until he got to the corner, and then he went around and disappeared into the crowd.
He flipped out his phone and texted Alice: On 2nd thot, I want 2 cum 2 bkstor.
Almost immediately she replied. Thx. C u there.
Alice was the rich girl of the ninth grade. Her parents had a huge penthouse, and they incessantly spoiled Alice with gadgets to make up for constantly being away on business trips. Alice had just turned fifteen, and now she had an iPhone 4S, an iPad, and a wallet that always had at least five hundred dollars in it in cash, not to mention the credit card. Alice often boasted that when she got her driver’s license her parents were going to buy her a Porsche.
But Alice was unlike many spoiled girls in a very distinct way: she loved books. She couldn’t live without them. In fact, sometimes she spent a good tenth of her allowance from her parents (about a thousand dollars a month) on fiction. She soaked it up like a sponge with a sophisticated brain, and her very own sophisticated brain was always working and thinking, and there was never a time when Alice was bored. She was quite smart, and a natural at puzzle-solving and all subjects, due to her natural inclination to learn. She was possibly the only person in ninth grade who actually thought that school was easy.
So Alice’s normal hangout after school was the bookstore. Everley didn’t mind books, and Alice had seen him reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at some point this semester, so she had taken a liking to him. She wasn’t Everley’s girlfriend or anything, but they got along just fine, and she didn’t mind his company.
Everley came into the bookstore, breathing hard because he had run the whole distance from Froth Coffee to Backman’s Books, only stopping for the crosswalk light to change, and then sprinting off again. He had no idea who the stranger was, or what he wanted, but he knew with certainty that he did not want to be sucked up like his mother.
At the thought of his mother, a wave of anguish washed over Everley. He had no clue what the stranger had done with her, but he wanted her back, needed her back, desperately.
He had decided to come to the smartest person he knew for help: Alice. Maybe she had read something about some strange incident like this happening before, and could help him sort it out. Everley would have called the police, only that he didn’t know what exactly had happened, and he knew they wouldn’t take kindly to tales of a magic man who sucked people up into his cane.
Joe, the man at the front desk, said, “Hello, Everley.” Alice had introduced Everley to Joe the first day she had brought him to this particular bookstore, about two months ago, three days after she had met him.
Everley panted and headed into the teen fiction room, sopping wet. He saw Alice there, as he had expected, holding a copy of Artemis Fowl.
“Everley,” she said, delighted. “You came sooner than I expected. And wetter than I had expected.”
“Yeah,” Everley said, and suddenly he couldn’t think of how to tell her what had happened. It was just too preposterous, too unlikely, too extraordinary, for him to relate.
Alice smiled. “You look like you’ve got something on your mind,” she remarked, putting down her book.
“Yeah,” Everley replied. “Things at the coffee shop...oh, I don’t know how to say it...there was a man and...his cane shot out smoke, and he took Mom...”
Alice frowned. “Slow down and start from the beginning.”
“All right. There was a customer at the coffee shop. He was really tall with a big beard and a cane with a silver snake wrapped around it; the head was the handle. He raised the cane and pointed it at my mom, and smoke puffed out, and she vanished. The snake’s eyes glowed red, and then everything in the shop stopped moving, like time had frozen except for me and the strange man. I ran to the door and he raised his cane to get me, and I couldn’t move, but then I broke away, and I came here as fast as I could.”
Alice raised an eyebrow. “Everley, are you okay?”
“I swear, I’m telling the truth!” Everley said.
“Well,” Alice said, “you at least think you’re telling the truth, that much I can tell. But you might need to see a doctor.”
“You think I’m insane, don’t you? I don’t know whatever happened, but it was real, Alice. I need you to help me.”
“Why me? Why not your friend Bennett?”
“He’s probably watching his sister, Alice. You have to believe me!”
“Do you have any proof?” Alice asked. “A picture, maybe?”
“No,” Everley said, chewing his lip. “But wait, at the coffee shop. The lights went out and everything froze. That’ll show you.”
“You want me to come to the coffee shop?” Alice said, quizzical. “Is this some kind of prank?”
“Not at all,” thundered a deep voice. Everley turned, dread filling his stomach. It was the stranger.
He heard Alice gasp. The man grinned and raised his cane, pointing it at him. Everley grabbed Alice and pulled her through the doorway, into the kids’ books. A red flash illuminated the room, and something smashed into the bookshelf, and it plummeted down, toppling several other bookshelves in the room. The bearded man came through the doorway. “Stay there, boy,” he ordered. “You may have a strong will, but the will does not make the strength.”
Everley turned and bolted for the door, grabbing Alice’s hand and pulling her along with him. He jumped over a bookshelf and barged through the door, into the lobby. There was a bolt of red light, and suddenly there was a smoking charred hole in the wall right where they had been.
Joe looked up. “Hey!” he yelled, just as the man came through the door. “You gotta pay for that!”
“Paid in full,” the stranger told him, throwing him a small satchel. Everley and Alice tumbled through the door out onto the sidewalk.
“How did he find me?” Everley gasped. He looked at Alice.
“We have to find out what’s going on.”
The door opened, and the stranger barged through. “Later!” Alice yelled, pulling Everley along and waving for a cab. She opened the door and said, “354 Park Avenue, and step on it!” She got her wallet out of her purse and gave the driver some money. He stared at the considerable sum, then got over his shock and began driving as fast as possible in the crowded city street.
Alice craned her neck. “That guy’s a serious creep,” she commented vehemently.
Everley looked back. The bearded stranger with the cane was gone.
“My parents are both off on a business trip,” Alice told Everley, as they stepped out of the elevator. “So we’ve got the place to ourselves.”
Everley was nervous. “What if that creep finds us here? He tracked me down to the bookstore, who knows how; what’s to say he won’t do it again?”
“Well, we can’t worry about that,” Alice said, opening the door. Before them sprawled a sizeable living room. There was a couch, a coffee table, a few chairs, a plasmascreen TV, a computer desk with a new Apple desktop, and five bookshelves, all full.
“Sheesh,” muttered Everley, stepping into the room.
Alice smiled at him. “The kitchen’s through that door,” she said, pointing, “and my room and my parents’ room are through those over there,” she continued, pointing to two doors on the other side of the room. I guess we’ll just hang out here till we figure out something. That mystery man of yours didn’t leave us many clues. And it’s not like we can call the police.”
Everley said, “Mind if I watch TV?”
“Knock yourself out, Rookie,” Alice told him.
“Rookie?” Everley raised an eyebrow quizzically.
“What?” Alice asked. “Your last name’s Rook.”
Everley shrugged and sat down in one of the comfortable leather armchairs, grabbing the remote. He flipped on the TV, and it showed the News Channel.
The reporter was talking about airport security, and Everley was about to change the channel, when a flash of red hit the wall behind her. The reporter screamed, and onto the screen stepped the man with the snake cane. He wrested the microphone from the woman’s fingers. He stared at the camera. “Hello,” he announced. “I want Everley Rook to come to 743 4th Street by 6:00 p.m.,” he declared menacingly, “or I will tear this city apart brick by brick and burn it to the ground!” His hand shot out and grabbed the camera, crushing it. The screen went black.
Everley looked up at Alice. “Did you just see that?”
“Obviously,” she replied, making Everley feel unintelligent.
“Well, we have to go!” Everley said. “Did you see what he did right there? And plus, he has my mom!”
“We don’t know that,” Alice said. “I’m sorry, Everley, but we don’t know that she...she...” Alice frowned, unable to find the right words.
“You’re saying she might be dead,” Everley shouted. “Well, she’s not! If she was dead, why didn’t he kill her by shooting a red bolt! Why did he shoot the smoke out of his cane?”
“I never meant to—” Alice began.
“Just shut up! We both know what you were trying to say! What were you trying to do, anyway? I’ve had it with you!”
“Well, if you’re going to be like that, leave,” Alice replied, anger smoldering in her eyes.
“Fine, then,” Everley retorted. “I will.” And he got up and went to the door. He pulled it open and walked out, slamming it shut behind himself. He scowled and strode briskly to the elevator, with one thing in mind.
Alice put her head in her hands. She realized she had been harsh, but Everley had overreacted, it was true. She couldn’t believe that he had just gone off on her, but it shouldn’t have surprised her, she told herself. Everley was an immature kid, and she should have expected him to break down.
Alice got up and looked out the window, at the darkening skyline and the tall buildings. She was six stories up. If she unlatched the window and jumped out, she would surely die.
If I go after him, to that creep, I’ll die, she thought ruefully. If it was a choice between those two options, Alice didn’t know what to think.
But it wasn’t a choice between those things. Alice could just sit and wait; the man only wanted Everley, anyway. There was no reason for her to help. It wasn’t like the man was going to capture her, too.
Alice heard a bang behind her, and she turned around. It had come from the hallway. She rushed to the door, but that turned out to be a mistake.
The door burst inward off its hinges, knocking Alice in the head and shoving her violently backwards. She grunted in pain as she hit the floor.
A man stood over her, an old man with white sideburns and a shock of white hair barely contained by a polished black top hat. He wore a long trench coat, a white shirt, black pants, suspenders, and combat boots, and he was remarkably tall. In his hand he gripped a cane exactly like the one the man who had been hunting Everley had.
Alice tried to get up and run, but she was battered and bruised, and she couldn’t summon the will to move her muscles. Black dots danced in front of her eyes, at the edges of her vision, multiplying, increasing. She tried to say something, anything, but her mouth opened and no sound came out.
“Hush, little darling,” the man said, kneeling down and tapping his cane against her forehead. Alice lost herself to darkness.
Everley realized as he got out of the elevator at the first floor that he had no money to get a cab or a pass for the subway. Great.
He got out into the lobby and nodded at the clerk, a bearded man of about forty, with circular wire-frame glasses and a brown patched-up suit. Everley suddenly remembered that when he had come in with Alice, the clerk had been a clean-shaven elderly gentleman wearing a polo.
He couldn’t help glancing at the clerk in shock and alarm, which alerted the man. The clerk sprang up, producing a cane from behind his desk and raising it.
Everley made for the door, which stood open, but with a flick of the snake cane, the clerk shut it. Everley pulled on the handle, but it wouldn’t budge.
Everley coughed as a thick cloud of dark smoke enveloped him, and he lost consciousness.
Bartimaeus Balthazar Simmons tapped his snake cane against his shoe. His eyes flicked around the room, deciphering his surroundings with ease. His sight was twofold: the material, and the invisible. When he looked at an armchair, he saw its history, the secrets of its maker, and the whole world reflected within it. The walls showed him images of slaves toiling to build the great walls of Babylon and Rome.
Simmons was a Shadow, a member of a society of people dedicated to secrecy, order, and peace. Many things had been put in motion by them, some conflicting; for instance, the Shadows had begun capitalism, but later had also introduced communism. Nazism was of their will, and Alexander the Great had conquered by heeding the counsel of the Shadows. The Shadows could see all futures, everything that could happen, save in very few occasions. There was always a chance that something might go wrong, as the Shadows had learned many years ago, with the disastrous affair of Napoleon’s drive into Russia and eventual defeat.
The Shadows were powerful, but as always, limited.
Thomas Rook had been a Shadow.
Bartimaeus Balthazar Simmons remembered Thomas Rook, father of Everley Rook, the best. He had been one of the most successful Shadows, a master at starting fires, burning revolutions that could devour anything. He understood ideas and how they worked. He understood persuasion like no other.
But his power, as Bartimaeus Balthazar Simmons reflected, had corrupted him. Thomas Rook had seen something different when peering into the essence of the universe, a vision. Only the most adept Shadows could see that Vision, and when they did, they cringed and fought against it. It was why the Shadows existed, to pull away from the Vision so that it might never become a reality. For if it did, it would mean the Shadows’ downfall.
But when Thomas Rook had experienced the Vision, he had embraced it in all its corruption. He had talked of no prisons, no courts, only peace everywhere. And when Bartimaeus Balthazar Simmons had reported this to the higher Shadows, they had given orders for Thomas Rook to be killed.
But Rook evaded Bartimaeus, with his new experience of the Vision being warned. From then on he hid from the Shadows, concealing his mind from the gaze of Bartimaeus Balthazar Simmons and the like.
But one day he had been careless, and gone far and seen many things, and let his mind emerge from its hiding place after six long years. And then, Bartimaeus Balthazar Simmons found him, and ended him.
The Shadows had, at the time, no knowledge of Thomas Rook beginning a family, and they never found out until fourteen years after his death. Bartimaeus Balthazar Simmons had sensed a presence, almost identical to the mind of Thomas Rook, experiencing the Vision.
It had been Everley Rook, the son of Thomas Rook, reading a novel and for the very first time catching a glimpse of it.
Simmons was ordered to destroy Everley Rook and his mother; and so he would, when he had them both here.
Bartimaeus Balthazar Simmons snapped out of his musing and heard booted footsteps on the porch. The television message had meant nothing; it had only been to find Everley. He could sense Everley’s mind, but as he was still young, only intense feelings could guide Simmons to him. And so, Simmons had given him a crisis: come to a specified place, or lose his mother and have his city utterly destroyed. This enflamed the boy’s anger and his despair, but when Simmons had zeroed in on Everley’s feelings, he had felt something else entirely, a simmering affection, for the girl he was with.
Simmons was at a suburb, not the place he had specified in his calculated message. He had others to capture the boy for him when he was located. But he had them capture this girl, too, out of simple curiosity. Simmons wanted, as best as he could, to understand the person who had experienced the Vision, for deep down, though he did not consciously know, his soul yearned to feel it as well.
The door opened, and two men, Obadiah Zechariah Bunting and Daniel Malachi Johnson, both with their snake canes. Johnson, the old man with the hat, bowed and said, “Fighting for eternity.”
Simmons bowed in return. “And ever after,” he said. Bunting, the man with the wire-frame glasses, exchanged this greeting with Simmons also.
“You have bound them to your snakes?” Simmons inquired.
“Indeed, Bartimaeus,” Johnson answered with a nod.
“Release them,” Simmons commanded.
Bunting stepped forward and stared at his cane. A cloud of smoke drifted from it, and Everley staggered into the room, breathing heavily. When he saw Simmons, his eyes filled with fear, and he turned to run. Bartimaeus Balthazar Simmons raised his snake cane, and Everley’s body was turned back by Simmons’ will to face him.
“Ta ta,” Simmons murmured. “Wouldn’t want to leave without your mother, or your girlfriend either.” His face twisted into a cruel smile.
Everley frowned, and Johnson raised his cane, letting a cloud of smoke materialize, bearing the unconscious body of Alice.
“A pity the girl is unconscious, but no matter,” Simmons said. “However, better methods should be employed in the future for such things, Johnson.”
“Yes, Bartimaeus.” Johnson bowed, and in mid-bow, he was struck by a red bolt from Simmons’ cane. He looked up in surprise, then doubled over, slumping to the floor. Simmons’ eyes showed no pity.
“You killed one of your own?” Everley asked incredulously.
“Of course,” Simmons said. The girl stirring caught both Everley’s eye and Simmons’, and Bartimaeus cackled. “She wakes.”
“What do you want?” Everley spat, as Alice sat up, rubbing her eyes.
“What?” Alice looked around the room, taking everything in. Then she screamed, at the sight of both Simmons and the dead body of Johnson.
Bunting raised his cane, and Everley knew that he was making sure Alice couldn’t run.
“Everley! Get out!” she said, but Everley tried to move and he couldn’t.
“Calm down, young one,” Simmons said. “Now, sit.”
Everley and Alice found their bodies being forced to walk over to cushioned chairs and sit down in them. Everley scowled. “Why do you want me? And why did you take my mom?”
“Fair questions, both,” Simmons said. “I am a Shadow, and your father was one as well.”
Everley’s eyes widened at the mention of his father.
“But instead of explaining,” Simmons interjected, “this is easier.” He tapped his snake cane to his head, and Everley felt his mind overflowing with images and information. He gasped as he took it all in.
“So you’re here to do what? Kill me? It would have been a lot easier to have your henchmen do it instead of dragging me here. And why did you bring Alice?”
“I want you to comprehend your fate,” Bartimaeus replied calmly. “And I want you to know that you could have been a Shadow, one of us.”
“Why would I be like you?” Everley retorted. “You killed my father.”
“Only because Thomas Ebenezer Rook was a HERETIC!” bellowed Simmons, suddenly furious. Everley and Alice flinched. “Do you think I wanted to kill him?! He was my closest friend, and we were like brothers!”
“What a way to treat your closest friend,” Everley said. He felt free, and he knew that if he wanted he could move himself. This Simmons was angry, and as long as he was angry, he was distracted from keeping Everley still. Best to make him even more angry, Everley reflected as his mind raced to formulate a plan.
Simmons yelled, “Be quiet, BOY! You do not understand like I do! I had no choice! He had fallen and was apostate to me and to all the Shadows. How dare you question the ultimate righteousness of the Shadows?”
“I question it because you people kill your own freely. My father, the man who is lying dead on the carpet right there. You think that’s righteous?”
Alice chipped in. “You’re just a bunch of monsters!” she affirmed. Everley saw Simmons’ eyes flicker over to Alice, just long enough for him to lunge up and grab the snake cane. Simmons shouted in surprise and fought back; Bunting moved forward but didn’t know what to do.
Everley kneed Simmons in the groin, and the man doubled over, gasping. Everley wrested the cane from his grasp. “You say I could have been a Shadow?” Everley shouted. “Well, then, I guess I have a little magic in me!” He whirled round to stop the oncoming Bunting, but Alice rose first and, grabbing the small chair, swung it at Bunting’s head. He fell to the floor, unconscious. Everley concentrated on keeping Simmons restrained, but he also concentrated on the cane itself; his mother was trapped in there, and Everley was trying to get her out.
A cloud of smoke burst from the cane, and Everley’s mother appeared. Everley yelled, “Get out!” and his mother and Alice fled the room.
Everley flicked the cane at Simmons, and the Shadow was jerked upwards to his feet.
“More will come after you, Everley Rook,” Simmons grunted.
“Well, let me tell them what I’m getting them into,” Everley growled. He punched Simmons in the face, and the man cried out. “That was for my mother, and for Alice too,” Everley snarled. Then he brought the snake of the cane crashing down on Simmons’ head. The man went limp, falling to the floor. “That was for me.”
Everley beat the cane against the wall with all his strength, and, as he had hoped it would, the wood snapped. Everley dropped it and turned to go.
There would be many more conflicts, of that Everley was sure. But he knew he could face anything the Shadows threw at him.
End of Part One