Another year. Another food festival. Another way to cover up the many council meetings. Evangeline sighed a bit, running her fingers through her tresses of brunette hair. She rolled her head a little as she walked with her twin sister, Bristol, towards the taco truck that they visited every year. They couldn't help it though! It had the best tacos, and even the tortillas were made by hand. "So, Saul said he would meet us where?" Evan asked, fanning herself with the map they got at the front gate as she looked past all the food trucks to the rides. "Humans are so stupid to put rides in at a food festival." she rolled her eyes at the thought.
A small yawn escaped her, having worked late the night before at the bar. Not only that, she had to take the long way home when she felt herself being followed. She knew that this was a time of meeting for a lot of different groups in the area, but didn't they know that hunters would eventually catch on? Even if it wasn't exactly a problem around here, she had seen a few. Or at least caught onto a few of their tells. She sighed, and she could feel Bristol look at her. "What? It was a really late night last night."
They finally got to the taco truck and stood in the line that was already about five people long, and Evan heard her phone going off. "You've got to be kidding me." She groaned, but when she looked at it, she laughed. "Oh, well this is okay then."
She answered the phone. "Hey! Where are you, Bri said that we were supposed to be meeting you over by that one cart with the amazing funnel cakes from last year."
"I changed my mind on that. I got here earlier than I expected to. Where are you two?
" Saul's voice came from the other end and Evan nudged Bri and smiled.
"We're by that Taco Truck we go to every year. Want us to get you one if you don't get here before we get to the window?" she asked, and she heard a chuckle from the other end.
"Sure, but let Bri order for me. I don't know how you can eat things as spicy as you do.
" Saul said, and Evan laughed.
"Alright, alright. See you soon!" she hung up and she looked to Bri. "If we get up to the window before Saul finds us, he asked to let you order for him because he doesn't know how I eat things as spicy as I do."
After a laugh, they stood in line for the taco truck, moving up when the people in front of them before they were joined by a man with dark brunette hair and dark eyes that matched their own. "Saul!" Evan smiled as she gave him a hug. Bri greeted him as well and he chuckled.
"Well it looks like I caught up to you two just in time." Saul said, motioning to the line as they were next. "Have Dad and Denise come through yet?"
"Not yet, but you know they have that meeting." Evan sighed. "Not to mention mom has been blowing up both our phones all day. She's going to flip her lid when I have to leave to get ready for work."
"I thought you worked at the diner." Saul said, and Evan shook her head. "What happened?"
"Me and Ian had a disagreement. I took my check and I left. Now I'm working at that little dive bar across from the coffee shop me and Bri get all of our coffee from." she answered and Saul sighed and shook his head.
"How have things been with you Bri? " Saul asked, "And yes, I got those things from Kiara you asked for when I went and visited. They're back in my apartment."
Evan walked up to the window when it was their turn and ordered her taco. "I've got theirs too." She told the man at the window who nodded and took Saul and Bri's orders. She paid the guy and they stood off to the side and waited for their food. Evan felt her phone going off again, and she saw it was a text from her boss asking if she could come in about a half an hour early. She looked over to Bri and Saul. "Hey, Saul, what are you doing tonight anyway?"
"Nothing really." he said.
"My boss just asked if I could come in a little earlier. Since we'll be getting the over flow from here. I don't like walking there alone, especially after everything last night." Evan said, and she looked to Bri who nodded. She had told Bri about the guy who had been following her when she got up this morning, and Evan really didn't want to uproot them for accidentally showing what she was too soon. Otherwise she'd have handled the whole thing herself, but being discovered as a phoenix, especially in a place where word traveled quick could be disastrous.
"Don't worry, I'll walk you to work, and I'll walk Bri home. You know whenever you need me, all you have to do is ask." Saul said, and he chuckled a bit. "Although, I don't always expect you to ask since you have become good at taking care of your own problems, Evan."
"If I wasn't almost 100% sure this one was a hunter, I would." Evan laughed.
"There is a lot of people here." the blonde covered in tattoos spoke as she looked around. The man with darker skin beside her just gave a chuckle and he rubbed her shoulder.
"The cities tend to be worse," he said to her. "It's alright, Val. I'm here."
"I know, Siddy, but there are so many people." Val reiterated and he stopped them to the side of the main path.
"Close your eyes, Val." Siddiq told her, and Val nodded and did so. "Now breathe deep and smell all the different food. And then open your eyes. The smell of the food usually helps me keep calm at this festival."
Val followed his instructions, and she had to admit the aroma of just food in general definitely helped her calm a bit. "That's crazy how well that works."
Siddiq nodded to her and just smiled. "I'm still surprised that Darius let you come this time. He's usually so afraid you-know-who will be able to find you here that he won't let you come."
Val rolled her eyes a little. "Yeah, well, after the fiasco eight years ago where she found me, once again, with the tribes, he couldn't exactly use that being with the tribe was safer. Hell, the first time she found me was with the tribe too. He's just afraid that he'll lose me if I'm out here too long."
"Well, that's his own problem. You are old enough to make your own choices, and I get he's your father, but enough crazy is enough. You need to be able to live your life. Plus, I know you still want to go looking for your siblings, at least a little bit." he said to her as they stopped and they each got a corn dog.
"Yeah, but I don't know where to begin looking at all. It's not so simple, and plus I have to be careful as it is. Dad tells Amal everything. Which is a little creepy." she said, "And I know Amal is looking for a reason to keep me in the tribes. Not sure why, but even Aetulia has told me to watch myself around him."
"She wouldn't be the only one telling you that. Delonna would say the same thing." Siddiq said, taking a bite of his corndog. "And I've told you the same thing. That guy doesn't even smell right."
"I know, and I avoid him. It just doesn't help that dad and him seem to be so close." she said. She sighed a bit and looked to Siddiq. "So, what is there to do around here?"
"Food." Siddiq laughed. "They have some games too, and rides. After this me and you are going to sneak off and get drinks. I want to see what effect alcohol has on you considering coffee puts you to sleep." he chuckled.
Val laughed a little and nodded. "Sounds like fun, but we have to sneak out before their meeting is over otherwise I'll get stuck."
"Not necessarily. My aunt knows my plans, she'll find a way to help us out." he said, and Val smiled.
"Great!" she said. "Oh! Siddy! What's that thing?" she asked, point to someone's plate as they walked past.
"That's a funnel cake." Siddiq answered. "Come on, I know where they make the best ones."
"Awesome." She smiled as they headed off, still eating their corn dogs.
Tobias sighed as he leaned against the gate to the festival. He was supposed to meet up with Warren here before they headed into the meeting with Malachi, seeing as Malachi had reached out to the other dealers. "Dude, why is it always a food festival?" the dark haired man asked as he approached Tobias. Tobias chuckled and patted his shoulder before running his hand through his own black hair.
"Because, they don't want to go far for food." Tobias answered, and Warren chuckled.
"I don't blame them, but it is literally always a food festival." Warren said. They headed into the festival and off to the side where a tent was set up. They headed inside, and saw a man with sandy blond hair at the head of the table with a younger guy with identical hair sitting there.
"Alright, this appears to be all of us." he said, and Tobias nodded his head to the woman in the room with dark hair and eyes. He and Warren both took their seats before Tobias spoke up.
"I swear there were more of us last meeting." He said, and Malachi, the man at the head of the table nodded.
"There used to be. A lot of them couldn't come or couldn't be reached." he said. "But all of us who are in this area are here and we can begin. I suppose we should go around with introductions, I will begin. My name is Malachi Martin, but I do prefer to be addressed as Kai. I am the officiating entity here seeing as I am the oldest, and Lucifer himself has asked I conduct this meeting."
"My name is Azariah, but you can call me Az." the guy next to him said.
And when the woman introduced herself as Becca, Malachi nodded and started. "I would normally hold a longer meeting, but I have another thing to do in a little while. So, we're going to hit the high points, and I will leave all of you with a way to contact me if it is necessary."
Tobias began, "So, what's changed?"
"Nothing really, we've been doing very well with getting a good flow of souls into Hell, but that's not exactly what this meeting is about. We're here to more talk about personal deals. A few have been slipping through the regulation cracks, and while it isn't anyone in this room, there are a few dealers that we need to be on the look out for for what they've done. Sean Howell is one, and so is Craig Sandrige. And, again, if anyone hears from Prudence Flint, we have only been looking for her because she has gone into radio silence, but there have been a few deals made under her name as of recently."
"What did Sean do now?" Warren asked, and Malachi sighed.
"He's made more than one deal that pisses off the Horsemen and the Ascended, from what I have been told. Lucifer didn't give me many details in the brief call we had before this meeting, but he said that he wants him brought in. I'm assuming he's helping bring people back from the dead again." Kai answered, and Warren shook his head.
"And what about Craig? No one has seen or heard from him for a long time." Tobias said, "At least no one I know."
"He is in for a deal that broke laws of three different groups. No sure which three, but I know one of them was the our demon laws." Kai said, and he shook his head, "Like I said, Lucifer didn't say much. Just wanted me to touch base with everyone, and if I find out more, I will let you all know."
"Who is Prudence Flint?" Azariah asked, and Kai sighed.
"Well, she is one of the greatest dealers there has ever been, but about 12 years ago she mysteriously fell off the grid. She was believed to be dead for a while, but over the last couple of years some deals have come through with her seal. We only want to find her to make sure nothing went awry. The only time, other than death, that a dealer falls off the grid is when they are bound."
Az nodded and soon Warren spoke. "So, Sean, Craig, and Pru. Anything else?"
"Be wary." Kai said, "There is something going on in the world and no one knows exactly what is going to happen when it comes to head. It could bring anything, but there are races moving into defensive maneuvers, and the witches I stay near have been talking about how Sybil is back at her old tricks. We've gone a long time without hearing her name be brought up, but she is setting up for something, and it is why I tell you to be wary. She is a very talented binding witch."
Warren's face immediately soured at her name. "I've seen what she can do first hand. She's not good news."
Kai sighed and nodded. "I have too. But are there any other questions?"
Aetulia found herself rubbing her temples from her place at the table with Darius, Amal, and Delonna. She hated these meetings with a passion, especially with her husband and son so close and in a meeting of their own. She wanted very desperately to see them, but she knew how hard it would be with Amal and Darius here. They would be the first to try and burn her at the stake, so to speak, but it had been a very long time since she had seen either one of them. Almost five years now. Still she had arranged a meeting with Malachi at least, and she was hoping she could at least see Azariah, even if they couldn't really visit.
"Can we just get this meeting going instead of arguing over who sits where?" Aetulia finally snapped, watching as Darius took a seat and she rolled her eyes.
"Thank you, Aetulia." Amal said, no matter how reluctant she could tell it was. "So, I call the annual meeting of the Djinn elders to order. First item on the agenda brings us to Aetulia."
Aetulia sighed a little and nodded. "First item on our agenda is the betrothal meetings between Amal and Darius's tribes coming up in a few weeks. Shortly thereafter will be the betrothal meeting between my tribe and Delonna's, and from there we have the one between Darius's tribe and my own starting off in the winter, and seeing as though I will be taking the only available one to be betrothed from Delonna's tribe, Amal's tribe and my own will have a meeting after that." she said. "Now, we need to make sure everything goes off without a hitch, so remember, those visiting the other tribe, arrive at least a day early and allow the candidates to do their meet and greet. The day after will be the selection, and the day after that will be the wedding and celebration.
"And remember, after the weddings each couple will be allowed one week to decide which tribe they will live with and an additional week to get settled once it is decided." Aetulia said, "I believe that brings us to Darius."
Darius nodded. "There have been talks in the South about conflicts coming to an uneasy head with other races. So we all need to be prepared to know the signs to move our tribes, as these conflicts could lead to war. We will likely be sought out in the war times, but do not engage no matter what they threaten you with. I have seen enough of what can happen in the times of war to know the risk is not worth the reward. Our numbers are so small, and they could easily wipe us off the map. I will be laying out new escape protocols and sending them with Aetulia's advocate, as he will see all of the tribes before the end of the year."
Aetulia watched as Amal pulled up a list and she leaned her head against her hand. She knew what this was, and she knew that this was likely where Amal and Delonna would start bickering at each other. It was the list for trials, and Aetulia had asked it not be brought up at this meeting because it just wasn't worth it.
"Now, next order of business. We have three members between the tribes that need to be reminded that they are approaching a third trial with another slip up. Valkyrie Michels," Amal said and he looked to Darius, "I'm sure you can handle telling her."
"I can." Darius sighed, and Aetulia shook her head as the last two names were called off, and she looked to Delonna. At least this wasn't the list that had everyone who was up for trial, or a second trial even, it was just the third trial one. Still, she couldn't help the sour look that crossed her face at how Darius nonchalantly said he could tell his own daughter about her own third trial status. There was something up there, Aetulia and Delonna had had more than one discussion on the matter, and both knew it couldn't be good.
Amal looked to Delonna. "Go on, it's your turn for the floor before we begin the open discussions." he told her.