After his invigorating phone session with Lisa, Jack Rory sat down to his customary breakfast of a bagel and coffee. But he soon realized his hunger pangs were no match for the roiling mass of confusion and nerves still sloshing around in his gut. Frustrated, he pushed his plate away.
With just days to go before his departure for the Gluttony Games, he had so many questions and no one seemed willing or able to answer them.
Santa was no longer taking his calls, and when he’d returned to Mitchell’s house, no one had answered the door, though he’d had an eerie sensation of being watched.
Crowds still gathered outside his house every day to wish him well on his upcoming quest, but the novelty of firm hugs and tearful goodbyes had long since worn off. He didn’t see much point in continuing to go through the motions, and so he avoided the weepy masses, closing his curtains and using the back door for his comings and goings.
Jack Rory felt deflated. This was meant to be his defining moment—the turning point in his scarred and sordid existence, his true destiny—and somehow, it seemed to be passing him by. He collapsed onto his couch, setting his hat beside him.
Presently, an unfamiliar noise roused him from his wallowing. It sounded like…like a tapping at his back window. There it was again! He rose and walked over to the window, pressing his nose against the pane and peering out into the swirling whiteness.
There below his window, much to his surprise, stood one of Mitchell’s henchwomen—the one with the exotic accent he couldn’t place. She appeared unfazed by the driving snow and howling wind, despite her bare feet.
Quickly he threw open this window and leaned out.
“Pssshhhh,” she cautioned him, a finger to her pouty lips. “Attends, monsieur. We must be cautious.”
“But what are you doing here?” Jack Rory asked in amazement. “I thought Mitchell…”
“Nothing you could have thought is the truth. Pas de tout,” she said, pursing her lips. “Now, you must come with me, Monsieur Jack Rory.”
“But…where? And how do I know I can trust you?” Jack Rory said, bewildered. “Who are you anyway? And what are those strange words you’re saying? It’s no language I’ve ever heard before.”
“There is not time,” she said. “You will know you can trust me, because I have this.”
From an unseen pocket, she produced the one token that Jack Rory could not deny. A tie to both a distant past and a past not so distant. The amulet that represented his birthright, despicable as it was to him.
“Now, we go, monsieur? Allons-nous?”
Fixated on the tarnished locket swaying from her hand, he was powerless to resist her entreaties. Unable to speak, he nodded meekly and followed her, no longer caring where she was leading him.