“Focus.” Connor’s word was sharp.
Tobias Tory—the Prophet—was struggling, hanging as he was from two ropes attached to the high ceiling. The ropes were cutting into his wrist and his thin shirt was soaked with sweat.
Connor Halling was sitting in a slim leather chair, one leg over a knee. His expression was blank as watched the man in pain before him.
Hiram was there, on his feet, circling, making sure it didn’t go too far. It had before. Tobias was not the first Prophet. Hiram doubted he would be the last. But he was strong—so perhaps he would last a while.
The pale man’s green eyes were closed and his face was struggling to stay calm, to stay focused. But the tearing of the ropes at his skin was breaking it. A groan escaped him.
Hiram looked to Connor, expecting an order. But the man didn’t move, simply stared.
They were in Connor’s mansion. One of several he owned in various states and countries under different names. Safehouses, all over the globe.
And they were in the living room.
Cold sunlight streamed in through huge untinted windows, drying the sweat. The temperature in the room was at least freezing, but Connor seemed unaffected. He had not turned on the heat when he had entered to check on Hiram and Tobias’s progress and Hiram dared not without his approval.
Tobias suddenly jerked, his eyes opening wide.
Connor leaned forward slightly. It was a common sign in young Prophets. They were not used to the…abstract things witnessed in their visions and it often came as a shock. But no matter. So long as he got one.
The politician waited for a few moments to let the vision subside.
At Connor’s command, Hiram reached up and undid the knots holding Tobias.
They were simple—ones that any former Norwegian sailor would know and could have undone in a half-heartbeat. If it had been anyone other than Connor that had told him to hang there Tobias would have.
His wrists were chafing—bleeding—and Hiram stepped forward, hand outreached to heal. But Connor’s order was clear.
“Stop. Not yet.”
He motioned for Tobias to approach him.
The entire living room was empty. It had a wooden floor, like a dojo, but aside from Connor’s chair, no furniture. The dark wood at his feet felt…consuming. He stood in the middle of nothing, with no object—or even thought—to protect him from Connor. At least when he was on the ropes he had known what the next second would bring.
Connor smiled disarmingly. “Explain, please.”
Tobias nodded quickly, preparing his tongue to speak English. The companion in his head helped, but his accent was still present as always. “It was…a dark room. Long. Light flashed on the sides…it was like being underwater. And there were boats above me. Many boats.”
Hiram raised on eyebrow.
“There was blue…blue everywhere. And people—but they were not solid. Like ghosts. And then there was a jerk and everything went white.”
Tobias hesitated. “And I thought…I thought I saw the Seeker—the one from the other Pack. She was following me. And when I tried to run other people, the other pack, kept appearing in front of me, blocking my way.”
Connor lifted the phone from where it lay on the floor between them and held it to his ear. “Did you hear?”
Sarai, elsewhere in the house, nodded and adjusted her headset’s mike. “I hear it all. Interesting. It may take some time.”
Connor ended the call. Sarai was the Teacher. She would figure out the vision’s meaning. But he knew part of it already. Enough to begin his planning.
He flicked his fingers at the other two men in the room and they left him. Hiram was reaching for Tobias’s wrists to heal as they exited the doors.
Taking a long breath, Connor used the phone to call his butler—who was somewhere else in the house. He didn’t feel like finding an intercom button. “Wine—Burgundy. 100 years.”
In minutes the butler was at his side, pouring the deeply colored wine into a long slim crystal glass. He nodded and the man withdrew.
Connor closed his eyes and began to think—what would happen. What would need to happen. And how to change the future.
His mind reached out—he was the Judge after all—and began to feel the eddies of emotion of the world. It had served him in business and politics. It would serve him now.