The Witch Hunter's Gauntlet

The Witch Hunter's Gauntlet by Bret Schulte Read Free Book Online

Book: The Witch Hunter's Gauntlet by Bret Schulte Read Free Book Online
Authors: Bret Schulte
Tags: Fantasy, Young Adult
glittering specks of red light flew from his fingers, streaking into the mass of flapping wings. A second later the floor was littered with hundreds of little dead bat bodies.
    “I see. You possess the Lantern of the Blue Flame,” the man said, staring at the lantern. “So, apparently I died.”
    “Yes.”
    He took a long breathe. ”How long?”
    “Almost twenty years,” Nero answered.
    The man’s eyes widened. “ Elizabeth?”
    “If you behave I might tell you a bout her sometime.”
    “I see.” The man no dded curtly. His fingers flexed with an aching desire to strangle Nero, but his eyes never wavered from the lantern. It had a power over him that he could never break.
    “I ha ve a job for you,” Nero said.
    “You hold the lantern,” he said , gesturing to the icy floor on which he sat. “I have no choice.”
    “Oh, I think you will like this job. It involves destroying those who once opposed you and eliminating the daughter of your kil ler,” Nero said.
    A twisted smile crept across the man’s face.
    “But you will have to work by my time table,” Nero said. “And you will need some clothes.”
    “I agree to your conditions.”
    “Good,” Nero said, extending his hand. “Then rise, Cervantes; we’re on a tight schedule. I have to get ready for school.”
     
     
     
    Nero had to admit that Miller’s Grove, California was a brilliant hiding place for a school for extraordinarily talented weirdos. Anyone passing through would think this was just another random mountain town built from the American Small Town Starter Kit. Throw up a Wal-Mart over there, a one-story mall over here, maybe a McDonald’s or two, add a bowling alley or skating rink for good measure, and top it off with a pinch of small town charm.
    The school itself was built on the edge of town. It was surrounded by a thick forest. A single road connected the school to the town. The words “KNOWLEDGE IS POWER” were written above the main gate in steel lettering.
    As Nero stepped out of the rented minivan in the school’s giant parking lot, he caught a glimpse of himself in the door’s mirror. He ran his hand through his recently dyed hair and sighed. It had been a simple trick to hack into Miller’s Grove Academy’s student registry and find a freshman to impersonate. The real student had recently left the country when his mother was unexpectedly offered a high-paying job at a Nero Industries facility in Japan.
    “The things we do to save the world,” Nero said to himself as he watched the flock of students meander towards the auditorium.
    “What was that, sir?” Commander Carlson asked from inside the van.
    “Nothing. This could take a little longer than I originally thought,” Nero said.
    “We’ll be ready at a moment ’s notice, sir.”
    “I’m sure you will,” Nero said as he closed the van door.
    “Have fun at school, sir,” Carson called from the driver’s-side window.
    Without turning around to give Commander Carlson the satisfaction , Nero rolled his eyes to himself and kept walking toward the large blue domed auditorium next to the administrative building. The ultra-modern auditorium was constructed of thousands of hexagonal sound-amplifying panels, making it look like a giant blue beehive. In contrast the administrative building, Merriweather Hall, housing the faculty offices, meeting rooms, and official entrance to the academy, was built to resemble a 16 th -Century Renaissance-style mansion. There was even ivy growing up the walls and curled around the white columns already.
    Students were frantically rechecking thei r information packets, so Nero did the same, even though he knew that all the students were suppose to meet at the auditorium for orientation. He did his best to shuffle along and look confused and anxious like the students around him. It seemed Plan B was going to take more patience than he had originally thought, but it was still preferable to Plan C.
    Three guards stood watch over the

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