Marcus headed south of Santa Fe, into a windstorm, he rode along the edge of a ridge until another rider galloped alongside him. As the rider rode on by him, there was a strong icy chill in the air. The wind whipped, around the two horses and their riders, with a deafening howling wind.
The pale rider yelled in a thunderous tone at Tom. The sound of his voice rang and echoed along the ridge, “Mister Marcus, it’s a pleasure seeing you again!”
In a similarly loud voice Marcus yelled, “Death, I found the golem you’re looking for! You’re sure he’ll help?”
The horses began to slow down as they rode towards two shadowy figures.
Said a man “Have I ever lead a Vanguard wrong?”
The horses reared up and began to panic and neigh, and a girl’s voice said “Woah, calm down Equus!” And, the horses were instantly pacified.
The two horse-riders dismounted and walked toward the calm individuals.
Death yelled, “Dave! You brought your sister!?”
“She’s gotta learn how to deal with Vanguard at one point.” Responded Dave, “Plus, who better to learn from, than Tom Marcus himself.”
Tom nodded his head, “Good to see ya’ as well Dave. And, it’s a pleasure to meet you Ari. But, what do you three Angels need with a treasure?”
Dave spoke, “Haashchʼééshzhiní and I made a deal to protect a Spanish mercenary’s treasure, about 50 years ago, and you’re on a quest to find his treasure.”
Tom responded, “I wouldn’t call it a quest, just a job. I need the money. It’s been a year since I last talked to an angel, yet alone stepped into The Vanguard Camp of Shehaqim.”
Ari interrupted, “Umm… so, I don’t mean to be rude or anything… what do Vanguards do exactly? And… who’s Tom Marcus?”
Death said, “The Vanguard are a group of humans that are chosen by God to protect Humans against Demons, Jinn, and Angels. The way we can tell a Vanguard apart from other mortals is that they only exist in a single universe, whereas most people exist in all twelve. Their assignment is to maintain the balance of free-will and divine intervention, and in our language they are called ‘tarshishim’.”
Marcus bowed his head slightly, “Yep, that’s right, and my particular task is to prevent multiverse travel abuse. People will commit crimes between the universes; like theft in one universe, and spend it in another. I lived in Shehaqim for two years, traveling between dimensions, going after people, and getting a free place to stay, along with all the food I could eat. About a year ago, Death here told me to go after a golem that was jumping between universes. The Golem finally ended up in this one, my native universe. It took me a year to catch this guy!”
Ari looked like she wanted to ask another question, so Tom stopped talking and let her ask, “How did you know my name?”
The cowboy told her, “Your brother always talked about how you needed more training.”
Dave said, “Yep, in 30 Earth-years she’s going to be turning 16 years old, in Heaven-years. That’s the age that she starts getting heavenly tasks. And, now she’s gotta learn… and I figured this mission would be the best Vanguard mission for Ari to watch, since you just met Aru.” Dave had a goofy expression on his face.
“Word comparisons are NOT funny…” Death chimed in, “Wait, you met the Vanguard I was supposed to be looking for?”
Marcus asked, “The wolf-girl?”