New to Quest Five?
The stories are best enjoyed when read in order beginning with May 1, 2009.

Welcome To Quest Five
Allison Beaumont is having trouble finding a job after college until one day the wealthy and powerful Joseph Candle offers her a job at his rather unusual corporation, where mistakes can lead to bare bottomed spankings. Adopting the alias of Virginia West, she joins four highly skilled colleagues, racing around the globe in search of mysterious treasures, but wherever she goes, trouble is sure to follow.
Note: Some stories contain scenes of a sexual nature, corporal punishment, non-consensual corporal punishment, and strong language which some reader's may find offensive. If you feel this material might be inappropriate for you please move on to another blog by clicking the next blog link at the top of the page.

September 28, 2009

Breaking Free: Epilogue

Los Angeles was a welcome sight after the endless days and nights in underground captivity. Jack was slightly less in awe of the busy streets, blue skies, and flashy buildings, but even he was glad to be back home. It had taken a couple of days to get everything straightened out in the Philippines before we could leave, but after everything that had happened none of us had been able to enjoy what otherwise could have been a mini-vacation.

Gina went her own way once again and although she had promised not to write a word about our adventure, I already knew it would be on the front page of her magazine in a month's time. My only hope was she would honor my request to not have my picture paraded around and on that count, I trusted her word. Besides, I could hardly blame her for writing the story, it was in fact the most exciting thing that would probably ever happen to her, although the future is hard to see, and to have the opportunity to write about such things having been in the midst of them is the chance of a lifetime for any journalist.

I had hoped Mark would stick around and give us an opportunity to discuss things of a more personal nature but the very day we'd made it back to the main island he was called away. If he could have escaped the responsibility I will never know for certain, but his quick departure left me feeling abandoned, as if he couldn't wait to take the first plane that would lead him away from me. He promised there would be plenty of time back home for all the talking we needed, but the words felt empty. When I watched him walk out the door without looking back, it felt final like the sad ending of a favorite movie and no matter how many times you watch it, the ending never changes.

I pushed my melancholy thoughts aside as we exited the limo and made our way inside the Quondam Innovations' tower. We had all agreed not to stay longer than necessary to check in with Mr. Candle and leave the crystal in his capable hands. No one could argue that we weren't all deserving of a little down time and I guess we all had our own plans and ideas for it, although none of us were sharing. Fifteen minutes and then a two week vacation from a job I hadn't had much longer than two weeks. Funny how it felt like months to me, but I guess that's what happens when you're living on the edge.

Jack and I got off the elevator at Mr. Candle's floor while the others headed up to Q5 to do the requisite paperwork on our mission. Joseph Candle was standing by the window looking down at the gardens in the very place I had stood the first time I had entered his office. His back was completely to us but I had no doubt he knew we were there. I took the opportunity to look around his office and really take it all in.

The walls were sparsely decorated with black and white prints of various pyramids from cultures around the world on one wall and cityscapes on the other. The walls themselves were oddly located, not truly blocking the passage from one section of the floor to another but giving the room a sense of the grandiose by showing division. His desk was uncluttered and positioned neatly to the corner of the room giving him a full view of the entire floor from behind it as well as a spectacular view of Los Angeles and even a peek at the Pacific Ocean on a clear day.

It was impressive and I wondered why it hadn't struck me as such before this visit. There was of course the preoccupation of my thoughts on previous visits but even this time my thoughts were on matters completely unrelated to his decorating talents. What I was looking for was not to be found though and it struck me as both very odd and incredibly sad; There were no photographs of family or friends or of a long lost daughter who was not lost at all. There was emptiness filled with open spaces and more emptiness beyond and it was fitting to the man and his mission, not to mention his obviously broken heart. He had everything but what mattered and although I never envied him at all, I now felt sorry for the man.

"Gene is securing the crystal upstairs in the lab." Jack said.

Mr. Candle turned around and when our eyes met I knew he knew what I knew but I could not imagine quite how unless he too was somehow able to talk to her, but then why would she leave a message for him, with me? I glanced away from him unable to bear the burden of looking into his eyes and allowing him to see all that I felt and thought in my own. It was better unshared, unsaid, and merely understood. He must have agreed because after that first ominous stare he avoided a repeat and his stiffened shoulders found a way to relax.

"Excellent. What news on Kemp?" Mr. Candle asked.

"He was released back into British custody this morning in order to avoid a diplomatic incident. Same as always, he hides behind his political connections whenever we turn up the heat." Jack replied.

"As you say, it wasn't unexpected although I was hoping the attempted murder charge might rattle some of those connections."

"It was technically international waters and much as I wish he'd been the one pointing the gun at V, it was one of his hired guns. I was pretty sure from the start none of it would stick on him, but it was probably worth the effort just to make him squirm for a couple of days." Jack said.

"It's over for now at least." Mr. Candle said. "Any leads on our internal problem?"

"We don't have one." I said.

Jack and Mr. Candle both turned to me as I spoke, perhaps surprised by my bold assertion. Whatever they thought, I was certain enough of my conclusion after everything that had happened.

"How can you be certain?" Jack asked.

"Because unless it was you and you had a change of heart at the last minute, there simply isn't another possibility." I said.

"Perhaps you might explain?" Mr. Candle suggested.

"Dr. Michaels, Tom, Kyra and I were all held captive by those who were clearly on the receiving end of inside information. We were all tortured and otherwise badly treated for our stay and while it isn't impossible that one of them was the leak, it is definitely unlikely at that point." I said.

"Hardly conclusive." Jack said.

"I agree, but that's not the end of it. Everyone on this team was risking their lives quite literally during this mission and giving away the kinds of information that would lead to attacks and capture is all fine as long as you can avoid snaring the traps yourself but absolutely none of us were in positions to avoid those traps with exception of Jack." I said.

"So if it's not Jack, it not anyone." Mr. Candle said.

"And it's not Jack." I said.

"I'm relieved to hear you say that but I'm not certain I follow your logic." Jack said.

"We escaped because we trusted each other on the inside and anyone of us could have betrayed the rest of us by informing the guards or Kemp of our plans but no one did and not only did we escape we managed to get the crystal as well because Kemp didn't know we were coming. His information doesn't come from the team itself but it must be coming from someone who knows all our movements when we aren't incommunicado. As for you Jack, well if you were the spy then why did you show up with the Navy?" I said.

Jack nodded.

"Yeah, you've got a point." Jack said.

"So who does that leave?" Mr. Candle asked.

"You and Cathy for starters." I said.

Jack gave me a slight warning look that said I better watch who I was accusing of what. I wasn't actually accusing anyone though, it was just the truth of who remained obvious possibilities. Most likely, it was someone else entirely though, someone we didn't even know was aware of the things they were.

"I can assure you Miss West, I am not about to betray my own company and my own team and Cathy is very unlikely to do so as well." Mr. Candle said.

"I agree. You asked for possibilities though and the two of you are that. My best guess is we have a mole that isn't even on the inside, but rather someone who has access to information and we don't even know they do." I said.

"I find that unlikely." Mr. Candle said.

"It's all I've got for now, maybe I'll think of something better while I'm on vacation." I said.

"Yeah, like anything that doesn't have anything to do with this place." Jack said.

We all shared a short laugh.

"I'll see you both in two weeks then." Mr. Candle said.

It was a dismissal and an invitation to leave as well as an acceptance of our findings. The future would bring us to the truth at some point, of that I was certain, but in the meantime it was best to trust those around us who had clearly proven to be trustworthy. The misgivings I had at the beginning were no more than representations of my own insecurities and desire to be accepted as a member of the team. None of that existed anymore and we were the better for it. I had found my place and when I stopped trying to be accepted and just did what needed to be done, I found the acceptance I was no longer seeking. It was as such things are supposed to be, and if I had taken a step back and been objective from the start there would never have been a problem at all, but then when looking back, things are always clearer and simpler than looking ahead.

The afternoon sun was heading down for the day as I parked in front of home. The lawn was yellowed slightly from too much sun and too little water, but that was home. My keys jingled in my hand as I walked up the driveway and paused at the front door. A calm washed over me that surprised me because on the other side of the door I knew there would be unhappy parents waiting for the chance to let me know just how unhappy they were. It didn't matter though because I'd made a choice and this time I wouldn't have any regrets.

My key slid easily into the lock and the cylinder turned with ease. The door swung open with its customary creak and I walked over the threshold dragging my new suitcase behind me. Mom and Dad were sitting in the living room, watching a game show on the television. The volume was up so loud they didn't even hear the door open and if hadn't been for a slight gust of air coming through the open door, I don't think they'd have turned their heads, but the gust came and Mom turned her head, followed by Dad.

"I almost had the locks changed." Dad said, by way of a greeting.

"Suit yourself." I replied with a shrug.

His eyes nearly popped out of his head and I could see Mom's mouth dropping open and then closing before doing it all over again.

"That's all you have to say for yourself?" Dad asked.

"What would you like me to say? I'm sorry for getting a job? Well I'm not. I'm sorry for being gone for so long? Again, I'm not. I'm sorry for not calling? Guess what? Calling home wasn't going to get me back here any faster and it wasn't worth paying the extra money just to have another argument on the phone that we could have for free right here." I said.

"What on Earth has gotten into you?" Mom asked.

There was genuine concern in her voice and it was nice to hear for a change, but it didn't make up for the rest.

"Nothing." I said.

"She's clearly tired and needs some sleep." Dad said, as if I wasn't standing right there.

"I am tired and a good night's sleep would be great." I said.

"Then we'll talk in the morning." He said.

I nodded, but little did he know, it wouldn't be the conversation he had in mind. I dragged myself upstairs and took a quick shower before crashing softly into my bed. My dreams were like nothing I had ever had before, not of people or places, but of things I had never said and never done but always wanted to do. If I had any doubts, they were gone by morning.

The coffee smelled good and the eggs and bacon were a welcome change from the strange aromas in foreign kitchens. I sat at the breakfast table in my usual place with my hot coffee and sipped it for a moment while Dad watched me with a purposeful glint in his eyes. I knew the things he was going to say, he'd said them so many times before in so many different ways, for so many different reasons, but they were always the same. Only this time, I wasn't the same.

Dad cleared his throat and I knew he was about to begin. Mom turned her head to hear better from the stove while doing her best to pretend to not be listening at all. It was so familiar and tired that it brought a smile to my a face and a giggle to my lips, but I pushed it back. Laughter wasn't going to help this time.

"I'm moving out." I said.


  1. Ashley, and not before time, Alison, well done.
    Ashley you are a damn fine writer,once again thank you.
    Warm hugs,

  2. Ash,

    Fantastic story, really enjoyed this...cant wait for the continuation of the story. and paul said it best, I agree with him 100 Percent you are a damn fine writer. thank you for a very enjoyable story and more enjoyable stories to come

  3. Boy, am I glad to see that October calendar with dates highlighted every three days. I was getting nervous about all the hints that things were winding to a close, but, far from bringing down the final curtain, this epilogue is almost a cliffhanger on the domestic front.
    Congratulations on what you've accomplished so far and please keep up the great work. Fingers crossed that Allison's new maturity doesn't keep her out of trouble for long.

  4. I got mixed up a bit here since the epilogue was technically posted a minute before the last chapter. Besides that it was a good wrap up. Allison moving out was a surprise, but it does make sense given that her parents aren't likely to add much more to the story.

  5. It's nice to hear from everyone and I'm very pleased to see the story so far has been so well received. Thanks to everyone who regularly reads Quest Five and a very special thanks to those who find the time to comment.

    For those who haven't guessed, I'm currently working on a revised version of the first five months of Quest Five to be published as an ebook download. Nothing major is being altered but hopefully I manage to get rid of the majority of typos and random errors while patching the narrative together in a manner that allows for it to be read in whole rather than the fragments it was posted in. I'll provide a few other extras in the download, but I'll give details about all that when it's ready.

    Paul, Thanks for the compliment, it means a lot to me, as writing is my professional aspiration as well as my hobby.

    Mr. Anonymous, Thanks for all the support and again, the compliment is much appreciated and hopefully true. lol

    Dare, No need to worry, Quest Five has a few more months to go at the very least and if I feel there is enough interest I have ideas for future adventures beyond my current story arcs. As for Allison staying out of trouble, well let's just say there remain spanking scenes in Quest Five's future although like Allison, things change.

    Ace, Sorry about the confusion. I knew it would be confusing no matter how I did it because I don't typically post two stories on the same day. This was a special circumstance that came about late in planning, otherwise I would have scheduled the epilogue for a day later. However, I'm glad I was able to throw at least one surprise your way (Allison's moving out, not the confusing posts, lol.) and hopefully a few more coming soon. I felt it was time for Allison to move on from her parents because like any person, our parents are part of where we come from and who we are but they aren't our future, they are of our past. Allison is heading into the future now and part of what that means is letting go of her past.