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.

April 7, 2010

Losing Control: Treading Less Cautiously

I slept the flight home from Ecuador and spent the ride from the airport back to Quondam, lost in thought. It seemed with every answer I uncovered, there were dozens more questions to be asked. My situation felt wholly unbelievable, but it was infinitely easier to believe than the alternative. Everyone around me, from my parents to my coworkers would have to be involved in the biggest, most complex hoax ever concocted and for what? What possible reason could they have? None and that of course was the problem because without a reason there was nothing to believe except the impossible.

Exiting the limo, I shook myself into the present, turned to Tom and said, "Get Brian cleared with HR and Security. I want him upstairs analyzing everything we've got before lunch."

Tom nodded and Brian said, "Don't I have anything to say about this?"

"Only if it's a yes," I said and kept walking inside the lobby.

"Well then, I guess I'll just say yes," Brian said, following me inside.

Turning to Kyra, I said, "Start a search on Jack and Gene. If Jack was successful, he should have made contact by now unless they're in a jam. If they need our help, we need to start putting a plan together and that starts with finding them."

"I'll find them," Kyra said, keeping pace with me heading to the elevator. "What about you?"

"Joe and I need to have a talk," I said, pausing to look at Cathy, waving me over to her desk. "I'll meet you upstairs in a few minutes."

Cathy waited for the elevator to swallow the others before saying, "Your mother has been calling for the last three days."

"Is something wrong?" I asked.

She shook her head, "Security isn't aware of anything, but she wouldn't say what it was about."

"What did you tell her about my whereabouts?" I asked.

"I explained you were on a business trip out the country and difficult to reach," She said.

"Alright," I said turning toward the elevator, "If she calls again, let her know I'm in a meeting and will call her as soon as I get out."

"Can do," Cathy said with a nod and I replied, "Thanks."

The elevator took me directly to Joseph Candle's office with its usual haste. He was waiting for me, and neither of us were surprised. The relative emptiness of his office had always felt right with him, but with all the things I had learned it seemed like a message as well. We walked together toward our mutual favorite view of the gardens far below. I allowed the silence to fester between us because for the first time, I knew I was in control. The look in his eyes told me he knew it as well.

"Any word from Jack or Gene?" I asked, my eyes fixed on the colorful garden below.

"Nothing," He said, studying my reflection in the glass.

"You know what we found?" I asked.

"The staff," He said. "It's of some of importance I believe."

"It could be, but that's not what I'm talking about," I said, turning to look at him directly, "and I think you know it."

"What is it I'm supposed to know?" He asked, his face portrayed innocence, but his eyes betrayed him.

"The scrolls," I said, meeting his gaze.

"What scrolls?" He asked.

"The ones I wrote," I said.

"I am confused," He said.

"It is confusing," I said, "but we both know the truth so let's stop playing games."

He said, "If you have something to accuse me of, perhaps it would be best if you simply did it."

I nodded and said, "Alright. I'm not certain if you know how it is possible any more than I do, but you have known for some time, the artifacts, the messages, they're all from me."

"Are you certain?" He asked and I replied, "You have another explanation?"

"I am admittedly skeptical," He said. "You have supposed these things were from my daughter, your grandmother, and now you. Will there not be another turn of events which lead you down yet another line of reasoning?"

"The only other line of reasoning I can foresee, is you are perpetrating a hoax of epic proportions for goals I cannot imagine," I said.

"I assure you, I am not involved in the perpetration of a hoax," He said.

"An interesting turn of phrase," I said.

"How so?" He asked.

"You lack of perpetration credit does not invalidate the concept of a hoax nor the possibility you are aware of it," I said.

"You think you're being played for a fool?" He asked.

"Quite possibly," I said, "I have been foolish at the very least."

"Indeed," He said, turning his back to me and walking toward his desk. "You met with Kemp."

"Yes, and he could have killed me rather easily," I said.

"Or taken you hostage," He said.

"Yes, but he did none of those things," I said and he replied, "Because it was more advantageous for him to confuse your loyalties."

"Do you think he has succeeded?" I asked.

"Yes," He said."

"Strange," I said, following him across the room, "I seem to recall never trusting you. In fact I believe I made my distrust clear on our first meeting."

"And what was your first impression of Mr. Kemp?" He asked.

"That's the funny thing," I said. "I would have trusted him. He felt like a good, honest person."

"Yes, it was also my opinion of him once upon a time," He said, sitting down in his chair with a wistful sigh, "As you may recall, he was once my best friend."

"How did that change?" I asked.

"He changed, or maybe I finally saw him as he truly was," Mr. Candle said.

"I thought it was the man in the shadows," I said.

"That too," He said.

"Who is he?" I asked.

"The man in the shadows?" Mr. Candle said. "I don't know."

"I think you do," I said and he replied, "Then you are wrong."

"It wouldn't be the first time," I said, "but I think I'm right. You know him as well as you know yourself."

"What makes you say that?" He asked with a raised eyebrow.

I smiled and said, "Because he's you."

"I think not," He said.

I laughed and said, "You know what I mean. He is you, but he's not you. He's your reflection, you but not you. Just as the woman who has left us all these messages is me, but not me."

"Most people would call your ramblings a symptom of insanity," He said and I replied, "But we're not most people and we both have seen enough to know rational explanations don't come close to an explanation at all."

"What do you expect me to say?" He asked.

I shook my head and said, "More than nothing, less than the truth. It's what you always say. Just don't expect me to believe you or trust you."

"It has never been my intention to convince you of anything Miss Beaumont," He said leaning back in his chair. "I believe it is best if you decide for yourself and that is why I've kept what I know to myself and will continue to do so."

"Then I can assume you won't interfere?" I asked and he nodded, "You may indeed. It is your destiny, the rest of us are just along for the ride."

"You might want to buckle up then" I said, leaving him alone and heading up to the Q5 offices.

Kyra looked up from her work at the center table when I entered Q5. "Learn anything?," She asked.

I shook my head and asked, "You?"

She said, "Not yet. They managed to black out satellite imagery on their route and landing, but I'm correlating flight plans with deviations in the physical records. With a little luck, I'll find them."

"Alright, keep me informed," I said, proceeding into my office and closing the door. I sat down behind my desk and switched the computer system on before pulling out my cellphone. I called home.

Mom answered, "She lives!"

I rolled my eyes at the sarcasm thankful she could not see me and said, "You've been calling?"

"So you did get my messages," She said.

"Just this morning, Mom. I've been out of town," I said.

"More business trips, yes, I've been told," She said.

"Was there something important, Mom?" I asked trying not to sigh, "I'm rather busy and I'll be home this evening if it can wait."

"Don't use that tone with me young lady," Mom said and I clenched my fist in frustration.

Refraining from beating the top of my desk, I said, "Mom, please, I'm very busy."

"I'm sure your secretarial duties are quite demanding," Mom said, "But if you can manage to pry yourself away from your work, your brother has invited us all to dinner in celebration of Jenny's return home."

I was about to as where she had been when the memory came rushing back. She had not even left for the treat when I had left to meet Brian and here she was already back from her stay at The Retreat and I was just getting home myself. It hardly seemed fair.

"What time?" I asked.

"Does that mean you're coming?" Mom asked.

"It means I'll try," I said.

"We wouldn't want to inconvenience you or your boss," Mom said.

It was getting harder by the second not to say things I would later regret. I said, "If you would let me know when I should arrive, I'll do my best to be there."

"We'll have a talk about your attitude then as well," Mom said. "Seven o'clock at your brother's."

"I'll see you there," I said, disconnecting the call before either of us could say anything more.


  1. very good post, Ash.very good and interesting conversation with Mr. candle. v seems to be figuring a lot of things out looking forward to seeing the progress of that. like the conversation she had with her Mom and see her Mom is still being strict as ever interested to see how the talk About V attitude comes out. like to see V was able to keep from saying anything that she might regret. we will see if it is too late and V will regret what she already said (LOL)
    Thanks for the great chapter
    AL :)

  2. Ash, it seems that Joe Candle continues to be obdurate with regards to important and necessary information.

    It looks to me that you are dumbing down Allison's mom, by now she should have cottoned on to the fact that Allison is more than a secretary.

    I also think that it is time for Allison to tell her mom where to get off, she has the skills to do it nicely.

    Another fine episode, thanks dear girl.

    Warm hugs,