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 25, 2010

Losing Control: Tug-O-War

The earth trembled beneath me. I listened as the crowd's jubilance turned to fear. My hands rose to my face and tore aside the white cloth covering my eyes. Dark clouds closed in on the sky above and a man standing before me, fell to his knees. The crowd ran.

"Forgive us," The man on his knees said to the sky.

I climbed to my feet and walked the short distance between us, laying my hand on his shoulder. He looked into my eyes, tears streaming down his cheeks. I tightened my hand against his muscles and said, "There is nothing to forgive."

"Oh, but there is," My grandmother said, appearing on the grass before me. Her voice was unmistakable, but her appearance had changed from that of a child to a young woman my own age. I should have been surprised, but I was calm as if I had expected her.

"Is he responsible for your treachery?" I asked, stepping sideways from him and eying her with caution.

She laughed and said, "You still don't understand."

"What?" I asked as the sky began to rain.

"I've always been true to what I am, but you," She said, shaking her head, "you betrayed everyone."

"No," I said.

"Denial does not change the truth," She said, watching my every move. "You cannot change what you are."

"Fortunately, I don't need to," I said and ran for the edge of the cliff.

She said, "If you ever hope to repair what you have done, there is no other choice. You must accept your role."

I leapt into the air and fell toward the rocky beach below. Lightning stuck the water and thunder rolled through my ears. A wind swept beneath me and hurled me in a new direction. Light and sound overwhelmed my senses, but I knew I was still falling. I braced myself for the sudden end I knew to be coming.

"Easy there," Brian said, holding me in his arms.

The nausea of falling drifted away, replaced with a pounding headache and the glint of light reflecting off white walls. I wanted to relax into his arms, but suspicions clouded everything. Too many people I trusted were proving to be undeserving. I pulled away from him and looked into his concerned eyes, hoping to glimpse an honest soul within him.

"What happened?" I asked.

"Your office was raided and they decided to take me with them. I've been couped up in here without seeing anyone until you arrived a few hours ago," Brian said.

"You haven't seen anyone?" I asked, skeptical of the idea.

"A couple guards, but no one I recognize," He said.

I pushed myself up off the cheap bed making it squeak as its springs pushed back. The room felt small, square in shape with a setup like any prison cell in the civilized world. The ceiling contained florescent lighting, protected behind metal cages. No windows to the outside world and nothing to indicate where were or even what time or day it was. The door was solid, white and lacking even the markings of where a knob should have been. Escaping would be difficult at best, but I doubted things would come to that. They wanted me and not to keep me locked up in a room.

"At the same time as the office was raided, a team hit my brother's house. They took him, his wife and my nephew," I said, bringing Brian up to speed, if he did not already know those facts to begin with.

"And you," He said, as if I had neglected to mention my own capture.

I shook my head and said, "No, I went after them. I got them out, but not myself."

"So you know where we are?" Brian asked.

"Probably not far from where my brother was being held," I said.

The echo of a lock being turned proceeded our cell door swinging open into the room. It was much darker outside the cell, leaving the forms in shadows and hard to discern from the darkness. A pair of faces emerged into the light and though I should have been surprised, I was not. Olivia smiled at me and her father, Dr. Michaels, seemed happy as well, without the obvious grin on his face. I stood facing them from the center of the cell and kept my peripheral vision aware of Brian. He gasped at the sight of our visitors.

"Are you alright?" Dr. Michaels asked, looking at me.

"I've been better," I said and Olivia said, "You'll live."

I said, "No thanks to you."

She laughed and said, "I guess that makes us even, but it was not me trying to kill you."

"No doubt you delegated the chore," I said. "By the way, how is it you aren't dead?"

Olivia said, "Did you ever to think to check the ammunition you were using? Those were my guns and I don't make a habit of killing people, unlike your friends."

"Play nice girls or do I need to break out my paddle?" Dr. Michaels said.

"Why don't you get to the point then?" I said, resting a hand on my hip.

Olivia said, "Okay. You're an idiot."

Dr. Michaels turned to his daughter with a warning scowl decorating his face. She laughed at him and said, "What? She wanted to get to the point and that's pretty much it."

"You'll have to excuse my daughter," Dr. Michaels said, turning back to me, "she's still a little embarrassed about underestimating you in the jungle."

"I know the feeling," I said. "I can't say I suspected a thing with you or Jack."

"Jack?" Dr. Michaels said. "What are you talking about?"

"Obviously you are both working with our shadow loving friend," I said.

Olivia laughed again. I was tempted to attempt to slap her, but the reality was, I would not get within a foot before someone would stop me. I settled on a frown and a disgusted shake of my head to make my feelings clear. Dr. Michaels continued to look confused which was disconcerting, considering the situation. If Jack was not working with them, then who was he working for?

Olivia said, "Jack Barker works for Joey. He always has and he always will. They're two of a kind you know, killers."

"Wait," Dr. Michaels said, looking between his daughter and me, "You think we kidnapped your family?"

"You're saying you didn't?" I said, glaring at him. "Then tell me, how did I end up here with you, if you weren't involved?"

Olivia said, "Mostly dumb luck."

Before I could voice my irritation, Dr. Michaels said, "Joey arranged for your family to be taken, not us. We assumed this meant he felt his control over you was slipping which we saw as something of a victory around here, but we wish no harm on you or your family. Once we learned where they were being held we made plans to rescue them. It appears Joey set you up in a rather elaborate trap in order to leverage your cooperation against the lives of your family."

Olivia said, "I'm betting he didn't expect you to actually escape."

Dr. Michaels nodded and said, "You wouldn't have, but we were in position when you and Mr. Clark showed up. We decided to wait rather than involve ourselves in your plans and possibly make the situation worse. When you flipped the jeep, we moved in and rescued you before Joey's teams could get to you."

"And my family?" I asked.

"Unfortunately, you took them out of Joey's hands only to put them right back in them," Dr. Michaels said.

Olivia said, "Like I mentioned before, you're an idiot."

"Why should I believe you?" I asked.

"Would it help if I drew you a picture?" Olivia asked.

"It might," I said, glaring at her.

"Perhaps I can provide some illumination," A man said from the shadows outside the room.

Olivia turned toward the voice and said, "She's not ready."

He replied, "It no longer matters. We're out of time."

Dr. Michaels offered a smile to the curiosity brimming in my eyes and said, "Try to keep an open mind."

The man in the shadows stepped forward into the light of the room. I stared at his familiar face and wondered what games were being played at my expense. Dr. Michaels and Olivia exited the room leaving Brian and I alone with the man. He was unmistakably Joseph Candle, but there was a difference as well, a greater depth to the wrinkles on his face and something about his eyes. I knew this man, but I did not know him at all.

"We haven't been properly introduced," He said, extending his hand to me. "My name is Joe Candle and you are my granddaughter."

The sound of his voice reverberated in my ears. It was different, softer, than the man I worked for and richer too. I had intuitively known he was similar and yet the same as Joseph Candle on our first encounter, but on that occasion I had not glimpsed his face at all. I had only felt his eyes on me and the cruelty with which he chose to attempt to elicit information from me. Anger still boiled in my veins over that meeting, but I knew it would serve no useful purpose for the moment. I pushed it aside and concentrated on the questions I needed answered.

Ignoring his extended hand, I asked, "Are you twins?"

He dropped his hand, looked me in the eye, and said, "No, more like reflections of each other."

"The same, but different," I said.

He flashed a smile and said, "Yes, my right is his wrong and vice versa."

"Why should I trust you?" I asked.

"I never suggested you should," He said. "Do you trust him?"

"No," I replied.

"That is encouraging at least," He said, nodding his head.

"You suggested you could explain things," I said.

"I can," He said, looking at Brian for a moment. "Matters are complicated though and time is short. I will attempt to be brief."

"I'm listening," I said.

He said, "My story began many years ago in the depths of a South American cave."

"And there was an earthquake," I said. "I've heard this before."

"Of course," He said. "During the quake, your grandmother fell into black pool of water. I tried to pull her out, but it was like something had grabbed hold of her. My eyes drifted toward the surface of the water, looking for solutions I suppose, but what I found was a set of hands identical to my own, reaching out of the water and wrapping themselves around my neck. At first I thought I was imagining things, but when my reflection crawled out of the water and dropped a rock on my head, I realized things were much more serious."

"Your reflection crawled out of the water and attacked you?" Brian asked, making no attempt to hide the disbelief he felt.

"Yes," Joe Candle said, "As incredible as it sounds, the story is true. He left me to die in that cave and if not for my old friend, Alex, I would have died that day as your grandmother did."

"Are you sure she died?" I asked.

"I dragged her body from the water myself and carried her all the way out of that cave," He said.

"I'm confused," I said.

He nodded and said, "Not surprising. The girl you see, the one who talks to you and claims to be your grandmother, she is nothing more than her reflection. Unlike my reflection though, she never made it out of the water. She remains trapped in a realm between worlds."

"How do you know this?" I asked, suspicious of his motives if not his veracity and sanity.

He said, "Because you told me."

I blinked. I said, "I think I would remember that."

"It is the past for me," He said, "but it is your future still."

"You're insane," I said, trying hard not to think too much on the old woman I met in my own travels.

"Perhaps," he said, sighing, "but if I am, then the world is as well."

"You said we were short on time," I said. "Why?"

"The pool in the cave is some sort of rift between dimensions. I would explain it better, but I've never quite grasped the intricacies of how it works," He said. "It operates on a schedule and the time is nearly upon us when it can be opened again."

"Can be?" I asked.

"It will be," He said.

"How can you be certain?" I asked.

"Because Joey has the key," He said.

"So you expect me to stop him?" I asked.

He shook his head, "It is too late for that. You have to close the rift."

"How?" I asked.

"I've collected everything you need," He said. "All that remains is for us to get you to the cave and you to do what you must."

"My nephew is the key, right?" I said and he nodded. I said, "And I am also a key."

He sighed and said, "Correct."

"How do I know this isn't just a trick to get me to open this thing then?" I asked.

"Because you already knew all of this from the messages you've sent yourself," He said.

"This should be impossible," I said.

He laughed, and said, "I stopped believing in impossible when my reflection nearly killed me."

"Why does Joey want to open the rift anyway?" I asked, remember the dreams where the question kept arising. The difference between then was supposed to be the why, and if so, I needed to know what that was.

He said, "He wants to finish what you started."

"What I started?" I asked.

Joe nodded and said, "You made a mistake and everything that has happened has been a result of that mistake."

"I don't understand how something I haven't even done yet can be causing problems now," I said.

"If I close this rift will it correct the mistake?" I asked.

He shrugged and said, "I don't know."

"Then how do I know closing the rift is what I'm supposed to do?" I asked.

"You have to trust yourself and your instincts," He said. "We are trapped in a chain of events only you can stop because you started them."

"Is this why you tried to kill me?" I asked.

He said, "I never tried to kill you."

"What about in Utah?" Brian asked and I nodded.

"It's true, I sent Olivia and Gina to feel you out. I wanted to know if you were my granddaughter or just another decoy being used by Joey," He said.

"And a helicopter full of armed goons," I said.

"Those were not my people. I underestimated Joey, he used his own people to attack the training camp and that combined with the presence of my real spies was enough to make you trust him more than me," Joe said.

"And in the Philippines? The torpedo, the hotel, on the road, you had nothing to do with any of that?" I asked.

"We made use of Joey's diversions, but Alex was not trying to kill you. He only wanted to make certain the crystal did not fall into Joey's hands," He said.

"That didn't work out quite right and then you decided to steal it and nearly threw me off the 32nd floor," I said.

"Olivia was trying to take you with her, not kill you," He said.

"You make it all sound so innocent, but I lived it and I was in fear for my life," I said.

"I can only offer as proof the fact you remain alive and we are standing here talking," He said.

"Right and last time we met, you stripped me naked, hung me from a chain and beat me," I said. "That doesn't sound very innocent to me."

He said, "True, I might have made a mistake then, but you had information I needed and you had just been involved in the death of one my men. I couldn't trust you and quite simply, a good spanking had a better chance of making you take a hard look at yourself and your surrounding than anything I could do or say."

"How can I believe you?" I asked.

"You have to decide what you want to do for yourself. No one else can tell you. If you want to go to the cave and stop Joey we need to leave soon, otherwise you are free to go," He said, stepping aside from the doorway, leaving me a clear path out.

I looked at Brian and he shrugged. There were no answers in the room, only more questions. The man of the shadows made sense in an odd sort of way and there was something about him, making him infinitely more likable than the Joseph Candle I knew. I wanted to believe him, wanted him to be the man truly related to me, to my mother, but a tiny voice in the back of my head warned, it was entirely possible, trusting him could be the mistake I was trying so hard to correct.

"There really isn't a choice," I said. "Let's go find this cave."


  1. Ash, fascinating, lately you have been opening each episode with a dream, I'm waiting to see how this ties in.
    I'm very helpful, I'll believe six impossible things before lunch.
    Another great episode, roll on the 28th.
    Warm hugs

  2. Ash,
    good writing and another great title. waiting for the next episode.
    AL :)

  3. Paul, All shall be revealed, well mostly all. There has to be a little mystery left for the sequel. Hopefully the revelations are not too confusing or unbelievable. I did strive to keep things within a certain realm, but it gets difficult when the story hinges on an alternative theology from the mainstream.

    Al, These final titles were a little difficult to find, but I'm pretty satisfied. Glad you are liking them and the story still.


  4. That's a great start to a story...
    yet, it shall end as all things do;
    Seventh-Heaven will never end
    and you can certainly be a part.
    Just gotta follow us...

    If you're not too concerned
    with WWIII and N. Korea,
    you better follow us:

    Find-out what RCIA means and join.
    God bless your indelible soul.