It was on a Saturday evening, when he didn’t have much else to do, when Justin Proper first heard the news. As his name might suggest, he was a gentleman, preternaturally so, and so was discreet about it when he mentioned the news of his late squire’s return to the rest of the Council, which consisted of Alpha Dog, Ajax, and the Boolean. Sky Fox, who rounded out their numbers, was otherwise engaged, or she would have heard about it, too. Alpha Dog, predictably, was the one who was least amused by the news.
“It’s unacceptable,” he concluded.
“Unfortunately, it’s happened,” Proper said. “It’s not a matter of whether or not we approve.”
“Where has she been seen? What have you done about it?” the Boolean said.
“Always wanting answers,” Proper said.
“We all do,” Ajax said. “This is a dangerous situation.”
“I would hardly jump to such a hasty conclusion,” Proper said.
“You wouldn’t,” Alpha Dog said. “For all our sakes, you’d better think differently, and soon.”
“Is that a threat?” Proper said.
“If it’ll make you think more clearly,” Alpha Dog said. “If you’d kept a better eye on her in the first place, this wouldn’t be a problem.”
“One might assume the more accurate assessment would consider the small matter of her death,” Proper said. “Are we more concerned about the implication or the girl?”
“Both,” Ajax said.
“We don’t know why it’s happened or what it means,” the Boolean said.
“This is why it is dangerous,” Alpha Dog said. “It’s your responsibility, or it becomes all of ours. Don’t let it escalate further.”
“I would think that the Council has bigger threats than one of its own allies,” Proper said, “no matter the peculiar circumstances that now present themselves.”
“Nevertheless, with or without your approval, it is the consensus opinion,” the Boolean said. “We will act on it unless you do.”
“I never expected this reaction,” Proper said.
“You never expected alarm over the resurrection of a dead hero?” Alpha Dog said. “You were being naïve. We are simply doing you a favor by awakening your senses to the reality of the situation. We are your friends. We are always concerned for the best possible outcome. Why else would this alliance exist?”
In his private thoughts, Justin Proper was surprised to answer for himself, for the first time ever, that the Council was a bully. Despite their best efforts to convince him otherwise, he could not understand their reaction. He himself had been relieved at the news, and had hoped his friends would feel the same way. Now it was clear that they felt anything but. Was this the price of constant vigilance? Was this the price of heroism? He intended to find out.