In the pages of the sequel The Place Where the Winds Blow or Philosophy of Death of the trilogy Enchanted Worlds, our readers will meet again with previously acquainted characters. They have all grown, and the challenges they face this time have changed as well, along with the circumstances and the geography of their next adventure. Everything in this life takes its toll. Sometimes the cost of our mistakes is a lot weightier than money, as one cannot put a price tag on the health and life of people close to us, and neither can it be measured by any material asset. Our characters had learned this rule of life the hard way and fully experienced its wisdom in their adventures.
Ben clutched his bags and headed towards his car. At the same time a man came out from an old sedan of uncertain age parked nearby, and walked towards Ben. "I'm sorry to bother you, but you're Benjamin Pearson, are you not? My name is Dylan. The stranger fumbled in his pocket, pulled out a document, and brought it closer to Ben's eyes. "I am an agent of the National Security Agency. I'm sure you've heard about us." Ben's heart pounded harder. Had they found out about their Game? It was bad, very bad, and, as always, at the worst possible time. "Of course I've heard of the agency," Ben tried to smile and be as natural as possible. "But, to be honest, I have never seen a live agent before. How can I help you, Mister Dylan?" "You see, Ben, my boss asked me to bring you to one of our branches nearby, for some conversation. I have been chasing you the entire day. You are quite elusive, I have to tell you. I hardly caught up with you in here. But I decided not to bother you ahead of time and give you an opportunity to finish your shopping, which was obviously successful, as I can tell," he nodded at the numerous packages in Ben's hands. "What do they want to talk about, if you don't mind me asking? Why has your reputable agency become interested in such a trivial person as myself? I hope it's not some classified information, related to national security." "No, there is no secret but I don't know much about it myself," Dylan said grinning. "They just want to talk to you. I'm just a messenger, a field agent. They give me an order and I have to obey. The rest of it does not concern me, and they don't tell me anything, to be honest." "Am I being arrested?" "Have you done something illegal that could lead to an arrest? Are you a threat to national security?" "No, I didn't do anything reprehensible as of recently," Ben tried to joke. "I am generally a very law-abiding citizen and even pay my parking tickets on time. "We don't know anything criminal about you either. This is not an arrest, but merely an invitation for a conversation." "Interrogation?" Ben asked to clarify just in case. "No, just conversation." The agent began to lose patience. "So, that means that I can refuse the invitation?" "Yes, you can," Dylan sighed. "Unfortunately, I cannot force you to go, I have no such authority." "Why ‘unfortunately'?" "Because I followed you all day, trying to catch up with you in such hot weather," said the agent. "They woke me up early in the morning and ordered me to invite you for a serious talk. If I don't bring you to the office they would say that I couldn't cope with the task, couldn't find a convincing argument, and then send someone else, if not right now, then a few hours later or tomorrow. They can be very persistent, you know. Like I said, this is not an arrest, and nobody will force you to come. Okay, I will tell you a little more," the agent decided to open up. "It has something to do with computers. It seems they were impressed with your skills, and want to use your talent. That's all; I have already said more than I should have. Make up your mind quickly, I don't have much time." Ben sighed. Apparently, he would have to go; the National Security Agency will not leave him alone that easily. Obviously they had noticed him during the Game, so it would be good to find out how much they knew about it and close this subject as soon as possible. "Okay, let's go." Ben finally decided. "How long is it going to take? I still have a lot to do today." "It shouldn't take more than an hour. I'm also in a rush; I've promised my wife to get back home early today. I've already forgotten the last time I had dinner with my family. Yet I still have to take you back so you can pick up your car." "I'll follow you in my car, you won't have to drive me back." "No, that will not work," the agent said quickly. "There's a problem with the parking. I have a badge for our underground garage but they won't let you in. Don't worry, I'll bring you back within the hour." "Okay, let's go." Ben sighed and went to his car to leave all his shopping bags. Dylan opened the rear door of the old Ford. In the back seat there was another man, apparently also an agent. Dylan got in the front seat and the driver started the car. Ben looked in surprise at the tacky old interior. They could have bought a better car with the taxpayers' money, Ben thought, relaxing on the back seat. The springs creaked plaintively beneath him. Maybe they bought such an inconspicuous old piece of junk on purpose, so they won't draw attention during stakeouts? Although this old car probably draws more attention than the newer ones. Just then, in confirmation of his thoughts, the spring of the seat painfully pricked him in the back. No, it's definitely time to change . . . Ben only thought, as the next moment his consciousness left him, and he fell into darkness.