Chapter 2 - New Faces, Old Scars
“Are you alright?” Haven took the hand and let it help her up. “Thanks.” As she made it to her feet – with much effort thanks to the sharp pain in her back – the dark figure became recognizable. He had scarlet skin and wings. He had a beak-like mouth and his hair was pasty white.
Regaining her senses, she turned to check on Kale. He was being protected by another gargoyle, smaller with caramel-colored skin and webbed wings. “The kid’s fine.” He pulled Kale out from under the fallen boxes. “There’s three of ‘em now!”
“I don’t care if there’s thirty of ‘em! Take ‘em out!” The thugs started for them. The red one swatted them away and threw them about before they could attack. Any that didn’t run away were thrown into a nearby dumpster in hardly any time at all. “That takes care of the trash. So who’s got the dishes?”
Haven rushed over to Kale taking him from the caramel gargoyle. “Kale? Come on niño, wake up.” The boy opened his eyes a little. Haven let out a sigh of relief. “Cool, more gargoyles.”
“Yeah, pequeño, you forget about your stomach ache?” If Kale did forget, he was surely reminded by the urge once again. He pushed away from Haven and threw up in his little box.
“What did he eat?” asked the caramel gargoyle. “Just a triangle with cheese and meats.”
“It was a pizza.” Kale called. The bronze gargoyle inspected the pizza box, “How old was it?”
“A few days o…” another belch. “It may be food poisoning. Unrefrigerated meats can do that.” chimed in the red gargoyle. Kale finally finished throwing up before Haven crawled over. She grabbed the medicine from her pouch and a bottle of water from the pile of boxes. He took two pills with a Lot of fuss then buried his face into Haven’s side. “It still hurts.”
“Give it some time to work, okay?” Kale nodded then gasped, “Your hand…”
“Don’t fuss about it. It will be fixed by tomorrow. So… *turns around* …who are we thanking for the help?” The caramel one answered first. “I’m Lexington.”
“And I’m Brooklyn.” Lexington took a rip at his breech cloth and gave it to Haven for her hand. “Thanks. Haven, and this is Kale.”
“Your accent doesn’t sound like it’s from around here, if you don’t mind me asking.” Brooklyn stated. “Costa Rica, and I don’t.”
“She just got in off a boat.” Kale blurted, “She’s been staying with me.”
“Well you’re not safe here anymore. You can come to our place if you want and we can get both your injuries looked at.” Lexington insisted, “It’s better than an alley.”
“This is your alley, Kale, so it’s your call.” Kale shifted to balance him own weight, “Let’s go. I’m tired of this alley.”
Haven tried to pick him up but her hand started hurting and so did her back so Lexington offered to take him while Brooklyn turned his back to her to climb on, “You can’t glide with your back like that.”
“Right, my back.” Approaching the wall, Haven tightened her grip especially constricting, “You okay?”
“No.” Just then, they heard men shouting, “Over here, Marco! They can’t have gone far!”
“Sorry. Hold on best you can.” he started climbing the wall of the building. Not half way up, Brooklyn felt her heart beat against his back. The men rounded the corner in time to catch Haven’s tail going onto the three story roof. “Up there!”
Lexington helped them onto the roof and double checked their advantage; the men were already in the other alley trying to access the fire escape while others were breaking into the building to climb the flights to the roof. They ran to the next building, leaping over the gap and clinging to the wall. The men were reaching the previous roof just as Brooklyn was getting over the top of the second. They fired at Lexington and Kale, luckily missing as Kale would have been the first to get hit.
Now that they had another few minutes before the thugs could reach them, they got ready to take off. Thinking Haven was having trouble hanging on he picked her up in the front, much to her protest, “Hang on to me.”
“Wait!” But before she could protest any further, the hoodlums were bursting through the attic door and Brooklyn was leaping off the five story ledge and gliding away. Kale, despite his ailments, rooted in excitement. Haven shut her eyes and buried her face into his shoulder. Brooklyn felt her pounding heart beating a mile a minute and her breath in short, panicked puffs against his chest.
‘Is she in that much pain? Was I too rough?’ His thoughts meshed a little as a faint scent of ocean mists filled his nose. It was coming from her hair, a side effect of living in coastal Costa Rica he imagined. He was gentler with her nonetheless to avoid causing further pain.
Soon, they were back home at Castle Wyvern atop Xanatos Tower. “We’re here.” Lexington told Kale as he gazed at the castle’s majesty. As soon as he let down the kid, he took off to explore; apparently the medicine kicked in, “This place is HUGE!”
Brooklyn let Haven down slowly and the more her feet made contact with the ground, the slower her pulse. A large gargoyle came to greet them, “Lexington, Brooklyn, who have you brought home with you?”
“This is Haven. She’s from Costa Rica, and…Kale ran off somewhere.” Lexington answered. Goliath smiled at Haven who tried not to stare, “It’s nice to see a new face around here.” the great gargoyle exclaimed. Haven only nodded in response catching her breath.
“They lost their alleyway to the Blazers gang. Is it okay for them to stay here a while?” Lexington requested. “Of course. Our home is open to you if you will stay.”
Goliath held out his hand to her. “Come child, I will not harm you.” She stared into the eyes of the great gargoyle. In truth, she had never seen such a large gargoyle before in her life. It frightened her a little. Realizing she hadn’t moved since he appeared, she slowly reached out her hand to his and took it. When they touched, the trance in her eyes broke and she looked away. “Sorry. I’ve…never seen such a large gargoyle.”
“Do not worry. You will get used to it. I am Goliath.”
‘That’s a fitting name’ she thought as she continued to look down trying not to stare again. “Hola…”
“Come, I would like you to meet the others.” He let go of her hand and beckoned her to follow. She trailed behind him a few steps with Lexington and Brooklyn on either side of her, descending a flight of stairs and into an impressive hallway. Goliath led them to a room with a tv. Inside was an aged gargoyle with a bad eye and a gargoyle beast curled up next to him. “Hudson, I’d like you to meet someone.”
The old gargoyle turned to face them. “Aye, so who might this lass be?” He got up to greet them with the gargoyle beast following close behind. “Haven, this is Hudson. Hudson, Haven.”
“Welcome to Castle Wyvern, lass. I hope ye feel at home.”
“Gracias.” The gargoyle beast could wait no longer. He pounced onto her and soaked her face in a coat of drool. “Iche.”
“And this is Bronx.” The creature woofed and panted. “Nice to meet your salivary glands.” She rubbed his ears in a way that made his leg twitch. When he rolled on his back, she rubbed his tummy up and down earning more kicks from his leg. “He really likes you.” Brooklyn assured her. “You just gotta know where to rub. Not much different from dogs.” she replied.
“Come, there are still others to meet.” Goliath called. “Goliath, I have to watch Alex now. See you later.” They watched as Lexington ran down the halls until he turned a corner and left their sight. “Who’s Alex?”
“You’ll see.” Next, Goliath took them to a kitchen where a round, bluish gargoyle was with another female gargoyle. Next to her was a small boy with Band-Aids all over him. “And that’s Kale.” she told Goliath. The boy turned around as did the gargoyles. “Hi, Haven. Broadway was just teaching me and Angela how to make chocolate pudding. And he made me ginger tea.”
“Initially, I was just teaching Angela when this kid found us. We cleaned him up.” They came towards them. Kale stared in awe at Goliath towering over him. “Woah.”
“Kale, this is Goliath.” The female presented Kale to Goliath. Goliath knelt down to address him at a more suitable level. “It is nice to meet you, child.”
“How did you get so big?” Kale asked. Goliath chuckled. “I’m told to tell young ones that it’s because I eat my vegetables.”
Kale groaned, “But vegetables are so gross.” Broadway put his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Not if you cook ‘em right.”
“Haven, this is Broadway. And this is Angela, my daughter.” Angela took her hand. “I can’t remember the last time I had female company.” Haven stated.
“Kinda makes you feel outnumbered, huh?” The two girls giggled as if they became close friends from the start. “Come. There are still more friends to meet.”
“More gargoyles?!” Kale asked eagerly. “No, but still family…sorta.” Brooklyn answered.
Haven hesitated on following hearing that, turning Kale’s attention, “You coming?” Haven swallowed, “Sure.”
They came to a large double door. “They should all be in here.” Goliath added. Beyond the doors was a grand master bedroom. A man and a woman stood next to a cradle and Lexington holding an infant. The man was the first to take notice of them. “Goliath. It seems your clan growing.”
“Haven, this is Xanatos, the owner of this place.” Haven looked at them coldly. “This is Haven. And this is my young friend, Kale.” Kale rushed over to see the baby. “What’s his name?”
“Alexander. Cute, isn’t he?” Fox replied. Finally, Haven broke her silence, “Thanks for the hospitality.” Her tone was firm and actually directed towards the Goliath, but Xanatos didn’t seem bothered by her intrepid offensive.
“It’s no trouble really. Come and go as you please. This is my wife, Fox, and this is our son Alexander.” Fox smiled, also disregarding her hostility, “Stay as long as you like. We hope you find yourself comfortable.” Haven pause for but a moment. “Thank you but that won’t be necessary. Let’s go, Kale.”
She turned around and hurried down the hall, Kale hesitantly trailing behind her. Brooklyn looked at Goliath, then Lexington, both of which had the same confused look as he did. “Don’t look so surprised. You were the same way when you first came here.” Xanatos stated.
Brooklyn motioned to Goliath that he’d go after her and left to follow them. He found them outside as long crimson hair, shimmering in the moon light caught his eye.
Darkness clouded her mind as painful memories were brought back. As peaceful as the night was, there could be no peace from the past. Yet in all the hurt, there was that crimson hand, trying to reach out to her once again.
Brooklyn found Haven getting Kale ready to go near the ledge of the castle, “We can’t stay here, Kale.”
“But why?” Kale needed some minor pulling and then some convincing to get him down the hall, “I…Kale, I don’t feel like we’ll be safe here. We’ll find some other place, okay?”
“There’s like a ba-jillion gargoyles and everything is all expensive. How can this place not be safe?” she knew she was losing this debate, “Well, it’s not polite to overstay your welcome.”
“But they said we can stay as long as we like.” She sighed, “They say that but…”
“And we mean it. You’re not staying?” Brooklyn noted her face was more cautious than before. “We appreciate what you’re trying to do but we think it's better to find other accommodations.”
“You mean you think it's better.” She sighed as Kale pouted, “Come on, Kale.” Brooklyn waved, “Take care of yourself.”
Haven approached the ledge with Kale in her arms. Kale was unnerved by the height but Haven nearly froze. Brooklyn watched for them to leave but wondered why they took so long. Finally, Haven took a deep breath and went over the ledge but instead of gliding off like Brooklyn imagined she would, she was climbing down. Suddenly he remembered her injured wing and ran to check on them, “Do you need help?”
“We’re fine.” Haven was in considerably more pain with her hand than her wing but she was frozen quite a ways down. “I’m scared, I want to go back up. I don’t like this.”
Haven didn’t realize her shaking was terrifying the boy. Brooklyn didn’t know what was going on but he stayed at the ledge, “You sure, I could give you a lift.”
Her thoughts were a jumble that she scarcely heard him. She forced herself to move as her pride wouldn’t allow her to go back up. The bandage on her hand snagged on the stone she had her claw in rather tightly that when she pulled at it, it scrapped her wound and made Kale lose his grip, “AAHHH!!!”
Brooklyn leapt from the ledge with full speed to catch Kale before he could lose grip of her tail too. The boy clung tightly to him and buried his face in Brooklyn’s shoulder. Climbing back up, he motioned for her to come with him but Haven still couldn’t move so he quickly got Kale back up to the ledge then went back down for her, “Give me your hand.”
“I…I can’t…” Brooklyn went lower and reached out for her hand himself. It was shaking violently, in fact, so was the rest of her. He wrapped her hand around his neck forcing her to quickly swing her other hand over to cling to him. He climbed up to the ledge where Kale grabbed her waist and held tightly. He was still pretty shaken himself. Now that she felt firm stone under her feet, she felt horrible for putting him in such a dangerous position. The idea of going down the elevator and out the front door came to mind but the likely hood of not attraction attention was laughably low. Kale brought her back from her thoughts with a sob. “We…we’ll stay for today. Then tomorrow…”
“I understand.” Brooklyn picked up Kale since Haven felt too ashamed and took him to a place where he could sleep. He came back later and found Haven by the fountain but before he could speak, she asked him a question, “How can you live with humans?” She turned to face him. “I know what they can do, especially that human in particular. But Goliath and the rest of us believe we can live alongside them.” he answered.
“That’ll never happen.” She looked back into the water. Brooklyn walked to her side, trying to meet with her eyes, “Not that it’s any of my business, but how is Kale any less human?”
There was a pause. “Kale is different. I can’t explain it, but he’s…different.”
“He’s as much human as Xanatos. Why the prejudice?” Haven sighed heavily. “He…reminds me…of someone I know.”
“The high priest in Costa Rica.” Brooklyn tried to peer into her amber eyes through her reflection but she seemed to stare right through him as she recalled what went before. She sighed greatly again, “Back home, I have two brothers; one younger, one older. But I also had a little sister.”
“Monja Ivelisse found us as eggs and raised us as hatchlings. She didn’t see us as demons, only four baby creatures. Alonso – that’s my eldest brother – protected the city when he was old enough while we waited in the abbey. My brothers were named Alonso and Jerico and mi hermana, my little sister was Eva.” Brooklyn took a knee next to the water she seemed to be seeing this tale in, “And what was yours…your name, I mean?” Finally she looked up from the ripples, “It doesn’t matter anymore, I’ve since discarded that name.”
“Why?” Brooklyn stopped looking into the distorting ripples and at her. “It was the night we celebrated my Quince Año, the night I would come of age and help protect the city with Alonso. It was also the night of the Día de las Culturas festival and all the abbey was out giving cheer to the less fortunate. Padre Marco and Hermano Basilio came back for the wine in the cellar since the abbey had no use for them anyway. Few ever came down there.
To him we were forces made outside of nature, forces that should be purged. I was alone with the younglings while Alonso was out in the city getting Jerico new guitar strings. Padre Marco didn’t hesitate to grab a hot poker from the fire to swing and jab into us. I shielded Jerico and Eva…and I received this.”
She placed her hand near a fat, long bump on the back of her left shoulder. It looked like she was branded by the fire poker.
“We were chased out of the abbey and through the streets of San Jose by the people I would have protected.” Haven dipped her claw into the water creating small waves that reverberated off it. “Like the ripples, or flame in an oil field, word of demons spread quickly throughout the city.
“The young ones could not yet fly and…I…couldn’t do anything. My sweet Eva was caught in that mob. Alonso came to us…but too late. We lost mi hermanita and barely escaped with our own lives.”
“I’m…I’m sorry, truly.” Brooklyn hung his head, ashamed of making her bring up a painful subject. “Monja Ivelisse was trying to surprise us with silver crosses with our names engraved on them. We found them months later when we went back to find her. She had disappeared.”
She sighed heavy, “I can’t forgive them. I won’t. I can’t live your way and I won’t ask you to understand.”
“I do, though. We were also betrayed by the humans we protected; twice. We were even betrayed by one of our own, and…we lost so much of our family.”
“Then why are you still here? What can possibly draw you to them?” Her voice was quiet and pained. “Because humanity is not totally lost. We have met humans like Kale and Xanatos who accepted us for who and what we are, even wanted us around. There’s room for one more if you’ll suffer us.”
Haven looked at him at long last, then at the night sky. “Your Luna is beautiful, but Manhattan has no stars. Makes me miss home that much more.” Brooklyn hung his head in disappointment. “But…” Brooklyn’s head shot back up in hope. “I’ll stay here…until I can find other arrangements. I’ll stay until the stars shine in this sky.”
“That could be a long wait with these lights. Welcome to Manhattan.”