A week came and went and I’ve learned more about the title of Keeper. I took notes believe it or not, sitting in on many meetings, observing how Marxus or a Keeper handled any arising issues. The meetings were hectic and long, but were resolved after hours of negotiations. He allowed my input in how I’d handle things and agreed to only some. At this point, I don’t think anything I said pleased him really.
After the meetings, Marxus wanted to reveal further secrets, including his most trusted friend.
“Where are we going?” I asked as the bookshelf opened.
“You’ll see.” he replied, leading me through the narrow passagestraight ahead to the doortoward the back,“I’m about to show you the most important and precious secret here in Ravenstone. He’s very special, so please don’t be afraid of his size.”
“His what now?” I asked, “What is he?”
Marxus didn’t reply, which was one of the things I’ve learned about him. Silence was a way for me to discover things on my own without assistance.
The door; made of solid iron with a dull surface though not rusted,displayed no handles or locks. Or at least that’s what I thought. Marxus reached his right hand to the collar of his dress shirt, retrieving a beautiful antique silver Gothic looking cross; three inches in diameter, hanging on a sturdy silver thirty-four inch box link chain.
He lowered the pendant, allowing me to examine it and it was exquisite.Studying it, I realized it was the identical symbol on the journal cover and Billy’s desk. However set in its center was a beautiful Sapphire stone. Etched carvings were along each of its points.
Heelegantly removed the chain from his neck.
“WHAT’S HE GOING TO DO WITH THAT, WHEN THERE’S NO KEY HOLE?” I thought, “AND DID THE DOOR HAVE TO BE MADE OF IRON?” I shifted in discomfort.
“I know what you’re thinking, but just remember Little One, you’re standing in the Hall of Secrets. “ he revealed vaguely as he glanced down at me, “Are you alright!?” he studied my mannerisms.
“Yes, I’m fine. Just all this iron thrown at me all at once, is making me a bit, uh…woozy.” I answered, breathing deeply, “And Marxus, please stop reading my mind. It’s creepy how you do that.”
“I’ve been called a lot of things in my lifetime, but creepy isn’t one of them.”
“First time for everything.” I glanced up at him.
Marxus grinnedas he laid his hands on the surface of the door.
I waited for something to happen, when suddenly appearing on the surface was an image of a dragon with runic symbols encircling it. A small round hole molded to fit the size of the pendant,appeared soon after in the center of thesymbol. He placed the key in the hole, lined up his thumb and first two fingers along the top and bottom of the pendant then spoke “LA CLAVE” in his Spanish tongue.
Turning it clockwise to the right with ease, a loud mechanical sound echoed through the room. Without warning the door pushed inward sliding to the right. When this door opened, the bookshelfclosed behind us as if it were timed. Literally, when one door closes, another opens.
The grand doorway led to an unknown place underground, revealing one mystery after another. I felt a slight breeze hitting my face, coming from somewhere in the entrance.
Growing fearful, Marxus reassured meeverything would be fine.
“Come, now.” he said placing the chain back around his neck.
He removed one of the torches near the door, then entered with me cautiously following behind.
Blackness greeted our eyes at first but the light from the torch revealed a set of spiraling stairs. We descended through a long catacomb tunnel, holding onto the walls for support as I stepped. I shook off the dizzy feeling, leaving the iron door behind. As I walked down, I tried imagining how this would look from the outside but realized this was a manor. But never mind that, we’re going underground beneath the island. Not surprising at all though.
“Where are we going?” I inquired as I examined the stone walls and steps.
“Don’t be afraid. You won’t be harmed.” Marxus replied.
“You keep saying that, but that’s notvery comforting.”
“Have I led you into any harmful conditions yet?” he commented as he paused, turning to me with the torch held down by his side.
“No, but that doesn’t mean you won’t.” I remarked bluntly.
Marxus didn’t reply again as he turned once more,descending ahead for five minutes; stone walls growing rougher, as if freshly cut. At the bottom, we entered a cavern that yet again, is indescribable in size. Ravenstone manor itself, could easily fit within it. Marxus laid the torch down on a rock near the tunnel’s entrance, for we needed it no longer.The cavern itself was lit with fire pits in various places glowing brightly illuminating the entire cavern in an Amber glow. I glanced around then noticed an opening off to the right, leading outside. I could hear the waves crashing against rocks, and was surprised to see that there was no water seeping in anywhere. Up ahead however, was a large mound that appeared; blue in color.
Marxus took steps forward speakingto it gently,
“Axeon…I have brought someone for you to meet.”
Hearing his voice, the mound moved in place, revealing something heard of only in legends. An actual dragon.
The dragon turned,presenting an extremely large snout. It stepped closer to Marxus and as it walked, the vibrations echoed throughout the cavern. Standing upright before Marxus, the dragon’s head practically touched the stalagmites and stalacmites that appeared to be strung along the caverns ceiling like rows of ornaments. The size of an adult T-Rex,its appearance was elegant; classic with the beautiful horns, long tapered tail and nicelycurved talons, appearing extremely sharp.Massive wings ran along the length of his body. It had an elegant head, face and snout with spikes running down his head, neck, back and tail. Deep royal blue scales contrasting its beautiful golden eyes. Absolutely breathtaking!
“Oh, my God!” I said in amazement staring at this magnificent creature, “A dragon. An actual dragon. I thought you were extinct?”
“Unfortunately mankind has been taught to believe nothing exists and what did exist, is now extinct. Very much like dinosaurs. I’m sure in deep caverns of the world, there are some species that roam freely because man hasn’t explored those areas yet. Just because we can’t see them from up here, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Dragons have learned to hide themselves; perfectly camouflaged or cloaked, blending with the environment around them. Some choose to live underground. In the seas. Even in the fiery depths of our Earth. They were known as Fire Drakes.” Marxus replied then telepathically spoke,“Axeon, this is Yzavela…the one you envisioned.” as he stared into the dragon’s golden eyes.
“Indeed it is.” Axeon answered telepathically, “I am already sensing good energy from her. She will handle the task of Keeper perfectly. However, I sense something very unique and different about this one.” then the dragon nodded at me.
In spite of his size, he walkedrather gracefully.
I didn’t know what to do but nod in return.
“It’s alright, Little One. He won’t harm you. Come…” he said, gently placing his arm around my shoulders, gesturing for me to walk towardthe dragon. He felt my body stiffen in hesitation.
Axeon lowered his head ashe approached, examining my appearance.
Anyone would be startled at this point having something so big standing over them, and I was no different. Frightened, I stepped backwards tripping over asmall rock, falling flat on my ass.Landing hard on the ground, I scraped my hands trying to brace my fall and I think I bruised my tailbone. Landing, I cursed in sheer frustration and as I did, one of the fire pits nearby flared up; flames growing higher.
Both Marxus and Axeon focused their gaze toward the flames then simultaneously, turned back to look down at me. Axeon snorted as he came closer, but Marxus reassured him not to be alarmed.
“If that was not you…and that was not me…could that have been this child?” Axeon’s voice echoed in Marxus’ mind, “What is this creature you are bringing into our midst?”
“One…she is not a creature. And secondly, I’ll explain all of that later.” Marxus answered, “Now back away…you’re frightening her.”
Axeon bowed, as he backed away.
Marxus turned, reaching out his hands. I barely grabbed onto them as he pulled me from the ground.
As Marxus examined my hands, I heard a powerful voice speak over the sound of my thoughts, and it wasn’t Marxus,
“It is a pleasure meeting you, Strange One. Fear not…I will not harm you.”
“Did you just...speak to me?” I asked, looking up into Axeon’s eyes then back at Marxus, “It was you, wasn’t it? Are you trying to drive me crazy!?”
Marxus shook his head with a faint grin.
“Okay.” I mumbled, returning my gaze into Axeon’s eyes.
The fear I felt, faded as I grew the courage to approach this beautiful dragon. Holding my hands out, his snout made contact with my palms. His scales had a bumpy texture but extremely soft to the touch at the same time.
“My name…is Axeon.” he spoke telepathically.
“You’re beautiful.” I whispered.
“Thank you.” Axeon replied with his eyes closed, enjoying my touch while sensing an unnatural warmth.
“So, it was you who spoke to me, which means I’m not going crazy.”
“It was. And you are not.”
I felt a strange tingling sensation in my hands.Pulling them away, my palms were completely healed of all the scrapes and cuts Ireceived. Rubbing my hands together, I turned to Marxus asking what Axeon’s name meant. He explained the meaning;BLUE ONE. I agreed the name definitely holds truth and suited him most perfectly.Marxus; standing alongside me, briefly explainedAxeon’s discovery.
During a meteor shower in his earlier years, Marxus had discovered Axeon inside one of the craters while venturing out on one of his journeys, claiming certain artifacts. Upon approaching it, he watched as the form of this beautiful dragon emerged from the smoke and ash. Terrified at first, he slipped inside the crater and it was Axeon who pushed him out with his snout.Since that day, they’ve been bonded and he’s proven to be a trusted and loyal friend. Axeon has helped Marxus throughout the centuries, giving advice and helping with the construction of Ravenstone’s wall, as well as battle if necessary.
After spending an hour with Axeon, Marxus said we should return to the study for he was sure he’d be needed for something.As we headed toward the steps, Axeon left the cavern for his daily meal of fresh mountain sheep. However, as he walked toward the exit, his footsteps created a rumbling sound. I smiled in amazement, watching as his wings twitched, ready for his afternoon flight.
“Come now, Little One.” Marxus urged.
“Won’t he be seen?” I worried.
“No. All dragons from what he has told me, has the capability to cloak themselves.”
“That’s handy. Thank you for answering my question.” I smiled.
“You are here to learn, aren’t you?” he returned the smile as we climbed the stairsreturning tohis study.
Turning around, I watched as the bookshelf closed,concealing the door yet again.
In excitement, I said as I paced rubbing my hands together yet again,
“Wow...a dragon. I actually touched a dragon.”
“That was my reaction when I first encountered him centuries ago.” Marxus replied, “Overwhelming, I know.”
“Overwhelming pretty much says it.”
“Now, I think I’ve shown you enough. If you have anymore questions, just let me know.” Marxus said as he walked me toward the door.
“No...I’m good. At least for now. Thank you.” I replied, ignoring the fact he tried dismissing me rather quickly.
“You’re welcome, Little One. And remember, no one but you can know Axeon is hidden beneath the manor. Someday, perhaps, you yourself could reveal his presence. But now isn’t the time.”
“My lips are sealed, but two more things though.”
“Yes?” Marxus asked as he strolled back toward his desk.
“When you placed the pendant on the door’s surface, you said LA CLAVE before turning it.So that’s the key to open it, right? The word, I mean” I replied.
“Yes. There’s no other variation. It’s the way it was created.”
“So, let’s say if I were to say KEYin my Spanish tongue...LA TECLA. It wouldn’t work?”
“As far as I know…no. But then again, maybe next time you come down here, you can try it. Fair enough? Even though the dialect’s different, the magicI’m sure, will still recognize the Spanish tongue. You’re bonded with Axeon now, and he’s the magic behind that door. Besides, passwords are always changed, so consider this a magical one. Yes?”
“Yes...okay. Just thought I’d ask. Thank you and now the second thing. How many passages are there in this place exactly? I thought castles have them, not manors.”
“Well…” Marxus answered as he went on explaining that when he inherited the island, there was a castle in the manor’s place. However, it was in ruins and after reconstruction, he made it smaller turning it into the manor, “There you have it. All the passages remained but only some were reconstructed. Older ones still remain. Did that answer your question?”
“Yes and no, but thank you. Now, I’m going to go.”
I left the office in awe; smile on my face returning to my room.
Exiting the manor’s rear door stepping outside where it rained once more, little did I know; on his balcony, stood Erik glancing across the estate. He watched as I ran across the property into my dwelling. He shook his head, followed by a large smile. He glanced up at the sky, feeling the rain hit his face and held his arms out.
“This is so f***ing crazy!” he spoke as he held his hands to his head, “She’s our Keeper. I can’t believe it but this is going to be fun. Oh…so much fun!”
After taking a hot shower, I visited my mom downstairs as she sat in the lounge reading a book. Little Freya laid curled in her lap, purring and kneading. We enjoyed the warmth given from the fire-pit, talking about the days events. Suddenly the conversation changed from talking about my position here as Keeper, to Erik.
“How do you know about that?” I asked, shifting in my seat.
“Ladies talk, you know.” my mom answered, “So, tell me...what’s going on between the two of you?”
“Nothing. Absolutely nothing. He’s just a jackass that bumped into me and still hasn’t apologized. Look, I don’t want to talk about him anymore. I’m going to grab something from the kitchen then head up to bed. Love you.” I stood, giving her a quick hug.
“Love you, too. He’s a cute jackass though!” she called out, shaking her head with a smile, as she petted Freya, “Yup.”
Relaxed with Zanz laying next to me, I read more of the books Marxus gave me.
As Marxus sat at his desk, he removed a rolled up parchment from his left drawer, laying it on top with a compass. He leaned back resting his elbow on the arm of the chair staring at the items he had placed in front of him, thinking about whether or not when to begin my actual training. Even though Marxus was the kind of man who knew how to handle situations, he still needed advice. The wisest men do. He ventured back down to Axeon’s cavern for advice, and waited for his return. Watching as he entered, he was still in awe of Aexon’s magnificent beauty.
“How was your hunt?” Marxus asked, petting his snout.
“I am content, if that answers your inquiry.” Axeon replied verbally without moving his lips.
“Yes, it does. Now, I need your assistance.”
“What is it that you need?”
“I need to know the right time to complete all of her training. She still has a lot to learn.”
“Well, I can say one thing about that Young One. She learns quickly. That I have seen. She might surprise you. But remember…time is short. She must take that journey we spoke of, as well as travel if she’s to take your place.”
Marxus looked Axeon directly in the eyes, realizing what he had said was true; giving two answers in the same response. Marxus petted his dragon affectionately.
“Thank you, for your wisdom.”Marxus appreciated.“I’ll make preparations.”
“My pleasure.” Axeon nodded, “And Marxus…be cautious of the one who takes your place when you are absent. He who appears as you, though it is not you. He who appears teaches the Young One, though she does not know it is not you. It is trickery.”
“He who is not me! If it’s not me, then who is it?” Marxus inquired in his Spanish temper.
“That I do not know, but all I see is fire. Fire everywhere.” Axeon answered, “Now, go. You need your rest and must recharge your essence.”
“Yes…yes, you’re right.”
“But, Marxus…be weary of her just the same, even if she is the one the stone has chosen. Making contact with her, I too, saw glimpses of fire. Before you leave, you must reveal to me what she is, if I am to assist her.”
Marxus sighed, then explained what he knew.
Afterwards, Axeon appeared nervous, for this will be a difficult task for him since he’s never dealt with demons before. Regardless if I’m half or not. The magic set forth prohibited demons of any kind to enter Ravenstone’s gate, much less the entire island.
“Only time will tell, Marxus.” Axeon whispered, “Go now.”
Heading up the stairs, he wondered about this individual who’s been taking his place when he hasn’t been around. It worried him greatly, though he felt he had nothing to worry about in the end. Returning to his study,he rethought things pertaining to the next steps in my training. Sitting behind his desk, he felt a sudden lightheaded sensation flood over him. Resting his elbows on the desk, he whispered,
“No…not now. Not now! Please!” and before he could say anything more, he vanished.
Minutes after Marxus vanished, the man with red eyes and tattoos down the right side of his face who had taken his appearance before, appeared alongside Marxus’ chair. Spinning it around, he smiled.
“You should be gone for a good while.” he mumbled, “Oh, now this is going to be fun.”
He sat in the chair, cracking his knuckles then glanced around the desk looking for a writing utensil and paper. Once a letter written in his own hand was complete, he waved his hands across his appearance…turning into Marxus once more. Walking into the study’s bathroom, he examined his appearance with a proud smile. His eyes turned Hazel-Brown and tattoos vanished.
Pulling down on the vest hemline he exited, walking toward the desk. Folding the letter, he placed it in his vest pocket.
“NOW WHO CAN DELIVER THIS LETTER?” he thought, “NOT ERIK. THAT RELATIONSHIP NEEDS TO DEVELOP YES, BUT LET’S SEE…WHO DOES SHE TRUST? SARAH? NO. SHE’S TOO NOSY AND WILL READ THE CONTENTS OF THE LETTER. THE GUARDS HAVE NO BUSINESS IN THIS. THE HUMAN SISTERS MARGARET AND BELLE ARE FAR TOO…HUMAN. SO THAT LEAVES THE VAMPIRE, JONATHAN. YES, HE’LL DO JUST FINE.”
He looked around the study then left, closing the door behind him.
Walking down the stairs, this impostor nonchalantly nodded toward those coming and going from the dining hall. Standing in the doorway, his eyes scanned the hall until landing on Jonathan, who sat with Sarah.
He strolled over joining them, which they enjoyed for he mainly sat at the adult table.
“Well…I don’t want to appear as a stuck up, old wizard.” the impostor answered, duplicating Marxus’ voice and Spanish accent, “So…what are you two lovelies talking about, hmm? If it’s gossip…I love gossip.”
Jonathan and Sarah stared at the Marxus sitting across from them, wondering if he felt all right. Plus too, Marxus never eats so watching as this man piled his plate with food, was highly odd. Jonathan then caught his strange scent, and asked,
“Um, Marxus…are you feeling alight? Your scent is…different. New cologne?”
“Yes, of course Red. Why wouldn’t I be?” he answered, helping himself to a cup of tea, “And yes…new cologne.”
“No reason. He just thought he’d ask.” Sarah added, looking at him curiously.
The impostor, stared into Sarah’s eyes, snapping sarcastically,
“I wasn’t talking to you and I don’t think this vampire appreciates you speaking for him. Now, Jonathan…may we speak privately for a moment? I need your services.”
Jonathan awkwardly nodded then glanced down at Sarah, disgruntled.
She watched as they stood to the side away from prying ears, engaged in deep conversation. Marxus stood with the plate, taking small bites. She leered then glanced down at her plate which she pushed away, feeling left out.
“I need you to bring Yzavela this letter, for you’re one she and I can apparently trust. Erik isn’t around and I know what happened between them, so I don’t think that would be wise, sending him to her room. I need you to do this as a favor for me. Please. I won’t forget it, Red.” this impostor said as he removed the letter from his pocket, handing it to Jonathan.
“Of course. I don’t mind at all. You can count on me. And you’re right. Sending Erik to her room would be a disaster.” Jonathan replied, “I’ll bring it to her on my way home, if that’s okay.”
“Of course.” Marxus said smugly, “As long as she receives it tonight.”
“Yeah, sure. Like I said…I’ll deliver it to her on my way to my room. Marxus…are you sure everything’s all right? You seem a little…a little…off. And what’s up with calling me Red? You’ve never done that before.”
“I’m fine. I just have an extra spring in my step. That’s all. Now, run along.” and he turned Jonathan around, gently pushing him toward the dining hall.
Studying Jonathan’s demeanor, the impostor thought, “STUPID VAMPIRE.”
Looking around at his surroundings, the imposter slowly returned to the study with plate in hand. Once locking the door, he returned to his original form. Rolling his neck in circular motions and rolling his shoulders, he walked over sitting behind the desk; feet rested on the ledge.
He leaned his head on his hands against the back of the chair, staring at the study’s ceiling. Growing bored he stood, walking toward the fireplace, examining the sword put on display. Removing it from its stand, he unsheathed the weapon.
“Ooo…beautiful craftsmanship.” he mumbled as he twirled it, hearing that special metallic ZING, “Strong metal alloys with…I detect…a hint of magic. Very nice.”
He resheathed the sword, returning it to its stand then walked over, standing outside on the balcony…waiting.
An opened my door completely, seeing him standing there holding a letter in his left hand.
“Hey, Jonathan. What’s up?” I asked, “It’s kind of late to be up here.”
“Yeah, sorry. But Marxus asked me to give this to you.” he handed me the letter, “He said it was important.”
“Thanks.” I examined the parchment.
“No problem. Hey…we missed you at dinner tonight. Everything all right?”
“Yeah. Just Keeper stuff. Sorry, I missed you guys too but tomorrow’s another day.”
“True. Well, goodnight. See you tomorrow then.” he turned, walking down the hall.
“Night.” I called out, closing the door.
I returned to the chair,laying the letter down on the table in front of me.
Zanz walked over, leaning his head on the arm of the chair.
I looked down at him and said,
“I should open it, huh?” but he just looked at me whining,“Guess that’s a yes.”so I reached over, picking it up.
Zanz stretched his neck, sniffing the paper, sneezing at the scents, then laid down.
The letter was written on parchment paper; folded three times and sealed with a wax seal with the insigniaimprinted on the back. I broke the seal creating a few sparks of embers, unfolded the paper then read Marxus’ letter,not written in ink but looked to be burned or etched onto the paper. It read:
I know that I’ve put a lot of responsibility on you, but I feel that it’s necessary. You still of course, have a lot to learn in a short time; something that has taken me centuries to do. Two days from now in the morning, please meet me by the training yard and we shall continue your training, which will entail weaponry and tapping into your…fiery spirit. Everything you’ll be taught, will be for a reason even though it might sound unnecessary to you, but believe me you’ll need everything that’s being taught to you. Once you’re done reading this letter, place it in your fireplace and that will let me know that you have received this and understood its contents. Goodnight, my lovely. Beg your pardon…Little One. See you in two days.Enjoy them fullywith your friends and mother. And be kind to Erik, for he knows not of his own destiny which will eventually be revealed. And please...don’t ruin any more of Ravenstone’s decor. Particularly the rugs.
I shook my head then mumbled as I looked down at Zanz,
“He thinks it’s my fault that, that jackass ruined his rug!? Huh. And be nice to him!? How can I be nice to someone who isn’t nice himself!? Whatever.” then I stared at the parchment, thinking about what was written.
Taking a deep breath, wondering if all this is worth it, I decided WHY NOT? It certainly won’t be a boring life. I got up, walking over to the fireplace and placed the letter in the flames as directed. I watched it burn away, then walked over to my bed, laying down on the soft mattress, falling into a nice deep sleep. Zanz jumped up and laid at the foot of my bed, completely content.
What I didn’t see; embers from the letter levitating upwards through the chimney stacks, being summoned somewhere unknown.
As Marxus’ impostor stood on the balcony staring at the night sky, he suddenly noticedembers floating towards him, landing at his feet. Looking downwas a piece of parchment with burnt edges. Reaching down, he noticed the word UNDERSTOODwas deliberately not destroyed to send its message. The stranger smiled, before hearing a loud ringing in his mind, followed by a voice calling out his name,
Rolling his eyes he turned, mumbling under his breath before disappearing in a burst of red flame,
“Yes, Master! I’m coming!”