After visiting the atrium and calming my nerves, I returned to my room for it was now dusk. Exiting the manor, loud squeals and howlserupted from outside the walls as they echoed in the distance. It was horrible andthere must have been quite a few of the unknown entity outside the gates.
Spread out around the entireestate wall, most of them concentrated near the gates which the guards had closed minutes before, hoping to break through.I’m guessing they must’ve come from the surrounding forest.
The guards watched through the fog in a clearing between the wall and trees; faint shadows and figures of the creatures spreading out in different directions.
I faintly heard the village bell ring continuously and I’ve come to learn that when that occurs, dusk had approached and that everyone had to be inside when the bell began. Looking up at the evening sky, I realized that, that must’ve been the creatures heard every night. This was the first time I’ve heard them being outside of the safety and security of our dwellings. What they were, I didn’t know and I don’t think I wanted to find out, but I will be asking Marxus about it. That was for certain.
The people in the village scampered around scared, hiding away inside their stores and homes, locking the doors behind them, closing the shutters; placing large barrier crystals outside. The bell continued until everyone on the island hid away safely. I glanced across the fieldwitnessing a group of guards clustered around the gates on the inside, making sure it was securely locked. However from where I stood, the guards looked to be an inch in size due to the distance between the gates and the manor.
Suddenly I bumped into someone and thinking it might’ve been Erik, I turned seeing Jonathan standing there baffled.
“Sorry.” I said.
“No problem but is this a habit of yours, bumping into people?” he joked.
“Funny.” then I looked toward the gates, “What the hell is that, or the better question is…what the hell are they?”
“You mean, Marxus didn’t tell you?”
“Tell me what?”
“Boar what?” I asked in confusion.
“Boar-wolves.” he replied, “I think I’ll leave that up to Marxus to explain, but right now, we need to get inside for lock up.”
“Lock up? That sounds incriminating.”
“Yeah, well that’s the rules around here. Everyone inside at dusk. But you’re allowed to walk around until 10:00p.m. even if no one else really does. Or wants to. Anyway, just escorted Sarah to her room, so you need an escort to yours?” he smiled.
“I’ll be fine, thanks.” I appreciated.
“Okay. Later.” he waved, backing away.
“Yeah.” and for the first time, I witnessed their teleportation ability.
He disappeared very much like the character AZAZEL from the movie X-MEN FIRST CLASS, except in a black misty essence mixed with faint embers, creating aswift breeze. It was beautiful.
“Cool.” I admired.
Everyone within the wall made it inside but I wanted to return to the manor. Once inside the front doors, I walked overlooking out the large windows, watching asstragglers ranacross the property to their rooms.
Coming from the dining hall, Margaret and Belleobserved me standing there.
“Back again?” Belle questioned, “We still haven’t seen Erik if that’s…”
“No, it’s not about Erik.” I replied looking at the two sisters with a smile, “Look, I really need to talk to Marxus so excuse me, please…” I made my way up to Marxus’ study which was closed.Hearing nothing but silence, Iknocked softly a few times when suddenly loud voices bellowed from inside.
“I told you, I wasn’t in the training yard today, Leonus!” Marxus argued, “So please stop making it sound as if I’m incompetent!”
“But I saw you, and so did this…girl you’re apparently training!?” Leonus answered, “If that wasn’t you…explain that!”
In urgency, I knocked once more when I heard a loud sentence of vulgarities. Answering the door, was Leonus in an agitated manner. He yelled as he looked down at me standing in the doorway,
“Marxus isn’t supposed to be disturbed when his door is closed. Surely he’s told you that, yes? But yet, I’m glad you’re here. Perhaps you can explain to him, that both you and I witnessed him out on the training yard today.”
“Yes, he was. But that’s not why I’m here.” I replied trying to look past Leonus’ tall muscular frame, “Oh, come on…really?”
“Who do you think I’m speaking with!?”
“Come in, Little One.” Marxus called from inside, “Leonus…let her pass. Now!”
After a moment of hesitation, Leonus stepped aside allowing me to enter.
“I hope you know what you’ve signed up for, becoming the new Keeper?” Leonus argued, “Surely a little pipsqueak like you wouldn’t be able to handle such a grand place and all its residents. Shame it’s fallen into delicate hands that yield no strength. Good luck trying to clear up today’s events because he has no memory of it…senile old man!”
“Excuse me?” I objected as I glanced up at him, “Look...I don’t know what I’ve done to you, Leonus but you have no right to speak to me in that tone. And strength...” I glanced up and down at his large muscular frame, “doesn’t always come from having muscles. I may be a pipsqueak as you so kindly pointed out, but I definitely have the brains and perseverance. What do you have, other than...STRENGTH!? Remember, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to speak with Marxus. KEEPER business. And don’t you worry about Marxus. I’ll watch over him. Understand!?”
Marxus sat quietly behind the desk with a smirk, leaning forward, resting his left hand against his chin; studying the situation and my confidence.
“We’ll talk later, Marxus. I must get home to my family.” Leonus ignored me.
Before he left, closing the door behind him, Marxus hollered out,
“You can’t leave, remember!? The gates are locked. You’ll have to spend the night in the lycanthrope quarters until the morning. Again. You may inform your wife.” he tossed him a radio-phone.
Leonus grabbed the gadget from mid air.
“Before you make any rash decisions pertaining to the Keeper position, just remember who knows this estate like the back of their hand. I’m more suited for the title and you know it!” Leonus objected then slammed the door behind him.
“I’m sorry if I interrupted anything. Or maybe I did you a favor.” I walked over, standing in front of his desk, “What the hell is his problem? And Marxus, I don’t think you need a door when he’s standing in its place.”
“True. Now, I told you that if you needed to speak with me, my door is always open to you. Even when it’s closed. Or blocked.” he replied as he leaned back in his chair, “I know why you’re here. And yes...you did me a great favor. He’s always been a wild character, especially in his demands. But now, he won’t let me rest upon learning that I’ve chosen a new Keeper. And even more irate that it’s you!”
“Good to know I’m the most hated person here. First a vampire, now two lycanthropes. But how do you know why I’m here?”
“Remember?” he tapped his index finger against his temple.
“How can I forget?” I walked over, sitting down in one of the chairs while Marxus remained sitting comfortably in his.
Before I could ask any questions he started explaining the sudden appearance of these creatures they call Boar-wolves. As if he knew that was what I was going to ask.
He didn’t know where or how they originated, but they suddenly appeared afterRavenstone’s construction. Somehow they were brought onto the island, after a shipment came into the harbor. The ports men back then, reported a creature that had escaped from the cargo. They dwell in the forest, camouflaging themselves in the brush and fog. They don’t come out during the day even with the fog concealing them, but emerge from the forest at dusk, roaming the island until morning.
They wander, hunting for whatever they can find. Even man, on occasion if outside the wall or the barriers that protect our residents here. There have been stories, over the years that women and children have been taken. For what purpose, no one knows. Theynever posed a serious threat to Ravenstone until recently. They’ve attempted jumping the wall of the village but it’s far too high for them to climb, and too thick to dig through.
“So, why haven’t you done anything to stop them?” I asked, “If they’re as dangerous as you say they are, then why not? They certainly sound aggressive enough.”
“Because they’ve never posed a real threat to us. Our guards have on occasion killed a few, watching as their bodies were dragged away. But that’s been quite awhile ago. They’re creatures that have a right to live so I let them be. But what I fear most of all, is thatthey’re beginning to think in a more advanced way. Just like everything else, they’re evolving.” he replied, “Our vampires have reported seeing a much larger creature trying to break the outer gate but due to the iron, it can’t get close enough.I’ve come to realize that they’re attracted to...to...how can I put it.”
“You can tell me.” I leaned forward in my seat, “I’m an adult.”
“Unfortunately, it’s an inappropriate discussion for a man of my age to be having with a young woman. But all I will say, is that we have a large amount of young women coming of age.” he answered quickly.
“Well the only thing I can think of, is that they sense...” then I realized, “oh! That!? Well, uh...um...eeww!” I leaned back in the chair disgusted, beginning to feel nauseous.
“Oh, thank goodness you understand. This is so uncomfortable for me, even though I did have a family once. Not only do we have to worry about them outside the wall, we also have to worry about our lycanthropes and vampires within the wall. For the lycans…it signifies mating season, while for the vampires it’s just a...”
“Please don’t finish that sentence.” I objectedholding my hand up, “Can we please talk about something else?” I swallowed my uneasiness in a single gulp.
“Gladly, Little One.”
“Good. I’ve dealt with enough arrogant and egotistical vampires for today.” I stared down at my feet.
“Why...has something happened with the vampires?” Marxus asked in concern.
“Eh, nothing to worry about.” I replied, “I’m fine.” then I changed the subject, “I know it’s probably not the best thing to mention, but what did you mean when you said you didn’t know what Leonus spoke of, about today and our training? I mean…I followed the instructions in your letter.”
Marxus remained silent, knowing he wasn’t present earlier today. Covering the fact, he lied in a bewildered state,
“Yes, well…it’s been a long day. It must’ve slipped my mind. I apologize.”
“It’s okay, but you just…seemed a lot happier and more chipper, if that’s a word.” I teased.
He smiled as he stood, walking toward the chairs sitting across from me.
“Little One…don’t worry about me. Now, what happened today pertaining to the vampires? Do I need to read your thoughts in order to find out what’s bothering you?”
I glanced at Marxus, who noticed my red eyes and cheeks seeing that I had been crying.
“What happened?” he softly urged.
“Nothing. I don’t want to talk about it. It’s not important. Just drop it.” I stood, walking away.
“Did something happen during your training?” he urged once more.
“Marxus...” I snapped as I turned, “please, just let it go. Don’t worry about it. I’ve already set a bush and plants on fire and I don’t want to do that here. All I will say, is leaving Erik in charge of my training…was a mistake. Now, please...tell me more about these Boar-wolves.”
“I did…what!?” he questioned then lied once more, “Oh, yes…yes, that’s right. Now, whether or not you want to tell me, I’ll find out eventually. As far as these creatures, I’ve received word over the years and centuries, that wives, daughters, sisters and nieces have mysteriously disappeared without a trace from the village or homes. No evidence of a struggle butstrange tracks leading into the forest were left behind.”
“You think they kidnapped them?” I asked.
“Idon’t know for sure but I have my suspicions. I have managed to watch their habits one evening as I flew on Axeon, examining the surrounding terrain. They come fromtheNorthwestern direction, hiding in the forest. Where, I can’t particularly say. The trees hide what’s down below, obscuring vision from above. And I won’t send anyone out there to be killed. All I do know, is that there are old ruins concealed in the forestry. Whether or not they occupy that area, is unknown.”
“Great. Not only do I stillhave a lot to learn about being Keeper, but now I have to deal with creatures that kidnap people. Fantastic. Next, you’re going to tell me there’s a creature from the black lagoon stealing God only knows what that lives somewhere else beneath the island. Anything else I should know!?”
Marxus chuckled as he walked toward me.
“I’m sorry. I know now’s not the time for jokes.” I said.
“Don’t be sorry. I understand the frustration. Just consider our conversations part of your training. Not everything can be learned physically, am I right?” he replied as he gently placed his hands on my shoulders, “There are various ways to learn things. I learn things myself everyday. Like now. Training when I don’t recall doing it and other strange occurrences. It seems I may have a doppleganger roaming the island!”
“You’re right. Could be!”then I made a mental checklist, “Learn about Boar-wolves? Check.”I made the check mark gesture with my hand in the air, “And a…Marxus that doesn’t remember things. Check. Doppleganger possible. Check.”
“And by the way...there is a creature from the black lagoon, except it isn’t a lagoon per say. Trust me, you don’t want to encounter it.”
“I knew it! Let me guess...there’s a crawling eye too!?”
“No…I’m afraid not. At least, I don’t think there is.You still have a lot to learn but I think in time you’ll learn just fine.”
“Thank you. Now, I think I’ll leave. I’m tired…and sore.”
“Goodnight, Marxus. And even if it did slip your mind about today’s training, thank you.”
Marxus nodded as he gave a fatherly hug, then pulled away returning to his desk.
I turned to say something more but watched as he rested his head in his hands; breathing deeply. Taking a few steps towards him, I asked,
“Marxus...are you alright?”
He lifted his head, noddingwith a smile saying nothing. For the first time since I had been here, I actually noticed how tired and drawn he looked, as if all his energy had been drained. Maybe he did have a very busy day himself I thought, so I let him be and left. Walking down the stairs heading for the front doors, I once again encountered Jonathan, who exited the dining hall carrying another drink of some sort.
“I thought you were in your room?” I asked, “And what the hell is that!?”
“Got thirsty for a little something. And this is just Pomegranate juice with a little special something added to it. Don’t worry...see? It has a lid.” he replied, “How about you?”
“Yeah, I don’t want to know what the little special something is, but I just got finished talking with Marxus about the Boar-wolves. Interesting story. And now, I’m heading back to my room to shower, change and have dinner with my mom. She’s cooking tonight.”
“Hey, Jonathan…can you do something for me?” I asked.
“Sure. Anything.” he replied, taking a sip.
“Erik and I had anargument today during training.Just tell him I’m sorry, please? I looked for him to apologize, but I haven’t seen him anywhere and I don’t know what room he’s in, even though he’s in the dwelling directly across from mine.”
“Yeah, I’ll tell him. He’s probably visiting his father.”
“Okay, thanks. And one more thing…ask him if he thought Marxus’ behavior was odd today. Both Leonus and I noticed it and just now, Marxus pretty much denied the fact that he was training me today. I’d just like to know his opinion.”
“I’ve noticed it too, on occasion. Normally he calls me young Jonathan…not just plain vampire or Red. But, yeah. No problem. Knuckle bump?”he held his fist out, waiting.
I returned the knuckle bump along with a smile then added as I walked backwards,
“And Jonathan…good to know that cup has a lid!”
Jonathan looked at the cup then looked at me, giving a big heart warming smile.
I shook my head as I turned away.
Jonathan stopped by Erik’s room giving him my message.
After Jonathan left, Erik sat in one of his chairs, thinking he should stop by my room to talk, but then thought better of it; deciding to catch me the first chance he got. Even though things between us are…what’s the right word…awkward, receiving my message gave him peace of mind, lifting his spirits. He laid on his bed, staring at the stone ceiling then immediately grabbed a pen and notepad from his drawer. He thought of the right words to say, then wrote a letter addressed to me. Afterwards, he stared at the paper thinking of how to sign it.
Later that night, I received a letter under my door in which Zanz carried over to me.
I’d like to apologize for my behavior earlier today. I truly am sorry if I may have hurt your feelings. Please know that, that was not my intention. As you stated, you feel defensive around me, well…likewise. You’re the first woman to come into my life and sass back, not afraid to speak your mind. To be honest…it’s a relief, compared to all the horrible experiences I’ve had here. Anyway, again I’m sorry and I hope you believe my words. Perhaps, we can try this again and start fresh. I really like your company, and it makes me feel normal around here. Anyway, I hope you don’t tear this up and I’m sure you’re probably thinking I’m a jackass right now, as you’re reading my words. And oh, by the way…Jonathan told me about your concerns for Marxus’ behavior today. Yes…I did notice something odd, but figured he, like everyone else, was having a bad day. But to keep it between us, I’ll keep my eyes out for anything else out of the ordinary. Now…goodnight, Yzavela. Yzavela with a YZ and the letter V in between.
-Erik with a K ☺”
After reading his letter in an elegant penmanship, I thought as I stared at the paper, “ERIK WITH A K…YOU SURPRISE ME. YOU’RE NOT LIKE OTHER MEN THAT I’VE MET. I’D LIKE TO SEE WHERE THIS GOES. YOU’RE NOT THAT BAD. BUT YOU’RE STILL A JACKASS. A VERY CUTE AND SEXY ONE THOUGH.”
I laid the letter on the table beside my bed and fell to sleep with a smile on my face.
During the night it started raining, but that didn’t stop the Boar-wolves from roaming around the outside wall. They searched for a way in andwouldn’t give up until they discovered one. They squealed and howled all through the night, giving no peace. The leader of these creatures walked near the front gates trying to break in but jumped backwards, as his skin burned against the iron. He was shot with silver and iron bullets or arrow heads from the guards, causing him to squeal in pain. He retreated into the fog in slow steps as the wall disappeared from his sight.
Zanz stood before the balcony doors, howling back at what lurked beyond the wall. Can’t take that away from him; he’s Wolf.
I sat up watching this beautiful animal; head thrown back communicating with the Boar-wolves.
I called him over then he jumped up on the bed, snuggling alongside me. I held onto him like a soft pillow, as we both drifted off to sleep.
Later that night, Marxus had visited Axeon to confer with him about the strange events taking place here and there during his absence and brought to the dragons attention, that perhaps I brought the strange entity into Ravenstone. Axeon contemplated deeply for he didn’t know it could be true without proof of it, but if it were, he wasn’t picking up on anything evil or dangerous for that wouldn’t be allowed, as they both knew. Feeling somewhat content, Marxus thanked the dragon and returned to the study where a presence was felt.
He reached out, trying to communicate with whatever it was but there was nothing.