Days passed and during this time, Nathan still had his vocals muted. Writing notes, he begged Marxus for his voice back, but Marxus refused until we returned to Ravenstone. He constantly reminded Nathan he was completely out of line. Nathan would crumble the notes, throwing them at Marxus’ feet, then storm away in a tempered huff.
Marxus as well, took the time we had, revealing more of Drakuul Lexus’ history.
“What exactly happened during that war, that’s so important for me to know?” I asked, “For starters.”
“I’ll give you a quick synopsis, for starters.” he replied, “It would take a rather large book I’m afraid to tell you every little detail.”
“I’m all ears.”
“In 1925, one hundred years ago today actually, I fought a war with a very powerful and evil necromancer. I don’t know where he came from or much of his history, but at the time he lived in Portsmouth, England which is near the...”
“The English Channel, yes I know.” I said calmly, “Sorry.”
“You know your cities, that’s good.” Marxus nodded, “Today, it’s a large city but back then it was just open terrain with small structures spread out. It was trying to build itself into a town, then eventually a city. One day, I received a message, informing me of this Drakuul and his so-called army had come from nowhere. He settled there, taking over and spreading his corruption like a poison. So I decided to make a trip out there and come face-to-face with this person. He wasn’t what I expected.”
“Well...for starters, hoping things would go smoothly, harsh words were exchanged and threats were made. I promised that I would return to...well, anyway I was quite surprised he didn’t try to take me captive on the spot.”
“So, what happened next?” I asked.
“He gave me the time I needed to gather an army. A sort of wizard-warrior code of honor.I gathered my army that were comprised of Leonus’ Viking ancestors, magical allies, vampires and lycans from an upstarting Ravenstone, and trustworthy friends. But the true help came from Axeon. The war was long and drawn out, lasting for five days with no rest. Many were killed either from their battle wounds or complete fatigue. It was hard watching all those honorable men risk their lives, but it resulted in a victory.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, but how did you defeat this Drakuul if he’s as powerful as you say he is. Or, was.”
“I can’t delve too much into the exact details for some things can’t ever be told, as I’m sure you’re aware when your mother does certain spells. Am I right?” he watched as I nodded, “Let’s just say I used a powerful banishing spell from the book you know I speak of, that not only banishes but also binds another person’s magic. Whatever was left of his army which wasn’t much, were banished into some dark dimension. The spell bound Drakuul’s magic, putting him in an unconscious state. That gave me and two of my most trusted allies the opportunity to take him to a secure and secluded prison-Bastille located in Paris, France; OBLIVIOUS PRISON. It holds the most dangerous criminals of both magical and human variety. Knowing the warden there, he made accommodations for Drakuul and his brother, Matrx. Since then they stayed there all this time.”
“Wow. That’s a lot to hear in one day. So…this Drakuul is stuck in some sort of an…Azkaban prison. Great…I feel like Yza Potter.” then I looked up at Marxus’ confused face, “Sorry. I’m just…never mind.But why are you telling me this now.”
“Because Little One, somehow in some way he managed to escape and where he went or is hiding, is beyond me. But wherever he is, I know he’s rebuilding his legions and this time it might be on a grander scale. But the spell I used one hundred years ago, diminished most of his magic leaving him vulnerable. It’ll take him years and centuries to regain it fully, but he won’t live that long, I’m afraid.”
“Not that I’m complaining here, but how do you know?”
“I’m sorry?” Marxus asked as he looked down at me.
“How do you know he won′t live that long? Don’t those who practice necromancy or the dark arts, normally sell their souls giving them longer lives?” I replied.
“I...I have to admit, that I don’t know that for sure. But normally that’s the case. Look at me, for instance.”
“ True. So you’re saying it’s possible then.”
“Only if he were to be turned into a vampire or lycanthrope, but then he wouldn’t be able to yield magic of any kind.”
“I already know that, but do you think it’s possible that maybe he’s in the Great City and that’s the reason why everything’s changed the way it has? It makes perfect sense because what else could be that powerful? Other than you and Axeon.”
“That, Little One. I can’t say. It’s very possible. But I’m telling you all this for you′re going to have to go through many difficult challenges testing your strength and character. And hopefully your power. You’ll need everything you learned in the upcoming days to help prepare you for the task of the Keeper. It′s your duty to protect everything that’s hidden within Ravenstone, including the beings and humans that live there. I won’t live forever, Little One and my days are slowly approaching to an end. One of the consequences of performing that spell I spoke of. So far, you′ve overcome a couple of obstacles on your own. You’re a very quick thinker, which is going to work in your favor and once you fully utilize your…demonic nature, whatever that may be…you’ll be an unstoppable force. More or less.”
“I hope more.” I joked, “But, I understand. And why are you making it sound like you’re dying. I mean, you’re Marxus. The badass wizard of Ravenstone. You can’t go. I’m just getting used to you. Despite our differences and leaving us in a town of cannibals.”
Marxus let out a slight laugh and said,
“Think of it more as a retirement so to speak.”
“Uh-huh, right.” I replied.
“Come now, I think enough has been explained. We must prepare for our journey up the mountain.”
“Where to this time, Marxus. Another town that wants to eat us?” I joked as we walked back to the cottage.
“No, Little One.” he chuckled, “No. In the morning, we’ll leave at first light.”
We returned inside and I helped Sarah in the kitchen.We prepared a meal with tea, coffee and powdered drinks. I found a few boxes of fruit flavored Jello so I made a large bowl of it for dessert to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth, except for Jonathan and Erik. Poor vampires.
Nathan sat away from everyone, sinking into his misery. Glancing toward him disgusted, it was then I caught him eyeing his own sister as she walked by him toward the kitchen. But what I didn’t notice because I turned away at that point, was Sarah exchanging flirtatious glances with her own brother.
After everyone had long hot showers, we retreated to bed, falling asleep. Nathan made his place on one of the plush couches, propping himself up with two pillows and no complaints this time. Anthony fell asleep on the other.
During the night, Zanz who laid on the foot of my bed, perked his ears, lifting his head, looking toward the window. He jumped down, walked over,standing up on the window seat looking out. In the distance, were flashlights. He stepped down and turned to me, nudging my face giving it a few licks, waking me up.
“Zanz, what are you doing?” I asked as I turned my head away, “You can’t go out now. Use the papers, boy.” but he just sat there looking at me letting out a few whines then turned away walking back toward the window signaling me something was wrong.Continuing to listen to his whines, I got up and walked over, whispering as I looked out,“What is it, boy? What do you see?” then I too saw flashlights moving around in the distance belonging to six figures coming across the field heading toward the cottage. I shuffled toward Sarah’s bed whispering as I shook her slightly, “Sarah...wake up. Wake up, damn it. Get dressed. We have intruders.”
“What?” she sat up with messy bed hair and sleepy eyes, “What’s the matter?”
“I just told you. We have intruders.”
“Oh, God. You don’t think?” she asked, sitting on the edge of her bed, putting on her slippers.
“I hope not.” I replied as I stormed down the hall, knocking on Marxus’ door.
When he answered, he saw Sarah and I standing there. I quickly told him there were people coming. Placing on his robe and slippers, he came with us downstairs and approached one of the windows, observing six flashlights growing closer.
“Alright.” he said as he turned to Sarah and I, “Go wake the others and gather your belongings, then hide in one of the rooms.And please, Little One...don′t...make a sound.And muzzle Zanzabarr.”
Nathan and Anthony woke to the sound of Marxus’ loud voice, asking what was taking place. After informing them, they gathered their things, following us upstairs.
Erik and Jonathan woke when they heard my voice and frantic knocks. Erik sped toward the door, opening it quickly. He asked as he saw Sarah, Anthony, Nathan and I standing in their doorway,
“People are coming. Marxus sent us up here to get you guys.” I replied.
“Shit. Who are they?” Jonathan asked as he too came to the doorway.
“We don’t know.” Sarah added.
Marxus sprinted up the stairs. Seeing us all standing in the hall; worried faces, he ordered,
“I want you to gather your things as I told Sarah and Yzavela, and hide in one room. All of you must be quiet for I don’t know why or how they knew we’re here. So, whatever you hear or see, just remain quiet. Go...now. Move!”
We gathered our bags. I made the suggestion to make our beds, well enough to make it look as if there hasn’t been an occupancy.Everyone did so.We all moved into the room Sarah and I shared,locking the door. Removing his muzzle from my bag, I quickly strapped it on Zanz’s snout.
Marxus quickly scampered down the stairs without tripping and exited through the back door leading out to the rear of the cottage where the crafts were parked and where Axeon slept. He asked him to cloak the crafts, knowing their cloaking capabilities required the engines to be running. Axeon listened and did exactly what Marxus requested.Backing away, he watched as Axeon lowered his head, while raising his massive wings over the crafts. Seeing nothing in their place, Marxus retreated back inside, reciting a quick spell to cloak our presence. To the naked eye if anyone were to enter, they’d see no one. And that included the fireplace.
Marxus looked around making sure everything was hidden but then noticed all the furniture downstairs was uncovered, so with one wave of his right hand, the sheets reappeared, covering the furniture.
Then he sat in the kitchen waiting; silent and unseen.
“The scorch trails end here and they look fresh.” one of the men said as he examined the trails burnt on the grass’ surface with his high beam flashlight, leading toward the cottage, “But where are the vehicles that did this? They don’t show that they left.”
“Maybe they flew.” another said, “Or it’s magic.”
“Magic my ass! Whoever destroyed that town back there, hurt our business. Now, let’s check the cottage. Spread out and be careful because if there are vehicles here, they’re probably cloaked or well hidden among the brush ’round here.” one of the men ordered.
The men strolled through the cottage ransacking everything, pulling the sheets off the furniture then turned them over without breaking them. They stole the canned goods stocked on the shelves as well as a few nice trinkets laying about. One of them yelled as he pointed toward the stairs in the kitchen,
“I’ll check upstairs! See if there’s anything up there!”
Marxus sat silently, observing every detail, waiting if necessary. However as he studied these men, he took notice they didn’t have the appearance of those from the town with no name. These men were different; gruff mannerisms, dressed in skins and carried weaponry.
“HUNTERS?” Marxus thought, “IN THESE PARTS?”
Two of the men nodded as they stomped up the stairs with heavy footsteps which we heard as they grew closer. Not knowing what to do with Zanz, I ordered him to stay under the bed, as I wrapped his chain leash around the bed’s foot, then retreated to my place against the wall. Hearing them walk up and down the hall, frightened us greatly especially when they kicked the door open, almost breaking it from the hinges. We all stood along the wall near the window in complete silence, watching the men search the room. Stepping near us, Jonathan and Erik used their vampire speed switching places, having Sarah and I leaning against the wall with them facing us as they protectively placed their arms around our waists. It was kind of an awkward moment for Erik and I since we were so close together but for Jonathan and Sarah, it was more comfortable. I looked over Erik’s shoulder watching as the men continued ransacking the room for any signs of occupancy.
Sarah wanting to say something, Jonathan stared into her eyes using his vampire compulsion to silence her.
Seeing the men were standing inches away from Erik, I grabbed onto his shirt, which caused a shiver in him. Something he’s never felt before. I quickly gazed up into Erik’s face; inches from mine and we shared eye-to-eye contact momentarily, feeling that undeniable spark. He then focused on his feet breaking his gaze with a smile as if he was enjoying the whole thing.
The men finished their walk through; discovering nothing,then regrouped downstairs.
“Let’s go.” one of the men hollered, “There’s no one here. Maybe they did fly, for all we know. Let’s head back.”
The men left looking back a few times, leaving everything in a mess.
We let minutes pass, before venturing downstairs.I knelt down, calling Zanz out from beneath my bed before removing his muzzle and unchaining him.
“Good boy.” I whispered, “Let’s go.”
Grabbing onto his leash, everyone carefully ventured downstairs.
Standing in the kitchen, we observed Marxus blocking the front doorway, making sure the men were out of sight before uncloaking our presence. Once he did, we all felt at ease then began cleaning up the mess. As Sarah, Erik, Jonathan and I cleaned the kitchen while Thomas, Anthony and Nathan reorganized the living room’s furniture, I turned to Erik and asked as I leaned on the dining table,
“Hmm?” he replied.
“When you were standing in front of me...what was going through your mind? Because I caught a smile on your face.”
“So...you weren’t tempted to...I don’t know...bite me?”
“Maybe, but it was nice having you standing so close...you being a petite pissant and all. And what if I wanted to bite. What would you have done about that?” he chuckled, “And by the way...I love your perfume.”
“Don’t push it, and as far as what I would have done? Let’s just say, I wouldn’t have tasted very good. Probably leave a charred after taste.” I too chuckled, “But likewise. It was nice having you standing so close…you being a short jackass and all. Loved your cologne too, by the way.” then I turned, finishing my task.
He felt himself smiling then turned, asking one more question that threw me off, “Hey, Keeps…what was that touch?”
Jonathan who reorganized the plates, dropped one when over hearing that tidbit of the conversation.
Turning our heads, Jonathan smiled as he apologized,
“Sorry. Slippery little bugger.”
“Mm.” then I focused on Erik, “What touch? All I did was grab your shirt.”
“Maybe…maybe not.” he answered as he stepped forward leaning in, “I don’t know what it is about you, Keeps. May it be your demonic under tones perhaps, or something else, I don’t know. But you got me.”
“Never knew I had you.” I teased as I turned, walking away.
As any man who’s into the woman he likes, he watched as I walked away, enjoying the view from behind. He released a low hiss of sexual tension before turning away trying desperately to contain himself. Feeling a hand slap his back, he looked to see Jonathan standing there.
“Yup. You dig her. You got it bad, mate.”
“Shut up, Jonathan.” Erik snapped. “And what if I do? Huh?”
After putting everything back in its place, we returned to our beds for just a few hours until dawn.