Ready to say words of concern, I held my hands up, interrupting Marxus before he could speak,
“You…son of a bitch! Yet again…you put my life…and Erik’s life…in danger! And for what, hmm, Marxus!? Tell me!”
The others worried, as they tried calming me down but seeing and hearing my anger, they ceased. Especially when their eyes noticed as my form began steaming but this time, more intense with a heatwave-like-aura and faint flickers of red flame.
“I beg your pardon, Yzavela!?” Marxus argued, “You dare speak to me like this, yet again and expect me to tolerate it!? You forget whose place you’re living in!”
“At this point, Marxus…I don’t give a damn! If you don’t want me there, that’s fine! When we return, I’ll gather my things and my mom, then we’ll leave…never looking back! But let me tell you this and you listen well. I’ve had enough of your God damn tests…your careless actions…and most of all…misjudgment! Of me…and all of us! I thought you cared about all of us, but apparently you don’t! Because the only one you care about…is yourself!” I pushed him back, “Isn’t that right, Marxus!? Isn’t that right!?” as I pushed him back once more, but this time…with a force that knocked him to the ground and I didn’t even touch him.
At this moment, I gathered all my rage and anger, turning it into an energy that emanated from my feet up through my body, before releasing it from my hands. I stared at my hands, feeling a fading tingling sensation before focusing my eyes on Marxus.
Kneeling on his elbows, stunned; he stared…as did everyone.
“Yza…what did you do!?” voices echoed over each other.
I turned to them all, leering as I continued standing there in my steaming form then let out a low snake-like-hiss which wasn’t like me then returned my gaze at Marxus, who slowly stood to this feet.
“How…dare you! Do you know…who I am…Little One!?” he questioned, “You did this once before and I ignored it, but not now.”
“What are you going to do, Marxus? Hmm?” I threatened, “Do you want a show down or a battle between you and my origins? And in front of everyone? Because at this point…your chances are looking pretty slim!”
Marxus stood speechless as Thomas spoke up, interrupting the argument. I leered at Marxus once more before turning away, walking toward Zanz and the large boulder. Just when he thought he heard the end of it from me, Erik walked over, giving his two cents into the situation.
After thinking about it, one-by-one, everyone else tore into Marxus before turning their backs on him, and even contemplated upon just packing up and leaving.
As I sat near the cave’s opening breathing in the fresh air, Erik walked over, draping a blanket around my shoulders. Jonathan walked over giving Erik a blanket then backed away.
A fire was lit minutes later as we all sat around keeping warm, drinking tea and hot chocolate.
Afterwards, Sarah held up a blanket shielding me away from view as I changed into dry clothes and boots; Zanz too sat guard. I felt much better in warm clothes but could feel a cold coming on due to the pressure of an oncoming headache and a sniffy nose. Sarah noticed the bite marks on my neck but remained silent.
Erik too changed his clothes rejoining us all near the campfire.His skin regained its color, looking like the handsome vampire I love teasing so much.
Sitting around staying warm, Erik and I told everyone what happened in the cave.No one could believe the trauma I went through during the bridge course and were all excited to see the prize I received for completing my quest. We didn’t tell them of course, how I offered my blood so Erik could survive nor about the pill. Laying the rock in my lap, everyone stared at it with tilted heads and confused expressions. Even Marxus who sat far from us.
“It’s a rock. What are you supposed to do with a rock?” Sarah asked bluntly as she continued to stare.
“One, it’s rude to stare and two...that was my first impression when it was handed to me.” I replied, “What it’s for...no idea. Well, I can think of two ways to use it.” as I looked over at Nathan, who sat there smoking another cigarette, not interested in our welfare then over at Marxus.
“If it was given to you, young lady…”Thomas added, ”it must be worth something. Don’t you think? And who gave it to you? There was only you and Erik inside that cave.”
I decided not to answer his question. At least not now.
“It sort of looks like a...meteor.” Jonathan observed seeing flecks of Amber within the rock, “Hope it’s not radioactive.”
“Gee, thanks for that, Jonathan. But what’s next? Losing my hair?”
Everyone shared a hardy laugh, and I was grateful that Jonathan broke the moment, changing the subject.
“Marxus...”I called out as I stood, “what’s our next move? Another test!? Because I’m not doing it and I speak for everyone else I’m sure.”
Marxus watched as everyone nodded in agreement.
“I know you’re still upset, but once you calm down…I hope we’ll come to an understanding of why.”
“We’ll see, Marxus…we’ll see.”
Approaching, Marxus poured the remaining sips of his tea away before getting his point across. After laying the cup down, he scanned everyone and persisted,
“First off…I want to apologize to everyone, but especially to you Erik and Yzavela. I know it doesn’t seem fair, but what makes you think I’m going to put you and your friends through training that’s easy, hmm? Nothing in life is easy. You all need to learn different courses to take as well as actions; for all of them aren’t the same. Each situation you come across will make you stronger and as you go, you’ll learn how to handle it and the people involved. All of you have lived a sheltered life and know nothing about the outside world except for you, Anthony and Thomas. This is everyone’s first adventure outside of Ravenstone except for Yzavela, who has traveled from the states to England, then from the Great City, leading her to us. Others who did come here were too young to remember. Yzavela has a lot to offer in ways such as what it’s like living in a big city and the different encounters, though not bad ones.You can teach everyone things that you know but they in return, can teach you a lot. I’m sorry if you feel that what I put you through is dangerous, but the cave was just a test. But back there in that town...that was something I didn’t plan on happening. The world is not a safe place, in spite of what you think or hear. Especially now. However, I hope it taught you all a lesson in some way. Now I think I’ve said enough. Are you satisfied with my answer, everyone?”
“No. I’m not.” I answered as I stood, “Erik and I almost died in that cave. I almost broke my back and could’ve suffered a concussion. And poor Erik?” as I turned to him, “He was so sick, he couldn’t even walk much less breath which led him to…well…this!” I exposed the bites, “But you don’t look surprised. Of course not.”
“I didn’t plan that.” Marxus argued. “And you, Erik. You bit her?!”
“Maybe you didn’t, but you set up the test just the same.” Erik snarled. “And yes. I did!”
“Guys…I think enough’s been said on both sides.” Anthony protested, “It’s getting late, so let’s all eat something then set up the tents. Yes?”
“Yes, Anthony. You’re right. I’m tired of repeating myself to someone who won’t listen.” I answered, “And did you just say tents?”
“Oh…fun.” I mocked, “That shouldn’t be so hard.”
After warming up with hot food in our bodies, we all unpacked the tents; beginning to set them up. Well, at least I tried to. Thank god the cave entrance was large enough to hold all of our individual tents.
Erik and Jonathan were first to finish, so they sat around the fire, waiting for the others. Thomas and Anthony finished in second place, followed by Nathan and Sarah, as well as Marxus who used his magic to set it up (not fair), leaving me. As I unpacked the tent, I laid all the parts on the ground and just stood,staring at everything involved in setting it up. Oh, my God…there’s a lot.
Zanz sat there holding one of the sticks, wanting to play but I knelt down, telling him they weren’t for playing.
“Hand it over.” I asked holding my hands out, “Come on...”
He dropped it into my hands, then I affectionately scratched his neck, giving him a treat from my bag, along with his large chew-bone.
Erik and Jonathan sat there talking when Erik set his eyes in my direction.Jonathan asked as he placed his hands on Erik’s shoulder,
“Penny for your thoughts, dude?”
“Hmm?” Erik replied as he looked at Jonathan.
“What are you looking at?” then Jonathan followed his gaze toward where I stood then looked back at Erik, “So...exactly what happened in that cave?”
Erik explained what happened in the cave from his point-of-view starting with the bolts and how we got through them, giving me the credit for it.Then the wall of fire and how he found the tunnel leading to the bridge and what followed after that. Jonathan was excited to hear the details about how we got through it and when Erik told him I fell, Jonathan grew concerned. Erik reassured him I was fine.
“Then after that we shared a moment.” Erik revealed softly as he rubbed his hands together.
Jonathan looked around and being a guy he leaned in closer, asking with a slight smile on his face,
“What kind of moment, dude?”
“Jon...mate, not that! Get your mind out of the gutter. She’s not that kind of woman.”
“What am I supposed to think? You didn’t make yourself clear, mate.”
“There was a moment after I saved her where I was holding her to keep her warm...”
“Uh-huh...” Jonathan said, “and?”
“AND...nothing.” Erik replied, “It wasn’t like that. I had the urge where I wanted to kiss her but it wasn’t exactly the most romantic setting. Besides it would ruin our friendship if I did.”
“Oh...so you want to kiss her?” he nudged him with his elbow.
“That’s not what I said.”
“But it’s what you’re thinking? I know how it feels. I feel the same way about my Sarah.”
“Your Sarah?” Erik asked as he looked directly at Jonathan.
“Yeah.” he replied as he held on to the lapel of his jacket, “My Sarah. Even though she doesn’t know it yet. Well, actually…I’m still working on that.”
“Uh-huh. But it’s not like that with Yza and I. We’re just getting past the stage of tolerating each other and now I think we like each other.But after that moment in the cave, where she...I don’t know what to make of her fully. I just...never mind. Don’t worry about it.”
Just then everyone silenced as they heard my voice scream out in frustration,
“You’ve got to be kidding me! Why won’t you...you son of a...mother...you piece of plastic and sticks...shit face!”
All looking in my direction, there I stood kicking at the lump of rolled up fabric that soon would transform (God willing) into a tent. Who has this much trouble setting up a tent?
Everyone started laughing to the point where they felt tears welling in their eyes; stomach muscles aching. Marxus stood completely perplexed that something so simple as putting up a tent could be so difficult. He too couldn’t contain his laughter.
After sneezing and coughing a few times from my oncoming cold, I finally gave up on this mess of a tent. So, I decided to crawl inside with Zanz and just lay there in some kind of lump or another, leaving it like that…ignoring the laughter.
“Will someone please go help that...poor pathetic girl?” Marxus pleaded through his laughter.
Anthony stood, ready to offer his assistance but Erik immediately jumped to his feet, not wanting Anthony’s charm to take hold over me in my moment of foolishness. Leering in Anthony’s direction, Erik released a low hiss; Anthony returning the hostility with a quiet growl.
“I’ll do it.”Erik proclaimed, walking over to my, well, lump on the ground.
“Wow…finally something she can’t do.” Sarah mumbled, “Not so perfect after all.”
“Sarah…shut it!” Jonathan snapped.
Erik knelt down after getting himself together, poking around the fabric hoping he wasn’t poking anything personal. He tried poking around the lumps that were Zanz and I and when he poked somewhere on one of them, it let out a loud yelp then stirred in its place.Knowing that wasn’t me he poked the other one and when he did, I felt a hard poke in my side.
“Ouch!” I yelled out causing him to pull his hand away, “Watch where you poke!” and as I pulled the tent off my head there was Erik, “Did you just poke me!?”
“Um...” Erik replied, “not intentionally, but yeah.” he grew another smile.
“Well...it’s not nice to poke people. First you bump into me and now you poke me. What do you want?”
“I came here to help you set up your...” he stood examining my mess, “tent. And I’m going to let that comment slide for now.”
“I’ll be fine just like this.”
“Not if it rains again, you won’t. Now please get out of there.” he held his hands out.
After a moment of hesitation, I reached up and he gently pulled me to my feet.
“Zanz, come boy.” I said watching as he crawled out from inside, sitting next to me.
Erik knelt down again, showing me how to set up the tent by matching end to end, stick to stick, etc. It looked simple enough and I felt extremely embarrassed that I couldn’t do something so simple as set up a tent. But not just any tent. A domed tent. Yeah. Nathan sat there watching the whole moment, filled with anger and disgust, watching as Erik and I laughed.Before he could retire to his tent, Marxus walked over whispering in his ear from behind,
“You better calm that storm brewing inside you before I have you neutered by the local vet. And I hear he specializes in lycanthropes. Got it?”
Nathan looked up at Marxus, knowing he meant it. Scribbling on a piece of paper, he turned, handing it to Marxus before retiring to his tent. Marxus shook his head as he read the note:
“I’m not the only one in the shit house, old man. She’s still angry with you too, so I’d watch your back. She just might burn you too…again.”
Marxus frowned as he crumbled the note, throwing it into the fire.
After Erik finished, he showed me a small metal vented portable tent heater that worked perfectly, giving off just enough heat for the inside.
“Wow...I feel so embarrassed.” I said as I held my hands up to my face, “So simple.”
“Don’t be.” Erik replied, “And it’s no problem. Do you need some matches to light the coals?”
“No, I’m fine. Thanks. I’m sure I can light coals without help. Demon here.”
Erik let out a slight laugh then asked,
“ So true. Okay, then. Care to join me near the campfire?”
“Yeah...that sounds heavenly.” I replied, “But let me zip Zanz inside real quick.”
Zanz crawled inside and laid down near the rock while I zipped it halfway closed from the outside. Afterwards, we sat with the others who teased me about the tent.We all laughed, including myself because I’m sure it was a pretty silly sight. Thinking about it, I probably would have laughed too, if that were someone else.
After the enjoyable laughter, I stood walking over toward the cave’s entrance once more; staring at the clear night sky where stars were in abundance. Mother nature, once again, had given us a break. Erik excused himself and walked toward me.
“Keeps...you okay?” he whispered softly. “Beautiful, isn’t it?” staring upward.
“Yeah. Just thinking. Hey, listen...thanks again for helping me out in there.” I replied.
“No, thank you. I know what you did for me was...”
“Don’t worry about it. Besides, it wouldn’t be the same around here without my jackass Vamps of a friend.” I jokingly interrupted.
“Oh...so I’m your jackass Vamps, huh?” he looked directly into my eyes.
“I said friend at the end of that sentence, but yes. And Erik...I want to apologize for what happened in the cave, though. I didn’t know my blood could make you sick and If I had knew, I never would have...”
“Forget it. It’s done. Just...now we know so if there’s next time, where I’ll be needing your blood, I’d rather deal with the pain and not bite you.”
“Thanks...I guess?” I wondered then changed the subject, “I have a question.”
“Shoot.” Erik shifted his weight.
“When I was laying there in the pit, did you see anyone else in there with me? I know that sounds weird but when I came to for those few seconds, I could’ve sworn I saw someone standing alongside me, and it wasn’t you because I could see your flashlight moving around up above.”
“No. Can’t say I did. Maybe it was an angel, or your…well, whatever demons have.” he chuckled.
“Yeah, maybe. Just thought I’d ask because I felt a familiarity and…I’m only half-demon, remember? And besides, this figure was tall and I hate to say this, but you’re a bit short for a vampire.” I chuckled.
“Yeah…yeah? Well, it is what it is.” he nodded with a smile, knowing I only teased him.
As he combed his hair back, it was then I noticed he wore a black leather men’s cuff bracelet; silver accents and Ruby stone in the center.I knew it was one of the daylight pieces but I didn’t question it and instead I complimented on it.
“Well...it’s getting late and I’m exhausted.” I said as I turned looking back at my tent, “Thanks again for helping out with it.”
“Like I said, no problem.” he answered, “I think I’m going to get some sleep too. Goodnight.”
Marxus thought about pulling Erik to the side asking about the bites on my shoulder, but thought better of it. He would leave that for later when we returned to the cottage.
In the stillness of the night with nothing but the crackling of the fire, Molock walked through the camp, with a petite woman by his side. They had moments to spare before their Master called them back, strolling by the tents nestled closely together. The woman alongside Molock was Lilith; the first woman...the first demon and walking along the ground, her bare feet sizzled against the rocky terrain,, leaving scorched footprints behind. After their inspection and viewing everything, taking notice that the moment was calm, they disappeared in a burst of flame. Zanz became restless, as did Marxus, who stepped out of his tent for a moment, and when he saw nothing, he retreated back inside.