Secrets of Ravenstone: Keeper of La Tecla (The Key) Book One

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Chapter 28

Armiforde ordered; hands gripping tighter around the hilt of his axe,

“Kill them!But leave the old man to me...he’s mine! And watch out for the bloodsuckers! Their bites are poisonous!”

“Remember your training!” Marxus reminded us, “Jonathan…Erik…let loose! And Little One…give them Hell!”

We ran forward with weapons in hand.

Jonathan with his daggers, moved with such precision and accuracy,solely relying on his fighting skills.

Thomas and Anthony with their swords, moved as if they were Musketeers.

Nathan with his two swords fought with speed and strength.

Sarah, with her archery skills, shot arrow after arrow, never missing her target.

Erik fought and moved like a Tai-Chi master.

He and Jonathan managed to contain their abilities, reserving them until they’re really needed.However, like any true vampire, they tore out a few hearts with their hands on occasion.

Marxus had gathered enough strength to fight alongside his companions. His skills were impeccable.

Last but not least, with my new found sword and self defense skills, fought well enough for my first skirmish. However, I managed to hold back my demonic rage, for I wasn’t sure what would happen if it were fully released.

My Zanz began releasing his hellhound rage, biting into the throats of those he knocked to the ground, tearing them apart with his extremely strong jaws; limbs included.He also ripped spines from his enemy with little-to-no effort.

Combined in this eight member fellowship, we gave the Hunters a run for their money, turning their little campsite into a mini battlefield.

Sarah aimed her bow at one rather large thick boned Hunter, making it more difficult for her arrows to take effect. Either he wore metal skin or was completely immune to pain. Whatever the reason, it frightened Sarah. Feeling an empty quiver against her back, the only thing she thought of at this moment, was to run and hide. Running toward the vehicles with bow in hand, Jonathan called out but she didn’t answer. Having a moment’s break, he threw a dagger watching as it flew through the air, making impact with the Hunter’s thick neck.

Focusing his attention ahead, three men charged at him. Growing tired of his slower pace he sped forward, slashing out their throats with his daggers, in one swift swipe.

The sound of our weapons making contact, was vicious as both sides swung weapons high in the air, fighting hard. Blood splattered everywhere with wounds mostly inflicted on the enemy’s side; severed limbs and decapitated heads. Some, though not many, lost their courage; dropping their weapons and escaping the skirmish, only to have a dagger or fist, plunged through their backs. Two of those men didn’t get very far, as Zanz ran them down like any true predator.

I could hear their screams as they were torn apart.

GOOD BOY.” I thought.

Everyone fought at a speed that felt right, but it was Marxus who slowed down; weakening in nature. Having difficulty keeping up, he began diminishing; turning into a ghost-like form, that Thomas took notice of. A Hunter charging at Marxus swung his axe through his vanishing form, until he completely evaporated. Thomas thinking that maybe it was one of Marxus’ tricks, paused from the fight waiting for a moment, then observed as Marxus reappeared behind the Hunter, plunging his sword deep into his back. Falling to the ground, the Hunter stared at Marxus, baffled, before being kicked backwards. Marxus glanced over in Thomas’ direction, nodding respectively, knowing Thomas wouldn’t reveal what he had witnessed.

Focusing all my attention ahead, I didn’t sense or hear Armiforde sneaking up from behind. The sounds echoing from the fight, plus that horrible heavy metal music still playing loudly, blocked out the sound of his footsteps. Moments after striking down a fellow hunter, he took the opportunity, hitting me forcefully across the back; knocking me to the ground, winded. Zanz was in position to attack, but Armiforde turned, forcibly kicking him away. Zanz laid there whimpering in discomfort.

I rolled over, facing Armiforde, who stood over me with his axe in hand. Crouching down, he lowered his axe placing one of the double edged blades beneath my chin. He breathed heavily in my face, making my stomach turn, as his sour breath reeked of stale ale, cigars and un-brushed teeth.

“Now you die, little girl. And what a shame too. You’re such a pretty little thing and I could’ve made a lot of money selling you and your little friend over there, hiding away behind the vehicles like a little coward. Great breeding stock.” he said smugly, then stood taking a stance with his axe.

“Keeps!” Erik’s voice screamed out, “Fight, pissant…fight!”

Both Armiforde and I turned our heads, seeing Erik engaged with two men.

Hearing Erik’s words added fuel to my fire; now smoldering.Thoughts then flowed through my mind that today and now, isn’t the time to die. I focused my gaze back up at Armiforde who became momentarily distracted, staring at Erik.As he began turning his head looking down at me, I kicked him as hard as I could in his manhood area with the hard sole of my hiker’s boot.Dropping his axe, he fell to his knees in agonizing pain. From the force of my foot making contact, I must have ruptured something because as he raised his hands, they were covered in blood. Moans of pain were replaced with deep guttural growls, as he slowly lifted his head, leering at me.His eyes changed from their cold dark brown to yellow wolf-like eyes; long wolf-like canine fangs protruding from his mouth.

I quickly sprung to my feet and reached over grabbing my sword. Before striking him down I said as I held my sword’s tip under his chin,

“You know something...I hate your kind! Giving me nothing but trouble so far, with your unwanted advances, sexual innuendo’s, and rageful tempers!” then I pressed the sword’s tip against his neck, drawing blood as I stood there engulfed in steam mixed with a faint red flame and spark of embers in my eyes.

Baffled, Armiforde muttered,

“Whatever you are, you bitch…just...kill me already! A warrior’s death.”

Kneeling before him, I whispered as I leered into his eyes,

“Love to, but you’re not mine to kill. Isn’t that right...Zanzabarr?” then I stood, hearing his snarls coming from behind me, “You wanted his teeth around your neck? You’ve got it! Here’s your warrior’s death, you piece of shit!” then I stepped aside, “He’s all yours!” I gave two clicks.

Turning away, I left Zanz to take his revenge against the one who not only injured him, but threatened his pack mother. I listened to Armiforde scream as Zanz ripped off his limbs. Before making his way up to his throat, he stood above Armiforde, slathering his jaws in his face minutes before making the final kill. Afterwards; silence.

Scampering across the field, I abruptly felt hands placing themselves on my shoulders. Turning around swiftly; sword held high ready for defense, there stood Anthony, holding his hands and sword up, in a surrendering gesture.

“Whoa...hey, it’s’s me!” he assured.

“Sorry.” I replied lowering my sword, “Sorry.”

Momentarily, he studied my appearance noticing it hadn’t dissipated.

“You will be if you don’t hand me your sword. You don’t want to do something you’ll regret.” he whispered as he reached out his hands for my sword, “There you go.” he took my sword from shaking hands but quickly pulled away, as the heat emanating from my aura burned his left hand.

“Too late.Even though it was in self defense and justified, I…” I said as I gestured over at Armiforde’s body, “I killed just the same. Did you know he was a lycan?”

Anthony said nothing at first.He commented quickly as he looked around us,

“There’s good and bad in everyone...and every species.” then feeling a sense of sympathy, he nodded before running toward his brother Thomas.

Erik taking a break and using his vampire speed, stood right in front of me, asking if I was okay seeing my aura had diminished.After reassuring him I was, he was still hesitant to leave. I reached over giving him a thankful hug which he quickly returned but the moment broke, as we were thrown back into the fight. Looking around and seeing everyone handled themselves fairly, I ran over to release Axeon with Zanz alongside, attacking any Hunter who dared to approach.

Poor Axeon glanced down at me; sadness and pain in his eyes. The electricity sent shocks through the chains. The pressure of the steel chains weighed him down, tightly anchored with metal pegs and wires connected to the generator powering the net. It made it difficult for him to move which I’m guessing was what they wanted. Looking into his beautiful yellow dragon eyes I said softly,stroking his snout through the net,

“Easy, Axeon…easy. It’s me. I’m going to release you so stay still, okay?”

He responded with a moan, acknowledging I was there to help him.

Thinking maybe my sword was strong enough, I ran toward the truck where the generator sat, swinging it downward, hoping to cut the wires. Sparks flew everywhere as the connection was severed. Running back toward Axeon, I tried striking the chains from the pegs in the ground, but the impact shattered my sword’s blade.

“Great.” I said throwing my sword aside.

Searching for something else to use, I located a sawed off shot gun laying nearby. Picking it up and feeling the weight of the barrel, I lined it up pressing it against the chains and pegs, then released the trigger, creating a loud blast of gunfire. It did its job all too well, causing me to fall backwards to the ground due to the heavy kick given off.

I stood on my feet firing more shots just enough to pull back the chain net for Axeon to nudge it off with his nose.When he did, the chains fell to the ground making a loud metallic sound. He tried moving, but bellowed in pain due to the spear embedded in his shoulder. He tried grabbing it himself but couldn’t quite grasp it well enough. He said telepathically as he looked down at me,

I can not remove this spear, young one. It is too embedded within my scales.

I looked at it, trying to figure out how I was going to do that.

“And how the hell am I supposed to do that? Pull it out?” I asked.

Indeed. You will have better leverage.

Nodding my head, I turned walking around, standing there.I reluctantly placed my hands on the iron shaft of the spear, afraid that when I did, it would just tear a larger hole from his shoulder. Before pulling it out, someone grabbed me from the back of my shirt throwing me to the ground. As I looked up, one of Armiforde’s men with an injured arm, leg, and severe head wound, held an axe in his available hand.

“I don’t think so, you little bitch. He’s ours and you’ll not take him from us.” he said raising his axe but before he could swing it down, Zanz pounced on him from the side, pushing him to the ground, tearing out his throat.

“Thank you, Zanz.” I mumbled.

Are you harmed, young one?” Axeon asked as he looked down at me.

“No, I’m fine.” I replied as I quickly stood limping from a scraped knee, “Let’s get you out of here.”and again, I placed my hands on the spear’s shaft.

Just before pulling it out, I looked up at Axeon who turned his focus toward Marxus.

Without hesitation and with one strong pull, the spear slid from Axeon’s shoulder causing him to release a strong dragon’s flame; shooting from his mouth like one huge blow torch. Examining his shoulder seeing the massive wound left behind, he breathed his dragon’s breath, healing the surface.Afterwards, he glanced down at me, then nodded. Turning his body in one swift elegant movement, he broke free from the net; tail flicking in anger. In three leaps with elegance and grace, he used his massive wings to aid him in his movements. The sound given off created a whoosh after each flap. He was magnificent. He grabbed the last man from above; head first to enter Axeon’s massive mouth,who gained on Marxus. He tossed him around like a rag doll before chewing him in half, then threw his lifeless body away; halves flying in opposite directions.

I stood there holding the spear in my hand,examining its craftsmanship. A dragon’s tooth spearhead attached to an iron shaft. I couldn’t stand looking at it much less holding it so I threw it aside running toward the others.

Everyone stood around, except for Erik and Jonathan, breathing heavily, glancing at all the death. Thomas and Anthony walked around making sure none were left alive.

Marxus sat on one of the crates exhausted; pale and fading in and out like a ghost. We all figured maybe this occurrence was a price of his magic but didn’t dare ask. We all worried but he reassured everyone he was fine. However somehow, I knew that wasn’t true.

Axeon approached Marxus, shaking the ground beneath our feet, lowering his head in front of Marxus, who reached his arms out hugging his large snout. Connecting with his dragon, everyone felt a powerful surge of energy that caused a slight breeze; enough to blow our hair back, followed by a soothing humming sound. Afterwards, a peaceful vibration emanated from Marxus and Axeon rejuvenating them both; looking rested and healthy. Once their bonding ceased, I noticed Axeon’s shoulder wound had healed, leaving behind a faint mark with blood dried on the surface of his scales.

Everyone stood in awe, admiring Axeon’s beauty. Standing alongside him, Marxus proudly spoke,

“Everyone…this is Axeon.” he rested his hands upon the dragons soft scales, “One of Ravenstone’s many secrets.”

Axeon nodded before everyone, studying all our faces. After talking among ourselves, we spread about.

Resting for a few hours, Sarah collected her arrows wiping them off, before placing them back in her quiver.

“What!? These are perfectly good arrows. I’m not going to let them go to waste because they could be used for other scum.” she commented as she noticed curious eyes. “Besides...the rest of you gather up your daggers and swords, right?”

“True.” I replied then glanced over at Jonathan; collecting his daggers.

However, he kept glancing over at Sarah in a puzzled and disappointed way.

Marxus walked around examining the tents, thinking they could have some use. Thank God during our time of fighting, someone decided to dismantle that horrible music! Thomas walked over, asking as he looked back at everyone making sure others weren’t within ear’s reach,

“Marxus? I have a question and answer me honestly.”

“Yes?” Marxus replied as he faced Thomas.

“During the fight, I watched as you made yourself transparent; as if you weren’t there. Afterwards, you disappeared only to reappear again.”

“Ah, yes. Just a wizard’s trick. Nothing to fear or worry about.” as he gave one of his Marxus smiles, “Does that answer your question, Thomas?”

“No. But I won’t pry.”he replied in his Italian accent then respectfully changed the subject, “These tents are just in too good condition to just leave here.”

“They’re brand new and maybe we could use them." I added walking over trying not to invade in on their conversation, “But first…you need to get rid of that stench.”

“You’re right, Little One. We could and I’ll take care of that when we return. Thomas, will youand your brother take them down and take any supplies we might need or could use; throw them in one of the trucks that aren’t occupied with corpses of the dead.”

Thomas nodded as he walked away calling out for Anthony’s help.

“You did well out there, Little One.” Marxus observed.

“Thank you.” I answered, “But I’m still angry with you.” I walked away.

Marxus shook his head with a deep sigh.

We collected the tents and many supplies,piling them in the trucks we would confiscate. Gatheringall the bodies and bedding; tents and trucks we weren’t going to take, we set them ablaze with Axeon’s assistance. Erik asked how we would explain coming back over the border with all this stuff but Marxus reassured us there’d be no problems.

“Because that says so much.” Erik muttered.

Jonathan had disappeared for a few minutes, retrieving our belongings from the cave and viewpoint, overlooking the valley.

Once wrapping Zanz’s injured left leg, I grabbed a bottle of water and rag, wiping his snout; washing away some of the blood. However as I cared for him, he suddenly began releasing low growls as he glanced above my head. Glancing over my shoulder, there stood Erik with a concerned expression.

“Hey…is he okay?” he asked.

“Yes, but…would you mind stepping back, please.” I asked softly, “I need to calm his nerves and you standing there isn’t helping.”

“Sorry.” he backed away, “I’ll wait over here.”

“Okay.” then I stared into Zanz’s eyes, “Hey...look at me...look at me.”

Everyone momentarily stood nearby watching as I connected with Zanz. Staring into his eyes and scratching his neck, his eyes began closing as I softly hummed his favorite tune, as well as mine. He laid down, feeling relaxed and safe. I blinked my eyes, then stood turning to everyone who remained silent; amazed at our bond.

“What!?” I joked, “Nothing to see here, people. Can’t a girl bond with her dog?”

Once wiping his blades clean and standing them nearby, Nathan walked over as he wrote something on a piece of paper. Tapping my shoulder, I turned seeing him there with a smug smile.

“What do you want?” I snapped.

Handing me the note, he waited.

I read his words:

“Hey…you can bond with me?”

“Wow…” I answered as I looked up into his expressionless blue eyes, “you finally acknowledged the fact that you’re a dog. Good for you!” as I slapped the note against his chest before walking away.

Stunned, he reread his words realizing he had just dug himself into a hole. Crumbling the note, he turned throwing it into the low flames before retrieving his weapons. Looking back in my direction, he growled disgruntled.

Everyone nearby, smiled.

Once caring for Zanz, Istrolled toward Erik, who had a streak of blood on his left cheek. Asking if he was cut, he wiped it away explaining it was from a cut that healedinstantly.

“Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. Us vampires have incredible healing abilities. But, then you already know that.” he said as he looked down at me with a smile.

“Yeah, I know.” I replied returning the smile, “But I’m glad you’re okay.”

“Me too. I mean, not me, but you...I’m glad you’re okay.”

“I know what you meant.” I chuckled.

“Right. Oh, hey…you got a little something there.” he whispered as he wiped a streak of blood from my chin, then affectionately stroked my cheek before lowering his hand.

Erik and I gave each other a quick smile then changed the subject of the conversation to Zanz. Erik asked about his story and I briefly explained how he was found, trained and the unexplainable bond. He nodded, entirely intrigued. As I spoke, I could tell from his attitude, he truly liked animals, even though he was a vampire.

Jonathan approached Sarah asking if she was alright.

When he gently touched her right arm, she winced in pain.

“Ouch!” she said, holding her left upper arm.

“What!?” Jonathan stepped back, “What did I do?” he held his hands up.

“Nothing. It’s not you.” and examining her arm, she realized she’d been cut, “I didn’t even know that was there.”

Jonathan stared at her arm catching the scent of fresh blood, causing Sarah to gently pull her arm away.As she scampered off he closed his eyes, fighting the urge then walked away searching for a bottle of water and first aid kit. He walked over, handing it to her then backed away watching as she bandaged her wound.

“Um, Sarah...what happened back there during the fight?” he asked as she burned the bloody bandages.

“What do you mean?” she looked up at him.

“You ran away from the fight. I never thought you to be an actual coward, but really?”

“Well, you’re a you should’ve used your eyesight to notice I didn’t have anymore arrows in my quiver. I don’t know how to use a sword or fight like everyone else. So, I’m sorry if I ran. Yza would’ve have done the same, I’m sure.” Sarah snapped.

“No she wouldn’t. Because she stayed and fought, improvising when she lost her weapon.” Jonathan replied.

“Yeah, well...I’m not her and I’m not a warrior!” Sarah bluntly said, “It seems she does nothing wrong in your eyes. So why don’t you just...go for her and her…freaking fire trick! Get her before Erik does!”

“What did you just say!? Sarah...I’m just stating fact! And if I wanted her, I’m sure I could’ve pursued it but that’s not going to happen! Do you want to know why? Two reasons. One...I like you, unfortunately and secondly...Yza’s very much into Erik, in case you haven’t noticed! Sometimes it just doesn’t click between two people so I’d quit the jealousy bullshit if I were you!” then he stormed away shaking his head, leaving her standing there with her thoughts.

Erik and I looked up, hearing Jonathan’s words then turned away.

“Is he right, Keeps?” Erik asked softly, “Are you into me?”

I turned gazing up into his handsome bloody face, and replied with smile,

“If I’d know it.” I flirted, then walked toward Zanz, leaving him standing there with a larger smile.

“I’ll take that as a yes!” he called out then whispered to himself, “Because I’m very much into you, love.”

Marxus called out to everyone telling us to ride the trucks back to the cottage while he flew Axeon back.He wanted to scout the area ahead making sure there weren’t any stragglers or surprises.

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