Once arriving back at the cottage, we rested for a few days ensuring we had our strength back; including Marxus and Axeon. Marxus revealed that as he left us in the camp, he came across a small group of six stragglers belonging to the camp who daringly shot arrows in the air with crossbows. From Marxus’ point-of-view, they were the men that invaded the cottage days before. Ordering Axeon to fly over, he disintegrated them with a blow torch-like flame so intense, it turned them to ash.
Some might think it’s murder or revenge, but believe me, it was justified. These men were dangerous and had to be dealt with accordingly. It was kill or be killed and Marxus didn’t want us, or anyone for that matter, harmed. Most of us hadn’t killed anyone before, so this was just part of our training and conditioning as warriors; protecting and defending ourselves and loved ones.
Everyone finally came to an understanding, about Marxus’ lesson. Marxus seemed satisfied he got his point across; something he tried to do from the beginning.
Marxus made arrangements to return to Ravenstone on Axeon’s back, waiting for our arrival. He instructed us to travel down the exact road we traveled by and when coming to the border, explain why we returned with truckloads of things. He said we’d know exactly what to do. It was amazing how much faith he had in us since we had failed the last time we were alone. He manifested paperwork and phony sales receipts showing the purchase of everything we confiscated.
During the days at the cottage, Marxus confronted Erik about the bite marks on my shoulder. He accused Erik of taking advantage of the situation, compelling me to give in, allowing him to feed. The confrontation was loud, revealing things that were to stay between Erik and I. Coming to his defense, I explained the situation from my perspective, making Marxus understand that Erik didn’t compel me or convince me. I offered my blood, so he could have enough strength to survive the rest of the way through the mountain. Marxus grew furious that I allowed Erik to feed, saying it wasn’t allowed in Ravenstone.
“In case you haven’t noticed Marxus…we’re not in Ravenstone!” I shouted, “Besides, I’m a grown woman capable of making my own decisions. Isn’t that what all this bullshit was about!?”
Marxus huffed, as he stormed away letting the situation slide.
“Thank you, Keeps.” Erik whispered.
“Don’t thank me. He’s making it sound like something it’s not.”
He didn’t speak to either of us during these days, but remained around. Neither of us spoke with him either. He needed to stew in his own guilt.
The only positive outcome from this journey it seemed, was that my rock decided to hatch. Yes, hatch. One night while I laid on my bed staring at it, it started jumping in its place like a giant jumping jelly bean (mouthful I know) then glowed in a Ruby color, turning into the most unexpected thing. Wings began spreading themselves out and a head lifting itself from a tucked position; body, legs and feet stretching out as if it were in a deep slumber. It glanced around until catching my gaze. For minutes, I was mesmerized at the sight before me; a beautiful small dragon.
Size of an adult Raven; scales blacker than night itself.Beautiful Amber eyes centered forward and baby lizard-like face and snout, framed its small face. When stretching out its wings, they had a two foot wingspan from tip to tip. No spikes ran down its back but instead it had a spinous dorsal-fin running down the length of its body, tapering to the tip of its three foot long tail. Wobbly legged at first, it attempted flapping its wings but fell a few times, until growing the strength needed for flight.
After grasping the concept of flight, the dragon landed on the foot of my bed walking on its hind legs, using its wings to support the front of its body with two little claws at the tips of its wings. Staring at me, it made low squawks with a soothing under tone.
It was absolutely adorable but also beautiful.
Zanz hearing the strange sounds, came from the bathroom. Seeing the creature flying around, he thought it was attacking me so he began barking, chasing it around the room. Once again landing on the foot of my bed, I ordered Zanz to back off. He laid there on the floor next to my bed watching the dragon.
Sitting up speaking to it, the dragon sat there tilting its head, trying to understand my words. In an instant, it tried mimicking my words and voice, speaking telepathically in child-like-boys voice. It kept repeating the words I spoke until I finally got him to understand that it wasn′t okay to repeat everything I said. I leaned closer reaching out my hand to pet his snout which had soft scales. When I did, I got that same rush of energy as I did when I first touched Axeon, except way more intense. The energy not only rushed up my arm, but through my entire body, feeling as if I were being electrocuted, but not harmfully. Overwhelming is the perfect words to use.
After removing my hand, I suddenly heard a voice pop into my mind.
“I’m going crazy.”I said, "But then again, Axeon communicates with me mentally. And now I’m talking to myself. I’m definitely going crazy." as I combed my shorter hair back.
“No, you’re not crazy.” the voice replied, “I’m talking to you.”
I looked around the room with wide eyes, then down at the dragon.
“You’re talking to me?” I inquired curiously.
“Yes.” he replied as he nodded his head.
Zanz walked over as he barked, scaring the dragon.As he released a roar-like cry, he sounded like the baby dragons from GAME OF THRONES.Fluttering to me, he landed in my arms curling himself up, wrapping his wings around his body as if trying to protect himself.
“Easy there, little guy.” I said softly stroking his soft scales, “Zanz isn’t going to hurt you. He’s just saying hello. He’s never seen your kind before…whatever that is. As a matter of fact, neither have I.”
The dragon lifted his head looking at Zanz then up at me, staring into my eyes. As we made eye contact I tried thinking of a name that suited him but just couldn’t think of one.
THE SMALL BLACK ONE? Definitely not!
Just then Sarah came from downstairs.When my dragon saw her, he became frightened taking the form of the rock again. Sarah looked at me commenting with a weird expression,
“Um...what are you doing cuddling with a rock? I use a pillow. Really, Yza? I think you took a hard bump to the head in that bloody cave.”
“Oh...I was just uh...” I muttered glancing down at my arms trying to think of something to say, “wondering what the significance of this thing is.” then I glanced up at her,“Wait...you cuddle with a pillow? No stuffed toy?”
“Oh, shut up!” she barked as she grabbed clothes from her bag.
She walked into the bathroom to take a shower, mumbling to herself.
“Dimwit.” I mumbled.
I waited for almost thirty minutes, until Sarah finally emerged from the bathroom.
Holding a pair of clean clothes ready to take my own shower,Sarah asked as she dried her hair with her towel,
“Yza...do you think you can ever be romantically involved with a vampire? Say, I don’t know...Erik for example?”
“Whoa, where did that come from!?” I replied as I leaned in the bathroom’s doorway, “Are you having doubts about liking Jonathan? Because he’s a vampire? I look at Erik as a person. My friend. And someone I trust. Not because he’s a vampire. That’s part of who he is, yes...can’t deny that. But that′s not his whole persona. And yes…I guess I could.”
“Well...to each their own, but that figures. A freak reaches out to their own.” she added bluntly, ”I′m fearful he might get hungry and attack me or something. I mean, he’s cute and everything, but he’s…” then she looked around and whispered, “a monster. Not human. And I don’t think I can go there.”
I stood there thinking about when Erik bit my shoulder. He wasn’t a rageful monster or some blood thirty creature. He was just...a vampire needing the help of a human to survive.
“I can’t believe you just said that. You know...I’m not going to answer that. But all I’m going to say, Sarah…is that if you don’t want to be with him in that way…then for God sake stop flirting with him so much! And as far as freaks reaching out to their own…add me to that bunch, will ya? All us freaks stick together. Birds of the feather…flock together.”I objected then closed the bathroom door, locking it to take my shower to avoid her conversation.
As I felt the hot water soothe my nerves, I took the time to wonder about Sarah’s mental health. She’s just as disturbed as her brother, but entirely different. Was she obsessed with being with a vampire, the way Nathan is obsessed with wanting me? Or is she bipolar? I don’t know because that’s not my place. I just have to handle each situation as it comes.
Exiting the bathroom, Sarah had fallen asleep which was a good thing. As I laid there with Zanz spread across my feet, my dragon curled himself near my pillow and nudged his head against mine. He laid there, releasing soft purrs of contentment that helped me fall asleep.
The next morning arrived; everyone sat downstairs having breakfast. I was the last one to come down because I needed extra time to decide how I was going to introduce my dragon. Finally I decided to just do it. Walking down the stairs with him perched on my shoulder, clawed wings attached to my jacket and tail wrapped around my upper arm, I did just that. He snuggled his head against my chin as I made my descent down the stairs with Zanz leading the way.
“Where’s Yza?” Erik asked, “She’s late for breakfast.”
“PROBABLY PRIMPING HERSELF.” Nathan thought sarcastically.
“That’s enough, Nathan.” Marxus said looking over at Nathan who turned away.
“Good morning, everyone.” I said cheerfully entering the kitchen.
Everyone turned their heads with smiles on their faces, which immediately faded.
“What’s that!?” Jonathan exclaimed as he jumped from his seat, knocking it over.
“It’s a bat!” Sarah added as she pointed at me.
“It’s a rat!” Erik shrieked in a masculine manner.
Thomas and Anthony remained silent for they too, were speechless. The only dragon any of them had seen so far was Axeon.
“My, my, my. What do we have here? Hello there, little dragon. Where did you come from?” Marxus stood, walking toward me.
“My rock.” I revealed bluntly.
“I’m sorry?” Marxus asked as he looked at me with disbelief.
“My rock, which obviously wasn’t a rock at all.”
“Interesting. And what’s your name, little one?” Marxus cautiously reached out his hand to stroke the dragon’s chest but as his hand grew closer the dragon snapped, almost biting off his index finger.
Marxus withdrew his hand quickly and apologized, revealing this dragon is obviously bonded with me and no one else. Adjusting to my dragon’s presence, Erik asked what I named him, as he watched him lay curled in my lap.
“No idea.” I said as I offered him a piece of beef jerky, but he refused it saying that he needed something fresh.
Excusing myself from the cottage, I stepped outside. My dragon flew from my shoulder flapping his beautiful wings.He didn’t venture very far landing in the field catching himself a large field mouse.
Sitting on a tree stump with Zanz waiting for him, Marxus came from inside, telling me I’d have to come up with a name for him soon.
“Marxus.." I asked, “putting aside our difference about what happened between Erik and I...do you know what species he is? When he was handed to me by that old man in the cave, he mentioned he was a Zypyn. What is that!?”
“That Little One…” Marxus replied, “I can’t say. The only dragon I’ve known is Axeon. But I’m sure there must be something very special about him, to have been given to you. And when you say, an old man gave it to you? I never planned that. Co-incidence? I don’t know. But strange, just the same. When we return to Ravenstone, I have books about dragons that might help you define his species. And by the way...I DO understand why things happened the way it did.”
Marxus stood, returning back inside with slight confusion.
After finishing his meal my dragon returned, landing very gracefully at my feet.After crawling into my lap, I asked him to tell me what he knew about himself and where he came from He told me what he knew, speaking telepathically as he stared into my eyes,
“I’m what they call a Zyphyn which means Shapeshifter. I have the ability to change my appearance to any form I see, except for human. They’re…too difficult to duplicate and are out of my genetic code. I can change at will if I see the need, or if you need me to I will. And where I come from, is unknown but all I know, is fire. The same fire I sense within you.”
“Ah, a Shapeshifter, huh? Would you be able to show me?” I answered.
“As you wish, Mother.” then he flew from my arms.
Hearing the word Mother, coming from a dragon, was...touching, for I made the choice to never have biological children of my own due to medical issues and obvious genetics.
I watched as he landed in the field once more. Glowing in a bright Ruby glow, he transformed into Zanz’s identical form. He walked over acting, howling and moving like him. I laughed because this was amazing!
“Amazing!” I observed, “Now I have two Zanzabarr’s.”
Zanz1 and Zanz2 ran around the field before Zanz2 returned to his dragon form.
“Thank you.” he answered; crawling into my lap once again.
With a smile, I relished in this dragon’s cuteness and innocence. Not only will I become the next Keeper of Ravenstone, but now I’m considered a dragon Keeper. What’s next for me? Queen or something? Oh, god I hope not.
“No, thank you…very much for showing me.When we get back to Ravenstone, I’m sure there must be something about your species written somewhere in Marxus’ books and there are many.” I proposed, petting the top of his head which he enjoyed.
From inside the cottage I heard Marxus telling everyone to pack their things for it was time to leave. Calling Zanz and carrying my dragon, I entered.
From a distance among a thick cluster of trees, stood Molock; the dark haired man who had taken Marxus’ form. He grew a quick smile watching the events he created, unfold.
“Perfect.” he proclaimed victoriously, “Now…everything’s in place. See you soon, my lovelies…I will see you soon.” then he turned, disappearing in a burst of red flame which left behind a wide scorched area that no one would discover.
Before leaving the cottage, we changed the sheets and recovered the furniture.
“If all of you drive straight through without stopping, you’ll make it back to Heysham before nightfall. Then the following morning, you’ll cross the Irish Sea back to Ravenstone. And please be careful.” Marxus said as we gathered near the vehicles.
He carefully climbed on Axeon’s back sitting between his smaller spikes. Axeon pushed himself from the ground straight into the air. Flying above, Axeon roared powerfully then soared in Ravenstone’s direction, fully cloaked. We watched in awe as this dragon majestically flew off; wings flapping against the wind. My dragon too, watched in awe for he had a fellow dragon to learn from. I could sense his excitement.
Smiling, we climbed into the vehicles, heading out. As we left the cottage behind driving back the way we came, we remembered we’d have to pass through the town with no name. Praying we could drive through without any problems, we grew surprised when we approached the town’s entry way.A pile of rusted pipes laid on the ground nearby. All the buildings and structures that were there before, were nothing but piles of rubble and dust looking as if they imploded in place; scorch marks everywhere. There weren’t any people around; no bodies either. We all wondered what Marxus had done to this place. It was in total and complete destruction.