My mom worried for we were gone now for at least a week and a half with no communication. She asked Nick if he’s received word but hearing the negative reply, she began to panic. She met with Hiromi and Leonard in the dining hall, sharing their concern for their kids.
Sure enough, Nick appeared in the dining hall startling the parents when he blurted,
“I have word. Marxus just called in, and they’ll be back tomorrow morning. He says once they reach Heysham, they’ll contact you.”
“Oh, thank god.” my mom sighed in relief, “Thank you, Nick.”
“No problem.” he smiled, then heard a beep on his radio-phone, “I have to go. You’ll be notified when the boat’s seen.”
“Thank you, again.” Leonard appreciated.
Nick nodded before disappearing, returning to his post. However, once appearing, minutes after, Marxus arrived in Ravenstone, landing on the cliff side behind the forest on Axeon’s back. After thanking him for his assistance, Marxus watched as Axeon disappeared over the cliff side of the island, entering his cavern. Marxus turned, taking steps toward the forest tree line before vanishing.
Nick turned his head catching a glimpse of Marxus on the wall. Speeding toward him, he appeared alongside Marxus, startling him.
“Hello, Marxus.” Nick greeted.
“Good evening Nick.” Marxus answered, “How is everything up here?”
“Good. No problems.”
“Excellent. I’m pleased to hear that.” Marxus nodded.
“Um...Marxus?” Nick inquired, “How did you get up here? I mean...the wall is sixty feet high with no ladder or stairs.”
Marxus remained silent as he glanced at Nick giving a friendly smile, before disappearing. Nick stood astonished at his disappearance because there were no traces of mist, smoke, light or anything.
Arriving at Scotland’s border, two different guards were posted at the gates. Pulling up near the shack, guards approached the vehicles parked in the front; in which Erik, Anthony, Zanz and myself drove in. Before Anthony completely rolled down the driver’s side window, one of the guards ordered in a firm Scottish tone rolling his syllables,
“What brings you past our borders?”
“Greetings to you too. But, we’re returning from a geographical expedition.” Anthony replied, “Is there a problem, officer Jimmy?” he looked at the guards name tag.
“Paperwork of authentication and identification cards please, Sir?” Jimmy replied.
“Of course.” then he turned to Erik, asking if he could reach into the glove compartment to hand him the paperwork and I.D cards.
Watching as Erik reached for the glove compartment, Jimmy took caution; hands placed on his gun and club. Erik smiled, reaching past Anthony to hand Jimmy the papers through the window.
As he began examining them, then looked over at the other guard gesturing his head to check the trucks that Jonathan and Thomas drove as well as the other craft driven by Nathan and Sarah.
Jimmy said as he looked Anthony directly in the eyes,
“I see there’s one of you missing, Professor Giovanni. Where’s this...Mr. Castillion?”
“He stayed behind for awhile because he wanted to explore more of the area.” I said from the back seat before Anthony had a chance to reply, “He’ll be taking another route home and will meet up with us when he’s done. We have a map here showing the route he’ll be taking if you want to see it.”as I reached my hand into my bag, pretending to shift through my contents for the map but Jimmy growing impatient knowing how packed a woman’s bag can be, stated it wasn’t necessary.
Anthony looked at me with a LET ME HANDLE THIS expression in the rear view mirror, as Jimmy asked if what I said was true.After thinking about it for a few minutes, he agreed once Erik released a low hiss. The other guard returned to the guard shack,flashing Jimmy a nod, letting him know everything checked out.
“It seems everything checks out, Professor.”Jimmy said as he handed the paperwork back to Anthony, “Be on your way now.”
“Thank you, Sir.” Anthony replied as he rolled up the window driving forward, “You’re lucky he didn’t suspect anything, Yzavela. And you Erik…hiss one more time in my ear…and it’ll be the last hiss of your immortality.” he roughly pushed the papers against Erik’s chest.
“Stop it, you two! He was about to ask all the wrong questions I’m sure we didn’t have answers to so I’m sorry if I just saved our asses." I confirmed firmly, “Besides, it worked, didn’t it? He totally bought my story, Professor Giovanni. And you…” as I turned looking at Erik, “stop it, you man child!”
Anthony released a hardy laugh.
“She’s right.” Erik said, “She did save our asses. Pretty quick thinking there, pissant. But how did you know if there was a map in your bag.”
“There wasn’t but he didn’t need to know that.” I replied as I looked at him through the rear view mirror as we once again made eye contact.
Anthony rolled his eyes.
Driving for two and a half hours, we passed through Penrith once more but decided to rest for a bit, having something hot to eat and cool to drink; leaving time left in the day before nightfall. The pub was empty, except for the bartenders and owner, Nikolaas, whom I hadn’t had a chance to properly meet.Greeting us,he was pleased to see Erik and Jonathan. I left Zanz out in the Jeep along with my dragon.
“Welcome.” he greeted, “What brings you here, and with...” he sniffed the air just once,“two Lycanthropes?” as he eyed Anthony and Nathan up and down, then again at Nathan, picking up on his negative presence.
“We just came from a journey.” Jonathan replied as he walked over sitting at the bar, with us following, “The lycans live at Ravenstone, and they’re with our group.” as he glanced at Nathan and Anthony, “Unfortunately.”
The bartenders, Steven and Roberto, were happy to see Erik, Jonathan as well as I. Steven asked as he placed his hands on the bar top,
“So...what will you have?”
“What?” Sarah asked.
“To drink. What will you have to drink?”
“Oh, um...water. Actually, do you have any fruit punch?”
Steven let out a slight laugh and replied,
“Yes. Yes we do.”
He reached under the bar’s counter retrieving two glasses then went to the back room, returning with a pitcher of fruit punch.
Sarah and I sat there looking down at the glasses for a few minutes. Roberto asked if there was something wrong with the fruit punch. We quickly said no then took a sip. It was delicious and had a real fruity taste. Nikolaas stood behind the bar serving Erik and Jonathan a cup of blood; Anthony and Thomas, a glass of wine.
“So, would you all like something to eat?” he placed his hands on the bar, “We make a killer stew.”
“No!” a chorus of anxious voices rejected as we displayed horrified expressions, “No stew, please!”
“Alright.” he held his hands up.
“We’re sorry, Nik.” Erik added, “We had an...unpleasant experience involving stew.”
“Oh? I’d like to hear that story.” he walked around the bar sitting on one of the stools, listening as each of us told him what happened.
After relaying the story, he finally understood and was disgusted to hear all the gory details. After managing to get the images out of his mind, he asked as he stood, walking back around the bar,
“Well, then. How about old fashioned burgers and fries for you humans?” then looked over at Anthony and Nathan, “And a piece of raw meat for you.Does that sound more appealing than...well, never mind.”
“Burgers are fine.” Anthony firmly replied.
“Good.” Nikolaas said then glanced toward Nathan once more, “Doesn’t he talk?”
“Not at the moment.” I answered, “Consider him…temporarily muted.”
“Ah…I see. Marxus’ doing?”
Steven excused himself heading to the kitchen to prepare our meals. As the rest of us waited, I got up, walking over to Nikolaas.
“I want to thank you for your help, Nikolaas. My mom and I really appreciated your kindness the first time we came through here. Now I want to say it in person. Thank you.” I said.
“You don’t have to thank me, young lady.” he replied politely, “It’s my pleasure helping people especially helpless young women and mothers with children. Seeing that you and your mother were lost, I couldn’t help but feel empathy for what the two of you were going through. I couldn’t imagine the fear of leaving your home, venturing out to unknown territory. Believe me…I’ve been there.”
“Well, thank you…again.”
“Always my pleasure.” he added as he too flirted, flashing a side grin and staring with his piercing dark eyes, then changed the subject, “Now, how’s your mother? I don’t see her here.”
“Oh, she’s back at Ravenstone and I’m sure she’s worried sick.”
“I’m sure she is. And the last time you were here, didn’t you have long hair?”
“Yeah, well...things happen.” I ran my fingers through my shorter hair, “But there’s one more thing I also want to thank you for.”
“Oh?” Nikolaas raised an eyebrow.
“Stopping those Hunters from hunting us down and protecting us. And Ravenstone.”
“My pleasure. You don’t have to worry about that now. They’re done for, which I’m sure Marxus had already mentioned.” he gave a slight nod, which I understood, “The details are quite…morbid for your lovely ears.”
“Nikolaas…we were almost eaten by cannibals and taken by Hunters who wanted to sell us for breeding stock, so nothing can surprise me at this point. But thanks for sparing me the morbid details.” I added, “All I want to do now, is go home.”
“I can imagine you do.” then he glanced over my shoulder, “Ah, your food’s ready.”
He walked me toward one of the large booths, where I joined the others.
As everyone sat, Nikolaas made a call, alerting Marxus we had arrived in Penrith.
After our delicious meal, Nikolaas gave our order once again, on the house. We thanked Nikolaas for his hospitality before saying our goodbyes. Nikolaas kissed Sarah on the back of her hand, and she giggled about it, as I just said thank you. Before we left, I purchased two steaks for Zanz and my poor unnamed dragon. Sarah on the way out, whispered to me about how gorgeous and sexy Nikolaas was; going on and on about him, forgetting he was something she didn’t want to get involved with.
I put her in her place without being arrogant about it as I turned to her,
“But you’re forgetting something, Sarah.”
“And what’s that?” she replied as she kept looking back.
“He’s a vampire.” and that was all I said as I hopped back into the craft, leaving her standing there with an OH, THAT’S RIGHT expression on her face, completely forgetting Jonathan heard every word that came out of her mouth.
I gazed in the rear-view mirror on the right side of our craft seeing Nikolaas standing with his friends, waving at us. I had to admit he was gorgeous.
Jonathan remained silent as Sarah tried talking to him, but he just smiled and nodded casually. I could tell right away just by looking in the rear-view mirror, that what Sarah had said back there, really bothered him.
In my honest opinion, Jonathan’s no chopped liver with his beautiful fiery red hair and big baby blue eyes and wonderful soul, but unfortunately poor Jonathan felt insecure about himself because he wasn’t your typical tall, dark and handsome vampire. The kind that women melt over. If only he could see he was totally wrong and unique in his own right.
Evening rapidly approached when we finally arrived in Heysham Port. There were no proper accommodations for us to sleep for the port offered no Inns, so we all took rest inside Marxus’ warehouse, utilizing our tents once more. And at least this time,I pitched mine with my own hands without assistance.
Guards from Ravenstone had appeared, greeting us with friendly smiles. They handed each of us radio-phones provided by Marxus to contact our loved ones. Once hearing some of us on the line, the guards kindly stepped outside. After calls were made and sighs of relief were exhaled, we slept comfortably knowing we were almost home.
Morning arrived within hours and the guards awoke everyone, instructing us that we’d be traveling on Ravenstone’s vehicle ferry in order to transport the trucks and supplies. I was reluctant to travel across the Irish Sea yet again so I asked if one of the guards could kindly teleport Zanz and I back to Ravenstone. Erik immediately stepped in, offering his help. I smiled, thanking him. He too, was anxious to return home. Once our bags were packed, we stepped aside, preparing ourselves. Holding onto my bags and crouching alongside Zanz, Erik stood behind me. Gently placing his hands on my shoulders we disappeared, only to reappear at RP and V. I shook off the effects of the teleportation; minor dizziness, then was greeted by my mom who sat nearby waiting for the ferry to arrive.
“My baby girl…” she hugged me so tightly, she practically squeezed the life out of me, “thank god.” the she pulled away taking notice of my hair, “What the hell happened to your hair!?” as she grabbed a few strands with her fingers, “You cut it and short short!? What happened out there? And are those…scrapes?” she examined my face and hands.
“Yes and yes. I’ll tell you all about it later, but right now…I’m tired, sore and I really want to take a long hot bath in my own room. Besides, I like the shorter hair.” I replied, “And I’m starving for good and real food. Mom, can you cook me something?”
“Of course.” my mom chuckled. “Oh sweetheart, of course!”
Erik stood nearby smiling when he heard his father’s voice calling out his name and turning his head, there he was scampering across the harbor toward him. They shared a brief hug before his father Hiromi pulled away, examining his sons appearance. He sensed something different about him and began questioning him about his travel.
“Father…I’ll tell you later.” Erik assured, “But first, I too, want to take a hot shower. I’ve been through a lot this past week and a half. Come on.” he turned away with his father then paused and called over his shoulder as he glanced in my direction, “Hey, Keeps…catch you later, yeah?”
I nodded with a reassuring smile then watched as he disappeared with his father.
Minutes later, Jonathan appeared releasing a complaining Sarah. She pushed him away, yelling at him to never handle her like that ever again. He shook his head as he walked away, greeted by his family as was Sarah, when her uncle Leonard called out her name.
Thomas’ wife and children stood nearby as well and on the way to the van that seemed to have been parked there waiting for us, Jonathan informed her that Thomas and Anthony would be arriving by the ferry. She quickly thanked him then retreated to the pub with her children, waiting for her husband and brother-in-law.