Guards patrolled the wall joking around when Nick attentively glanced across the field, watching as one of their black shuttle vans approached the wall. Instructing guards to open the gates, they all peeked their heads over watching as the van pulled through, driving toward the garage. Once the vans were parked, only some were greeted by Marxus who appeared.
“Glad to see you made it back, but how did you…” he said as he walked toward us, “never mind. And the others?”
“They’re taking the boat.” I revealed.
Marxus nodded accepting his answer without question.
My mom and I dispersed, leaving the garage behind us as we ventured toward our rooms. After my two hours hot bath and scrubbing Zanz of the past week and a half, it felt great using my own bathroom and favorite perfume.. I ventured down to my moms room, and I relayed everything that happened, explaining that my rock is actually a dragon.
“Say that again?” my mom inquired curiously.
“Yeah.” I casually replied, “My rock’s a dragon.”
“This I have to see, to believe.”
My mom; sitting in one of her large chairs, watched as I laid it on the table. My mom just sat there. When I spoke to it, it jumped in place then transformed into the dragon. Amazed at the beauty before her stretching its wings, she went to say something.Hearing her voice unknowing of who she was he flew to my lap.
“Easy there, boy.” I said as I stared down at him, “She’s not going to hurt you. She’s my mother. Easy there. Shh. She’s my mother just as much as I’m yours.”
He lifted his head nodding in respect for her position, then folded his wings laying there, as I petted his head. I went on explaining how I found him and revealed he was a shapeshifter.
“A shapeshifter? That’s not, uh…something you hear everyday, but he’s beautiful. So, have you named him?” my mom asked.
“Uh...” I replied, “I didn’t yet.”
“Because I don’t know what to call him. Do you think you can come up with some names from your books? And something special. I think he deserves one.”
“I can try. Give me a few.” then she stood, walking toward her bed, removing a book from her night table.
Freya cautiously approached, rubbing around my feet but seeing my dragon, she hissed, running away. My mom sat writing names on a sheet of paper; intense expression, as if choosing the best.
“Here we go.” she proclaimed as she walked over sitting across from me, handing me the paper, “These are the only names I could find that are suitable for him.”
I looked at the names written down.
All 6 names were very magical but I just didn’t know which one would be right for him. Holding the paper up in front of my dragon I asked which name he liked. He stared at the paper studying the words not knowing their meaning.Deciding one he liked by the way the letters formed, he let out a small stream of fire, burning across one of them. I looked at the named burnt then up at my mom who asked which name he had picked.
“Abraxas it is.” I revealed, laying the paper down on the table.
“I thought you might like that one.” my mom replied, “I kind of always liked that name myself. The name is an unknown origin just like him. God, he’s absolutely beautiful.” and wanting to stroke his scales, she tried but he snapped at her hand, “I see, I’m sorry. Now changing the subject for a moment...I just can’t believe your hair was chopped off and you’re covered in scrapes and cuts!?”
“Because...the journey was rougher than I thought it. And my hair wasn’t of my choosing. Just leave it alone. I like it and I think I’m going to keep it.” I answered proudly.
“Whatever.” she sighed, “But Marxus and I are going to have words and the shorter hair? It’s becoming and you’re still beautiful.”
“Thank you, but I’m sure you’re not the only one who’s going to want words.”
My mom kept her word, cooking me a delicious mom-made meal. We enjoyed the time spent together, with her telling me the events that took place during our absence. She and the other witches, felt something was brewing but from what source and where, couldn’t be detected.
Three days later, Marxus stepped outside his study to find Leonard, Erik’s father, my mom, Jonathan’s parents and Thomas’ wife, all sitting in the upstairs private lounge.
“Oh, boy. Here we go.” he mumbled as he stared at angry faces, “Good morning.”
No one answered as all of them pushed Marxus aside, entering his study, leaving Erik, Jonathan, myself and Thomas sitting there. Marxus lowered his head as he turned, closing the door behind him.
Things were silent when abruptly, we could hear loud voices shouting from inside.
Two hours passed: the four of us paced when the study door unexpectedly swung open. Adults stormed out fuming with anger as they stomped down the stairs. My mom was last to leave; face flushed and breathing heavily. I peeked inside seeing Marxus sitting behind his desk; face buried in his hands. I didn’t want to know what was said. Erik kindly offered to teleport my mom and I downstairs, saving her the trouble of having to make it down the curved staircase. I didn’t want her being alone at this point , for she was terribly upset and nervous. Holding her breath and closing her eyes, we appeared in the entrance hall. We quickly thanked Erik before his father called him away.
Later that evening as everyone gathered in the dining hall, Marxus greeted those entering the entrance foyer.. As my mom and I entered, she gave a stern expression as she passed him; saying nothing, leaving me standing there alongside him.
“Wow...there are a lot of people here tonight that I haven’t met before." I stated as we stood in the doorway, “I have to ask, Marxus…ooo, you got told didn’t you?”
“Yes, I did. Now, everyone’s here tonight.” Marxus replied, “Except for those in their homes and of course the vampires.”
“Except for Erik.” I added watching him standing near the windows talking to his father, an Asian man; late 50′s with handsome features and about, I’d say, two inches shorter than Erik, “Excuse me…” I strolled toward them with a smile.
Erik’s father was hospitable and kind, speaking in broken English with a Chinese accent. As he spoke, I could see where Erik learned his courteous manner and strong demeanor.
“Ah, hello again. Erik tell me a lot about you. The new Keeper.” he said softly, “Still very pretty eh, big head?” as he gently tapped Erik on the back of his head.
I looked over at a flushed faced Erik, and just smiled.
“Well, thank you.” I replied, “He’s told me a lot about you as well.”
“Good things I hope, yes?”
“Oh, yes. All good things.”
Hiromi nodded with a big smile then asked about my training and the journey. We stood there speaking for, I don’t know how long, until Caleb and Nick came running in from outside urgently calling out,
Everyone turned seeing them in the doorway of the dining hall.They nodded, apologizing for interrupting, but asked if they could speak with Marxus. He reassured everyone in the hall everything was fine as he swiftly walked over, standing to the side.
Making sure they were far from prying ears Caleb whispered,
“We were up on the wall, you know patrolling and whatever, when out in the distance, we saw a black mass coming towards us across the sea. We thought for a moment maybe it was a flock of Ravens returning but as they grew closer…”
“It’s the whatever I’m concerned about. What is it!?” Marxus urged.
“They weren’t Ravens.” Nick added.
“Not Ravens?” I asked as I walked over, “Sorry, but I couldn’t help but overhear.”
Marxus looked at Nick and Caleb then down at me.
“No, it’s alright Little One. You had the right. Anything that’s for my ears, is for yours as well.” he answered then turned to Nick, “Exactly what did you see?”
“They’re human-shaped-black shadow-things. I’m sure they’re flying overhead at this very moment. If you...both of you come outside, you could probably see them.”
“Human-shaped…black-shadow things. Right.” I mumbled. “Okay. I now feel like I’m in Hogwarts again.”
“I said that, yes okay!?. Just…come outside and see for yourself, will ya?” he urged.
Saying nothing more, Marxus, Caleb, Nick and I ran through the entrance hall, out front. Seeing our hasty behavior, panic filled the dining hall.
“Marxus! Yza!” Jonathan hollered out.
Receiving no answer, he, my mom, and Erik followed after. Hiromi who was left out from the journey, decided he wouldn’t be left out again so he followed after his son.
Rushing outside, they saw us gazing up at the night sky. The moon′s illumination gave off just enough light, outlining the figures of human-shaped-black shadows flying around in figure eights, from the Southern direction. Banshee-like screams filled the quiet night, in deep male tones.
“I’ve seen those before. In the Great City" I observed as I stood next to Marxus, “They began appearing frequently a year before the evacuation. I always wondered what they were, or where they came from.”
“All of you, back inside.” Marxus pleaded as he turned to everyone who stared at the night sky, “Get inside, now! They’re scouts.”
Hearing the tone in his voice, everyone grew fearful entering the manor.My friends stayed alongside, except for my mom who I asked to go inside. Marxus examined all our faces then turned to Nick and Caleb, asking them to take him up to the wall. In the blink of an eye they teleported themselves and Marxus up to the wall. Jonathan took Sarah, while Erik held onto me and his father. My mom stood by the door, watching as the shadows flew over head. She worried the destruction from the Great City had finally made its way here.
Once appearing on the wall facing South; direction of the Great City, Marxus studied the situation then turned to us, asking us not to make a sound.
“How did they find us?” Nick asked as he stood next to Marxus.
“I don’t know.” Marxus replied as he studied their pattern, noticing they were drawn to the property lights illuminating below. Quickly waving his hands, he dimmed the brightness of the lights then continued as he glanced at the sky, “They must’ve been attracted to the lights. Or worse…they’re searching for this place.”
The shadows remained in their places; frozen in mid-air, motionless momentarily, then started flying around in slower movements; waiting as the lights appeared again. They were a group, but weren’t cloaked; definitely not like the Dementors from HARRY POTTER, but held a full human skeletal form, with large white phantom eyes. One got rather close, causing me to step back, bumping into someone. Turning around, there stood Erik looking down at me then his eyes focused above my head. Turning back around, the shadow became solid as it entered the moonlight. Once clouds rolled over blocking out the light, the creature returned to its shadowed form.
“Marxus…” I whispered as I slowly walked over to him.
“Not now, Little One.” he replied sternly.
“Marxus, I’m trying to tell you something.” I turned him around.
He looked down at me as I briefly told him about the moonlight. After thinking about something he had read somewhere pertaining to these things, he knew what I said was true. Nodding, he instructed me to stand with the others. Facing the creatures,he began moving his arms around in Tai-Chi movements.As he did, the clouds covering the moon separated, allowing it to shine its light down over the entire estate and the creatures. It was magnificent to watch. They had nowhere to hide from the moonlight.The creatures frantically flew around, screeching as if they were burned.Moving his arms, a force field surrounded the twenty creatures keeping them contained so they couldn’t escape.
Marxus instructed Nick and Caleb to release the Ravens from their large aviaries located near the farm and stables. Nodding, they disappeared and minutes later, Ravens squawked as they flew to their perch upon the wall, upon hearing Marxus’ summoning; taking it upon themselves to protect their home. Flying around, they pecked at the creatures’ solid form, but some lost their lives in the process as the shadows absorbed their life force; lumps of feathered bodies falling to the ground.
“We need something stronger than just Ravens!” Caleb blurted out crouching down, as one of the shadows bravely tried reaching for him through the force field.
Marxus said nothing as he lowered his arms. Turning North, he held his arms stretched out to his sides, palms facing upward. He closed his eyes as he began calling out in his beautiful Spanish tongue to Axeon, to come and protect our home and destroy these creatures:
Protector de guardian de Ravenstone;
Tiene la palabra ahor para proteger su hogar.
Haga su presecnia a todos aqui;
Escucha mis palabras como si estuvieran en el oido.
Vuela desde su cueva debajo de la tierra;
Aliento el fuego y dejar se hundan.
Guardian protector of Ravenstone;
I call on you now to protect your home.
Make your presence known to all here;
Hear my words as if they’re in ear.
Fly from your cave beneath the ground;
Breath your fire and let them be drowned.
Seconds later, loud roars were heard in the distance. Breaking through the tree tops, was a large blue familiar bulk flying straight up into the night sky. Leveling out his wings, Axeon released powerful guttural growls as his eyes focused on the creatures trapped within their invisible barrier. Flapping his wings, we could hear their sound against the evening breeze. The shadows turned focusing their attention on Axeon, attempting to absorb his life essence which held no effect.
Marxus ordered everyone to step back, not wanting anyone to suffer from any burns, explaining that dragon’s fire is hotter than anything known to man.
Everyone backed away, crouching down behind one of the Raven day perches.
Hovering above our heads, Axeon studied the creatures. Circling the shadows several times creating a strong gust of wind, he built a large bellow of fire within his chest, then exhaled, drowning them in dragon’s fire; disintegrating them into ash and embers. Everyone covered their heads as the ashes drifted down, only to vanish into the wind. A faint scent of burnt putrid flesh (not that I know what that smells like) lingered in the air then faded.
My mom; stubborn as always, didn’t retreat back inside the manor as instructed. Instead, she watched outside taking in Axeon’s presence and smiled, as she couldn’t believe her eyes. Seeing Abraxas was one thing but Axeon was at least one hundred times larger.
“My, god…”she admired under her breath.
Other guards patrolling the wall sped over, standing behind our group, staring at the beautiful sight of Axeon; hovering with the moonlight glistening off his Sapphire blue scales.
“Whoa...” one mumbled, “so that’s what we see flying around at night.”
“A dragon?” another whispered.
“Yes. A dragon.” Marxus answered proudly as he gazed at Axeon’s magnificence, “Beautiful isn’t he?” he turned, seeing a sea of nodding heads.
Axeon elegantly landed on the wall, wings stretched out and head held high, breathing deeply. Marxus and I walked over, petting his soft snout while the others were a bit too afraid to come close. Hiromi, knelt on his knees bowing to Axeon, worshiping his presence. The Chinese culture worship dragons for their representation of power, perseverance and strength. Erik turned, quickly helping him from the ground.
Appearing behind Axeon came flocks of Ravens flying toward us, in circular motions. Once the Ravens realized they were no longer needed, they flew off; returning to their aviaries, except for a few that decided to say hello. Two landed on Marxus’ arms while one each landed on our shoulders. Before we managed to pet their chests, they flew off.
The guards stood in bewilderment upon Axeon’s majestic sight.
Things were quiet as Marxus walked toward Axeon, petting his snout once more.
“Alright, everyone. I think there’s been enough excitement for one evening.” Marxus stated, “There’s still time left, so please go and enjoy your dinner.”
“How are we going to get down?” Sarah asked.
“Same way you got up.” Marxus replied bluntly.
“But what about you?” Jonathan added.
“Oh, don’t worry about me. I have my way of transport, thank you.” Marxus remarked as he turned, climbing up on Axeon, “See you all back at the manor.” then with one strong flap of his wings, he pushed himself off the wall, circled twice, then flew above Ravenstone’s estate. Poetry in motion; a dragon with a rider upon his back in a moment of majestic beauty and grace.
Other guards shook their heads as they mumbled among each other. Although seeing Axeon for the first time, it didn’t dwell on the mind of the vampire guards, for nothing supernatural or magical surprises them. But Axeon was magnificent in their eyes and realized he must be the real magic behind Ravenstone...and the entire island.
The rest of us remained behind, deciding who would take who.
Jonathan took Sarah; Erik held onto his father, with the promise that he’ll come back and get me.
But Caleb stepped in and offered.
“Thank you Caleb. You’re so kind.” I said.
“The pleasure’s mine, Keeper.” Caleb said, “Anytime you want a lift just let me know.” he gave me a slight bow and a beautiful flirtatious smile, then disappeared.
After he disappeared, I turned to Erik and asked as I walked up to him,
“What? You left me there. What was I supposed to do?”
“You’re kidding me, right?” Erik argued, “I was going to come back for you, if only you waited there and trusted me enough to know I would never leave you like that.”
“I know that, but what was I supposed to do!? I’m hungry and tired! Besides, I waited for fifteen minutes and you didn’t show up! So...I accepted Caleb’s offer. Now, excuse me.” I stepped around him, walking back through the manor’s front door.
He teleported inside quickly, appearing right in front of me blocking my path.
“No, I’m not going to let you walk away this time like you did before.” he said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to leave you there. My father started talking and I couldn’t be rude to my own father. I mean...have you met him?”
Not saying anything I walked around him once more and he appeared in front of me, once more. He said firmly as he held his arms out to the side, keeping me from walking by,
“Yza...Keeps…stop! I said I’m sorry.”
“I heard you.” I replied, “Twice.” I held up two fingers, as if giving him the peace sign, “And what’s with the face, when I appeared with Caleb? Were you jealous?”
“Okay, then. Fine. I was jealous! I like you...a lot and you know it. And seeing that just got to me. Caleb’s a nice guy and all, but he’s way too much into the ladies.”
“And how do you know that?” I asked as I looked up at him.
“I’ve seen things.” Erik replied, “Just ask around yourself.”
“Ah...okay. Well, I wasn’t flirting with him anyway. But it seems it got under your skin.”
“Yes, it did. So, am I forgiven now pissant?”
“Not a chance, jackass.” I replied humorously as I walked around him...for a third time.
“You know, Keeps...I wasn’t going to say anything but now that I think about it, you bumped into me again up there.” Erik added in a smooth joking manner, “And I didn’t hear you apologize either.”
“Really?” I asked as I turned to face him, “Well...I admit I did bump into you this time, but I still haven’t heard you apologize for the first time. After all...you bumped into me with that cup of blood, which you weren’t supposed to be carrying around without a lid anyway.”
He stood there squinting his eyes at me gently biting down on his bottom lip as if he were agitated. I then held my right hand up to my ear and tilted my head slightly.
“I’m sorry? What was that? I don’t hear anything.” I joked.
He then stepped forward and leaned in a few inches from my face replying in a low sexy tone; extremely vampire,
“Sorry. So, then…catch you later, peeper Keeper.” as he gave a quick smile and just disappeared in his black puff of mist, leaving me standing there with a shiver that ran all through my body but not in a frightening manner.
“God, what this guy does to me! Does he have to be so dangerously sexy?” I mumbled, “Oh, God help me!”
I shook my head trying to regain my senses. After a few breaths I turned, re-entering to the dining hall, finishing the evening. My mom asked what happened out there and I quickly explained the events. My poor mom worried but revealed she saw Axeon.
As everyone sat around, I looked over noticing Sarah was trying to feed Jonathan pieces of fruit and vegetables from her plate as if they were dating. Poor Jonathan kept pushing her hand away trying not to make a scene but after a few minutes, he knocked the fork from her hand letting out a hiss of annoyance and loudly said,
“I don’t eat, Sarah! Quit trying to feed me like I’m a child! I drink blood, God damn it! What part of me being a vampire don’t you understand!?” then he looked around, revealing his True Self to everyone.
Embarrassed, he disappeared leaving Sarah sitting there baffled, not knowing what to say.She excused herself and left the dining hall, running to the bathrooms.
Later that night, Caleb, Nick and the other guards were looking out toward the forest listening to the Boar-wolves, when they suddenly observed Marxus2 standing there.
“How are the Boar-wolves tonight, Caleb?” Marxus asked.
“Usual, really.” he replied, “Now...how the hell did you get up here? Again. The first time, you just appeared up here then disappeared.What the hell? No disrespect.”
“So...are you a vampire or something?” Nick questioned.
“No.” Marxus2 went into full riddle mode, “I’m neither vampire nor lycan; neither human, nor wizard. Now, have a goodnight and keep an eye out for anymore of those shadow creatures alright, young vampire?”
He gave a two fingered salute then disappeared, leaving Caleb and Nick standing there wondering.
“Oh shit…what the f***?” Caleb said under his breath, “I need a drink.” he removed a small flask filled with scotch and took a sip, “Nick?” he held out the flask.
“Yeah…” then he took a quick sip, “It’s going to be a long night, Caleb so I hope you have a lot of that stuff handy.”
“Don’t I always?” he teased, “I’m Caleb.”