Now late October, everyone prepared for Ravenstone’s annual Halloween festival, held within the estate’s walls for all to attend.
During the months that have passed, I discovered the Lycans would celebrate the festival, going through their monthly transition. However, I didn’t know where. As preparations were made throughout the day, approaching evening, I thought of the only Lycan other than Anthony, to ask. The Alpha; Leonus Lancaster.
“Marxus hasn’t told you that?” he snapped. “Doesn’t surprise me.”
“No, he hasn’t.” I snapped back, “That’s why I’m asking you. If you don’t want to answer, fine!”
“Then I won’t answer!” he stormed away, disgruntled.
“Thanks for nothing!” I called out, not knowing if he heard me.
“Stupid girl!” he mumbled, hearing my words.
Later that evening,I spoke with Marxus learning about the lycans and the area built for them Just something else I needed to learn about. Walking the grounds, we paused looking up at the full moon high in the sky.
“Would you like to observe their transition?” Marxus inquired, “It’s outback behind the estate in the forest. But mind you…it can be very frightening the first time you witness it. Til this day, I still cringe from time-to-time. Each transition grows more vicious.”
“Um...” I hesitated.
“Don’t worry, Little One. We’ll be safe in the presence of the guards. Besides, I think it’s time you observe our paranormal residents in their natural form, don’t you think? Consider it another lesson in your training.”
“Well, when you put it that way...how can I refuse?” I agreed, “But are you sure we’ll be safe?”
“You have my word.”
“Your word. Right.” I remarked sarcastically as he led me toward the back of the property, near the base of the wall.
With the help from Nick, we appeared on the wall instantly. Walking along the walls perimeter, Marxus glanced at his pocket giving the time of 11:34p.m. wondering where all the lycans were, as they haven’t arrived yet. As he paced, I suddenly gazed across the estate watching as a large group of at least one hundred quickly sprinted toward the wall. Vampires appeared below, opening large silver doors leading out into the forest. However what I didn’t know and couldn’t see, was the forest they entered was walled off; creating some sort of a habitat-zoo compound. Once the vampires locked the doors from both inside and outside the area, I had to ask as I turned to Marxus who observed the lycans in human form,
“Marxus...you own this forest, right? I mean…it’s your island!”
“Yes.” Marxus glanced at me, “Why?”
“Because, well...why can’t they run free among the forest? I mean this?” I gestured around, “They’re kept! Like pets!”
“They’re not pets. But I think that what I’ve set for them, is just and fair.”
“Really? How so?” I asked folding my arms sarcastically.
“Because...” he answered as he completely faced me, “I’d rather have them contained within these walls in their two and a half acres, than have them; in their animalistic state, roam outside the trees, engaging with the Boar-wolves, or making their way toward the village.”
“Why can’t you give them at least two hundred acres!? I mean…that’ll be better for them, I’m sure with plenty to spare. You certainly have ample room Marxus.”
“Don’t question what I’ve done here, Little One. Someday if you’d like, you can change it, but for now, it’s going to stay the way it is. Now, enough said on the matter.” Marxus protested, “It’s worked so far.”
“Enough isn’t said on the matter because when I fully become Keeper...I’m going to extend your zoo to two hundred. Or maybe even break down the wall that keeps them inside this…place.” I argued, “No wonder the lycans are moody all the time. They’re nothing more than animals put on display for the vampires up here. And you of course. There. Now enough has been said.” then I walked away, leaving Marxus standing there perplexed.
“Two hundred acres!?” he called out but I didn’t answer.
Minutes before midnight, the lycans below removed their clothing. I looked away because there was far too much nudity in one place for my eyes; especially when Nathan looked up seeing my figure. He stepped forward, showing off his NOT SO BIG prize, he so much bragged about. Once or twice he grabbed at himself, making me turn away in utter disgust. Anthony stood nearby, glancing toward the wall. I quickly turned away giving him his dignity; blushed face, for he had a beautifully sculpted form ...and was well endowed. Wow!
Marxus said nothing as he closed his eyes; head shaking in annoyance.
As their transition began, it reminded me of the UNDERWORLD movies. Yes, I watch a lot of movies. So what? Their eyes were the first stage; turning yellow signifying Beta and Omega ranks. Leonus’ eyes flashed red, revealing his alpha status. Large fangs protruded from their drooling mouths while claws extended from their fingertips; scratching the ground beneath their feet as their transition continued.
I winced in discomfort, watching as their entire skeletal structure broke, achieving the lycan frame of longer arms and muscular legs; larger builds. The heads and facial features extended, as their noses protruded outward. Ears pushed back from their face, pointed at the tips. Once the transition ended, their heights stretched from six feet, to at least eight feet tall. Leonus was the largest presenting his alpha persona; eight and a half feet tall. All skin were torn from their bodies, replaced with dark brown fur, leaving Leonus the only black furred lycan among them.
Leonus’ head looked up toward the full moon releasing loud, powerful howls then ran off into the forest. The others released weaker howls; though still powerful before following their alpha.
“Wow…that’s not something you see everyday. And I don’t even want to know what’s happened to their skin.” I whispered with nausea as they disappeared, “And you know something, Marxus? You were wrong.” as I turned to him.
“How so?” he questioned.
“You said they were frightening. Yes, they are but at the same time, they’re beautiful. To turn from one form to another must be painful yes, but…never mind.”
Marxus stood silent as I turned to Nick, asking him to remove my presence from the wall, for I’ve seen enough. Walking across the estate’s grounds in the cold evening air, I suddenly heard Marxus’ voice call out,
“Little One...please, stop!”
I paused, turning around watching as Marxus grew closer.
“It’s cold and I need to get back to Zanz.” I stated, folding my arms for warmth.
“Little One, please.” he whispered as he stepped toward me, “I don’t want to argue.”
“And I’m not arguing. But I must ask one more question; then I’m done.”
“How are they fed? What do you feed them? Large bowls of Lycan kibble?”
Marxus grew impatient as he walked around me.
“That...I’ll not tell you, but maybe they eat little girls who ask too many questions.”
“Really? Well, I’m sure they’re dying to sink their fangs into a juicy riddling wizard like you! Besides...I might taste a little charred!”
“You have some nerve.” Marxus objected folding his arms.
“So do you! Now, goodnight!” I turned, running toward my dwelling where I could hear Zanz howling from inside.
After I disappeared from sight, Marxus strolled toward the maze to calm his nerves. Coming to the center, a large fountain similar to the one in the village square, greeted him.However, this one held more importance. Knowing everyone was in for the night, he stood in a wizard’s circle that magically etched itself on the cobblestone ground. He stood with arms held out palms facing upward,reciting in his Spanish tongue once again, a spell; calling for beings of all four elements:
Amigos Magia de tierra, fuego, agua y aire;
Ven a mi mientras recito esta oracion.
Recuperar ahora todo lo que has dado me;
La magia dentro me puse tad.
Toma mi alma a una colocacion en reposo;
Para estar con mi familia y en la gracia de Dios.
Magic friends of earth, fire, water and air;
Come to me as I recite this prayer.
Take back now everything you’ve given me;
The magic within I set myself free.
Take my soul to a resting place;
To be with my family and in God’s grace.
After reciting the spell, lights appeared around him. Some materialized from thin air, others bloomed from the grass and flowers; surfaced up and out of the water and sparks of flame emerged, igniting out of nothing. Each set of lights came from their natural elemental environment taking shape, revealing small nature beings and sprites hidden in plain sight. Swirling around in a spiraling motion, they drew energy from his body.As they did, he glowed releasing power back to nature. Once the glow faded they hovered above him as he dropped to his knees, feeling weak and drained.
“Please, my friends.” Marxus whispered, “Go. Send my friend the news of my passing for his help will be needed for the new Keeper of Secrets. Now that I′ve given you back what you’ve given me; sustaining me for centuries, the time will soon be at hand for you to escort my spirit. But first, I need to write letters explaining certain things to certain people. Thank you for your loyalty and friendship my nature friends.”
All the beings nodded.
Those of air flew off.
Those of water flowed back through the water systems (ponds, streams, rivers, etc).
The grass and flower sprites spread their message through seeds, roots, and the trees. The fire beings did the same, carrying their message through embers in the wind.
All carried their messages, accordingly.
Once the beings left, Marxus stood taking deep breaths. Glancing around at everything he had built and created, he felt a heartbreaking sadness overwhelm him with emotion. After gathering himself, one little flower sprite disguised with red petals, leaf arms and legs and a stem for its body, let out small little cries as it sat in the grass surrounding the fountain.It stood at five inches tall. He glanced down picking it up.
“Easy there, little flower. Everything comes to an end eventually.But death is never really the end now is it? But then again, you already know that." he spoke softly.
It looked up with big black bug-like eyes in its flowers’ center, speaking in high pitched squeaks and moans that would hurt the ears of anyone who listened. He placed the being on his shoulder and walked back though the maze, returning to his study.
Marxus sat at his desk in his chair and leaned back, taking a few deep breaths. He took the flower sprite from his shoulder sitting it upon his desk then opened the left drawer,retrieving two very old photographs taken in the 1500s of his wife and daughter. As he stared at their photos, he turned them over looking at their names, DIANAH and LILY, feeling the sting of tears welling in his eyes. He began speaking to them, telling them he’ll be with them soon. The little flower sprite walked over laying its leaf hands on Marxus’ arms looking at him, as if trying to comfort him in its own way.
“Thank you, little flower.” he petted its delicate petals, “Thank you. You have been most appreciated and faithful. I will miss you!” then he gently laid the photos down to the side.
Reaching into the right drawer retrieving six pieces of parchment paper and a magical pen, he wrote in invisible ink that can only be read by the one the letter’s meant for.
After writing, he stood walking toward a trunk he set along his desk, retrieving items from inside. He placed them on his desk along with the pendant, placing it inside my letter. He set the box holding the orb-stone beside it. Folding each letter three times, he sealed them with a wax seal with his initials MC embedded in it. Pushing them aside, he reached for his antique desk phone, dialing zero.
“Speak your name.” a voice requested on the other line.
“Marxus Alejandro Castillion.” he answered.
He waited, when he heard a click, letting him know he reached the Order of Men; validating his voice recognition.
“It’s done. It’s time. She’s ready.”
“Very well. I shall arrive soon.” a voice answered then the call ended. Just like that, without any more words spoken.
Staring at the phone, he then removed the photos of his wife and daughter from his desk then stepped toward his settee. Laying back, he closed his eyes clutching onto the photographs then whispered softly,
“Now, I’m ready. I’m so tired…” and closing his eyes, he fell into a forever slumber, feeling his essence diminish.
The little flower sprite sat on his chest crying then turned, floating to the ground. It walked outside right through his patio doors spreading the word through wind and grass, letting all know of Marxus’ departure. It returned to its place in the garden where it blended with the other perennial flowers, taking its forever slumber as well; all knowing that the age and time of the Castillon era has ended. Now, a new one has begun. All must prepare.
Across the continent, a man sat by the fire with his wife and son in their cultural land of Africa, talking among themselves, when suddenly bursting from their fire-pit in the center of the room, were the embers sent from Marxus, carrying his message. Once the embers disappeared, the man and his wife looked at one another, knowing the time had come to travel to Ravenstone. The place this man had helped infuse with magic, building from the ground up.
“We must prepare, my love.” the man said in a elegant African accent as he stood, “We must prepare.”
“I’ll inform our clan of our departure.” his wife replied in the same African accent.
“No. I will take care of our people.” their son added as he stood, “Let me do this father. Let me prove I am ready to care for our people in your absence.”
The man and woman stood, walking toward their son, proud of his strength and courage.
“Very well, my son.” the man said, placing his hands on his shoulders.