Days rapidly passed; everything completed for the Halloween festival, including musical entertainment sponsored by Nick, Caleb and a few other vampires that provided fresh and live music. All were excitedbringing costumes to wear. Also, I discoveredHalloween, was Erik’s birthday.
“Wow…so you truly are a supernatural Vamps.” I teased.
“Funny, Keeps.” he replied, “But, yeah…I am, I guess.”
As my mom helped the witches prepare for their festivities decorating in Wiccan motif, my friends and I gathered in the manor’s lounge discussing our costumes and grateful that the rain had subsided. Laughs were also shared as Abraxas flew around, trying to avoid Zanz in a playful manner.
Leonus stormed through the front doors; water spots on his shoulders from the light drizzle we encountered earlier. Turning his head to the left seeing us gathered, he rushed over blurting out as he laid his hands on the back of one of the couches,
“Has anyone seen Marxus? He’s been missing for five days.”
“Maybe he’s away on business.” Jonathan replied.
“No, he’s not. He would’ve have definitely told me as well as Yzavela. Did he mention anything to you?” he urged bluntly as he gazed down at me, “Something that maybe you forgot about perhaps?”
“No. He didn’t tell me anything. If he did, I’d certainly remember. And thanks for speaking for me.” I replied, “But there’s one place I could look but I doubt he’s been gone for five days down there.”
“Down where?” Erik joked as he widened his gray eyes.
“I didn’t mean that.” I smiled.
Everyone couldn’t help but snort in humor, except for Leonus who loathed being in a vampire’s presence.
“Well, perhaps I can help you.” I offered, “What do you need?”
“That’s none of your concern, as you’re not Keeper... yet. But if you must know…irritating little girl, I need his input on what kind of podium he wants built for the festival tonight. Can you handle that…KEEPER?”
“Sure. I have the perfect idea.” I answered.
“And what’s that?” he mocked.
“You. You’re big enough. All you have to do, is lay down and play dead like a good little dog. You can do that? Right?”
He said nothing as he growled, before storming out the front doors. We then couldn’t contain our laughter as we all released a joyful moment..me standing up to Leonus.
Becoming worried, I excused myself making my way up to the study which was locked. I knocked calling out his name but he didn’t answer. Knowing that maybe he might be in the cave with Axeon, I ran down the stairs and out the front doors, tracking down Leonus, asking if he had keys to his study.
“Why do you need them?” he asked before placing them in my hands, “You’re the new Keeper and Marxus didn’t give you a set of your own keys?”
“No, he didn’t. Now I need the keys.” I argued.
“Mm.” and instead of dropping them into my hands, he deliberately dropped them to the ground at my feet, “Oops. Missed.” then he turned away.
“Arrogant mother…f**ck ass!” I muttered shaking my head.
Picking up the keys I turned, running back inside the manor with Abraxas flying after me and Zanz running ahead leading the way.
Coming to his study once more, I knocked a few more times but still no answer. I placed the keys in the lock. Opening the door slowly, I quickly gazed around the study, not paying much attention to the settee; set back out of view to the right of the study. Closing the door behind me locking it,I approached the bookshelf leading to the secret room and down into Axeon’s cavern.
Once the bookshelf slid open, I scampered toward the door leading down to Axeon. Placing my hands on the smooth surface, I remembered the only way to open it was with the pendant Marxus used the first time we came through here. Thinking maybe he could have left it on his desk, I tapped my hands on the door then turned, making my way back to Marxus’ study. I stood at his desk, carefully sifting through the papers and drawers looking for some clue as to where he could’ve gone. I noticed papers folded with words written on the front, but didn’t dare read them for they might have been for his eyes only.
I sat in the chair thinking of other places he might have put the key, while Abraxas flew over landing on the back of the settee.Shifting in place, he started letting out roars and squawks, along with Zanz’s howls.
“Mother.” Abraxas said telepathically, “I found something you must see.”
“Yes, and what’s that?” I looked up seeing Abraxas standing on the back of the settee flapping his wings.
“See for yourself.”
I sighed as I stood, walking around the settee; I was speechless.
Laying there was Marxus; feet crossed and hands clasped together across his chest. Thinking maybe he slept or was in a deep magical meditation, I stepped away, calling for Abraxas and Zanz. Ready to leave, something told me to stay. Turning to face him, evening sunlight peeked through the balcony doors, shining down upon Marxus as if nature high-lighted him. He seemed completely transparent as if he were a hologram laying there with the beams of colored light shining through him. His handsome features looked peaceful and tranquil.
Walking in slow quiet steps, I called out his name softly but received no answer. Standing inches away, it hit me that the man who taught me so much and filled me with such anger at times, had passed.Reaching out my hand to touch him,it went right through as if he weren’t really there. But where he laid, was cold to the touch. Not knowing how to react, I stepped back letting out a loud scream of deep anguish and sadness. One that could be heard through the manor and around the estate. Kneeling on my knees with Abraxas and Zanz for comfort, I started crying.
“What was that!?” Sarah asked, “A Banshee!?”
“It sounded like someone screamed.” Jonathan replied, “And what’s with you and Banshees!?”
“That was Keeps…”Erik added, speeding up to Marxus’ study, leaving Sarah and Jonathan in the lounge.
Without hesitation, Erik opened the door calling out,
Searching the study, he gazed to the right; me kneeling before Marxus with head buried in Zanz’s neck, crying.
In shock, he stood there when Sarah and Jonathan came in behind.Before Jonathan could say anything, he too felt the shock hit him becoming speechless as did Sarah. They stood crying while Erik stepped over gently placing his hands on my shoulders. Glancing up, there stood Erik with a look of sadness; tears welling in his eyes. He knelt down alongside me,placing his arms around me. Zanz and Abraxas backed away as I turned, holding onto Erik.
“Shh...it’s okay, Keeps.” he said, “It’s okay.”
“No, it’s not.” I cried on his shoulder, “He’s Marxus. He can’t be.”
Erik couldn’t think of words to say as he observed Marxus’ stillness.
Leonus came in through the front doors once more. In the quiet stillness of the manor, he could hear voices and sobs coming from upstairs. He rushed up the stairs to see Marxus’ study door open, with Jonathan and Sarah standing outside.
“Marxus, I…why are you in here!? You’re not supposed to be here!” he ordered.
“Leonus...” I called out hearing his voice.
Hearing my voice he walked in.Glancing toward our direction, he stood frozen, comprehending the scene before him. He walked in fast strides, pushing Erik and I aside, giving himself room to kneel alongside the settee. He stared at Marxus’ holographic form with tears stinging his eyes. Erik too, took notice of this occurrence as did Jonathan and Sarah, as they once more entered the study.
The scene broke our hearts because everyone in the room loved Marxus. He was our mentor, teaching us so much, according to our needs. Even though we were still a bit angry over the decisions he made, we still respected and loved him highly. He provided us all with a beautiful safe environment and home.
“You...” Leonus mumbled as he stood facing us, “you knew about this, didn’t you!?” he pointed at me, “But you said nothing!”
“What!?” I replied as I wiped away my tears, “Of course I didn’t know about this. There might have been things I couldn’t talk about with anyone but I would never keep something like this to myself.”
“But that’s the reason why...”
“Leonus!” Erik interrupted as he stood in front of me,“You have no right to speak to her like this. And not now of all times. We’re grieving right now! What the hell is wrong with you!? She just discovered him!”
“So I’m guessing it’s my fault too, that you’re such an arrogant f***!” I proclaimed, standing alongside Erik.
Before Leonus said another word, Nathan came inside, deciding to see what all the commotion was about, as he could hear it downstairs. Not having to ask, he looked over at Marxus and he too, froze for a moment. Sarah approached her brother as he looked at her with disbelief. Reaching out, he hugged her as she cried with her head rested on his shoulder. Pulling away, Sarah strolled toward the desk leaning against the ledge alongside Jonathan.Her hand slipped on a piece of paper and as she turned laying it back on the desk, she noticed letters spread out with all our names written on them.
“What are these?” she gestured toward the letters folded and sealed with wax, “And those?” she pointed at items placed along the desk’s surface.
“I don’t know what these are, but I saw them here awhile ago when I was sifting through, looking for anything about Marxus’ whereabouts." I revealed, “My name’s written on one of them too.” I reached over, picking up mine and the box containing the orb stone, ”I think he left us his last words and requests as if he knew...” and my words were broken as my eyes welled with more tears.
Everyone walked over picking up their letters then stood around, wondering what to do next.
“Maybe he wants us to read them.” Jonathan revealed.
“Obviously, you bloodsucking idiot.” Nathan added.
“Love to!” Nathan growled, alarming Zanz who stepped forward, adding his input.
“Enough! Both of you!” I protested, “Read your letters already! Sarah...you first.”
“Why me?” she questioned.
“Sarah…not now.” Jonathan scolded, “She’s our Keeper now so listen to her.”
She huffed as she broke the wax seal on her envelope.