Seeing the words before her, she began as everyone listened to her soft voice.
You’ve endured a lot of disappointment growing up. Due to the fighting that occurred in your household, I knew it hurt you deeply and I’m sorry I never stepped in to correct the situation. My dear girl, I leave you my archery set which lays alongside my desk. I know you were always fond of it so take care of it, for it contains magical qualities which you’ll soon discover someday.Take care dear girl…make wise decisions…and please stop asking so many questions because many of them will never be answered. They’re not for you to know.”
Reading his letter made her cry as Jonathan once again, held her in his arms offering comfort. After calming down, she walked over picking up a beautiful ash wooden long bow with carved swirls and a beautiful leather quiver with sixty black shadow arrows tucked inside. They appeared to be Elven, but then, who knows. Marxus traveled everywhere. She examined them momentarily, then held them close to her as she sat in one of the chairs, feeling special to have received such a gift.
Next, was Leonus who hesitated, especially because of recent heated disagreements they shared. He glanced at everyone, then read aloud:
You’ve been there for me on many occasions and are my friend. You helped me keep this place in order and you kept some of the secrets that you knew about me to yourself and for that I appreciate. I thank you for all the years of our friendship and I now leave you my beautiful antique double bladed axe which I know you bothered me about every time you stepped into my office. Well now, it’s yours. Take care of it and treat it justly. Also, I leave you my white wolf skins which you’ve always fancied, but knew that I didn’t lend things out. Farewell. And you MUST accept my choice of Keeper leadership, for it wasn’t completely mine to make.”
Shaking his head and wondering what Marxus meant by that last remark, Leonus lowered his note as he stepped toward the glass casing above the fireplace removing the double bladed axe from its place.When he did it hummed beautifully then stopped as he rested it over his left shoulder. He retrieved white wolf skins that hung over the back of one of the chairs. Draping them over his right arm, he sat in the other chair, with a look of contentment. I looked over in his direction thinking that at this very moment, he truly did look like a Viking warrior with the large double bladed axe, wolf skins and red hair. No doubt…he was a man to be feared and I knew I’d have to really watch my back in days to come.
Jonathan spoke up reading his letter which was short but said enough:
“Jonathan, dear boy:
You’re a strong sensible young man whom people can look up to and you’re a very supportive friend whom others can depend on. Even though some look down on you and call you a goof, don’t listen to them. True you got on my nerves a few times but it was never deliberate. You’re just a young person enjoying their eternal youth but everything comes to an end and there’s a time in your life when you must grow up and stop being a child. You’ll have an incredible journey coming into your life and you must be mature enough to handle things. You must also be there for your little sister Lucy, for she will need you even more in the upcoming future; much more greatly than you realize. Now, I leave you my beautiful Asian throwing daggers which I know of your expertise, and they will be extremely useful to you. Take care of them, son. You and your family have always meant a lot to me and have helped Ravenstone greatly.”
Jonathan nodded as he walked over, removing the six beautifully crafted Asian daggers with Chinese inscriptions carved on the blades. He tucked them in his boots and belt then stood before Marxus. Wanting to place his hand on his shoulder, it passed right through Marxus’ body. The rest of us stood back keeping our distance from Marxus because of his altered state was some sort of transition.
Jonathan stepped away carefully sitting on the couch.
Nathan during all of this,stood around watching everyone gather their gifts then looked toward the glass casing.Noticing the beautiful dagger, he thought to himself in a smug way, that Marxus had left it to him, for it was mentioned that the dagger was meant for someone who was worthy enough. He didn’t have a letter, making him feel pushed aside so he waited until the weapons’ case was empty except for the dagger and then, he’d claim it for himself. He glanced at everyone who had and handn’t read their letter, frowning in shame and extreme embarrassment.
“Nathan...” Sarah whispered, stepping toward him, “are you alright? I know this is a shock but...”
"Stupid foolish old man...he won’t get tears from me...I hated him! He dared sticking us in that bloody compound like...animals in a habitat! Yeah, well...the old bloke can go f*** himself in the afterlife!”
“Nathan!” Sarah stepped away.
“I’m done...” he shook his head then backed away toward the door, storming out.
Sarah attempted to chase after him but Leonus advised her to leave him be to cool off and reflect. Agreeing, she returned to her seat,waiting for Erik and I to read our letters next. Erik agreed to read his first and after bracing himself for Marxus’ last words, he opened the letter.As he did, a quarter sized silver coin with Chinese symbols on both sides, fell out, landing by his feet. He picked it up and briefly looked at it then began reading his letter:
“Erik, dear boy:
There’s so much pertaining to you but then again a few words can express one’s feelings. I of course, have known you since you were a child and watched you from time-to-time, when I came to visit you in Penrith. Hiromi has done a fantastic job in raising you so well, and you’ve brought such joy in his life, helping him heal from his loneliness after his wife and unborn child passed. You’re destined for something great. Accept the support given by someone who deeply cares. Now, I leave you this precious coin which I’m sure is in your hands;the first of many, from my collection of coins. I also leave you my dagger. I’m sorry I couldn’t leave you more but you have everything you’ll need in life, and stop finding fault in everything around you. Accept things you can’t change. Farewell, young man. And yes, I forgive you for the rug incident…and crashing the hovercrafts.”
Erik smiled as he lowered his hand holding his letter then raised his other hand, examining the coins fine craftsmanship. He placed the coin in the pocket of his black jeans then walked over removing the dagger. Carved on its blade, were Chinese symbols for warrior and strength. He sheathed the blade, then tucked it in his belt, and walked back over, standing next to me. Erik and everyone turned their heads, looking at me, waiting for me to read my letter next.
I carefully broke the wax, feeling the pendant fall into my hands. Glancing at its beauty, I placed the chain around my neck; stalling momentarily before reading his last words out loud:
“My dear, Little One:
Sorry your letter is a bit lengthy, but there’s a lot I need to say. I’m aware that you knew something was truly wrong and I was preparing for a departure of some kind. I respect the fact that you didn’t tell anyone and kept it between us. I thank you so much for that and I know as I’ve always known you can truly be trusted with secrets. It wasn’t by accident that you were eventually led here. It was destiny and fate. Things happen sometimes in our lives for a reason and teach us lessons that help us understand our life’s path. You’re a very strong and brave young lady with a loving heart and that will never fail you. Love is the strongest emotion in the Universe. I’ve observed you on many occasions, your kind and caring ways which have touched the hearts of some who live here and those close to you. You’ve doubted your capabilities here as the new Keeper and expect things in life to be simple but I’m afraid that life itself isn’t so simple as you might want it to be. There are many dangers and unfortunate circumstances but learning to overcome them with strength and courage will get you through just fine. You have the added support of caring people around you who I know will always be there to help you in anything that you need. That has been proven. Now I leave you the Keeper’s pendant which you already know what it unlocks plus my truest blue friend whom I’ve instructed to help aid you, until he’s no longer needed.As well as the orb-stone. You’ll be needing my last gift that now hangs on the wall alone. That sword as well as the other weapons that were given were forged of the strongest metal and will never shatter. You my dear are now the new Keeper of Secrets and I leave you the legacy and fortune of the island. I trust that you’ll maintain everything here that I’ve created, in addition to adding your own flair of things of course. And by the way, 200 acres will suffice. Remember all you’ve learned here and what I’ve taught you and one more thing. Never stop speaking your mind for that’s the quality that I admired most about you, in spite of what I thought! Also another part of your training Little One, the witches leave every five years to go on their magical quest and they’ll be leaving soon so I suggest you and your mother venture out with them for what you will discover, will be extremely beneficial. Goodbye now, Little One. And please remember... don’t inhibit what you are for that makes you who you are. Use that power wisely, but within reason. Now...there’s a book on my desk I have left to your mother. It’s something she’ll find beneficial to her practices. Now, I must go. And one more thing as well, an old acquaintance of mine will be arriving soon in Ravenstone, to officiate the transfer of the Keeper title and fortune. Goodbye , Little One.Sincerely always, the badass wizard.”
I let out a slight laugh at the end. I walked over, removing the sword from the wall, and examined its craftsmanship. Medieval symbols were carved on its blade. Its sheath was also beautifully crafted. I sheathed the sword and held it in my hands, then took in a deep breath, turning to everyone with a sad smile. After a few minutes of silence, I asked Leonus as Erik and I walked over sitting on the couch next to him with Zanz laying at my feet and Abraxas in my lap,
“Leonus...what are we going to do with him? We can’t even touch him.”
Leonus didn’t answer as he stood, walking over to stand in front of the balcony doors. Pushing them open to take in a few deep breaths, Leonus stood there for the longest time before giving a reply. As he turned, his attention focused toward Marxus.
“Leonus?” Sarah asked, “Are you okay? What…are you looking at?” as she followed his gaze, “Look...Marxus...he’s...” she pointed.
Our heads turned, looking to see Marxus’ body glowing in a bluish-white light.
“Glowing.” she finished.
Minutes after reading our letters, he began disappearing into a sparkling mist; drifting up and out toward the balcony doors, in a swirling motion. Leonus stepped back, allowing the essence to pass. As everyone stood watching this occurrence, our letters suddenly disappeared from our hands in the same manner. We rushed toward the balcony doors watching as his essence, flew upward. When it did, it circled around us, as if saying goodbye, then disappeared into thin air.
We all said our final farewells, shedding another round of tears.
Even though Zanz never grew accustomed to Marxus, he released loud powerful howls; sending out his farewells. We all listened to the harmonic sound, then smiled.
After gathering the items meant for us, everyone left, while I was last to leave.
“Keeps...you coming?” Erik asked as he turned.
“Yeah, but in a few. I have to make sure things are in order here.” I replied.
He nodded, closing the door behind him leaving me in Marxus’ study, knowing I needed time to reflect.
I glanced around, examining everything that was his, which is now mine.Nothing needed to be changed. At his desk, I straightened out all the papers, and little items. Strolling toward the door ready to leave with Zanz and Abraxas, the covered painting hanging on the wall; its red velvet cloth slipped falling to the ground as if it uncovered itself. Picking up the red velvet cloth, I went to place it back over the painting, then noticed a gorgeous life-like painting of a beautiful black haired woman with dark kind eyes and kind features, and a younger girl around my age; same black-brown hair and dark eyes.A name plaque engraved underneath read:
My two great loves:
My wife Dianah and daughter Lily
The painting was incredible; more like a photograph than a painting. The eyes followed me as I paced.The artist was unknown as there were no signatures. Marxus’ life-like painting was set next to the painting of his family so at least they’re together in both spirit and on canvas. I noticed that they were always covered every time I entered his study, but never asked why.
Standing on a chair, I reached over recovering the painting, making sure it was tucked in the corners so it wouldn’t slip off again. I finally left the study, joining my friends and Leonus in the lounge.
Once the study door closed shut, Molock appeared. Standing behind the desk, he examined everything in its place then mumbled as he turned, glancing out the patio doors,
“Well, farewell Marxus. Hope you have a safe journey to who knows where because I don’t care. But at least now…I don’t have to pretend to be you anymore. Ugh.” he shivered from the thought, “And no worries…I’ll be there for the young Keeper, guiding her on her destiny.”
Grinning, he turned taking a deep breath, before disappearing.
Entering the lounge, everyone sat in silence examining their weapons. The whole ambiance of the manor was off balance because as I exited Marxus’ study, there was a sadness in the air; a dead stillness.
“We have to tell everyone.” Sarah said.
“That will be best.” Leonus agreed, examining the axes’ double blades.
“I think we should tell everyone at the festival.Not to celebrate a happy occasion, but make it more of a remembrance.” I added, “That’s the best thing we could do right now. Then, next year will be different.”I looked around at everyone, who nodded in agreement.
“That sounds...” Leonus paused thinking about it, “fine. I’ll do it. I knew him best.”
“Obviously not enough.” I barked, “After all…you were the one he threw, in this very room. And the words weren’t pleasant either.”
He sneered as he held his axe.
“You know nothing.” he moaned.
“I know enough.” I answered, “I heard every word and saw every gesture. And so did my mother.”
He excused himself, explaining he was going home to inform his wife and kids. He walked out carrying the axe in his right hand and wolf skins in his left. As he leered at the path ahead of him; eyes flashing red, he muttered in a sinister tone,
“You, little bitch. Your days are numbered. I promise you. If I have to kill you to get Ravenstone, I’ll do it with this very axe! This island once belonged to the Vikings, and will again!”
As everyone stood heading to their rooms for the festival, Erik walked over giving me a hug. It felt so good and comforting to be held in his arms. I felt safe.
“Not that I’m complaining but what’s that for?” I pulled away, looking up at him.
“I thought you needed it.” he replied, “Hugs always help.”
“It did. Thanks…for everything, Vamps. And you know…losing Marxus made me realize something tonight.”
“With all the teasing between us, just know...you mean a lot to me.” I revealed.
Erik caught off guard, remained silent as he stared into my eyes.
“Erik?” I asked.
“Sorry. I um...wow!” he answered with a smile as he glanced down at his feet.
“Did I say something wrong?”
“No...no. It’s just…you mean a lot to me too.” he whispered, “You just beat me to saying the words.”
“So…it doesn’t ruin things between us?”
“Good. I need someone.”
“Well, you have him.”
I smiled then changed the subject,
“Hey…happy, unhappy birthday.”
“Could be better. Well, I’m going to check in on my father and break the news. See you later?”
Touching my face affectionately, he nodded then turned away, disappearing in his black puff of mist leaving the scent of his delicious cologne and mint vampire scent. Mmm...delicious!
I stood at the manor’s front doors glancing back at the staircase, then left closing the doors behind me. I took a slow walk with Zanz by my side as Abraxas flew overhead, toward our dwelling. My mom paced in her room preparing for the festival, when she heard a faint knock.
“Just a moment.” she called out and opening the door, there I stood with tears, “Sweetheart...what’s the matter?”
“It’s Marxus.” I muffled, “He’s gone.”
“What!? Come in.” she stepped aside.
We sat in the chairs while I explained everything that occurred. She cried some, feeling guilty she hadn’t apologized for her choice of words that day in the study, but I comforted her in return. I revealed the gifts he left for everyone, telling her about the orb-stone, pendant, sword and the book designated for her. Anxious and surprised, she asked if I could retrieve it. Afterwards, I returned to my room leaving Zanz behind; then the thought hit me. What about Axeon? Does he know what happened? I glanced around my room feeling that I misplaced something and sure enough, I realized I had left Marxus’ sword in the study, among the other items.
“Zanz, you stay here. Abraxas, come with me.” I said.
“Mother.” he answered, landing on my shoulder.
Leaving my mom momentarily to collect her emotions, I returned to the study which now felt empty. I walked over standing in front of the bookshelf, pulling down on the book activating the lock. The bookshelf slid to the side and torches lit. Entering the secret passage, I glanced to my right seeing the staircase leading up to the Room of Secrets, remembering when he revealed it to me. I smiled as I turned my focus onto the door toward the back. Placing my hands on the door, the key hole appeared. I placed the key inside and spoke the words turning it to the right,
“La Tecla”... and pausing, the door gradually opened as the bookshelf closed. Reaching for a torch Abraxas stopped me.
“You don’t need a torch, Mother.” Abraxas whispered then ignited his scales in a bright red flame; cool to the touch creating a reddish hue.
“Where did you learn do that?” I asked.
“I don’t know, Mother. I just knew.”he snuggled against my chin.
I smiled as I walked down the stairs with Abraxas leading the way.
Searching for Axeon, I remembered the first time I came down here with Marxus. Axeon was hard to see because he curled up looking like a large mound, blending with the massive boulders.
“Axeon...are you here?” my voice echoed.
“Yes, young one.” he answered solemnly.
“Where are you?” I searched the cavern.
“Over here, Mother.” Abraxas said as he landed before Axeon.
I followed Abraxas’ little roars and there laid Axeon.