Reaching out my hands laying them gently on his snout, I sensed a great sadness. Without words spoken, Axeon had felt Marxus’ departure. I tried wrapping my arms around his snout, offering my kindness and comfort. Afterwards, Axeon explained that he’d do whatever he could to aid me.
Minutes passed as we sat in silence, just spending time in one anothers’ company.
“Alright...I think I’ll leave now.” I whispered, “Again, my heart goes out to you. I know your bond with Marxus was strong. I hope we can share a bond that strong.”
“Thank you, kind girl. And you shall…with your Zyphyn and it will be like no other.” Axeon responded solemnly, “Now, please...I need to be alone. A dragon’s way of grieving is way more intense.”
“I understand.” I hugged his snout once more then picking up Abraxas, I returned to the study.
Axeon closed his eyes, feeling a deep sadness. He exited the cavern, needing time to foresee future events. He flew above the clouds, hidden from view; moonlight glistening off his Sapphire scales. Intense roars were heard that night, as Axeon released a dragons anguish. Their bond was now severed but never broken.
After returning to the study and sifting through Marxus’ desk drawers, I found another envelope with my name on it, shoved beneath an old black ledger. Immediately, I could feel there was a key tucked inside. Falling into my hands, was an antique skeleton key. A note too was written inside:
Knowing you’re not a magical being, you’ve discovered the key I had forged for you, unlocking the Room of Secrets, which is now yours. Always keep it near.
Placing the key in my pocket, I grabbed hold of the orb-stone in its box and my mom’s book which I tucked under my arm. Grabbing the sword which laid on the desk with my free hand, I heard someone open the door.
“Erik, I...” I said thinking it was him, but as I turned, there stood Nathan holding a half empty bottle of Scotch, “Nathan...what the hell are you doing here!?”
He smirked as he slammed the door, dead bolting the lock.
“What kind of greeting is that, huh?” he slurred in a drunken stupor, “Everyone’s gone; preparing for this f***ed up festival. So, where’s your bloodsucking bodyguard, and that black mongrel? Probably off sucking someone’s neck.” then he took another sip from the scotch bottle.
“Nathan…you’re drunk, so beat it.” I warned. ” I don’t have time for this crap!”
“Or what, little bird?” he answered, “You’ll…sass me to death with your crafty little mouth that’s going to waste?”
“I’m not in the mood for this, you f***ing pig!”
Abraxas sensing Nathan’s intentions, flew from the back of one of the chairs, flapping around Nathan’s head. Squawking and roaring, he aggressively scratched Nathan’s face and arms with his rear talons. Growing the upper hand, Nathan grabbed Abraxas’ tail with one hand, then with the Scotch bottle, hit Abraxas across his small face. Liquor splashed into his eyes, burning them and staining the rugs. Swinging Abraxas, he threw him away; landing inside the empty fireplace.
“Abraxas!” I screamed as I took a step forward, but Nathan pushed me backwards, causing me to drop the items onto the floor, except the sword.
I attempted utilizing my fighting skills, but they were too weak as Nathan was much stronger than I. Pushing my back against the front of the desk, he pinned my arms down on either side, limiting my mobility. Leaning in close to my face, he reeked of stale cigarettes and liquor. Turning my face away, he slurred his words,
“Now...I have you right where I want you. You have no right to receive a weapon because you’re not a f***ing warrior, now are you!? I should’ve received that sword and you know it, so now...give it to me, along with something else, hmm!” he reached out his left hand, attempting to pull the sheath from my grip, then began sniffing the air around me, catching both my fear and the scent of my perfume.
Wrapping my right hand firmly around the hilt, Nathan roughly yanked on the sheath, allowing me to unveil the weapon.
Nathan stumbled backwards from the lack of balance. Immediately, I sprung forward, placing the sword’s tip where he treasured his manhood.
“Take one more step Nathan, please. Because all it will take is just one...little...cut.” I urged, pressing the blade closer to his most vital parts.
“You would really do that!?” he smugly replied, “You haven’t even had me yet, so now you just want to take it off? Oh…kinky.” he released a low growl of pleasure, “I’ve said this before, but I just love a woman with fire. But why cut it, when you can just suck it, hmm?” he pushed the blade away quickly as he lunged forward, tearing my blouse.
Erik climbed the stairs to the study with a big smile on his face, as he glanced down at his hands holding a small pendant box. Standing outside the door ready to knock and dressed in costume, he heard the sound of a struggle followed by the musky scent of a lycan. Placing the box in his pocket he tried the door knob, finding it was locked. Growing worried, he teleported inside appearing next to the desk, and witnessed as my demonic aura came to the surface; throwing Nathan across the study having his back slam against the door.
Breathing heavily, I stood leering at him.
Putting two-and-two together, Erik realized Nathan’s intentions.
Hissing violently, Erik sped forward as he grabbed onto Nathan’s shirt, pulling him from the ground. Throwing him backwards against one of the bookshelves near the door, he swung a few punches in the interim. Books fell from their places on the shelves above Nathan’s head, falling around him.
“Are you alright!?” Erik turned to me worried, seeing my blouse torn.
“Just peachy.” I mumbled as I picked up the sword, walking toward Nathan who leaned his head against the bookshelf.
“Ah...the bloodsucking lover returned!” Nathan mocked licking his bloody lip, “Don’t worry. I didn’t pluck your little flower’s petals. At least not yet.” then he felt the sting of the blade beginning to pierce his chest through his jacket. Glancing from his chest up toward me, he continued in a disgruntled tone, “What the f*** are you!? A demon!?”
“Precisely! Now, you listen very…very carefully. I want you...to take your vulgar bullshit, and get the hell out!” I ordered fiercely; full of rage, “This sword will never be yours because you’re undeserving of it. And as far as me? You’ll never have me!” but before allowing him to leave, I gave him a surface wound on the inside of his leg away from vital arteries, “That’s just a reminder of how close I can get with a blade and that I have paid attention to my training so far.” I threatened then reached over unlocking the door, “Now get out before I have Erik kill you where you sit. And I know he’s itching to do it!”
Erik hissed, whispering something in his ear that I couldn’t hear. Pulling him to his feet and pushing him toward the door, Erik and I backed away watching as Nathan hobbled out of the study holding his leg. Erik continued hissing, wanting to shred him apart as I turned away. Dropping my sword, I ran toward Abraxas, picking him up. Holding him like a baby, he released low roars of discomfort as he blinked his eyes.
“I need to clean his eyes.” I revealed as I turned to Erik, seeing him in his True Self state unafraid.
I stood, running into the study’s bathroom.
Erik quickly nodded then glanced around, seeing papers scattered everywhere. He gently picked up the sword, carefully sliding it back in its sheath then reached for the orb-stone box and book. He politely reorganized the papers then approached the bathroom.
Standing there while I hid inside, washing away the remaining alcohol in Abraxas’ eyes, as he laid in the sink. Afterwards, he blinked his big Amber eyes as if nothing were wrong. He shook the water from his scales as he climbed up my chest, snuggling his head against my chin. I gently wrapped my arms around him, hugging and thanking him for his protection. Erik watched the tender moment, growing a warm smile.
“Is he alright?” he asked, “Are you? Did the bastard scratch you?”
“Yes.” I replied, “Thank you. And no. No scratches.“”
“You don’t have to thank me, but what the hell happened?”
As we sat in the study, I quickly explained the occurrence in full detail, only making Erik fume with more anger and rage, as he hissed under his breath. Erik insisted that he walk me to my dwelling to change for the festival which will be beginning in less than two hours.
I smiled trying to change the subject by complimenting him on his Zorro costume.
“Well…I’m more of a vampire Zorro.” he smiled.
“Well…you’re still very handsome nonetheless.” I returned the smile, “And what did you whisper in Nathan’s ear?”
“Sometimes things are better left unsaid.”
“Okay…” I respected his answer.
Making sure I gathered the items, we left the study, returning to my room to change. Erik left, revealing he’d meet my mom and I at the manor.
My mom wasn’t in her room as I knocked on her door, then realized she must have already joined the others gathering near the manor. Those in their homes, lit candles of remembrance for Marxus, since they weren’t allowed to venture out this time of night due to the Boar-wolves.
Workers in the kitchen gathered boxes of candles, handing them out to everyone, lighting them. Leonus returned from gathering his wife and three sons just before dusk, standing in front of everyone outside the manor…minus the podium he wanted.
“We’re here tonight to celebrate and remember the life of our beloved friend and Keeper, Marxus Castillion. I know as well as all of you, he’s around here watching and I hope he is because I’d like to sing an old Scottish song of friendship and farewell.” he bellowed then cleared his throat singing in his Scottish tongue with a pleasant voice,
When friendship of love and truth abound-
Among a band of brothers-
The cup of joy goes gaily round-
Each shares the bliss of others-
Along the veil of sorrow-
The flowers that shed their leaves today-
Shall bloom again tomorrow.
“Yeah right.” I muttered.
Everyone hummed as tears were shed. The song was beautiful and everyone had someone for comfort.
Sarah had her uncle Leonard and Jonathan; who had his family.
I had my mom and Erik; who had his father, Hiromi.
Nathan stood in the back of the crowd watching as Sarah stood with Jonathan and their uncle. Holding up a newer bottle of Scotch, he guzzled down a long sip having some of the liquid drip down his chin, while he shifted his weight from his injured leg now wrapped. Walking away, he disappeared. Filled with anger and rage, he returned to his room destroying everything in it. Breaking his CD cabinet, tearing apart his chairs and bedding with his claws; even leaving scratches on the wooden wardrobe. Sitting on his bed, he began rocking back and forth, grabbing onto his hair, pulling it hard.
“F***ing Marxus! F***ing Sarah with her Bloodsucker! Bitch Keeper! Everything should’ve been mine! The sword! The dagger! The Keeper! Sarah!?” he mumbled under his breath, “F*** them all!” then he grabbed the bottle of Scotch laid on his night stand next to the bed, and drank it down until falling backwards, passing out on the bed. His senses were numb to the presence that had decided to make its appearance; Molock, standing there by his bed, glancing around the lycan’s filth environment. He leered down at the young man’s unconscious form then leaned in, waving his hands over his head, sending unsettling images and nightmares into his sleeping mind. Images of anguish and being torn apart repeatedly with a voice muttering as an echo,
“Torture is repititous, Nathan Brye...this is what awaits you in your not-to-distance future...and I will be there to collect you.”
Nathan stirred in disturbance, but didn’t wake.
After the song ended, everyone stood around in tribute and respect, saying a few words about Marxus. After they were spoken, I, making my first speech as Keeper, announced that all should commence with the festivities and have a joyful time. It was probably what Marxus would have required for himself. Easier said than done though, as emotions ran high.
The festival went on for awhile, but people started retiring because it didn’t feel right to enjoy themselves when deep inside, they were saddened. Everywhere they looked, Marxus’ presence was bare, for he enjoyed them as well, for he would participate in the entertainment on occasion, by playing his Spanish guitar. The festivities ended early and everyone returned to their rooms. Now dusk, it was too dangerous for Leonus and his family to travel home, so they rested for the night in a spare room of the lycanthrope dwelling.
Later that evening as I stood in my bathroom, I stared into the mirror trying to tap into my demonic nature, when I heard a knock on my balcony doors. Zanz and Abraxas grew alert, roaring and howling. I cautiously walked over holding a dagger behind my back, as I peeked through the curtains. There stood Erik glancing down at his feet which shuffled from one to the other. He looked up seeing my face through the glass and asked if we could talk. Opening the doors, I stood with a smile, holding the dagger down at my side.
“You’re not going to use that on me, are you?” he joked as he gestured toward it, then eyed me up and down as I stood dressed in my p.j. tank and shorts.
“Sorry.” I replied, laying it on my fireplace mantel, “I’m just a bit...jumpy. That’s all.” grabbing my over robe, I stepped outside as we stood around discussing Marxus, his father, my mom, Zanz and Abraxas once more.
“Well, it’s getting late so I’ll go.” Erik spoke softly, “I have something to do.”
“Okay…goodnight, peeping Vamps.” I smiled, eyeing him up and down in his p.j. tank and pants.
Erik chuckled, shaking his head.
“Catch you later, peeper Keeper.”
“Mm, I’m sure I will.”
Once Erik left, I laid in bed holding the orb-stone watching as it took on that strange red fiery appearance. It hummed softly, as I could feel its pulsating effect. It tried returning to its original Sapphire pigment but it seems it’s beginning to take on my demonic aura.
“What’s your story?” I asked holding the orb in my hands, “What else do you have in store for me, hmm?” and staring into its center, a spark of flame appeared as if it understood me, “Whoa…” I continued then laid it back in its box.
The following days went by slowly but after awhile, things needed my attention. They were tedious but I had help easing the load. One day while I was in the study sifting through paperwork that sat on the desk, the painting of his wife and daughter uncovered itself, attracting my attention. As I glanced up at the artwork, my heart stopped for the painting held a new addition. Standing behind his wife and daughter, was Marxus; hands placed on their shoulders with a warm grin of joy. I knew then without a doubt this was a message to me that he was at peace, finally united with his beloved family. Why do I feel this is a scene from Dorian Gray?
“Way to go, badass.” I whispered as I stood looking upon the painting.
Leonus knocked on the door and coming in, he saw me standing before the painting. When he approached he asked as he glanced down at me,
“Everything alright?” he commanded in a boisterous voice then raised his gaze at the painting, “By the heavens, is that...”
“Yeah.” I replied.
“Are you sure it’s...”
“No idea, but knowing Marxus, he had a few tricks up his sleeves before he passed and I’m sure this is one of them.”
“I’m sure.” Leonus said then spoke to the painting, “You’re finally at peace with your family. Everything here is going fine. With my help, our new Keeper will do just fine with me taking over.”
Before I commented, a wooden statue of a horse flew from its place on one of the shelves, landing at Leonus’ feet.
“Where did that come from?” I asked as I looked in the direction it flew from.
Leonus reached down picking it up then replied as he turned it over in his hands,
“I carved this for him when I was younger.” he looked around, realizing it was a personal message from Marxus to him. Somehow he knew Marxus didn’t agree with what he had said. He walked over placing it back on the shelf and looked around the room once more.Briefly looking over at the painting Marxus’ expression changed from a smile to a stern expression, “I think I’ll leave now.”Leonus continued as he strolled toward the door, quickly closing it behind him.
“Okay.” I replied then gazed at the painting thinking maybe it really freaked him out.
Once I recovered the painting, I returned to the desk. Suddenly, along the wall near the fireplace among the bookshelves, I heard creaking. Thinking maybe it may have been another secret passage revealing itself, I curiously walked over. Zanz howled as Abraxas roared.
Grabbing onto the bookshelf’s edge, I gently pulled the weight of the shelf open, where behind, was another door; made of black Ebony intricately carved without a speck of dust.
Attempting to push it open, the door appeared locked. Feeling around, discovering no handle, I wondered how it would open. My hands continued examining the surface when there it was...a small iron keyhole. Kneeling down studying it, I realized the lock fit the only other key in my possession. The skeleton key. Removing the Keeper’s chain from around my neck, I retrieved the key, placing it in the lock. A perfect fit! Turning and hearing a click, the door slowly pushed open.
Standing there, I was baffled at the beauty of this suite behind the door three times the size of our own and they’re adequate. The walls and floors were built of gray stone with a grand matching fireplace. An elaborate iron chandelier hung from the arched roof, with elegant candelabra light fixtures. Large windows and balcony doors let in beams of colored light, illuminating the suite. Gothic black leather chairs and a round table sat before the fireplace. Rugs covered the stone flooring beneath my feet. A large Ebony king sized poster bed with fitted sheets, looked as if it hadn’t been slept in. A soft glow from small wall lanterns emanated, adding their touch of beauty.
I walked in circles as I entered, taking in all this magnificence. Ahead, was an entry way with wardrobe cabinets; one on each side, leading to the massive bathroom with a separate roman tub and step-in shower.
“THIS MUST BE THE KEEPER’S SUITE.” I thought.
Zanz and Abraxas entered the room behind me, examining the environment. While Zanz took in the new scents, Abraxas landed on the iron chandelier feeling it sway slightly.
After spending time in the suite, I locked the door behind me, as well as the bookshelf. It was best to leave it alone for now; secluded and perfectly hidden.