On the Evil Scale: Keeper of La Tecla (The Key) Book Two

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๐’ž๐’ฝ๐’ถ๐“…๐“‰๐‘’๐“‡ ๐Ÿฃ๐Ÿข

๐’ฏhe days passed and we gathered for the scouting party; all standing around near the gates at 7:00am just after the Boar-wolves had retreated for the day. Things were awkward between Erik and I but we kept our distance for I wasnโ€™t going to bother with him right now but somehow I wondered if I had a part in the arguments and in the end, I knew I had nothing to feel bad about.

Sarah, Jon, Thomas, Anthony, Leonus, Erik, Nathan, Zanz and Abraxas, including myself, exited the gates feeling the stabbing cold from the early morning breeze. Even dressed appropriately, the winter touched our bones. Treading through the snow slowly, we followed our way around the wall before heading West through Ravenswood and closely approaching the forest treeline, you could see the disturbance among the tree trunks and bushes; a massive bulk had rampaged through without care.

Everyone glanced in all directions as we treaded through the forest, hearing birds chirping and rustling among undisturbed bushes putting everyone on alert but they were just rare and scattered rabbits and snow fox. Our footing had to be careful as well for none of us knew what lay beneath the snow but Abraxas helped with that, flying above melting the snow with a hot dragonsโ€™ breath, creating a pathway. Leonus scoffed, thinking the small dragon would set the forest aflame but kept his remarks to himself. The path was clear ahead and our footing became stable. Closely approaching the forestsโ€™ edge, a massive clearing revealed itself with its vast steep cliff side nearby. Old church ruins stood before us, blocking our views of the cliffs. Some complete structures remained intact, while other walls stood alone or crumbled. Windows held onto shards of glass that were still sealed in their frames. Frozen weeds grew rampant up the walls and blades of frozen grass peeked through the cracks between patches of the stone ground. You can see the old stone visible in clusters scattered about.

โ€œWowโ€ฆโ€ I admired the structures. โ€œI could tell this must have been beautiful once.โ€

โ€œThis was here when Marxus took the island. Or so weโ€™ve heard.โ€ Anthony whispered as he leaned in over my shoulder.

โ€œThis is it.โ€ Leonus gestured.

โ€œReally? Couldnโ€™t have guessed.โ€ I answered sarcastically then glanced at Anthony, sharing a smile.

โ€œDo you have something to say!?โ€ he turned, leering down at me from his 6โ€™6 height.

โ€œNo. Not a thing.โ€ I ignored his tall presence alongside me then strolled ahead.

Leonus huffed; his head shaking in disapproval.

โ€œWhatโ€™s the matter, Leonus?โ€ Anthony whispered, โ€œArenโ€™t running the show, as always?โ€

โ€œF*ck off, Anthony.โ€ he muttered in a disgruntled tone, โ€œWhy donโ€™t you go f*ck a woman...you bloody man-pimp.โ€

โ€œGladly.โ€ Anthony snapped, โ€œAnd I prefer Gigolo, thank you.โ€

โ€œSame thing.โ€

โ€œOh, no-noโ€ฆ.thereโ€™s a difference but what would you know? Youโ€™re not pretty enough.โ€ he mocked, then walked ahead with Thomas, who began leading us forward.

Leonus clenched his fists, releasing a long string of Scottish slurs as he followed ahead.

Anthony strolled through the ruins with Thomas not too far, examining the snow covered stone ground. Cautiously placing his footing, he stepped on a loose cluster of stone tiles that collapsed beneath his weight. He shouted falling into a black pit landing on his back; the air was momentarily knocked from his lungs. Staring at the hole above him coughing and gasping; snow and dirt showering down, he observed Thomasโ€™ head appearing, followed by his voice calling out his name.

โ€œTony!?โ€ Thomas called out in sheer worry, โ€œTony, are you alright? Help!โ€ he raised his gaze searching the ruins, โ€œSomebody helpโ€ฆhelp!โ€

All hearing Thomasโ€™ worried cries, we quickly and cautiously ran in his direction, as Thomas knelt in the snow, staring into a black hole in the ground. Kneeling alongside Thomas my words rushed from my mouth; cold breath escaping quickly,

โ€œWhat happened?โ€ I studied Thomasโ€™ worried face then peeked into the hole, โ€œAnthony?โ€

โ€œI donโ€™t know. All I heard was his voice cry out and thenโ€ฆโ€ Thomas replied.

โ€œGiovanniโ€ฆare you still alive down there?โ€ Leonus called down in mockery as he crouched beside me; snow crushing beneath his bulky weight.

I turned, pushing his bulk hearing the sarcasm in his voice. I sneered then turned away, hearing Anthonyโ€™s voice shouting out a curse in his Italian tongue,

โ€œVai a farti fottere, scimmia rossa!โ€ then continued with a joke in English, โ€œIโ€™m fine, but watch your step, eh!?โ€

Quick chuckles were shared among everyone; Leonus releasing more of a scoff.

โ€œJust hang in there, Tony! Weโ€™ll find you a way out!โ€ Thomas proclaimed then turned to Erik, โ€œPleaseโ€ฆyouโ€™re the only one that can do it on the spot. Pleaseโ€ฆโ€ but Erik hesitated.

Anthony listened to arguments erupt from above ground. He frowned deciding to take advantage of the situation. He stood to his feet, dusting dirt and snow from his upper body, continuing a curse in his Italian tongue. He huffed, giving up on the task. Removing his phone from his pocket, he utilized the flashlight feature, examining his surroundings. From where he stood, the dark environment appeared to have been an abandoned cellar or basement with large barrels and stacked crates with some shattered along the ground. Their contents were consumed by age but Anthony knelt down, examining a pile of what looked to be dirt. Touching the surface and taking in its scent, it was old gunpowder. Dangerous contents to have hidden or stored away on an islandsโ€™ cliff side. Aiming his flashlight around seeing broken glass bottles among the mess, he remembered Marxus relaying a tale about certain items stashed away somewhere on the island once belonging to his Castillion ancestors and that of the previous inhabitants before them. He frowned, cautiously taking steps forward placing his feet on wooden planks. He snapped pictures when he heard a rustling turbulence somewhere in the darkness around him. He bravely followed the sound, aiming the phonesโ€™ light toward the location. Bats; bats nestling among the cellarsโ€™ ceiling. This strange occurrence led him to discover another collapsed hole in the ground above him hidden among frozen roots and vines, but that wasnโ€™t all. Stacked in piles beneath the hole, were crates and large chunks of stone creating make-shift steps leading up and out.

Anthony scowled, realizing this wasnโ€™t man-made. He examined the ground where massive footprints belonged to creatures we were yet to face. He captured a few more photos then tucked his phone away, before he began his ascent out.

โ€œWe are not doing this!โ€ I shouted standing between Thomas and Erik who argued.

โ€œIโ€™ll do itโ€ฆโ€ Jon stepped forward, breaking the tension.

Before the argument ensued, Zanz barked as he ran from our group around one of the walls. Turning my head watching as his tail disappeared around the corner, I shouted in worry chasing after him, hearing my feet crunching the snow,

โ€œZanzabarrโ€ฆZanz!โ€ and swerving around the half demolished wall, stood Zanz growling as he stared at the snow covered ground. Cautiously approaching I quickly grabbed onto his harness pulling his 120 pound weight backwards, hearing a rustling-grunt. His ears perked straight and tail hung between his legs as he released low growls in preparation for what erupted from below.

Everyone else appeared around us with their hands placed on the hilt of their weapons; Abraxas hovering in the air before revealing there was no threat as the anomaly presented itself. Dirt covered hands grabbed onto the ledges of stone. Thomas stepped forward standing next to me, observing as Anthonyโ€™s head peeked from another hole; face covered in soot and dirt; hair hanging in his face.

โ€œAnthonyโ€ฆโ€ Thomas and I grew relieved, running toward him, helping him to his feet.

Thomas grabbed hold of his brother, pulling him in for a brief hug before stepping back, giving him his space. He and Anthony are close; always have been. Anthony smiled, patting his brother on the shoulder.

โ€œAnthony, are you alright!?โ€ I inquired with worry as I gently dusted off his arm.

โ€œSi, thank you.โ€ he smiled, โ€œJust clumsy.โ€ he combed his hair back.

โ€œThatโ€™s not funny.โ€ I tilted my head, โ€œBut are you sure? That was a pretty steep drop down.โ€

โ€œYes.โ€ he rested his left hand on my right shoulder, โ€œIโ€™m fine and if I was hurt, Iโ€™m sure youโ€™ll take of me. Si?โ€

I just smiled, shaking my head.

Erik stood toward the rear of the crowd, watching as innocent actions of concern and sincerity were twisted around in his mind; that of flirtation.

โ€œWell, look at thatโ€ฆโ€ Nathanโ€™s voice muttered from behind the young Demon.

โ€œPiss off, Nathan!โ€ Erik barked over his shoulder, waving away the smoke the Lycynian blew in his direction, โ€œGo f*ck yourself or better yetโ€ฆโ€ he turned to Nathan muttering in a low voice meant for Nathanโ€™s ears only, โ€œwhy donโ€™t you go f*ck your sister instead, hmm?โ€

โ€œWhat did you say?โ€ Nathan lowered his cigarette standing face-to-face with Erik.

โ€œYou heard meโ€ฆโ€ he pushed Nathan backwards then backed away.

โ€œJonathanโ€ฆโ€ Anthony glanced toward the Australianโ€™s direction, โ€œI found this.โ€ he reached out, placing Lucyโ€™s other snow boot in his palm, โ€œIt was on the steps I found...โ€

โ€œSteps?โ€ Leonus questioned, watching as Jon held onto the shoe; Sarah comforting him.

โ€œYesโ€ฆsteps. These beasts are far more advanced than any of us thought. Hereโ€ฆโ€ Anthony groaned feeling flinches of sore muscles as he removed his phone handing it to me, โ€œI took pictures. Youโ€™ll all see what Iโ€™m talking about.โ€

โ€œIโ€™ll look through them later.โ€ I muttered placing the phone in my coat pocket, โ€œIโ€™m glad youโ€™re alright though. Really. But you had all of us on edge thinking you were one of the Boar-wolves.โ€

โ€œWonderful.โ€ Leonus huffed in proclamation clapping his hands together loudly, โ€œNow that man-pimp is well and out, and the entrance to their domain is foundโ€ฆwe should get out of here. Weโ€™ll examine the photos once you sort through them, yes?โ€ he glanced at me.

โ€œAgreed.โ€ I nodded.

โ€œThatโ€™s the first time heโ€™s been right about anything.โ€ Erik mocked, glancing at his feet.

I leered at him, shaking my head with eyes closed, saying nothing more. Leonus gave Erik a hateful expression then turned away, heading back through Ravenswood with everyone following quickly behind. Once reaching the tree line, we immediately paused in our tracks, for everyone loudly and distinctly heard a guttural growl escaping from beneath the ruins.

Looking over his shoulder, Anthony asked fearfully as he flinched,

โ€œWhat the hell was that, because..it wasnโ€™t me!โ€

โ€œI donโ€™t know, but letโ€™s not stand around and find out.โ€ I replied mimicking the fearful tone, โ€œItโ€™s daylight, so I doubt whatever that wasโ€ฆwill be coming out now.โ€

โ€œBut letโ€™s get out of here just the same, for I think whatever THAT was caught our scents.โ€ Thomas added, โ€œAnd later theyโ€™ll attack Ravenstoneโ€™s walls in such rage, Iโ€™m sure.โ€

โ€œHeโ€™s right.โ€ Erik remarked.

โ€œOh, now you agree!?โ€ I argued then remained silent for I made my actions very clear that I was disappointed in his recent behavior, pertaining to rescuing Anthony out from underground.

Nodding in agreement, we ran back toward the estate following the path Abraxas had made; Zanz ran ahead while my small dragon Abraxas flew above our heads.

At the ruinโ€™s entrance, a massive black bristly boar snout with large tusks, sniffed the air around the ground outside and inside the entrance, catching scents of strangers; specifically from Lycynians and a hound. It withdrew back into the darkness due to the sun high in the sky peeking down into the hole. With its red demonic eyes, the creature examined Anthonyโ€™s footprints around the dirt near the steps, then released another guttural growl with a snarling snout, knowing they had company. It was ready and when the time came, it wasnโ€™t going to hold back its full strength.

Hours later within Ravenstoneโ€™s community, we gathered five more brave volunteers. There were eight of us already and the remaining five were Caleb and Nick, one of Leonusโ€™ new lycan acquaintances Derek, (who arrived on the Isle during my absence) and two brave humans, Luke and Jeremy. Each of us packed a backpack filled with ropes, first aid kits, glow sticks and extra flashlights. We gathered thick leather and bullet proof vests, heavy duty skid-proof hiking boots and of course, weapons. There were guns, knives, swords and machetes; maces and axes, or any other bladed weapons. Among the gear, were masks to protect us from inhaling the possible foul air.

Once packed, a snow storm unexpectedly hit the island that evening, holding us back three days, causing much stress, frustration and tension. Especially for poor Jonathan.

The Boar-wolves indeed attacked the wall with great veracity; their claws screeched across the slate wall leaving chips and chunks laying in the snow. Their leader, hidden among the fog and blizzardous snow winds, pounded against the gates but burnt its hands against the iron. It raised its massive head glancing up at the wallsโ€™ height and attempted to jump but its powerful hind legs couldnโ€™t get it high enough to reach the 60 foot top. It squealed and roared as it ran around with the others.

Guards patrolling the wall, shot arrows and bullets at the creatures, hitting a few for streaks of blood were left in the snow as the beasts retreated into the forest. They werenโ€™t sure if they had hit their leader but their defense was honorable nonetheless.

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