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Ÿฅ

๐ฟeonus quickly exited his room he occupied in the Lycynian dwelling, heading downstairs to the lounge where Derek waited, until it was time. They quickly scampered toward the stairs, standing there momentarily. Derek watched as Leonus slowly ran his fingers along the wood paneled walls, looking for a hidden seam.

โ€œHere we go.โ€ Leonus whispered as he carefully pushed it open, โ€œThis way. Watch your footing.โ€

Once they entered, Leonus carefully closed the door behind them. Retrieving flashlights from a bag he carried, he handed one to Derek. Climbing down a set of stone steps, they walked single file as they ventured further into the tunnels.

โ€œWhere do these tunnels lead?โ€ Derek asked as he followed Leonus.

โ€œThey lead ahead then connect at a somewhat shaped fork in the path, leading to the Bloodsuckers and human dwellings. There were...โ€ Leonus groaned waving away large cobwebs, โ€œother tunnels, but Marxus revealed he had them sealed long before I arrived on the island. He claimed they werenโ€™t safe, even for reconstruction. The tunnels are marked on the walls if you look carefully enough, but we should be arriving at the fork just about now. And since when are you afraid of the dark, Derek? Werenโ€™t you in special forces or something like that?โ€

โ€œYes. One mission in particular stands out from memory, but that doesnโ€™t mean I have to like tight spaces.โ€

They continued onward until they arrived at the fork then turned, venturing to the right. The air was stuffy giving a musty-Earthy scent, while cobwebs hung above their heads, glistening from their flashlight beams.

โ€œYou missed a spot, Lancaster.โ€ Derek mocked.

Shining their beams ahead, they approached a dead end with steps leading up to another hidden door. Leonus slipped as he climbed up, causing Derek to brace his fall from behind, pushing his hands against Leonusโ€™ back.

โ€œWatch your footing...โ€ Derek continued his mockery.

Leonus huffed pulling away from Derekโ€™s bracing stance.

Once reaching the top of the stairs, they shut off their flashlights, placing them back in the bag. Giving it a few minutes, their night vision finally took effect. Leonus grabbed hold of an iron ring along the inside of the hidden door, then he and Derek quietly and forcefully pulled it open. Ajar, they halted because womenโ€™s laughter boomed from the lounge, as they listened to soft music. Derek and Leonus switched places as he listened. He turned to Leonus, giving him the SHH signal, placing his left index finger to his mouth. They hesitated momentarily then stepped back, waiting until the women hopefully left. Closing the panel, they sat on the steps, waiting for two hours.

โ€œBalls...โ€ Leonus quietly complained, โ€œleave it to f*cking women to never stop chatting. Bloodsuckers and Demons girlfriends and wives. I honestly canโ€™t see what humans see in them.โ€

Derek sat fumbling with a pocket knife, growing a quick smirk when he suddenly heard footsteps coming from outside the door. Once they faded, Derek again carefully pulled open the door. Hearing silence, he stepped out onto the staircase, peeking his head into the lounge. Seeing nothing, he whistled for Leonus to exit the passage then they quietly made it up the stairs to the first floor. They cautiously peeked around the corner then withdrew because female voices were heard, leaving one room, entering another for a girlโ€™s night in while their Wraith boyfriends and mates, enjoyed themselves at the pub. Leonus viewed his watch noticing it was 11:10p.m. and that now was the perfect time for their plan. And if itโ€™s going to work, it better be now or else everything fails.

โ€œAre you sure heโ€™s in his room and not at the pub?โ€ Derek questioned.

โ€œI overheard the boys mention he wasnโ€™t attending.โ€ Leonus answered, then remained silent by the staircase, while Derek ran down the hall; light on his feet toward Erikโ€™s room...third from Leonusโ€™ position.

Derek glanced over his shoulder, nodding at Leonus.

Erik again laid on his bed, playing soft notes on his guitar and humming a few phrases, when he heard knocks on his door. Growing a smile, he stood, fixing his hair as he walked toward the door.

โ€œWho is it?โ€ he called out but received no answer, so he turned away thinking maybe someone knocked on the wrong door. The knocks were heard again. Turning to the door, he called out once more, โ€œWho is it!? Keeps, is that you?โ€ but still no answer. He cautiously opened his peephole door, looking out into the hall. Seeing nothing, he shut it. Minutes passed when the knocks continued. For safety purposes, he removed Marxusโ€™ dagger from its place off the wall, then approached the door, where the knocks became distinctive banging, โ€œJonathan...is that you!?โ€ he hollered knowing Jon pulls pranks, โ€œIf so, mate...this isnโ€™t funny! I told you I didnโ€™t want to go tonight!โ€

Suddenly, the knocks ceased completely.

Knowing something wasnโ€™t quite right in the moment, he approached his door viewing out the peephole where nothing could be seen. Hesitantly, he took a deep breath before swinging open his door, holding the dagger in the air. Cautiously, he stepped out into the hall, looking both left and right down the corridors. Strolling to his right, he examined the stairs leading up to the second floor where no one was present. Shaking his head, he turned around, heading back toward his room. Before entering, he abruptly heard a shuffling sound coming from the stairs leading down to the lounge. Taking in a deep breath, he caught the scent of Lycynian. Grunting, he quietly made his way toward the stairs. Leonus and Derek crouched in the shadows on the steps, as Leonus quietly removed a gun from beneath his shirt, tucked in his belt. Derek watched as a male silhouette cast shadows along the ground, growing closer then glanced over his shoulder, nodding.

Erik hugged his back against the wall, ready to turn the corner when a figure jumped out at him, knocking him to the ground; dagger thrown from his hand. Looking up, he stared into Derekโ€™s face, unexpectedly. Attempting to pin him down, Erik teleported, disappearing from Derekโ€™s weight in a blue swirling flame, leaving him baffled. Appearing directly behind him, he sneered as he glared down at Derek.

He huffed, lunging at the Samoan ready to defend himself but the Lycynian before him was quick on his feet; faster than Erik anticipated. Arms stretched out before him for his attack, left Erik vulnerable for defense. Derek swiftly reached out, grabbing onto Erikโ€™s forearms in a tactical defense move, crossing them in front of Erikโ€™s frame. Without warning, Derek immediately turned Erikโ€™s body around; back facing the ex-soldier. With his arms stretched out behind him; wrists twisted outward left Erik unable to utilize his magic, regardless of muttering the spells or chants. He needed his hands to perform them. Derek swiftly struck pressure points between the young manโ€™s shoulder blades, immobilizing Erikโ€™s upper body mobility. Releasing his grip from Erikโ€™s wrists, Derek roughly pushed the young Demon forward.

From where Leonus hid, the scene occurred swift and silent that no one on the floor heard the commotion. The young Demon rolled forward near him, causing Leonus to draw back against the wall.

Rolling on the ground groaning as he felt the pinching cramp stab at his nerves, Erik muttered,

โ€œWhy, Derek? Why are you doing this? What did I ever do to you?โ€

โ€œIโ€™m sorry, kid.โ€ Derek answered, โ€œThis wasnโ€™t supposed to happenโ€ฆnot like this, but you started this, kidโ€ฆso itโ€™s all on you.โ€

โ€œWhat!?โ€ Erik complained then attempted to create a portal taking him from this location but his fingers cramped and he couldnโ€™t concentrate hard enough past the pain so instead, he muttered a spell that wore off the effects of Derekโ€™s attack.

Derek frowned, watching as Erik stumbled to his feet, arching his back and rolling his shoulders. Attempting to prepare for another round, shaking his head, Erik suddenly sensed another presence behind him and slowly turning around, the barrel of a 16 millimeter gun was pointed in his face; the perpetrator yielding the small weapon was no other than Leonus.

โ€œLook at what we have here...โ€ Leonus whispered, โ€œa Demon that canโ€™t use his precious magic tricks. Performance issues?โ€ he mocked; his eyes squinting in satisfaction.

Erik scowled and before he could retaliate due to shock; his fists beginning to glow as he clenched them tightly, Leonus quickly pulled the trigger, resulting in an empty cartridge. Erik sighed in relief (as did Derek silently) momentarily, before Leonus struck him with such force across the forehead with the bottom of the magazineโ€™s cartridge forged from iron; Erik fell unconscious, with a gaping wound that would take forever to heal. There was no one on the floor except for the scattered women who stayed in, playing their music or TVs, so there were no witnesses to the occurrence taking place right outside their doors. Leonus knelt down, quickly removing a black hoody tucked away in the bag, belonging to Liam. Throwing the hoody at Derek, Leonus groaned as he placed the bag over Erikโ€™s head, noticing a stream of blood escaping from his head wound. Pulling him up into a sitting position, Derek roughly clothed Erik in the clothing item that would mask his Demon scent. Leonus concealed the gun away in his belt beneath his shirt then removed a pair of iron shackles. He carefully placed them on the Demons wrists without shaking them too much or someone wouldโ€™ve heard the clanking of metal chains. Once the shackles locked, Leonus stood to his feet pulling the young man with him. Derek scampered over, retrieving Erikโ€™s dagger that laid along the baseboards near his open door. Holding it in his hands, he examined the craftsmanship.

โ€œNICE PIECE.โ€ he thought, tucking it in his belt.

โ€œDerek...hold him!โ€ Leonus quietly barked, as he shifted Erikโ€™s weight into Derekโ€™s arms.

Leonus ran into Erikโ€™s room, rummaging through his drawers, making it look as if he grabbed things in a rush. He spotted Erikโ€™s song book laying on his bed then reached for it, swiftly writing out a note. Tearing the page, leaving it crumpled, he laid it on the table beside Erikโ€™s bed. Before he closed the door, he scanned Erikโ€™s decor in disgust thinking it was all emasculate and way too organized. He spat on the floor then slammed the door. Looking down at his watch, Leonus noticed the time; 11:40pm.

โ€œThe others will be returning soon...we have to go!โ€ Leonus revealed, as he scampered over, swinging Erikโ€™s right arm around his shoulders while the left arm went around Derekโ€™s.

โ€œWhy didnโ€™t you kill him!?โ€ Derek asked.

โ€œI have my reasons.โ€ Leonus replied as they awkwardly stepped down the stairs, โ€œKilling is too quick. I want this bastard to suffer and heโ€™ll be leverage against the little she-b*tch! Sheโ€™ll give anything to get him back, Iโ€™m sure! Anymore questions?โ€

Derek moaned, shifting half of Erikโ€™s weight onto Leonus, as he pushed open the panel in the wall. He stepped in first then turned, watching as Leonus took a step forward, throwing Erik in. His unconscious bulk fell into Derekโ€™s arms as Leonus crouched inside, pushing the door closed. Holding Erikโ€™s body made Derek uncomfortable feeling the young manโ€™s head limp against his chest. Leonus pushed past Derek ordering as he walked ahead,

โ€œWe need to get him out of here before he bleeds out.โ€

Derek swung Erikโ€™s body over his shoulder arguing as he grunted,

โ€œI hope you know what youโ€™re doing, Lancaster. I really do. Sh*tโ€ฆthis kidโ€™s heavy for a short guy.โ€

โ€œYeah...having heavy pockets does that to a kid. Now hurry up!โ€ Leonus mocked.

Their rapid footsteps echoed through the underground tunnels, as they strolled their length. Taking a momentโ€™s pause, Derek roughly laid Erikโ€™s body down on the ground, breathing heavily.

โ€œYou carry him now!โ€ Derek walked ahead, โ€œYou knocked him unconsciousโ€ฆyou carry him.โ€

Leonus moaned in frustration as he glanced down at Erik; full of hate and disgust. He knelt down, pulling him from the ground, throwing him over his shoulder as if he were a rag doll. After fifteen minutes, they finally arrived beneath the Lycynian quarters. Derek suggested he go first to scout the lounge and surrounding grounds, before they just step out into the open with an unconscious figure. Leonus agreed as he laid Erik on the steps.

Derek looked around as he casually walked through the lounge, looking up the stairs. He stepped outside then ventured around the building, taking sight the Wraith and Demon guards must have been on the other side of the property, patrolling the wall.

โ€œEASYENOUGH..โ€ he thought as he strolled toward the mechanicโ€™s shop and garage, where temporarily, no one was present. He sprinted back toward the dwelling, entering the lounge and knocked on the panel. Pushing it open, Derek took Erikโ€™s hands, pulling him out onto the stairs. Leonus climbed out, exiting the passage quietly closing the panel.

โ€œItโ€™s all clear.โ€ Derek whispered, โ€œThe guards must be on the other side, so we have a few minutes to get this done.โ€

โ€œGood.โ€ Leonus remarked as he again swung the young man over his shoulder roughly.

They exited, cautiously making their way around the building when Derek paused, causing Leonus to bump into him. Their feet sunk into the deep snow, standing in one place causing them to shift their weight.

โ€œWhatโ€™s the matter?โ€ Leonus questioned, โ€œGo!โ€

โ€œWe canโ€™t.โ€ Derek replied.

โ€œAnd why not!?โ€

โ€œBecause...thereโ€™s a mechanic standing outside, smoking.โ€

โ€œI thought you said there wasnโ€™t anyone inside.โ€

Derek shook his head, as he glared at Leonus, instructing him to stay put, before stepping out into view. Leonus groaned as he grew tired of carrying Erikโ€™s weight so he dropped his shoulder toward the snow packed ground; the Demon sliding off with a heavy thud. Leonus rolled his shoulders then flexed the muscles in his back.

โ€œHow many bloody f*cking times am I going to drop and carry you, you freak!? he spat at Erikโ€™s crouched form.

Derek crushed through the snow, toward the garage. The human man in his late 50โ€™s stood outside smoking a cigarette when he observed Derek walking toward him. They engaged in idle chit chat, quick moments of laughter, listening to the howls and squeals of the Boar-wolves, when Derek handed the old man a flask.

Leonus stood shifting in frustration when Derek appeared around the corner, giving the all clear. Pulling Erik from the ground yet again and hopefully for the last time, the men scampered toward the shop where Leonus noticed the old man leaned against the wall inside the shop, unconscious.

โ€œWhat did you do?โ€ Leonus questioned.

โ€œRelax. Heโ€™s not dead. Just knocked him out for a bit.โ€ Derek replied.

โ€œGood. Heโ€™s a meddling old fart anyway. Always hanging about and ordering everyone around.โ€

Derek smirked as they shuffled toward the back of the shop approaching a rear door leading inside. Leonus traded Erikโ€™s full weight for relief, handing his limp body over to Derek, who grunted in agitation. Glancing around, he removed a singular key from his right pant pocket, quickly placing it in the lock. He turned his head slightly mocking over his shoulder,

โ€œThis is one key she doesnโ€™t know about.โ€ and pushing open the door, it creaked faintly; hinges needing oil. Standing in the doorway, moonlight shone from a small skylight window inside the shop. Stepping inside, they looked upon the mechanicโ€™s shop where two vehicle lifts sat; bare. A large grate in the floor revealed a drainage ditch, where oil and water glistened around the ledge. Closing the door behind them, Derek gazed around seeing double doors leading out to the front where the small parking lot sat. To the right, he examined the wide metal shutter door, half opened, where Arnold sat unconscious. Leonus ran over; feet echoing on the concrete ground, quietly sliding it down closed. Scampering toward an alcove, left of the double doors, Leonus barked, โ€œOver hereโ€ฆโ€

Derek dragged Erikโ€™s body along the cold concrete floor, leaving a trail of wet snow from Erikโ€™s bare feet. Approaching the alcove, Derek noticed doors on both sides; right leading to the small office and left, entering the room containing spare parts and tools. Leonus swung open the door, ordering Derek to rush inside.

โ€œIsnโ€™t anyone going to find it suspicious that weโ€™re here working after hours?โ€ Derek asked, laying Erik at his feet.

โ€œNo. The guards on the wall will think itโ€™s just Arnold; the supervisor and man you knocked out, coming in late. I help him after hours occasionally, so it wonโ€™t be a problem. Relax.โ€ Leonus replied, โ€œIf anything, Iโ€™ll just tell them youโ€™re helping me do some work for Arnold, who took a night off.โ€

Derek said nothing nodding in agreement, looking around the room where metal shelves displayed vehicles parts, bolts, screws, lanterns and flashlights, cans of motor oil and gallons of gasoline. Hanging from hooks along the walls, were rolls of rope and extra lengths of chain. Along the wall toward the back were stacks of spare tires, laid on oil spotted mats.

โ€œWhat are we going to do with him?โ€ Derek asked, โ€œWe canโ€™t just leave him here.โ€

โ€œOh, yes we can.โ€ Leonus gloated as he stepped toward the tires, โ€œOh, yes we can!โ€

Moving one stack aside and yanking back the mat, he revealed a hidden iron door in the ground with a large ring and deadbolt. Grabbing hold of it with a heavy work glove and one strong pull backwards, Leonus opened the door presenting the top of a set of stairs, leading down into pitch blackness. Leonus quietly laid the door down, then reached for two lanterns from the nearest shelf, handing one to Derek. He shone the light downward as he stepped on the first few steps then turned, looking up at Derek.

โ€œThis way...bring him down here.โ€ he ordered, then disappeared into the blackness and as he descended the old steps; naturally cut from rock, he almost slipped. Catching his footing, he entered an underground chamber; dungeon-like in appearance. The walls and ground were rough rock, creating unbalanced footing. Leonusโ€™ footsteps echoed as he took his last step down, until both feet were planted steadily. The echo mixed with the sound of water dripping somewhere from the ceiling resulting in puddles everywhere, only adding to its cold and damp atmosphere.

Derek placed his hands on his hips and hesitated, before picking up the young Demon once more, swinging him over his left shoulder. Holding the lantern low, he shone its beam down the steps, carefully following Leonus.

โ€œLeonus...I canโ€™t see anything.โ€ Derek complained, almost tripping down the steps. Even though the lanterns provided light, the room suddenly grew a reddish hue from flares Leonus quickly lit. Derek practically dropped the Demon down on the stone ground, also rolling his shoulders relieving tense muscles. Examining the space, cages lined the walls made of solid iron bars. Big enough to hold four people or some large animal. Glancing around Derek muttered, โ€œWhat is this place?โ€ he approached the bars pulling on them to test their strength, โ€œMore tunnels?โ€

โ€œAbandoned prisons.โ€ Leonus bluntly replied, โ€œAccording to Marxus, theyโ€™ve been here since this place was built. This place has a lot of them, if you know where to look. Only Marxus and myself know about them. And now you of course. Now, over here.โ€ Leonus strolled toward one of the cells, unlocking the door. He turned to Derek, gesturing to bring Erik over then entered the cell. Removing a parchment from his pocket and stick of white chalk he stole from his sons, he drew a symbol along the stone ground within the cage door entry; a symbol he copied from one of the arcane books in the library.

Derek huffed as he grabbed Erikโ€™s hands, dragging him along the cold stone into the cage, scraping his heels. Dropping his limp arms above his head, Derek roughly pulled back the hood followed by the sack covering his face, now dripping in blood. He examined Erikโ€™s face, noticing his head wound had healed. The bleeding too, subsided. Derek glanced at Leonus asking in a worried tone,

โ€œHis head wound is healing and when he wakes, I wouldnโ€™t want to be here or you. Iโ€™ve seen Demons when theyโ€™re in a rage and itโ€™s not pleasant. Besides, how do you know these iron cages will contain him?โ€ then he glanced down at the ground taking notice the symbol Leonus had drawn glowed faintly before fading, โ€œWhatโ€™s that?โ€ he gestured at the ground.

Leonus leaning against the bars, frowned. Shifting in place he replied gruffly,

โ€œI know heโ€™s not dead. These Demons are unnatural abominations but down here, without the ability to use his magic or portals, heโ€™ll most likely rot or die. Heavy iron content too, weakens them. No one but the starving rats will discover his corpse. Ughโ€ฆโ€ he shivered from an unpleasant thought, โ€œbloodsucking rats?โ€ then he turned his head, watching as the flares began to fade, โ€œAnd the symbol will block his magic. Found it in one of the books in the library.โ€

โ€œOh, so youโ€™re practicing magic now?โ€ Derek mocked as he exited the cage. โ€œ Great. A Lycynian necromancer. Just great!โ€

โ€œF*ck you, mateโ€ฆโ€ Leonus barked, โ€œI did what I had to do and now that heโ€™s out of the way, the little Keeper will be distraught thinking he had left her and thenโ€ฆโ€ he rubbed his hands together, โ€œeverything will fall into place and itโ€™ll all be mine! Like I said, that little f*ck there, is going to be my bargaining price in order to get it!โ€

โ€œIf you say so. But she is a lot smarter than you think, Leonus. She will figure it out, Iโ€™m certain of that.โ€

โ€œHeโ€™s stuck down here for good, Derek, and no one but you and I know where he is and itโ€™s going to stay that way. Do you understand!?โ€ Leonus warned.

Neither one of them realized that Erik wasnโ€™t completely unconscious. He was in the beginning stages of healing his outer skull. Images of what happened flashed through his mind then things turned black, as he laid there, listening to everything being said. I mean EVERYTHING!

โ€œSo now that heโ€™s out of the way, how are we going to get rid of the girl?โ€ Derek asked, โ€œSheโ€™s going to give us a hard time about this. I know it.โ€

โ€œSheโ€™s not going to find out.โ€ Leonus bragged once more, โ€œBesides, we donโ€™t know what these Boar-wolves are like exactly, so wouldnโ€™t it be a shame if one of them just happened to kill her in the process of rescuing Lucy? Without one of us guarding her. Her lover wonโ€™t be there to protect her.โ€

โ€œEasier said than done, because youโ€™re forgetting two things. Her dragon and pet wolf. Theyโ€™ll be around to protect her. In case you havenโ€™t noticed, they NEVER leave her side. Sheโ€™s always with one or the other.โ€

โ€œThey wonโ€™t be a problem. They donโ€™t know what those Boar-wolves like to eat.โ€

โ€œYou just have it all planned out, donโ€™t you?โ€ Derek mocked, โ€œJust like that, huh?โ€ he sarcastically snapped his fingers. โ€œWell. As I mentioned before, I wonโ€™t be part of this. Get someone else.โ€

โ€œYes, I do. Especially if all goes to plan. And, I can find someone else. Quite easily. Now letโ€™s get out of here. It smells like rats.โ€ Leonus remarked as he slapped Derek across the back then turned away, stepping up the stairs, waiting for Derek; who stood staring down at Erikโ€™s young face.

Seeing him lying unconscious and wounded, reminded him of fallen comrades killed in combat alongside him. Some, younger than Erik. He felt saddened as he turned, running up the steps, joining Leonus topside. They closed the hidden door, recovering it with the mat. Once replacing the tires, they locked the doors behind them as they exited the shop. As Derek marched through the snow, he paused glancing back at the mechanics shop, thinking, โ€œIโ€™M SORRY KID...I DIDNโ€™T KNOW IT WAS GOING TO BE LIKE THAT. I HOPE YOUโ€™RE NOT DEAD, BECAUSE I COULDNโ€™T LIVE WITH THAT. THATโ€™S WHY I LEFT THE ARMY, BECAUSE I COULDNโ€™T CONTINUE WATCHING ALL THE YOUNG MEN KILLED IN FRONT ME OR BY MY OWN HAND. THIS IS NO BETTER. WHATโ€™S WRONG WITH YOU, DEREK?โ€ he shook his head, โ€œHEโ€™S JUST A KID. WHAT THE F*CK AM I DOING?โ€ then he looked ahead seeing Leonusโ€™ bulk fading into the distance, as if heโ€™s won, โ€œYOUโ€™RE GOING TO GET YOURS LEONUS. AND Iโ€™M GOING TO BE THE ONE TO DO IT. MARK MY WORDS YOU...SON OF A B*TCH!โ€

Erik laid on his back; head turned to the side, when his fingers started twitching. His eyes followed, as they began fluttering. Even though he wasnโ€™t conscious, he screamed the words in his mind, โ€œLEONUS, YOU BASTARD! YOUโ€™LL PAY FOR THIS, I PROMISE!โ€ then his thoughts faded.

Over the next two days, things became chaotic between the extra heavy snowfall, making sure everything was prepared for our rescue mission and keeping the peace (for now) between Leonus, Wraiths and Demons. Although, I was unable to focus because I had found out Erik left, without telling me or anyone. He promised me in the library that heโ€™d never leave, but yet...heโ€™s gone. Hiromi was even more distraught because he couldnโ€™t understand why Erik would leave without telling him or suggest coming along. I didnโ€™t have answers for anyone for I had tons of questions of my own to answer. I sat at the desk, staring at the note he SUPPOSEDLY wrote, over and over.

โ€œI couldnโ€™t stay here anymore. Not with everything happening. Iโ€™m sorry, Johnathan and Isabella. I hope you understand. Iโ€™ll be gone for a while. Donโ€™t worry. Iโ€™ll be fine. Love to you all. -Eric.โ€

โ€œThis doesnโ€™t make any sense.โ€ I pondered as I laid the note on the desk, โ€œErik...why? Why would you leave, after promising me you wouldnโ€™t? I thought you wanted to be there for Lucy.โ€ then I heard a knock, โ€œCome in!โ€ my gaze changed, looking toward the door, watching as Jonโ€™s head peeked inside.

โ€œHey...โ€ he spoke softly, โ€œfind out anything new?โ€

โ€œAbsolutely nothing.โ€ I leaned back in the chair, โ€œI spoke with Hiromi and he canโ€™t think of any place where he might go. Come in...โ€

Jon stepped inside, closing the door behind him. Walking over, he sat in one of the chairs. His mannerisms revealed he too was upset. I stood walking over, sitting in the other chair. Things were silent as we fidgeted in place; fiddling our thumbs and bouncing our feet nervously. Finally I spoke as I looked at Jon with tears,

โ€œJonathan...everything doesnโ€™t make sense. The note and his room; as if he grabbed things in a hurry. Iโ€™m racking my brain trying to figure it all out. I mean...โ€ I shook my head, โ€œheโ€™s out there all alone after he promised me he wouldnโ€™t leave. I never got the chance to tell him how much I care about him. Maybe he left because of me? Could he have realized he didnโ€™t want to be with me after all? Could I have been wrong?โ€

โ€œYza...look at me.โ€ Jon softly pleaded as he reached for my hands, โ€œLook at me.โ€ he raised my gaze looking deep into my eyes, โ€œThis has nothing to do with you. Him leaving has nothing to do with you and you..most definitely arenโ€™t the cause of his recent issues or behavior. If anything, youโ€™re too good for him and heโ€™s just too stubborn or too much of an a** to see it. Youโ€™re my best friend and I say these next words with deep admiration and love for you, but you deserve more than Erik. Now, I donโ€™t know why he left and I donโ€™t think anyone could have predicted it. So...donโ€™t fret about it, yeah?โ€ he smiled.

I studied Jon up close and Sarah was stupid if she didnโ€™t see what she had in front of her. His big baby blue eyes were full of warmth and his features were sharp and the faint freckles added to his handsomeness. His red hair hung a little limp for he had been running his fingers through it more frequently and it didnโ€™t have that fullness. Putting aside his physical attributes, he was truly an incredibly kind person and friend and he in my opinion, is far too good for Sarah.

โ€œThank you, Jonathanโ€ฆโ€ I gently pulled my hands away feeling an awkwardness between us, โ€œbut itโ€™s the note that doesnโ€™t make sense. And I know Iโ€™ve said that like what, ten times already?โ€ I stood, walking toward the desk grabbing the note, โ€œHere. Maybe you can get something out of it.โ€ I handed it to him.

Jon took the note reading it repeatedly. Suddenly, he stood commenting as he stepped toward me,

โ€œWait a second. This isnโ€™t Erikโ€™s writing. I mean, even when he writes fast, it doesnโ€™t match. He has good writing for a guy.โ€

โ€œReally?โ€ I replied, โ€œI didnโ€™t think about that. I donโ€™t know what his writing really looks like other than that note he sent me before but I donโ€™t have it anymore. What else?โ€

โ€œFor instance...heโ€™s never spelled my name with an H, since there isnโ€™t one in it. He knows that and your name. Look at it. Thatโ€™s not your name and besides, wouldnโ€™t he have called you Keeps?โ€ he glanced down at me.

โ€œYeah...he would have. And now when I really think about it, that f*cking handwriting matches someone elseโ€™s.โ€ I revealed as I stepped around the desk sifting through a stack of papers and skimming through them I found the answer, โ€œSon of a b*tch!โ€ I slammed my hands on the desk leaving singed handprints on the surface.

โ€œWhat!?โ€ Jon asked, โ€œWhat is it!? Who does the writing belong to?โ€

โ€œLook for yourself!โ€ I handed Jon a paper with a signature on it, โ€œYou wonโ€™t believe it.โ€

Comparing the two, they were an identical match. Although he was fuming inside and wanted to crush the Lycynian from the inside-out, he held back his rage. Laying the papers on the desk, he wanted to confirm the assumption. Placing each hand on both parchments he muttered,

โ€œReveal your true handโ€ฆโ€ and removing his hands, the words written on both parchments glowed a bright red before the letters lifted off the pages hovering in mid-air momentarily before they overlapped one another and once doing so, the letters locked glowing a bright blue highlight before fading.

โ€œWhat was that?โ€ I asked.

โ€œItโ€™s just a little something that helps you identify someoneโ€™s handwriting and if it glows blueโ€ฆโ€

โ€œIf it glows blue...then what?โ€ I wondered curiously.

โ€œItโ€™s a match. Indefinite.โ€ Jon moaned, โ€œBut that mother f*cker...when I get my hands on himโ€ฆโ€

โ€œNo one wants to kill him more than I do right now, but please Jonโ€ฆtake it easy.โ€ I replied trying to calm him, โ€œAs hard as it might seem, we need to act as if we didnโ€™t discover this, especially if weโ€™re to prove heโ€™s the one that made Erik disappear. But thereโ€™s going to be hell to pay when the truth comes out and you think youโ€™re going to be the one to kill him? I donโ€™t think so. Revenge is sweet, so we must plan it out slowly and safely.โ€

โ€œYouโ€™re right...youโ€™re right.โ€ Jon nodded in agreement, โ€œBut how are we going to make sure we keep our cool, knowing that f*cker is walking around as if nothing has happened?โ€

โ€œIt wonโ€™t be easy. Far from it.โ€ I groaned clenching my fists controlling the fire that wanted to just burn everything within the room, โ€œAll that matters now, is that we find Lucy and get her home then weโ€™ll search for Erik, alright?โ€ I placed my hand on his shoulder.

Jon said nothing as I reached over giving him a comforting hug which he returned.

โ€œDonโ€™t worry. Iโ€™ll make things right. I promise.โ€ I assured him.

Later that evening, Jon sat on his bed playing a game of darts with accurate precision, when he suddenly caught the glimpse of a piece of paper sliding under his door. Curiously, he stepped forward picking it up from the ground. Thinking maybe it may have been from Sarah, he quickly opened his door, stepping out into the hall, seeing no one. Disappointed, he went back inside. Unfolding the note, he read the words written with no signature:

โ€œI have information on Erik. Meet me behind the mechanicโ€™s shop tonight at 11:45pm. And come alone!โ€

Jon paced, contemplating whether or not he should bring this information to the young half-breed, but thought heโ€™d check out the lead first; making sure it wasnโ€™t a trap set by Leonus. If it were, heโ€™d break his promise; killing Leonus on the spot in a moment of rage and self defense. A justified killing.

Holding the note reading it repeatedly, he suddenly heard a voice whisper behind him. Turning around, he was shocked.

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