𝒩athan, Derek and Anthony couldn’t partake in any more killing, taking notice there were a handful left, the three warriors turned away, leaving Leonus there to finish the rest of them off. As Anthony left the cavern he turned, glancing around, seeing women lying dead holding their children in their arms, while others were separated from their children. He heard the sound of a woman releasing low grunts. Turning to his right, a woman; barely alive, tried crawling toward her child that Leonus had killed. She reached out attempting to hold its hand, but before she could reach it, her arm fell inches away. She was a mother wanting her child; even in the end and regardless of what they were, they loved.
Anthony glanced over at Leonus who walked around shoving the women and children with his feet. Anthony backtracked, gently picking up the woman’s child, placing it in her arms. Anthony was distraught over what had occurred, growing more tears when he heard Leonus’ voice mutter behind him in a smug uncaring tone,
“Anthony, what are you doing? They don’t deserve prayers. Leave them…they’re finished…”
“How dare you!.” Anthony raged as he stood facing him, “Don’t you realize what we’ve just done!? My God...they might have been what they were, but they didn’t deserve this!” he gestured around the cavern, “The Boar-wolves were one thing, but you didn’t have to butcher these innocent lives! You have children, Leonus…as does my brother, so how could you just swing your sword and feel no regret!?”
“Innocent!? They attacked us, and attempted to kill the keeper, hoping to make us their main course, in case you didn’t realize. Look at your armor. Those weren’t the actions of innocent lives and as far as our families…this is different!”
Anthony clenched his fists, glaring up at Leonus’ 6’6 frame and without a second thought, he swung his fist making impact with the Scotsman’s jaw. Leonus stumbled backwards tripping over a pile of corpses while Anthony approached the ledge and once he climbed out, he turned to Leonus. Spitting in his direction he muttered,
“Whatever Yzavela has planned for you, I hope I’m there to see it, you heartless bastard!” then turned away, limping toward the cellar where the rope swayed.
Thomas stood nearby; eyes fixed on the hole in the ground when he heard moans and rustling. Hand placed on his sword’s hilt, he prepared himself for what could emerge then released his grip, along with a sigh of relief, upon watching Anthony’s head peek out.
“Hey…hey over here!” he shouted to the others anxiously waiting. He greeted his brother, who cursed under his breath.
One by one, Anthony, Leonus, Derek, and Nathan stepped out. I caught the sight of Leonus who displayed a cut on his lip as if he were punched. It was all I could do to contain myself from pushing him back inside the tunnel and leaving him there. I held back but knew this wasn’t the time or place for a confrontation. However once we return to Ravenstone, that’s a different story.
As we waited for the others, Jon had returned inside with Nick and Caleb, gathering Luke and Jeremy’s bodies and weapons. Their bodies laid near the cellar hole, heads covered with their coats out of respect. I stood there gazing upon them feeling a sadness then turned giving my instructions,
“Caleb, Nick…kindly take them to the morgue and make sure they’re taken care of and remembered. I don’t know if they had families but just the same, do it, please. And Jonathan…” I turned to him, “You go too. Be with your family and make sure Lucy has been checked out. We’ll take care of things here, ok?” I nodded.
“Thank you.” he returned the nod then disappeared in a swirling green flame while Nick and Caleb crouched down alongside the bodies, disappearing themselves.
Things were quiet while repacking our bags onto the snowmobiles and untying the remaining rope leading into the cellar. I just couldn’t help but flash Leonus’ concealed glances of hate. Leonus turned, facing everyone, giving orders to leave when he took notice of everyone staring him down. His demeanor was calm, considering he butchered women and children; completely unaffected by it. As if he enjoyed it in some sick way.
“What!?” he asked firmly, “What’s the problem!?”
“Nothing.” I replied, “Absolutely nothing.”
“Well, then...” Leonus ordered, “if we’re done here, let’s get back. It’s late.” he peeked at his watch beneath his sleeve and glove; 4:16pm then turned his back to everyone climbing on one of the crafts; Derek, Anthony, Thomas and Nathan followed after.
“Lycynians…” I hollered as I approached, “and for a change this doesn’t concern you Nathan so go...”
Leonus and Derek turned, watching as I stepped closer; Nathan continuing ahead with Thomas.
“What now!?” Leonus mocked as he menacingly glanced around then down at me.
“Since the both of you love secret projects, you’re going to march your a**es toward that entrance and seal it! I don’t care how you do it but get it done because the Wraiths and Demons aren’t going to do it. And when that’s done…you don’t want to know what comes next!” I stared at Leonus with pure disgust upon my face.
“You’re going to order me around!? You!? A little f*cking runt!?” Leonus scoffed, “I don’t take orders from anyone. I’ve been listening to you squeaking and squawking gibberish ever since you arrived. I don’t care if you own Ravenstone or are the Queen of England, I don’t take orders from a woman!” he approached closer, until he stood inches away leering down at me, “I can back hand you into one of these walls or trees, if I wanted to. Just one swipe!”
I held my arms out, calling his bluff.
“Go ahead...do it.” but he hesitated, “You won’t get another chance to prove your bravado.” I lowered my hands, clenching my fists wanting to take physical action at that point, releasing my intense hatred for this man.
Anthony approached, as did Erik, saying nothing but their presence was of support.
I stared up at Leonus’ menacing bulk but he took notice of the dancing flame in my eyes…the same flame he witnessed the day I blew him out of the study. I spat at his feet before pushing past his large bulk with Abraxas and Zanz following close after.
“What are we supposed to seal it off with!?” Leonus barked, “Or have you thought about that?”
I paused, hating the sound of his voice but turning to him, I answered bluntly,
“You wanted to take control and have claimed to possess such experience…you figure it out! I don’t f*cking care!” then I turned, leaving the men standing there side-by-side, baffled.
Erik and Anthony remained silent as they glanced back at the Lycynians. As the crafts drove off leaving only one behind for them, I pondered back several times before the men disappeared through the thick forest of trees.
Derek and Leonus argued about methods that would prove fast and effective. Placing his hands on his hips, Derek inquired smugly,
“What do you suggest, huh there genius!?”
“I don’t know…” Leonus snapped, kicking a rock, “you’re Mr. G.I. Joe, so you tell me!”
Derek growled; squinting his eyes toward the alpha. Reaching into his pack, he retrieved a small cubed object, unwrapping it quickly.
“I’m not going to stand around all day, so this is what I’m going to do.”
“What’s that!?” Leonus tried studying the object in Derek’s gloved hands, who said nothing as he removed another item; plunging it into the other.
“Tick-tick-boom!” Derek grinned.
“And where did you get that?” Leonus’ eyes grew wide, realizing what he meant.
“Never leave home without it.” Derek huffed.
Before Leonus could retaliate, Derek threw the small pack of C4 down into the cellar. He and Leonus quickly scampered away; standing near Ravenswood’s treeline crouching behind the snowmobile. Derek flipped the switch on the detonator; the red light turned green and seconds later, they heard a loud boom. The ground shook beneath their feet momentarily sending smoke and fire throughout the tunnel system igniting the gaseous fumes within. Debris of stone and snow flew into the air but settled quickly. The nearest standing walls of the old church ruins crumbled from the vibrations of the explosion. A chunk of the rock wall over the cliff side broke apart and fell into the sea below, leaving behind a large gouged out space in the rock.
“Works every time.” Derek admired; hands clapping together briefly before turning away.
“Do you always carry C4!?” Leonus mocked.
“That…and uh…other things.” Derek bragged over his shoulder.
Standing on the wall; eyes keeping watch over the landscaping, Justin who had returned to the wall, turned his head noticing movement near the tree line watching as craft engines roared. He waved, seeing Erik and I behind Thomas and Nathan.
“Open the gates!” he turned, instructing the others.
Arriving at the gates, I climbed off the craft dropping my bags; snow crushing beneath their weight. I turned to Abraxas, instructing him to transport Zanz and himself back to my room and wait for me there. The small dragon nodded as he hovered then landed alongside the hellhound; growing to match his size. Wrapping his wings around Zanz, they immediately disappeared before Zanz could object.
“Keeps…what are you going to do?” Erik questioned.
“What I should have done a long time ago.” I answered, removing my coat and jacket.
“And that is?”
“If you’re going to stand around and argue with me, don’t! Go clean off but if you want to help, please retrieve a set of the Escrima sticks from the training cabinet.” I affirmed.
“Alright…” Erik nodded and disappearing in a swirl of blue flame, he reappeared a second later with a set of bamboo sticks held in hand. Before turning them over, questions rushed from his lips, “Keeps, come on…what are you doing!?”
I didn’t answer for my gaze focused past his shoulder, leering in someone’s direction. Turning his body around, he watched as a single snowmobile approached with Derek driving and as it slowed its pace, Leonus quickly hopped off to stride across the field. I gently pushed Erik aside, running toward the Lycynian’s bulky 6’6 frame and I know it goes against a warrior’s code of never striking when the enemy’s back is turned but this man held no honor so I wasn’t about to show him any.
Derek approached the gates observing the small gathering of guards. Turning off the engine, he remained straddling the craft as he inquired what was taking place. Erik revealed the events and the half-breed’s intentions but after a while, the young man didn’t have answers for their persistent questions, however, they all stood alongside him with their hands on their weapons in case they were needed.
Leonus didn’t sense a presence coming up from behind him until it was too late; his focus was on the ground covered path ahead of him. Feeling a blunt sting across his back, he stumbled forward as his balance gave out. Dropping his packs at his feet in front of him, he abruptly spun around shouting in rage,
“What the hell!?” he glanced down upon a petite figure standing before him, “What the f*ck do you think you’re doing, you little runt!?”
“What I should have done!” I yelled holding the sticks firmly, “I know about your plans to have me killed, you sick bastard but guess what, here I am…I’m still here!” I took the sticks, hitting him across his left arm, “I also know you’re the one who attacked Erik, you heartless piece of sh*t!” I swung at him with a curve of the sticks, hitting him behind the knees, knocking him to the ground, “And you think you can get away with it!?”
I don’t know why he didn’t fight back in this moment but it left me wondering what his plan was next. Perhaps, making it appear as if the Keeper attacks those who stand against her? And unarmed. Well, if that was his game, I didn’t care if I played it. I just had to release all the built up energy and rage before it drove me crazy. Leonus groaned; a cramping sting in his left arm and behind the knees. His eyes glanced to his right toward the sword he carried in place of his axe but I held the sticks to his throat in a crisscross hold.
“Don’t…even think about it!” I warned, “Don’t…”
“I’m sure I already know the bloody answer, but how did you find out!?” Leonus growled, “Read my mind, like your perverted freaky friends, did you?”
“No. I didn’t swim around in your f*cked up mind. I didn’t have to because I too, have friends and allies who hate you...” I smiled, “and in the most unlikely places and individuals.”
“So all of this…” he held his arms out, “is about THAT pretty boy!?”
Leonus snorted a concealed chuckle, mocking the woman that stood in front of him before feeling the sticks press harder against his throat. In his raspy Scottish voice, he complained,
“Marxus was such a bloody fool choosing a woman who can’t control her emotions. You’re nothing but a pretty…stupid…little girl!”
“At least I have emotions…” I leaned in, “compared to the bulk on his knees before me. But here you are, pretending to be such a big man, when you’re nothing but a coward. That Boar-wolf leader was more of a male than you’ll ever be and at least he killed to defend and survive but what’s your excuse!?” I stepped backwards, removing the sticks from their crisscross stance, allowing him the chance to fight back, if he wanted, showing an honorable skirmish…and he indeed, went for it, reaching for his sword nearby, grasping the hilt tightly.
The nerves behind his knees tingled; as if falling asleep, having him push himself to his feet with the swords tip. He shook out his left arm; eyes leering at the woman that makes him look like a fool and he wasn’t going to stand by and take it a moment longer. Closing his eyes taking in deep breaths, he rolled his shoulders and kicked his legs outward, gaining strength and feeling back in them once more.
I stood back, watching Leonus take his stance while grasping tighter in the hilt of his weapon. I twirled the Escrima sticks once before I too, took my stance watching and waiting, the warrior before me plan his attack and first strike. Leonus hollered out; not in words but in shouts of rage as he swung his sword toward me; missing the top of my head as I crouched down, hitting his lower stomach before twirling around hitting his back; his body stumbling forward. Erik and the guards inched forward each time Leonus grew close to me but sighed, watching as the attacks were blocked. Leonus growled, hearing my taunting laugh which he hated; being laughed at behind his back. He swiftly turned, swinging the sword toward me once more, almost reaching his small target but yet again, she moved out of the way, hitting his arm that held the massive weapon. He dropped it into the snow but continued, swinging out his right hand; claws protruding from his fingertips, hoping to at least gain an upper hand but that didn’t prove to be a successful hit. He did though, manage to scratch the fabric through-and-through of my coat and jacket; almost leaving a mark upon my skin but the attack was too swift to do so.
“I’ll admit…you’re fast, but you’re not untouchable, demon-b*tch!” he mocked.
“I never claimed to be.” I argued, studying the torn fabric.
Leonus growled taking a step forward raising his hands, swiping them outward in a crisscross pattern; I knelt on my knees spinning in the snow hitting the man’s lower stomach and upper thighs. He stumbled in place then reached out his left hand, grabbing hold of the fabric on my coat tearing with his claws as I pulled away. I grunted as I quickly recuperated from the attack and dropping the sticks I turned throwing my hands out; my fiery Aura flying through the air like a heat-wave pushing the alpha male backwards. He was thrown from his feet landing hard on the snow, feeling a heat penetrating the layers of his clothing. I huffed as my hands glowed while I approached the enemy at my feet.
Derek thought the point was made and approached quickly, interrupting the skirmish. Standing in front of me hovering above the Scotsman, he commanded firmly,
“That’s enough! You’ve proved your point, now enough! Go home...” he gestured toward the homes, “And you…god damn it, girl…” he turned to me, “are you that stupid!? You’re fighting him recklessly and should know better!”
I breathed heavily, knowing Derek was right; I was acting reckless. I nodded as I began backing away, watching as Derek attempted to help Leonus to his feet but his hands were pushed away in a rage. He too, breathed heavily then glanced down at himself seeing the singed fabric then raising his gaze, he squinted his blue eyes toward the young woman who had her back to him and before Erik (who approached closer) Derek or the guards nearby could step in, I dropped the Escrima sticks, as I heard Leonus’ thought screaming out and turning around, I released one last ball of energy that this time, penetrated Leonus’ form; fire burning through his blood and veins. He laid on the ground screaming in agonizing pain; steam emanating from his skin before he fell unconscious. I stood there engulfed in my Aura at its fullest. Derek scampered toward Leonus’ body crouching alongside him, trying to check for a pulse but his skin was hot to the touch. He bared the heat, pressing his fingers to the man’s throat. He raised his gaze, staring at the young woman in fear for all the things he’s seen during his years of war, he had never witnessed something such as that moment.
Erik, forget it…stood in utter fear for I was something he couldn’t handle on any level.
The Wraith and Demon guards stood whispering among themselves when Nick and Caleb appeared, upon receiving word we had returned, unaware of the situation. The guards filled them in and they were shocked by the tale. They remained quiet for no words could explain their emotions. Even Wyatt who stood among them, had never seen such magic used; especially from a Pyrokinetic. Half-breed or otherwise.
Suddenly, my mom’s voice echoed over the deafening silence. Turning my head, she slowly approached taking in her daughter’s demonic nature,
“Yza, sweetheart…thank God you’re safe.” then she studied the situation taking place before her, “What’s going on!?” she cautiously asked.
Nick sped over, standing alongside her in protection. He knew I’d never harm her but the situation was unpleasant nonetheless. I extinguished my Aura, stepping away from Leonus and holding out my right hand, my bag flew into my arms. Shifting through the contents, I removed a set of iron shackles. Their heavy chains rattled together and glancing in Wyatt’s direction, he nodded. I turned away from my mom approaching the Lycynian and roughly grabbing his large arms, I shackled the chains. They glowed momentarily then I watched as the locks sealed leaving behind no seams or ways of attempting to pick them. I studied his unconscious face; his beard was also singed then stood.
“Where did you…” Derek stuttered for the shackles and chains were familiar.
“Get the shackles? You should now.” I answered firmly, “You used them recently, but I...had them modified for this specific purpose and they...don’t...come...off! Do you understand?” I leered at Derek who nodded in reply, “Good. Because if I find out they’re removed, you’ll find yourself wearing a matching set. Now, get him out of here” I instructed.
“Where to?” Caleb approached.
“Derek knows the perfect place. Don’t you?” I put the Samoan on the spot.
“You don’t mean?” he questioned.
“Yes. I mean exactly that.” I squinted my eyes, “Now get it done!” I turned to Caleb, Nick and Wyatt, “Follow him and make sure he does what he’s supposed to.”
“Sure thing.” Caleb answered eagerly.
“It’ll be my pleasure...Keeper!” Wyatt added respectfully.
I turned away, approaching my mom who held out her arms, offering her support. She observed the scratches on my sleeve and back but I reassured her I was fine. I glanced around for Erik, but he had vanished; not wanting to be around me a second longer. I glanced over my shoulder watching as Derek pulled Leonus into a sitting position before throwing him over his shoulder.
The Samoan carried the 6’6 weight toward the snowmobile then with the escort of Caleb, Wyatt and Justin, he pushed the craft toward the garage and from there, he dragged the Lycynian inside through the oil and grease toward the storage room. He instructed his escorts to open the door but they stood there, not getting their hands dirty for those weren’t their orders. He dropped Leonus’ arms creating a loud thud then rolled his shoulders.
“I’ll take it from here. I don’t think you want to see the place your friend was locked away in.” Derek objected, “It’s not a pleasant place for anyone, but it’s perfect for scum like him.”
“Shouldn’t that include you…since you were part of what happened to Erik?” Nick argued, tilting his head then exchanged glances with Caleb, Justin and Wyatt who stepped outside, “Five minutes.” Nick continued then joined the others, listening as Derek moved the stack of tires aside, followed by a door slamming.
The guards peeked their heads inside, unaware of the hidden cellar. Derek sighed grabbing Leonus’ head back by his red hair, frowning as he stared into his face. Standing and pulling Leonus to his feet, Derek dragged him down the stairs; feet thudding against the stone. He continued dragging him across the cellar, laying Leonus outside one of the cells. Swinging the door open, he huffed before pulling the man inside. Derek combed his loose hair back from his face as he knelt alongside Leonus once more. He smirked then stood leaving the cell; door slamming behind him. Leaning his arms on the bars, Derek muttered as he glanced around,
“I should’ve killed you the day I found you in that Scottish pub but your time is coming, Leonus…believe me. Either by my hands or the Keeper’s.” he turned, strolling up the steps.
My mom and I walked toward our dwelling in silence, for there was nothing to say. She held her left arm wrapped around my filthy shoulders, not caring about the germs or bacteria. Before entering the lounge, I removed my boots to avoid tracking the mud and filth inside. Escorting her to her room, I whispered as I stood in her doorway,
“I’m going to take a LONG HOT bath and scrub my skin until it peels off and then…I’ll come back and tell you EVERYTHING!”
“Take your time, sweetheart…take your time.” she worried; tears stinging her eyes, “I’ll do the same now, I guess.” she examined her hands; palms covered in faint grit and slime of some sort. Her grimace of disgust finished off her words.
I nodded then ran up the stairs to my room; residents peeking their heads out their doors watching my form walk through the hallways. I ignored their comments, blocking out their faint whispers as I approached my door. Before turning the handle I snapped as I turned, leering at all the curious faces,
“What the hell are all of you looking at!?” some slammed their doors while others continued to stare, “F*ck off!” I turned, slipping inside my room; the door slamming loudly. Zanz and Abraxas greeted me eagerly as I stood leaning against the door. Scuffing my feet across the room, I undressed, throwing everything into the fireplace before igniting it; clothing, boots, armor, even my undergarments beginning to burn. I removed Zanz’s leather harness, throwing it in the flames as well. I grabbed a blanket to wrap around myself for I felt a chill against my naked skin. I examined my hands and arms then stepped in front of my mirror; my face caked with drying residue from the cellar and caves. It was even under my painted fingernails and I kept them cut short out of habit and stress. Stepping away from the mirror I urged softly, “Come on, boys...let’s get cleaned up.” I glanced down at my familiars.
An hour and a half passed before I felt clean enough to visit my mom. Zanz shook the water from his fur then utilized his hellhound attributes; warming his fur with faint embers spitting into the air. Abraxas too, dried his scales in his Aura and together, they were clean. A demon with her hound and Zyphyn…match made in hell for sure, yet a very lethal combination, for we shared the same demonic genes but in different ways and abilities. Brushing and drying my hair, I stared at my clean face in the bathroom mirror; no makeup or glasses…just me. Changing into clean clothing, and lavishly spraying myself with my favorite perfume, we ventured downstairs to my mom’s room; her soft rhythmic music playing inside. My mom poked burning logs in her fireplace when she heard soft knocks on her door. Returning the iron rod to its place on the rack, she strolled toward her door; full skirt flowing behind her. Freya meowed before running beneath her bed.
“Who is it!?” she inquired.
“It’s me…” a voice answered, “and I have company.”
Opening her door, there I stood; Zanz at my feet and Abraxas rested on my shoulder.
“Hello, IT’S ME and COMPANY.” my mom teased, stepping aside.
“I’m not in the mood for teasing or jokes.” I snapped as I entered her room; Abraxas flew from my shoulder landing on her bed while Zanz scampered toward the fireplace.
“Alright, then. Seriousness it is.” my mom frowned, trying to understand her daughter’s attitude.
I approached her comfortable chairs and once the silence between us became unbearable, I began retelling what took place; everything from Leonus capturing Erik, the battle with the Boar-wolves and slaughter of women and children. Even Zanz and Abraxas’s new-found personas. I cried, feeling the pressure hit me all at once and all my mom could do was scoot her chair closer to mine, leaning forward. Placing her arms around her daughter, she offered whatever comfort she could provide. Raising my gaze, she affectionately wiped my tears away, whispering softly, while handing me a tissue box from the table. She watched as I grabbed a handful, fiddling with them. I didn’t know what to say other than thanking her.
“Oh, my baby girl…stop thanking me.” she whispered, “I’ve told you many times that I’m here for you, no matter what. Now, would you like some tea? Beth created a new herbal tea blend that I’ve been meaning to give a try.”
“Yes, please.” I smiled, sniffling.
I watched as she strolled toward her herbal cabinet, retrieving a small tin can; label unclear from my distance. She excused herself, stepping out into the dwelling’s kitchen, preparing the hot water on the stove. I felt safe and peaceful.
Jon had made his way down the halls of the hospital searching for his little sister and parents and as he turned the corner to venture down the hall, there were his parents standing outside a particular room.
“Mother...father…” his voice called out.
Turning their heads toward the sound of their son’s voice there he was approaching them in shuffling tired steps. Susan scampered toward her son, embracing him tightly as did his father and the hospital staff watched as the Saxon family was reunited and safe, thankfully. Susan pulled away brushing her son’s hair from his face and cried; Jonathan Sr. placed his hands on his son’s shoulders.
“Are you alright?” Susan urged.
“Yes, Mama...I’m fine. Tired, but I’m alright.” Jon answered softly.
“And your friends? Are they alright?” Jonathan Sr. worried for them.
“Yeah. They should be home now, except…”
“What? Except what?” Susan feared, “It’s not that lovely Keeper, is it?”
“Oh, no-no. It’s Luke and Jeremy.” he revealed, “They were killed…” Jon stuttered feeling all the emotions hitting him at once. “They were true warriors in the end.”
His parents hugged him once more then escorted him to Lucy’s room where she slept holding onto her favorite stuffed-bunny toy. He entered the room and pulling a chair toward the bed, he watched her sleep for the longest time. Suddenly, she began twitching as if having a nightmare and reaching out his hands to comfort her, she awoke screaming in sheer terror. Jon jumped from the chair sitting on the bed holding the small child in his arms.
“Hush, baby...hush, Button…” Jon whispered, “it’s me, Johnny...it’s Johnny.”
She sniffled and raising her head, she looked up into her brother’s face with tears streaming down her round face.
“Johnny…” she muffled, “Johnny…”
“Yeah, Button...it’s okay now.” he held onto her, “Shh…” he stroked her red hair, “I’m here.” he leaned against the pillows holding onto her until she fell asleep.
“Johnny...where’s the fairy?” Lucy asked softly.
“What fairy?” Jon didn’t understand her meaning then raised his gaze at his parents who shrugged as they sat alongside the bed.
“The Keeper said she had a fairy.”
Now he realized what she meant.
“Oh, you mean Abraxas?” Jon chuckled, “He’s with her. As soon as everything settles, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind you seeing him again.”
“Promise?” she smiled.
“Anything for you, Button.” he gently tapped her nose.
Suddenly, Jon heard a female voice calling out his name and glancing toward the door, Sarah rushed in standing in the doorway. She smiled with tears as Leonard appeared behind her. He held out his right hand toward her which she grabbed as she approached the bed. He leaned in for a kiss of which Lucy grew shy of, hiding her face behind her toy in a childish manner.
“Hello, Jonathan…” Leonard greeted, “good to see you’re still with us.”
“Can’t get rid of me that easy. But thank you.” Jon nodded then as he sat in the bed feeling its comfort, he began feeling tired as his eyes grew heavy.
“Sarah, love...let’s leave Jonathan and his family for a while. He needs his rest, hmm?” Leonard advised.
“Okay, but I’m coming back.” Sarah urged then kissed her boyfriend once more then exited the room at the right moment when Doctor Matthews revealed her brother had arrived at the clinic, “Where?” she worried.
“This way.” he escorted the young woman and their uncle down the hall to the second floor where they could hear Nathan’s voice arguing loudly.
Erik kept himself locked away in his room, glancing around at the mess Leonus had left behind when suddenly he heard loud knocks on his door followed by his father’s voice calling his name. He opened the door and before he could say a word, Hiromi pulled his son into his arms then backed away examining his son’s handsome face where cuts and scrapes were still healing. Erik stepped aside and allowed his father entry then sitting on the chairs they sat silent before Hiromi broke the silence,
“Erik, my boy...what happened? You leave a note, another one that is, with no goodbyes then here you are. Are you trying to make me go mad? What happened?”
“Father, please...it’s been a long day and rough few days but once everything’s settled, I promise I’ll tell you everything, alright?” Erik answered bluntly, “Right now, all I want to do is sleep. I used a lot of my magic today, more than I ever have so it took a lot out of me.”
“Aye, yes...of course-of course.” Hiromi nodded then stood with Erik who sped toward his bed, sitting on the ledge.
“I don’t need to be tucked in…” Erik teased.
“No. And I won’t even suggest it but how about, just this once, you take a sip of this?” Hiromi removed a flask from his pocket.
’Is this?” Erik wondered.
“Aye.” Hiromi smiled, “Just once.”
Erik nodded as he unscrewed the cap and taking a whiff of the air, there was no scent but taking a sip, it was stronger than he thought. Pulling his head away returning the flask, he coughed his remark,
“Bloody hell, father...how can you drink that sake? It’s awful.”
“Takes time. Now go to sleep, my boy.” he leaned forward kissing his sons’ head then turned, leaving the room worried for Erik’s behavior.
Thomas and Anthony had arrived at the hospital and once they were settled in their rooms, Thomas’ wife Louisa, and children, rushed into the lobby screaming out her husband’s name. She was escorted to their shared room and as soon as she observed her husband and brother-in-law in the beds, she broke down in tears. She ran toward Thomas while the children ran and climbed on Anthony’s bed sharing hugs and kisses. She raised her gaze toward the Heavens thanking God that he saved their lives and Thomas lowered her head giving her a passionate kiss, because he wasn’t sure if he’d ever see them again. Anthony watched as his brother shared the tender moment with his life-partner then broke the gaze, feeling lonely deep down. He glanced at the door hoping someone meaningful would come for him but only nurses rushed in and out.
“Uncle Tony…” Thomas’ son asked.
“Yes?” Anthony blinked away tears.
“Did you slay the creatures?”
His words caught him off guard as images quickly flashed through his mind and ones that became unbearable to ignore. Holding back his tears he nodded with a false smile.
“Babies…come here.” Thomas urged noticing the unsettling expression on his brother’s face and making eye contact, they shared a momentary nod.
Anthony wiped away his tears as he turned his head away then attempted to get his mind off the events as a nurse, attractive in his eyes, entered the room with clean bandages and medicine for the pain. He flashed her a charming smile of which she returned but didn’t fall for she had other interests and they weren’t for the male sex. The scent was all over her and after catching it, Anthony nodded brushing off the moment then felt like he was losing his charm for even women who were into other women, found him charming. Suddenly, he heard a familiar voice echo from down the hall. Looking toward the door, there stood the half-breed with her mother.
“Hey.” I smiled as I entered the room, checking on my friends.
“Hello, dear child.” Louisa greeted, “And you, Lady D.”
“How are you?” I asked.
“Doctor Matthews says we can leave in a few hours.” Thomas revealed.
“Really? That’s great.” I added, “And you?” I looked into Anthony’s dark eyes that hid the truth, “How are you, really?”
He gently reached for my right hand and giving a gentle squeeze, he smiled.
“Better now that you’re here.” he joked.
“Always the charmer.” I chuckled, “But really?”
“I’m fine, little Miss…I’ll be alright.”
“Yza?” Jon’s voice interrupted from the doorway.
Turning around, there he stood fresh and clean with his parents and sister in the hall.
“Hey…” I approached him, sharing a friendly hug.
“Hello, child.” Susan greeted then reached for my hands, “Thank you so much, for bringing my baby girl home...thank you-thank you.”
“Keeper…” Lucy’s little voice spoke as she walked around her mother standing at her feet, “thank you.”
“Don’t thank me, sweetheart. Just no more running off, alright?” I knelt down growing a wide smile seeing her sweet face and beautiful red hair brushed and braided. She held onto her stuffed toy as she leaned forward, giving me a hug I didn’t expect. I chuckled returning the hug then she pulled away turning toward her father who picked her up with ease.
“How is she doing?” my mom approached.
“Doctor Matthews says she’s physically fine but he’s not sure how the trauma of what happened will affect her psychologically.” Susan answered worriedly, “But she’s home now.”
“Nothing more precious than a child.” my mom added giving me a side-hug before I turned my attention to the two brave Italian brothers while my mom, Thomas’ wife and children entered the hall with the Saxon family.
The three of us remained silent as I stood by Anthony’s bedside exchanging glances between the brothers. I offered friendly smiles of which they returned, more so on Anthony’s part but I was relieved to see they were healthy and well. Their filthy clothes laid in plastic bags near the hazard bin standing by the door.
“Shouldn’t you be with your young man?” Anthony asked as he shifted in the bed.
“I haven’t seen him.” I answered.
“Give him time, little Miss…” Thomas added.
“I know.” I grinned but my eyes didn’t share the warmth they should have and Anthony noticed.
“Hey…” he reached for my hands, “look at me...look at me.” he watched as I raised my gaze, “if he doesn’t realize that you’ve been there for him more than anyone could have been, he’s a fool. Your loyalty is a precious thing and just don’t...throw it away on a boy, alright?” he squeezed my hands then gently let go, “I’ve made my point and expressed my feelings on the matter, you know that, but the choice is yours. Not that there ever was a choice.”
“Anthony, I get it…” I answered bluntly, “I get it. Thank you.” then I glanced at the time, “I’d like to meet with everyone in our party so get some rest, spend time with your family and we’ll meet in a few hours up at the manor’s dining hall.” I backed away, receiving nods of agreement before entering the hallway disappearing down its corridor.
“That went well.” Anthony complained.
“Could have been worse.” Thomas teased.
“Shut up…” Anthony chuckled, throwing a pillow across the room at his brother.
Walking down the hall seeing the Saxon and Giovanni family gathered with my mom at the end of the hall, I removed my phone and sent word to Derek, requesting a meeting in the study; his answer was immediate agreeing to the request. My mom wanted to stay behind helping Beth while I tended to business that needed my attention. Returning to the manor and ascending the stairs to the study, Heather and her eldest son Liam sat in the upstairs lounge waiting for my presence as soon as I appeared at the top of the steps, they bombarded me with questions and concerns about Leonus’ whereabouts for he hadn’t returned home. Glancing at my watch seeing I had time before Derek arrived, I urged the mother and son into the study where I revealed the events that took place.
Liam’s jaw clenched tight and fists clenched firmly as he sat in the chair next to his mother who began feeling nauseous for she couldn’t believe her husband would or could have done such a thing.
“By the Heavens…” she muttered beneath her right hand that covered her mouth, “no...no.”
“Are you sure?” Liam barked.
“Yes.” I snapped, “I have proof, but that’s not all.”
“There’s more?” Heather feared.
“Yes. Leonus didn’t act alone.” I rested my hands on the desk, “Derek helped him.”
“Derek?” Liam questioned.
Heather shook her head in shock, for Derek participating in the actions were unbelievable. She may not have known him long enough but she’s an excellent judge of character; never wrong about her assumptions. She sensed Derek was an honorable man for if he weren’t, she never would have allowed him close to her sons. Liam too, couldn’t believe he trusted the man.
“There’s more.” I muttered; my eyes glancing between the Lancasters sitting across from me.
“What else is there?” Heather cried, wiping her tears away with a tissue I handed her.
“It’s not just the Wraiths or Demons he attacked, Heather.” I answered, “He had plans to kill me in the cave when rescuing Lucy. What they were exactly, who knows, but thankfully, he failed. Heather…” I pleaded, “I didn’t want this to happen. I didn’t want any of this to happen but the actions that have been taken, are justified considering the circumstances and I won’t apologize. I didn’t want you to find out like this, but since you came here looking for answers, you had the right to know everything before he comes home and starts webbing his lies.”
“Where is my father and are you going to punish him for what he’s done? He’s not the greatest father, nor husband but…”
“William!” Heather argued.
“BUT…” Liam continued over his mother’s interruption, “he’s my father and only WE, I think, should be the ones to take care of the crimes he committed. It’s our right.”
“Liam…I’m not going to treat you like a child because you’re not, but there are things you don’t understand; things your father has done, that I as Keeper, hold him personally responsible for. I won’t release Leonus, just because he’s your father. I’m sure you know there are many different types of fathers, Liam. Ones that plant the seed…ones that are there for you every step of your life or the ones that come and go when they feel like.”
“And which one was yours!?” Liam snapped.
“William Augustus Lancaster! That’s enough!” Heather shouted, pushing herself from the chair, “Apologize to the lass, right this minute! NOW…”
“It’s alright, Heather…” I stood, resting my fingers on the ledge of the desk, staring into Liam’s blue eyes then leaned in, whispering in a low blunt tone, “My father came and went until one day, it killed him. Literally. And one day, Liam…your father’s going to wind up on the wrong side of the scale and it’s going to cost him everything. You. Your brothers. His marriage. So think about that before you stand there and judge me.” I straightened my posture then continued bluntly, “Leonus is safe, that much I’ll tell you but I think this meeting is over. I have another so please...you know where the door is.” I gestured behind them.
“Thank you, child. I apologize for the inconvenience.” Heather muttered then turned to Liam, rushing him toward the door cursing at him in a string of Irish or Scottish sentences that Liam perfectly understood.
As I watched Liam enter the hall, Heather stood in the doorway and before she closed the door behind her, I reached out telepathically offering a warning of great concern,
“Heather...son or not, be careful.”
She turned, observing the young woman standing at the desk nodding her head in affirmation. Heather glanced at her feet then returned the nod, accepting the warning before she quietly closed the door and descending the stairs, Derek passed them and offering a smile, they ignored his presence. He paused on the steps calling out their names but they didn’t answer as they rushed through the manor’s large front doors. He frowned then approached the study giving a faint knock and waited until he heard the young woman’s voice allowing him entry.
He slowly opened the door then observed the half-breed sitting behind the desk; the study empty of her familiars. He closed the door then approached the desk, sitting in one of the chairs that still felt warm from a previous visitor. He made eye contact with the young woman who bluntly began the meeting but in back of his mind, he wondered what his punishment would be and accepted the outcome.
“It’s simple, Derek...tell me what happened.” I instructed.
He sighed, shifting nervously in the chair then began explaining Leonus’ plan. He hated himself for what had happened and I could see it in his eyes, mannerisms, and I heard it in his thoughts. Afterwards, there was regret in his brown eyes as his muscular frame hunched in the chair. Before revealing my form of punishment, I pressured him to reveal his reasons for being here on the Isle because he and I both knew the story of wanting a safe place was a load of bullsh*t and the oldest excuse in the book. He explained enough to quench my curiosity but I knew there was more and closing my eyes focusing in on his thoughts, images flashed through my mind of his past with Leonus. Opening my eyes with my hands clenched on the arms of the office chair, I glanced in Derek’s direction; he felt the pressure of someone peeking around his mind and frowned in disapproval of the intrusion of private memories.
“Sorry, but you weren’t telling me everything and I needed to know.” I complained.
“Yeah, well...next time just let me know, alright?” he groaned gruffly, “It doesn’t feel right.” he shook his head.
“No it doesn’t, but now I see and it explains it all.” I cleared my throat, “What I had planned for you, won’t put your talents to use which is why you’re going to do something else for me.” I paused watching as he adjusted in the chair leaning forward, growing curious as he raised his scarred eyebrow. I revealed that I wanted him to be my eyes and ears inside of Leonus’ world, helping me win the fight against him and bring him down, “Can you do that?” I questioned.
“Abso-f*cking-lutely.” Derek smiled, eagerly agreeing to the request, “Good to know we’re on the same page.”
I smiled, knowing I had an ally against my enemy but declared firmly with a warning undertone as Derek stood by the door ready for his leave,
“Thank you for your help but let me just say this one thing, Derek. If you betray this agreement, you’ll suffer far worse consequences than Leonus and in ways your past experiences or skills can’t prepare you for. Clear?”
“Crystal.” he gulped, wondering how she meant her warning then left.