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

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๐’ž๐’ฝ๐’ถ๐“…๐“‰๐‘’๐“‡ ๐Ÿค๐Ÿฉ

๐ฟord Drakuul stood in the throne room, listening to reports that ten Captains of their units relayed. Their voices sounded distant as he stood with his back facing the group of men; his fists clenching behind his back revealed his agitation and disappointment.

โ€œAnd your General? Where is he?โ€ he muttered over his shoulder without looking upon the men.

โ€œHeโ€™s out among other units that are scouting the lower parts of the City, my Lord.โ€ one of the Captains; a black man in his late 30s with a cropped military buzz-cut replied in a strong cocky English accent as he stepped forward, โ€œHe sent word this morning that heโ€™ll be returning tomorrow, maybe the day after next.โ€

โ€œAnd did he say why heโ€™s out there?โ€ Drakuul wondered.

โ€œNo, Lord...he did not.โ€ the Captain answered honestly then cleared his throat, โ€œWould you like me contact him, Sir?โ€

โ€œNo.โ€ Drakuul turned to the Captains who knew to lower their heads avoiding eye contact unless instructed to, โ€œBut let me know when he returns.โ€

โ€œYes, Sir.โ€ the Captains muttered simultaneously, โ€œIs there anything else we can do for you?โ€

โ€œYesโ€ฆyes, there is.โ€ Drakuul stepped toward them, lowering his hands down to his side, โ€œI want you to continue searching the streets for any or all rebels that are continuing to fight back. Theyโ€™re causing too much trouble among the cityfolk and itโ€™s beginning to create chaos among...well, my chaos but I donโ€™t want it becoming too difficult to snuff out. You understand?โ€

โ€œOf course, Lord.โ€

โ€œGood. Now, leave me.โ€ Drakuul dismissed the men waving his hand declaring the order. Watching as the Captains of different ethnicities and backgrounds scampered out of the room and down the hall, Drakuul folded his arms then turned to the black orb that sat near the large throne. Feeling its smooth surface and muttering something in his Japanese tongue, a swirling essence began moving within the orb revealing his Generalโ€™s location and actions; the reports were true as images flashed showing the expert warrior crashing through doors and imprisoning rebels for information. Drakuul grinned, pleased that his reach was making an impact across the city. Taking a seat on the throne, he removed the orb from its stand along the large chair and holding it in hand, the images displayed began fading out; they were replaced with an image of his pendant shattered. The Necromancer dropped the orb that fell heavy in his lap but his knees caught the crystal. Glancing around the room, he gently slid the orb from his lap returning it to its stand before standing to his feet. In a low tone he called out, โ€œWhoโ€™s there?โ€ but there was no one present, โ€œWho are you that taunts me!?โ€ he referred to previous images that appeared in the orb.

Nothing answered but in the back of his mind, he knew there was some entity that taunted him; one that he attempted to conjure but there was no such success. He frowned then glanced around once more, even in the shadows of the room before he exited the throne hall, strolling down the corridor to his private conjuring room. It was once one of the largest Prime Minister offices; the walls splattered with black paint to cover the decorative wallpaper. Red Necromancy symbols were painted over in various spots, including that of the floor beneath the altar where a massive desk once sat. The window shades were pulled down but Drakuul could still hear the commotion erupting in the streets.

Guards patrolling the halls, in between the intrudance of hellish bat-like Harpies that soared through the corridor removing chunks of boulder from holes collapsing in the roof, stood along the wall in salute of their Lord who ignored their presence. Slamming the door shut, guards flinched from the sudden echo that lingered in the hall. Approaching the altar he flipped through Lexaโ€™s powerful and ancestral book searching for a spell that could reveal oneโ€™s future but the closest enchantment would show you outcomes of an individualโ€™s decisions leading to their fate or what they seek. He frowned, knowing that he was limited to the gift of sight but gathering the herbs and ingredients needed; ones of which he kept in a cabinet hidden in the corner of the room that avoided any traces of light and they werenโ€™t pleasant ingredients either:

*Absinthe (communicates with the dead if burnt with Sandalwood as incense)

*Anise Seed (increases the power of all psychic incantations)

*Betel Nut (chew with lime and it increases one power both spiritually and mentally)

*Blood-Root (a replacement if the practitioner wishes not to offer their own blood)

*Henbane (be cautious of its toxicity)

*Decayed rabbits foot

*Skull of a witchโ€™s familiar (cat or Raven, but be specific)

*Petrified human heart (must be sliced into four pieces)

*Eyes of a wise man (preferably eyes that have been damaged with age)

*A small pinch of Devilโ€™s Root (only a pinch and avoid pricking your fingers on its thorns)

*Blood from a womanโ€™s womb (for ancestral ties)

*Blood offered freely (must be blood of the practitioner)

After adding them into the bowl and stirring them slowly creating a thick dark liquid that bubbled and steamed, he lit black candles of various sizes; their wax dripping down their base. Extinguishing the matches, he tossed them into the empty mortar alongside the altar then laid his hands on the bowlโ€™s ledge. Taking a deep breath he read the words in a slow rhythm; words that called out to the darkest forces of his craft, not requesting him the gift of sight but help him in his decisions and actions to make, accepting the gift thatโ€™s summoned to aid him see, and pleading to his ancestors for guidance,

โ€œBlood of my mother beyond the veil...I seek thine counsel with flesh pale. Grant me the knowledge I require, of events to come this witching hour...With these offerings, I beseech thine grace, to help transverse the path I face. Blood and bone to feed thine tombs...Come join me in my hearthโ€™s fume. By the powers of black as night, I command you forth, and give me sight. I am yours to do your will...I summon you now for a moment still.โ€ and after reciting the dark words and finishing the last sentence that sent a chill up and down his spine, he watched the herbs and ingredients stir around in the bowl before disappearing beneath the liquidโ€™s surface. It bubbled violently before it rested and when thinking he had performed it incorrectly, a black essence began swirling upward from the bowl. Drakuul watched as it encircled him and reading the last instruction, he groaned of unsurity for heโ€™d have to consume the essence by breathing it in, โ€œThis better work!โ€ and closing his eyes, he took in two long-deep breaths, absorbing the thick black smoke that squeezed its way up his nose, down his throat and into his mind.

He backed away coughing and holding his head as it ached, for the sensation was unpleasant and falling to his knees with his head held low, he suddenly was thrown backwards to the ground. The candles in the room were snuffed out as if blown out by an invisible force; you could still smell the faint sulfur. Laying on his back in the darkness, his body thrashed around violently and gasping for air, his eyes jerked open as he suddenly laid still; his eyes didnโ€™t stare at the ceiling with his dark piercing eyes but with a white blankness; the entire eye was literally white. Images flashed through his mind of decisions that would lead him to his goal but even they were uncertain if heโ€™d accomplish his search for the Book of Solomon... or Marxus. They showed him other desires that held no importance to his request or thirst for power. For some reason, there was a permanent block from any level of magic that attempted to break the boundaries or veil that protected his adversary. The magic that consumed the Necromancer wormed its way out through the same ways of entrance, pulling Drakuul into an arched position before releasing its hold on him; his back hitting the cold floor. Suddenly, the candle wicks erupted in a high flame. He coughed heavily as he lay curled in discomfort and rolling onto his side pushing himself up into a sitting position, he blinked his dark eyes that gave blurry sight but allowed him to watch as the thick black essence was sucked back into the bowl before it toppled over, spilling its contents onto the floor. It left behind an acidic stain on the stone.

Drakuul stumbled to his feet for that was more than he expected to handle in one enchantment. He combed his stringy hair back from his face, pulled down at his tunicโ€™s hem then shuffled toward the altar placing the bowl into its standing position. He slammed the book then swiped his left hand outward brushing all the glass bottles and tools from their place upon the altar. He screamed as he thrashed everything around the room, angry that not even Lexa nor her ancestors would aid him in his requests. He expected more.

โ€œFineโ€ฆโ€ he huffed as he stood in the center of the room with his feet apart and head held back, โ€œIโ€™ll do it myself!โ€ he spat at the ground before shuffling out of the room and standing in the hall, he suddenly coughed once more. Holding a handkerchief to his mouth, it was spotted with traces of blood. He stared at the fabric then concealed it from sight when guards approached, inquiring of their Lordsโ€™ health, โ€œIโ€™m fine...get back to work!โ€ he dismissed them bluntly, โ€œAnd youโ€ฆโ€ he pulled one of them close, โ€œsend word to your General and tell him to get back here immediately.โ€ and releasing his grasp in a rough push backwards, he straightened his posture then strolled down the corridor. Taking a pause, he glanced over his shoulder shouting another order, โ€œRetrieve my food from the kitchens!โ€

โ€œLord, Sirโ€ฆโ€ the guards nodded then once he was out of sight, disappearing around the corner, they sighed before turning to complete their orders.

โ€œNow?โ€ Matrx complained, receiving the call of summons.

โ€œYes, Sir. Immediately.โ€ a soldier answered.

โ€œAnd did he say why?โ€

โ€œNo, General...he did not.โ€

โ€œUgh, f*ck me...alright.โ€ Matrx sighed heavily then ended the call. Turning to a nearby car that was overturned by one the many Trolls patrolling their unit, he kicked its burnt metal before removing one of his Katanas, slicing away at the decrepit junk. With each strike of his blade, he imagined ending his brotherโ€™s existence, forgetting about the war between Immortals and retreating to a place where he wouldnโ€™t be known. But for Matrx, his life was war and heโ€™ll know nothing else.

The soldiers nearby all turned their backs allowing their General privacy to vent. Once he had ceased his strikes, he returned the weapon to its sheath then grabbed hold of a soldier nearby, reaching for his radio attached at the shoulder, giving his orders that theyโ€™d continue their search while he returned to the heart of the Great City. His men didnโ€™t argue, not once, for they held great respect for Matrx. He walked away pushing soldiers out of the way as he climbed into one of the futuristic Jeeps that hovered high above their heads; its booster engines roared as he swiftly cut through the air; the tall Tower out in the distance grew closer within 15-20 minutes at full speed. Arriving at Victoriaโ€™s Tower of which was now declared as the NecroTower, he lowered the Jeep-craft in the parking lot where other crafts were parking, as they returned from their own patrols. Hopping out and slamming the door, he strode fast through the doors then ascended the stairs, skipping one or two here and there, until he stomped down the hall to the Throne room where Drakuul stood with his back, repeatedly facing the door.

โ€œWhat is so goddamn important, that you had one of your little sissy-brats, summon me back here?โ€ Matrx commanded, โ€œHmm? I was out there doing your work for you, so this better be good!โ€ he approached the table between himself and the Necromancer, removing his Katana belt slamming it atop.

โ€œIโ€™ve had an awakening.โ€ Drakuul muttered.

Matrx waited for the man to say more, but that was it.

โ€œThatโ€™s it!? Thatโ€™s what you summoned me back here, just to tell me you had an awakening?โ€ Matrx argued loudly, โ€œWell, congratulations brother...congratulations! Hope it was a good one!โ€ he scoffed then grabbing his belt ready to leave, the doors slammed shut ahead of him.

โ€œI...wasnโ€™t finished!โ€ Drakuul warned.

Turning slowly, Matrx leered in the Necromancerโ€™s direction watching as he slowly approached in menacing steps. Standing in front of his General, Drakuul studied his brotherโ€™s face that held such distaste but worn with fatigue. Grinning lightly he walked away approaching the table.

โ€œIโ€™ve had an awakening in the ways of doing things a little differently.โ€ Drakuul continued.

โ€œOh? And how so? Youโ€™re a goody-two-shoes now, thatโ€™s going to use his magic for only good?โ€ Matrx mocked.

โ€œNoโ€ฆโ€ Drakuul answered calmly, โ€œIโ€™ve had a vision that will help us find what weโ€™re looking for, you arrogant a**hole!โ€

โ€œA vision? Really?โ€ Matrx was going to humor the situation, โ€œOkay. About what sort of grand scheme this time, hmm?โ€ he approached the table, leaning on the surface.

โ€œThe dark arts and Necromancy, brother...show us many things in various forms. Even ways we didnโ€™t expect or ask for. Or summon.โ€ he groaned, โ€œBut my vision has shown me something surrounding tunnels, ones of which appeared to be underground. Now, where these tunnels are and if they exist, are unknown but you my brother, my General of Armies, is where you come in.โ€ Drakuul turned to him once more.

โ€œTunnels? Helpful. Which ones?โ€ Matrx continued the mockery, growing tired of the riddles.

โ€œI donโ€™t know, but I also saw a man with a tag orโ€ฆโ€ and thinking about the images seeing them clearly it wasnโ€™t a tag, โ€œI.D. keycard of some sort.โ€ Drakuul revealed.

โ€œDid you see the name?โ€ Matrx grew curious now, knowing his brotherโ€™s visions in the past never failed. I mean, they didnโ€™t turn out the way he saw them but led them to where they needed to go or for what purpose.

โ€œUnfortunately, no but thatโ€™s what was shown to me.โ€ Drakuul frowned.

โ€œTunnels.โ€ Matrx moaned then pushed a few buttons beneath the tableโ€™s ledge that activated a map of the city in a digital hologram. Utilizing the images before him, he touched the air interacting with the map before him searching for tunnels that could have possibly run beneath the City, โ€œOf course there are the subway tunnels but hereโ€ฆโ€ he gestured at a section that seemed to be walled off or deliberately erased from any or all archives, โ€œwhatโ€™s that?โ€ he continued and attempting to touch the section, it flashed red as if access wasnโ€™t granted, โ€œTricky bastards.โ€

โ€œWhat?โ€ Drakuul wondered, not too familiar with holographic systems.

โ€œIf your vision is right, which Iโ€™m sure it is, there has to be more tunnels somewhere around here.โ€ Matrx circled the area with his finger, โ€œBut when I try to access it, itโ€™s blocking my attempts which means someone knows whatโ€™s there. Guess thatโ€™s where the keycard I.D. comes in.โ€ he straightened his tall posture.

โ€œWhat do you think?โ€ Drakuul inquired.

โ€œItโ€™s worth checking out and now youโ€™ve got me curious, only for the simple fact that if there are tunnels we donโ€™t know anything about, that could give us the best advantage to sneaking up on your old friend, Marxus.โ€ Matrx mocked, โ€œBut Iโ€™ll gather some men and get things in order around here first, before I venture out. And yes, before you say another wordโ€ฆโ€ Matrx held his right hand up interrupting his brother before he could speak, โ€œIโ€™ll let you know if or when we found something.โ€ he turned off the map, grabbed his belt then stormed out of the room.

Another week passed and things rapidly came together on the Isle of Castillion; all armor was fitted, mended and distributed. It took time, pounding, shaping and forming the leather pieces to fit individual measurements. Bullet proof vests and other chest pieces were also molded and crafted. I verified that all warriors including myself, were fitted properly. I even had armor crafted for Zanz because he wasnโ€™t going to be left out, for he too now was a warrior of his own. Warriors with skills never used in battle, were excited to possess their armor of various styles; chest pieces and attached shoulder pads, gauntlets, knee or shin guards or gauntlet-shoulder sets. They walked away carrying them, commenting about how proud and important it made them feel. Once guards collected their armor, they returned to their posts up on the wall; their eyes watching all the activity occurring in the square. Glancing down, Caleb took notice of a visitor standing below at the gates; the mansโ€™ eyes studying the massive wall blocking his path inside. Catching the mansโ€™ gaze, Caleb nodded then appeared before him.

โ€œCan I help you, Sir?โ€ Caleb inquired curiously, knowing he wasnโ€™t a vendor, resident or visitor for he carried no bags and appeared with no vehicle.

โ€œIโ€™m here to see your half-breed.โ€ the man answered.

Caleb studied the man; Asian culture, straight posture and clean pressed clothes. His hair combed back neatly and a trimmed Asian inspired beard-mustache was kept brushed and groomed. Even his shoes that were faded were in great condition.

โ€œAnd what did you say your name was?โ€ Caleb placed his hands on his gun holsters.

The man smiled with mischief in his small brown squinty eyes.

I sat in the study with my mom, Beth and a few other practitioners when I received Calebโ€™s call, alerting me of the visitor.

โ€œThank you. Give me a moment and Iโ€™ll be right there. Justโ€ฆkeep him within the tunnel.โ€ I ordered then ended the call, โ€œIโ€™ll be right back.โ€ I stood; phone tucked away in an inside pocket of the jacket Erik purchased for me, โ€œContinue without me.โ€

โ€œEverything alright?โ€ Beth asked.

โ€œYes. Thereโ€™s a visitor at the gates.โ€ I revealed, โ€œHopefully I wonโ€™t be too long. Zanz, come with me. Abraxas, you stay here.โ€ I placed my hand briefly on my momโ€™s shoulder then turned away, exiting the study with Zanz scampering after me. Descending the stairs in swift smooth steps, residents greeted me as I passed through the entrance hall toward the front doors. Walking along the fountain toward the wall, I passed through the gate surrounding the structure in fast, steady strides. Finally approaching the gates, the guards hadnโ€™t opened upon my instructions, Caleb appeared alongside me, explaining the mansโ€™ sudden arrival. No warning. No bags. No transportation. Nothing. I frowned, for access onto the island had to be approved through me and I certainly wasnโ€™t expecting anyone. Shifting in place, I nodded alerting the guards to open the inner gates and listening to them swing open, the hinges creaked. Leaning in Calebโ€™s direction; my eyes fixed upon the gates I asked, โ€œDid he give you his name or reason for being here?โ€

โ€œHe wouldnโ€™t give his name but all he did was ask to speak with you. And only you. He knew your full name.โ€ Caleb revealed cautiously; hands placed on his gun holsters, โ€œHe even knows youโ€™re a half-breed.โ€

โ€œReally?โ€ I muttered as Wyatt and Justin appeared standing behind me, watching as the man passed through the inner doors in our direction. Approaching closer I was surprised, โ€œShung-Lee!?โ€ I continued with a smile of relief, โ€œOh, my god...what are you doing here? I mean, itโ€™s good to see you!โ€ I approached in a friendly greeting.

โ€œWaitโ€ฆyou know him?โ€ Caleb asked.

โ€œYes. Heโ€™s my teacherโ€ฆthe one who trained me in Ireland.โ€ I revealed proudly.

โ€œOh, that Sung-Lee!?โ€ the Wraith smiled, โ€œNice to meet you, mate but how did you get here?โ€

โ€œPleasure to meet you, too.โ€ Shung-Lee nodded in Calebโ€™s direction, โ€œIโ€™m here because I thought it was time to reveal my presence to you and visit this place.โ€ he gazed around, โ€œAfter all, you invited me here, remember? And although this place is magnificent, I have seenโ€ฆMORE.โ€ he smiled.

โ€œExcuse me?โ€ I pondered.

โ€œWhat the bloody hell does that mean, mate?โ€ Justin added, making his presence known.

โ€œI meant โ€ฆMORE places.โ€ he replied quickly, โ€œHave I come at a bad time? I see warriors are carrying weapons and armor. Are you going to war?โ€

โ€œThatโ€™s a discussion for another time which isnโ€™t right now.โ€ I pushed the topic aside, โ€œUmโ€ฆโ€

โ€œYes?โ€ he examined the grounds within the hall, nodding as if he approved.

โ€œHow did you get here and where are your belongings?โ€ I gestured at him, โ€œYou have no bagsโ€ฆ no vehicleโ€ฆnothing.โ€

โ€œIโ€™m wondering the same bloody thing.โ€ Caleb questioned.

โ€œBloody. Is that the only word you young Brits know, without making things soundโ€ฆvampiric?โ€ Shung-Lee argued referring to Caleb and Justinโ€™s presence and English slang.

โ€œItโ€™s the way I talk, mateโ€ฆgot a problem with that!?โ€ Justin stepped forward, punching his fist against the palm of his hand before fluffing his shoulders as if wanting a conflict.

โ€œOh, noโ€ฆthis isnโ€™t happening between the three of you.โ€ I interrupted, stepping between them, โ€œGuys, Iโ€™m fineโ€ฆso please get back to work, yeah? NOW!โ€ I steamed. Caleb and Justin nodded then backed away with Wyatt who grinned in my direction knowing our friendsโ€™ temperaments, โ€œKeep an eye on them, will you please?โ€ I reached out to Wyatt telepathically.

โ€œYou know it!โ€ he answered, glancing over his shoulder before returning to the wall.

I sighed.

โ€œIโ€™m sorry about that. Calebโ€™s sort of trigger happy and Justin is a tough protective brother-type but they meant no harm.โ€ I admitted truthfully.

โ€œI know they didnโ€™t.โ€ he answered.

โ€œBut you didnโ€™t answer my question. How did you get here?โ€ I pestered.

โ€œI walked and traveled lightly.โ€ Shung-Lee answered bluntly, beginning to walk ahead.

โ€œIโ€™m sorry, but I could have sworn you just said you walked!?โ€ I questioned, strolling next to him. This man, whom I always found peculiarly strange, smiled in response; no words came from his lips but a few sentences slurred from mine, โ€œThis conversation isnโ€™t over and I will find out later, but right nowโ€ฆwelcome to the Isle of Castillion and Ravenstone Manor.โ€ I held my arms out, โ€œLetโ€™s return to the study and we can catch up there, yes?โ€ I gestured toward the manor, โ€œMy mom should still be waiting there.โ€

โ€œGood. And how is your mother?โ€ Shung-Lee encouraged with a smile.

โ€œSheโ€™s great, thank you.โ€

โ€œExcellent.โ€ Shung-Lee took a few paces ahead and before I could follow, Caleb reappeared alongside me; startling me momentarily.

โ€œF*ck me, Calebโ€ฆdonโ€™t do that or next time, Iโ€™ll burn something off.โ€ I swore.

โ€œSorryโ€ฆโ€ he grinned, โ€œbut I just wanted to know something really quick.โ€

โ€œAnd that is!?โ€ I looked up into his handsome face.

โ€œThatโ€™s not Marxus disguising himself again, is it?โ€ he pondered, โ€œWouldnโ€™t be the first time from what I hear.โ€

โ€œYou know what...I was thinking the exact same thing when I first met him in Ireland but he totally dismissed the possibility. If anything, it offended him actually, that I thought he was someone else. Heโ€™s strange for sure, but Iโ€™ll leave him to his, uh...ways, you know?โ€ I answered as Caleb and I watched the Asian man stroll ahead before pausing, eerily turning in our direction as if he heard every word spoken between us.

โ€œHe didnโ€™t hear everything we just said, did he?โ€ Caleb flashed a fake smile and wave.

โ€œI donโ€™t know.โ€ I too waved and smiled then spoke through my teeth wishing Caleb could hear me telepathically, โ€œJust uh...get back to work. Iโ€™ll be fine and if I need you, just keep your ears listening.โ€

โ€œAbsolutely.โ€ Caleb glanced down at me and giving me a wink, he backed away before disappearing in his supernatural black embery mist while I turned, approaching Shung-Lee.

โ€œHeโ€™s attentive. Thatโ€™s good.โ€ Shung-Lee studied.

โ€œCalebโ€™s one of my best guards and best friends. Now, enough chit-chat about Caleb. Heโ€™d feel uneasy if he were the sole topic of this conversation.โ€ I proclaimed.

Shung-Lee glanced around as we ascended the stairs toward the study; witches and warlocks exiting. Beth was among them and struggled more so than my mom but one of the warlocks aided in her descent. The staircase grew crowded but single filing made it easier for everyone. The practitioners smiled, thanking me for their time and offering to help in the upcoming struggles. My mom wasnโ€™t among them so she must have stayed behind, waiting for me and entering the study, there she scampered around; removing tea cups from their places on the table, placing them on the tea tray.

โ€œMommyโ€ฆโ€ my voice made her jump.

โ€œAre you trying to give me a heart attack?โ€ she gasped, catching her breath quickly.

โ€œSorry-sorry, but guess whoโ€™s here?โ€ I stepped aside.

โ€œWho?โ€ she laid the tray down on the table then glanced toward the doorway, โ€œShung-Lee!โ€ she continued with a smile, โ€œItโ€™s good to see you again, how are you and when did you get here?โ€

โ€œNow.โ€ he teased, โ€œPoofโ€ฆjust like magic.โ€

My mom stood there, studying the Asian before her; her head tilted slightly in confusion for his answers were always cryptic and in riddles. She glanced at me; I shook my head, as if stating not to ask.

โ€œBut itโ€™s a pleasure seeing you again too, my Lady Dโ€ฆโ€ Shung-Lee bowed then took her hands, โ€œlovely as ever. Hope youโ€™re doing well?โ€

โ€œUmโ€ฆโ€ she blushed, โ€œI donโ€™t know where that came from, but thank you, I suppose and I have my good days and bad. Changing the subjectโ€ฆโ€my mom glanced away, โ€œwhat have you been up to since Ireland?โ€ she sat, adjusting her skirt.

I quickly closed the door then sat alongside my mom, listening to Shung-Leeโ€™s tales of his adventures since our last encounter; tales of which were half truth. They were intriguing stories; sharing laughter at times then he asked me to reveal everything taking place here. I hesitated, not knowing he wanted to hear EVERYTHING but continued, leaving several personal things out of the conversation. Shung-Lee nodded in extreme interest, smiling on occasion, then glanced toward Zanz and Abraxas.

โ€œI see your hound has grown since Ireland.โ€ he observed, โ€œAnd your dragon as well, is maturing in appearance.โ€

โ€œYes, they have.โ€ I stated proudly as my mom and I glanced in the direction; both lying near the fireplace, โ€œWait...how did you know about Abraxas being a dragon? He never revealed himself to you.โ€

โ€œWell, I heard stories about the night of the attack upon the coven. A massive beast that shifted from one form to another then appeared as a massive dragon, all while seeming to obey you. When I heard the witches and warlocks speaking of a young woman, a half-breed, I realized that things made a little more sense when it came to your training visits. I always wondered why a Raven always perched on the nearby trees during our sessions. Heโ€™s very special and absolutely magnificent.โ€ he smiled then began clearing his throat as if needing something to drink.

โ€œWould you like some water, or tea perhaps?โ€ I offered in concern.

โ€œNo water, no tea. Do you have any scotch?โ€ he smiled with a nod.

โ€œUm, I think so.โ€ I imagined the contents of the cabinet, โ€œYes, I do. Marxusโ€™ private stash, I suppose.โ€

โ€œExcellent.โ€ he smiled once more.

I stood, retrieving a clean glass and the bottle from its place. I reached for ice cubes feeling a sense of deja-vu from when I poured water into a glass for Anthony. I stared at the ice cubes remembering the moment between him and I then shook my head. Once the glass was filled, I reached for a coaster and ready to turn, I heard my momโ€™s voice mutter in shock, attracting my gaze.

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