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

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๐“’๐“ฑ๐“ช๐“น๐“ฝ๐“ฎ๐“ป 31

๐’ฏwo days passed; Azir and his people had settled in, and were content with their suites. Deciding to stroll through the village square before our meeting, they examined the shops and stands. Natash noticed a vendor selling beautiful Lapis and Amber stoned jewelry embedded in silver settings.

โ€œSomething has caught my eye, dear husband.โ€ she said holding onto his arm, โ€œMay I?โ€

โ€œDo you have to ask, my beauty? Go.โ€ he replied, โ€œAnything your heart desires...is yours.โ€ he took her hands into his, kissing them quickly.

โ€œAnything my heart desires. I like the sound of that.โ€ they shared a kiss before she stepped away.

He grinned then glanced around the square, approaching the blacksmithโ€™s shop, observing Leonard and his apprentice heat and pound metal, forging new weaponry. He also observed the leather makers next door in their shop, adding their finishing touches on different pieces of armor. Occasionally, Azir turned, making sure his Queen was safe but knew she was, as two Jinn escorted her. Natash stood at a vendorโ€™s stand examining the gorgeous jewelry pieces, admiring the craftsmanship of humans. The guards stood inches away; eyes scanning the crowd for anything or anyone that would pose a threat to their Queen, while examining the jewelry in the process for their women back in Africa; whether theyโ€™re wives, sisters or betrothed.

Trouble strolled through the village; Nathanโ€™s eyes scanning all the new women, single or married, that had come during the new rush of vendors. Feeling cramped among the thick crowd, he and his friends stood aside on the fountainโ€™s ledge, watching and commenting; pointing toward women that caught their eye.

โ€œNow that weโ€™ve admired all the newcomers, what are we going to do about it? Weโ€™re bored out of our bloody minds and we need women, mate. Weโ€™re not going to stand here all day looking at them.โ€ Logan, Nathanโ€™s friend asked.

โ€œYeah, mate...โ€ Adam added, โ€œMy bollocks acheโ€ฆโ€ he quickly grabbed at his groin.

A passing handful of women walked by and mocked Adam, watching as he grabbed himself, mumbling to themselves as they glanced back, showing slight interest in the plain faced-brown haired young man. He flashed them a flirtatious smile before they turned away. He may be the one getting lucky later.

โ€œWell, there are...โ€ Nathan replied searching the crowd until his eyes laid upon Natash, scanning her up and down.

Ding, ding, ding...Nathanโ€™s new target.

โ€œIโ€™ll be right back.โ€ Nathan muttered then ventured in her direction, avoiding drawing the attention of her guards as he pretended to examine the jewelry for himself, making his approach less conspicuous. Once standing behind her, he took notice she admired the beautiful stones of the jewelry. Leaning in, he whispered in her ear, โ€œWhy look at those jewels when I have much more precious ones.โ€

Startled, she turned looking into Nathanโ€™s cold blue eyes that lacked character.

โ€œExcuse me?โ€ Natash gasped. โ€œAre you a vendor?โ€

โ€œYou heard me, goddess. And no, Iโ€™m not.โ€ Nathan harmed, โ€œMy private jewels are yours.โ€

โ€œI beg your pardon, young manโ€ฆโ€ Natash groaned, โ€œbut clearly youโ€™re speaking to the wrong woman or in the wrong place.โ€ she attempted to turn away but Nathan grabbed her wrist.

โ€œCome onโ€ฆgive me a chance.โ€ he pleaded, biting his lower lip, while grabbing himself inappropriately.

She twisted her arm pulling away from his grip while luring the young man closer before pushing him backwards into the arms of the guards that had sensed her distress.

Azir spoke with Leonard, inquiring about the different alloys used in creating his fine weaponry, when he heard Natashโ€™s voice shout out. Turning swiftly, he caught a glimpse of her through the crowd holding her dagger at Nathan, who was held back by Natashโ€™s two guards. Azir ran from the blacksmithโ€™s shop toward his wife, pushing through the crowded square. He sensed her unsettling demeanor, asking what took place. Quickly relaying the sickness of Nathanโ€™s mind and the physical assault of grabbing her wrist, the two guards remained holding Nathan firmly by his arms. Azir grew furious removing a dagger from a hidden sheath tucked beneath his cloak, holding it to his throat. Grabbing Nathanโ€™s hair, pulling his head back, he leered at Nathan; fierce gold eyes staring into his.

โ€œTake this dog to my suite.โ€ Azir ordered, โ€œIโ€™ll be there shortly.โ€

As the guards dragged him toward the Inn he threatened,

โ€œNo! Let me go! Iโ€™m a Lycynian and Iโ€™ll tear you apart! The Keeper wonโ€™t like this! Weโ€™re friendsโ€ฆshe and I!โ€

The guards scoffed, responding in their African tongue.

Village-folk watched as the new guests upon the island escorted the young man in rough jerks forward toward the Inn. Ravenstoneโ€™s guards were busy at the time, and werenโ€™t alerted to the situation.

Natash calmed Azir, telling him the situation would be rectified but being her husband was something she respected. They didnโ€™t allow such vile actions or words spoken in their tribe; rules set by Azirโ€ฆtheir King. He ruled justly, yet with a firm hand, not allowing such disrespect to go unpunished. Not without consequence but knew not to take it too far. He had no jurisdiction here.

โ€œMy beauty...I want you to go to the study and wait for me there.โ€ Azir said, kissing her forehead, โ€œI think itโ€™s time we spoke to the young Keeper about her residents and their actions.โ€

She nodded then turned; two other Jinn guards following directly behind their Queen.

Watching his wife disappear somewhere within the massive crowd, Azir sheathed his dagger then turned, returning to the Inn. Slamming his roomsโ€™ door, Azir removed his cloak laying it elegantly on the back of one of the chairs near the door. His gold eyes scanned the room then focused on a chair that sat in the middle of the room; two guards standing alongside the young man. Slowly taking steps toward Nathan, he had harsh words of warning before ordering his guards to give him what was deserved. He turned his back, listening to the sounds of groans as punches were inflicted upon the young Lycynian. Azir sat in the chair where his dark cloak hung; legs crossed, watching and waiting until he thought Nathan suffered enough. Observing Nathanโ€™s head hanging low, almost falling unconscious, Azir ordered a cease.

The guards stepped backwards, wiping their bloodied hands with fresh towels that were brought to the room that same morning. Azir stood, approaching Nathanโ€™s limp bulk slouching in the chair. Grabbing hold of his dyed blonde hair, he pulled his head back and staring at Nathanโ€™s swollen and bleeding face, Azir felt nothing for him. Releasing his grip feeling oil and greasy hair gel on the palm of his hand, Azir turned away, after instructing his kin to dispose of the Lycynian. They dragged his half conscious body outside and down the hall where guests at the Inn such as visiting vendors, gasped at the sight. The Jinn threw him into the street leaving him there to figure things out himself. His bloody face displayed black and blue bruises beginning to form on the skin, a cut lip, possibly broken ribs and a pounding headache. He was considered lucky the Jinn didnโ€™t utilize their full strength for if they had, he wouldnโ€™t have been alive. Azir stepped outside, watching his guards dust their hands. He nodded over his shoulder toward his kin, instructing them to withdraw, leaving Azir leering upon Nathan.

โ€œConsider this a warning....dog!โ€ Azir warned as he knelt down, โ€œfor next time, I wonโ€™t be so generous with your life or your so-called jewels. From what I can tellโ€ฆthe Keeper and your species arenโ€™t as friendly as you claim, so I donโ€™t think sheโ€™d show much concern.โ€ he spat then stood straight, glancing around then began his stroll through the village in strong poised strides; patrons and vendors stepping aside pausing their actions, taking in Azirโ€™s striking and commanding presence. He was a King and he projected that persona beautifully. He ignored stares and comments as he continued his way toward the manor with two guards following close behind; hands on the hilts of their Scimitars, watching the actions of astonished residents.

Nathan laid there moaning then began stammering to his feet. Caring individuals offered their assistance but he pushed them away, barking at them to leave him be. Making his way toward the hospital, people stared at him as he passed by mumbling under their breaths. They raised their hands then stepped away, shaking their head for they offered once, and wouldnโ€™t do so again.

Entering through the hospitalโ€™s front doors that glided open quickly, he collapsed; nurses rushing toward him. They escorted him to an empty room that was freshly cleaned as the scent of lemon and bleach lingered in the air. He fought off the helping hands but once injected with a sedative, his nerves and rage began calming down, allowing the nurses and Doctor Matthews to tend to his wounds. Beth specialized in the herbal remedies for the Lycynians so she assisted once she was called upon. Nathan laid there; eyes fluttering to stay open but the sedative fully took its effect. This wasnโ€™t the first time he wound up in the hospital with injuries but these were more intense and serious. The staff studied the impacts of the wounds, knowing they werenโ€™t inflicted by another Lycynian; definitely not given by a Wraith for they donโ€™t cease at severe beatings. They were baffled but left him to sleep and heal. Beth applied a topical ointment that would help with the healing process before applying the bandages. She shook her head in disappointment, knowing he was spending his life doing all the wrong things and that one day, itโ€™s going to catch up to him.

Natash sat anxiously in the waiting lounge outside the study, fumbling with her sash, while the four guards stood by the staircase. Hearing the front doors downstairs swing open and observing shadows coming up the stairs, they placed their hands on the hilts of their weapons. Catching a glimpse of Azir and two other guards coming up along the curved step, they removed their hands, stepping aside, allowing them to pass. Looking up, Natash examined Azirโ€™s stern demeanor.

โ€œAzir, my love...what happened?โ€ she implored softly, โ€œIs the Lycynian alive?โ€

โ€œWith restraint, his life remains.โ€ Azir replied, โ€œHave you spoken with the Keeper?โ€

โ€œNot yet. I was waiting here for you.โ€ she reached out her hands, placing them on his chest affectionately.

โ€œWell Iโ€™m here now, my dear. Letโ€™s speak with her.โ€ he placed his left arm around her waist and together, they approached the study door, hearing faint voices arguing inside.

โ€œSo thatโ€™s it!?โ€ Erik asked, sitting across from me at the desk.

โ€œYes.โ€ I answered, telling him about Molock and Azirโ€™s people, โ€œBut you left before I could explain any of it. Thinking the worst, Iโ€™m sure.โ€

He nodded, realizing that was his behavior but didnโ€™t dare admit it. Before I spoke my next words, Erik sat straight in his seat; head glancing over his shoulder toward the door, as if listening for something. He sensed magic lingering on the other side of the structure.

โ€œSomeoneโ€™s outside the door. Theyโ€™re not Wraith and definitely not Lycynian or human.โ€

I glanced at the clock, noticing the time.

โ€œItโ€™s probably Azir.โ€ I revealed as I stood walking toward the door. Opening it gently, I greeted, โ€œRight on time.โ€

Taking notice of Erikโ€™s presence, Azir wondered with a brief frown then inquired,

โ€œDid we interrupt?โ€

โ€œNot at all.โ€ Erik replied, โ€œWe were done.โ€ he sped toward the door, โ€œAs always.โ€

โ€œErikโ€ฆโ€ I groaned but he disappeared too quickly. I shook my head then continued, โ€œPlease come in.โ€ I stepped aside allowing Azir and his kin to pass; the guards strode so statuesque they looked like gods themselves. They truly were beautiful people.

Closing the door, Natash muttered bluntly,

โ€œHeโ€™s trouble that one. He will cause you much heartache and soon.โ€

โ€œExcuse me!?โ€ I questioned, studying her stunning and elegant persona.

โ€œApologies, dear girlโ€ she advised, โ€œIโ€™m a Seer or what you might call a Shaman of our tribe and I do have to say, Iโ€™m ever wrong. Perhaps, I tend to blurt things out before they run their course, but I thought you should know.โ€ she shrugged lightly.

โ€œIf I wanted my fortune told, I wouldโ€™ve gone elsewhere thank you.โ€ I snapped, biting my lower lip then continued hoping to ignore her comments about my foreseen future, โ€œBefore we begin, can I ask whatโ€™s bothering you? I sensed it the moment you came through that door, not to mention your thoughts are screaming all sorts of things in your language I canโ€™t begin to understand.โ€

โ€œWeโ€™ve never thought Demons could read our thoughts.โ€ Azir wondered curiously, โ€œInteresting.โ€

โ€œDo you know anything about Demons? Half-breeds or otherwise?โ€ I asked.

โ€œHonestly, no. Weโ€™ve never had the pleasure or means to engage with their kind. Regardless of those living here who have been around since this islandโ€™s creation, I never had the opportunity of a...whatโ€™s another phrase you might understand...a sit-down with them.โ€ he grinned elegantly.

He was beautiful. I donโ€™t mean in the ways of a romantic interest, but culturally beautiful. He sat with such poise and elegance, that I was left mesmerized. Natash too, looked like a true Queen sitting alongside her King with their loyal guards standing nearby.

โ€œWellโ€ฆโ€ I cleared my throat, โ€œperhaps you should have that sit-down. Youโ€™ll be quite surprised what you learn. You know, theyโ€™re more than welcome to sit.โ€ I glanced toward the door where the guards stood.

โ€œWe are content half-breed, thank you.โ€ one of them answered firmly.

โ€œIt is appreciated.โ€ another added, with a nod.

โ€œOkayโ€ฆโ€ I accepted their decline, โ€œnow, really...whatโ€™s troubling you? Wait, let me guess...that Redwood Tree?โ€

โ€œHim? No. A Lycynian? Yes.โ€ Azir groaned bluntly, then went on to explain the situation involving Nathan, as did Natash for Azir wasnโ€™t aware of words shared between them before Azir made his presence known, โ€œDo you allow such actions to take place here?โ€

I felt nauseous for I couldnโ€™t believe heโ€™d be that sick-minded to attempt such actions. Actually, wait...I could. He tried it with me before.

โ€œIโ€™m sorry that happened, and to you of all people. But unfortunatelyโ€ฆ.โ€ I shifted in my seat, โ€œthatโ€™s Nathan. Heโ€™s been hitting on me for the longest time and Iโ€™ve locked him away just as many times as Iโ€™ve done to that red haired Bigfoot Leonus Lancaster, but they never seem to learn. Natash...I deeply apologize. I wonโ€™t and canโ€™t say it wasnโ€™t intentional because when it comes to Nathan, every foul thing that spills from his mouth, are meant.โ€

โ€œThat filthy mutt hits women?โ€ Azir worried, pushing my other words aside, eyeing me up and down; looking for marks and bruises.

โ€œNo, my love. She didnโ€™t mean physically. Isnโ€™t that right?โ€ Natash affirmed quickly to settle the situation.

โ€œRight. What I meant was, verbally hitting on. You know...making inappropriate comments or advances. Trying to get me, or any other woman interested in him, and far worse things than what was said to Natash. Hence, hitting on.โ€ I hopefully clarified the meaning, โ€œAnd just between us here, your guards included, I agree with how you handled Nathan but you left him alive, though...right? Iโ€™d hate to have to explain that to his uncle, the blacksmith on the Isle. Everyone will think that I hired outsiders to harm him. Not a good scenario!โ€

โ€œI respect the Isleโ€™s rules for I helped Marxus set some of them into motion, butโ€ฆโ€ he leaned forward elegantly resting his elbows on his knees while keeping his back straight, โ€œif he were back in our country, he wouldnโ€™t have hands or his manhood. But yes, his life remains intact.โ€ he reassured me, โ€œNow, the young man that left. How much does he know about this place and your position in it?โ€ Azir continued, leaning back crossing his legs once more.

โ€œJust as much as I do, minus quite a few things, of course.โ€ I answered honestly, โ€œWhy?โ€

โ€œBecause there are things that only you need to hear, and I donโ€™t want prying ears, listening in on this conversation.โ€ he turned facing the door waving his right hand in an outer circular motion, creating a barrier where not even Wraith ears could penetrate to listen, โ€œWhat happened to Axeon, after Marxus departed this world?โ€ Azir continued.

โ€œYou...you know about Axeon?โ€ I cautiously shifted my place.

โ€œYes, of course. He was around when Marxus and I first met.โ€ Azir remembered, โ€œI recall that day as if it occurred moments ago. Heโ€™s such a magnificent creature. Very much like yourโ€ฆโ€ he glanced toward Abraxas laying near the fireplace with Zanz, โ€œdragon.โ€ he smiled.

โ€œYes he is.โ€ I was proud.

โ€œIt has been a long time, Azir and Natash Zuberi.โ€ Axeonโ€™s voice pushed its way into the Jinnโ€™s thoughts, and that of mine as well, โ€œA long time, indeed. Come to me. A visit is long overdue. I am where I have always been.โ€

โ€œIncredible. Itโ€™s been 420 years since weโ€™ve last seen him and yet, the connection feels brand new and untainted.โ€ Natash admired.

โ€œFour hundred and twenty years!? No sh*t!?โ€ I blurted out, catching the Jinn by surprise.

โ€œI beg your pardon!?โ€ Natash ordered, as she stood.

โ€œOh, God! Iโ€™m sorry. I didnโ€™t mean it like that. I was just...oh, f*ck me.โ€ I kept apologizing in a shameful manner, โ€œI didnโ€™t mean that in a literal sense. Itโ€™s an American expression. Iโ€™m sorry...โ€

โ€œMm-hmm...โ€ Natash understood with a nod, โ€œit caught us off guard, thatโ€™s all, child. Apology accepted and itโ€™s going to take quite some time to grow accustomed to your phrases.โ€

โ€œThereโ€™s a dictionary for that, Iโ€™m sure but thank you.โ€ I added humorously with a hint of respectful sarcasm. I walked around the desk and sifting through my bag beneath it, I retrieved a small box containing the Keeperโ€™s pendant, โ€œI donโ€™t always wear this.โ€ I continued then strolled toward the bookshelf, โ€œHow do you know about all of this?โ€ I studied his features.

โ€œMy kin and I helped Marxus create this place and the magic that protects these rooms. Infused with those of the Demons here, of course. You have nothing to fear. He sent for us before his passing, by the means of nature carrying his message.โ€

โ€œYeah, that sounds like Marxus but before we go in...name one item from the Room of Secrets.โ€

Azir shifted his weight, placing his right hands on the hilt of his massive Scimitar. He glanced around the room as if thinking then quickly answered,

โ€œThe Mirror of Time. It was the very first item to be placed in that room. Plus, thereโ€™s an iron door that has a special lock for that pendant you hold in your hands. Hence the second key.โ€ he looked down at me; head slightly tilted in an elegant manner, โ€œHave I passed?โ€

โ€œIโ€™ll never understand why magical beings speak in riddles or with such...pizazz!โ€ I teased, then pulled down on the book and as the mechanisms turned behind the walls, Azir humorously rubbed it in, naming five other items within the Room of Secrets.

Natash sat behind waiting in the study, while the six guards split; three outside the bookshelf and three inside the entrance. They took their duty seriously, never questioning orders given. I can tell from their mannerisms they were highly trained and conditioned, but not forced into their position. They fulfilled their duty out of love and respect for their King and Queen.

I instructed Abraxas to remain in the study to keep an eye on things and that he did, watching every movement Natash and their kin made. Zanz followed after me for if he were left alone, thereโ€™d be no one present that could stop him. It presented an uncomfortable environment and unknowing of the strength or capabilities of the small dragon, the Jinn respected my warnings and remained calm. Natash felt no need at the moment, to visit Axeon but sent her greetings.

Before venturing down to Axeonโ€™s cavern, Azir inquired if he could explore the Room of Secrets. Who was I to really object? Once the door opened, he walked around examining all the items placed on their shelves or tables, remembering when he and Marxus had placed most of them here, taking notice that newer items had been added. He smiled running his hands over closed chests and along the surface of the glass casings. Each of the items gave off a magical humming as we passed them...especially the highly polished Escrima sticks. Continuing around the room, he explained that his magic and that of his kin, not excluding the Demons, keeps the Isle preserved, revealing the mysterious unnatural fogsโ€™ origins. Itโ€™s a cloak and made as a one way mirror so to speak. When we look out upon the Irish Sea, thereโ€™s a cloudy veil but itโ€™s crystal clear, while as if someone is coming through it, you canโ€™t see your hand in front of your face or anything else for that matter. I smiled in admiration, loving to hear about magical endeavors and remembered how eerie it was coming to the Isle, seeing nothing but a thick blanket of fog all around.

I felt light-headed and slightly dizzy, revealing that the iron within the room does have its effect on me. Azir showed concern as he respectfully kept the admiration of the room short. He and I quickly scampered out of the room and descended the creaking metal stairs. Once at the bottom, I breathed deeply as he approached Axeonโ€™s door and opening the door, the Keeperโ€™s pendant fell into my hands before it could clash against the ground. Placing the pendant in my pocket, I was ready to reach for one of the torches but Azir whispered, holding out his right hand in opposition,

โ€œNo need for that.โ€ he cupped his hands together out before him and removing his left hand from the top, a bright green orb of swirling magic appeared; it hovered mid-air before leading the path ahead illuminating the descent down.

โ€œI love magic.โ€ I smiled.

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