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

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๐“’๐“ฑ๐“ช๐“น๐“ฝ๐“ฎ๐“ป 35

๐’ฏhe ships had arrived where they were instructed to venture, but within the fog that had mysteriously engulfed their sky crafts, it swirled and inspected every man on board, of whom sensed an uneasiness as if the fog was alive. But it wasnโ€™t necessarily the fog that had stopped them from venturing forward; there was a block or barrier that bounced against the ships pushing them backwards in defense.

The Captain of this unit, Delano-Dakari ordered the ships in a gruff raspy English voice, to turn lengthwise along the barrier and stepping upon the ledge, he wrapped rope around his wrist allowing his leeway to reach out his other hand. Stretching out, his hand plunged through the fog that seemed to inspect the intrusion but then there it was; the man felt a heaviness in the air and when running his hands along the invisible surface, it shimmered where he ran his hand. The crew members on board were human and Shayd and those who were Shayds, sensed the level of magic that cloaked something of great importance. Their eyes watched as sigils and other magical residue lingered before fading from the mansโ€™ touch.

โ€œCaptain, Sirโ€ฆโ€ one of the Shayds, an Indian named Basil, stepped forward.

Delano-Dakari himself was a Shayd, and pulling himself back onto the ledge, he stepped off quickly; his feet landing hard on the shipโ€™s deck. Unwrapping his wrist and throwing the rope back to its place, he studied the men before him on this ship, then glanced toward the other ships that hovered close.

โ€œWhat is it, Captain?โ€ Eustace, another soldier asked in an Irish voice.

โ€œMagicโ€ฆโ€ Delano-Dakari answered bluntly as he rubbed his hands together, feeling a tingling running through the palm that touched the barrier, โ€œand itโ€™s bloody strong stuff too. Stronger than anything Iโ€™ve ever sensed or felt.โ€

โ€œWhat do we do now, Captain?โ€ a third English soldier questioned; his name was Faron, โ€œIf thereโ€™s a barrier in this goddamn fog, whatโ€™s our next move?โ€

โ€œWeโ€™re barking mad coming here, Sir.โ€ Jack, a bold-outspoken young American argued, โ€œThis fog and the magic isnโ€™t natural...itโ€™s not natural.โ€

โ€œItโ€™s just bloody fog!โ€ Delano-Daraki barked loudly enough for the other ships to hear, โ€œIt canโ€™t hurt you, it canโ€™t hurt any of you, so quit acting like a batch of twats and pull your balls together or so help meโ€ฆโ€ he approached Jack, โ€œIโ€™ll throw you overboard and see what the fog does with you, do you understand?โ€

โ€œYes, Sirโ€ฆโ€ Jack cleared his throat, keeping his eye contact on his Captainsโ€™ boots.

โ€œGood!โ€ Delano-Dakari slapped the young mansโ€™ shoulder then walked around him, approaching the helm (steering wheel) where their radio and radar dashboard began glitching, giving off strange readings that didnโ€™t make sense. The Captain frowned as he roughly tapped the screens then huffed, reaching for the radio that connected to the other ships, โ€œIf your equipment is going bonkers like ours, then Iโ€™m guessing weโ€™re in the right place. Now, General Matrx gave us our orders to search these coordinates by whatever means necessary and thatโ€™s what weโ€™re going to do!โ€

โ€œBut what about the barrier, Sir?โ€ a voice answered.

Suddenly, before the Captain or any of the crew members aboard the ships could say a word, the fog surrounding them began swirling backwards as if being sucked away; they watched as it thinned out revealing structures along the shoreline of a massive island.

โ€œCaptain...the barrier!โ€ Basil pointed ahead, โ€œLook! Itโ€™s...itโ€™sโ€ฆโ€

โ€œMoving!?โ€ Eustace added curiously.

Their eyes watched as the constant shimmer continued from the abrasion of the ships bouncing off its surface before an opening began parting down the center as if it melted away.

โ€œAlright...one of you stay here while the rest of us will move forward!โ€ Delano-Dakari ordered, โ€œForward now, before it closes!โ€ he activated the steam engine and spinning the wheel, the rutters turned the ships angling through the opening that greeted them in an eerie sort of welcoming., โ€œKeep your eyes everywhere!โ€ the Captain ordered.

Three of the ships sailed slowly above the rooftops that from their point-of-view appeared as old structures and shacks belonging to possible first settlers, while the lingering ship lowered their anchor; they listened as the chains rattled before the anchorโ€™s weight splashed into water somewhere hidden below the hull of their ship. Their search lights barely could be seen below through the fog that continued lingering as if it followed the aircrafts.

Sailing deeper into the fog and into unknown territory, the shipsโ€™ radios and radars officially failed as their solar powered batteries were completely drained. The Captain frowned as he continued tapping on the screen rougher than expected then focused his gaze forward where nothing but fog lingered in place; the two ships following suit shone their lights below as structures continued to appear before fading within the fog. Delano-Dakari glanced at the sky watching as the Shadowed Ones slowly slithered through the air above them as they faded in and out, releasing low-eerie screeches.

โ€œShadowed Onesโ€ฆโ€ the Captainโ€™s voice shouted, โ€œscout the area ahead and try not to get yourselves destroyed like the others, yeah!? Separate if you have to!โ€

The horde swarmed low above the heads of men and Shayd on the three ships wanting to feed on their energy but followed the strict orders of the General who had released them, but that didnโ€™t mean they couldnโ€™t harass or taunt the crew. They released loud screams before soaring back into the air disappearing into the fog ahead.

โ€œF*cking creaturesโ€ฆโ€ Delano-Dakari complained.

โ€œThere!โ€ Jack pointed out toward the distance, โ€œWhatโ€™s that there!?โ€ he referred to a black mass that peeked in and out between breaks in the fog; a mass that stretched across the landscape from their point-of-view.

โ€œKeep a lookout!โ€ the Captain ordered.

โ€œYes, Sir!โ€ voices all answered in various tones.

Approaching closer, heads veered over the rails of the ship trying to study the ground below where some eyes took notice of old ruins and shacks that once looked like homes; even a cluster of rocks in the distance that appeared to resemble a stonehenge of some sort. Expressions of confusion were shared among the men but they quickly returned to their positions on board. As the shipโ€™s weight creaked and moaned with the sound of steam spitting from their tailpipes releasing unwanted pressure, the masts swayed slightly from a strong breeze that swept across the island.

โ€œHalt!โ€ Delano-Dakari shouted, โ€œHalt!โ€ he spun the wheel which turned the ship rather quickly; the other two ships followed the maneuver but as their hulls turned, they seemed to have scraped along the black mass creating a loud shriek as if nails scratched on a chalkboard, โ€œBloody hellโ€ฆlooks like weโ€™ve hit a wall! Literally!โ€ the Captain muttered once leveling out the ship as it tilted from the impact and once the ship was stable and steady, he locked the wheel in place, โ€œAlright men, lower your anchors!โ€ he ordered. โ€œWeโ€™re going down!โ€

The four airships carried forty men each; both human and Shayd alike, resulting in a 160 manned invasion party. Linking the ship railings together by massive hooks, extensive bridges were connected between the three allowing accessibility to and from each ship. Crew members that tended to the engines, placed thick gloves on their rough hands and began lowering the iron anchors by turning massive turn-wheels that needed two men to work them. And thatโ€™s for each anchor per-ship. The loud metallic echo and the dragging clank of heavy chains was unsettling as they slipped from their cargo holds. The crew members watched as the chains lowered into the fog and they listened as they made impact against what sounded like metal gates, trees and against the black mass.

โ€œCaptain, Sirโ€ฆโ€ Faron approached the man.

โ€œWhat is it soldier?โ€ he answered gruffly.

โ€œWhat is this place?โ€ the young man wondered.

โ€œIt doesnโ€™t matter. Weโ€™re here, weโ€™re going to inspect it and report anything we find. Follow your orders, soldier!โ€ Delano-Dakari nodded then tapped the young mansโ€™ shoulder before turning away to retrieve his weapons, masks and gloves in preparation for their descent.

Men swung the straps of futuristic rifles over their shoulders or across their chests, then removed large coils of rope from chests stacked near the cargo bay and pulling their weight toward the rails of the ships, they attached massive hooks onto the metal railing then threw the coils overboard. Heads veered over the edge watching as the ropes and anchors disappeared into the thickness of the fog.

โ€œLetโ€™s get moving!โ€ Delano-Dakari ordered as he swung his legs over, grabbing onto the rope for support.

Between the three ships hovering above the island, there were 120 soldiers total, excluding the fourth ship anchored at the harbor. The Captain ordered that 12 men (4 per ship) stay behind and keep the engines running while 108 men leapt overboard. The fourth ship that stayed behind, kept their crew intact. The invaders began their descent down the rope holding onto knots every few feet for stability and better grip. The men that remained behind, veered their heads over the rails of the ships, watching as their comrades disappeared into the fog. Once their feet planted on the ground, the air felt thick and heavy as they breathed, taking in the air that had a lingering musty scent of old stone, wood and wet Earth.

โ€œFlashlights!โ€ Delano-Dakari ordered as he removed one from his pocket, attaching it to the barrel of his rifle he quickly slung off his shoulder. Once the small militia had their flashlights in place; their beams flashing around, the Captain ordered loudly, โ€œForward!โ€ he gestured his right hand forward in a military signal and forward they moved, clustered together.

They walked for what felt like an eternity when Jack, the cocky American, pointed out his observations of his surroundings,

โ€œHey, look at the ground!โ€ he shone his flashlight toward his feet, โ€œIs that...cobblestone?โ€

โ€œWhat the f*ck is this place!?โ€ Faron questioned.

โ€œI donโ€™t know, but I donโ€™t like this...I donโ€™t like this at all!โ€ Eustace added.

โ€œKeep your eyes forward!โ€ their Captain barked, โ€œWe are in the right place, butโ€ฆโ€ he felt the same uneasiness as his crew.

The men continued forward, following the cobblestone that lay scattered in patches here and there but kept its shape of a road until they approached a large mass that eerily awaited them as their eyes caught glimpses of it in between spaces through the fog. Once they approached closer, some of the men placed their hands on the black mass, feeling its bumpy but glass-like slate surface. The Shayds present felt the magic that ran through the slate, removing their hands feeling a much more powerful magic than that of the barrier that allowed them access.

โ€œThis isnโ€™t like any rock Iโ€™ve ever seen!โ€ Basil complained, โ€œCaptain, Sir...we should get back to the ships.โ€

Delano-Dakari turned the soldier, grabbing the front of his military vest. Pulling him close he studied the mansโ€™ face then pushed him backwards arguing roughly,

โ€œYou want to go back, then go back and if anyone else cares to join him, do it now!โ€ he frowned then turned, continuing forward and although his form disappeared into the fog, the men that swore to follow him, reluctantly did so. Even Basil who would kick himself in the a** later for ignoring his gut feeling that something wasnโ€™t natural about any of this.

They followed the slate giving them some guidance until they arrived at what looked to be an iron gate or structure laying nearby. Waving the fog away as much as they can and shining their flashlights at the iron mass, their eyes took notice it was remnants of an iron gate that must have been attached to the black slate wall for chunks were attached to the iron and steel hinges. The men frowned when suddenly clattering behind their backs, the sound of chains rattled loudly. Gathering closer together in a protective maneuver, they aimed their flashlights and rifles forward, waiting and watching but nothing emerged; only the sound of chains continued.

โ€œCan they see us?โ€ Sarah wondered as three massive ships hovered near the wall.

โ€œAzirโ€™s handling that part, so no...I donโ€™t think so.โ€ I answered, reassuring her.

โ€œOh....โ€ she clenched onto her bow tightly.

Sarah, Yzavela...these are for you.โ€ Derek approached the young women, handing us night-vision goggles, โ€œYour eyes might be good, sure but theyโ€™re not good enough to see the grounds at night when itโ€™s lights out.โ€ he referred to Azir dimming the islandโ€™s lamps.

โ€œThank you, Derek but...these arenโ€™t necessary.โ€ I juggled their light weight in my hand.

โ€œWhy not?โ€ Jon questioned.

โ€œLong story short, the fog is like a mirror. We can see out with everything here, just the way it is, but for themโ€ฆโ€ I gestured toward the ships hovering above our heads, โ€œall they see is the menacing fog that will only break until Azir thinks itโ€™s time to fade it out. These bastards wonโ€™t see a damn thing until I think itโ€™s time for them to.โ€ I hinted, โ€œSo thank you, Derek.โ€

โ€œWhoa...cool.โ€ Jon smiled.

โ€œWell, thenโ€ฆโ€ Sarah reached out, returning the goggles to Derek.

โ€œNah. Keep โ€™em. Just in case magic fails.โ€ Derek grinned, pushing her hand back against her small form.

She smiled, tucking them in her pocket.

Those standing on the wall, watching as the ships lowered large anchors with massive iron anchors of which crashed against the outer rock while one of them landed on the walkway of the wall; Wraith and Shayd guards avoided the iron and swaying motion of the chain.

The Jinn frowned then turned their focus toward the night sky for there they were; the eerie translucent Shadowed Ones that hovered in slow movements before lunging downward sensing energy of life. They released their screech-like screams as they swarmed above the heads of the Isleโ€™s guards and ancient Jinn. Azir and his kin stretched out their hands placing a barrier between the creatures, guards and themselves but from tales the guards told about their break through the first time around when Marxus had defeated them, they knew the barrier wouldnโ€™t keep them out for long but long enough to see things through.

Once watching as the invaders descended the ropes they threw overboard, Caleb and Wyatt sped toward the wheel that opened the outer gate, turning it slowly that created a loud rattling sound that even those on the ground below could hear.

โ€œHow do you think this is going to go?โ€ Caleb wondered.

โ€œHow do you think?โ€ Wyatt tapped the Wraithโ€™s shoulder before waving his hands toward the Keeper who stood among her warriors.

Heads peaked over the wallsโ€™ ledge watching as the group of at least 120 soldiers, followed the wallsโ€™ length toward the outer gate. The guards grew anxious in worry and anticipation for a fight, not that engaging in a fight is something to cherish.

โ€œIs she ready?โ€ Azir whispered toward Wyattโ€™s direction, awaiting the young half-breedโ€™s orders to thin out the fog.

Wyatt glanced over the wall behind him and reached out telepathically,

โ€œAizr wants to know if youโ€™re ready to thin out the fog?โ€

I heard his words in my mind then glancing around at those around me, I answered,

โ€œYes. Do it nowโ€ฆโ€ I nodded, knowing he could see my petite form among taller warriors.

โ€œGo ahead.โ€ Wyatt nodded in the Jinnโ€™s direction.

The Nubian Jinn nodded then he and his kin stood near the wallsโ€™ ledge in a circular formation; their golden eyes closing in unison. Holding their hands out to either side of their forms, their palms began glowing faintly in a low green light as did the tattoos. Putting their hands together in front of them in a prayer-like gesture, the guards upon the wall watched as an energy grew between their hands. The Demons felt the magic tickle their spine and the Wraiths felt the hair on the back of their necks and arms stand on end. The Jinn then opened their eyes as the energy engulfed each of them and when lowering their hands holding out their arms, they each released a blast of energy like an explosion that sent their magic in a circular range outward in a series of small spurts then finally ended the act in a larger release that, from the invadersโ€™ point-of-view, disintegrated the fog. The guards stood back as the energy gave off a strong force, but they could hear the sound of the magic buzzing like electricity running through their power lines.

โ€œWhatโ€™s he doing?โ€ Derek questioned, watching as lights flashed upon the wall, โ€œTheyโ€™re going to see us!โ€

โ€œNo, theyโ€™re not! I told you!โ€ I argued, โ€œNot unless we want them to.โ€

โ€œI donโ€™t like this.โ€ Erik complained, folding his arms.

โ€œThen go home!โ€ I snapped, turning to him as he leaned against the tree.

โ€œWhatโ€™s that? Whatโ€™s happening!?โ€ Faron questioned, watching as the fog seemed to disintegrate before their eyes, allowing a clear path ahead as if it were an invitation to enter; flashes of light appeared above their heads but they dismissed the action, thinking maybe it may have been the men still aboard the ships.

โ€œKeep moving!โ€ Delano-Dakari barked, knowing there was no other option to see this through.

Entering the tunnel leading through the slate wall, they marched in slow quiet steps, flashing their light against the wall that was smooth and carved out but as they ventured forward deeper into unknown territory, their flashlight began flashing violently before their batteries drained completely. Tapping them roughly against their hands, they wouldnโ€™t operate. Nothing but blackness surrounded them except for the eerie light that lingered at the end of the tunnel.

โ€œReady?โ€ I studied the faces of the eager warriors standing before me; their hands gripping their weapons tightly.

โ€œSi.โ€ Anthony grinned.

Zanz released low growls, wanting to unleash his built up hellhound energy and rage. I knelt down scratching the fur between his ears then nudged his nose with mine then stood.

โ€œGood. Letโ€™s have a little fun, shall we?โ€ Derek taunted.

โ€œThought youโ€™d never ask.โ€ Jon shifted in place; dagger held in each hand.

I smiled as our group began our approach toward the invaders, for they were beginning to get too close for comfort, regardless of the Isleโ€™s mirrored trickery.

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