𝒮ilence was what the residents in their rooms heard and venturing down the stairs standing in the lounge, their eyes searching for any more intruders, it was then they jumped in place for someone banged hard on the door. Holding their weapons, pots or pans, a medium crowd spread out across the lounge while Lady D and Katrina cautiously approached the window near the door but there was no one there.
“Mommy!” a young woman’s voice called out.
Lady D sighed in relief as she sheathed her athame quickly rushing to unlock the door and swinging it open, there stood her daughter covered in dirt, soot and blood but she didn’t care as she pulled her in for a tight embrace.
“Oh, thank you god…”she prayed, holding me tightly, “oh my god, are you alright?” she then pulled away, combing my hair out of my face.
“Yeah.” I smiled then peeked over her shoulder taking in the sight of frightened residents, “It’s alright, everyone...the threat for now, has passed!” I called out to them.
“What in the goddess’ name happened?” Katrina approached with Margarette and Belle standing behind her.
“Honestly?” I looked into her green eyes, “I don’t know.” I shrugged, “I don’t even know how they found us out here.”
“This is too close!” voices erupted from inside, “We’re not safe here anymore!”
“Alright, hush!” my mom turned to them sharply, “Hush!”
“But Lady D…” a man attempted to argue.
“I swear, Sir...if you don’t shut up, I’ll take that rolling pin…” she gestured at his weapon of choice, “and roll out whatever balls and dough you have between your legs!”
I wasn’t sure if the moment was appropriate for laughter, not after what I had just been through, but I couldn’t help myself; I stood in the doorway laughing so hard that tears escaped the corners of my tired eyes. I leaned against the door frame catching my breath. Even Katrina and her daughters chuckled.
“Whoa...oh my god…” I caught my breath tapping my chest, clearing my throat, “with that said, I need to get back to the clean up efforts and make sure Leonus isn’t trying to kill anyone else.”
“I’m coming with you.” my mom affirmed.
“Me too.” Katrina added.
“Us three!” Belle smiled.
“No...no. I don’t want you guys out here.” I objected.
“Sweetheart...we weren’t asking.” my mom stood by her choice.
“Okay...okay.” I gave up arguing with her, “But I don’t want any of you lifting or moving any of the heavy debris. There are barrels and construction wagons near the garage so please...just take it easy.”
“Fair enough.” Katrina agreed.
Men scampered to and from the garage where minutes later, they emerged pushing large wagons and barrels. Growing closer, the residents couldn’t believe a threat had come this far. Putting aside their fear, they gathered smaller debris and torn fabric from the scattered sails, avoiding the carrying of bodies. Shovels too were brought to scoop piles of ash and splinters. Walking around gathering smaller pieces of debris avoiding the pinching nerves of the cut on my leg, I glanced to my left catching a glimpse of a large cluster of fallen Ravens. Emptying my arms of wood planks, I slowly strolled over. Kneeling down with a faint squeak, I gently picked up one of their fragile feathered bodies. Gently stroking its sleek black feathers whispering words of sentiment, it vanished.
“What the…” I looked around, watching as the other corpses did the same as a strong breeze swept through the area.
Azir walked over standing behind me, commenting solemnly,
“Most, if not all, of these Ravens were spirits of the dead that once lived here, and offered to give their services in protecting Ravenstone, in their next incarnation. The vanishing is surprising, I know. It was one of the many things arranged between Marxus and I.”
“Really?” I stood, “Didn’t know that.”
“I’m surprised Marxus didn’t tell you.”
“For the last time, he didn’t tell me a lot of things. God...they were so beautiful.” I sniffed, blinking tears away.
“We’ll have to change that, for there are a lot of things yet to be revealed. And yes...they truly were, and fulfilled their destiny.” Azir proclaimed.
“Of course there are.” I complained then turned, standing alongside the Nubian Jinn, watching as Lycynians emerged from their dwelling and once finding out what had transpired, they offered their help as well. My eyes searched for Erik and when they landed on his 5’8 form, I excused myself and walked in his direction thinking of what to say but nothing came to mind other than, “Hey…”
He held onto a pile of splintered shards with gloved hands as he glanced at me side-eye but said nothing.
“So that’s how it’s going to be? Really?” I folded my arms.
“What do you want me to say?” Erik threw the shards hard into a nearby barrel, “Hmm?”
“I don’t expect you to say anything, really. Never mind.” I walked away approaching my mom.
“Everything alright?” she wondered.
“No. Simply put, Erik and I are done.” I continued walking away.
“Wait...what?” she dropped her armful of small debris into a pile that was being shoveled into a barrel, “Sweetheart, wait…”
“I don’t want to talk about it. I’m going to my room to shower then going to bed.” I left her standing there in disbelief for she wanted to know more but knew I’d tell her when I was ready.
Along the way, Nick and Caleb appeared alongside me upon my summons, listening to my instructions of gathering anything from the ships that might be of importance or could tell us how they found our location. They nodded then before Nick could disappear I asked if he could do me a favor and check in on Jon and Anthony at the hospital. He smiled, giving a quick nod then disappeared, tending to my plea. I bit my lower lip taking a seat on the grass because I didn’t quite make it to the dwelling before I began feeling the fatigue hit me. I knelt my elbows on my knees as I knelt forward placing my hands against my forehead.
“Yzavela…” a voice softly spoke my name.
Ugh, what!?” I raised my gaze; there stood Natash, “Sorry, I just...”
“It’s alright, dear girl.” she sat next to me, elegantly adjusting her tunic while crossing her legs to the side in a very feminine manner.
“Was there something...you needed, Natash?” I asked combing my hair back before stretching my legs outward crossing my feet.
“Me personally? No, but Azir would like to speak with you.” she revealed.
“About?” I complained.
“You’d have to speak to him, my dear.”
“Well, I’m not going anywhere…” I laid back; the grass feeling cool against my back and neck. Zanz and Abraxas laid close, feeling the tension of the events slowly pass. I petted Zanz’s soft fur and stroked Abraxas’ scales as he laid gently across my chest snuggling his head against my chin.
Natash frowned then stood, dusting grass and dirt from her clothes then strolled away, searching for her husband that then ventured in my direction once she located him. He took a seat, uncaring of the grass staining the fabric of his African tunic and giving me a side-eyed expression, he remained silent watching as I pushed myself into a sitting position sliding Abraxas onto the grass.
“Yes?” I asked, turning my head to him.
“Nothing.” he slowly shrugged, “I was just wondering what your next move might be after this?”
“Really? You’re asking me this now?”
“And why not?” Azir questioned turning slightly in place.
“Because...I don’t know...I’m still processing everything that just happened!” I argued, gesturing at the scene before us; figures passing by carrying debris or piling larger pieces into piles near the gates.
“I understand, I do.” Azir murmured.
“But there’s more you want to say, I can sense it so go on...spit it out.” I urged.
“Will do no such…” he attempted to argue then realized the phrase was American slang, “I was curious yes, in knowing what your next move is after this!”
Studying his intense features and clenching jaw, I broke my gaze thinking about what actions to take next. Pulling blades of grass from their place and playing the soft pieces between my fingers, I answered,
“First thing?” I looked at the Jinn, “First thing I’d do is finish gathering the rubble and pile it outside the gates to burn because I want it off these grounds. During that process, I’ll have the guards who are tech savvy, search to see if we can use anything that the ships carried...maybe gadgets or plans that could give us intel on Lord Drakuul.”
“And the bodies?” Azir questioned.
“Hmm. Well, the Boar-wolves are gone because we could always feed them.” I attempted to make a joke but then realized how morbid that sounded and apologized, “Sorry. That was gross.”
“Gross, indeed.” Azir raised his right eyebrow.
“The bodies? The bodies.” I repeated myself in two different tones then continued, “We could pile them outside near the rubble and have them burn as well.” I straightened my posture, “But first, I think we should somehow use them to send Drakuul and this...General Matrx a message.”
“What sort of message?” Azir folded his arms.
“What’s with the rush of questions?” I complained, “Azir, I’m tired as is everyone else! I want to go home and soak in a nice long hot bubble bath!”
“Little One…” Azir pushed himself to his knees, “I’m sure during your teachings wherever they may have come from, that a warrior must be prepared for anything at any time, from anyone and anywhere. That includes making decisions on the spot, even if they might be bold or spur of the moment. Go with your gut, for it never lies then take it from there. I’ve seen and done a lot, Yzavela...believe me so there’s nothing you can say that will shock me. Not in the slightest. So...what do you have in mind for the bodies? Really.”
He wanted my answer? Okay.
“It’ll be too much to carry and too many of them, but send the heads back to their Lord and General. Warrior-to-warrior sort of code.” I revealed bluntly and honestly, “But if we’re going to do that, I certainly don’t have the stomach to perform such actions and I won’t ask any of my friends or guards to do such things, so there goes that.”
“As I’ve said, I’ve seen and done many things, so if you ask it of me, I’ll do it.” Azir approved.
“Really? Just like that?” I pondered.
“Not just like that no, but it’ll be done.” he pushed himself to his feet then reached out his hands, helping me to mine.
“Alright. Just...let me know when it’s done and we’ll take it from there.” I advised.
“Did I hear you right?” Erik’s voice interrupted as he stood behind Azir and I.
“Excuse me...hello to you too!” I snapped.
“I’ll leave you two be and look for Natash to discuss the details of what we’ve discussed.” Azir added.
“Go ahead...say it, Azir. You’re going to talk to Natash about cutting off the heads of these men!” Erik argued, but Azir ignored his tone as he walked away.
“That was rude. Again.” I implored bluntly, “What the f*ck is your problem!?”
“Since when do you agree with cutting off mens bloody heads?” he argued. “What’s happened to you!”
“I don’t agree with it, but it’s the only logical thing to do to let our enemy know that we know, he knows about us.”
Erik tilted his head confused, as did I as a matter of fact.
“You know what I mean!” I rasped.
“Right, I got it but it just…” Erik placed his hands on his hips, “doesn’t sound like you. You’re becoming one of the men, so it seems, in your way of thinking.”
“Excuse me? Becoming one of the men? In what f*cking universe is that in any way true!?” I swore firmly, pushing him for answers.
“Never mind, that came out wrong. Sorry.” he cowered, giving up on the conversation.
“We’re warriors, Erik...we’re warriors and you of all people should know that once you pick up the sword there’s no turning back and that there are times when you have to think like one. Hiromi would understand. And speaking of, what the hell happened between the two of you?”
“That’s between him and I. Not you and me. Got it?” Erik remarked.
“Got it!” I held back further words, staring into his gray eyes I once found so alluring but not anymore, “Why don’t you go help the others.”
“Sure and why don’t you tend to your mutt? I’m sure he needs your special touch. Wouldn’t be the first time.” he exaggerated the relationship between Anthony and I.
“Erik…” I lectured firmly and loudly but luckily no one was close enough to hear, “the next time you see me, do me a favor and say nothing because the next words that come out of your mouth, are going to be the last words you ever speak!”
He stared into the young womans’ brown eyes that flickered with a dancing flame in their center. Studying her face and features, he kept his words locked away and silenced his loud thoughts. Nodding, he backed away then turned his back returning to the piles of debris. He began dragging pieces of burnt wood, metal, the iron chains and remnants of the sails, leaving the young woman in disbelief.
“Unbelievable.” I shook my head, making way toward the dwellings when along the way, I received a call. Removing it from my pocket staring at its cracked screen, there was Jon’s face waiting for me to answer the call, “Hey, everything alright?”
“Yeah. Just wanted to let you know. And there’s also someone here that wants to speak with you.” Jon hinted handing his phone to another figure; there was Anthony’s face in Jon’s place, “Hi.” he smiled, “How’s everything up there?”
“Oh, you know...Leonus this, Erik that.” I shrugged, “Drama, drama, drama. How are you? How’s your shoulder?”
“Healing.” he revealed, giving a shrug of the one shoulder, “Sorry I’m not there to help.”
“You have...you have nothing to be sorry for. You helped enough for one night.” I hoped I offered comfort in my words, “And in more ways than one.”
“That’s for another time when neither of us are in the hospital.” I teased.
“Anthony…” Thomas’ voice called from the background of the call.
“You should go.” I urged, “Get some sleep and plenty of rest. Keeper’s orders.”
“Si. Goodnight, Little Yza.” he smiled.
“Goodnight, Musketeer.” I returned the smile then watched as he returned the phone to Jon; the images flashing around quickly before Jon’s face steadily appeared, “Clean-up efforts are starting up here so once you’re done there, go home and be with your family. Don’t worry about things up here, alright?”
“Are you sure?” Jon begged.
“Yes, Jonathan...I’m sure. Look for yourself.” I tapped an app on the screen changing face-time to landscape mode; I watched as the images I saw with my eyes appeared on the screen and then I knew Jon observed them for himself because I heard his ooo’s and gasps, “Okay? Goodnight.”
“Goodnight.” he fretted before the call ended.
Standing there continuing to watch the clean-up efforts, it was then I felt an uneasiness linger in the back of my mind.
“Axeon…” the word escaped my lips and it was then I realized how he must have felt during the events that transpired. Feeling fatigue hitting me strongly, I ignored it as I ventured toward the manor, up stairs to the study then down to Axeon’s cavern. But descending the rock steps of the hidden stairs, watching as they swirled around ahead of me made me dizzy. I paused, taking in a deep breathing catching the scent of rock and damp earth then continued my descent. Entering the cavern, there Axeon stood pacing slowly as his wings hung limp down by his side, “Axeon?”my voice broke his pacing.
“What has happened and why was I not summoned?” the blue dragon objected verbally, “Why was I not called upon?”
“Calm down, please…” I urged, “please.” I reached out my hands wanting to pet his snout.
Lowering his head above the young woman, he allowed her gentle touch upon his snout.
“The reason I didn’t call on you, is because lately I’ve sensed a weakness in you or more like...in the energy you possess. I sensed it when you and Azir were speaking this evening so I’m the one who should be asking you, if you’re alright?” I worried.
“It is true, dear child.” his voice uttered telepathically as he laid elegantly before me, “I am fatigued of late, and perhaps it was wise that you did not summon me tonight. However, I would have appreciated receiving word of the events. I am the true magic that holds this place together.”
“Axeon, it happened way too fast that not even Azir knew what to do.” I recalled, “Besides, not that I’m replacing you because I would never do such a thing, but Abraxas handled things perfectly. He got a little carried away, but he did good.” I glanced in his direction as he perched on a large boulder nearby.
“You are fortunate to have such a Zyphyn in your company but I must ask you to never leave me unaware of what takes place upon this Isle. It was my sworn duty to protect it and protect I will until I am no longer required to do so.”
“I understand and again Axeon, I’m sorry.” I apologized, “You have to know that I’m not replacing you with Abraxas because that could never happen. After all, you’re one of the biggest treasures here that I’m fortunate enough to protect.”
Axeon seemed content with my words, knowing I meant every word.
“Your words are sincere, dear one...I know that.” he bowed his head, “I am pleased to see you are unharmed but I must ask you now to leave for I must think about actions to take that will shape not only my future, but that of the Isle’s as well. Go now, child…” he gently nudged me backwards then turned away, wrapping his wings around his body as he laid his head down. His long tail curled around his body hiding itself beneath one of his wings.
I respectfully nodded as I backed away heading toward the stairs but I worried for Axeon. Glancing back, I hoped his weakness didn’t mean he was deciding to leave everything behind unprotected.
“Abraxas, Zanz...let’s go.” I called for them; their forms swept past me up the stairs quickly.
Molock, invisible to all, strolled through the pile of burnt corpses, removing souls from the fallen soldiers, placing them in a small Rubix-cube sized ornate box with intricate carvings (think the Hellraiser box but with more grandeur detailing) he carried attached on his elaborate belt. Pleased that he gathered another batch of new souls, he smiled and standing among the piles of debris, he suddenly heard a voice speak behind him,
“What are you doing here, demon!?”
Molock grinned then turned to observe the Nubian Jinn standing a few feet away with his hand placed on the hilt of his sheathed Scimitar.
“Hello, diapers…” Molock teased, “it’s been a long time. You were what…this tall…” he held out his right hand measuring three feet in height, “last time we met?”
“Fortunate enough for me, I don’t remember you.” Azir answered smugly, “Now answer me, demon. What are you doing here!? Were you involved in all this chaos?!”
“I don’t answer to you, diapers and I’m here...to collect souls of the dead. It’s my duty. I’m Death, after all. And I was invited by the lovely Yzavela herself.” Molock revealed.
“You tricked her into this access because the magic protecting this island would never allow an unwanted being on its shores. Surely you know that, if you’re so wise!” Azir snapped.
“Well…” Molock shrugged, “she doesn’t mind having me around and I haven’t hurt anyone. I have no reason. Unless I have to.” he flashed a sinister grin. “Besides...I can go anywhere and everywhere that I choose!”
“Perhaps, but not here! I’m warning you, demon. If you harm her or have intentions to do so, I’ll…”
“You’ll what!?” Molock warned, “Banish me!?” he scoffed, “You don’t have the magic to perform that spell, not even with your band of merry kin that accompanied you here, so…if I were you Azir Jaheem Zuberi…I’d keep your threats to yourself because clearly, you’ve forgotten that I...predate all Jinn bloodlines, even yours. Remember that.” then he heard his Master’s call, “I have to go, but I promise that you’ll be seeing a lot more of me, I guarantee it.” he bowed smugly then as he straightened his posture adjusting a Scimitar that hung off his belt, he disappeared in a swirling red flame; the scent of sulfur was left behind. Azir removed his hand from the hilt of his own weapon, frowning in worry of the Sumerian’s intentions. He knew he was right though; predating all magic and Jinn races. Nothing or no one can banish an ancient of such power except for the Book of Solomon of which is kept and buried where NO ONE could ever find it. Hidden in a secret place, containing all magic both good and evil, that only he and Marxus knew. With his left hand, he fiddled with his flecked goatee before turning away, hearing Natash call out his name.
Later that morning; 2:30am, I laid in my bed tossing and turning, thinking about everything that occurred. As I turned over with Zanz spread across my feet and Abraxas next to me; head resting on my right shoulder, I suddenly heard faint knocks tapping against my door attracting their attention. I carefully sat up, leaving them laid on my bed. Standing in front of my door, I peeked through the peephole door but saw no one out in the hall. Retrieving a dagger that laid on the table beside my bed, I cautiously opened the door and immediately glancing down, there laid a red rose with a note attached with a red ribbon wrapped around its thornless stem. I scanned the hall up and down to my left and right but there were no clues as to who could have left it.
I quickly picked it up then held it close to my nose, taking in its fresh scent knowing it must have come from the greenhouse where roses were abundant. Closing the door and laying my dagger back in its place on the table, I sat on the bed then read the note and all it said was:
“ A rose for a rose, little Yza…
I smiled for there was no one else on the island that called me that. I took in its scent once more then scampered into the bathroom searching for a tall enough cup to place it in and once filled with water, I placed the rose on the fireplace mantle in sight. Laying back in bed, I stared at the rose making decisions, seeing their possible outcomes run through my mind and feeling the ache of a headache creeping up on me, I turned out the light then propped myself up with my pillow that seemed too fluffy. Once punching the cotton around attempting to flatten it slightly (I’m not too keen on thick fluffy pillows) I laid my head down and closed my eyes.
“Cute, Anthony...” I muttered, “very cute.”