𝑅unning through the thick snow down the lighted path in the woods, I finally arrived at Shung-Lee’s home.
“Shung-Lee!” I shouted, knocking on his door and receiving no answer, I ran around out back, “Shung-Lee!?” I attempted peeking through the dirty windows but seeing he wasn’t present, I grabbed a pad and paper he left on a table set outside, and wrote:
Thank you for everything you’ve taught me. Stay safe here. I’ll always remember your teachings and kindness. Come to Ravenstone if you ever need anything. All you have to do is travel to Heysham Port and tell them you want passage to the Isle of Castillion. Give them my name and they’ll know you were sent there.
Quickly folding the letter, I slid it under his back door. Backing away, I glanced around once more remembering my training then looked down at my watch.
“Sh*t!” I cursed then turned running back toward the bus.
Shung-Lee knelt down picking up the letter. He stood gazing out the window, watching as I ran down the path disappearing from sight. Suddenly, he changed into his real appearance; Molock, with mid-back black hair, red eyes, strange symbols tattooed on the right side of his handsomely carved face dressed in clothing of ancient attire hugging his tall Herculean 6’4 godly frame.
“Very well, my lovely.You did wonderfully back there.You’ll do just fine’’ he stated with perfect diction; elegant with a sinister undertone, “And thank you for the invite. I shall…pay you a visit indeed. You truly are a lovely remarkable young lady.” he smiled and chuckled then turned away disappearing in a burst of red flame, causing the note to float to the ground burning to ash.
The cottage resumed its natural appearance; a rundown and dilapidated shed.
Running back just in time, I watched and listened as the buses’ wheels crushed the snow beneath their weight. As it began driving forward, I looked down at Zanz ordering him to quickly catch up, as I could hear my mom’s voice arguing with the driver,
He barked as he ran ahead chasing after the bus with me not too far behind. The bus stopped as I jumped onto the bus with doors closing immediately after. The driver made sure I was safely secure in my seat then stepped his foot hard on the gas reassuring me that he wouldn’t have left without me. Breathing heavily, I leaned my head back against the seat, guzzling down a bottle of water which my mom tossed over to me. Coming to Ireland, though beautiful and scenic, was another experience my mom and I will never forget but we now know why we were meant to come here. It was something Marxus obviously felt no need to participate in.
Arriving at the harbor, we waited in the visitor’s terminal overnight, bundled in heavy coats and blankets, due to the heating system blown out from the heavy snowfall and storm. Fireplaces were lit, but didn’t offer much comfort. The overnight delay was caused by the heavy ice build up across the waters, in which we had to wait for the barges to come and break it. That night, I contacted Ravenstone’s Port and Village’s (RP&V) harbormaster, informing them of our return while requesting one of Ravenstone’s ferries. I revealed the ice would be broken apart in the morning and they accepted the warning. The harbormaster offered his greetings in relief that the Keeper had made contact; even if it involved transportation.
Morning finally arrived; the sun rose above the countryside and harbor, warming the area and melting the snow and ice. Ravenstone’s ferry had arrived and once boarded we traveled across the rough half frozen sea. Watching the chunks of ice roll by, I listened to my music as I stroked Abraxas’ scales with thoughts of everything that had happened. Suddenly, I felt a hand rest on my shoulder and raising my gaze, there stood Katrina; the most unlikely person I expected. I removed my ear-buds.
“Um, hello.” I smiled.
“I wanted to thank you.” she returned the smile as she took a seat across from me.
“For what?” I wondered.
“For helping everyone get to safety away from those horrible people.”
“Well, I wouldn’t have had to do that if only all of you knew what they practiced. Surely, you had to have known?” I protested.
“Of course not!” her voice raised, “For you to insinuate such a thing is an insult.” she became offended.
“Well, I don’t mean to offend you but you’re pretty f*cking stupid not to see there was something off about those people. My mom and I sensed it the moment we stepped foot into that place but there was nothing we could do and if you’re into magic as much as you claim to be, surely you had to have known.” I remarked reuthfully but bluntly.
She fiddled with her bag with no words to say. What could be said? She cleared her throat then stood scampering away from the seat and passing my mom, she flashed her an angry frown.
“What happened?” my mom asked sitting next to me.
“Just a little moment of truth she couldn’t handle.” I answered then shivered as a strong gust blew a blizzardous wind across the waters, “Oh god I can’t wait to get back to the Isle and in front of a fire, and the warmth of our soft beds.”
“I know.” my mom blew breath into her hands, “I can’t wait to see what changes have taken place on the Isle.” she looked at me.
“I don’t care if she named you the King of England!” Leonus argued as he, Nick and Erik stood in the study, “Hell-spawns and Bloodsuckers don’t run this place!”
“Neither do Lycynians!” Erik argued, “Now how the bloody hell, did you get in here!? I thought I..”
“Dead bolted the door?” Leonus mocked, “Well, perhaps you should’ve made sure I didn’t have the keys!” he dangled the ring in front of the young Demon, “But no more.” he gestured toward the door where empty spaces revealed where the locks were once in place.
“You had no right!” Nick raged.
“I had every right!” Leonus exclaimed, “And there’s nothing either of you can do about it!”
“Yzavela…the real and rightful Keeper...won’t be pleased when she finds out what you’ve been doing in her stead!” Erik stepped forward. “And again, where did you get those keys?”
“And you’re going to be the one to tell her? Or you?” Leonus gestured at Nick who placed his hands on the hilt of his small axes hanging from his belt, “Of course you are because you’re her pretty boy a** kisser.” he continues smugly. “I had a set made for me back when Marxus let me in to make repairs. Anything else you want to know? Huh?”
Nick clenched his fists wanting to release his Wraith rage upon the 6’6 man but Erik stood in front of him, speaking up for the both of them in a low threatening tone,
“We’re going to let that comment slide for now…Red Ape but we’ll see how Yzavela feels about all this bullsh*t when she returns and I can promise, she won’t like it! Especially that!” Erik replied through his teeth pointing to the door then took a stand pushing past Leonus’ heavy bulk sitting in the chair behind the desk, desperately trying to keep his composure intact; difficult at this point as he grasped onto the ledges of the Oak desk squeezing them until they splintered, “And before you leave take this with you!” he tossed a half empty Scotch bottle in his direction, “It’s creating a horrid stench like you!”
“Couldn’t have said it better.” Nick took one sniff around the study grimacing in disgust.
Leonus caught the bottle, flashing an expression of utter hate then turned, slamming the door behind him with such force, the hinges rattled. Erik and Nick listened as Leonus’ feet stomped down the stairs; Nick released a low hiss while Erik grunted a muffled growl as he leaned back in the chair with thoughts running through his mind of how the Keeper would handle all of this.
“I’ll go and make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid.” Nick advised.
“Yeah, thanks Nick.” Erik appreciated then watched as the Wraith vanished.
Taking deep breaths Erik sat forward, recalculating the numbers and prices of shipments due to come in which were once again, miscalculated and half ordered. Suddenly, he heard tapping on the balcony’s glass doors. Thinking maybe it may have been Jonathan he turned the chair looking out the window. Observing a black Raven pecking on the glass, he opened the door a few inches. Hopping in, it flapped its wings, landing on the desk scattering the paperwork onto the floor. The Raven squawked changing its form; surprising Erik as Abraxas appeared.
“Abraxas?” Erik inquired, and before saying anything more, Abraxas flew out the doors. Thinking maybe I returned and stood outside, Erik rushed onto the balcony, looking out. Seeing my presence was still absent, he retreated inside disappointed, but knew I had to be somewhere close by if Abraxas had made it here. He knew he would never travel any distance than within my vicinity. Staring out the window, it hit him. Smiling, he closed the balcony doors as he mumbled contently walking toward the door, “Thanks for the message, love.” and leaving the study behind he tracked down his friends, finding them in the dining hall playing a game of cards, “Guys...” Erik strolled over, “guess what!? Keeps is coming back!”
“Really!?” Sarah replied excitedly as she jumped to her seat, “Finally!”
“How do you know!?” Caleb asked in excitement, “I mean...when is she coming back?”
Erik revealed Abraxas’ appearance and after explaining the meaning of his arrival, they became anxious.
Sarah said in excitement as she held on to Jonathan’s arm, “Now it won’t be so boring around here!”
“Yeah, thank God.” Jonathan replied, “Maybe we should throw her a welcome home party but how close is she?”
For half an hour, they spoke about the party but weren’t sure if they’d have enough time when Leonus barged into the dining hall; upset and in a full drunken stupor.
“You...” he pointed his finger at Erik, “you and your friends think they can come here and run things?” he screamed, interrupting others who gathered for brunch.
“Leonus...” Caleb ordered as he stood, “not here, mate!”
“I’m not your mate, Bloodsucker!” he spat at Caleb’s feet, “You have no part in this, pretty boy!” Leonus exclaimed pushing the young Wraith out of the way, knocking him against the table’s benched seat.
Filled with rage, Erik raised his hands muttering an arcane spell under his breath then threw his hands forward, pushing Leonus back with a forceful blast of magic that created a dark blue hue that lingered in the air between them. With his red Demonic eyes present, his hands continued glowing in their magical hue ready to perform further spells. Demons and Shayds aren’t witches or warlocks so their magical use is far more complex and intricate and could be used for the slightest things. Witches and warlocks learn their magic while Demons and Shayds are born with it.
“Don’t touch him again!” Erik threatened, “You have a problem with me? Then you take it up with me! Leave them out of it!” he clenched his fists before flickering his fingers.
“Stop it!” Jonathan shouted as he stood between Erik and Leonus, who quickly stood to his feet; Lycycnian eyes and fangs now revealed.
Two Demons and one cocky Wraith against one lone Lycynian? Leonus wouldn’t stand a chance even though he’s an alpha and can transition at any given moment, with the strength four times that of a human man. Sarah who was caught in the middle, ran out screaming with many others in the dining hall, looking around then toward the wall,
“Help! Guards, please...someone help!” and seconds later four Wraiths and two Demons; Nick, Justin and Wyatt included, appeared next to her and quickly explaining the situation taking place, they rushed through the front door toward the dining hall, standing behind Erik, Caleb and Jonathan in support.
Leonus realized there were five Wraiths and four Demons but that didn’t matter for he was ready to stand his ground. Two other Lycynians stormed into the dining hall and seeing what took place, they backed their alpha without knowing the situation even if it meant a scuffle with Wraiths and Demons. They were hungry for a fight and were about to have one.
Sarah stood outside with Margaret, Belle and other fearful residents listening as loud voices shouted from inside the manor, and grew worried of the consequences.
While guards tended to the disruption in the dining hall, others continued their duties and glancing out, Wraiths hollered out to open the gates as a Ravenstone van carrying a dozen passengers approached the walls’ gates. Three Wraiths appeared below opening the gates, allowing the van passage through then turned watching as the vehicle drove toward the parking garage. As everyone unloaded the craft, mechanics ran from the garage toward the manor because word spread about a showdown taking place between Wraiths, Demons and Lycynians.
Looking around hoping to see my friends greeting me, Sarah ran toward our direction.
“Yza…bloody hell!” she shouted, “Thank God you’re back and just in time too!” she stood catching her breath.
“Why? What’s wrong!?” I answered, dropping my bags seeing her worried state.
“It’s Leonus...Erik and others.” she fearfully revealed.
Hearing those names and the fearful tone in her voice, I knew something horrific was taking place. Leaving my bags, I ordered Zanz to stay behind with my mom while Abraxas would come with me, then I pushed Sarah out of the way running toward the manor with my sword strapped across my back. My feet sunk in the deep snow but I paid no attention.
“Yza!” my mom called out watching as I grew smaller, “Sarah...what’s happening!?” she turned to her, worrying about the scenarios playing through her mind.
“Oh, nothing much Lady D. Just the bloody Wraiths, Demons and Lycynians are trying to kill each other…AGAIN. Just an average day on the Isle, but it’s horrible!” Sarah answered, then explained the events taking place.
My mom stood worried about whether or not I would need Zanz, but knew that if I did, I would’ve brought him with me. She held on tightly to his leash trying to hold him back, as he whined and struggled. It was hard enough for me to handle my Zanzabarr at times, but my mom had a more difficult time.
Approaching the manors’ front doors, I pushed them open paying no attention to their heavy weight. With snow clustered on my shoes, I slipped as I ran through the entrance toward the dining hall but quickly stood on my feet. Residents turned their heads as they felt me pushing my way through their numbers and hearing Abraxas’ low roars. Standing there, the events occurring now, shocked my eyes. Tables were overturned; plates and platters of food scattered everywhere on the floor, while drinks were splashed in puddles.
Blasts of magic were thrown through the air; either making contact against their enemy or missing their target. The Wraiths fought hand-to-hand against Lycynians that backed the Scottish alpha but were cautious for the Lycynians slashed their clawed hands as the Wraiths dodged their swipes but Caleb managed to sink his fangs deep into the shoulder of one of the men; his Wraith venom began racing through the Lycynians’ bloodstream like a poison that killed him in seconds; as if acid flowed through their veins in agony.
They backed away standing among their own while the Lycynian alpha ferociously attacked Erik; swinging his huge clawed hands moving his muscular bulk in Erik’s direction but the young Demon swiftly dodged the Lycynians claws. Avoiding bloodshed at the moment, Erik opened portals behind and around Leonus, pushing him around and blasting him with magic that stabbed like thousands of needles but Leonus was in such a rage, he barely felt the sting. He growled as he continued swinging his hands toward the young man and he wouldn’t stop until he had the Demons’ blood on his hands. Anticipating Erik’s next move, Leonus planned it wisely, swiftly turning managing the upper hand by grabbing Erik by the front of his shirt as he jumped through a portal behind the 6’6 bulk of man. Quickly pulling him toward him, he held Erik by the throat with his left hand while raising his right high in the air about to strike, when he heard my voice echo throughout the dining hall, breaking his focus on the kill in front of him,
Glancing over his left shoulder, there I stood in front of the crowd with sword in hand and Abraxas hovering above. Releasing a growl, he threw Erik across the dining hall, out one of the large cathedral windows. The young Demon flung through the air with deep cuts and before he could land roughly on the hard packed snow outside, he turned his body releasing a wave of magic that froze him about a foot from the ground and once breaking the magical hold, his fall was less difficult and braced from the impact. He laid there moaning in discomfort feeling the sting of glass through his shirt and stabbed through his skin while gasping as the wind was knocked from his lungs. He stared at the sky then closed his eyes; a female voice called out his name in the distance.
“Erik!” I called out worried as did his friends, “No!”
Turning to me, Leonus took large strides in my direction reaching out his clawed hands while beginning to transition into his Lycynian-jackal alterego; growling and grunting as he moved. Taking steps backwards, releasing my Aura, thinking of how I’d defend myself against a transitioning 6’6 beast, I would have done the only thing I could; plunging my sword deep into his chest or blowing a hole through it. He was inches away with his hands stretched toward the young woman he loathed that stood before him, when suddenly he felt his motions freeze in place as he was engulfed in a faint orange-like hue that swirled around him. The moment occurred so quickly that none of us standing around and backing away, could recall what had happened in exact detail. Leonus stood facing me, raging and growling when suddenly he was turned around, thrown to the ground once, maybe twice, before having his bulk rise into the air above our heads. He was thrown from the dining hall with such force, we all wondered if he had lived once crashing against the table in the entrance hall before sliding across the ground, thumping against the front doors that I had left open.
Turning my head toward the group of instigators that backed away, there stood Wyatt breathing heavily as he lowered his hands highlighted with the same orange-like hue. I studied him up and down watching as he shook out his hands, nodding in my direction before turning to his friends standing behind him. He was a powerful Demon indeed and I’d have to learn from him when given the chance but that was the furthest thing from my mind at the moment. I extinguished my Aura then scampered across the hall toward the shattered window avoiding shards still stuck in the frame; my eyes searched outside for Erik but his figure was nowhere to be seen.
“Erik!” I called out, “Erik?”
“Keeps…” his voice answered from behind me.
Turning around, there he stood holding his ribs while shuffling toward me; cuts and scrapes visible on his handsome face, neck and hands. I dropped my sword as I ran toward him, hugging him in relief.
“Ow...ouch…” he pulled away.
“Oh my god...are you alright?” I studied his face.
“I was just thrown through a window? What do you think?” he snapped then waved his left hand behind him opening a portal, “Come with me…” he reached for my left hand with his right pulling me through before I could object.
“Erik!” Caleb and the others called out in worry, “Yza!”
Abraxas roared anxiously as he flew out the shattered window, flapping his wings effortlessly as he searched for his Mother, knowing her location just by connecting with their bond and seeing her figure outlined by her Aura that only a dragon’s eye can see.
Wyatt and Nick ordered everyone to disperse; the crowd parted quickly without argument but the Lycynians remained.
“Unless you want to wind up like your alpha, then I suggest you beat it...NOW!” Wyatt warned, clenching his fists.
“This isn’t over!” one of Leonus’ friends pointed toward the young Demon before them.
“Oh, I think it is!” Nick stepped forward, “NOW BEAT IT BEFORE…” he held his hand to a dart gun hanging on his belt loaded with tranquilizers, “YOU TAKE A LITTLE NAP ALONGSIDEHIM!” he gestured his head toward Leonus who laid unconscious.
The Lycynians growled before rushing from the dining hall, stepping over their alpha they attempted to move but Caleb and Justin instructed them to leave him where he laid.
“Caleb...Justin…take him to the prisons and throw him in one of the cells.” Wyatt instructed firmly being the supervisor upon the wall, “The rest of you, Demon or Wraith, search for Erik and the Keeper...NOW! Look everywhere and anywhere!”
Everyone nodded without protest, performing their duties per his instructions. No one was about to argue with a powerful 6’4 Demon who held respect and instilled fear in some.
Caleb and Justin groaned in complaint of having to touch Leonus’ bulk but grabbing his wrists and ankles, they teleported up to the prisons appearing in the center courtyard outside an empty cell. Justin opened the gate while Caleb dragged the 6’6 man inside dropping his wrists with a hard thud. He spat at the ground that had melting patches of snow from previous snowfall then exited, slamming and locking the thick iron gate behind him.
“How long do you think he’ll be out? This time?” Justin asked as he walked away with Caleb.
“I don’t know. I don’t care. But what Wyatt did was some powerful sh*t so I’d say…” Caleb shrugged, “I don’t know, maybe a day or two.”
“He should’ve done more.” Justin muttered.
“I would’ve.” Caleb patted his friend on the back, “Come on, mate...let’s look for Erik and Yza.” he nodded then he and his friend teleported in their Wraith black-mist like manner leaving the prisons behind them.
Appearing on the railed walkway below the light of the lighthouse, Erik released his grip as he turned away feeling a burning sensation on his hands. Breathing heavily, he slammed his hands on the iron railing, bending them out of shape from the others. Examining my surroundings that overlooked the island and sea, I didn’t understand why he brought me up here. Turning to face him, I watched as his red Demonic eyes faded, returning to their beautiful pale gray color.
“Keeps...is it really you?” his voice broke the silence between us, “If so, why are you hot?” he examined his hands that were faintly blistered for even though my Aura had vanished, my temperature kept the Aura’s heat.
“Yes, Vamps...it’s me.” I reached for his hands of which he pulled away, “It’s okay...I’m not on fire. It’s just my Aura’s lingering effects. It’s alright…”
He grinned lowering his hands holding out his arms for an embrace; I wrapped my arms around his neck avoiding shards of glass buried in the fabric of his shirt, neck and face, trying to offer any comfort I could provide.
“Babe...what happened?” I felt his breath against my neck; his arms tightened around my waist.
“I’m sorry, Keeps.” he pulled away glancing down at me, “This isn’t how I wanted to greet you when you returned.” he turned away, “How was your trip back? Bet the sea was still frozen, yeah?” he began picking out shards from his skin.
“No, no, no...don’t do that.” I argued, “Don’t change the subject.” I walked toward him, “Please, Erik...tell me. I need to know who instigated that...well THAT!?”
Erik turned, glancing down at me once more.
“The truth?” Erik revealed then explained what occurred, “One moment, I was standing there with our friends telling them about Abraxas appearing in the study, then Leonus barged into the hall highly intoxicated and well, what you saw pretty much explains itself. Although, I just felt...so much hatred and contempt toward him, but I held back using my magic because I didn’t want to kill him, even though every fiber and magical gene in my body wanted to. I knew it wasn’t my place for if anyone’s going to kill him, it should be you.” he attempted humor but took notice I wasn’t smiling or laughing, “But I’m guessing Wyatt did what I couldn’t.” he broke his gaze.
“And what’s that?” I turned his face toward me.
“Protect you.” he complained, taking my hand in his.
“That wasn’t your fault. You were thrown through a f*cking window and no matter how powerful anyone is, that could take a minute to recover from.” I answered metaphorically.
“So you don’t think less of me?”
“Less of you?” I questioned, “Erik...what is this? Who is this person standing in front of me?”
“What do you mean? It’s me...Erik…jacka** remember?” he shrugged.
“No...you’re not. I sense something different about you and I don’t know what it is, but you’re keeping things from me.” I argued turning away.
“What more do you want me to say?” he stepped toward the petite woman before him.
“Forget it. It doesn’t matter.” I dismissed the topic, “I have more important things to worry about, don’t you think?” I glanced at him over my shoulder and before he could reply, I heard familiar roars echoing through the air and glancing out in the distance, a small dragon flapped his large wings toward me landing in my arms.
“Mother...are you alright?” Abraxas spoke verbally.
“Yes, Abraxas...I’m fine.” I answered.
Abraxas grew content with my answer then swerved his head toward the young man standing alongside his Mother and speaking verbally so he could hear, this little dragon offered a warning,
“You will never take my Mother to places where I am not present, do you understand Demon?” he watched as Erik nodded reluctantly, “And if you break that vow, I will not hesitate to destroy you.”
“Alright, Abraxas...that’s enough!” I ordered firmly laying him on the railing where he perched his feet and wrapped his tail for support and balance, “I think he gets it....that’s enough!”
“I don’t think he likes me.” Erik mocked.
“No, Demon...I do not.” Abraxas returned the mockery.
“Unbelievable…” Erik threw his hands in the air.
“This certainly isn’t how I pictured my homecoming.” I complained glancing between Erik and Abraxas.
Abruptly before either Erik or I could mutter a word, Nick and Caleb appeared. Sensing their sudden presence Abraxas squawked, stretching his wings out in warning while releasing small puffs of embers and smoke.
“Whoa...hey, easy…” Caleb muttered holding his hands out, “it’s just us…”
“Yza, are you alright?” Nick worried.
“Yes, I’m fine.” I answered, “But I’m not the one you should worry about.” I referred to Erik.
“Nah, don’t worry about me.” Erik refused the concern.
“Caleb, please take him to the clinic and make sure he gets treated.” I instructed him.
“I said I’m fine!” Erik grew temperamental.
“Erik…” I approached him staring into his gray eyes, “get your arrogant a** to the clinic and get yourself looked at! And if you don’t I’ll drag you there myself.” he hesitated, “Please! Keeper’s orders!”
“Only because you asked so nicely.” he mocked with a slight bow then Caleb approached, grabbing onto his arm gently then teleported, leaving Nick and I behind.
“What a welcome, huh?” Nick teased, “Not what we had in mind.”
“Yeah? And that would be what? Balloons and confetti?” I joked then took notice of his faint shadows encircling his big brown eyes, “Nick, are you feeling alright? Since when do you have shadows?”
“Ah...well, you can thank Leonus for that.” he turned, walking alongside me a few steps, “He hasn’t ordered the blood supply for the Wraiths in the last three months and we’re fighting going to the mainland to feed. Or worse...share some of the human mates that are coupled with Wraiths.”
“The…blood supply!?” I inquired, “But I didn’t leave him in charge of that. You and Caleb should’ve been responsible for that.”
“Well, he thinks so. All bloodrinkers here are on edge frenzied with hunger.” Nick remarked, “Which explains why you look so tasty there.”
“Nick...keep your pretty fangs away from my neck or any other body part!” I chuckled but it quickly faded, “But that son of a b*tch! Is that it?”
“Mm...nope.” he smiled, “Now come on...let’s get you to your dwelling. I’m sure your mom’s worried sick as to where you’ve gone.” he gently wrapped his arm around my waist then vanished swiftly reappearing outside the human dwelling, “Get settled in and perhaps later, we can all sit around a campfire and tell our stories.” Nick teased in continuation.
“Right. Believe me...between all of us, I’m sure there are many.” I answered.
Nick nodded then disappeared while I stood outside, hearing loud voices arguing from inside.