𝒜s I strolled through the village examining the helpless families with blood covered faces, hands and lounge wear that may have had tears in place, it reminded me of the night when my mom and I fled the Great City. However, I can’t compare our experience to those of these people for at least the cityfolk of the Great City were given somewhat of a warning. I couldn’t believe how many were left and expected more than what stood before me. Even though most of his people were already here in Ravenstone.
Women fell to their knees, crying in anguish as they lost their homes, loved ones or even their children. Humans among them suffered head wounds, gunshots or broken bones, while the Wraiths and Demons slowly began to heal, due to traces of Vervain or liquid iron remaining in their systems. The Demons felt too weak to even conjure up sparks along their fingertips and required blood transfusions which I didn’t think was possible for Demons considering purebloods and half-breeds don’t have blood types but Doctor Matthews and Beth knew how to care for the supernatural men, women and children.
Nikolaas paced near the fountain running his hands through his black stringy hair before lowering them to examine blood that covered his palms. He attempted rubbing it off on his loungewear but it proved ineffective. He moaned in agitation, releasing slurs in his Hungarian tongue.
“Nikolaas?” my soft voice broke his moment of contemplation.
Turning to his left, he studied the young woman standing before him. He straightened his posture then tugged on his long tunic before stepping off the ledge. He combed his hair back which hung loosely on his shoulders.
“Evening.” he greeted.
“Nikolaas...what happened?” I worried.
“We were attacked.” he replied bluntly, “By a...General Matrx and his clutch of Night-Walkers, Shayds, Lycynians and of course mortals.”
“General Matrx?” I inquired curiously.
“You know him?” Nikolaas stared into my dark eyes.
“Personally? No. But I have heard of him. He was the heartless bastard that issued the martial law in the Great City under Lord Drakuul’s decree. I’ve never seen him, but...I have heard of him like I said.” I pondered, “How did you get out?”
“Get out? Get out!?” Nikolaas’ voice raised roughly, “Not everyone got out!” his temper rose.
“You’re right...you’re right. I’m sorry, that was stupid.” I dismissed my previous remark.
“Yzavela!? Yzavela!” a voice called out my name and turning to my right, there Anthony and Thomas rushed through the crowd, “Are you alright?” Anthony continued with worry as he reached out hugging me tightly.
“Yes, I’m fine.” I added.
“What happened?” Thomas studied the crowd that began following the guards orders to steadily form in groups according to needs.
Nikolaas quickly relayed the events and those standing near him could see the pain in his eyes as he rehashed the night.
“And where did you say those men were from?” Derek’s voice interrupted as he approached from behind Thomas, overhearing our conversation.
“The Great City.” I revealed.
“Si, and they came in their trucks with their destructive weapons and guns!” Roberto added as he too, suddenly appeared then continued excitedly in my Puerto Rican tongue that only I could understand, revealing they destroyed everything; buildings and people included, “Sin el cuidado, destruyeron todo. Y me refiero a todo. Edificios, personas, y...”
“This is all that’s left or survived. Some were lucky enough to have scattered but...” Nikolaas added, placing his right hand on Roberto’s shoulder finishing his sentence, “where they went is unknown. Most were killed before our eyes and everything I built...everyone’s home is gone.” he continued looking around at his remaining townsfolk. “My people...”
“But you’re safe now, Nikolaas.” I offered, “You protected my mom and I from those Hunters, so it’s my time to repay the favor.
“Steven? Nikolaas?” Erik’s voice appeared.
“Hey, kid.” Steven greeted with a friendly hug.
“What happened?” Erik finished once they broke away.
“Walk with me and I’ll tell you, yeah?” Steven advised, then he and Erik walked away.
I stood in Anthony’s embrace watching as the Isle’s residents eagerly helped those who needed it. Even the Lycynians were among the rush and searching through the madness, I even caught glimpses of Leonus’ orange hair as he over-towered some folks with his 6’6 height.
“Since when are you with a Lycynian?” Nikolaas abruptly questioned.
“Excuse me?” I argued.
“You’re with him?” Nikolaas gestured at Anthony.
“HE has a name.” Thomas interrupted, “And is there a problem?” he stood tall in front of his brother and the Hungarian.
“Thomas…” Anthony pleaded placing his hand on his brother’s shoulder, “Leave him be. Our fight isn’t with him or his opinions. Not unless he wants it to be?”
“No...” Nikolaas held up his hands in surrender, “not at all.” He knew it wasn’t his place, “I think I’ll go to the clinic and make sure my people are getting the care they need. Excuse me…” Nikolaas surrendered the conversation, giving a nod in respect, “and I’m sorry if I offended you. Wasn’t my intention.” he backed away then quickly disappeared in the rush of passing residents.
“What was that?” I studied the Italian brothers standing before me.
“What?” Thomas shrugged.
Anthony and I grinned then joined the others offering whatever comfort we could provide.
“Young lady?” a familiar voice called out to me, “By the gods…”
I searched the crowd and I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“Oh my god, Bobby! Hello…” I greeted happily, “what are you doing here?”
“My family and I moved to Penrith a few months ago because our town was destroyed. I knew we’d be safe there and Nikolaas was more than welcoming but was that ever a mistake.” Bobby revealed bluntly, then took notice of Anthony’s presence; Thomas stepped away to find Louisa, “And who is this strapping lad?”
“This is Anthony.” I wrapped my arm around his, “My boyfriend.” I proudly finished.
“Ah, good for you, love.” Bobby nodded then took sense the man was a Lycynian, “You’re a…”
“Yes, I’m a Lycynian.” Anthony huffed, “Perhaps I should wear a collar or sign.”
“Apologies, I meant no offense.” he searched the crowd, “And where’s your mother?”
“She’s around here somewhere. And your family?” I added.
“They’re at the clinic. My wife and daughter got most of the hits. My son is with them now, so I should get back to them. I’d love to catch up with your mother, yes?”
“Of course.” I smiled, “Go.”
Bobby walked past me, giving me a wink of approval for the Italian; a wink that held innocent intent. He wasn’t afraid to admire Anthony’s handsome youth.
“Boyfriend?” Anthony glanced down at me once Bobby was out of view.
“Yes. Why? You don’t like that label?” I looked up at him.
“Quite the opposite. I’ve never been called anyone’s boyfriend.” he grinned.
“Mm, well there’s always a first.” I nudged him, “Now, come on...let’s get back to helping, yes?”
“Of course.” he took my hand, walking through the crowd.
Jealousy by the name of Erik stood by, watching as the young half-breed and Italian walked through the square hand-in-hand. He frowned then turned away when Hiromi’s voice called him over to help with handing out blankets and herbal teas.
Among the survivors was a young woman who arrived with her human parents. She was a Wraith; Irish culture, with beautiful light auburn red hair hanging past her shoulders and green eyes. She searched the crowd when she spotted an old friend she knew from Penrith; Jonathan Saxon. Her eyes widened in surprise because it’s been four years since she’s seen him. She called out his name but it was masked by the loud echo of panic and cries. Waving her hands in his direction it was then she bumped into a figure walking behind her carrying a pile of blankets.
“Oh, my…” she turned and star-struck staring into the big brown eyes that were Nick’s, “I’m sorry.” she finished.
“It’s…” he too, was stunned by her beauty, “it’s okay. They’re just blankets.” he smiled.
They knelt down picking up the lumps of fabric then once on their feet, he introduced himself.
“I’m Nick.” he gently took her hand, “One of the guards.” he shyly finished.
“I’m Clarissa...Clarissa Cavanaugh.” she answered, “Wraith.”
“Right. Wraith. Me too.” the words rushed.
Clarissa smiled and in that moment, Jon was far from her mind as they strolled through the square. He handed her three lumps of fabric of which she shook out then folded before handing them to her parents who were among the lucky ones to have been spared of injury. Nick escorted the Cavanaugh family to the Inn and offered his assistance if needed; an offer refused by Clarissa’s staunch Irish father, Patrick Dylan Cavanaugh, who dismissed the young man.
“Papa, stop it...he’s just being nice.” Clarissa argued.
“And you know what nice boys always want from father’s daughters!” Patrick frowned, “Not mine.”
“Oh, Patrick stop it!” Clarissa’s mother, Emma Lauren Cavanaugh muttered as they stood in the crowded Inn lounge waiting to be escorted to a spare room, “He was just doing his job!”
Patrick’s features were strong and the thick ridge of his brows naturally formed into a frown. He scrunched his mouth then turned his eyes toward the desk clerk who called out their family name.
“Let’s go…” he urged.
Nikolaas refused the medical attention from the staff, telling them to focus on the needs of his people more. Besides, he was beginning to heal, although slowly. He was given clean hospital scrubs of which he distasted for they weren’t his style but accepted the kindness, since they were black in color. Dressed in clean clothing, he returned outside standing within the gazebo watching as his people were beginning to thin out for their accommodations were being met. But nonetheless, it shouldn’t have come to this. He watched as his brothers Steven and Roberto cared for elderly residents of their town then turned away, leaning against the rail of the gazebo. He listened to the sounds of voices talking loudly and attempting to block them out, he covered his ears but their thoughts overwhelmed them.
He cursed under his breath creating a shield around him and once in place, nothing but silence was around him until the sudden low thumping of someone hitting against the barrier. Glancing over his shoulder, there stood the young half-breed Keeper gently tapping on the shield that shimmered upon her touch. He grinned then waved his hand, dismissing the barrier.
“Sorry.” I moaned, “If you want to be alone, I’ll go.”
“No, it’s fine. I just needed a moment of silence. Their…” his scanned the square, “thoughts were getting too loud for me to bear.
“Tell me about it.” I added then studied the Hungarian’s worried face, “Nikolaas, I hate to do this, especially now, but I need to know what happened if I’m to really understand.”
Nikolaas turned, staring deep into the half-breed’s warm dark eyes.
“You want to know? Really?” he asked.
I nodded in reply.
“Alright. Give me your hands.” he reached for mine.
“Why?” I was hesitant.
“It’s better to show you than explain.” Nikolaas advised, “Your hands? Please?”
I sighed, stretching them out, placing them into his palms of which he gripped tightly, but not harmfully. He instructed me to close my eyes and feel the connection between us lock and it didn’t take long, for my hands suddenly felt warm as we exchanged energy. I continued breathing heavily when suddenly, his memories flashed through my mind and with my own perception, I witnessed the events for myself as if I were really there among the streets and terror. I pulled away breaking the link because I heard Nikolaas grunt in discomfort; his hands were blistered from my Aura that I unknowingly ignited.
“I’m sorry.” I saddened.
“So that’s what you do.” Nikolaas observed, “While you were in my head, I couldn’t help but be in yours. Interesting, little fire Demon aren’t you?”
“F*cking spectacular.” I groaned, “But my god…” I replayed the images, “that was terrible.”
Suddenly, my mom’s voice called out from across the way near the pub. She waved then carefully walked in our direction and once stepping up on the steps of the gazebo, she greeted.
“Hello, Mrs. D…” he nodded, “how are you?”
“How am I?” she argued, “I’m peachy, compared to you. My god, what happened?”
Nikolaas didn’t want to talk about it anymore so after he quickly excused himself, he left the gazebo and strolled through the square where some of his people that still lingered, approached him wanting to know what was next for them.
“Did I say something wrong?” my mom pondered.
“Don’t blame him, or yourself.” I answered, placing my arm around her, “He showed me what happened and it’s no wonder why he doesn’t want to explain.”
“He told you, you mean.” my mom looked at me.
“No. He showed me.” I revealed, “It’s a Demon thing, I’ll show you later. Just another new thing I discovered of my powers” then I looked across the square where the Jinn mingled, offering healing wounds of those who didn’t want to be in the care of unfamiliar Wraiths or Demons, “I need to talk with Azir and Natash, so you want to come?”
“I don’t have to talk with them, but sure.” she accepted the offer then followed me.
“Azir...Natash!” my voice attracted their attention.
There was no need to explain for the sheer terror and emotion these people felt, lingered in the air creating an unsettling attachment to the past; images appeared in the Jinn’s mind of some of what occurred.
“These poor souls.” Natash pondered, “Women and children too?” her heart sank, watching as women tried calming their children who cried for their rooms and favorite toys left behind.
“I can’t imagine.” Azir added, “But Drakuul’s reach is growing.” he looked at me, “Quicker than we expected.”
“You mean closer than we expected.” I protested.
“Now what?” my mom fretted, shifting her feet to balance her uneasy knees.
“First, we make sure these people feel safe and then…” I glanced around once more, “we go to war and give them everything we have. Jinn. Lycynians. Humans and Demon. Wraiths and dragons!.”
“I think you’re forgetting half-breeds and hellhounds.” Azir added, “But yes, we go to war.”
“Lady D...Lady D…” Beth’s voice hollered, echoing across the square.
Turning her head toward the hospital, Beth stood outside the medical building, beckoning my mom in her direction.
“Go. Go help. We’ll catch up later.” I urged with a smile, leaning in for a hug eagerly returned, “Love you…”
“I love you too, my baby girl.” my mom proudly muttered, “Here. Take this.” she handed me a pouch, “There’s salves and ointments in there that could be useful.” she smiled then made her offer to Natash, “Would you like to join, Lady Zuberi?”
“Of course, and please, call me Natash. Lady Zuberi makes me sound like an Elder and I may be old, but Heavens knows I’m not that old.” she teased and together, they ventured toward the hospital; engaging in an unknown conversation mixed with a little laughter.
“There are some things I must discuss with Axeon, so if I’m not needed at the moment?” Azir hinted.
“No, you’re fine. Go. I’ll visit him later.” I slurred, “Tell him I’ll…”
“Will do.” Azir placed his hands on my shoulders, “And you did good tonight. Very good.” he smiled. “You’ll definitely make a fine Keeper, indeed!”
“Thank you.” I rasped.
Azir bowed his head then backed away walking toward the manor; his tunic elegantly flowing behind him before he vanished mid-walk in his pillar of green light.
Hours later, everyone had settled in rooms at the Inn, tents or even spare rooms in the dwellings but that resource wasn’t reliable. My mom, friends, allies and I hadn’t even thought about sleep as we gathered in the dining hall mid morning; the time was close to 4:30am.
Abraxas and Zanz grew anxious of all the events taking place and making their presence known, frightened the townsfolk from Penrith but they kept their place by my side as they laid near the door.
Derek, Anthony and Thomas, Erik, Jon and Sarah, Hiromi and of course Azir and Natash, including myself, all sat at the tables in silence waiting for one of us to speak.