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

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๐“’๐“ฑ๐“ช๐“น๐“ฝ๐“ฎ๐“ป 46

๐’œs 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 canโ€™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 couldnโ€™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 didnโ€™t think was possible for Demons considering purebloods and half-breeds donโ€™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.

โ€œNikolaas?โ€ 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.

โ€œEvening.โ€ he greeted.

โ€œNikolaas...what happened?โ€ I worried.

โ€œWe were attacked.โ€ he replied bluntly, โ€œBy a...General Matrx and his clutch of Night-Walkers, Shayds, Lycynians and of course mortals.โ€

โ€œGeneral Matrx?โ€ I inquired curiously.

โ€œYou know him?โ€ Nikolaas stared into my dark eyes.

โ€œPersonally? No. But I have heard of him. He was the heartless bastard that issued the martial law in the Great City under Lord Drakuulโ€™s decree. Iโ€™ve never seen him, but...I have heard of him like I said.โ€ I pondered, โ€œHow did you get out?โ€

โ€œGet out? Get out!?โ€ Nikolaasโ€™ voice raised roughly, โ€œNot everyone got out!โ€ his temper rose.

โ€œYouโ€™re right...youโ€™re right. Iโ€™m sorry, that was stupid.โ€ I dismissed my previous remark.

โ€œYzavela!? Yzavela!โ€ a voice called out my name and turning to my right, there Anthony and Thomas rushed through the crowd, โ€œAre you alright?โ€ Anthony continued with worry as he reached out hugging me tightly.

โ€œYes, Iโ€™m fine.โ€ I added.

โ€œWhat happened?โ€ 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.

โ€œAnd where did you say those men were from?โ€ Derekโ€™s voice interrupted as he approached from behind Thomas, overhearing our conversation.

โ€œThe Great City.โ€ I revealed.

โ€œSi, and they came in their trucks with their destructive weapons and guns!โ€ 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, โ€œSin el cuidado, destruyeron todo. Y me refiero a todo. Edificios, personas, y...โ€

โ€œThis is all thatโ€™s left or survived. Some were lucky enough to have scattered but...โ€ Nikolaas added, placing his right hand on Robertoโ€™s shoulder finishing his sentence, โ€œwhere they went is unknown. Most were killed before our eyes and everything I built...everyoneโ€™s home is gone.โ€ he continued looking around at his remaining townsfolk. โ€œMy people...โ€

โ€œBut youโ€™re safe now, Nikolaas.โ€ I offered, โ€œYou protected my mom and I from those Hunters, so itโ€™s my time to repay the favor.

โ€œSteven? Nikolaas?โ€ Erikโ€™s voice appeared.

โ€œHey, kid.โ€ Steven greeted with a friendly hug.

โ€œWhat happened?โ€ Erik finished once they broke away.

โ€œWalk with me and Iโ€™ll tell you, yeah?โ€ Steven advised, then he and Erik walked away.

I stood in Anthonyโ€™s embrace watching as the Isleโ€™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 Leonusโ€™ orange hair as he over-towered some folks with his 6โ€™6 height.

โ€œSince when are you with a Lycynian?โ€ Nikolaas abruptly questioned.

โ€œExcuse me?โ€ I argued.

โ€œYouโ€™re with him?โ€ Nikolaas gestured at Anthony.

โ€œHE has a name.โ€ Thomas interrupted, โ€œAnd is there a problem?โ€ he stood tall in front of his brother and the Hungarian.

โ€œThomasโ€ฆโ€ Anthony pleaded placing his hand on his brotherโ€™s shoulder, โ€œLeave him be. Our fight isnโ€™t with him or his opinions. Not unless he wants it to be?โ€

โ€œNo...โ€ Nikolaas held up his hands in surrender, โ€œnot at all.โ€ He knew it wasnโ€™t his place, โ€œI think Iโ€™ll go to the clinic and make sure my people are getting the care they need. Excuse meโ€ฆโ€ Nikolaas surrendered the conversation, giving a nod in respect, โ€œand Iโ€™m sorry if I offended you. Wasnโ€™t my intention.โ€ he backed away then quickly disappeared in the rush of passing residents.

โ€œWhat was that?โ€ I studied the Italian brothers standing before me.

โ€œWhat?โ€ Thomas shrugged.

Anthony and I grinned then joined the others offering whatever comfort we could provide.

โ€œYoung lady?โ€ a familiar voice called out to me, โ€œBy the godsโ€ฆโ€

I searched the crowd and I couldnโ€™t believe my eyes.

โ€œOh my god, Bobby! Helloโ€ฆโ€ I greeted happily, โ€œwhat are you doing here?โ€

โ€œMy family and I moved to Penrith a few months ago because our town was destroyed. I knew weโ€™d be safe there and Nikolaas was more than welcoming but was that ever a mistake.โ€ Bobby revealed bluntly, then took notice of Anthonyโ€™s presence; Thomas stepped away to find Louisa, โ€œAnd who is this strapping lad?โ€

โ€œThis is Anthony.โ€ I wrapped my arm around his, โ€œMy boyfriend.โ€ I proudly finished.

โ€œAh, good for you, love.โ€ Bobby nodded then took sense the man was a Lycynian, โ€œYouโ€™re aโ€ฆโ€

โ€œYes, Iโ€™m a Lycynian.โ€ Anthony huffed, โ€œPerhaps I should wear a collar or sign.โ€

โ€œApologies, I meant no offense.โ€ he searched the crowd, โ€œAnd whereโ€™s your mother?โ€

โ€œSheโ€™s around here somewhere. And your family?โ€ I added.

โ€œTheyโ€™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. Iโ€™d love to catch up with your mother, yes?โ€

โ€œOf course.โ€ I smiled, โ€œGo.โ€

Bobby walked past me, giving me a wink of approval for the Italian; a wink that held innocent intent. He wasnโ€™t afraid to admire Anthonyโ€™s handsome youth.

โ€œBoyfriend?โ€ Anthony glanced down at me once Bobby was out of view.

โ€œYes. Why? You donโ€™t like that label?โ€ I looked up at him.

โ€œQuite the opposite. Iโ€™ve never been called anyoneโ€™s boyfriend.โ€ he grinned.

โ€œMm, well thereโ€™s always a first.โ€ I nudged him, โ€œNow, come on...letโ€™s get back to helping, yes?โ€

โ€œOf course.โ€ 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 Hiromiโ€™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 itโ€™s been four years since sheโ€™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.

โ€œOh, myโ€ฆโ€ she turned and star-struck staring into the big brown eyes that were Nickโ€™s, โ€œIโ€™m sorry.โ€ she finished.

โ€œItโ€™sโ€ฆโ€ he too, was stunned by her beauty, โ€œitโ€™s okay. Theyโ€™re just blankets.โ€ he smiled.

They knelt down picking up the lumps of fabric then once on their feet, he introduced himself.

โ€œIโ€™m Nick.โ€ he gently took her hand, โ€œOne of the guards.โ€ he shyly finished.

โ€œIโ€™m Clarissa...Clarissa Cavanaugh.โ€ she answered, โ€œWraith.โ€

โ€œRight. Wraith. Me too.โ€ 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 Clarissaโ€™s staunch Irish father, Patrick Dylan Cavanaugh, who dismissed the young man.

โ€œPapa, stop it...heโ€™s just being nice.โ€ Clarissa argued.

โ€œAnd you know what nice boys always want from fatherโ€™s daughters!โ€ Patrick frowned, โ€œNot mine.โ€

โ€œOh, Patrick stop it!โ€ Clarissaโ€™s mother, Emma Lauren Cavanaugh muttered as they stood in the crowded Inn lounge waiting to be escorted to a spare room, โ€œHe was just doing his job!โ€

Patrickโ€™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.

โ€œLetโ€™s goโ€ฆโ€ 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 werenโ€™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 shouldnโ€™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.

โ€œSorry.โ€ I moaned, โ€œIf you want to be alone, Iโ€™ll go.โ€

โ€œNo, itโ€™s fine. I just needed a moment of silence. Theirโ€ฆโ€ his scanned the square, โ€œthoughts were getting too loud for me to bear.

โ€œTell me about it.โ€ I added then studied the Hungarianโ€™s worried face, โ€œNikolaas, I hate to do this, especially now, but I need to know what happened if Iโ€™m to really understand.โ€

Nikolaas turned, staring deep into the half-breedโ€™s warm dark eyes.

โ€œYou want to know? Really?โ€ he asked.

I nodded in reply.

โ€œAlright. Give me your hands.โ€ he reached for mine.

โ€œWhy?โ€ I was hesitant.

โ€œItโ€™s better to show you than explain.โ€ Nikolaas advised, โ€œYour hands? Please?โ€

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 didnโ€™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.

โ€œIโ€™m sorry.โ€ I saddened.

โ€œSo thatโ€™s what you do.โ€ Nikolaas observed, โ€œWhile you were in my head, I couldnโ€™t help but be in yours. Interesting, little fire Demon arenโ€™t you?โ€

โ€œF*cking spectacular.โ€ I groaned, โ€œBut my godโ€ฆโ€ I replayed the images, โ€œthat was terrible.โ€

Suddenly, my momโ€™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.

โ€œNikolaas, hello.โ€

โ€œHello, Mrs. Dโ€ฆโ€ he nodded, โ€œhow are you?โ€

โ€œHow am I?โ€ she argued, โ€œIโ€™m peachy, compared to you. My god, what happened?โ€

Nikolaas didnโ€™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.

โ€œDid I say something wrong?โ€ my mom pondered.

โ€œDonโ€™t blame him, or yourself.โ€ I answered, placing my arm around her, โ€œHe showed me what happened and itโ€™s no wonder why he doesnโ€™t want to explain.โ€

โ€œHe told you, you mean.โ€ my mom looked at me.

โ€œNo. He showed me.โ€ I revealed, โ€œItโ€™s a Demon thing, Iโ€™ll show you later. Just another new thing I discovered of my powersโ€ then I looked across the square where the Jinn mingled, offering healing wounds of those who didnโ€™t want to be in the care of unfamiliar Wraiths or Demons, โ€œI need to talk with Azir and Natash, so you want to come?โ€

โ€œI donโ€™t have to talk with them, but sure.โ€ she accepted the offer then followed me.

โ€œAzir...Natash!โ€ 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 Jinnโ€™s mind of some of what occurred.

โ€œThese poor souls.โ€ Natash pondered, โ€œWomen and children too?โ€ her heart sank, watching as women tried calming their children who cried for their rooms and favorite toys left behind.

โ€œI canโ€™t imagine.โ€ Azir added, โ€œBut Drakuulโ€™s reach is growing.โ€ he looked at me, โ€œQuicker than we expected.โ€

โ€œYou mean closer than we expected.โ€ I protested.

โ€œNow what?โ€ my mom fretted, shifting her feet to balance her uneasy knees.

โ€œFirst, we make sure these people feel safe and thenโ€ฆโ€ I glanced around once more, โ€œwe go to war and give them everything we have. Jinn. Lycynians. Humans and Demon. Wraiths and dragons!.โ€

โ€œI think youโ€™re forgetting half-breeds and hellhounds.โ€ Azir added, โ€œBut yes, we go to war.โ€

โ€œLady D...Lady Dโ€ฆโ€ Bethโ€™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.

โ€œGo. Go help. Weโ€™ll catch up later.โ€ I urged with a smile, leaning in for a hug eagerly returned, โ€œLove youโ€ฆโ€

โ€œI love you too, my baby girl.โ€ my mom proudly muttered, โ€œHere. Take this.โ€ she handed me a pouch, โ€œThereโ€™s salves and ointments in there that could be useful.โ€ she smiled then made her offer to Natash, โ€œWould you like to join, Lady Zuberi?โ€

โ€œOf course, and please, call me Natash. Lady Zuberi makes me sound like an Elder and I may be old, but Heavens knows Iโ€™m not that old.โ€ she teased and together, they ventured toward the hospital; engaging in an unknown conversation mixed with a little laughter.

โ€œThere are some things I must discuss with Axeon, so if Iโ€™m not needed at the moment?โ€ Azir hinted.

โ€œNo, youโ€™re fine. Go. Iโ€™ll visit him later.โ€ I slurred, โ€œTell him Iโ€™llโ€ฆโ€

โ€œWill do.โ€ Azir placed his hands on my shoulders, โ€œAnd you did good tonight. Very good.โ€ he smiled. โ€œYouโ€™ll definitely make a fine Keeper, indeed!โ€

โ€œThank you.โ€ 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 wasnโ€™t reliable. My mom, friends, allies and I hadnโ€™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.

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