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

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𝓒𝓱𝓪𝓹𝓽𝓮𝓻 47

𝒜fter a few hours since their siege on Penrith, Matrx ordered his Shayds to open a portal taking him back to the Great City for their vehicles were destroyed or melted from the attack. He hated the means of portal jumping but in this instance, he paid no attention.

Appearing in the lobby of Parliament, catching guards and creatures off guard, he gained his balance that shuffled around the gritty floor still covered with a faint film of dust.

“General Matrx…” men greeted.

“Get back to work!” Matrx complained, ignoring their greetings. He stomped down the halls until barging through the doors of the throne room where Drakuul stood with a woman in chains who begged for her life.

“Ah, brother...just in time!” Drakuul mocked then dismissed the woman who was dragged away by four Shayds loyal to the Necromancer, “You’re back early. Why?”

“I’m back in good timing.” Matrx mocked, “Have a thing for women in chains, do you? That’s what gets your rocks off, eh?”

Drakuul groaned, leering at the General.

“I didn’t want to know anyway.” Matrx continued, “But I do have good news.” he approached the Lord of the Great City, “See for yourself.” he removed the thick stack of rolled up papers from his armor.

Drakuul skimmed through the papers, unsure of what he’s to be looking for.

“What am I looking for?” he questioned.

“Read the last page toward the bottom.” Matrx revealed, taking a stance with his arms folded and legs spread for balance.

Drakuul raised his left brow then flipped through the papers and followed the length of paragraphs to the bottom and there it was. The name he despised most. Castillion. Drakuul’s grip on the paper tightened, wrinkling their edges before he laid them on the table, feeling a sense of pride.

“Excellent.” he muttered re-reading the papers carefully.

“Thought you might like this bit of news.” Matrx observed, “But now all that matters, is finding this...Isle of Castillion’s precise location.”

“Leave that to me. And the Red Death.” Drakuul implored with a sinister undertone, laying the papers on the table.

“The Red…” Matrx cleared his throat, fearing the creatures’ presence, “Red Death?”

“Of course.” Drakuul opened a portal to another location, then stepped through with ease.

“Sh*t…” Matrx complained, watching as the portal swirled awaiting his physical form to enter. He was hesitant when a hand peeked through, beckoning him forward and when he didn’t answer, the hand, belonging to Drakuul, pulled him through in a rough yank forward. Once on the other side, Drakuul held onto the front of his armor before letting go, “don’t do that again.” he groaned, then glanced around taking notice they stood atop the Victoria’s Tower.

“Better than taking the stairs!” Drakuul argued then turned, walking out onto ramps that spread out in all directions. His eyes focused upon the sky while he held onto rails for support and in a powerful booming voice he called out, “Red Death, I summon you! Hear my plea...Red Death!” he continued.

Matrx watched as the clouds twirled in swirling motions as if being stirred from the Heavens; Harpies and Shadowed Ones dispersing erratically. A boom echoed; not of thunder but roars belonging to an ancient beast. Those who remained in the city, living or hiding out in abandoned structures that still stood, gazed out their windows watching this occurrence. They never knew what dwelled in the dark skies until now. They thought they had to fear what roamed through the streets but this was something far more terrifying and never before seen. A fire serpent that once resided in Japan’s Mount Fuji’s depths. The clouds parted revealing a red serpentine dragon more than half the size of a winding freight train, slithering from their concealment. The dragon slowly slithered downward toward the tower before landing roughly on rooftops nearby that crushed from its massive weight. Its squinted yellow eyes leered at a figure that held such power over it.

The beasts’ four grand feet and talons gripped the rooftops; chunks fell onto the streets below. It swerved its head back and forth before pushing its nose forward, gazing upon the figures.

“Master…” the dragon’s voice entered Drakuul’s mind in an elegant raspy tone.

“Red Death…Arxulet, my fine beast...I have need of you” Drakuul spoke verbally, “I have found him…I have found our old enemy Marxus Castillion!”

Arxulet (the Red Death) snarled his massive snout then raised his head, releasing a powerful roar that shook the ground beneath the Necromancer and General’s feet and that of the streets below. Lowering his head he urged,

“And what of the Great Blue One? You have found him as well?” Arxulet inquired, feet adjusting once more on the buildings supporting his weight.

“I don’t know if he still lives. I mean, how could he after suffering such horrific injuries!?” Drakuul flustered verbally, attempting to boost the dragon’s ego from past battles it easily won.

“What’s he saying!?” Matrx leaned in, unable to join in on the telepathic conversation between Master and slave.

“Enough with the flattery, Necromancer! I do not wish to play games!” Arxulet ordered verbally without moving his massive mouth; yellow eyes continuing to squint in hatred for the humans, “Tell me what it is you need of me. I grow impatient! Obedience collar or not!” he snarled his snout once more, revealing the upper row of disfigured razorred teeth.

Drakuul turned to Matrx, instructing him to step forward and revealing their findings. Matrx was hesitant watching as the serpent’s snout moved closer toward the tower. Matrx gulped, finding the words.

“There’s…” his voice cracked, “there’s an island somewhere across the Irish Sea but it’s cloaked by a great magic that we, or your Master, can’t penetrate. We believe it’s protected by Jinn and Demon magic and that of…dragon’s breath. We’ve sent men but they haven’t returned. We…”

“I have heard enough!” the dragon turned his head away, “I will venture in that direction and observe for myself but only I…” he focused once more on the figures of men, “will determine if this island holds promise! But I will need my freedom if you wish me to complete this task of which you require of me. Master...” Arxulet groaned, leaning in closer toward them, breathing heavily from his nostrils that cast a strong breeze across their path and into their faces.

Darkuul stepped forward in front of Matrx ordering loudly,

“You have your freedom, Red Death but the collar will remain until my need for you is done!”

“Do not remind me, Necromancer!” Arxulet snapped his jaws toward the figures, “But one day, Necromancer, this shackle of which you trapped me in, will be removed and when that day arrives, heed my warning when I warn you that I will take my revenge against you. That is, if your enemies do not finish you before I…” he squinted then pushed himself from the rooftop that collapsed from his weight; slithering high into the air cloaking his long serpentine body.

Searching the skies hoping to catch some sort of sign that he’s in the air, Matrx pondered,

“Wait...that’s it!?”

“That’s it.” Drakuul turned away, “Now is the army prepared for war?”

“Yes. They’re getting antsy, wanting to crush skulls and eat their enemies.” Matrx answered.

Drakuul gave his brother an unsettling expression, wondering if the General realized how that sounded.

“Sh*t, that didn’t come out the way I hoped, but I say that from the creatures’ point-of-view of course.” Matrx corrected himself.

“Of course.” Drakuul mocked, “Are the tunnels cleared out and ready for use?” he turned away.

“Almost. The Trolls just have a little more to clear out and then we’ll be good to go. I’d say…” he walked alongside the Necromancer giving accurate assumptions, “maybe two months, give or take.”

“They can’t work any faster?” Drakuul argued.

“They’re big, slow and they’re working as fast as they can.” Matrx argued in return, “There’s nothing more we can do. We can’t have the Shayds blast their way through because of the…”

“Because of the stability of the roof, yes I know, you’ve said that before!” Drakuul frowned, growing impatient, “Two months, you say?”

“Give or take.” Matrx shrugged.

“Well, I suppose timing is everything.” Drakuul agreed, “Oh? Have you found the culprit who stole the documents?”

“Not yet. Sneaky bastard completely cleaned the equipment, that the techsperts can’t recover any of the data. But the men out are looking and these are the best.”

“That’s what you said about the units you sent out but they never returned.” Drakuul mocked.

“They weren’t the best. Just expendable.” Matrx grinned.

“Like you?” Drakuul hated the moment of actual conversation.

“More like you.” Matrx scoffed then glanced around, “Are we done up here?”

“Indeed.” Drakuul moaned then opening another portal, he quickly stepped through before Matrx could follow.

Matrx waited, thinking maybe Drakuul would open another but he hadn’t.

“Mère enculée et son dieu foutu magie! Il peut le prendre et le fourrer dans son cul de nécromancien et tomber mort!” Matrx cursed in his French tongue complaining about Drakuul and his magic and how he can shove the magic up his a**, “Stairs.” he continued in English then descended until arriving at the bottom; breathing heavily and wiping sweat from his brow. He was athletic and had a high endurance drive but not even the fittest individual could ascend or descend flights of stairs without becoming winded or taking a moment to catch their breath. Matrx leaned forward resting his hands on his knees then stood straight, calling a unit of soldiers to escort him to the nearby pub and there, they shared a round of drinks before returning to the army’s headquarters located in Westminster Abbey and Parliament Square Garden. The human soldiers were camped there. The Night-Walkers were kept elsewhere along with the creatures in their containment areas. Having all the men gathered, their General instructed them to begin with the use of a megaphone, collecting their armor and weapons, provisions and camping gear for the word to march out, could be given at any moment, “But first, have you found who we’re looking for? He, she or they, couldn’t have gone far.” Matrx continued.

“Not yet, Sir.” a soldier answered bluntly.

“F*ck me, alright.” Matrx ran his hands down his face then sighed, “Keep the search going and let me know when the Trolls are done in the tunnels. Now give me your radio…” he held out his hand, waiting for the gadget and once placed in his gloved palm he gave his orders; orders of which were heard on every soldier’s radio.

“We have a problem.” Azir paced the study; weeks had passed since the arrival of Penrith’s rush.

“Of course we do.” I moaned, leaning back in the chair, “That’s nothing new, but what is it?”

“The magic that my kin and Demons on the Isle put in place, magic of which protects this island down to its very foundations, is beginning to diminish. I’m not sure how it’s happening, but it is.” Azir revealed with slight exaggeration but there wasn’t anything to exaggerate for it was serious news.

“Why is that happening?” Anthony questioned as he sat alongside Thomas.

“What does that mean for us?” Wyatt, who was also present, wondered.

“Hopefully, it doesn’t mean anything. Perhaps all the chaos taking place and the negative energy it’s creating, it’s feeding off the magic surrounding the island. That’s the only thing I can think of other than another source but it’s not possible.” Azir spoke then glanced at Natash, sharing an expression of worry for there was only ONE source of ultimate magic that can break through that of Jinn’s.

“What’s the other source?” Erik added, “Something else we have to worry about?”

“Indeed, young man...indeed.” Natash answered as she stood.

“But it’s nothing to worry about because later tonight, I’ll ride on Axeon and from the air, we’ll repair the weakness while my kin and the most powerful Demons on the Isle will boost the magic from the ground.” Azir advised, “That is, if that’s alright with you?” he glanced at me for I remained quiet during all the magic talk.

“Azir, you don’t have to ask me. This is your island too, indirectly that is. So, go ahead and do what you have to do and let me know if there’s anything I can do.” I shrugged, “I know it won’t be much, but I’ll try.”

“You, dear girl, are doing far more than you should, or think. But yes, there is something you can do.” Natash added for she would be among those adding her magic.

“What?” I urged for details and instructions.

“We could use Abraxas’ help to enhance the dragon’s presence. It’s new and has never been weaved before so it could help put that balance back in place.”

“Weave?” Thomas asked.

“Yes, weaved.” Natash glanced back at the Italian, “Think of it as...one giant weaved upside down basket that’s covering the island.” she used her hands to express the image that easily appeared in our minds, “It might sound complicated to some who don’t practice magic but I’m sure the pureblood Demons present can somewhat understand, yes?” she looked at Erik, Jon and Wyatt.

I understood the exclusion but yet, somehow, I felt left out of the equation. I smiled as I glanced at Azir and Natash, but although my mouth formed the smile, my eyes didn’t. Anthony stood walking over to me, placing his arms around my waist in a comforting embrace.

Erik sneered as he watched the tender moment then glanced away, feeling nauseous. Jon glanced in his direction, shaking his head in disappointment for regardless of how things turned out between his friends, Erik couldn’t be happy.

“I’ll talk to Abraxas about it and even though I’m not magically inclined like the rest here, I will have to be present to make sure things go smoothly and instruct Abraxas.” I spoke.

“Of course, child…” Natash reassured, “and don’t ever say you’re not magically inclined. You’ve done a lot without pure magic, and that my dear…” she approached, “takes a lot of courage.” she took my hands.

“That’s what I keep telling her.” Anthony muttered.

“As wonderful as the tenderness of the moment is, we need to do this tonight.” Azir interrupted, “So, if you’re going to alert everyone on the island, I suggest you do it soon before any questions arise.”

“Agreed.” I cleared my throat, “I’ll send everyone a message to gather outside the wall. Bigger space and better reach for what needs to be said. But…” I glanced in Nick and Caleb’s direction, “I’ll need a louder voice. Marxus didn’t by any chance have a megaphone up there in his secret stash of binoculars, did he?” I teased.

“Not sure, but we can check.” Caleb joked.

“Good.” I announced, “Good.” I felt a lump in my throat that were words wanting to be said but I couldn’t figure out how to form them. I swallowed deeply.

Three hours passed and the army gathered outside the gates, as did the residents for this was their home and they all needed to know the events taking place. My mom and Beth had finally had a break from their preparations for what’s to come; their faces were among those who stood near the wall outside the outer gate. They all waited until finally my form appeared upon the wall. I was petite enough but I could barely be seen from that height so I thought it would be better if I stood before the massive crowd. Nick and Caleb revealed there wasn’t a megaphone but they had gathered their bands’ speakers and microphone, quickly setting it up. As soon as it was hooked up and the loud ringing stopped, the revelations began. All gasped in shock at the young woman’s honesty but they knew she was doing the right thing instead of keeping them in the dark.

Even Leonus, who stood toward the back with Heather and their sons, nodded in agreement.

“Was that a nod?” Heather looked up at her handsome husband.

“No.” he coughed, “I was just, uh...I had a kink in my neck.”

“Mm-hmm.” she leaned her head against his arm then glanced at Daniel, “Daniel, my boy...no.” she reached for their small child as he wanted to play with Lucy who shied away from the little boy; she didn’t understand his disfigured nature, only the fact that he reminded her of the children from the Boar-wolf cave, “I’m sorry.” Heather apologized.

Jonathan’s parents smiled, letting her know there was no need for apology.

“What do you need from us!?” Leonus’ voice boomed loudly in Heather’s ear as he raised his right hand in protest but in answer of the half-breeds words.

Ugh. Leonus Lancaster. I forgot he existed for he kept his distance as far from me as possible.

“Advice. Strategy. Anything that could help us in the fight to come.” I answered.

“Will you let any of us perform our duties or experience, or will you shut them down, like you did in the Boar-wolf cave?” Leonus argued. The distance between us didn’t last long.

“To those of you who have experience or advice, come to the dining hall. That’s where I’ll be.” I finished, not giving the Scotsman the chance to speak another word. I handed the microphone to Nick who quickly unplugged the piece, then walked through the outer gates that had opened for the day.

It didn’t take long for some to gather in the dining hall, but I listened to each and every warrior that stepped forward; all with different backgrounds. Derek stood near the kitchen archway after retrieving a beer from the kitchen’s fridge, alongside one of his comrades and fellow Lycynian. He was with Derek the night he was attacked five years ago. He was a rugged black man with a shaved head and with blemished skin of faint scars from previous battles and bad facial care. His name was Foster, actually that was his last name but he preferred being addressed as such and he was a Lieutenant in his former life.

“So that’s the girl?” he asked in a gruff American accent.

“Yup.” Derek gestured his beer bottle inconspicuously in her direction, “She got guts though. You’ll see.”

“Mm.” Lt. Foster nodded, taking a sip and it was then he and Derek were urged forward.

“We’re up.” Derek smacked Lt. Foster roughly on the back.

Lt. Foster was familiar with the layout of the mainland, doing stealth jobs here and there before the Great City’s takeover so he mapped the way of the land, keeping all the data and recordings on a medium device he carried under his arm. Give or take for size comparison, it was the size of a file folder with a screen that folded down for easy travel. Laying it on one of the tables, Lt. Foster lifted the screen that was no smaller than an I-pad’s screen.

“What’s that?” Leonus questioned, “More gadgets and gizmos that are going to win this war?”

Lt. Foster studied Leonus’ persona then glanced at Derek who nodded, as if letting him know that was indeed the infamous Leonus Lancaster.

“You’re Leonus Lancaster!” Lt. Foster taunted.

“Yes. I am. You’ve heard of me?” Leonus felt his ego fluff.

“Not at all.” Lt Foster mocked then turned away, leaving Leonus’ ego deflating quickly, “This works like a GPS but allows you to interact with its holographic screen and interactive map.” he powered the device then stepped away as the device projected images off the screen and into the air before everyone. It resembled a detailed Google Earth navigation, allowing anyone to move the screen around, zoom in or out, etc. Lt. Forester placed red pings on the map, showing everyone in the hall where the locations of the Great City and Isle precisely were.

“How did you get all the images?” Sarah curiously asked, taking notice of hills, mounds and ridges along the landscapes; even the shadows they cast.

“That, let me tell you girl, was the hard part.” Lt. Forester revealed.

The grueling meeting, lasting for hours into late morning, was productive for many came forth with strategic maneuvers and plans. All except for Leonus who stood quiet leaning against one of the windows.

“You’re quiet, Lancaster.” Derek observed the alphas mannerisms, “Have anything to add?”

“At this point, it doesn’t matter does it? My opinion will be pushed aside and ignored. I’m only here to observe the stupidity that this runt…” he leered in my direction, “is spewing from her childish mouth! She makes the final decisions, after all.”

“Gee...someone’s got their pr*ck and balls in a twist, eh?” Lt. Forester mocked then cleared his throat looking in the young woman’s direction, “Language, sorry.” he hushed.

“I’ve heard and said far worse.” I teased then added, “But yes, Leonus...please, if you have suggestions then we’re all ears.”

“Alright.” he pushed himself away from the wall and approached the map that still hovered in the air, glitching every now and then, “All we’re talking about, are attacks if this...Drakuul Lexus comes to us. But haven’t we considered the possibility of going to him?” he glanced around, “It would certainly be something he and his army wouldn’t expect, right?”

I took notice that many agreed with him and although it was a good suggestion, one I won’t dismiss or mock, there were holes in that plan. Ones of which I honestly pointed out as I stepped forward standing alongside the 6’6 bulk; our height difference was extremely noticeable and I did look like a runt compared to him.

“I agree with you Leonus, for once, and with everyone else but there’s one thing wrong with your plan.”

“Of course there is! And what would that be?” he folded his muscular arms.

“Considering all the destruction taking place, where would our numerous amount of men hide along the way? Surely we’re not just going to march down the little brick road and sing loud enough for them to hear us, are we?” I answered truthfully.

Azir and his kin remained quiet, watching how the half-breed handled talks of war. She wasn’t doing half bad.

“Drakuul has ships, which you’ve all seen from the rubble a while back, not to mention drones so what if they caught us? They’d be able to follow our every move and when the time came to knock on his door, he’d greet us with nothing but fire, ash and death before anyone here, or out there…”I gestured toward the windows referring to outside, “could raise their weapons, much less sh*t in their pants of fear.”

Lt. Forester chuckled.

“Told you.” Derek added leaning in.

“Mm.” Lt. Forester nodded in agreement.

“We wouldn’t be out in the open for them to see.” Leonus argued, “Surely magic fingers over there and those on the island could cloak us from them, yes?”

“I’m sure they could, absolutely.” I nodded, agreeing once more, “But how would we get there? How would we get almost twenty-five hundred warriors to the mainland? Swim?” I paused, hearing low laughter erupt from somewhere in the crowded hall, “We don’t have enough ferries to get everyone across back and forth, so that’ll leave portal jumping. The Jinn and Demons here could easily put them up but you’re against the use of magic of any kind, so there goes that and not to mention one more thing.”

“Oh, don’t you ever shut up?” Leonus mocked shifting his weight as he unfolded his arms.

“When I’m finished making my point, yes!” I snapped, continuing anyway, “None of us here, except for those who have traveled here, know what the terrain is like on the mainland. We need vehicles in order to cross which would attract a lot of attention from the…”

“Drones and airships?” Leonus finished as if in agreement, “so you’ve said.”

“She’s right.” my mom added as she sat quietly at the end of the table once her work at Beth’s clinic was done for the day.

“No one asked you, woman. You’re not a warrior, so go back to playing with your plants and rocks!” Nathan argued loudly.

My mom may not have been as extensive in magical practices like her fellow wiccans in certain endeavours, but she did know how to work with plants and what he mocked as rocks.

“If I were you, Nathan...I’d be careful what you pick from the greenhouse.” my mom stood proudly, “Because what you might think is an herb to smoke and get your highs, just might turn out to be Wolfsbane or even the cannabis plant infused with liquid silver in the soil mix.”

Nathan gulped, knowing he had stolen many herbs from the greenhouse to get his kicks. He broke his gaze then sunk into himself as he stepped through the crowd, wanting to hide from peering eyes.

I made eye-contact with my mom who took her seat once more, giving a smile of praise then broke my gaze as I declared firmly,

“Everyone’s right in their own ways…even you.” I looked up at Leonus, “But there’s one thing we’re not doing, and that’s leaving this Isle. For some of us, if not most, it’s been years since we’ve stepped foot on the mainland that’s foreign land to us now, but here on the Isle, we know every inch and cranny of this place so that’s our best and only advantage against Drakuul and his army.”

“She’s right. Again.” Azir stepped forward, now making his statements, “Drakuul isn’t a mere mortal like most of you here. Oh, no. He’s a powerful Immortal, practicing the darkest arcane magics and Necromancy. You might think he’s just a man, but he is not. One century ago, give or take, my kin and I fought against him, along with Marxus, and back then, he was at his prime in all magical capabilities but long story short, he’s limited now but still has enough to cause the destruction that’s taken place now. Imagine what happens if or when he regains his full magical touch?” he paused studying all the curious faces, “He’s not a man to be reckoned with lightly. If he finds his way onto this island, he will destroy everything and everyone on it. So I agree with Yzavela when she says to stay here and defend what we know. That is our ONLY advantage!”

Natash admired her husbands’ strength, growing a smile of love and pride; their kin raising their heads in pride as well for their King was truthful and presented that stature of being a warrior and leader.

“If you know him so bloody well, then why don’t you go into the Great City and end it all with your magic!?” Leonus barked.

“We could, Lycynian…just as easily as we can destroy you where you stand, but this Necromancer is very smart!” one of the female Jinn stepped in respectfully, “He could have traps set; magical fail-safes so to speak, and if any outside magic tampers with it, even that of Jinn’s magic, who knows what disastrous outcome it could create! And although our kind could easily disable them, where would that leave the rest of you in case he has other hidden distractions no one could see!? Do you still want us to march in there and carry out that suggestion?” she firmly and femininely placed her hands on her hips.

Leonus bit his lower lip; slurs springing into mind but he kept them to himself. In a way, although he’d NEVER admit it, he knew everyone was right. He just wanted to start a war, bringing to life his warring Viking roots with hopes to make the young Keeper woman look like a fool. He backed away, blending his bulk among the other taller figures but his bright red hair made him stand out.

I smiled in her direction then studied as many faces as I could when declaring loudly enough,

“Alright...you’ve all brought wonderful ideas and tactics to the table, and for that, I thank you. I’ll talk them over with Azir, Derek and even Leonus, and once a plan is set, everyone will be notified, agreed?” I received immediate or hesitant nods, “Great. Thank you. Now, go back to your families, friends and spend time with them.”

The meeting ended; Azir, Natash, Derek, Lt. Forester and I remained behind with Nick, Caleb, Erik, my mom, Thomas and Anthony, even Hiromi. Derek stood near the map device with Lt. Forester, who powered it down. Turning to us Derek offered,

“Since we’re not leaving the island and no one but the two of you…” he gestured at the present Jinn, “have seen what we’re all up against, Forester and I would like to see for ourselves.”

“I thought we agreed going to the mainland is out of the question!” Erik snapped, “But how are you going to get there? Swim?”

“Erik!” Hiromi’s voice argued bluntly.

“What?” the arrogant Demon shrugged, “I was just asking what everyone was thinking!”

“Not everyone thinks the way you do, Erik.” Anthony added.

“No one’s talking to you!” Erik barked, “Don’t you have a compound to get to and b*tches to hump?”

“Erik, I want you to leave!” I instructed firmly, leering in his direction. He hesitated making me ask him twice, “I won’t ask a third time!”

Erik scoffed, nodding in acceptance of his dismissal. He stormed out of the hall with Hiromi not following after. He may have been proud of his son but in this moment, he was ashamed by the level of disrespect. He closed his eyes, sighing heavily when he felt a comforting hand placed on his shoulder. Opening his eyes, there stood Lady D with a warmth in her brown eyes.

Anthony growled as he clenched his fists, but restraining his temper although very difficult, he kept quiet watching as the young man left the hall. Thomas pulled him back gently and whispered words in his ear.

Standing across the hall from the Italian brothers I made eye contact with Anthony, asking telepathically with disappointment,

“I’m sorry. Are you alright?”

“I’m fine, Little Yza.” he answered, “Nothing I haven’t heard before.” he grinned then looked away.

“Wow, if I wanted this much drama, I’d have gone to drama school.” Lt. Forester spoke up trying to respectfully break the tension among those who stood around, “So, anyway, um...Derek told me you have a dragon?”

“Two.” Derek added.

“No sh*t? Really?” Lt. Forester grew curious.

“Mm. And speaking of dragons, if it’s alright with Yzavela and Azir, of course, we’d like to ride the dragon back to the mainland to scout the area with our own eyes. That way we…” he gestured at his comrade, “can see what we’re up against and have better plans in place. Plus, we’d take pictures for everyone else to see themselves.”

“Have you ever been on a dragon?” Azir questioned.

“Does a hunk of flying metal called the DRAGON count?” Lt. Forester joked.

“No.” Azir grunted.

“Tough crowd.” Lt. Forester backed away, surrendering his voice.

“Azir and I will speak to Axeon about it and once relaying what we need of him, I don’t think he’d object.” I announced, “Right?” I glanced over my shoulder toward Azir who nodded.

“Cool.” Lt. Forester clapped his hands together, “But he doesn’t eat people, does he?”

“Only when he’s hungry. Lycynians are his delicacy” Natash teased then glanced up at Azir.

“But just you, Derek. I don’t want too many strangers on Axeon’s back.” Azir proposed.

“Alright. No problem.” Derek agreed, as did his comrade.

“Great! I’ll get some of the old toys together.” Lt. Forester revealed, “And don’t worry, guys. I’ll keep the whole, uh...riding-on-the-back-of-a-dragon thing just between us.” he winked.

Before Derek could answer, Leonus stormed in our direction in stomping strides

“Oh for god sake!” my mom muttered, “What now!?”

“That red ape is pushing his limits.” Hiromi added, “And all of our buttons.”

“You said it.” Natash added, taking a seat alongside Lady D.

“Here we go.” I moaned, strolling across the hall taking a seat next to Anthony who wrapped his right arm around my shoulders, “Are you sure you’re alright?”

“Yes, Little Yza...I’m fine. Are you alright? With what he said?” Anthony questioned.

“He was only lashing out, you know that.” I rested my chin on his shoulder, remembering that worrisome conversation and if it would affect our relationship. I understood that when they shift for their full moon transitions, they lose their conscious memory and sense of self; something I read in the Lycynian book. Did it bother me that the man I began having deeper feelings for could possibly mate with Lycynian women? Of course, I’d be stupid not to, but I knew he’d never think about looking, much less touching another woman during his human life, “You and I already talked about it all, so don’t worry about it.” I smiled.

“You have such an understanding heart...” Anthony leaned his head against mine, “ and I love you for it.”

I was completely caught off guard. I looked deep into Anthony’s eyes and before I could reply, Leonus caught my attention; his loud boisterous voice ranting on and on. Anthony then realized what he had said, knowing it may have been too soon for those three SPECIAL words. Taking my hands in his hands, he smiled then urged me to handle the rest of the meeting and that we’d talk later.

And later we will!

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