𝐸vening arrived as the sky darkened and the moon began shining its light upon the Isle and compound, as if highlighting the Lycynian containment area. I stood upon the wall watching as both men and women struggled to shift; their nude bodies scampering around but their nudity wasn’t my concern. This moon cycle was far more difficult for them for their natural instinct to morph was on the fritz for when their bones began breaking to accommodate the Lycynian frame, it would only break back in place.
I winced watching the paranormal creature’s moan and scream in pain; Anthony included. He huddled near one of the open clusters of trees, scratching his claws against the bark growling as he hunched forward, feeling his body temperature rise. Not knowing if he was paying attention or could even focus on the matter, I reached out telepathically offering a softness among the pain,
“It’s alright, Anthony...I’m here. Focus on my voice, if you can.”
With the binoculars held to my eyes, I watched as he raised his head; his eyes searching the wall for the young woman’s petite figure. Once making eye contact upon her form, he attempted a grin before frowning. He waved his right hand then lowered it, scratching against the tree once more. I waited for an answer but I understood his mind wasn’t focused on making the telepathic connection. Suddenly, I moved my sight around the horde within the containment watching as they began gathering in a circle in a clearing that both myself and the guards observed their monthly transition as the moon finally grew close enough to bestow her magic. The Lycynians screamed as their transition finally linked to their emotions and sure enough, bones broke and the outer skin was torn from their bodies.
“Ugh. that’s disgusting…” I grimaced in disgust as I lowered the binoculars but knowing they were in the clear, I sighed in relief for now they were able to unleash their rage. But before making my presence scarce, I used the binoculars once more watching as Anthony; a distinct Lycynian with a thicker scruff around his neck as if he wore a fur collar, scampered around before raising his jackal-lycan head releasing a guttural howl as his yellow eyes focused upon the wall.
He bowed his head momentarily as if he were conscious enough to understand then growled as Lycynians rushed toward him in pouncing jumps. I worried because they engaged in thrashing throws and thumps along the ground before running off into the forestry that masked their behavior due to the thickness of the trees. That was the man I was in love with, yes, but I pushed aside my fears and worries, focusing only on the moment where he said he loved me. I watched as the magical barrier put in place enclosing the creatures flashed violently as they attempted to break through but their efforts, as always, were unsuccessful, as were their attempts to jump from the trees toward the wall of which they fell several feet short.
Two days and nights had passed; the Lycynians were released from their containment. With loved ones greeting them, myself and Thomas included to greet Anthony, that part of their life was over until the following months. Anthony walked barefoot slowly alongside Derek who hadn’t put on his shirt yet, revealing his muscular form that had seen many muscle-building workouts. Laughing momentarily sharing a handshake, Anthony then focused his gaze ahead; there stood his brother and girlfriend eagerly beckoning him forward with smiles on their faces. Sharing a brotherly hug with Thomas, he quickly pulled away tapping his brother’s shoulder before reaching for the petite woman, gently swinging her around.
“I didn’t think you’d be here.” he muttered after sharing a kiss.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” I said then noticed scratches on his upper arm and across his lower stomach, “You’re scratched!”
“It’s nothing new. I’ll heal.” he shook it off, “But if it makes you feel better, I’ll go to Beth.”
“If you don’t, I’ll carry you there myself.” Thomas added, accidentally being the overbearing older brother. Placing his hands on his hips, he realized he was crowding his brother and partner, after seeing the expression on their faces, “Uh...I think I’ll...go and tell Louisa you made it through, si?”
“Si…” Anthony jokingly shooed his brother away.
I chuckled, loving their teasing nature toward each other.
“Thomas, do me a favor while you’re on your way?” I added, “Tell Derek that Azir will be waiting for him outside the gate tonight for their Great City chit-chat.”
“Si, will do. Take care, love birds.” he winked then turned, walking in slow straight strides.
’Love birds?” Anthony wondered, “More like love doves, no?” he looked down at me.
“Love doves?” I laughed, “But sure, whatever.” I held onto him as we walked the grounds back to his dwelling where he wanted a much needed shower and sleep.
Azir paced back and forth outside the wall’s outer gate, waiting for Derek’s arrival and before he could have the guards summon him, he strolled through the wall’s tunnel.
“I know, I know...I’m late.” Derek spoke before Azir could object, “I’m sorry.”
“Mmm. You’re here now. That’s all that matters.” Azir frowned then turned, strolling along the wall ahead of the Samoan who quickly followed, asking question-after-question.
“Where are we going?” he noticed they were heading toward Ravenswood, “Azir!?”
Azir paused, turning to Derek and replied bluntly; arms tucked in the sleeves of his tribal robe,
“For the love of all the Elder Jinn...be quiet! You conjured this idea…not I, so where I’m going, is for me to know. Now please, Lycynian…remain quiet, follow me and I swear…” Azir held his index finger up as if pointing to the sky, “if I hear one little peep…you would look as if you were born without a mouth.”
“Born without a…” Derek began interrupting but Azir’s finger disappeared into a firm fist so he nodded the rest of his reply. He held his fingers to his mouth as if zipping a zipper, making it a point he would adhere to the Jinn’s warning.
Azir turned away, sighing heavily leading the tall Samoan through the vast forestry, past the treeline and toward the cliff-side. Derek glanced around examining the clearing half the size of a football field, wondering what was going to take place and how it would play-out. Glancing to his left he could see the remnants of the ruins; flashes of the Boar-wolf cave events rehashed in his mind. He shook his head then continued following after Azir.
“Stay here.” Azir instructed firmly without warning then disappeared, teleporting in his pillar of green light before Derek could question him.
“Sure thing.” Derek muttered, folding his arms, “Jinn. Wraiths. Demons. Hellhounds and dragons?” he glanced around and upwards, “What’s next? Fairies or Bigfoot?” but then he realized where he was, “F*ck me…there could be, and now you’re standing here talking to yourself. Get a grip, Derek. Ugh, and you’re still doing it…” he slapped his forehead, then walked over sitting on a large boulder. Minutes he waited, when he heard loud moans followed by the sound of a strong whirlwind or heavy flapping of wings playing through the quiet night. He focused his eyes on the night sky but finding nothing above, he lowered his gaze toward the cliff-side. Removing a large Hunter’s knife from his belt he whispered, “Don’t do it…don’t do it…” he pushed himself to his feet, cautiously approaching the rough ledge lined and scattered with boulders of various sizes and shapes. Before he could fully peek his head over the ledge, a massive force pushed him backwards.
Bracing himself against another nearby boulder, he observed as a dragon soared high into the air before its massive wings stretched outward, balancing its weight to hover. Derek smiled for he had never seen such a magnificent beast other than Abraxas. He slowly pushed himself to his feet watching as Axeon’s scales glistened in the moonlight like a sea of Sapphires. The mythical creature roared before soaring downward, landing gracefully nearby. He approached the Lycynian; his massive snout catching the paranormal’s displeasing scent. The pressure from Axeon’s breathing, brushed strands of Derek’s hair off his face as he closed his eyes.
“This one has a different scent, Jinn.” Axeon telepathically spoke, turning his head toward the figure on his back, “He has a foul stench of human and canine.”
Azir grinned as he replied, adjusting his place between the spikes,
“Very repulsive creature, yes, but this one is working to help us. We have to do this for the young Keeper. And for the Isle...”
“I understand but that does not mean I have to grow accustomed to it.” Axeon laid down allowing Derek to climb up, “Lycynian...” Axeon continued, speaking verbally, nodding respectfully.
“What the f*ck!?” Derek hesitated as he cautiously approached, “Did you just…”
“I did.” Axeon nodded, “And if you are going to lose your bodily fluids, you will not ride upon my back!” Axeon leaned his snout close, “Are you?” he squinted his eyes.
“No.” Derek’s voice squeaked, “Not at the moment. I mean, don’t think...” he cleared his throat.
Axeon snarled his snout, showing the tips of his teeth.
“Enough, Axeon…” Azir stroked the dragon’s scales along his back, “we’re wasting time.” then he spoke telepathically, “And if he does lose his functions, you can eat him or throw him off your back during flight.” Azir grinned.
Axeon turned his head, looking at the Jinn upon his neck.
Derek smiled, putting this on a list of things he never thought would happen. Azir reached out his hand, helping him up. Situated between his spikes, Derek quickly complained, feeling Axeon’s body movements,
“Whoa…” he grabbed hold of the spike in front of him, “I’m not going to like this, am I?”
“No…you are not.” Axeon replied then with one flap of his strong wings and push of his feet from the ground, he took flight into the air; Derek moaned loudly and displeasingly.
The Samoan soldier was used to dropping for military missions or flying helicopters, but this was nothing quite like that. Holding on tight to Axeon’s spikes, he felt the breeze through his dark wavy hair. He took in deep breaths of the air so fresh, the crispness stung his sense of smell. Pushing aside the awkward flight, from his pocket removed a pair of steampunk goggles, USB cord and a hand-held device looking like an old blackberry phone. He managed to connect the goggles and cord before a sudden tilt made him grab onto the spike. He raised his gaze, watching as the dragon turned his head toward him, as if messing with the inexperienced rider on his back.
“Funny…” Derek muttered, “very funny, but do that again and we blow any chance of helping the Keeper.”
Axeon released a low groan, keeping his flight slow, steady and straight. All Derek felt was the faint motion of the dragon’s body moving up and down and the sound of his wings flapping alongside him. Raising his scarred eyebrow he activated the device then put on the goggles. From point-of-view through the lenses with an extremely high-tech zoom capability, he recorded and scanned the mainland below and approaching closer, it began. Derek glanced down catching glimpses of fires, destruction and smoldering landscapes. Upon his instructions, Axeon tilted his body left and right, at times gliding with the breeze, allowing Derek better visuals. He adjusted the lenses, recording thermal images roaming the streets leading toward the Great City. Adjusting the goggles, he sharpened their figures and shapes, weapons and species which appeared on the devices’ monitor screen. The Night-Walkers were easy to spot, watching as they sped through the streets giving off their cooler blue body temperatures.
As creatures emerged in larger clusters through the streets, Derek couldn’t believe his eyes as he removed the goggles momentarily to make sure he was seeing things correctly. Returning the goggles to his eyes, he exaggerated more than he expected, watching as the tall burly creatures tore down remnants of what used to be buildings standing on their foundations,
“Are those Trolls? As in f*cking Trolls?” he watched as they swung their spiked maces or metal clubs, overturning vehicles in their search for stragglers or rebels, “And what the f*ck are those...scaled things!?”
“Yes, they’re Trolls and those scaled things? They’re Zarooks.” Azir revealed.
“Zarwhat?” Derek complained.
“Zarooks. Vile and unnatural lizard-hybrids conjured from the darkest depths of the world’s most toxic waters in the Amazon.” Azir answered, “They also have a very venomous bite.”
“Like the Wraiths?” Derek commented curiously trying to understand the comparison, “The venomous bite part, that is?”
“Yes, Lycynian...very much like a Wraith’s bite to your kind.” Axeon added knowledgeably.
“Do you have images from those on the ground?” Azir glanced over his shoulder.
“Yes, why?” he sorted through them.
“Because it’s the skies you need to observe as well.” Azir revealed.
“The skies?” Derek asked, leaning in curiously.
Azir pointed ahead, gesturing toward the distance and following his directional point, Derek’s Lycynian eyes saw figures and beasts flying through the air. Using his goggles once more, he captured incredible snapshots of the creatures, all while not believing their existence. He was already familiar with the Shadowed Ones, making a check mark on the screen of ones those on the island are familiar with, but when it came to the Harpies, Derek thought he had jumped into another world that wasn’t his own.
“They can’t be real.” Derek muttered, “They can’t be…”
“I assure you, Derek...they are real.” Azir answered worriedly, “I haven’t had the pleasure of encountering them in battle but I have heard of them and what they can do. They’re extremely carnivorous and will shred their victims apart with their talons and rip the flesh from your bones.”
“Rip...rip the flesh from my bones?” Derek complained humorously, “That...doesn’t leave a pleasant image in my mind at all. Thanks, Jinn.” he nodded, continuing to observe our potential enemies of the sky, “And what’s that?” he referred to a thick mass concealed within the dark clouds that swirled above the Great City.”
Before Azir could speak, Axeon abruptly paused mid-air creating a sudden jerk forward as if frozen in place. Flapping his wings heavily, keeping himself in a hovering position, his eyes stared toward the city with great hesitance and despair.
“Whoa, hey what happened?” Derek questioned.
“Axeon, what is it? What do you sense?” Azir reached out telepathically.
“I can not go any further, Jinn.” Axeon replied, “It’s too dangerous a chance to take again.”
“What’s wrong?” Derek removed the goggles, “Azir…what’s wrong?” he tapped the Jinn’s back.
“He can’t go any further.” Azir answered, “He claims it’s far too dangerous and I must agree. It is. Tell me you’ve gathered enough?”
“Yeah, I got enough.” Derek tucked away the equipment.
“Good.” Azir affirmed.
Axeon turned his body and swiftly flew through the air, returning to the safety of the Isle’s protective barrier of which had been renewed. The ride back was in silence when Derek had to comment solemnly,
“Azir, I’ve seen a lot of sh*t over the years, but those things...Harpies, Trolls, Zarooks? We’re f*cked, man! We’re up against creatures we don’t understand!”
“Do you want to keep your opinion to yourself, Lycynian or would you like me to throw you down into the sea below?”Azir snapped; his elegant voice was blunt but stern.
“Azir!? I’m serious!” Derek argued firmly, “And go ahead! I’d like to see how you explain to the Keeper how and why I didn’t return?” he waited but Azir kept quiet, “Exactly! I’m just saying! The Keeper’s a tiny little thing but how is she, no matter how powerful she may be, half-breed or not, going to fight them?”
“I’ve fought these creatures before, Derek, excluding the Harpies, so I know their strengths and weaknesses. And with that experience and knowledge, we will defeat every single one.” Azir stared into Derek’s worried eyes, “And as far as the half-breed? She’s stronger than you think. She’ll overcome this, one way or another. Plus you forget, she has all of us behind her. She’s not alone!”
“Mm, well, it’s the one way or another I’m worried about.” Derek moaned.
Azir tightened his grip around the spike in front of him, but kept silent the rest of the way, as did Axeon who sent such uneasy energy through his body that Azir felt it tingle against his touch. The Jinn attempted to communicate with the dragon but received no answer. Not until they returned to the Isle. Landing on the cliffside, Axeon spoke before retreating to his cave,
“Jinn...do not make me return to that city, for I will not. No matter the instruction. Something I thought was long gone, lingers. Alive. Although I do not understand how, he does. Why do you think the land is destroyed in such a way? No man or machine can create such damage with fire.”
“You don’t mean...” Azir replied verbally, realizing Axeon’s meaning, “the Red Death? But how is that possible? Marxus and I banished him into hibernation…it can’t be!”
“Indeed it is. You of all, should know Jinn’s magic, no matter your age, can contain magic that of a dragon’s. Not even the Sumerian Jinn, which is the oldest and strongest.”
“What is the Red Death?” Derek took a step forward.
“It’s not your concern.” Azir argued.
“Alright, you know what?” Derek huffed, “I sense you don’t like me very much, and I don’t care, but if we’re all going to fight alongside one another, together, against those f*cking things out there coming this way…” he gestured out toward the distance, “then you’re going to stop keeping me in the goddamn dark and answer me!”
Azir approached the Samoan ready to take action when Axeon roared loudly; his roars shook the ground beneath their feet and echoed in the stillness of the night. Stretching out his wings and holding his head high, he broke the tension between men.
“This is not the time to fight amongst yourselves. You all of, Jinn, know that. Answer the Lycynian.” Axeon affirmed verbally; his wings closed following the length of his body.
“Thank you.” Derek appreciated.
“I was not helping you.” Axeon leered in Derek’s direction.
“Yeah, well, whatever.” Derek argued, “Now who or what, is the Red Death?”
“The Red Death is…” Azir sighed, “he’s an adversary we fought once before that can’t easily be defeated. Surely you can see the faint scars amongst Axeon scales, yes?” Azir pointed out. He watched as Derek examined the dragon’s body, taking notice of the scars, “Believe me, Derek...if Axeon is to fight him once more, he will not survive this time. That’s why he was hesitant to continue further into the city tonight. That thick mass slithering in the clouds? That’s the Red Death. The fire damage caused to the mainland, towns and cities? That’s the Red Death!” Azir’s voice grew loud, “So now can you understand why I’m not in the mood to answer your ridiculous questions on the spot!? I have to think about how my kin, myself and Axeon are going to defeat that monstrous beast a second time!”
Derek remained silent, realizing he wasn’t making things easy.
“I’m sorry.” he apologized sincerely, “Really, I am. It’s just, all this sh*t is new to me. But does Yza know about the Red Death? Surely she should know.”
“No, she doesn’t know. Not yet. But she will.” Azir uttered, “Now, it’s late. Go to bed and we’ll meet in the morning.” Azir turned, walking toward the forest tree line leaving Derek and Axeon behind.
“Thank you, Axeon...tonight was a night I won’t forget.” Derek admired the dragon’s beauty and wanting to reach out and pet his snout, the dragon snarled, “Alright, okay…” he held his hands in surrender, “too soon.” he grinned then backed away, watching as the dragon leapt over the cliff. Once out of sight Derek muttered, “Sh*t, I rode a dragon!” he enjoyed the memory then turned sprinting after Azir, and asked more about the Red Death.
“He’s a fire-drake.” Azir revealed.
“Fire-drake?” Derek didn’t understand.
“A serpentine dragon.”
“Oh...oh, okay.” Derek nodded, visually picturing the beast.
“And he’s one of ancient power and strength. He’s vile, horrendous and cares for nothing but himself.”
“Then why is he doing all of this? Destroying the city?” Derek wondered.
“Because as monstrous as he may be, he’s a slave to the Immortal-Necromancer. He wears a collar upon his neck that Drakuul had infused with the darkest magic that has managed to keep the beast under his control. However, I think the Red Death is only biding his time for the right moment to kill the man himself, but I can’t say for sure. Axeon had fought him before as stated earlier and at the time, they were both young dragons from different worlds, fighting for two different causes, but now, Derek…” Azir’s golden eyes filled with worry as he made eye contact with the Samoan, “if Axeon and the Red Death were to fight now, Axeon would not survive. That beast has grown more powerful and filled with such hate, I sensed it tonight. Our beloved Axeon, the protector of this island, sadly isn’t a young dragon like he once was, so I fear this war…” he paused sighing heavily with despair, “this war will destroy him. So, after tonight, he won’t be carrying more weight than he should carry. He’ll need all the strength he can gather for what’s to come and for defeating the Red Death once and for all.”
Derek had no comforting words, for what could be said? He glanced down at his feet then raised his gaze asking one last question,
“The Red Death? Is there a meaning behind it or is that the beasts’ name?”
“The Red Death is his name yes, but that’s for the common tongue. His true name is Arxulet.” Azir revealed, “Now, are we done?” he raised his right eyebrow.
“Good. See you in the morning.” Azir nodded then standing in place, he disappeared.
“Arxulet?” Derek combed his hair back, “The name alone sounds deadly. F*ck…” and removing the gadget from his pocket, he examined all the images he had captured. Once inside the wall; gates closed behind him, Derek sent the young Keeper a message of their return, requesting a meeting in the morning.
Axeon stirred restless in his cavern; thoughts running through his mind of what slithered through the air. He knew another battle was soon to come but this time he’d be prepared; not making the same mistake he made 100 years ago. He’s older and stronger, but so is the Red Death. Axeon wasn’t a dragon of war for that wasn’t his purpose of being sent to Marxus but he’d fight and defend the island nonetheless, protecting the magic within. Falling asleep, flashes of their first encounter appeared from memory:
Clashing of dragon claws and teeth, bodies pounding against one another and roars of pain, triumph and anger filled the air while their Masters; the Immortal Marxus Castillion and Immortal-Necromancer Drakuul Lexus fought their own on the ground. Fire exhaled at one another having no effect against their sleek scales, acting as their own armor that was stronger than iron but weak against another dragon’s claws or teeth. Words were exchanged between them in an ancient dragon’s tongue.
“Why do you fight, Blue One?” the Red Death said slithering horizontally in the air, “We are of the same kin. We do not have to obey these humans. They do not rule over us, for they are nothing so why not attack them now while they are consumed with their own hatred against each other? We could be Kings of this world, Blue One...just you and I with no other to command over us!”
“No, Red Death! I will not join you! I fight because it is right and you are not of my kin. I do not follow a Master’s commands but I will protect them because it was the dragon’s code to fight alongside humans. It is our duty!” the Blue One replied.
“Duty!? It is not my duty to fight with or for these humans! They are nothing but insects that consume anything and everything around them! You are loyal to them?” the Red Death argued, “I will not follow such a code, or show them honor!”
“Says the beast who is shackled by a human! You are following his commands, are you not?”
“I have no choice but to obey!”
“There is always a choice but you choose not to find another path!” Axeon declared.
“Do not speak of things you do not understand!” the Red Death roared as he lunged forward.
Their battle ensued; continuous roars of hate and rage.
Axeon woke from his sleep, hearing thunder booming outside from a storm rolling in; thunder resembling dragon roars. He stood with his wings stretched out as he scanned the cavern in restlessness. He approached the exit where rain poured in torrents that trickled inside. He flew into the sky in spiraling motions, releasing loud roars of anger and rage that were camouflaged within the thunder. Lightning flashed among the black sky, revealing Axeon’s form to the guards on the wall. They stood in large huts that were built over the months that had passed, allowing them to stand out of the rain. They watched as Axeon flew among the lightning, admiring his beauty.
“What’s wrong with him, I wonder?” Wyatt wondered.
“I don’t know.” Nick muttered.
“Maybe he’s singing?” Caleb added as he sat on one of the hut’s inside benches placing his hands above a small fire-pit in the center of the hut for warmth.
Caleb and his friends laughed but the guards still wondered, for the dragon had never shown such behavior.
Azir had returned to their hut; Natash laid asleep in their bed. Removing his clothes, taking a shower and joining his wife in their bed, he listened to the dragon’s roars, as did the rest of his kin. Azir sat on the ledge of the bed when Natash awoke listening to the thunderous roars.
“What in the Heavens is that?” she pushed herself from her pillow; the sheet covering her nudeness.
“Thunder, my beauty…” Azir faced her, “just thunder. Go back to sleep.” he grinned.
“Azir, what happened?” she gently stroked his face before her hand slid down his chest.
Taking her hand in his, he kissed it then inched close to her, pulling her into his arms. Leaning against the headboard, he relayed the night’s events. Natash was shocked to hear of the Red Death’s presence, remembering the horrific events of their first encounter against the beast. She worried but Azir pulled her close once more, telling her that there was nothing they could do in that moment but enjoy the time they had together for tomorrow, it could all end. She held onto him tightly then together, they fell asleep, after they had made love.
After Anthony had emerged from the compound, he invited me to his room for a romantic evening; he had cooked and prepared an Italian dish that had been in their family for generations. With candles set about his room, he had intentions planned. Ones I didn’t question. After the delicious dinner and a slow dance to songs on the radio, things turned passionate between us. The evening went exactly how the both of us planned, but better, and it was the most incredible-perfect night! Anthony was the perfect gentleman, showing me the respect any woman deserves during their first time with a man but never once, did he treat me like a fragile little virgin. Yes, I was nervous of course, but with his kisses and strong embrace, the nervousness faded. There were moments where he was a little rougher than expected but on the passionate side, releasing low growls in my ear as his hands caressed my back. I smiled and unknowingly to me and the Italian lover, I released a low blast of my fiery Aura that accidently burnt the sheets but with Anthony’s hot body temperature, he only thought it was of a sexual nature. The moment lasted for what felt like forever and one I would cherish. Laying in one another’s arms; Anthony gently stroking my back, I just stared at his handsome face that laid with eyes closed. I wonder what he thought but respectfully stayed out of his head. I smiled, laying my head on his chest in complete happiness.
Afterwards, he and I talked about it; he wanted to know if I was pleased with him. I couldn’t believe he’d even ask because I wouldn’t know, but all I did know in that moment, was that it couldn’t get any better than that. He seemed pleased with that answer then answered mine; I wanted to know if I was enough to please his experience. I didn’t want to know if he compared me to other women he’s had, not that he’d do that, but I wondered in the back of my mind, as any woman would. He assured me that for him, it meant far more than anything because for the first time, he was in love with the woman and being intimately involved, the connection meant more. However, out of all the smiles, stolen kisses and occasionally tickles in an adult manner, it was then the problem presented itself when he winced beneath the sheets.
“What?” I worried, “What’s the matter?”
“I don’t know. I...” he peeked under the sheets. Frowning, he then reached for his pants, dressing himself quickly.
“Anthony?” I called out after him as he rushed to the bathroom. Sitting up covered with the sheet, I worried. Reaching for his shirt that was just long enough, I scampered toward the bathroom, “Anthony?” I called out once more.
“Um, give me a moment?” he answered.
I didn’t adhere as I slowly opened the bathroom door; there he stood in front of the mirror examining his lower anatomy. His pants laid atop the toilet seat as he stood, covering himself with a towel. He turned to the door, watching as the young woman slowly entered.
“What’s wrong?” I pondered.
He didn’t know how to answer.
“Anthony?” I asked again, “Did I...do something?” I hoped he hadn’t found something wrong.
“No...no.” he approached, “Not intentionally, that is.”
“Not intentionally? Meaning?” my voice cracked.
He sighed, walking me toward the mirror and with reluctance, he removed the towel. I gasped; not at the sight of his body but at the fact that his skin was beet red in the area where it mattered. I covered my mouth, shaking my head as I backed away; not in disgust, but disbelief, because I knew I had done this.
“Oh my god…” tears welled in my eyes, “I’m...Anthony, I’m sorry.”
He covered himself then scampered toward the young woman, holding her tightly. He didn’t blame her, not once, but realized himself that that burst of fiery aura meant something else other than what he originally thought.
“Shh, it’s alright...it’s alright. It’s not your fault. Look at me…” he raised my head, “it’s not your fault.”
“Not my fault? Anthony, look at yourself! I did that...me!” I argued, “I’m sorry…” all sorts of emotions hit me at once, anywhere from self-doubt to thinking myself a freak. The last one I even muttered aloud, “I can’t even make love to a man without burning them, oh god…I’m a freak.”
“Hey!” his voice grew blunt with disappointment, “Don’t you dare think that about yourself! Look at me...am I mad? Hmm?” Anthony looked into my eyes, “Am I?”
“I’m not mad! Surprised? Yes. A little red? Definitely. But mad? No. Neither of us could have guessed that you…” he paused trying to find the words, “well, that you do that.” he grinned, “Your Aura is tied to your emotions, everyone here knows that, but no one, Little Yza...no one...could have guessed this would happen! So don’t ever…use the word freak to describe yourself, alright?”
I folded my arms, growing a faint grin for I knew he was trying to lighten the mood. But deep down, I continued to feel like there was something wrong with me because who’s to say what will happen next time? Anthony reached out his arms, hugging me once more. I held onto him, apologizing again. Despite faint scars across his smooth skin along his back and chest from transitions in the compound, this was something new. A different kind of infliction. He suggested he’d take a cool shower to soothe the skin with an Aloe-herbal body wash Beth had created for those on the island who have sensitive skin. He knew the Aloe would soothe the redness and if it worked, if his skin healed, then there was nothing to worry about. I waited, sitting on the toilet after placing his pants on the tank behind me, watching his figure behind the smoky shower glass door.
“Ah-ha…” he declared peeking his head out, “it worked! Or it’s working!” his head disappeared.
“Really?” I sighed in relief, “Thank god…”
“Si, yes...” Anthony comforted, “told you there was nothing to worry about. Little Yza.” he turned off the shower, reached for another towel that hung nearby, then emerged with it wrapped around his hips.
Although I had seen his body, I didn’t want to keep looking, like some peek-a-book game, so I took his word for it. I was relieved because the last thing I wanted to do was harm Anthony, of all people and in all ways. He dressed in satin pj bottoms waiting for me to shower then afterwards, we laid there talking about it further. Jokes were shared that next time, we’d need to keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Laughter echoed in the room when suddenly, my phone rang, receiving a message. As my laughter ceased reading the message, I revealed,
“It’s from Derek. He and Azir returned and they want to meet us in the morning.” I glanced over my shoulder.
“I wonder what they found?” he pondered.
“I don’t know.” I placed the phone in my lap.
“Well, then…” he leaned forward, “let’s get some sleep, hmm?”
“Sleep?” I teased.
“Unless you had something else in mind?” he smiled.
“Something else indeed.” I raised my left eyebrow, “If you’re up for it?”
Anthony smiled once more, releasing a low growl then pulled me close as we tried again. This time, when he felt the unnatural heat as before, he took things slow until I controlled my emotions. It was awkward because there were moments when we both were really into the moment but together, we got through it. And it was better this time around. For Anthony being a Lycynian, had found his mate while for me, although being a half-breed had imprinted, so-to-speak. Demons, like Wraiths, imprint on one person. It isn’t a soulmate connection, not that extensive but it holds great importance for our kind. Think of it as Anthony and I are bonded more than the average couple for that’s the best way it could be explained. The rest of the night was absolutely perfect!