𝒪nce appearing outside Jon’s home in swirling green energy, I thought of how this scene would play out but nothing I imagined would be the actual reaction. Stepping inside the Saxon home, his parents greeted us with friendly smiles as they sat by the fireplace; their smiles quickly faded taking notice of our sadness.
“Jonathan, my boy…” his father, Jonathan Sr. greeted in a raspy Australian accent, “what brings all of you here at this hour?” he glanced over Jon’s shoulder, observing me standing there holding onto Abraxas, “Ah, hello Keeper. It’s a pleasure formally meeting you. Jon has…”
“Mum…dad…this isn’t a social visit.” Jon whispered as he sat with his parents, “It’s Lucy.”
“Lucy!?” his mother Susan worried noticing her absence, “Where is she? Jonathan…where’s your sister!?”
Jon sighed before breaking the news in a gentle manner. His mother grew hysterical, sobbing as she mumbled in her Australian accent,
“Oh, my God...my baby girl. Not my baby girl.” she scampered toward me, falling to her knees, grabbing my hands frantically, pleading, “Please...please, dear girl...please find and bring my baby home. Bring her home to me, please...” tears streamed down her red face.
I felt her pain knowing my mom would feel and react in the same hysterical manner. A child is a child, no matter the age and that’s a bond that could never be severed. With tears stinging my eyes I replied,
“I will...I promise, Mrs. Saxon. No matter what it takes, I promise, I’ll bring her home.” I reached out offering a comforting hug then glanced around noticing pictures of their family throughout their home. She pulled away as she turned to her husband, who held onto her in comfort as he too, shed his tears before turning away, coughing heavily. Poor man. He looked extremely tired and I could see the cancer had a terrible effect on him.
I wiped my tears away as I stood removing Abraxas from the seat next to me, walking toward the windows. He snuggled against my chin offering his comfort then focused his attention out the windows. Erik strolled over, standing alongside me. Things were quiet between us because now wasn’t really the time to discuss his earlier tone and words, but he pushed for it nonetheless. Leaning his left hand on the window frame, he revealed softly looking into my dark and saddened eyes,
“Look, Keeps…you have to know I didn’t mean what I said. I was just…dealing with Jonathan’s words and the pressure I’m under. I took it out on you and I’m really sorry.”
“Yeah? What pressure, may I ask!?” I adjusted Abraxas in my arms, “Because if anyone’s under pressure here, Erik…it’s Jonathan and yes, me. This is just something else I have to deal with.” I argued softly, not wanting to attract attention, “Look…just forget about it, please? Because saying sorry doesn’t always fix things. That’s the easy way out of conversations and arguments.” I stared into his gray eyes, watching as he remained silent with nothing to say. Glancing out the windows, the sound of an ominous force attempted to penetrate the invisible barrier around the homes, emanating continuously. We watched as the barrier lit up being forcefully hit against, making an indescribable sound. Erik and I looked at each other then turned to Jon and his parents who sat in front of the fireplace, as if the sound outside didn’t phase them. They’ve grown accustomed to it, hearing them on a nightly basis. “How could Marxus tell me these creatures weren’t harmful?” I whispered glancing back out the window, “Look at what they’ve done. Look at what they’re trying to do!”
“At this point, I don’t think Marxus realized how dangerous these creatures are.” Erik answered, “None of us did.”
“Yeah, well…I’m sure he does now. This has been the closest encounter I’ve dealt with. I’ve only heard them outside the walls. Seeing their form outside these barriers…is frightening. But this isn’t about me!”
“Keeps, come on…I didn’t mean what I said.” he affectionately rubbed my back.
“Maybe…maybe not but you said it just the same without hesitation.” I gently pushed his hand away, “I’m not mad…just confused right now. Not about myself or you, but I just…I’m not doing this right now.”
Sarah scampered around the kitchen, preparing cups of tea. Jon’s mother held onto one of Lucy’s favorite dolls, sobbing as her family comforted her. It saddened me terribly, as I felt responsible for the horrible occurrence. Could I have been more vigilant and aware? Jon’s father stepped aside, coughing once more; Jon stood alongside him offering him a glass of water but taking a sip was a mistake for he coughed once more. Wiping his mouth with a napkin, blood stained the cloth. Growing worried I approached.
“Mr. Saxon...are you alright?” I inquired with concern.
“Yes, dear girl…” he smiled, “yes.”
“That doesn’t look good.” I gestured at the napkin.
“He has cancer.” Jon revealed softly with sadness, “We’re keeping it quiet for now, because father doesn’t want to bother anyone but I keep telling him there could be ways to help ease the discomfort but he won’t listen to me or mum.”
“Cancer?” I grew shocked, “Oh, my god…” that was all I could say. I was right in my assumption when I first saw him.
“I found out last year.” Jonathan Sr. muttered, “I guess all those years of working in the shop has caught up to me.”
“And the Doctors? What did they say?”
“It’s stage three.” Jonathan worried, “He’s undergoing the treatments but Doctor Matthews says they’re not working. And you know being bitten by a Wraith won’t help either.”
“Alright...that’s enough, dear boy.” Jon’s father hugged him tightly, “You need to worry about Lucy. And you…” Jonathan Sr’s eyes landed on me, “have a lot more important things to worry about than my problems.” he flashed a blunt grin then glanced toward Susan, “Excuse me.” he stepped away leaving Jon and I standing there watching the man.
He was a rugged man with a darker shade of red hair and darker freckles around his cheeks. He was tall and slender so I could see where Jon got his stature from. His dark blue eyes were hidden behind black rimmed glasses but were kind. His voice like I said, was raspy and he couldn’t help but roll Australian slang off his tongue here and there. Jon’s mother Susan, was average height I suppose at 5’5 with a slender build as well but age began creeping up on her. Her hair was a lighter strawberry red shade with lighter blue eyes that were framed with faint crows feet. When she spoke, her voice was soft and I could see where Jon got his pureblood Demon genes from; I sensed that about Susan the moment she reached for my hands. She was maybe level two working with plants and having an excellent greenthumb. The Saxon family was close-knit.
Susan held onto one of Lucy’s favorite dolls, sobbing as her family comforted her. It saddened me terribly, as I felt responsible for the horrible occurrence.
After spending time with the Saxons, Erik teleported Sarah and I. We appeared at the manor just after lock down. Taking full responsibility, I thought everyone should know a child had gone missing; supposedly taken by the creatures. I spread word through Ravenstone’s broadcast system linked to everyone’s radio-phones. I instructed everyone to tune in for the live broadcast at 9:00a.m, for further details.
Later that night, I couldn’t sleep as everything raced through my mind. Hoping my mom may have been awake, I quietly made my way down stairs and there she sat in the kitchen, sipping tea. I joined her explaining what I knew and told her how I understand fully how she feels being a mother, worrying about me. She offered her support in the situation, performing locating spells with fellow witches or Demons or comforting Jon’s parents. I held back telling her about the first misunderstanding between Erik and I, but she sensed there was something I wasn’t telling her. Staring into my tea cup watching the steam escape, I relayed the issue,
“I’m sure he didn’t mean the words or how they came out, because everyone says things the wrong way, but still it hurts coming from him. I just don’t want to make a big deal out of it you know, but I don’t know what to do. I have deep feelings for him.”
“I know sweetheart.Well, that’s definitely something the two of you need to talk out with NO interruptions.” my mom advised, “Then after that, if his attitude doesn’t change or he continues keeping things from you, I’d rethink the relationship in all aspects. Not all work out in the end and I’m not jinxing anything. You know about my experiences with my two husbands but sometimes, sweetheart, things and people change. Believe me I know so…keep your guard up and don’t easily break down your walls. Not for anyone and definitely not for any man. Don’t forget who you are as a person. You’re still my baby girl, no matter what. Now, did that answer your question?”
“Yes…yes, it did.” I smiled, “Thank you.” I reached over, giving her an appreciative hug then pulled away asking about her gatherings with the witches and warlocks, “So, how’s that going?”
“After Ireland, some of them are upset at me because we interrupted the ceremony while others are still persistent in wanting me to join their covens. One of them even suggested I should be voted in as their High Priestess! I declined, of course. I’ve told them that I’m a solitary practitioner and that enough would be said on the matter.”
“And how did they accept that answer?” I smiled.
“Oh, you know…” she grinned fiddling with her tea cup, “they’re leaving me alone. I guess they’re a bit afraid.”
“Mm-hmm. Just like that.” I teased, “Okay.” I shook my head, “I’m going to go say hi to Freya then head back to bed. Love you.” I kissed her cheek.
“Love you too, sweetheart.” she returned the kiss then watched as her daughter disappeared behind her door.
I petted the black feline’s soft fur and listened to her loud purrs. She rubbed her head against my touch while kneading on my lap. She glanced up releasing a muffled meow between her purrs. I picked her up kissing her head and face then gently placed her on my mom’s bed then left the room; the small feline wanted to follow but the door closed before she could scamper after.
Morning arrived at 9:00 am, I sat in the study preparing for the live broadcasts’ interactive streaming. Think a video chat with large groups of individuals wanting to join but all at the same time, had to be granted permission to do so. It’s complicated and intricate but I managed. Sitting before a three screened futuristic holographic computer I ordered during the Christmas holiday, I began the message that appeared on everyone’s radio-phones or I-pads; even screens posted in the village square. Taking a deep breath, I pressed the red button that began the live stream,
“Good morning, everyone. I apologize for this announcement but everyone on the island needs to be aware of events that have recently transpired. As of last night, a child was suspected to have been taken by the Boar-wolves and although no official evidence has been found, I…” I paused, realizing the message Erik had helped write, sounded too rehearsed so I unintentionally pushed it aside. Staring into the camera, I continued in my own words, “I don’t know what’s happened. No one does. But I assure you, that I’ve ordered all the guards to search for any clues or signs, but sadly it’s looking as if she was taken.”
Erik sat across from me with a deep frown for he felt pushed aside and unappreciated, all because I didn’t utilize the full speech he aided in writing, but then understood. He bit his lower lip, staring at his feet as the live broadcast continued. Staring at the screen, I watched as residents signed in, preparing to interact with the streaming. As each name appeared, I approved their links and connections. A male’s voice spoke first, in a rough English tone,
“Who was taken? Whose child?”
I read the name listing Leonard Brye; Sarah and Nathan’s uncle and the Isle’s blacksmith.
“The Saxon family’s youngest. Lucy Saxon, Mr. Brye.” I revealed, “She’s a baby.”
“That poor family.” he added, “She’s just a wee-thing.”
“Yes, she is.” I saddened, listening to gasps over the open lines, watching as further names appeared, waiting for their chance to be heard and chime in on the matter. Approving them down the line, the last name I hesitated and dreaded most. Leonus Lancaster. I sighed, approving his connection as it jumped to the top of the list, “Go ahead, Leonus…”
“How could this happen!? How could you be so careless as to not be alert of what’s happening right under your nose...Keeper!” Leonus’ voice shouted in his boisterous Scottish accent.
“I’m not Marxus, so for me to be everywhere at once is impossible.” I replied, “Can you be everywhere at once, Leonus?” he remained silent with nothing to say, “I didn’t think so.” I paused taking a breath before the conversation burst in chaos, speaking at once. In a loud voice I instructed over their chorus of voices and rants, “Everyone, calm down! Please…please…this arguing back and forth isn’t going to save or find Lucy, so everyone please calm the f*ck down!”
“I knew something like this would happen, especially with bloodsuckers and demon spawns watching the wall! And because of that, look at this! An innocent child has been taken!” Leonus argued.
“Leonus!” I exclaimed over his voice, “Don’t blame this on anyone but the Boar-wolves! The guards were aware of the situation, but were unable to prevent it before it happened! Besides, your home was just two doors down, so where were you when the moment happened? Oh, that’s right! Drunk. Lazy. A coward.”
He activated his video chat feature; his face appearing only on my screen but his voice remained on the open channels for all to hear,
“What did you say to me, you little Hell-brat? Do you want to repeat that!?”
“Gladly, but right now my focus is on little Lucy so I suggest you shut that giant hole on your face you call a mouth, put aside your hatred for me and help us figure out what we’re going to do to get her back. Understand!?” I answered firmly, “And say one more word, please, because I’d be more than happy to place you on mute!”
“You can’t hide behind your doors ALL the time, b*tch! I’ll be watching. No one embarrasses me like this. Ever!” Leonus leaned into the screen, whispering a threat everyone heard.
“The Keeper’s right!” Heather pushed her husband aside, “We must work together…all of us Leonus!” she glanced at him standing beside her, “Please, my love...what if that were one of our boys? Would you be standing here arguing then?”
Everyone, including myself, remained silent, for she had put the Scotsnman in his place.
“Thank you, Heather.” I said.
“What do we do now!?” a woman’s voice spoke.
Reading the name listed, it was Beth; an Immortal and healer that worked at the hospitals’ clinic among the Wraith medical staff.
“I’m still waiting on full confirmation from the guards, Beth but until then, if any of you have any suggestions on how we can proceed from here with caution, of course, you’re more than welcome to come to the study but I ask that you let me know first. For example, if anyone has hunting or tracking skills from past experiences, will help us all greatly.” I continued, “All we can do now, unfortunately, is wait until the guards have completed their search so I ask that all of you, please don’t be reckless and take it upon yourselves to be the hero of the day. A child missing and taken is heartbreaking yes, but I wouldn’t want to see any of you missing. Thank you for your time today and one more thing, parents...please keep your eyes on your children and keep them close. I don’t want another going missing alright?” I heard mumbled from parents eagerly agreeing to that request then continued listening to other residents voicing their opinion and concerns before the broadcast ended. However I kept the connection with the Lancaster home on a private line, “Leonus…” my voice called out firmly but waited a few minutes until his face reappeared on the screen, “Look...you and I hate one another, everyone here knows that, and that’s fine with me, but right now, I need all the help I can get. Even if that’s from you, so for Lucy’s sake? Help us. You know a lot about this island.”
He stood there thinking about my words, rubbing his right hand along the bottom of his chin then remarked bluntly, nodding as he glanced back at his family who sat at the kitchen table listening to the broadcast,
“Agreed, but I have terms.”
“And they are?” I sat back, waiting for his complaints about the Wraiths and Demons.
“One...” he began counting his fingers.
“If you have to count your fingers, then the answer’s no before you start.” I objected.
“Fine.” he groaned, “Just one...condition.”
Erik released a guttural TSK as he waved his hands, disappearing in a swirling green flame that didn’t burn the chair he sat in but left behind faint embers. I closed my eyes then continued my conversation with Leonus and sighing I pushed for his answer,
“If I help you, you won’t interfere with what I bring to the contribution. I’ve hunted in the past with my father in the Scottish Moors so I know what I’m doing. Is that something you can agree to, Keeper?” his words were blunt and gruff.
“Agreed. Just as you’re familiar with hunting and such, I’m familiar with reading people and seeing through them and you, Leonus...I see through you clearly like a shard of glass.” I leaned forward, “Meet me in the study in an hour and we’ll discuss further details, alright? Lancaster?”
He stood there baffled; smug as he watched me end my call. Leaning against the kitchen counter he thought, “I HATE HER, BUT I GIVE HER THAT MUCH CREDIT...SHE HAS GUTS! BUT DAMN IT, SHE BETTER NOT SEND ME OUT ONCE AGAIN ON A WILD GOOSE CHASE!!!”
“Why are you so hard on that girl?” Heather questioned, “She’s just a child.”
“She’s a brat!” Leonus turned to her, “A brat that knows nothing of how this island works and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let her ruin everything that I’ve worked for here.”
“You’ve worked for?” Liam argued as he stood from the table, “You’ve been privileged to have been given all of this…” he gestured around the home, “so don’t make it sound like you’ve fought for it. Marxus granted the Lancaster family a home here and from the stories you’ve told me, Mum and my brothers, things have been handed to us. Not worked for. Given. So if you think you’re entitled to the Keeper position, I wouldn’t support the choice.” he frowned, standing up to his father.
“What?” Leonus stepped toward his eldest, “What did you say, boy?”
“I’m not a boy. Not anymore, father.” Liam’s voice grew stern.
“Seth, sweetheart...take Daniel to your room and wait for me there, alright?” Heather pleaded, not wanting her youngest to witness the oncoming argument.
Seth nodded then escorted his brother to his room, locking the door behind him, and played his music to drown out the yelling, which was sure to come.
“God, I hate that man.” I muttered, turning off the computer closing the screen that folded inward and before I could tend to a stack of paperwork that needed my attention I heard a knock on the door, “Come in!” I called out as I stood from the desk and eyes focusing on the door, Caleb teleported inside holding an object in his hands wrapped in one of his bandannas, “Caleb?” I noticed his uneasiness and sadness in his eyes, “What is it?”
“We found this.” he answered, holding out his hands.
“Does it…” my voice stuttered.
“Yes. Justin found it near the ruins located outside the forest tree line near the cliff side.” he hands it to me.
“Ruins. Of course.” I affirmed, “Makes sense. They have to have access in and out from somewhere. Thank you, Caleb.” I nodded.
Caleb smiled, placing his hands on my shoulder in a friendly comfort then backed away and disappeared.
I unwrapped the fabric, revealing a tiny white snow boot and a dirty pink hair ribbon. I closed my eyes knowing they belonged to Lucy and it was officially confirmed. I had an hour to spare before my meeting with Leonus, so I took that time to venture to Jon’s home, delivering the items to Lucy’s parents. Susan shed more tears as she was comforted by Jonathan Sr. Thanking me for my help and support, I returned to the manor. I watched as Zanz strolled ahead of me a few inches then glanced at the sky where Abraxas hovered before landing in my arms. Holding onto him, thoughts ran through my mind as I returned to the study pacing.