Custodian Chronicles: Lone Red

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“Roe…?” Axel was right behind me, his voice quivering with worry. I felt his hand grabbing my arm, waiting for my signal at our next course of action.

But this was a public place. It was highly unlikely for a Lycan to notice two Custodian in a midst of a crowd without much air flow. Our scent would be muddled by the humans. With a heavy sigh, I peered over at our new friends, who were still looking at the Lycan in awe. But of course, they didn’t know he was a monster. Though human had some instinct to tell them to keep away from Lycans, Custodians have the ability to identify them.

Lycan in human form have eyes that seem to reflect from the light, like that of a nocturnal animal. Also, their potent scent of dried leaves, moss and rain were common. They were also muscularly built, tall, and the way the walk is almost predatory, like there were ready to pounce at their prey around them.

Then my heart raced when I processed what Lucy said. He was the son of the mayor. We were briefed about the Lycan’s control in the area, but not politically.

“Maybe the rumors weren’t true about him,” Trevor added, grabbing back his girlfriend’s attention.

“But we hadn’t seen him around town after graduation. Have you?” Lucy argued.

“Maybe he had gone off somewhere for vacation and had just gotten back…” Trevor offered.

I cleared my throat, gaining back the attention of the two. “So who is this Blackwell guy again?”

Lucy’s eyes danced in enthusiasm at my question, her arms tightening around mine again. “That tall, blond hair and blue-eyed perfection is the mayor’s son, Cole Blackwell. Trevor and I used to go to high school with him. He’s like a young Leonardo DiCaprio, but taller, builder, and a superstar quarterback back in the day. He’s the unreachable bachelor for ordinary girls like me.”

Suddenly, Trevor cleared his throat in warning, making Lucy beam at him sweetly. “But you’re still number one in my heart, Trev. Though a girl could still gawk and admire other god’s great creations of fine specimens.”

“Right?” Trevor scoffed and gestured towards the room, guiding Lucy’s attention away from the temptation.

Chuckling at their interaction, I nearly forgot Axel beside me in his rigid position. I glanced up and gave him a nod, making him relax a little. Once we were out of view from the Lycan, who seem to have a high reputation around the ladies, Axel relaxed even more. The four of us were seated together again while we waited for our professor to arrive.

Lucy was still dazed and muttering about the Blackwell’s chivalrous achievement in the community – which surprised me even more since I haven’t known Lycan’s co-existing and serving humans. It’s always been the Custodian’s responsibility.

A moment later, my eyes wandered towards the front entrance of the room – the one directly towards the teacher’s desk and whiteboard – when the aforementioned Lycan entered the room.

No. My heart dramatically stopped as Cole Blackwell entered the room. But it wasn’t him alone. There were a handful of Lycans trailing behind him. Damn, no.

“Roe…?” Axel called my attention again. His hand closing in on my arm like he was about to yank me and make a run for it.

“It’s okay, Axel. They won’t know who we are unless we stood close to them. Let just keep our distance.” I muttered under my breath. It was low enough for eavesdropping Lycan ears but sure he heard me.

From how his head nod stiffly, he got the message. He withdrew his hand and placed them readily on his side, where I knew an identical dagger was hidden underneath the waistband of his jeans.

“He’s in our class. I can’t believe it!” Lucy cheered beside me, her eyes following the group as they sat on the far side of the room in the front row.

Though we both didn’t hold the same enthusiasm about the situation, I smiled to keep up appearances. The rest of the girl population in the room started whispering and sighing in contempt upon the arrival of the infamous Cole Blackwell. It was an overly dramatic response. Much to my chagrin, the annoying gossips and whispering stopped when the teacher arrived.

Unlike our history teacher, our Literature professor didn’t possess the same nonchalant approach towards his students. Since the semester had started over a week ago, upon seeing a few new faces in class, we were subjected for an introduction. And Axel and I weren’t the lucky ones who were chosen to introduce ourself.

As Axel and I reached the front of the classroom, the palm of my hands started to sweat. I gripped my hand by the edge of my shirt, trying to dry it off.

“Which of you would like to go first?” Mr. Rupert asked, glancing between Axel and me.

Peering over my partner in crime, he waited for me to tell him to go first. But as his superior in rank, and in preparation for my position, I should learn to speak up in front of a crowd of strangers. If I was going to take my place as part of the Custodian Order, I need to break free from my fear of public speaking.

I cleared my throat and dampened my lips before I spoke. “Hello, everyone. I’m Roe Hunter, this is my twin, Axel.” I started and gestured a hand towards Axel, who glanced towards me in wonder. “We just moved here from the UK with our stepbrother and cousin. If you’re wondering why we don’t have the accent, that’s because we lived here in America for most of our lives before our mom remarried and moved in with our step-dad.”

“And how about you, Mr. Hunter? Is there something you’d like to add,” Mr. Rupert inquired after I finished my piece.

Axel shook his head. “No. My sister had said enough, thank you.”

Mr. Rupert arched his eyebrows yet otherwise didn’t press on. Finally, he asked us to take our seat. As I walked ahead by middle aisle, my eyes briefly landed towards the group of Lycans sitting in front. Most hadn’t regarded us for long except one – the one I hope hadn’t caught notice of us. Even after I turned away from them, I could still feel Cole’s eyes piercing through the back of my head.

The staring didn’t last, however, as Mr. Rupert called everyone’s attention. While the discussion went on, my eyes kept wondering in their direction out of caution and interest. Though I had a direct encounter with Lycans before, it was never in their human form. This was the first time I perceived them as creatures close to both humans and Custodians. But I know they were more different and superior than us. Even Custodians couldn’t match the physical capabilities of Lycans, even if we have a herculean in-born strength and magic wielders.

Once the class had finished, Axel hastily dragged me out of the room after saying a quick ‘see you later’ from our new friends. At first, I thought we were heading out to our next class, until Kaleb and Tony appeared right around the corner.

“What’s the emergency?” Kaleb asked. His eye glued to Axel. He hadn’t even regarded me once.

“You texted him? When? I hadn’t seen you pick up your phone.” I interjected in disbelief.

“We have five of them in our literature class. I think they’re already on to us.” Axel ignored my question and answered Kaleb’s instead.

“On to us? Axel, they hardly even glanced at us after Mr. Rupert asked to introduce ourselves in front of the class. Even then, I did all the talking. They aren’t suspicious.” I argued, feeling a bit hurt that he’d rather tell all of this to Kaleb than me.

“I see…” Kaleb finally turned to me, his jaw clenching as he studied my face for a moment. “And what’s your basis that they aren’t on to you?”

“Because if someone is standing in front of the class introducing themselves, they would likely give their attention to them. Even if they got our scent, unless we’re wounded or confirm their accusation, it's disputable.” I stated firmly.

Another thing which differs us from human other than our looks was the scent of our blood. It may run red like humans, but it smelled like the nectar of a sweet flower rather than rusty iron. In human form, Lycans have difficulty of identifying us but very easy to pinpoint in their wolf form.

Kaleb glanced between Axel and I for a second and then turned to Tony, who had been quiet for most of the exchange. “What do you think?”

Though Tony has a carefree side of him, he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. What you perceive of him based on his actions isn’t the kind of man he was. Tony hadn’t become Kaleb’s trusted advisor and friend just because they had been together since they were young. Tony had studied and worked for his position to advice Kaleb. To plainly put it, he was a smart ass.

“As long as they don’t know who we are, the scent doesn’t matter. We’ll have to be more careful now until our supervisor arrives.”

Kaleb nodded, accepting his advice. “Just stay low and away from them. Don’t associate yourself with the group as much as you can.”

Axel and I nodded in unison. From there, as an extra precaution, Kaleb and Tony escorted Axel and I to our next class. When we entered, we were already a few minutes late. But we were glad the teacher wasn’t someone who was particular with tardiness. After our brief conversation with Kaleb and Tony, Axel and I had stopped speaking – well, I stopped talking to him. Feeling my annoyance, he kept quiet and allowed me to sulk, though it didn’t last long. Finally the bell rang, ending our last class in the morning.

“Roe, did I do something wrong?” Axel asked as he kept his pace beside me.

I pursed my lips, deciding whether to be childish and continue to ignore him or tell him what was bothering me. I’ve gone with the latter. I couldn’t hold a grudge against Axel. He had been there for me after my parents were gone.

“Why didn’t you tell me that it bothered you about the Lycans in our literature class? You could have told me rather than talking to Kaleb.” I grumbled.

“Kaleb leads our mission, my lady. If I told you, you’d do something about it without consulting the others. I don’t want you in danger.” Axel suddenly slipped back to his formalities.

I didn’t correct his slip up. “I wouldn’t have done anything, Axel. You know how this mission means to me. I wouldn’t jeopardize it.”

He sighed in defeat. “I understand. I’m sorry for not being frank with you. Next time, if I had any worries, I would tell you.”

“Thank you, Axel. That’s all I want from you.”

With a nod, our conflict resolved and we were back to our usual relationship. However, the damage was done. I knew there was doubt lingering between us. It created an awkward silence for the rest of the morning.

After class, we headed towards the cafeteria. He kept a steady pace beside me. As his eyes scanned the busy room, mine did as well. But rather than finding the other pair of the group, I was looking for the enemy. A second later, I found the group I wanted to find.

The Lycans in the school were all huddled up in a long wooden bench placed in the middle of the room. Murmuring in the air, I counted their numbers. But I’ve lost count at twelve. My eyes widened at how many were here as more were joining them in their table.

“Axel,” I breathed out, my hand swiftly grabbing the edge of his shirt.

“I know. I found where Kaleb and Tony are sitting. They are waiting for us.” He muttered and then placed a hand on my back, nudging me forward.

“There’s so many…”

“Let’s go before they notice us.” He interrupted, pushing me slightly to move along.

With that, I tore my eyes away from the pack of nearly two-dozen Lycans. My heart started to beat fast as we walked hastily to our bench, a good distance away from the Lycans. Upon our arrival, Kaleb gestured for me to seat on the empty chair beside him. Axel took the other on my right, while Tony sat beside Kaleb across from me. Since it was a small table, there was no extra room for outsiders to sit with us.

“From the look on your face, you finally saw the pack?” Kaleb inquired as I sat down.

Without answering, I nodded. I wasn’t sure if I still have a voice from how dry my throat felt at the moment.

“Tony and I decided to take the rest of the day off. Well, upon hearing Axel’s report this morning in your Literature class, I wanted us to get out of this place right away. However, I wanted to know how many they were in this place. Now we know how outnumbered we are here.” Kaleb affirmed. It made my stomach twist into a knot. I wasn’t sure if I could stand up and get something to eat.

Clearing my throat, I spoke up. “So, does that mean we won’t be continuing school here?” Though this morning I might have rejoiced at the idea, the place and my new friends were rubbing off on me at the moment.

“We couldn’t afford to change identities now. So we’ll have to ask my mom for more information about the Lycans ruling the area.” Kaleb replied as Tony pulled out a notepad from his bag.

“From the information, I’ve gathered with a few of from the student’s, the mayor of the town is named Charles…”

“Blackwell. I know. The one sitting with that group, the tall blond-haired guy mostly surrounded with girls is his son, Cole Blackwell. And guys, I think he’s an Alpha – which means the mayor of this town is an Alpha Lycan.” I interjected, continuing his sentence.

All eyes were on me. “How did you know all of that?” Tony asked, surprised at my knowledge. From his expression, he hadn’t known that much.

“One of our classmates had gone to high school with him. She and her lover had willingly shared the information to us.” Axel replied.

Kaleb kept his eye on me even though Axel had answered Tony. “Willingly? How so?”

“I made friends. Their names are Lucy and Trevor.” I declared proudly.

“You made friends other than us?” Kaleb sounded amused at this revelation.

“What? Did you think I couldn’t make at least one human friend on the first day?” I challenged.

“I hadn’t said that…” He defended and trailed off before reverting back to our topic. “So what else did your friend told you about this guy?”

“That he’s an infamous womanizer, played football, the typical popular type in high school, much like you Kaleb but minus the womanizer part. I know you couldn’t even hold a conversation with a girl, excluding me.” I explained. Now it was my turn to tease him.

“Oh, please, you haven’t seen me out with women. How’d you even conclude that?” He scoffed.

“Tony told me,” I said, beaming at his best friend.

“Whoa! Whoa! Wait up my lady, I haven’t told you anything about Kaleb’s history with women,” Tony held up his hand in defense, trying to look innocent and sheepish.

Kaleb smacked Tony’s arm as retaliation before directing us back to the topic again. “So, what more did she say about him?”

“That was it, really. Most of it was just swooning and drooling. I felt bad for her boyfriend. Yet Trevor could easily snap her back to reality.” I chuckled at the memory. Trevor kept on nudging and snapping his finger in front of Lucy’s face. Though I know she was just teasing him at times, occasionally the gleam of admiration towards Cole Blackwell was there. It made me think of whether Cole saved her or had done something heroic to gain her admiration, or maybe it was just his handsome face – which I won’t verbally admit. It was impressive, for a Lycan.

“I see… but at least we know the town is run by Lycans. This makes things difficult for us. Here I thought recon and intelligence missions were easy.” Kaleb huffed in frustration and ended the meeting.

After we ate our lunch – which I hadn’t done from the knot at the pit of my stomach – we decided to skip the rest of our afternoon classes to ask for more information about the Blackwell’s.

It wasn’t until dinner when we’ve gotten a reply. Kaleb had called his mother personally for information to quicken the process. As we sat around the living room, eating two boxes of pizza we’ve ordered to cover dinner, Kaleb abruptly jumped up from his position on the single couch. He rushed towards his room and came back a minute later, bringing his laptop with him.

“What does it say?” I inquired when the room grew silent and the tension thickening.

“It’s…” he started but trailed off, his eyes still glued on the screen. Once he was done reading and rereading, he regarded us grimly. “Mother forgot to send the rest of the briefing about the Clan protecting the area. And yes, Lycans are protecting the area…”

“But I thought my family protected these lands…” I trailed off unsure of what I was hearing. The Knightley’s had protected the northern area and occupied Montana for generations. How can Lycans easily overtake the place under such a short time? After I ascend my place in the Order, where do they think they’ll assign me?

“I don’t understand.” I muttered again in disbelief.

“Roe, I understand this is all very complicated for you since your family had been protecting the north for nearly five generations…” Kaleb pointed but abruptly stopped when I interjected.

“Why are you saying it like that? Did you know about any of this? What about the people under my family? Where are the surviving Kynigans under the Knightley now?”

“Roe, you know that they’ve been divided with the Morgan’s in Texas, the Whitmore’s in Australia, and a few with us in England. Did you think they’d return here?” He calmly asked.

“Of course. This is our home. After my ascension in the Order, I thought I would return here…”

There was a brief silence as Kaleb and Tony eyed each other. Beside me, Axel remained quiet. Finally, Kaleb spoke again. This time his words didn’t reach my ear.

“I’m not suppose to tell you this until your ascension, but since we’re already here,” Kaleb paused and cleared his drying throat. “Roe, they never plan on returning you to Montana.”

“No. You’re lying…”

“I’m sorry.”

I abruptly stood up and felt his words dawned on me. They never plan on returning you home. A voice echoed in my ear remembering Viktor Hunter’s words the day I arrived at Hunter Mansion. This is your new home now, Rhoane Knightley.

That night, for the first time, I didn’t dream of the nightmare where Lycans ran wild and destroyed what might have been. Tonight, I dream of the future of what might not be.

This mission wasn’t my return. It was my last goodbye.

Hello everyone! Updates on the story will be Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. For info on updates, please follow me on my social media accounts. Link on my bio.

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