Gods And Monsters

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Chapter Ten

The days pass quickly after my talk with Ophelia. During these fast passing days, she explains what she can to me and she answers my questions without any signs of annoyance on her face. With her help, I learn many things about this town and my parents. For instance, the reason Lacome Cove is always so cloudy and barely has any sunshine is to make it more hospitable to the Supernaturals that live here. Vampires have great difficulty walking out in the sunlight. They don't exactly burn but the sun can make them feel sick and even cause hallucinations in extreme cases. It can force them to act like wild animals and attack anything that moves. Hence, the town of Lacome Cove—which was apparently created by a group of witches as a safe haven—automatically caters to their needs.

"That's why the weather's so bad now," Ophelia explained to me one day after my shift at The Mean Bean. "The magic that protects Lacome Cove and the Supernaturals that reside here senses that the vampires will be rising soon. To prepare for that, the weather here has begun to change."

The whole situation freaked me out a little. I mean, it was one thing to learn about Werewolves, Angels, Witches, and even Dragons, but to me, it seemed like Vampires were a whole other ballpark. Ophelia assured me that she'd make sure I was safe once they woke up, but I still couldn't help but feel nervous. She, my parents, Elijah's father, the mysterious witch who had bound this necklace to me, and a coven of vampires had helped keep this town and the people in it safe. Some part of me couldn't help but feel like I should follow in my parent's footsteps.

Besides, I'm not sure I could live with myself knowing that I knew Vampires existed and I just let them run amok, draining innocent girls of their blood.

As for Elijah, I hadn't seen him in a while. I was actually beginning to get slightly concerned—and I prayed to the good Lord up in Heaven it wasn't because of the whole Fated One thing—until Ophelia came through once again with the explanations.

"The Medallion you wear is not only forcing creatures who have been dormant awake, but it's also forcing the wolves to change even without it being a full moon. Even some of the children are turning prematurely. Elijah is their Alpha and he can't just leave them at such a crucial time. Not to mention, I'm sure he's being affected, too."

Basically, I try my absolute hardest to go on with my life like everything is normal, fine, and amazing but on the inside, I'm screaming. As a supernatural writer, my mind forces me to go to places normal people just don't go. My mind forces me to take something that normal people don't think actually exists—Vampires, Werewolves, Witches and the like—and somehow make them as realistic as possible, and create stories and lives for them. But knowing that all of it is actually real is insane.

And knowing that my parents were responsible for keeping the peace in Lacome Cove is even crazier.

I'm sitting in the library nursing a cup of coffee that I bought before my shift at The Mean Bean starts. The cups are actually very pretty. You'd think the art on the cup would be of a cartoon bean mean mugging the consumer based on the name of the shop but actually, it's a lot different. There's a picture of a fairy's silhouette sprinkling magic dust all over waves that sit in front of a cave grotto.

Thinking of caves reminds me of the girls who have gone missing. Three more have disappeared in the past week, and of course, the police are never going to find them. The police were only able to find the previous girls who had been kidnapped after my mother jumped from The Cursed Cliff and put the Dragons into a temporary sleep.

"Hey, Ophelia..."

Ophelia, who has been putting away returned books, comes to stand in front of me, her gaze inquisitive.

"Yeah?"

"Is there any way to stop the Dragons and get those girls back?"

Ophelia makes a face—kind of like she's wary and afraid I'm going to do something stupid—but she answers anyway.

"From what I know, the only thing that can stop a Dragon is if you kill it. They like beautiful and rare things and they consider themselves collectors. Beautiful women, jewelry, diamonds, pearls, they love things like that. Once they set their sights on something—or someone—they won't stop until they have their hands on it. Killing them is the only way to end it."

I frown a little. I've never killed anything in my life unless you count that time I killed that cricket. I felt so bad afterward, though, that I vowed to never kill anything again. Still, my mother had protected this town when she was alive and she had even died to give this town—and me—peace. I'm the one who strolled into town and undid everything she had sacrificed herself for. I felt like I owed this to her.

"How do you kill a Dragon?"

Ophelia looks at me for a long time before she speaks. "Are you really planning to kill a Dragon, Natasha?"

My lips thinned. "I can't leave things as they are. Three more girls have gone missing this week, Ophelia. I read the aftermath of what happened to the girls they found after Marie's sacrifice. The used those girls like they were breeding factories, forcing them to pump out children. And if those girls gave birth to daughters, when those girls came of age, they forced them to breed with the other male Dragons in some sick kind of trade-off. It's my fault that they're awake and I have to deal with this."

Ophelia blew out a large sigh and sat down across from me. She opened the bag of stuff I'd bought from The Mean Bean and grabbed a donut and two napkins. She laid the napkins down and set her donut on top before she met my eyes again; her face was serious.

"The only way to kill a Dragon is using a magic sword."

"A magic..."

"Sword," she finishes. "Yes. Something like Excalibur, Dyrnwyn, Gon Jiang and Mo Xie. It has to be a sword created by a witch or a sorceress and blessed with magical abilities. Dragons have skin that normal swords can't cut through. And when they're in Dragon form, getting around their scales is impossible if you use an ordinary sword. That's why it has to be forged from a witch of immense power. The sheer power from the witch is transferred into the sword and that power is what cuts past a Dragon's scales."

I blink once. "Wow," is all I say. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but for some reason, it wasn't that.

Ophelia's lips twitched as she fought the urge to smile and remain serious. "Why do you think that, in each of your fairytales, when the prince goes to save the princess from the Dragon, he somehow has a sword tough enough to cut through a Dragon's scales when many others have lost their lives fighting it?"

I breathe out, shaking my head. I had so many questions about so many things regarding Dragons, but I had to push them out of my head for now.

"So, how do we get one? Are we contacting her? The witch you said helped my parents, I mean?"

"We'll have to," Ophelia tells me, nodding lightly. "She moved away from Lacome Cove after everything that happened with Marie, but I'm sure she'll be willing to help if it's you."

Then Ophelia patted my hand and moved on to eat her donut.




I said goodbye to Ophelia and headed over to The Mean Bean to work my shift. It was a fairly uninteresting couple of hours. I rung customers up, I prepared orders, sometimes I went into the kitchen and helped the chef—a stocky man with wisps of white hair who laughed at the weirdest jokes. Mostly, I kept an ear pressed to the conversations that had to do with the missing girls. I heard many people expressing fear and pity over the whole thing. Only the older customers recalled what happened years before, and I listened to them wonder if they'd ever find the girls or if it would take ten years to find them like it had last time.

Mindy came bouncing over to me after the store had closed and all of the works—save for the two of us—had gone home.

"I've wiped down the tables and checked everything in the back. Can I ask you to close up?" She dangled the shop key in front of me, giving me puppy-dog eyes.

"Sure," I said, half-sighing and half-laughing.

"Thanks, hon." She kissed me on my cheek and, as she swung her purse onto her shoulder, she said, "If there's anything you want from the display case, have at it. George prefers to make the day's pastries from scratch anyway." Then she waved, opened the door—the bell on top of the door that alerted us a customer had entered jingled as she did—and headed to her car.

Once she was gone, I rechecked the inventory to make sure we didn't need to purchase anything else. Seeing that we didn't, I prepared to leave. I swung on my jacket, grabbed a couple of cookies, and checked the new phone I'd bought from a small store in town that sold gently used electronics briefly. I realized that my Facebook—which I haven't used in years and the only reason I logged into it was to keep track of any offers I may have gotten from anyone interested in my work and friends who still utilized Facebook in their everyday lives—had a new message.

My eyebrows pulled together and I stopped right in front of the door to read the message. One hand had opened the door to The Mean Bean—cold wind and drops of rain swayed toward me, but I was too curious to close the door. With my free hand, I clicked on the icon to read the message, wondering who it could be. Although many of my friends still used the app, it was rare for one of them to contact me on it. Since running away from Damien, I procured other ways to contact my friends, and I created a KakaoTalk and had given them my info so they could talk to me there if they wanted to. Had I missed someone? Were they worried because they hadn't heard from me in some time?

For about thirty seconds I felt kind of shitty. I had been sure I'd sent my KakaoTalk information to all of my close friends. Who had I forgotten?

However, once I read the message, my blood ran cold and my hand on the door became slack, the door slipped right out of my hands.

I see you bought a bus ticket to Maine. I'm thinking about making a stop. I'd hoped you'd come straight home after you got my present, but I see my time away has given you poor manners. You can't hide forever, baby.

With shaking hands, I delete the message and open the door violently, locking up the shop once I'm outside. My heart is thudding in my ears as I repeat, Fuck, fuck, fuck in my mind over and over again. I knew that I shouldn't be so afraid of Damien after everything that I'd learned. Angels existed, Dragons were kidnapping girls, and Vampires would be waking soon. And yet, somehow, Damien terrified me more than any Dragon or Vampire ever could. He had done a number on me, that was for sure.

On wobbly legs, I finally make my way to my car, fumbling with the keys in my hand, when I feel it. Eyes on me, watching me. My heart pumps into overdrive and I pray I'm being paranoid. Trying to appear natural, I gaze around the parking lot. It's empty except for a lone car with a man inside who is looking in my direction.

I squint at him, trying to see through the blowing rain that is heavier than a drizzle but lighter than a shower, more of a sprinkle, I suppose. I try to place his face, trying to figure out if I know him from anywhere. If he's one of Damien's boys, I'm in deep shit. He doesn't seem familiar to me, but I can't trust that. Maybe he's someone new that Damien hired. Why else would he be here? Everyone else has gone home but me. I spare a glance at the library, knowing that Ophelia has left by now, too.

Apparently, the man has realized that I was looking at him and he gets out of his car. He just stands there, staring directly in my direction. Warning bells go off in my head, and my immediate response is to unlock my car and I start to get inside, sparing another glance at the man only to see that he's no longer just standing there and staring at me but now, he's running toward me.

"Shit," I mutter through clenched teeth as my stomach drops.

I get into my car and start to pull the door closed but he's suddenly there, in front of me, preventing me from closing the door and shutting him out. I don't get much of a look at him, just curly hair and green eyes and a hooked nose before he grabs my arms forcefully and tries to force me out of the car.

I do my best to struggle but in terms of raw physical strength, it's just impossible for me to break out of his hold. I shrug out of my jacket and kick him, forcing him back a little. He's already charging for me again, and I know I won't get the chance to close my door before he grabs me, so I try to go for the next best thing: my taser. I reach for my bag, which has fallen onto the floor on the passenger's seat when I feel a hand gripping my ankle and tugging at me violently. His grip on my ankle is so rough, I know I'll have bruises tomorrow.

If I get a tomorrow.

Already, I can feel his claws digging into my skin...

I pause when I think that and look down to see that his hand, which I was fairly certain had been human before, was now, without a shadow of a doubt, a claw. It was a monstrous, forest green thing. The nails of it were a deep dark black and the entire thing was covered in hard-looking scales.

He was a Dragon.

Oh, no way in hell was I going to let this fucker take me to some secret cave and force me to breathe. I turned to face him and kicked him straight in the face, reaching for my keys, my cookies, my taser, the tampons in my purse, anything.

He grabbed my other foot and began to tug when suddenly he paused. The adrenaline must have made me able to see perfectly in the dark or something, because I could see he was looking at the Medallion, his mouth agape.

"That's the—"

I never let him finish his sentence though because, in his moment of shocked confusion, I was able to get my hands on my taser and my keys. I sat up and pressed my taser against him, watching as his body contorted and he fell back. In one fell swoop, I shoved my keys in the ignition and peeled off like a bat out of hell, driving with my door open and committing numerous traffic violations the entire time.

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