In the Shadows of Dryden

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CHAPTER 33 - Field investigation

That night, Erik decided to go for his little field investigation. He gathered a few items he thought he might need and added a few small gemstones he had previously charged with magic in a small bag, placing everything inside a dark leather backpack. He looked around in his study room, nodding to himself. Picking up his backpack, he left the study room and went through the next door down the long corridor.

Once in his bedroom, he put the backpack over the chair he had beside the door before closing it to undress. Placing his dirty laundry inside the basket he had next to the chair, he strode over to his closet drawer and removed a pair of black jeans pants and blue jeans shirt to dress with.

The room wasn’t too big but it was definitely not small either. Hugging the left wall of the room, was a big closet, his bedside table and a queen-size bed with some pots of rare specimens of flowers a bit away from it. Directly opposite the door, was a big rectangular window which he usually left open, to the right of that was a tall wardrobe followed by a coat rack and a full-body mirror next to it. On that same side, there was also the bathroom door and beside it a bookshelf filled with books and parchments. All the furniture in his room had the original reddish cherry wood color with exception of the coat rack that had been painted black.

After getting dressed, he checked himself in the mirror, adjusting his shirt inside his pants before he opened his wardrobe to remove his navy blue corduroy jacket, which he threw over his bed. He also removed a pair of sporty style brown leather ankle boots to complete his looks.

“Blue?”

“Yes, master?”

“Follow me. I might need your help.”

The little bunny did as he was told and followed his master out of the castle.

Erik wasn’t sure what awaited him in his destination and so, he wanted to take the proper precautions not to get in unnecessary trouble without a way out. Not that he really thought he would encounter any but one could never be too careful in his eyes.

It took about thirty minutes flying until he got to his destination. A few lights shone from inside of the house. That night had quite a bit of fog gathered by the lake banks but that didn’t hinder him the least, in fact, it served him perfectly as he could easily hide. He approached the house, crouching behind a rose bush when he heard the noises from a car parked up front in the house.

“Are you gonna spend another all-nighter at the hospital, mom?”

“Unfortunately, yes darling. I’ve talked with your dad over the phone and he is also slumped with work so don’t expect him to be home either tonight .”

Just as Diane finished talking, a silver Taurus pulled in front of the house and into the garage. To everybody’s surprise, she came out holding a huge bouquet of red roses and wearing a big smile.

“Well, someone looks happy tonight!” Said Diane, crossing her arms, smiling.

“Yeahh, Rick came over during lunch. Aren’t they pretty?” Clarisse moved closer to them, showing her red roses.

“They are beautiful, darling!” Diane hugged her older daughter as she held her car keys in hand. “I can see that he’s treating you like a queen. Hope he’s ‘the one’ for you?” They parted from their hug, Clarisse showing a light pinkish blush over her cheeks.

“Maybe…” She gave them a wink and ran inside of the house, singing to herself, leaving Claire and Diana watching her in amusement.

“This time, it looks like she’s head over heels for this guy, mom.”

“I hope so, darling. I hope so. Your sister needs to find someone good for her and Richard might just be the one she was looking for.” They stayed looking at the closed door for a moment before Diane lets out a sigh.

“Anyways, I need to get going. I didn’t have time to cook so you girls will have to do it yourselves. You can ask your grandmother for help in case you need it.” Diana gave a quick hug to her daughter and sprinted to her car, which was already on and waiting for her. Claire waved to her mother as the car disappeared in the dark of the night, then she went back inside of the house.

“Blue, I need you to fly over to the windows.”

Immediately, Blue flew up to the first window, his fiery-looking orbs changing color to a light sky blue. As soon as Erik began to see the inside of the room, Clarisse opened a door, entering the room wearing a towel wrapped around her hair and nothing else. Erik felt his face get hot as he averted his eyes from the scene, mumbling curses under his breath for the inappropriate timing. Giving a mental order to Blue to fly to the next window, he exhaled, trying to cool his head. The next window showed a mostly dark room, illuminated only by a yellow LED light that followed along with the floor molding of the room. It looked like a teenager’s room, with a computer desk full of piled-up books and a poster or two of some bands on the wall.

‘This must be Claire’s room. Good, now go to the next window. From what the mother said, there should only be the two girls and the grandmother inside. See if you find the old lady. We need to find out where she’s at.’

‘Yes, master!’

‘Blue…’

‘Yes, mas..’ Erik cut his familiar’s answer.

‘I’ve already told you not to call me “master”. It’s not necessary.’

Erik felt an internal warmth spread throughout Blue’s little body and with that, he could also feel his familiar bond increase, putting a smile on his face. It has not been long since he had decided to get a second familiar after his first one had died during the war. The excruciating pain he felt when his familiar connection broke had made him sick for a long while. Only after several centuries was he able to overcome the pain and consider getting a new one. Blue was still very young and could fit in the palm of his hand.

‘Yes… hmm…’

‘Erik. Call me Erik, Blue. Now, go and be careful!’ A sense of happiness spread from within Blue. It was almost like the bunny smiled.

The small bunny flew downwards toward another window, hovering in front of it so Erik could see inside. The room wasn’t completely dark. There was a single bed about two meters away from the window and a bedside table on the other side of it. Along that same wall, was a rocking chair with some knitting material over it and a floor lamp next to it that cast a white light into the room. A television set was positioned on the wall in front of it, where both a tall cupboard and a dresser stood side by side.

‘This must be the grandmother’s room. I’d guess she isn’t far since the light is on.’

As Erik and his familiar looked around the room, a pair of gleaming golden eyes popped out from under the dark shadows of the bed, staring at the flying bunny that had landed on the window sill. Just as any other creature of that race, the cat suddenly sprinted toward where Blue was, jumping on top of the open window just as Blue managed to fly a bit farther away. The cat immediately arched its back, letting out a high-pitched snarl followed by baring his teeth and hissing.

‘Back off, Blue! It’s a Norwegian Forest cat. He can easily catch you if he decides to jump.’

Blue flapped his wings, trying to distance himself even further from the feral animal.

“Danmit! This way, this cat will warn everybody inside the house.” He whispered under his breath. ’Blue…” As Erik was about to give another order to his familiar, he saw the cat jump and reach for Blue.

“NO!” Erik lifted a hand towards the two animals, a bit of desperation in his voice. “Mizzc….”

*SMACK* The resonating pain and strength of the hit over his head had him break his spell cast, hands shielding his now throbbing head as he dropped down to the ground. A loud “thud” hit the nearby floor seconds after him collapsing to the ground.

“Well, well, well. Who do we have here?” The mature woman’s voice prompted Erik to look up while protectively holding his head. She couldn’t see his face very well because his arms were covering most of it but he could see hers and it did surprise him. Holding a twisted wooden cane was a red-haired woman that didn’t look to be older than fifty years old. The knowledge he could see reflected in her eyes told me that she was indeed older than she looked.

“That hurt!” He exclaimed, receiving a smirk back from the lady. The nearby whimpering sound suddenly pulled his attention away as he quickly removed a hand from his head and turned his gaze towards the noise. “Blue!” An immense throb filled his heart by seeing how Blue was being pinned down to the ground by the cat’s claws. Instinct prompted him to try to get up and go help his familiar but as soon as he tried to more, he felt the walking stick being pushed into his shoulder to stop him from getting up.

“Your familiar will be alright, no need to stress.” The mention of the word “familiar” had him shoot his gaze up at the woman, although she was looking at the two animals and not at him. “Lamia, let him go!” Erik saw how the cat responded by promptly releasing the bunny, who speedily hopped away to his owner.

“You’re a witch!” Gasped Erik in pain, successfully getting the red-haired woman’s attention.

“You state the obvious, deary. Now, who are you and what business does a warlock have in my territory?” The witch’s dark blue eyes stared at him, an inquisitory force emanating from her.

Placing a hand down on the ground, Erik pushed himself up, towering over the woman who stepped backward. Her hands covering her mouth in surprise while her cane fell to the ground. Erik frowned, questioningly. He wasn’t sure what got that reaction from her when a second ago, she was so calm and imposing.

“Uhmm… Are you alright?” He ended up asking, even if it sounded silly to ask that to his attacker when he was clearly the one with a throbbing head.

“I… Ian…” He heard her whisper. “Is… is that really you?” A hand reached forward as if trying to touch him but just as fast as she reached forward, she retracted her hand. A red gust of wind pulled her cane back into her hands. “NO! Impostor! Who are you?” *TASK* The cane hit the ground, again creating the red gust of wind as it moved to envelop his ankles, tieing him down in place like heavy chains.

Erik frowned deeply, cheek muscles contracting in his triangular-shaped face while his eyes shone with purple neon light. Purple fog began to emanate from him, instantly breaking out the red wind holding him down.

“You’re a ralion! No! That’s impossible!” She said, backing away another step, face going pale as her eyes opened wide.

Lamia hissed as she too backed away a step at the same time as she positioned herself in front of her owner, to assume a defensive stance, ready to attack if necessary. Following the cat’s reaction, Blue jumped in front of Erik, also taking a defensive stance but something had changed in the little bunny. He had grown to be as big as the cat in front of him and his rodent teeth had turned into sharp pointy teeth, his cotton-looking tail had elongated, looking like a lion’s tail. Antlers erupted right in front of his long bunny ears as he pointed them toward the cat and dug his now retractable claws into the ground with his feline-like paws.

“You… you can’t be him. Who.Are.You?” She whispered, eyes jumping back and forth between Erik and the bunny.

“Erik. Erik Söring is my name. How do you know Ian? Who are you?” He stepped forward but then stopped again, halting his purplish fog from going any further.

“So...you.. You know Ian? Where is he? Is he alive then?” With eyes begging, the woman took a step forward. He noticed sadness embedded into her dark blue eyes and it dawned at him that she might be more than she looked. Still, he slowly shook his head, shoulders sinking.

“If you mean Ian Söring, yes. Of course, I know Ian!”

“No, his name is Ian Luseberg…” She shook her head lightly but Erik nodded.

“Ian Söring and Ian Luseberg are one and the same person. He’s my twin brother!”

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