Drake (Book 1)

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[12]-Vespertilio

Hampshire

8:49 p.m.

Rain wore a triumphant smile as if victory was assured. She dragged her sword along the ground, scraping the stone in its wake while making a shrewd screech. Drake stood his ground, watching her with focused blue eyes. Judging by her fight with Lyn, he had a thorough grasp of how she moved and fought. But he would show Rain the true gap between their skills in a dance of blades and steel.

Ringing steel echoed once more through the mansion as they met head on. He deflected her blade with ease, sparks flying after every stroke. His footing and skill were unmatched as he continued swatting away her heavy swings. He watched her feet stagger and throw her body off center. He went on the offensive, knocking her off balance with a strike that sent her hurling into the base of the grand stairs.

Drake chuckled. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to put so much into that one.”

Rain groaned. She stood up, patting away the dust and pieces of stone from her tattered dress. She ripped off a portion above her knees to let her body move more freely. And with all her might, she flung her blade towards him just as she did to Lyn earlier. But it didn’t surprise Drake, not even close. He caught the blade one-handed, holding its mass on top of his palm and redirecting its momentum towards Rain. It stopped just a few feet in front of her, embedding itself in the ground.

The blood drained from Rain’s already pale face.

“I told you,” Drake said, “the gap between us is wide…”

He extended the scythe to twice its normal length. It coiled around her body like a python and pulled her towards him. Rain shrieked as the scythe’s limbs constricted her. Now, she lied helplessly at Drake’s feet. Lyn watched from the shattered stage of wood and instruments, mesmerized at Drake’s abilities and clout.

The scythe tightened around her body as Rain struggled and squirmed, bruising her insides. Drake sauntered over to her plunged broadsword and retrieved it. He raised the Executioner’s Blade over his head, the ultimate authority in deciding Rain’s fate. But as a warrior, he was not without mercy. Her death would be quick and painless. He would take her head in one stroke with the curved semi-circle resting on the blade’s edge. Rain shied away and closed her eyes.

“That’s not very gentleman-like,” a girlish voice quipped.

“What?”

He looked ahead to see Irene approaching from the grand stairs. He thought she was just another guest at the party, judging by her aristocratic dress and prance. Nevertheless, she looked absolutely stunning, as always with her violet eyes and hair the color of a polar bear’s fur. She placed the drink in her hand on the stairwell as she met Drake.

“You’ve done some redecorating I see…”

“I haven’t,” he replied, looking at Rain, “but she has.”

Irene still wore the same accusing eyes. “Well, what are you waiting for? Finish her, don’t let me stop you.”

“Why do you keep messing with my head?”

Irene’s expression was resigned. “I’m messing with your head? Why don’t you take a deeper look into yourself? You’re the one that put me here-”

Drake fell to his knees and dropped the scythe and broadsword. Its limbs uncoiled around Rain.

“It was an accident!”

Irene scoffed and regarded him demurely. Rain used the opportunity to flee. Lyn’s scream was the only thing to break his trance. As he snapped to reality, Rain winded a punch and threw everything she had into his gut. He fumbled over and gasped for air as Rain retrieved the Executioner’s Blade. She swung the blade in a berserk state, intent on cutting Drake in half. He braced himself for the blow.

He heard an iron clang, and Rain’s shrill. An illuminated projectile ricocheted off her blade and into her hand, leaving a sizable hole. The wound on her hand continued to sizzle. Rain took her one good hand to grab her sword and flee. She leapt to the ceiling, crashing through the glass panels and disappearing over the roof. Drake gave credit where it was due. That woman could jump.

Lyn rushed to his side, her bow a scorching red from use. “Drake, what happened? You had her and then you just froze…”

He took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I saw something I shouldn’t have.” Sweat drenched his face and hair. Lyn undid his bowtie and the buttons of his collar.

“What did you see?”

Drake paused, debating with himself on whether he should tell her. But the words forced themselves out. “My dead wife…”

10:00 p.m.

They made love in Drake’s bedroom again and showered together. And after sharing a glass of wine, Drake seemed at peace. He slept like an infant as she departed the bedroom. Lyn tied her robe and made her way through the east gallery, taking the path that led to the stairs. From the stairs to the ruined main lobby, servants worked throughout the night cleaning and rearranging to include Godfrey.

“Godfrey,” she said, grabbing his attention from the rubble of a statue.

“Yes ma’am?”

“Could you bring me a glass of tea to the library?”

“Of course,” he said without question. He delegated his task to another servant.

Lyn continued to the library, which was housed on the first floor to the right of the lobby from the entrance. She was grateful. Only the main lobby had been destroyed and no one was killed. Though her reputation was now tarnished and she knew she could never explain. Drake didn’t mention it only because he didn’t know. But he would find out eventually because everything she did also affected him.

She found a warm fireplace awaiting her with a chair just in front of it, Drake’s chair. She chuckled as she took his spot and wrapped a blanket around her. Rows of tall bookshelves lined the room, stacked from top to bottom with tomes. The library also had another set of stairs that led to another living room. Its windows offered a peaceful view of the cemetery, its foundation resting behind the mansion with tombs and mausoleums.

Towards the back of the library, in a display case with a code that only Drake knew, was a crossbow. The likes of which were said to slay a werewolf with one bolt of silver. The second floor had a few more bookshelves and wrapped around the mansion all the way to the master bedroom. She could have taken the quicker route, but she needed to speak to Godfrey.

He returned a few minutes later with a glass of tea. He placed the cup on the stand beside her and stirred. Lyn watched the steam rise from the cup like a little ghost before dispersing.

“Will that be all?” Godfrey asked.

Lyn shook her head. “Godfrey, there was actually something I wanted to speak with you about…”

“And what would that be lady Lyn?”

“Who is Irene?”

The butler tightened his face. His reluctance was plain. “Why in God’s name would you want to know about- her?”

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