Drake (Book 1)

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3:16 a.m.

Lyn threw her body into Drake and wrapped her arms around him like a magnet sticking to metal. She suppressed a tear and held him tight, although a weep broke through. Drake’s body was stiff, like a corpse, caked with dried blood. His broken wrists dangled at his side, accompanied by ever so shallow breaths. If not for the periodic rise and fall of his chest, she would have presumed him dead.

Her clothes felt wet, and she checked her hands. Soaked in fresh blood. She shook Drake, but he didn’t respond. Instead, he began muttering: “Kill me… please.”

Lyn stifled a gasp, and she looked at the pile of broken crates toppled over Dacre. They moved and one crate fell over the pile as a beastly arm emerged, covered by auburn fur and steel talons.

I can’t beat him on my own. He’s too strong…

She turned to Drake and ripped the chains from his hands and ankles. He fell forward, and she caught him just before he could hit the floor. Lyn laid him down as a mother would put an infant to sleep and rubbed his cheeks. Drake continued to mutter words not his own. At that moment, she knew she could only do one thing. She thought back to the first lesson Drake taught her so long ago.

His words echoed in her mind: “The only ones who should kill; are those who are prepared to be killed!”

Her lips tightened to a grin as more crates crashed in the background. Dacre’s rabid growls echoed in the warehouse as he struggled to free himself. She fell to her knees and grazed her lips against his.

Lyn bit into her wrist, making a terrible crunch. Blood erupted from it like dark syrup. Then her lips locked with his as she gave him the physician’s remedy. Her ambrosia. The kiss of life that he had once given her now repaid. Though she knew she could never repay the kindness that he had given her. She owed him this much, at least.

“Drake…” she whispered, “you must fight.”

His body jolted, and his eyes glowed with blue fierceness. The bones of his wrists conjoined, healing in an instant, along with the wounds on his face, thighs, and ribs. He sat up, using his own strength as Lyn observed the awakening. His face glowed as moonlight smashed against it, no longer obstructed by dark clouds. Lyn rested a hand against the mass of his chest and kissed his bare skin.

Without breaking his gaze from Dacre, he commanded: “Acheron.”

Lyn bowed and presented the golden scarab. He took what rightfully belonged to him and morphed it into the scythe. It glowed an inferno red, its steel forged from the molten river of Acheron. Powered by tormented souls and all those slain by its blade. Drake’s blade scraped the floor, melting the stone beneath it leaving glowing marks in its wake.

Dacre emerged from the wreckage, tossing away the final crate. In full form, he stood over nine feet tall, a white streak ran down from his head to his chest. His head resembled that of a wolf with full fur and blood-drunk yellow eyes. His fangs salivated at Drake’s sight, and with each step he took, the warehouse shook.

Lyn found it comical that the werewolf lacked an arm, also taken by Drake in a previous strife. She pitied him though, he would lose more than just an arm in this duel. As Drake approached him, the outcome of the fight was already decided. It would be settled in an instant.

Dacre leapt, but Drake stood his ground. With one decisive blow, Drake slashed through him and lowered his blade. Acheron made a high-pitched trill, satisfied with claiming another soul. Dacre stumbled past Drake and turned. Then he collapsed.

Blood spilt from his abdomen and glazed the floor. Dacre crawled towards Drake as he returned to human form, his claws still scratching the floor. He came upon the butterfly-shaped hairpin and froze. His expression softened, and he grasped the hairpin. Drake regarded him coldly and sauntered past him back to Lyn.

The scythe returned to its most basic form, the scarab, and it crawled back into its master’s trappings. Lyn smiled, and she heard a thump. She glanced at Drake and saw him lying on the ground knocked out cold. Dacre’s last words caught her attention.

He clutched the hairpin and wept. She acknowledged him not as an enemy, but as another broken man. She couldn’t help but form a frown.

“Marie…” Dacre said. “I lost my way. I’m sorry. This power is so- corruptive.”

He took an ultimate breath and moved no more. That was the end of Dacre Rosu.

Lyn sighed and balled her fists. “Join your other two brothers in hell…”

The red pearl from Dacre’s corpse rolled along the floor towards Lyn. She made a face and was just about to grab it when she found herself and Drake fronted by a new enemy. A chill touched her heart, and she readied her bow, putting herself between them and Drake. The four men stared at her with blank expressions, their skin as gray as a ghoul. She drew her first arrow and aimed, fierceness in her eyes. She looked back to Drake lying unconscious on the floor.

I’ll protect you this time…

The first man stepped forward and grabbed the pearl. Sir Tristan who wielded a bow and wore the crowns of conquered kings. He studied the pearl, then turned and walked away.

Lyn struggled to steady her bow, but her focus didn’t waver.

When did they get here? They didn’t make a sound!

The four horsemen in the flesh. Four fallen knights who assisted Sullivan with his dastardly deeds against their will. Those four who in their prime, obliterated cities and armies. Each knight was more terrifying than the last with Sir Merlin, who represented death the most grim of all. He was thin, almost skeleton-like, and wore tattered robes. He approached Lyn.

“Why do you protect Drake?” he asked, his voice aloof.

Lyn lowered her head and peeked at Drake. “It’s because… because he’s precious to me.”

Sir Merlin tilted his head. “Precious…”

He returned to the other knights: Tristan, Mordred, and Gawain. They stared in awe at the red pearl in Tristan’s palm. She saw a flash of their robes in an array of white, red, black and gray. A ferocious gale blew through the warehouse, shattering the windows, swinging the creaking meat hooks and scattering the carrion of pigs. She shielded Drake with her body as bits of glass and splinters peppered her face and arms. It came to a sudden stop. She looked up to see the four horsemen gone without a trace.

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