Chapter Three: Queen Zera
The Lycan hits a dead end on the trail somewhere in the northern part of the city at an old castle under construction with a giant stairway leading up to it. It looks out of place next to the high-rises and skyscrapers. The place makes the hair on the back of Ace’s mane stand straight up. It is dark and evil. Marie’s smell is masked by the overwhelming odor of blood and death, but he’s sure she is somewhere in there. The Lycan thinks to himself for a moment, gawking at the creepy medieval residence.
“Aw, man! This is going to be trouble!” Ace says to himself, stepping back away from the steps. Just then he feels someone grab his shoulder. He quickly turns around, startled. It’s Anarchious, tired and weary from following Ace through the entire city.
Breathing heavily, the Mutant signals time out to the Lycan. Anarchious seems almost to have had a heart attack. “Man...you run too fast,” he says, still gasping for air.
“I am a Lycan,” Ace responds, looking at the Mutant wheezing for air.
“Ima Lycan, Ima Lycan, Ima Ly—shut up! Do me a favor and don’t mention that again!” Anarchious mocks the Lycan as he stands up straight, throwing his head back and taking a deep breath. The Lycan turns and looks back at the castle bathing in moonlight yet radiating evil.
“Man, you stirred up all the natives. That was a bad Idea! Running through the main streets like that...” Anarchious begins to try to warn the Lycan but realizes he isn’t paying any attention. “Hey, Ace? What are you looking at?” he says to the Lycan as he focuses his sights on the dark castle. “The hell is that?” he asks a confounded Ace.
“I think its Queen Zera’s den,” Ace mutters to the Mutant, who is now gazing at the castle as well.
“And?” Anarchious mutters back. “And...Marie is here,” Ace replies.
“All right, then, let’s go get her!” Anarchious says, advancing towards the steps.
Ace grabs his arm, looks the Mutant in the eyes, and says, “Are you naive or just plain stupid? Oh yeah, a gang of Vampyr will just let you waltz into their castle and take their food!”
“I know. That’s why you’re coming with me...unless you’re going to chicken out on me again!” Anarchious replies in a stern tone.
“No, even with me, storming in there would be idiotic. We need a plan!” Ace retorts, aggressively leaning towards Anarchious and tightening his grip on Anarchious’arm.
“The plan is take them by surprise. Let’s go!” the Mutant says, ripping his arm away from the Lycan. He continues to walk up the steps.
“They will kill you. You’re making a mistake!” Ace says to Anarchious as he continues to walk up the stairs.
“Well, you do it your way, and I’ll do it mine,” Anarchious replies, continuing to hike up the steps. Ace begins to yell at the eager Anarchious, but before he can finish, the Mutant bolts towards the castle doors. The Lycan looks around and sees no life forms anywhere on the hill or in the castle. Still, all he can smell is blood and death, so he decides instead to use stealth instead of force to search for Marie.
Meanwhile, Anarchious has just forced his way into the castle. It is dark and damp. The altitude has made the air cold. There is no welcoming committee or any sign of life, just a giant hall. It is filled with many medieval decorations, but they all seem to be extremely damaged. The Mutant begins to walk through, carefully gazing upon the artwork of hundreds of years past. The hall is extremely interesting but has been clearly battle scarred. At the end of it is a stairway. He walks slowly through this hall, passing many moonlit doors and observing the uncanny scenery.
Anarchious hears a sound. It is unfamiliar, so he follows it quietly up to a room connected to the end of the hall. He peeks around the corner, curious as to what he might see, and witnesses a Vampyr sucking his victim dry. The occupied Vampyr notices Anarchious but continues to feed on the young female’s blood. The sight of the carnage sends the young Mutant into a panic. He almost goes crazy at the thought of this happening to Marie, so he bolts up the nearest steps. They are circular and seem endless, but eventually he reaches the top floor.
Anarchious comes to a giant old door. He slowly creeps towards the door, and as he approaches, he realizes the door is cracked open. He peeks in but sees nothing but darkness. He slowly enters the room and quickly feels nervous about the situation. The room is mostly in shadows, but the center is immersed in moonlight. The moon shines through a gaping hole in the destroyed roof of the castle. He begins to get a familiar feeling in his stomach when he and catches a glimpse of a pair of shining eyes across the room. They seem harmless as they shine, resembling the full moon.
Anarchious remains speechless. He doesn’t know what to say. The eyes glare back, and, as they approach, the Mutant sees a silhouette of a short and slender womanly figure. The footsteps of this ominous female figure echo through the room. Just shy of stepping into the moonlight, she stops. All Anarchious can see is her lean, pale legs.
“Wasn’t expecting you!” The woman’s voice echoes as if she knows the lone Mutant. Anarchious steps forward to try to get a better look at the woman. “This can’t be about the arrangement. I held up my side of the bargain no matter how crappy the information was!”
Anarchious, confused, stops just shy of the moonlight and stares at the eyes gazing at him. The feeling in his stomach begins to become stronger.
“Well? Are you going to explain yourself, Abel?” asks the woman.
Hearing a familiar name, Anarchious rushes forward and responds to the woman. “Abel? What do you know about him?” The pair of eyes and the womanly figure fade back into the darkness of the room. The lone Mutant stands in the moonlight looking around. Anarchious begins to become frustrated and unsettled. He yells at the top of his lungs, “Hey! What do you know about my brother?!”
That instant, the woman appears in front of him with a wicked smile stuck on her face. She is short, pale-brown-skinned, and attractive with a pair of eyes that light up like the moon during harvest. Anarchious, surprised, steps back and at that moment begins to hear little giggles surrounding him. He looks all round him and realizes he is surrounded by clones of the strange woman. “What the hell!” Anarchious whimpers in awe of this obvious display of power.
The little woman in front of him looks at Anarchious seductively, twisting her long, curly brown hair in her little fingers. She walks around him. Anarchious watches her nervously. She looks up and leers at the nervous Mutant. Anarchious, becoming even more anxious, yells at her, “What do you know about Abel?!”
“Hmmm? Knew it couldn’t have been him,” the woman says, completely ignoring Anarchious’s questions.
“What?” Anarchious responds to the short woman gazing at him while continuing to walk circles around him.
“That explains this dirty bloodhound!” she replies to the confused Mutant.
“What? Answer me! Where is Marie? And what do you know about Abel?” Anarchious retorts.
At that moment, she snaps her fingers, and Ace’s beaten and battered body is tossed into the light out of the shadows. Anarchious turns his back and sees the Lycan’s beat-up body. The group of goons who probably attacked him step into the light and laugh hysterically. Ace is barely conscious and seems to be on the verge of death. It has all been a trap.
The sight sends Anarchious into a fury, and the enraged Mutant attacks the woman. He lunges forward and attempts to punch one of the clones, but his fist goes right through her. She is untouchable. Immediately, Anarchious is attacked by the same goons who attacked Ace. He expels radical lighting from his body, hurling the flaming bolts to smash into the stone walls, making quick work of them.
Standing in the middle of the moonlight and looking around, Anarchious realizes that none of the clones has been hit by his attack. He looks behind him, and the first clone he attacked is gazing back at him over her shoulder. He stares the clone in her eyes, then looks around, and all the little clones gaze back at him with looks that could kill. Staring back into their wicked eyes, Anarchious begins to feel weaker. He has no idea what is going on, and then he feels a sharp pain in the back of his head.
Anarchious becomes so weak, he drops to his knees as if he is being drained of energy. He tries to get back up, but it feels as if he’s being weighed down by a thousand tons. The Mutant begins to hear little whispers in his ears. The clones of the women all giggle and frolic around the Mutant maniacally. The pain in the back of his brain becomes sharper as the voices became more violent. It is the voice of a woman, and it yells to him repeatedly, “You will never save her! Abel is dead! You will die too!” As the pain in his head begins to overwhelm him, Anarchious forces himself into a fighting stance, trembling as he struggles to stand. He covers his ears, cocks his head back, and furiously shouts, “Get out of my head, bitch!”
The clones continue to dance and giggle as the voices taunt Anarchious. He slips into another rage. His eyes glow again with that same violent purple light and his body surges with energy as he valiantly rebukes the voices. The clones of the mysterious woman continue to laugh and giggle while prancing around him. Anarchious becomes annoyed. He swings at the first giggly woman near him. This time he actually lands a punch to the gut of a clone, who drops to her knees, laughing, and vanishes.
“One of you has to be real! That means...that’s your ass!” Anarchious exclaims as he launches an all-out assault on the mysterious woman and her clones. The furious Mutant batters and destroys every one of the clones until the last one. The woman laughs aloud and cynically as he slips behind her and grabs her. “Found you! Where is Marie? And what do you know about Abel?” The woman looks back at him and continues to laugh. Anarchious lets his anger get the best of him once again, and he bear-hugs her body until he hears her bones beginning break. She drops to her knees and falls flat on her face.
The body lies there lifeless as Anarchious calms down. His eyes return to normal, and he ceases to radiate lightning sparks. Realizing what he has done, he inspects the body. He kneels down and reaches for her hair, but as soon as he comes within an inch of touching the body, it vanishes with a poof into thin air.
Anarchious stands up, startled, and surveys the room once more, looking over his shoulders, worried and wondering what is going on. Then he hears the woman’s laughter, which unsettles him once more. In an instant, the many clones reappear taunting and frolicking around him. Realizing what is going on, he yells, “Stop fucking toying with me!” With every bit of energy he has left, Anarchious scatter-shoots every one of the clones with lighting from his fingers.
Anarchious charges all his remaining energy into one shot and blasts the last woman in the head at point-blank range. The woman’s head explodes as the lighting crashes through the stone walls, creating another gaping hole in the side of the castle.
Astounded but dead tired, the lone Mutant wipes the blood off his face and looks at his hands. “Shit, I’ve got to get it together!” he says to himself. He turns to the Lycan, who is still seemingly bleeding out, and staggers over to him, but before he can take more than one step, he hears the woman’s laughter once again. “Ah, shit!” the Mutant mutters to himself, dropping his head in disappointment.
The woman swoops down, appearing out of thin air and knocking Anarchious flat on his back. She stands over him and looks down on him with a curious look on her face. She then straddles the helpless Mutant, sits on his lower abdomen, and stares at him closely. She grabs his jaw and rotates his head from side to side as if inspecting him. Anarchious can’t move but is itching to choke the woman.
“You look just like him!” she says to the pinned Mutant.
“Abel? Tell me what you know about him, or I’ll kill you where you stand!” Anarchious shouts to the woman as she gazes down on him seductively.
“You mean where I sit!” the woman retorts, throwing her head back and laughing for a brief second. Anarchious struggles to move his limbs, but he feels paralyzed. “What grounds do you have threatening...me? Queen Zera?” She looks down and explains to the pinned Mutant, “I could feed on the both of you, drink every last drop of your blood, or I can let my minions, the Blood Pack, get revenge and torture you till you’re on the brink of death. But I digress. I am full right now, and I could use someone with your determination around here.” She continues to babble at the Mutant as he keeps his eyes locked on her. She leans over and comes face to face with him. “I have a deal for you, young Mutant!” she says, grazing Anarchious’s nose flirtatiously against hers.
She then stands up and begins to cat-walk back into the shadows. “Rise,” she says nonchalantly, and in an instant, Anarchious is back on his feet but still unable to move. She walks into the shadows and sits down on what seems to be a throne. “Come,” she utters, and Anarchious is propelled over to her. He looks into her striking moon-colored eyes and feels nothing but evil.
“The way I see it,” Zera says to the captive Mutant, “you have two choices. The first is to die, of course, and we both know we don’t want that, cutie. The second is clearly the better of the two. You do me a huge favor, and I do something for you.”
Anarchious glares back at her into her eyes and responds, “What’s the catch?”
“Catch? No catch! It’s life or death! It’s your choice!” she answers the Mutant hovering in front of her.
“Why should I trust you?” Anarchious yells at the Vampyr dominatrix.
Queen Zera laughs aloud at the petrified Mutant’s question. “What is it you choose?” she asks, her smile with her pearly white teeth and wicked fangs shining in the shadows.
Anarchious, frustrated, looks away from Zera and her evil smile. He doesn’t trust her and knows something is up, but he has no choice. “I’ll take the second choice,” he replies, still looking away from the Vampyr queen.
“Great choice!” Zera replies immediately, as if she is glad about Anarchious’s choice. She waves her hand in the darkness, and Anarchious regains control over his body.
He stands for a moment and then collapses on his face at her feet. The Mutant is exhausted from his futile assault on her. He tries to recover and work his way to his elbows and knees, but he is too weak. He continues to struggle to a better position when Zera begins to speak again.
“OK, the deal is you deliver a message for me to the top of White Lion Mountain within seventy-two hours during the harvest moon, and if you even make it on time, I spare Marie’s life and give you information about Abel.”
The Mutant hears her but is entirely too tired to respond, so he nods. Anarchious, determined, forces himself to his feet quickly and turns towards Ace’s beaten body. He takes one step and passes out, falling flat on his face again.
Eight hours later, Anarchious awakens in the forest outside of Drake City’s walls near his old campsite. He looks up and sees the morning sky breaking through the trees. He sits up and places his hand on his head. He still has a headache from the night before. The Mutant tries to recall what happened, and as it begins to come back to him, he hears some moaning amongst the chirping of the morning sparrows.
He investigates his surroundings and spots Ace’s body. The Lycan is in his human form facedown in the grass. Anarchious gets up and runs over to his body. Ace’s body is healing but is still in bad shape with bruised ribs, stab wounds, bite marks, and claw wounds.
“Ace? You awake, man?” Anarchious asks as the Lycan lets out an even louder groan. The curious Mutant picks up a stick and pokes the Lycan on one of his butt cheeks. The Lycan signals to stop with his hand, shooing the stick away. Anarchious drops the stick, grabs the Lycan’s tail, and tugs on it. “Get up!” Anarchious says to Ace as the Lycan turns around, looking up at Anarchious.
Ace flips over, sits up, and yawns. Anarchious bends down and looks at the wounds close to Ace’s heart. “You OK?” Anarchious asks the Lycan as he dusts off his dirty face.
“Oh, I am great! Freaking ecstatic!” replies the Lycan sarcastically as he looks the young Mutant in the eye.
Anarchious stands up and looks down at the Lycan. “Good. Well, I’m off to White Lion Mountain. Take care!” Anarchious says after turning away and walking towards the forest exit.
“What? Wh...wha...what?” the Lycan stutters, speechless at Anarchious’s unflattering farewell. The Mutant continues on his path, raising his arm up and signaling peace and goodbye to an astonished Ace. The Lycan then runs and follows the trekking Mutant.
“Wait! Where are you going?” Ace asks the Mutant.
“Just told you. White Lion Mountain,” Anarchious responds, continuing his exit through the forest, not even making eye contact with Ace.
“But why?” Ace asks as they step out of the forest onto hilly plains.
“I have something to do!” Anarchious responds while striding up the first hill.
“Can’t I please go with you?” Ace asks while jumping in front of the Mutant, trying to get his attention.
“No,” he replies while continuing up the hill.
Ace, astounded, stops and says, “I thought we had a little agreement!”
“We did. For wasting my time in the first place, you helped me by finding Marie in return. Since you did that, you’ve upheld your part of the deal and don’t need to hang around me anymore,” Anarchious replies as he continues to stride up the hill.
“Well, the least you can do is let me hang with you until these wounds heal, seeing it’s your fault I got them!” Ace exclaims.
Anarchious stops in his tracks and looks Ace dead in the eye. “You decided not to follow me and tried to sneak around people who can see in the dark – and vicious Vampyrs who were expecting us at that. Your fault you got the shit kicked out of you,” Anarchious explains to Ace, who glares back at Anarchious.
“How the hell was I supposed to know they can see in the dark?” Ace retorts.
“I don’t know. Because you’re a Lycan,” Anarchious grunts, mocking Ace as he turns away and continues his path up the steep hill.
“What?” the Lycan says as he continues to trail the Mutant.
Anarchious finally gets to the top of the hill. From there they both can see White Lion Mountain in the far distance. “Besides you’re too much of a liability.” Anarchious continues staring at the mountain shining in the morning sun.
“What?” Ace says to Anarchious, surprised.
“You left me hanging. Twice,” the Mutant says, glaring at the Lycan.
“No, I didn’t!” the Lycan yells back.
“Yeah, you did!” he replies. “When I needed you to help me the most, you bailed and I got my ass whooped! Then you didn’t trust my decision and decided run off, and then we both got our asses whooped.” Anarchious resumes his walk down the hill in the direction of the mountain.
“Well, I’ll just follow you,” Ace says as he follows the Mutant down the hill.
Anarchious turns and gets in the Lycan’s face. “Go home!” he yells at the Lycan.
“Yoo-hoo, teenage Lycan with no pack, aka I have no way home! You don’t listen very well, do you?!” Ace responds, holding his ground firmly against the Mutant.
The Mutant’s eyes fall as he turns around, shaking his head in disappointment, and continues his path towards the mountain. Anarchious walks away as Ace stands by watching, depressed by this desertion. The lone Mutant walks about a hundred yards away, finally stops, and turns back to the saddened Lycan. “You coming or what?”
The Lycan races downthe hill and is back in his friend’s company in less than five seconds.Anarchious doesn’t say another word, continuing his path towards White LionMountain as Ace follows.