Chapter One: Listen and Learn
Zelious Tsitak stared at his grandfather, who was sitting on his throne, rambling on and on about Zelious’s life.
“You need to find a mate and settle down.”
Zelious rolled his eyes. He had been searching for his mate when his grandfather had summoned him here. More like, pulled him through the underwater portal. Snagging him away from his own realm.
“Don’t roll your eyes at me.”
Zelious grumbled, “if you would stay out of my business, I may have found my mate by now.”
“Watch how you talk to me, boy.”
Zelious held his breath. His grandfather is a bit nuts, but he knows the man would not harm him. Unless he really pissed the mighty God off.
Neptune looked at his grandson and nodded. “What is on your mind?”
Zelious sighed, “I was searching for my mate, grandfather. I felt her….”
“Then what are you doing here? Get on with it, boy.”
Zelious fought the urge to roll his eyes again. “You summoned me here, grandfather. I had no choice.”
“Right, right. Go. Go, find her,” the God waved his hand at his grandson, and Zelious disappeared.
“That boy would be lost without my guidance,” Neptune said with a huff.
Zelious rotated his shoulders as he looked around the ocean. Being the grandson of a mighty God is tiring. He wished Poseidon would take over the waters in this realm again, then maybe Zelious would have a break.
Although that would cause a war with the Gods, Zelious did not want to go through that again. Especially when he is so close to finding his mate.
Zelious swam for a few minutes and paused when he spotted something glowing in the dark waters. Something pulled him toward the light, and he sucked in a breath when he saw what was glowing so brightly in the depths of the dark ocean.
“We need to get off this ship!” Malique shouted.
They watched the Leviathan smash its tail down in the middle of the ship, breaking it apart.
“Abandon ship!” the captain bellowed.
“Come on!” Leviasen yelled as he and Julianne fluttered above them.
“Take our hands!” Jules hollered.
“What about our bags?” Darius asked, looking at Malique.
“I don’t give a fuck about that crap,” Malique growled.
“Akira’s sword,” Darius whispered.
“She had it on her when she was tossed off the ship,” Malique mumbled.
Darius sighed and looked down at the ship, which was sinking fast. “What about the Trolls?” he asked, looking back up at them.
“Pen already picked them up,” Levi informed them.
“Let’s go, Brother,” Malique said, holding his hand out to Darius.
Darius leaned down and picked up Nibbles, then stood and grasped his friend’s wrist. They nodded to each other, then reached up for the Fairies to fly them to safety.
Julianne and Leviasen huffed as they dropped the two Warriors on the nearest island they could find. They popped into their human form and landed on the ground with a groan.
“I’m never doing that again,” Jules gasped.
“At least there was an island nearby,” Levi said, panting.
“What do we do now?” Darius asked, looking up into the darkening sky.
“We find a cover for the night and figure this out tomorrow,” Malique said, looking around the beach.
Jules walked up to the Pegasus and took the Al-Mi’Raj from his arms. Nibbles cuddled against her as she turned to look at the ocean.
“About time you got here.”
They looked down at the Troll, who was tapping her foot, watching them. She sighed and motioned for them to follow her.
“Me and Fin found a place.”
The others followed the Troll to an abandoned cabin not far from the shoreline.
“How bad is it in there?” Darius asked.
“Does it matter?” Malique asked.
Darius sighed, “guess it doesn’t.”
Nothing much mattered without their Havent.
Wolfric looked at his next opponent and grinned. He doesn’t care if he lives or dies anymore, which makes fighting that much more thrilling.
“Come get me,” he said, taunting the Shadow Walker watching him.
The creature attacked, and Wolfric took him down and tore off his head.
“Next,” Wolfric growled.
Three Shadow Walkers attacked him at once, and he laughed. No matter how hard they tried, none of them could take him down. He ripped through them as though they were paper.
Fighting these creatures has kept his mind off the fact that Akira is gone. He will never see her again. Luckily her fourth and fifth Warriors will never know this kind of pain.
A large creature came out of nowhere and knocked Wolfric over. Wolfric growled as he jumped to his feet.
“Now that’s what I’m talking about,” he said with a devilish grin.
Akira looked up at the bars above her. The bigger kids can climb the monkey bars. Why can’t she?
“Move out of the way, runt,” an older boy said, pushing Akira down.
Laughing, he climbed the stairs that led up to the monkey bars.
Akira held in her tears as she scrunched up her face. They are always so mean to her, just because she is small and has no powers. They think they are all better than her. Well, she will show them.
Akira pulled herself to her feet and walked over to the stairs that the mean boy had just climbed up. She took a deep breath, then climbed the stairs. She got to the top of the stairs and frowned. She cannot reach the monkey bars. She is too small. She could hear the other children laughing at her.
If she were a real Havent, she would be able to use magic and swing across the monkey bars. But she is what is called an Empty Vessel. That is why her father hates her so much. He is a strong Warrior, and her mother is a very powerful Havent. But Akira is a dud.
Not only is she a dud, but she is also small. At least she is smart. Akira smiled and looked at the obstacle before her. She nodded to herself, then climbed the bar beside her. Up and up to the monkey bars.
With a bright smile, she took hold of the first monkey bar and swung to the next. She is doing it—she is really doing it!
‘Where is Mommy? Mommy should see me doing this!’
A strong wind blew, making her swing back and forth. She knows one of the kids was using their power, but she does not care. She is going to… Akira cried out when a gust of wind made her lose her grip, and she started to fall.
This is going to hurt—a lot.
But it did not hurt. Because her Wolfie saved her.
They sat up, and she thanked him then looked into his eyes. He did not shy away—he stared deeply into her eyes.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
She nodded and stared at him, confused as to why he was not shying away from her or calling her a soulless beast.
“What is your name?” he asked.
“Akira,” she whispered.
Did he really want to know her name? She felt excited that someone wanted to know her.
“What’s yours?” she asked.
He smiled at her—no one smiles at her but her mommy.
“I am Wolfric,” he said.
She giggled. She likes his name. It is such a funny name.
“I will call you Wolfie,” she exclaimed, hoping he would not be angry with her.
He chuckled and smiled at her. “You can call me anything you want, Psychi.”
Why did he call her that? He called her a soul. But she has no soul. He is so handsome and sweet; he can call her whatever he wants.
“What are you doing with my daughter?!”
Akira’s father’s voice made her shiver in fear.
Akira blinked as she opened her eyes. She was reliving the biggest moment of her life. The moment she met Wolfric Selinofoto.
“There you are.”
Akira sat up and looked up at the tall man. “W-where am I?”
The man smiled and held a hand out to her. “You, my dear, are in the afterlife.”
Akira frowned as she placed her hand in the man’s hand. “I’m dead?”
“Oh yes,” the man said with a nod. “Very much so.”
Akira’s frown deepened. “But my Warriors…”
“Come with me,” the man said, gesturing toward a doorway.
Akira looked at the man, then the doorway, and took a deep breath. She is in the afterlife. She is dead.
Akira followed the tall man through the doorway. They walked down a long hall that had doors with numbers on them. One through Eighteen.
“This is your life,” the man said, gesturing to each door. “Each year, you were alive.”
Akira blinked at the doors. ‘No way.’
The man stopped at door eighteen and gestured for her to go through it.
Akira shook her head and took a step back from the door.
“Come along, we don’t have all day. There is something I want to show you before he finds you.”
Akira’s left eyebrow raised at the man who was motioning for her to open the door. With a large breath, she turned the door handle and stepped into the room.
The room was full of screens with videos of what looked like her life since the day she turned eighteen.
“This is the one I want you to see,” the man said, motioning to the screen that was playing her last moments on a loop.
First, she is on the ship—then she is in the water—then she is fighting to survive. Finally, she is watching a rainbow fish swim past as her vision blurred and she died, thinking about her Warriors and what was never to be.
“You were warned that this would happen,” the man said.
Akira looked at him with a deep frown. “But I had to find my Warrior.”
The man snorted and slapped the screen, making it spin around.
Akira turned to the new screen. It was of her Warriors and friends as they grieved her death. The look in her Warriors’ eyes would have killed her—if she wasn’t already dead.
“What’s wrong with them?” Akira whispered.
“They are Warriors, Akira. Their Havent is dead. Your marking is taking their heart with it.”
Akira whimpered. “Please, please make it stop,” she begged.
“If only you had listened to the warning,” the man said, shaking his head.
Akira turned to him. “Is there anything I can do?”
He shook his head again. “Everything is already set in motion.”
She frowned at the screen as she watched her friends battle the Sea Dragon.
“Next time,” the man said, placing his hand on her shoulder. “Heed our warning.”
Akira shivered, and everything went black.
Zelious swam toward the glowing woman. When he got to her, he noticed she was not moving. He moved closer and listened for her heartbeat.
He looked into her dull eyes and frowned. He could tell they were once pretty.
‘Save her,’ a voice whispered in his ear.
Zelious turned around, but there was nothing there. He turned back to the girl and frowned. How can he save her? She is already gone.
The glow around her started to dim, and the voice repeated its words—only louder.
“Fine,” he grumbled.
Zelious moved closer to the girl and took in a deep breath, then placed his lips over hers and blew air into her lungs.
He moved back from her; his eyebrows furrowed.
‘Save her,’ the voice whispered again.
“I am trying to,” he growled.
He pinched his lips together, then leaned forward and blew more air into the girl’s lungs.
He backed away, agitated. “Okay, all-mighty voice. How do you suppose I save her? She’s dead.”
His heart broke at his last words. But why?
‘Again,’ the voice ordered.
Zelious grumbled as he placed his mouth over the girl’s once again and blew air into her lungs.
The girl started coughing, and Zelious held his hand over her mouth and nose to hold the air in her lungs.
“Well, I’ll be,” he said with a chuckle.
The girl looked up at him, shock in her eyes. Zelious blinked into her beautiful amber eyes.
“Mate,” Zelious said without thinking.
She smiled against his hand, and he shook his head.
“Hold your breath,” he told her.
She nodded, and he removed his hand from her face. He clapped his hands together, creating an air bubble, then placed it over her head. She sucked in a breath of air.
“Sorry about that. I hadn’t thought about creating one. Just thought about bringing you back.”
She smiled at him as she reached out for his hands. Zelious smiled as he took hold of her hands. He had not thought his mate would be human, but she was so beautiful he would not care if she turned out to be a Troll. Not that he has ever seen one before.
“What is your name?” she asked, her voice hoarse.
“I am Zelious,” he said with a smile. “What is your name?”
She smiled and pulled him closer. “I am Akira,” she said with the sweetest smile.
“And I shall call you, Zel.”