Chapter 10: Nanas
“THANK you so much for your help!”
A dashing and athletic young man in mid-twenties, with messy dirty blonde hair and deep emerald eyes, thanked two law enforcement officers who helped him.
The man looked like one of those young A-stars movie stars. He definitely got the looks, an athletic body, and charms that made women swoon and straight men jealous.
“You should be more careful. Lately, there have been a lot of snatch-theft activities around this area. You were lucky we happened to pass by,” Josh Campbell said sternly.
It had been a while since he had thrown someone over his shoulders in an act of self-defence. The last person whom he had thrown over his shoulders was his own niece during his days in police academy when fifteen-year-old Anya had come for a visit.
While she accompanied him working out in the gym, when all the sudden, Anya had asked him to teach her how to throw someone twice of her size and bigger over her shoulders.
Josh had been shocked at her request and angrily demanded to know who, when his niece said it was just as a precaution — in case she needed to defend herself.
Josh had been reluctant, of course, as well as thought she was just messing around with him. Like, how could he possibly throw his adorable tomboyish niece over his shoulders like in a fight? Rosy and the twins would surely kill him if they knew.
It was unheard of and utterly ridiculous.
...Until she had to open her darn mouth and blurted out that one particular name which was forbidden for anyone to say in his presence. A horrible nickname that was so humiliating and a reminder of his crazy ex-lover whom he’d dumped after caught her cheating on him with multiple men. One of them was his high school rival.
Needless to say, Anya got exactly what she wanted that day when he dragged her to the training centre and placed a mat on the floor.
Looking at his partner who handcuffed the thief and pinned against the police car, Josh sighed.
Meanwhile, the younger man looked trouble. He knew it was his own fault for not paying attention and alert to where he was going.
“I understand. I’ll be more careful next time. I was actually on my way to the Hillview Shield Academy. We are preparing a stage play that’s coming up pretty soon, so we’ve been practising and rehearsal until night time. Ah, But not too late, I assure you!”
“Huh. I assume you’re the main lead?”
The man chuckled. “Oh no, Sir. I’m actually the scriptwriter and producer of the play, ‘The Wishing Princess’. It’s part of my thesis. Ethan Carter, at your service,” said Ethan with a charming smile, as he offered his hand.
At the introduction, Josh lifted his eyebrows high on his forehead. Slowly, a smirk graced upon his lips.
Weeeell. So this is the famous Ethan Carter that makes her gaga. Ought to say; her taste in men isn’t bad as I’d expected.
Josh graciously accepted the offer and shook his hand.
“A play scriptwriter, at your age? That’s impressive,” Josh whistled.
Ethan chuckled. “I’m still a student, a third and final year. I’ve written many plays for the school, though this is actually my first time as an amateur producer for a play that is going to be opened for the locals. My Lecturers have pursued me to dig my hands into this.”
Josh nodded then joking said, “You have a big dream. With that look and charm, you might want to reconsider that dream and trade for modelling or acting instead!”
Ethan chuckled along, shaking his head. “Not really. People have told me many times, but I’m not interested in the big picture. I’m more of a behind-the-scenes guy, you know?”
Josh was again impressed by the young man’s strong ambition but said nothing. He wanted so much to ask him about what he thought of Anya just so he could rub in her face and later sing along to I-know-something-that-you-don’t that would definitely irritate her to no end.
Ah, hell. Why not?
“Say, this is just a wild guess, but by any chance, are you a member of the Literature Club of the Shield Academy?” Josh raised an eyebrow.
Ethan looked rather surprised at the question before nodding his head. “Actually, I am the President of the Club.”
“Ah, then you must have known my niece, Anya Romans! She’s a member of the club.”
“Anya? Anya Romans is your niece? But you’re...”
Josh fanned one hand in the air. “Long story short, we’re not blood-related, but I am legally her uncle — a young uncle, to be precise.”
“Is that so? Nice meeting with you then, Anya’s uncle.”
“Josh. By the way, how is she in school? I hope she doesn’t cause any troubles for the Literary Club President—”
Josh’s words were being cut by Gall calling him from the car.
“Emergency call from Greenwood Streets. Hey, isn’t that where your cute girlfriend lives?”
Josh’s eyes grew. As soon as the words escaped from his partner’s mouth, Josh’s mobile phone in his pocket vibrated.
Quickly he reached out, slide the answer button and immediately greeted by the sound of Rosy’s wailing voice.
“Rosy, what— Okay. Just... Try to calm down. I’ll be right there as soon as possible. Okay. Bye.”
He glanced at Ethan. “I’ll see you again, Mr Carter.”
Josh quickly rushed to his car. His partner successfully pushed the thief into the back seat of the Police’s car.
“What’s wrong?” Gall asked the moment his Lieutenant got in the passenger’s seat.
“Anya’s gone missing.”
“What? But how?”
“Drive. Rosy said someone had broken into her room. Her window was all scattered.”
“But she lives in the freakin’ the twentieth floor! How the hell—”
“Just drive, Sergeant!”
Josh kept on tapping his finger impatiently on the window’s screen while the car moved. As the police siren echoed, Josh complement what Rosy had just told him:
“Someone had broken into my little girl’s room and kidnapped my baby! Please, Josh, find her!”
“Damn,” Josh hissed through his gritted teeth.
What Gall had mentioned was true; how is it possible for someone to climb all the way to the twentieth floor and kidnapped someone?
Shook his head, Josh got rid of the bad feeling pilling up his chest. Somewhere at the back of his mind, Josh remembered of a blurred and vague memory of how he had arrested someone whose attire looked like from the Medieval Era shown up in Anya’s walk-in closet.
SOMEWHERE in East coast, nearby the seashore, there was an abandoned oil factory where Anya Romans slowly gained her consciousness.
Groaned from the stiffed pain, Anya got up — or tried to at least when she found her whole body was restricted and glued to the high walls by a thick white substance wrapped from her waist down to her toes.
The moonlight’s ray shone on her head as most of the rooftops of the building were gone.
“W-What hell is this?!” Anya shouted while struggling to break free.
“Ssso you’ve awakened,” A male voice spoke with hissing tone sent shivers down Anya’s spine.
Looking ahead, Anya froze when she saw a pair of golden slit eyes glowed in darkness and stared threateningly at her.
A moment passed between them before the eyes moved closer. Anya bit the scream that threatened to come out from her mouth, and let out a sharp gasp when the identity of her kidnapper was revealed:
A humanised form of a snake covered with impenetrable scales all the way to its tail.
Anya had read about them before while doing her research on Greek Mythology for one of her assignments. Though Gorgons were usually depicted as females, there was one known male gorgon named Nanas, that had said to be the guardian of the Lord of the Sky and known as Rain God to some.
Remembering the legendary tales of Medusa, Anya shut her eyes quickly as the creature approached closer. Sharp brazen claws gently stroke her cheeks, followed by low chuckling came from the creature.
“At easeeeeee, child. Unlike the rest of the Gorgons, I am considered as ssspecial. You do not need to fret. You will not turn to sssstone by looking at me without my command. Now open your eyes and look at me!”
Anya slowly opened her eyes at his commend.
Nanas the male Gorgon, looked like very much like its female counterpart, including a pair of golden wings on it’s back.
“There, that’s more like it.”
Anya groaned softly when she felt the thick scales wrapped around her waist tightened.
“I-I assume your name is... Nanas?”
The Gorgon roared in laughter.
“What an intelligent mortal! Not many people knew my name, let alone my exisstence.”
“I... I love reading books about you... kind. We called it ‘Legends and Mythologies’. Though, nobody would expect you to be, well, real.”
Nanas chuckled deeply. “Myths, my dear? Now that issss an understatement. I am real, as you can very well ssssee. In the land of Excalibell, everything that you mortals deemed to think as non-existence, are in fact, real.”
“Even unicorns?” Maybe if I can get him to talk more, he would loosen this tight grip!
“Even unicornssss!” Nanas chuckled loudly again.
Or maybe not. Damn.
Anya groaned when she tried to move her numbed arms. The more she moved, the tightened the grip on her waist.
Nanas noticed her discomfort, hissed amusingly.
“Feeling uncomfortable, dear? Once he getsss here, I shall release you.”
“And just who is this person that you’re referring to? Why kidnapped me in the first place?”
Nanas chuckled humorously. “I’m glad you ask. While waiting for our dear guest to arrive, let me entertain you with a little ssstory.”
His grip on Anya’s waist loosened up a little bit.
“I’ve been ssstudying you for ssssome time now.”
“Ssstalking me, you mean,” Anya mocked.
Ignored her mocking remark, Nanas continued. “I’ve been watching you ever sssince the arrival of the Excalibell Prince to this world.”
At the mentioned of Duke, Anya’s eyes hardened.
Nanas chuckled softly, followed by an arrogant smirk.
“Fret not, little one. It’s not the Prince that I want. In fact, what I desssire most is the person closessst to him — the Gran Mago.”
I knew it.
“Any specific reasons why are you after the Gran Mago?” Anya asked.
“For my title, of course,” a familiar voice answered.
“Ssspeak of the Devil, and here he comesss,” Nanas hissed excitingly, turning his head around to face with the newcomer standing at the entrance in a full butler suit and a cunningly polite smile he always bore.
“I hope I’m not late for the main course? I do apologise for the wait, Miss Romans as I had an errand that needed to be done for the His Highness the Prince before I could come to your rescue,” Aidan bowed his head apologetically, with one hand on his chest.
“You’re not hurt, are you?”
“I could scarcely breathe earlier on, thank you very much.”
“Ah, but you can alright now, yes? Meaning that no harm has done to you. At the very least, not yet.”
“Damn butler. After only a couple of months being away, I see that you haven’t changed that rotten attitude of yours even in the slightest!”
“You have no idea,” Aidan gave her a smile before smirked a bit before he focused on the creature.
“At long last! The moment I’ve been waiting for has finally arrived! Fourteen years, and the Gran Mago title shall be mine!” Nanas exclaimed excitingly.
Aidan sighed and massaged his growing headache. “It’s truly amusing that one would wait exactly fourteen years later to challenge me again after losing in a fight.”
Anya was having a hard time suppressing her giggles despite the compromising position she’s in.
“What’s ssso funny, mortal?” Nanas asked irritatingly.
“You, obviously,” Anya snorted. “I mean, it’s one thing to challenge him back after fourteen years, but how does kidnapping me will helps you to win?”
“This is just a theory, but I am guessing this Gorgon thought that by using you as a bait, he has a higher chance on defeating me. He thought he could use you as my weakness.”
“HAH!” Anya burst out laughing and wheezed. “Are you serious? Have you really been ssstudying me?”
“Can somebody pleasssse enlightened me just what is so entertaining?” Nanas finally snapped when Anya wouldn’t stop laughing.
“You, dumbass!” Anya shouted, after she regained back her breath. “Honestly! I admit I was terrified by your presence earlier that I’d almost peed in my pants. Knowing how dumb you really now make me feel stupid for being scared in the first place!”
“How DARE you filthy human ssscum! Insulting me like that!” Nanas tightened his grip on her, causing the mortal woman to gasp. “I’ll break every bone in you—”
“Not so fast, Gorgon.”
A cloud of black smoke surrounded them. When the smoke quickly dispersed, standing between the Gorgon and the butler, was someone whom Anya had not seen for quite some time.
“Zenon!” Nanas hissed angrily. Quickly, he formed a shield around him with his wings.
Dressed in a fancy outfit, Zenon approached them swaying a walking stick. He stopped and stared at Anya before grinning widely.
“My, my. What have you gotten yourself into this time, sugar?”
Noticed how the mortal woman wasn’t responsive to his question and how her face was rapidly turned blue from the lack of air through her lungs, Zenon’s smirk faded.
Approaching the male Gorgon, he rapidly tapped the walking stick hard against the cold ground.
“Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?”
Dead silence filled in the thick air.
Aidan watched from the sideline while keeping his sight on his target. In a light speed movement, Zenon vanished from his spot and appeared, floating in the air. Swaying the walking stick, he cut severely the layers of snake scales that were griping Anya mercilessly, using a hidden blade inside the walking stick that was acting as a scabbard.
An ear-splitting painful scream echoed throughout the factory, just in time as Aidan made a safe landing few distances away from the ongoing battlefield after he caught the mortal girl in mid-air.
Meanwhile, Nanas hissed angrily at Zenon, with tears running down his cheeks.
“You piece of rotten Prince! How dare you cut me down like that!”
The Demon Prince smiled wickedly. “Oh, why shouldn’t I teach my stubborn underling a lesson? Said underling who does even know how to behave.”
“An underling?” Anya whispered quietly, still being held close in Aidan’s arms.
The butler nodded.
“Yes. In general speaking, the Gorgons, are the lowest rank in the Demon’s army hierarchy. There has been a rumour lately, because of the way they’ve been treated by the others over the years, the Gorgons currently rebelling against the Demon King. The Gorgons believe if one of them was strong enough to defeat the current holder of the Gran Mago title, then one must be powerful enough to overthrow the Demon King.”
“I see. So defeating you is not necessarily means that they want to rule Excalibell. Sometimes it’s personal.”
Anya nodded. Subconsciously, leaning her head against his chest.
“Lava Beast!” Nanas summoned a flame beast, which Zenon effortlessly dispelled with a swing of his blade.
“What a distasteful name for such a weak attack,” he mocked. Raising one hand in the air, Zenon released a massive power-charging force and pieced through Nanas’s stomach mercilessly, creating a medium size black void. Before long, the Gorgon’s whole being got sucked into a void, and he vanished without a word.
Zenon blew few strings of his wild punk-rock hair, having taken the hat off in the middle of the battle and made a short courtesy bow to the vanished opponent.
TIME seemed to have stopped the moment the battle ended. Anya, whose eyes had glued to the battle finally let out a long and deep breath she’s been holding in. Unbeknown to her, she had unconsciously buried her head at the end of the butler’s neck and grip a fistful of his clothes when Nanas got sucked into the void.
Aidan, on the other hand, remained stoic despite the close proximity between them, what’s with the young man clenched her fists onto his suit like a dear lifeline while she watched horrifyingly as the beast got sucked into a void from within.
Despite his inner self wanting nothing more but to shove her away, something stopped him from doing so. Something that even Aidan found it hard to explain why he was still holding onto her in his arms.
Dark chocolate eyes stared down at the woman in his arms, who slightly shivered from the aftermath of the battle when the sound of footsteps caught his sense of hearing.
“Well, well, well...” Zenon grinned arrogantly, brushing some dirt and dust from his expensive and tailored suit. “That ended quickly.”
Looking up, Zenon smiled and said, “Hello again, love. Been a while, hasn’t it?”
Before she could reply, Anya felt herself suddenly being lowered until her feet could touch the ground. To her surprise, there was a deep burning and almost hatred in Aidan’s eyes, and he refused to look at her.
Cleared her throat, Anya turned her attention to Zenon.
“What was that? Just now...”
“That, love, was a high-level Dark Magic that only a few magicians, such as myself, are capable of doing it. Of course, even Duke’s loyal dog here is able to master it too,” Cold lips touched the back of Anya’s right hand before she could say a word.
“Please accept my deepest apologies on behalf of my former underling’s utterly idiotic behaviour, love. I have no idea those lowly Gorgons would go as far as kidnapping someone who has a connection to the useless Excalibell’s Prince, all for the sake of the Gran Mago title,” Zenon shook his head. “Honestly. How troublesome.”
Anya quickly pulled her hands away from his lips and sneered. “The reason why Nanas and the Gorgons are acting this way is that you haven’t been treating them fairly!”
Zenon raised an eyebrow. “Now why would we do something like that?”
“What do you mean why?” Anya snapped. “As the future ruler, shouldn’t you be thinking and doing what’s best for your people? That includes your subordinates as well!”
“Of course. However, love, the Gorgons knew what they’re getting at when they started a rebellion against my father. True, they were being mistreated, but that’s just the way it works in the Demon world. Survival of the fitness, if you will. The strong shall wins while the weak lose. If one wants to survive, then one must strive to be the strongest amongst us all.”
A strong hand suddenly clamped on Anya’s mouth, silence her from talking any further.
“Your Highness. Despite what happened earlier on, thank you for still keeping your promise,” Aidan lowered his head in a bow. His jaws tensed.
“My pleasure. Though; I have to say, I should be the one thanking you,” Zenon smirked.
Anya removed Aidan’s hand away from her mouth and say,
“What promise are you talking about? Zenon, don’t tell me you came all the way here just to be cute and rescued me. I won’t buy that crap.”
Zenon flashed her a wide grin. “You know I would never allow anyone else to touch you, dearie. You are my precious property after all!”
Bravely, Anya stepped forward until she came face-to-face with the Demon Prince.
“Listen, buddy. I’m grateful that you showed up and rescued me from suffocation, but that doesn’t make me anything less than your goddamn property!”
Zenon continued to grin.
THE time was one o’clock in the morning by the time Aidan had teleported them back to the Hillview Town.
“So you’re telling me you’ve erased all traces and evidence that happened tonight?”
Aidan mutely nodded. He had been strangely quiet ever since they left the factory. Under Duke’s direct order, Aidan had used magic to erase all evidence that she’d been kidnapped and the chaos that followed.
Sighing tiredly, Anya was about to take a step into her apartment’s main gates when she stopped abruptly at the coughing sound from the man beside her.
“Aidan? Hey... You’re okay?” Anya asked, concernedly.
The pain was evidently on his face, and throughout the months they known each other, this was the first time she ever saw him making such expression.
The level-headed Butler lifted one gloved hand in the air, stopping her from coming toward him. Slouching slightly with his back against the walls, Aidan’s other gloved hand rest over his chest.
“I’m fine, Miss Anya,” Aidan said after a while, breathing quite heavily. “Hurry on now,” he tilted his head toward the front doors of the apartment, signalled for her to continue moving forward.
Anya scowled. She felt really sceptical about him being all right, but didn’t want to argue and decided to let it slide. If he said he was fine, then it wasn’t nothing to be worried about—
Aidan coughed loudly to the point of him wheezing as he covered his mouth with one hand. His forehead nearly touched the ground while he tried very hard to control his breathing and to reduce the noise of the cough.
“Oh, hell. As if you’re all right!” In seconds she was right beside him. Rubbing his back as gently as she could. His face was pale and he looked like he’s about to pass out anytime.
“Aidan?” Anya snapped her fingers at him. “Can you hear me? Nod if you can.”
The Butler could barely hear anything around him. Even her voice seemed so further away in a distance, yet he nodded anyway.
“Aidan, I need to know. Did you or did you not use any Offensive or Defensive Magic before you came to my rescue? Duke had warned me something like this was going to happen should you used magic excessively and continuously without getting enough rest!”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Miss—”
“Oh, cut the bloody crap! Did you or did you not use any Offensive or Defensive Magic?!”
Aidan stared at her with a disbelief look on his face. His coughing fit had reduced. His throat, however, suffered the most and his visions getting blurred by seconds.
Aidan knew he needed to fight this. He was placing both of them at risk for being in this state in an opened field where his enemies might be lurking.
“Hey,” the sound of finger snapping at him again, shook him out of the trance. “Hey, answer me! Aidan!”
How many times had she called his name today? And why did it sounded so endearing every time she called his name? Before Aidan could figure out reasons to his many enquiries, his world faded away. The last thing he felt before he blacked out was Anya’s hands strongly grip on his collar, shaking him like a rag doll.
“LISTEN, Aidan. As a gifted Magician and the Gran Mago, one who served as His Royal Highness’ Butler, you must never let your gift to be waste so recklessly. Never let any distraction get in your way — especially in the matter of the heart. Understood?”
An elderly man, seated in a rocking chair beside a fireplace spoke to a younger looking Aidan in his early teens.
“Very good. I’m very proud of you, child.” The Elder smiled at him, reached out one hand and gently tapped his head.
The scene quickly changed. The same Elder that had smiled at him kindly now struck Aidan, who looked a bit older.
“You fool! Didn’t I tell you not to be distracted in the matter of the hearts?!” the Elder yelled angrily. “Because of your foolishness, His Highness’s safety was being put into jeopardy!”
Aidan had been sitting with both knees buried on the ground. There had been a small red bruise on his left cheek where the Elder had hit him earlier.
His head remained lowered while his hands on the edge of his knees. His white shirt was tainted with smeared of blood, where fresh wounds were evidently around his neck.
“Forgive my sin, Elder. It won’t happen again.”
“It’d better not! Listen to me, Aidan. Feelings and emotions are the two most powerful tools that no Offensive or Defensive magic could ever count. They can either make you or break you. As magicians, it is an absolute MUST that we control our emotions carefully so that the magic that we possessed do not control us. As the current Gran Mago, you must have absolutely self-control of your emotions and feelings. Seal them and kept them far away from the surface from now on. You’ve already learned your lesson on how the matter of the heart could affect your ability as a Gran Mago and made you lost concentrations. Do not repeat the same mistake ever again. Understood?”
Aidan woke up from the long forgotten dream instantly and found himself sat upon a comfortable Queen size bed in a small bedroom, with a small dagger on his left hand that he had summoned, subconsciously.
After a moment, Aidan took a long deep breath as his vision cleared, and he knew he was not in any immediate danger.
He felt something cold attached on his forehead: a soaked cloth and lifted an eyebrow.
Putting the cold cloak away in the small water bowl on the small table placed beside the bed, he looked at the clock hanging on the walls — five o’clock in the morning.
Judging by the room that he was in, Aidan knew he had been brought by the young lady herself. How she managed to carry him all the way to the twentieth floor all by herself, he had no idea.
Nevertheless, it would be unwise for him to doubt her capability when she put her mind into something. Aidan had, after all, learned the hard way to never underestimate the lady’s brute strengths the other day when Mister Josh’s teasing went a bit too far. Though she may be physically small, Anya sure could kick like a Kickboxing Champion.
Speaking of which...
Dark chocolate eyes dwell immediately on a figure bundled up in a sleeping bag, with a kitten curled up next to her legs. She slept soundly wrapped in a thick blanket, on the floor.
Silently, Aidan removed himself from the bed and got down next to her, watching her breathing softly.
Finally, after some time passed by, Aidan gently scooped her in his arms and laid her on the bed. Casey the kitten, jumped on the bed as soon as it felt the missing absent of its Mistress on the floor. She resumed sleeping on the same spot near her Mistress.
Aidan sighed softly, turning around and summoned a magic portal. His eyes never left her as he entered the portal and when it disappeared in thin air.