"Elizabeth, stop for a minute!" Nicholas said when they reached the top of the stairs. "Why do we need to go to London? And why do we have to go in such a hurry? I don't understand! What is wrong! Can you please stop for a minute and explain this to me what is so damn important that we drop everything right now and race back to London?"
"Nicholas, the moment I put the amulet back around my neck, the old gypsy woman contacted me, immediately. I've been out of touch with her for the last couple of months."
"So, what does that mean?" He asked, seeing the frightened expression on her face.
"That when I sent that horrible beast to hell months ago, the gypsy said she had made a dreadful mistake in telling me to send him there. I should have destroyed him instead. Now, because he still lives he has become so much more powerful than he was before. Nicholas I'm talking about the power he had when he was here at Hillcrest Manor was nothing in comparison to what he has gained by living in hell these past few months."
"I still don't quite follow what you're saying to me, Elizabeth?" He responded back to her.
"What I am saying is the power he has gained by living in the underworld has grown way beyond anything you could ever imagine. And then some!"
"So, what does that really mean? Please don't forget this kind of stuff is still so foreign to me, it just takes a little more time to get it straight in my mind, the reality of it all."
"Okay then I will try to explain it to you but we don't have a lot of time right now but here goes the short version. Now that this beast has gained so much more power, he is only second in power to Satan himself. So what that means in plain language that you will understand is that he now has the power to punch a hole into our world and then he will lead all of the hideous creatures from the underworld here, into our world and then they will completely devastate everything and everyone that exists here now. I have already seen one of them in my mirror last night. That is why we must make haste to London. It is imperative for me to go back to the gypsy camp and speak with the old gypsy woman again. She is the only one that knows how to stop this horrible event from happening or if it has already happened than how to stop it and send all of these vicious animals back to the underworld where they belong and seal the portal so they cannot come back into our world again. Does that answer your question?" She said and then turned around and ran down the hallway to her own room to pack a few things that she would need for this trip to London.
Nicholas followed suit and went into his own room now knowing and understanding the seriousness of the situation and quickly he threw what bare essentials he would need for this trip that they were going to take.
It didn't take Elizabeth or Nicholas very long at all to gather a few items from their bedrooms, they changed into their riding clothes and met back downstairs as soon as they were done. They knew they couldn't take their coach to London because all the servants had fled the Manor house, including the coachman. They all refused to return, even after all the evil spirits were driven out of the house months ago. They still were too afraid to come back. Now they would have to make the long, grueling journey to London by horseback. It had been quite a while since Elizabeth had actually ridden a horse. Normally she always traveled by coach so she was just going to try and do the best she could but when she did ride horses she was a pretty fair horsewoman or so she had been told. This ride now will really test her abilities and she hoped she didn't make a fool out of herself in front of Nicholas.
Louise was waiting nervously for them to come back downstairs. She had been employed at the Manor house many years ago. "I thought Lady Elizabeth had taken care of all the problems that had been here at Hillcrest Manor, she thought to herself. It had been a blessing the day Nicholas brought her here. She made all the evilness leave this place. But now... was it back? She didn't think she could live through all of that again. Seeing the two of them coming down the staircase brought her attention back to the new problems at hand.
"Louise," Nicholas said when he reached the bottom of the stairs. "As soon as we leave, I want you to lock up the house and leave, yourself. Do I make myself clear on this? I want no one here no matter what happens. Do you understand?"
"Yes sir, but you'll need me when you return, won't you?" She asked, hesitantly. Not quite sure why she was being fired.
"Louise, it's not safe for you or anyone else to be here right now. Someday, hopefully you'll be able to come back." He reached into his pocket and pulled out some money. "Here, this should be more than enough for you to live on."
She looked at what he had thrust into her hand, "sir, this is a year's wages. It's far too much."
He cut her off. "Louise, you have been here my entire life. Actually longer than that. You stayed on when everyone left in fear. It's the least I can do for you for all your help, especially with... Sarah." It still gave him so much pain every time he thought of his daughter. He gave the old servant a hug. "You take care of yourself, you hear me?"
"I will." She looked at the two standing there in front of her. She could feel tears running down her face. She hoped that no harm would come to either of them. "You will be very careful, won't you?"
"Yes, we will. Trust me. I will do whatever it takes to right the wrongs that are taking place here." With that said, they left the house and went down to the stables saddled up the two horses there and headed out the front gates of Hillcrest Manor at a slow canter. They made their way to the main road to London. He had never taken this trip by horseback before. He couldn't believe how different it was from riding in the coach. Being on horseback the landscape was so vast and open. After riding for several hours they decided to rest the horses so they stopped a short distance off the road. Dismounted and retrieved a blanket and of course the small basket of food Louise had fixed for them before they left. They found a comfortable spot under a large oak tree and spread out the blanket there. They sat down together as Elizabeth opened the small basket and pulled out the two sandwiches that were there. She was so glad Louise had packed this basket for them before they left. She was going to sorely miss the old servant whom she had come to love.
"How much farther do we have to go before we reach London, Nicholas?" She asked. She had only traveled this road once and that was when Nicholas brought her out to his estate from London several months ago.
"I would guess it'll be way past midnight when we finally get there. We left in such a hurry I wasn't able to send word to the servants at my townhouse that we will even be coming tonight."
"Is that going to be a problem?" She asked, looking at him with concern on her face.
"No, it just will be quite a surprise for them, that's all." He laughed. "I usually give them notice that I'm coming to London. If we continue sitting here any longer, we're never going to get there tonight." He stood up and extended his hand to Elizabeth to help her off the ground.
Instantly he couldn't help himself as he took her in his arms and kissed her deeply drawing her tightly against his chest. When she looked up at his face and their eyes met, she felt frozen in time, a strange closeness to him came over her that she'd never felt with anyone else before. She closed her eyes as his lips came over hers' and felt herself pressing ardently against his lean, muscular body. She could feel his breath in her ear as his hands began caressing her body, slowly moving down her slender back while he held her tightly in a warm, passionate embrace. She now responded to his kisses with kisses of her own as they both fell back down on the blanket that they had laid out for themselves. Nicholas started unbuttoning the bodice of her dress causing Elizabeth to let out a moan of sheer pleasure.
A sound in the woods brought them both back to reality, instantly. Sitting up Elizabeth quickly buttoned her bodice back as they both tried to figure out what was making the strange, peculiar noises they were hearing all around them. It was getting louder by the minute the closer whatever it was making the noises came to them. They both searched the woods around them with their eyes but neither one of them could see anything, nothing was moving at all.
"I've never heard noises like that before, have you?" he asked, standing up. He reached down again to help Elizabeth off the ground as they both stood there, listening carefully to see if either one of them would recognize anything that would give them a clue of what these creatures could possibly be.
"No. My whole life I have always loved walking through the woods that was near my home in London but I've never heard anything like this before." She said, still straining her ears to hear something familiar.
"I think it would be wise of us to leave this place as soon as possible. I don't want to run into whatever is making these strange noises. Do you?"
"I agree with you completely, Nicholas. We had better get moving quickly for the sounds are getting much closer. It sounds like that are right next to us but I don't see anything. This is so strange. I thought I knew every sound that could be made by the forest creatures but this?"
They wiped the dirt and twigs that had clung to their clothes off and then re-mounted their horses. They spurred them on into a full gallop to try to put some distance between them and whatever was making those horrible noises in the woods.
They finally slowed their pace down to a walk so they didn't tire out their horses to soon. They could still hear the same noises in the woods, it was as if whatever it was kept the same pace as they did but they still couldn't see anything which was so odd. "Why are they following us? Do you think they'll follow us all the way to London?" Elizabeth asked, the anxiety was setting in on both of them having these unknown creatures ever so close but nowhere in sight. Neither one of them had any idea of what they could be.
"I would assume so, they'll probably follow us until we enter the city itself. Then they won't have the woods to hide themselves in any longer."
"But Nicholas, the streets in London are very narrow and the houses are close together. There are so many people around all the time, they never pay any attention to what's going on around them because there is so many homeless people living in the streets. They all just go about their own business ignoring all the other people they see unless they actually see someone they know. Then they would stop for a few minutes to chat and then go on their own ways."
"You are right about that. I do it myself. I hate having to deal with the beggars who come up all the time asking for money. I just ignore them all. So, yes I am quite guilty of it and now I wish I would have been more compassionate to their plight."
"I guess all we can do right now is to just continue on and see what happens." She said, looking over at Nicholas.
"Yes. You're absolutely right. We really don't have any other choice in the matter." He answered her.
Both of them kept their guard up and rode the rest of the way to London in dead silence. Once they reached the city they didn't hear the weird chirping sounds anymore which was a total relief to both of them. It was just as Nicholas predicted, it was well after midnight when they finally pulled up outside his townhouse in London. They dismounted their horses and walked over to the front door. "I'm sure they'll all be asleep at this late hour but he pounded his fist on the door until he saw a light come on inside. He could hear his footman yelling through the door. "Who's there? Why in god's name are you pounding on this door at this hour? Go away, come back in the morning." He said, gruffly.
"Henry, open the door. It's Lord Blackwood."
The door opened immediately. They could see the surprised look on the poor servants face. "What on earth are you doing here, your lordship? We never received any word that you were coming to London?"
"That's because I never sent it. We left Hillcrest Manor, unexpectedly. Wake the groomsman and have him unsaddle our horses and put them up in the stables for the night. We are dead tired so we will show ourselves upstairs to our rooms." With that said, they both headed up the staircase with the servant staring wide eyed after them. He just shook his head and went back to the servant’s quarters and roused the groomsman to tend to the two horses that were tied out front of the townhouse. The groomsman responded groggily but did finally get up and do as he was instructed, complaining under his breath as he made his way out the front door and retrieved the two horses that were there.
Once upstairs, Nicholas opened one of the bedroom doors for Elizabeth and then walked in behind her. They could see all the furnishings including the bed were covered in sheets to keep the dust off since there wasn't anyone occupying these rooms lately. "This is what happens when we leave so suddenly and not have time to send word of our arrival." He said, pulling the coverings off the bed.
"I don't care, Nicholas. I'm so tired anything looks good to me right now."
"Is there anything else you require before I take my leave of you, Elizabeth?" He asked as he stared at her every movement hoping she would ask him to stay. He could see it in her face, the indecision of what to do. But he now knew he shouldn't have left it up to her at all. She was after all, a very proper young lady. He could just kick himself right now. He should have made the decision for her. Or better yet he should've just stayed in the room with her and not said anything at all about it.
"No. I'm just going to climb into the bed and go right to sleep," she replied and then looked down at the floor, not knowing what else to do.
"Okay, then good night Elizabeth, I guess I'll see you in the morning then." He said, placing a slight kiss on her lips and then left the room.
Elizabeth did just as she said she would. She was asleep the moment her head hit the pillow. The following morning she woke with a start, not recognizing the room she was in. Then it all came flooding back. She was still in her riding clothes so she climbed out of bed and headed downstairs. There she found Nicholas waiting for her. He had already changed and had eaten his breakfast.
"I would have waited for you to come down before I ate but I was starving!" He escorted her to the dining room where she was served, immediately. He took the chair opposite hers and waited for her to finish eating.
"I need to change my clothes before we go see the old gypsy woman," she said as she quickly got up from the table and was gone back upstairs before Nicholas could even reply to her. He just shook his head. She was the most independent woman he had ever met.
Within minutes, he heard her screaming. Instantly he got up and flew up the stairs. He found her standing with her back up against the wall, she was squeezing her amulet tightly with both her hands.
"Elizabeth, what's wrong?" He yelled at her anxiously, running over to her as quickly as he could.
"I saw it Nicholas... it was standing right there! And it was staring at me!"
"What was staring at you? What did you see? Was it the same creature you saw in the mirror at Hillcrest Manor?" He asked while he was holding her tightly to his chest.
"No! It was completely different."
He looked around but didn't see anything. "Well, whatever it was is gone now." He said, trying to put her mind at ease. "Elizabeth I promise you, I will always protect you from whatever evil creatures that are lurking about. Okay?"
This seemed like it calmed her down and she hugged him even more tightly. She now placed her amulet back under her bodice. "We must go immediately, Nicholas. There is really no time to waste! I feel we are in great danger and we need to find out how to deal with it before it destroys both of us."
Nicholas kept his arm around her. He couldn't believe that these visions or creatures she keeps seeing would put them in that much danger. But if Elizabeth believed it, than it most likely is true. Now every hair on his body was standing up on end with hearing the severity of this news. He finally took her by the hand as they both went downstairs and out the front door where there coach was waiting for them. He assisted her in before climbing in himself and sat down next to her. "I've already instructed the coachman where to go, so you can just sit back and relax until we get there, you've had quite a shock already today."
"I will try. Nicholas, how did you know where the old gypsy lived?" She asked. She knew she hadn't ever told him, herself.
"I don't know. I just knew." He looked at her questionably. The he laughed. "Elizabeth I don't question anything, anymore."
It didn't take long for them to reach the gypsy encampment. The carriage came to a halt as Nicholas got up and stepped out of the carriage. He turned and gave Elizabeth his hand and helped her down to the ground. The gypsies' wagon looked exactly the same way as she remembered but it had only been a few months ago. There were men and women dressed in all their colorful attire coming in and out all the other wagons that were there. Children dodging in and out doing their daily chores.
As she turned her attention back to the old gypsies' wagon she was standing right there in front of them, catching Elizabeth completely off guard. "Oh my goodness! You startled me!" She said, with her hand on her chest. She could feel her heart racing a mile a minute.
"Come in, Elizabeth. I've been waiting for you," she said, then disappearing back into her wagon.
They followed her in as she waved her hand toward the two chairs that were opposite hers.
As they sat down, Nicholas just stared at the old gypsy. He had never met one personally. They were an odd group of people. With all their colorful clothing and trinkets they wore. He felt a bit uneasy sitting here in this wagon. He had never been in one before and found it a little over-whelming.
"I've been seeing the strangest creatures of late," Elizabeth started to say before the gypsy put her hand up for silence.
"I know what you have seen. I have seen them as well." She pulled the scarf off her crystal ball and stared silently at it. She moved her hands all around it until an image appeared. It was the same creature that Elizabeth saw earlier that day but now there were so many of them she could not even count them.
"What are those horrible creatures?" She asked, not able to remain quiet any longer.
"They are creepers... and I see..." she said, her eyes growing large with fear. "There are many other creatures as well."
The gypsy looked up from her crystal ball and looked directly at Elizabeth. "They come from the depths of hell."
"So the portal is indeed been opened between our worlds?" Elizabeth asked the old gypsy.
"Yes. The evil beast that you sent straight to hell. He has grown ve-ry powerful there. I can see him now. He is so powerful in fact that he's the one who created the portal between our worlds. He is now second only to Satan himself. The others call him 'Bael'. He is determined to take over our world. To rule it as the devil rules hell. I know I have told you some of this when you had finally contacted me with your amulet. You must never take it off again, Elizabeth. You must stay in contact with me at all times. Do you understand?" The old gypsy said in a very demanding voice.
"Yes, I understand, perfectly. I will wear it always from now on. I promise you that," she said but she could not believe what all she was hearing and the gravity of the situation they were all facing was so grim. She felt responsible for all of this. The old gypsy looked at her. She heard the thoughts that were going around in her head. "You are not responsible, Elizabeth. This would have happened anyway. But you are the only one who can destroy him. And destroy him you must, before it is too late." She said, looking back into her crystal ball.
"How am I supposed to do that?" She asked, "I am no match for these ungodly creatures!"
"There is another that will aid you in your quest. He is a demon who does not agree with Bael, the overlord. He knows if he helps you then he will be allowed to remain here on this earthbound plane when all others are sent back to hell. You must seal the portal at all costs. Locking them there once and for all."
"Where will I meet this good demon? How can I tell the difference between him and all the other demons?"
"You will know. He will take you on a long journey to see the 'Iron Sisters'. They are the only ones that can supply you with the special weapons you will need to destroy the demons and send the rest of them back to hell where they belong."
Nicholas looked from one to the other. He knew they were communicating, telepathically. Is there something they didn't want him to know? He was sitting there so patiently watching the two women speak to each other with their minds. He laughed inwardly, six months ago he would have thought he had completely lost his mind and belonged in an insane asylum somewhere. But now it was an everyday occurrence.
"I am sending my granddaughter with you on your journey. She is well versed in the ways of the gypsies'. Just as she said that, a dark haired young girl seemed to appear from nowhere. "This is my granddaughter, Nadia. She wore the same colorful attire as the old gypsy. It was very apparent that they were related.
Nicholas stood up quickly as she joined them at the table and sat back down again. The old gypsy opened up a box that was sitting on the table. Inside there were an assortment of amulet necklaces and rings. She gave one to both Nicholas and Nadia who put them around their necks. "These are 'protection amulets', never take them off. They will not protect you if you do." For Elizabeth she placed a ying/yang crystal ring on her finger. "This will protect you from negative energy. When you meet the other bearer of its sister ring, when put together, they will give you both extraordinary powers. But be ve-ry careful. Do not do this unless you have no other alternative. You cannot imagine the power it creates. If the bearers yield it too long, it will draw them to the dark side."
"I will be very careful. Who has the sister ring?" She asked with her mind.
"You will know, when you meet."
The old gypsy now turned to her only granddaughter. "I foresee you meeting your 'true love' on this journey, Nadia. You will know the moment your eyes meet. But do not be surprised by who it is."
"Can you tell me anymore than that?" Nadia asked, now feeling a real tingling inside her that she had never felt before. She was now sixteen and she was soon to meet her true love? "Really, I will meet him, grandmother?"
"Yes. It is your destiny to meet."
"What does that mean?" Nadia asked. All the other girls her age in the gypsy camp were already married and having children of their own. They made fun of her for not already being hitched to a man. She hoped her grandmother had more information than that for her to go on. She had dated a number of the young gypsy guys but she never felt anything for any of them deep inside. They were fun to hang around with but to choose them for a mate? Absolutely not! She now thought up till now that maybe she was never going to meet her true love and go through the rest of her life never experiencing what she had seen of all other couples that were so in love. Her grandmother wished her well on her journey.
The old gypsy stood up for the table and addressed the others in the room. "That is all I see. You must leave at once for Hillcrest Manor. That is where you will meet Damien, the demon who will help you." She walked over to Elizabeth and gave her a hug. "Remember what I have told you." Then she gave both Nicholas and Nadia a hug goodbye as well. After they left the old gypsies' wagon they climbed into their own carriage that was waiting for them.
"I think it would be best if we go to my townhouse first. There we can change our clothes and pack any necessities we will need and then go by horseback out to my estate instead of by coach." With that decision made they all three sat back lost in their own thoughts for the short ride into London.