Up until now Elizabeth never had this threatening fear of traveling along this road before. Now every noise she heard made her jump a little, no actually it made her jump a lot. Her eyes were scanning the woods for anything that could possibly be following them. Even the most harmless of noises caused her so much anxiety. She looked over at Nicholas and Nadia and she could tell by their expressions on their faces that they were also feeling the same anxiety as she was.
"How much farther is it until we reach Hillcrest Manor, Nicholas? I'm feeling so overwrought traveling on this road with nothing but woods on both sides of us. I keep thinking I see something but I know it's only my own imagination."
"We're within a mile or so to the side road that we must take that leads directly to my estate." He answered her, a little concerned about her jumpiness.
"I'll just be glad when we get there. That's all. I don't know, the old gypsies' warnings about Hillcrest Manor keeps rolling around and around in my head. So... I really don't know now if I really want to get there or not."
"We must get there," Nadia interrupted, somewhat irritated at Elizabeth's apprehension. "My grandmother said that's where we must go. Hopefully, we will meet this demon she told us about."
"But if he's there, than that would mean Hillcrest Manor was already taken over by all of the horrible creatures from hell."
"You don't know that for sure, Nadia." Nicholas interjected, immediately, feeling like he needed to defend Elizabeth to this young, inexperienced gypsy girl. She has not lived through what he and Elizabeth did several months ago at Hillcrest Manor. It is terrifying to deal with the supernatural. Normal people never have to cope with anything like it. They have no idea of what terrible entities can and do exist in our world. If someone told them about them they would just laugh hysterically at them, make fun of them and then say that person is totally insane and should be locked up in an asylum somewhere away from normal person. He was sure this young gypsy girl has never come into contact with anything remotely close to what he and Elizabeth had experienced at Hillcrest Manor.
"No. I don't know for sure but it only makes sense that is most likely what's happened there already." She answered him back, she was a bit annoyed at him questioning her logic.
"Then I suggest we proceed with extreme caution then." Nicholas replied back to her.
"I agree with you, completely." Nadia answered, feeling a little better that Nicholas was in fact really listening to her opinions and now they were going to act on them.
Again the threesome rode in silence each lost in their own thoughts. They finally made it to the crossroads. If they continued on this road they would come to the small village that was just beyond the crossroads. But if they turned on the other road, it would lead them directly to Hillcrest Manor.
"Just to make sure we're all in agreement then?" Nicholas asked the two women.
"Yes, Nicholas." Elizabeth said. "We must go to Hillcrest Manor." And Nadia agreement completely with her.
"So be it then." He said, as they turned their horses onto the side road leading to his estate. He had never felt so much anxiety as he felt right now. He would be leading his true love into danger, maybe even her death. That he couldn't deal with. He loved Elizabeth to the very depths of his soul and he would do everything in his power to keep her safe.
The weird chirping in the woods was becoming louder and louder again the closer they got to Hillcrest Manor. It had to be the same creatures that they had already encountered. They had been following them at a short distance away ever since their attack on them. Actually he thought it was those same creatures that had followed them when they were traveling to London.
"I think we need to stop for a moment." Nicholas said. "Are we sure we really want to continue on?" Nicholas said as he glanced over at the two girls. "The number of these creatures seems to have increased and they are getting awful close to us again. Maybe things have accelerated since the last time Elizabeth was in contact with your grandmother."
The two women looked at each other. Not really sure of what they should do next.
"My grandmother would have contacted Elizabeth if we needed to know any new information. You can be sure on that. Anyway, she would never lead us into danger unless it was absolutely necessary." Nadia finally replied as they sat there on their horses trying to decide on what to do.
"Well, I think we need to take a few precautions before we go any further to my estate, just to be safe is all I'm saying. I think it would be very prudent of us to dismount and leave our horses here and then walk the rest of the way off the road on foot. If we go through the woods than whatever is waiting for us there hopefully won't see us coming. They will think that we are setting up our camp here since we have dismounted and tied up our horses again."
"That's an excellent idea, Nicholas." Elizabeth said as the three of them dismounted their horses and led them just off the road into the woods and tied them to a low tree branch.
Elizabeth knew this woods was part of the same woods that she had been trapped in many months ago. She had never really told Nicholas exactly what she had experienced there. Even now she didn't think he would believe her if she told him how the woods came 'alive' after darkness fell. She would just have to keep it to herself for now. The less he knew the better or at least for now that is. He had enough to worry about not knowing what they would find at his home without adding this burden to him.
The three of them walked as quietly as possible through the woods. The closer they came to Hillcrest Manor the more noises they heard. None of them had any idea what could possibly be making these new strange sounds they kept hearing. For it was foreign to all of them. But it didn't detour them from their path. All three of them knew how important their mission was to the entire world. It was up to them to find and destroy or at least send all of these horrible creatures who dared to break the plane into our world back to where they belonged. And to seal them there once and for all. This thinking gave Elizabeth the strength and courage she needed to go on. She must be brave at all costs.
Suddenly Nicholas put his hand up for them all to be quiet. They heard the same weird chirping sounds that they heard last night coming closer to them. "Do you think they know we're here?" He asked just above a whisper.
"I hope not. We've been extremely quiet thus far. How would they know? We did leave our horses tied up quite a ways back and made it look like we were going to spend the night there. When we did make camp every night we never ventured out very far from the camp itself. Not like we're have now." Elizabeth said quietly.
"They must be some kind of look outs then," Nadia said.
"I agree. We need to wait here for a few minutes to see if they pass us by." Nicholas replied quietly. Minutes seemed like hours as the three of them waited and sure enough it paid off. The creatures passed them by and headed off in the direction of where they had left their horses. "Yes! I think our rouse worked! They think we are camped back where we left the horses."
The three of them stood up quietly and continued on their way to the Manor house. When they got close enough to see it Nicholas couldn't believe what he was seeing. The house itself looked as if the forest had completely over-taken it. It was unrecognizable. "How is this possible? We only just left here a few days ago!"
"That's the power of the underworld, Nicholas." Nadia said. "This must be where the portal has indeed opened between our worlds."
"In my house?" He said, incredibly.
They could see strange looking creatures standing almost like sentries guarding it. They were an ugly grey color with thick dark, black hair all over their bodies. They had wings that looked like they were made of leather and then covered in feathers with a small hand on top of the wings almost like a flying squirrel would have. But their faces were so ugly with their long pointy snouts or what actually looked like beaks sticking out of the front of their face. The top of their heads were completely bald and had some sort of brow ridge above what could only be described as the most horrendous bright glowing red eyes in place of eyebrows. But what stood out the most was the horns that protruded out of their foreheads, making them look like the most evil beasts any of them had ever seen before.
"What the hell are those?" Nicholas whispered, shocked at seeing these strange creatures at his house.
"They are gargoyles." Nadia answered. "And they are most definitely guarding your home. Why else would they be there if not to guard the portal that has been opened from hell."
"That makes sense," Elizabeth said.
"So what do we do now?" Nicholas asked. "Isn't this where we're supposed to meet that good demon your grandmother spoke of. Are we supposed to just walk up there and ask those creatures is he at home right now or should we come back to call on him later?"
"Oh Nicholas! This is no time to be joking around. We must think of a way to get into the house without being seen." Elizabeth stated, somewhat annoyed with him and his sarcastic humor. She thought it was starting to get late and darkness would soon be upon them. They didn't expect to find the gargoyles standing guard over the house so she let out a sigh before speaking. "I think it would be best if we all go to the village for the night. There we can come up with a plan on how to get into the manor house and more importantly, what to do when we do get in."
Both Nicholas and Nadia agreed with her so they quietly made their way back to where they had left their horses, who were now nervously pawing at the ground. They untied them and quickly made their way back to the road. All through the woods they could hear the odd chirping sounds and hoped they could get out before they were discovered. Once they got to the road, they mounted their horses and headed to the village. Hopefully they could get there without any further incidence.
They rode for several miles when they came to the Village Inn where Nicholas and Elizabeth had stayed in the past. They dismounted their horses and Nicholas tried opening the door but it was locked. He could see a light on inside and couldn't understand why the innkeeper would lock the front doors of his establishment so early in the evening. He knocked on the door several times but no one answered. He tried again. This time he saw someone peek out one of the front windows and he called to that person. "Will you open the door please? We're in need of a place to stay this evening."
Within minutes the front door unlatched and the innkeeper opened it for them. Once inside he locked it again before going around the front desk where the keys were to the rooms.
"We need two connecting rooms for the night." Nicholas stated and then through some coins on the desk.
"Right away, sir." The innkeeper said, nervously.
He didn't understand why the innkeeper was acting so strangely. Before when they stayed there the man was so joyous but not now. "You will see to our horses won't you?"
"Of course sir. I'll call the stable boy right now. You don't have to worry about them."
"We've been on the road for quite some time and we are in need of a late supper. Will you see to that as well?" Nicholas asked.
"Yes sir. I'll tell the cook to bring you something right away."
"Thank you. I think we'll take our supper in our rooms. That won't be a problem, will it?"
Again the innkeeper answered him. "No problem, sir."
He took the keys for the rooms from the man and escorted both the ladies upstairs. "What an odd fellow. He didn't seem to be acting himself. Don't you agree, Elizabeth?"
"Yes. I found him to be acting very strangely. And why would he have the front doors locked at such an early hour?"
"I thought the same thing." Nicholas responded back to her.
He opened the door to one of the rooms and then turned to Nadia. "I believe you will be most comfortable in here. You will find an inner door that opens into our room. We will be able to eat our supper together while we discuss our next plan of action."
With that said, Nadia walked into the room. She had never stayed in an inn before and this felt so strange to her. She actually felt more secure staying out in the woods then in here. But she had to adapt to her situation. She put her belongings that she brought with her down on the table and then went over to the bed to test out how comfortable it was. It wasn't long before Nicholas was knocking on the adjoining door asking her to join them in their room. Quickly she got up and opened the door stepping into the other bedroom where Nicholas and Elizabeth were going to stay. On the table she saw a tray of food and beverages that the serving wench had brought up. It smelled so good. She didn't realize how hungry she was.
All three of them sat down and filled their plates completely full. Not speaking at all until they had finished every bite of food and then pushed their plates toward the middle of the table. Now that they had eaten their fill they knew it was time to talk.
"I think I know how we can get into the manor house without being seen." Nicholas said. "Years ago when I was very young I use to play hide and go seek with the servants. I had found a hidden passageway that lead from the very back of the kitchen pantry to the outside, not far from the stables. The servants never could figure out how I got out of the house without being seen."
"That's wonderful, Nicholas!" Elizabeth said with such enthusiasm that both Nicholas and Nadia looked at her with surprise.
"Well that's not our only problem. How are we supposed to find this good demon once we are inside?"
"I don't know, Nicholas." Elizabeth said. "Maybe once we get into the manor house we'll know then."
"That's awful vague, don't you think?"
"Well, I don't know what else to tell you." She said in her own defense.
"Okay, then so be it. But if we don't come up with a plan once we get into the house, then I think we should come back here so we can come up with a different approach. Agreed?"
"Agreed." Both Elizabeth and Nadia answered at the same time.
"Then I think we should all try and get some sleep while we can. Who knows what's going to happen tomorrow.” With that being said, Nadia returned to her own room. Nicholas and Elizabeth looked at each other. There was only one bed and a small table and chairs in the room. A blush came to Elizabeth's cheeks when it dawned on her they would have to share the same bed. She felt a certain excitement flow through her body when she remembered the last time they had shared a bed together. Little did she know, Nicholas was having the same thoughts exactly?
"Well, I guess we don't have any other choice but to share this bed together tonight." Nicholas said, trying not to show his excitement at the prospect of sharing a bed with her again.
"I guess you're right. There isn't another bed in this room." Elizabeth answered shyly. She knew she could always go into the room next door and share a bed with Nadia. But she really didn't want to. Her mind was telling her to do just that but her body was telling her to share this bed with Nicholas. It wasn't as if she was still a virgin or anything. They had shared a bed before in the past. With her mind made up she walked over to the bed, pulled out her night clothes and began changing with Nicholas just standing there watching her. A tingling feeling went through her body knowing that Nicholas was watching her intently.
Now that he knew she had chosen to sleep with him, he quickly walked over to the other side of the bed and began removing his own clothes and then he climbed into the bed, pulling up the covers just up to his waist.
Elizabeth now was changed, she herself climbed into the bed next to him and pulled the covers up under her chin not sure of what else to do. She just felt a little embarrassed.
"Oh Elizabeth. You are so shy, he laughed softly. "You needn't be with me. I love you with all my heart and soul. I want you at my side the rest of my life." He said in a husky voice. He was very much aware of her soft supply body lying ever so close next to his they were almost touching. He could feel his body starting to respond to hers. He reached over and stroked her hair while he looked down at her lovely face, he didn't understand the emotions he was experiencing. He had never felt this way about any woman before, not even his own wife who was really more of a friend to him than a wife. They only made love so they could have a child to carry on the family name. So once Sarah was born their physical relationships were very few and far between.
Now he lowered his mouth over hers feeling her lips warm and passionate against his while his hands moved downward over her shoulders and then making their way across her high pointed breasts. He leaned her back slowly against the pillows continuing to probe her mouth with his. He pulled her night dress off, exposing her soft, silky flesh to him while he continued to caress her supple body.
Elizabeth arched her back when she felt herself pressing ardently against his long muscular body, her own passion now was equal to his. She raked her nails down his long, broad back causing a chill to run all the way through his body.
"Oh Nicholas, make me yours again. Quench this fire that's burning inside of me," she moaned, gazing up at him through heavily lidded eyes.
Her words caused Nicholas's breath to catch in his throat as he entered her with hard, vigorous thrusts, now anxious to take them both to their full height of passion. Wave upon wave of pleasure exploded through their bodies until they both finally came to their ultimate peak of their love-making.
Afterwards, they laid together entwined. She couldn't believe that every time they made love it got better and better. Finally they both dosed off in an exhausted but peaceful slumber.