Though he only knew him for a short time, Francis couldn’t have asked for a more real motherfucker than Cain as a brother. The first time they met was a complete accident. Francis, after only moved in and was hit with a Nagasaki-level bombshell, still hadn’t recovered. In fact, quite the opposite. The degree of which that explosion rocked him continued to delve deeper into his soul with each passing day, learning that every myth, every legend, every bit of history and theology on the planet were all bound to the same sixty people. And that all sixty (well, fifty-eight) were still alive, and that their bloodlines florished. Even after the Catastrophes.
So, imagine his shock that the father of all sinners and monsters of the world by biblical standards, the blue behemoth himself, Cain, walked through the front door in a frothing rage. Francis was on the couch, listening to Eve explain the -Nagi bloodline, both aroused and disturbed that she wanted to be dismembered, that she wanted to die a painful death so that she could be put back together again and that it was this act of her lover shedding her blood that gave rise to so many lineages and created the Black Marshes of the Orient. Turned out the true secret to the Suicide Forests was darker and more erotic than anyone could have thought –which Francis didn’t even know about that until she explained. This drachen is being bombarded with all this information, ripping him away from any comfort or safety he had… and Cain comes barging in, a literal living volcano spewing smoke and fire.
“Oh, hell no, nigga! Hell no! I ain’t dealing with this shit,” Francis screamed, bolting to his feet. There was only one path now: The window across the room. Sure, it would be… rocky landing after, but he’d rather risk that than be anywhere near the walking Krakatoa –which was another lovely bit of information to find out. One of “his kind” had a lot of fun that night, and, well, that was the result.
He threw himself at the window, and it shattered, so easily. The glass fell behind as he rocketed towards the bottom of the hill, all the while rock and grass hissed at his belly. If he could keep that angle and nothing jutted out- something jutted out. A small mound of dirt. It hit his left knee and it was all downhill from there… but in a bad way. He lost track of how many tumbles he was thrown through, of how many bones he broke, of which way his legs and arms were meant to face. It truly was a wonder his head and torso stayed facing the right direction, but he doubted it was luck. Instead, the earth just ran out of time as he came to a crunching stop at the road starting up the mountain.
He coughed. A lot. There was more blood than air in his lungs, drenching the blacktop. His arms refused to budge, legs even lose, bent under him and glaring at him as he spewed the red stuff on their white tips. Which sucked; those were his favorite pair of Jordan’s, a parting gift from James. But at least he was alive. For the moment.
His neck popped painfully, warning him, forcing him to slow down as he looked back up at the mansion-
Only for his heart to drop down into his gut, seeing a blue meteor hurtling towards him. Smoke still flowed behind it, burning red before the cobalt rock
“Oh shit oh shit ohshitohshitOHSHIT-” Francis rambled, turned to frantic shrills as he tried to use his arms to claw at the asphalt. The most he could do was flop them forward. There was no way they could grasp at anything, though; too much bone sticking out. From the looks of it, the fall really did a number. It was as if he had two arms for every one. The next best option, then, was to hop on his ass. His legs were fucked anyways; what’s a little more damage? They crunched and popped under as he grunted and bounced along. An entire two inches before that meteor crashed down behind him. He heard its growl behind, its… bones? Skin? Stone popping, a cruel mockery of the other two. He felt its hot hand grasp his shoulder, and once again he was reminded of that shark, of its black eyes starting to roll back as its jowls aimed for his head. “Fuck off!”
His neck cracked as he screamed it, and the blue meteor was taken aback by the wash of bright, white flames. They lapped at the hillside, catching the grass alight with ease, crackling away as Francis managed to roll on his side, away from that stony talon. His lungs ached, panting, knowing no rest after being cleared of so much blood… but there was nothing he could do. He couldn’t get away; his body was in no shape… and this… thing was laughing.
“Well, I was going to apologize, but…” The thing said, wiping the flames off his chest, scraping them off onto the blacktop. Its own had calmed down, showing off his rugged features. And his warm eyes. “So, you’re Francis. Mom told me she… adopted a brat. What’s the matter, buttercup? Thought you were tough and now you see the real monsters that bump in the night?”
“Ah. I see. You’re stuck on the minor details. Brain’s having trouble keeping up with everything.” He scoffed, and knelt to Francis, resting his hands on his knees. The rocky monster looked him straight in the eyes, shaking his head. “I just called Eve mom… Surely, you have some rudimentary understanding of the human bibble? Who does that make me?”
“W...well… It could be two-”
“More than two, but we we’ll leave Seth out of this. He was the pretty one.”
“Then… then that means… then that means-”
“Yes. I am Cain. The father of monsters, of the Canaanites.” He chortled… and biffed the back of Francis’s head. “Course, that’s the human bibble. In truth, I’m just Cain.”
“T… then what about Abel?”
“Times were tough back then. Everyone had their own tribe, their precious resources, their territories… Abel wasn’t lucky one night. A lot of us weren’t lucky that night. Even Seth got separated from us and we believed him dead. Turned out he was too pretty to pass up. The women… and men loved him... Now you done pissing your pants? That enough to take away the mysticism and terror? Lets get back up to mom’s.”
Like he had any real say; his legs were still pointed the other direction. Cain hoisted him onto his shoulder and grumbled as he walked up the mountain, meeting a shuttle car after a few passes. He eased Francis in then followed, pulling out a cigarette.
“Must say I’m actually impressed,” he stated.
“What?” Francis blurted.
“You didn’t actually piss your pants.”
That first meeting set the tone for the rest of their relationship, and how Cain earned his respect. And vice versa. Cain was real with him. He didn’t try to cover his misgivings. He didn’t hide that he was a monster; he laid it out, plain and simple. At the end of it, he was looking out for Francis, and now, after all these months, after that brief meeting, the drachen could say he would do the same for the rock monster.
Cain groaned, his phone flashing off, and he rolled his eyes as he pocketed it. He adjusted in his seat, spreading his arms on the tempered leather, scratching at it as his flames rose.
“How much longer, mom?” Cain said… and growled, calling again. “Oi!”
“Always so impatient,” Eve grumbled, pulling her head out of Adam’s embrace. She yawned, wiping her eye, and pulled out her cell, pouting. “Another fifteen. Then we board the barge.”
“Barge? Where is this place?” Francis said, looking out at the lovely view of New England at night during the winter. In other words, a ton of fog. Old England, New England; who could tell the difference? Really, all he could hope for was that they were still on a road in the midst of those yellow orbs, seemingly so close yet so far away. “We going to a private island now.”
“Yes, actually,” Lilith stated. “We are having the week at Whitewing Manor. It is located on the east side of Safer Isle in Lake Cochituate.”
“Lake Cochituate,” Francis mulled, pulling out his phone and looking it up… Which its layout already had him questioning. “Okay? How does someone keep an isle large enough hidden in that rinky little pond?”
“Wizards from Salem owe us for aiding them,” Eve said. “They have sworn fealty and their bloodlines hold to that vow.”
“Huh. So there was some truth behind the trials.” Francis yawned, and stretched- and winced. His butt woke up again and was now screaming at him to get up or it would shoot him. Right between the two cheeks. “How much longer after we board the barge?”
“Thirty minutes,” Lilith said, wincing as she squirmed as well. “We can get out of the car on it, though. I feel like we all are needing to stretch our legs.”
“The perks of being a wee lassie, eh?” Nicole said, hopping down, and groaned as she twisted, cracking her back. “Ah could even do jumping jills in here.”
“As in jumping jacks but for women or masturbating while doing jumping jacks? Either way, I wouldn’t mind the show,” Francis said, smirking… sneering as Francine scoffed. He rose a moment, giving his rear some reprieve- and almost fell out of his seat as the car lurched to a stop. The once soft hum of asphalt was replaced by the crunch of dirt and grass- then the hiss of sand. The car finally came to a stop, and Francis settled back on his haunches, thanking him more than his ass cursed him. “Land ho?”
“Look out the window,” Cain said, pointing to the one to Francis’s right. There was a latch on the smoked glass that let it slide in to the left, and Francis stuck his head out. Meeting more fog.
“Oh, ha ha. Very funn-” he began, but stopped. Before him, in the midst of the swirling blanket over black water under the cloudy sky, the air crackled. It snapped. It popped, and it most certainly was getting crispy. The hair had turned mauve- pink- a brilliant shade of periwinkle, cascading through the others as it rippled. As it opened. Water rippled and slammed at the car’s bumper, fleeing in the wake of that large ramp, descending towards them. He still couldn’t see anything, but at least there was pretty lights to go with it.
The ramp hit the sand, and the limo lurched, gliding right onto it. Inch after foot after yard, the car rolled right into those swirling lights, and the thick smell of diesel wrapped around them. Francis could now hear the boat’s engine chugging away, the gears whirring as the ramp already began to raise with them still on it, urging them to the other side, to be in its embrace.
Cain pushed the door open, and he was the first out. Enoch followed, then the goblins, but the other four waited for Francis to pull his head out and exit before they, too, joined on the barge. Again, there wasn’t much to really to see, but the drachen was glad to finally stretch his legs –and his wings. Turned out they were even more sick of being cooped up, and complained louder as their folds, their hinges creaked and screamed at him. Even his arm wings, and they had been flexing the entire time.
Francis lumbered through the fog, feeling more than listening to the wood clomp underneath. It was weathered wood, seasoned wood, tested wood, standing time for close to five decades. Those stained planks glistened and reflected the fading lights behind, shimmering with the dew from the blanket that wrapped all of them and the spray from the waves that rumbled under. With how smooth it flowed across the water, Francis would say it was a larger boat, holding steady and on track to a large, black object now dead-center in the lake. Francis could make it out from the series of lights that seemed to circle its entirety-
“I found the rail!” He called out, though it wasn’t necessary with how it clanged on his toe. Francis leaned on it, taking the weight off his (NOW) throbbing toe, and watched as that isle approached. On its west side. “Uh, didn’t you guys say the manor was on the east?”
“The port is on the west, before Blackwing Vista,” Eve said. “It’s the settlement the wizards founded when they were saved and followed us here. Back then, though, it was only known as Haven.”
“Yes. Their ‘haven’, yet they still suffered for years,” Adam added. “The land was not meant to be cultivated. They needed to consult more demons to even make the land produce, which lead to the doom of two more bloodlines.”
“Two versus thirty-three. I call it a fair trade.”
“If only it stayed that way. There are now only five lines that have survived-”
“And I bet I already met one,” Francis blurted, chortling.
“You have? When?”
“Do not humor him, husband,” Eve grumbled. “No, Francis. Penny is not one of the five.”
“Ah, yes. That wench.”
“Wench?” Francis said, snickering. “What did Penny do to you to earn that?”
“It’s not important,” Eve said, and the ship shuddered. The engine quietened, and Francis felt the ship list hard to the left, starting to turn parallel to the isle. Francis felt her hand clench his shoulder and urge him away from the railing, heading for the center on the starboard side.
He heard the others file around as they marched their way along, the ship slowing more and more with each passing step. At least, they found the gap in the rail, and before it, on a concrete deck, were a pair of bright lantern poles, four in a row on each running down to the base. At the bottom was a woman with long, blonde hair, her staff wreathed in silver flame, matching the light around the gangplank. The top of it clunked down (such a satisfying sound) on the barge, while the other end straightened, waiting for the ship to come to a full rest before settling in the notches in the concrete port.
At last, another set of (satisfying) clunks echoed through the air, and the lanterns were allowed their full brilliance again, washing over the party as the descended. Up close, Francis could see she had bright, red eyes, and were like cat eyes, narrowing into slits from the light. Her skin was pale, almost ashen, most of her hidden behind a thick, brown robe.
“Minerva,” Enoch said, approaching her, and she gave him such a wide smile, accepting his hug. “It’s been an age. I remember when you were yea high. You’ve grown into quite a beautiful woman, but that was to be expected. Your mother and aunts were all beautiful.”
“Uncle Enoch,” the girl muttered, hiding her face as he let her go… before looking at Francis. “And you? I’ve never met you before.”
“Call me the runt of the litter,” he said, offering his hand. I’m Francis. You’ll forgive me for not giving you my full name; there’s already a wizard back home that does and, man, does she make my life Hell.”
“Understandable. Smart.” She said, shaking it… and she whistled. “Then you let me shake your hand. Not so smart.”
Silver flames burst around his digits, and, in those red eyes, he saw a monstrosity. He wished he had a better way to describe it, but there was so much to it, so many parts, so many clashing contradictions that it made Cain look normal. And it was clawing at his hand, trying to pull him into those brimstone pits- relieved as she let his hand go.
“I am Minerva. Minerva Garwin,” she said, and licked her finger. Covered in Francis’s blood. Her eyes flashed, and she smirked, biting her lip. “Ah. A high-dragon half-breed. A rare specimen indeed… No wonder it’s so Rich.” She looked over to Eve, tittering. “Pray tell, how did this fortune fall in your lap?”
“With help from someone unexpected,” Eve answered. “To be honest, I’m still trying to discern what their goals and motivations were for doing this.”
“Who? That Norman guy?” Francis said.
“Quiet right, dear, now be silent… From your ‘taste’, Minerva, what did you see?”
“Oh, your assumptions were correct. The webs he’s tied up in; it’ll be a miracle if he survives by the end of the year.”
“Dammit, Junior!” Johnny said, slapping the back of his head. “I warned you, didn’t I?”
“Please. I’m not gonna die,” Francis said, rubbing it… but wasn’t feeling all too sure. Not with those points of pink peering at him behind the wizard’s ear. He shook his head, and they were gone. “I’m not going to die.”
“If what I tasted was true, you’ll wish you were dead,” the wizard said… but backed away as a new limo approached through the murk. The sun peeked over the horizon, but the fog was too dense for it, the car rumbling along a dirt road to the manse far on the other side. It wasn’t anywhere near as long a journey, but, after all day of riding, and that ill omen, Francis was more than happy to simply be lead by Eve up the marble steps, through the entry, and up another flight to one of the guest rooms. He could gawk and awe and learn more about the lovely ladies in the morning. Right now, he simply wanted to crash and welcome the little death.