Kate woke up sleepy. She had little sleep due to the preposterous nightmare the night before. Feeling an arm around her waist, she looked back and found Jake, remembering that the Guardian had slept with her. Kate turned and leaned on one elbow, smiling at him. Jake smiled back, giving her a kiss on her face.
“Good morning, my bad girl!” he said.
“Good day, Prince Charming!”
Kate stopped smiling and suddenly became serious. She lay on her back and stared at the ceiling.
“What is it?” he asked, caressing her in the head.
“How old are you, Jake? I know you are only twenty-one years old,” she said.
He did not respond immediately. She sighed, closed her eyes, wondered what his age would be and how long he had been on Earth. He answered with a question. “Don’t you like older men?”
“Jake, I’m serious.” she warned.
He moved closer to her, bent down, gave her a chaste kiss, and answered, “I’ve been working here on Earth for exactly nine decades and two years,” he said while watching her reaction carefully.
Kate stuck her tongue out and pinched his arm. “Ew ... gross! I’ve been kissed by an old person! Just don’t tell me that you use a pair of dentures and adult diapers!”
He laughed at Kate and began to tickle her. “Don’t worry, beautiful. For a Guardian, I’m still considered very young, almost a teenager compared to the Guardians who already have centuries of life. But of course, I’m an adult.”
“An adult? Well Seeing you and Tiago bickering at each other implies that you are teenagers.” She stared at him and said, “However, if you analyze it physically, you’re right. He looks older. He has the body and face of a cockerel.”
He laughed again. “How exactly does a guy with the body and face of a cockerel look like?”
Clearing her throat, she said awkwardly, “Young boys and teenagers do not have beards and a body like yours.”
“Really? When was it that you noticed?” He began to kiss her, scratching his stubble on her neck and asked quietly, “Do you like it?”
Instead of answering, she pulled him by the shirt and gave him a passionate kiss. Soon, the Guardian stopped kissing her, sensing something strange. He got up from the bed quickly and looked out the window, motioning her to remain silent. Worried, he ordered, “Get dressed, now!” Jake ran a hand through his hair and began to walk stifﬂy across the room. “Kate, do what I ask and do not argue with me.”
Hurriedly, she got up and searched for an outfit. “No time for that,” he said, throwing her clothes from the previous day, which was on top of a chair.
“You’ll be staring at me like that? Go out so I can change,” she said.
He grunted and turned his back on her. “What’s going on? Why are you so nervous?” she questioned as she changed.
Jake said, “Please just be quick and do everything I ask.”
“Did you sense some creature?” she asked.
Without answering, he took her by the wrists, bringing her closer to him. “Kate, look at me. This is no joke! You must promise me that you will do exactly everything I tell you.” He squeezed her wrist, whispering. “You are very important to me, I need you ...”
She nodded her head and went on to dress up. When she was fully dressed, he took her running out of the room and soon spotted the other Guardians who were already dressed and ready to fight.
“Mark, we are in serious trouble. I think you should ask for Julio’s help.” Jake spoke apprehensively.
Olivia looked at him puzzled and said, “What? Ask for Julio’s help? This area is not part of his jurisdiction.”
“It is different. We are not alone and she needs ...”Jake said, looking at Kate.
Realizing his sorrow, Olivia nodded and said, “Let’s hide her. We can take her to the basement. They won’t find her there.”
“No, it’s too dangerous! We need to get her out of here!” Jake spoke, afﬂicted.
“Something’s wrong. The smell is different. It’s not common to the creatures of darkness!” Nathan said, looking at Mark.
Staring at the doorway on the first ﬂoor, the conductor replied, “I know, and it’s not good ... What I don’t understand is how they managed to quickly create such a portal close to us ...”
Lana was getting sweaty and anxious. Totally frightened, she started babbling hysterically, “Oh, my God! This cannot be happening! For years, they did not invade Earth.” She rambled, “We are not prepared. They are stronger and more skilled than us ... I will not get ...”
“Settle down, Lana! We’ll manage.” Olivia was getting worried, too. Capturing Jake’s eyes, she concluded, “What the hell? They are also after the girl!”
Jake ﬂinched as what Olivia had said was indeed true. They came to Earth to get Kate. Hesitantly, Jake stepped back firmly holding Kate’s hand. He asked Mark, “Take her to the nearest church. They cannot enter there. She’ll be safe.”
“I want to be near you ...” Kate said to Jake.
“This is not safe! Please, you promised me!” Jake held her face. Nodding, she went with Mark and before they proceeded to the exit, a noise came from the first ﬂoor. The front door had been torn off, causing the biggest bang. “Run!” Jake screamed, terrified.
Mark grabbed the girl by the hand and sped off, trying to reach the exit. He stopped abruptly when he felt an evil presence approaching from the other side of the door. He turned to the other Guardians and screamed, “They’ve surrounded the house!”
“Quick, let’s mount a shield!” Nathan enjoined the others.
“What do we do with the girl?” Lana pointed towards Kate.
“Leave her to me! Assemble a shell, now!” Mark ordered the Guardians. Glancing at Jake, he asked, “Where is your sword?”
There was no time for him to answer. Three Guardians of Darkness, dressed in old armor which they used at the time they were fighting for the planet Orpheus, stormed the second ﬂoor. Upon entering, they launched a firestorm towards the Guardians. Kate threw herself on the ﬂoor and crouched behind a couch. Mark ran towards her in an attempt to protect her from the attack.
Jake, Lana, Nathan, and Olivia formed a shell of icy air, blocking the fire. The Guardians of Darkness were relentless.
“Where’s the girl?” asked one of them, with brown hair and black eyes. “If you surrender her to us, we will spare your lives.”
“If you leave her alone, maybe I will save you,” Jake said with a grim look in his eyes.
The three strong, robust, and relentless men showed no weakness, increasing the pressure and intensity of the attack. The minutes that the Guardians spent in blocking the fire seemed like hours. Lana was the first to succumb, burning, and falling to the ground. Watching her, Mark went to close the shell. By this time, they were practically being overthrown. While Lana was writhing in pain and was just beginning the healing process, Nathan began to totter, unable to resist the wall of fire.
“Stay firm, Nathan! We need you, boy!” Jake yelled at an alarming tone.
“They’re too strong! I can’t hold on ... My hands are burning and I’m almost entering combustion,” he said, feeling excruciating pain penetrate his body.
“Mark, we need to reverse the situation! We have to destabilize them!” presumed Olivia, breathless.
The Guardians of Darkness advanced increasingly in approaching Kate. She remained in the same place, terrified by the idea of a confrontation. Jake did not know if the demons could see her or if the magic spell that she had still protected her. However, he would not risk it. He came out of the shell and rolled over, throwing up a thick fire towards the demons. When Jake went, the shield weakened causing the other Guardians to be pushed back.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Mark screamed at him incredulously.
Jake yelled, “Fight back with fire! They are getting tired. The lock is not working and you are getting depleted!”
Nathan fell to the ground almost airless and suffocating. He said, “Let’s do what Jake said. He’s right!”
Jake used the surprising attack on a demon, covering him with ﬂames. In desperation, the demon ran to the nearest window and jumped from the second ﬂoor. Olivia and Mark were just entering combustion. They were also defeated by fatigue and stinging pains that expanded through their bodies. They could not hold it any longer, even if there were two demons left. The bastards were extraordinarily strong.
Jake was succumbing to the battle. His legs could barely hold the weight of his body. He attacked and defended while also using fire in the attack. Unfortunately, the demon was visibly stronger and more powerful than he. Many parts of the house already succumbed to the fire, including a bookcase and a sofa that was near the window. The heat and the smoke gave a thermal sensation to the environment which was now warm and highly suffocating.
Olivia motioned at Mark. She wanted to change tactics, changing from defense to attack. He agreed and the two joined their forces, providing an enormous amount of air that boosted the shield forward, destabilizing the demons. Taking advantage of their weakness, Mark and Olivia drove up in a jump, getting rid of the fury of the demons. Inevitably, their shield was broken and the fire that hit the shield before hit the couch where Kate was hiding.
She screamed when the fervent heat hit the small couch, shifting it out of place and covering it with fire. Jake looked helplessly at her. Kate was trapped in ﬂames without knowing where to go. The moment he looked at the girl, he got careless and got hit with a strong gust of fire, throwing him away and sending him plummeting down the stairs, hitting his head violently on the steps. She was affected to see him hurt and ran after him, dodging ﬂames and snaking a large part of the room.
Olivia faced the demon that had just attacked Jake. The redhead held her mystical sword and tried to attack him. However, the demon was faster and struck a sharp blow on her. Olivia screamed due to the pain she felt when a blade penetrated her stomach. Blood emerged from her injury. Not withstanding the severity of the deep injury, she fell on her knees, trying to staunch the blood that was ﬂowing excessively.
While Lana was almost cured due to her rapid healing process, Mark dueled with another Guardian of Darkness, a tall brunette with her precise blows proved to be a relentless master in the art of fighting. The sound of swords filled the room and the conductor was increasingly exhausted. The energy that he had used to fill the shell had been enormous. His shirt was soaked with sweat. The demon remained impressive and unbeatable. “Where’s the girl? Where is she?” asked the demon.
Mark did not answer her and gave another blow with his sword. He looked at Olivia who was crawling across the ﬂoor. The wound caused by the sword had been profound and blood was splattered all over the place. The conductor realized that it was not only her blood on the ground. It was also Nathan’s, who had just been stabbed in the throat by the same sword that had pierced the bowels of the Guardian.
“Nathan! React!” Mark screamed.
Lana had just healed and with extremely icy jets of air, she tried to extinguish the ﬂames that were consuming the house. She looked at Nathan who was drenched with blood from a deep wound in his throat. Through her hands, she delivered a strong, dense layer of air composed of pure mystical energy towards the Guardian of Darkness who had just stabbed Nathan. It reached the demon and threw him sharply against the wall. When the demon was dizzy, Olivia took that moment crawled to get his sword. Then, she struck a fatal blow, cutting off his head. She was still bleeding badly as the blade of the sword contained poison, severely hindering the process of healing and scarring. Collapsing on the ﬂoor, she screamed at Lana, “Help Mark! He’s weak and exhausted. He will not be able to kill the Guardian!”
Lana nodded and advanced to where Mark was. She came attacking the demon from behind. The two cornered the fierce and fiery Guardian of Darkness which seemed to have an extraordinary force. After several frustrating attempts, with all her strength, the demon managed to hit him just below his knee which unbalanced him. He let out loud grunt of pain. He continued the struggle limping and with a frightening expression of fury. Then, he retaliated by hitting the tip of sword and ripping her abdomen. After, he then gave her a hard kick in the face. From the force of the impact, Lana felt some facial bones break, causing her to fall awkwardly.
Completely numb due to the intensity of the blow and with blood dripping from her mouth, Lana staggered desperately to the weapons room. She slid across the ﬂoor due to the huge amount of blood that covered the ﬂoor. She picked up a bow and arrow, which possessed mystical powers, and returned to the room. Mark, who still dueling with the devil, was struck on the side of his body between the ribs. It was possible to see the deep cuts on his torn shirt. The ruler no longer had sufficient forces to attack; he vainly tried to defend himself.
“If you do not tell me where that damn girl is, you’ll all die!” the demon barked loudly, generating an echo in the room.
Cleaning the blood from her mouth and the sweat from her brow with her sleeve, Lana lifted the bow and adjusted the arrow on the string. With trembling hands, she focused to target the demon, hitting her squarely in the neck and knocking her to the ground. Mark wasted no time. He lifted his sword and severely crippled the head of the Guardian of Darkness.
Still on the first ﬂoor, Kate stroked Jake’s head. He remained stunned from the fall on the stairs. He had hit his head violently on the steps and much of his body was burnt. He kept calling for her. Jake asked, “Kate, are you okay? Are you hurt?”
Tears streamed down her face. “Somebody help me!” she screamed, looking at the second ﬂoor, begging for help.
“Kate, ﬂee ... Kate ... Please, you’ve got to get out of here! ”Jake begged her as she tried to get up.
She heard a loud noise coming from outside and turned around to check the source of the noise. She froze to see that it was the demon that Jake had burned a while ago. He approached them, armed with a sword. She shook Jake desperately, hoping that he would stand up and react. He lay helpless on the ground. He was certainly a very easy target.
“Go away now!” Jake said. His only concern was the girl.
“I will not leave you here. Let me help ... He cannot see me!” she said, and ran to get a lamp that was near the door. With full force, she hit the demon on the head. With the blow, he half-stepped, as if unbalanced, but did not fall. The attack rendered a good advantage for Jake to rise. From the top of the stairs, Olivia called out, “This is the end for this bastard!”
Jake looked up and asked her weakly, “Olivia, get Kate out of here!”
“I cannot get up. The blades of the swords contain poison that causes immobility. Be careful. Don’t let him hit you!”
“Where is the girl? You fool! Do you want to die for her, too?” said the devil, full of hatred. He turned to Jake who was now in a fighting stance.
Jake pushed Kate hard to the side and began to duel with the devil that was still a little burnt. He was tall and robust, and struggled with a thirst for death. His blows with his sword were so precise and vigorous that Jake’s arm trembled in defending every blow. Jake did not focus on the fight. He was worried about the girl and did not want her to see him die right there in front of her. Jake was pretty sure he had no chance against the Guardian of Zebheus. His healing power was not yet complete and Jake’s arm which possessed great strength was badly wounded. The fire had burned almost all his tendons, and much of the side of his body was covered with severe burns. Despite the injuries and physical exhaustion, he used all his strength to invoke the powers that had consumed much of his life energy.
Besides being strong, the demon seemed to be immune to the side effects caused by the excessive use of his powers. He was tireless and very agile, dodging every blow with mastery and accuracy. “Is the girl in the house?” probed the demon.
“Fuck you!” said Jake in a trembling voice, advancing towards him with his sword.
The Guardian of Darkness deﬂected his blow, causing Jake to let his sword fall. The demon seemed to have an iron fist and took advantage of the weakness of Jake. From behind, the demon stabbed his chest repeatedly.
“Stop it! I’m here, you bastard from hell!” Kate hit the demon’s arm, drawing his attention. Instantly, he dropped the boy on the ﬂoor, looking around confused, not knowing where the aggression came from. She wasted no time and rushed to get Jake’s sword.
“Kate, are you insane?” Jake said, coughing blood. The poison blade was severe, immobilized the body, caused a fulminant pain, and prevented the healing process. He looked desperately at the girl and warned, “If I survive, I’ll get you because of you’re stubborn ways!
“Shut up! You are not dying today!” she shouted, brandishing the sword and advancing towards the demon, causing him a deep gash on his arm.
The demon looked dumbfounded, not knowing how to defend himself from a “ghost.” The girl was invisible to him. Kate attacked again, this time hitting his neck. The demon was crazed, full of pain and anger. He let out a growl of rage so high that she felt her ears buzzing. He stretched his arms and through his hands, he launched a strong gust of ﬂames around him in an attempt to surprise the attacker.
Realizing the jets of ﬂame coming towards her, she moved very quickly. She ran and drove in an agile leap climbing onto a table. As she landed on the ground, she crouched to protect herself from the attack of fire. Seeing the movement of the table falling, the devil knew that the girl hid behind him. He went to the place, preparing to ambush her and threw away the table, feeling the air in search of her. When Kate turned to ﬂee, he smelled her perfume and groped the air, managing to catch her by the hair. Even without seeing it, he straightened his sword to stab the girl. However, he had no chance as he felt his head being pulled back and a thin blade cut his throat. He tried to defend himself, but Jake prevented him from doing so. Jake used all his strength and pressed the blade firmly into the neck of the demon. Then, he applied a violent coup, at the slashed neck. The two fell to the ground. The demon was lifeless anda Jake suffered a strong upheaval caused by the poison and his chest wounds.
From the top of the stairs, Olivia watched it all. She could not help but remain paralyzed. Making a huge effort, she raised her hand to invoke the power to extinguish the fire generated by the devil. The other Guardians tried to improvise. While Lana was applying a tourniquet to Nathan’s neck to stop the bleeding, Mark crawled to the library in search of Ambrosia that was saved. Even knowing that this amount would not be enough to cure everyone, he needed to try. If he didn’t take action, they would all die soon.
Kate looked around. There was no fire, just a little smokescreen. Crouched beside Jake, she spoke to him but he did not respond. “Please ... You must resist!” She was nervous and panting. Seeing through her tears, she pressed on his injuries but he did not react. She checked his pulse and noticed how weak it was. He breathed with difficulty. Desperate, she tore his bloodied shirt and was startled to see the wounds. The thick blood still emerged from the deep cuts caused by the demon’s sword. She tried to revive him by doing CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. “Jake ... Don’t die! You promised me that you would not abandon me!” She sobbed. “Come on ... you petulant and conceited boy!” She continued to provide the aid, putting all the strength in her arms to press on his chest. Suddenly, he let out an agonized sigh, turned his head to the side, and spat blood. With narrowed eyes and gasping, he tried to say something but could not. Instead, he was coughing blood. “Mark, where are you? Jake needs you!” she called for Mark.
“Calm down, Jake will be fine,” said Olivia from the top of the stairs, trying to soothe her.
“No... You don’t understand. He’s hardly breathing and his concussions are bad,” Kate said.
“I know ... The poison also froze the rest of us. We are aware but cannot move ... Ask for help! Call Julio, he knows what needs to be done!”
Kate looked at the redhead and noticed that the others were severely injured. Mark managed to get the potion of Ambrosia that was stored in the library. He asked Nathan to drink it as he had nearly been beheaded and was the priority. The region where he had been hit was very vulnerable.
Wasting no time, she ran to search for the phone, searched for Julio’s number, and dialed his number. While Kate was asking for help, she ran back to where Jake lay fallen. “Julio! It’s Kate ... We were attacked by the Guardians of Darkness. They invaded the congregation and seriously injured Mark and the others. They are all down. I think the swords contained some kind of poison because they cannot start healing ... Please come soon!”