THE SECRET LIFE OF ZURRIE DRESDEN

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Chapter Five: Xavier- Uncovered Secrets

It takes me a few minutes to pick my lower jaw off the floor before my lungs take in a full breath. Although willing myself to move my feet, it’s as if they are bolted to the ground. Try as I might, I’m having trouble processing the site in front of me. Eyeing up the exterior wall of Dad’s deteriorating, old “hunting cabin”, a thousand thoughts are coursing through my mind. Each one so fast that I’m rendered incapable of registering even one of them.

Line upon line of handmade weaponry is secured to numerous thick, reinforced wooden panels. The arsenal in front of me consists not only of handmade guns but bows, arrows, swords, and metal plates that I assume contain some sort of explosive materials. My eyes trail all the way down to the end of the wall and come to rest on a large wooden crate.

With my feet finally in motion, I hesitantly walk in the direction of the sealed container. Although my body advances closer with each step I take, it feels like I’m carrying a hundred-pound weight on my shoulders, dragging me down and slowing my pace. After what seems like a hundred miles of rough terrain, I finally come to the end of my journey. Taking in a deep breath, I attempt to get my nerves in check. Standing directly in front of the massive crate, I take my stance. With both feet planted firmly on the floorboards and my knees slightly bent, I exhale one last time before removing my hand that’s positioned on my hip, out in front of me, a few inches from the lip of the lid.

Like a hand gliding up the length of my left arm, a slight breeze sweeps alongside the length of my body. Goosebumps erupt from my head to my toes. The hair on my arms stands on end; before I can fully recover from the first waft, I’m caressed by another. This time it appears different. It doesn’t feel like a breeze or gusts of the snow-laced air that’s been consistently drifting through the floorboards. It’s more like a presence. A presence of something, or someone, that’s trying to communicate with me. My inner alarm sounds; it screams for me to stop. Something in the recesses of my mind fights to push forth some sort of memory. Caution clutches at my inner core. Doubts lend themselves to questions. What if it’s not a memory at all. What if it’s a warning?

“Fulfill your destiny, Xavier”, is whispered into my ear by the unknown entity. Hesitation has a grip on me, yet I can’t seem to follow my own free will to back away. Try as I might to block out the endless chitchat, it’s futile. Voices of generations past come flooding into my mind. “Take your birthright boy,” is bellowed out over the top of the other chatter. “Grandfather?” The warm breath that flows from between my lips hovers in the frigid air that has encompassed me. Silence greets me.

Uncertain if I’m dreaming, or if what’s happening at this very moment is real, I’m jolted into reality by the image of my father. “The time has come, Xavier. The bloodlines of those before you will be your guides and your protectors. Time is running out, son. I will always be with you. This is your destiny. You are the sole heir to the line of Draven men.”

Confused and dazed by all that’s transpiring, I call out into the frosty air. “Destiny for what…. Sole heir to what? You can’t just drop this in my lap!” Although every fiber in me wants to be brave, the truth is, I’m falling apart right now. Destiny? Destiny for what?

“You come from a long line of hunter’s Xavier. On the twenty-sixth birthday of an heir, he takes his rightful place as the next generation of hunters and slayers.”

“Hunter? Slayer? Are you crazy? Hunter and slayer of what, Father?” As the words are trailing from my mouth, I can’t believe I’m the one asking such absurd questions.

“Our lines go back thousands of years, my boy. We are the highest-ranking linage of protectors for mankind. We are vampire hunters. Well, we don’t do it all alone. We work alongside the Nephilim; half angel and half man. All you need to know will be bestowed upon you once you accept your birthright. Time is running out, Xavier. The human race is depending on you. The Order in the heaven’s, is waiting on you. Every moment without you places an imbalance in the world and tips the scales. Go on now and do what you were born to do.”

With his last words spoken, he’s gone. The surrounding air returns to its normal temperature. The only sound present is that of Miss Blue Eyed Beauty, as she grunts and prances about the stall.

An inner peace settles over me and I know what needs to be done. Taking my place in the books of history, I fix my gaze on the box that holds the key to my future; what I was placed here to do; be a protector of all humanity. A future that’s uncertain and comes with many risks.

Integrate symbols are carved into the top of the heavy timber covering. I’ve seen nothing to the likes of them before. Slowly extending my arm out and touching the large emblem in the middle, it’s clear that it was burnt or branded into the lid. The sharp, ragged edges tear at the base and sides of my delicate skin. Pulling away isn’t an option. My hand is cradled and lead by an unseen form. As my finger gently glides down the center, a red substance surfaces. My heart feels like it’s going to explode in my chest. It beats fast and faster. It doesn’t take a genius to know what the sticky material is…. blood. Lots and lots of deep, red blood rises to the surface. It pools and ascends to the very top of the filigreed rim.

Reaching the bottom of the emblem, my skin burns, and string; like that of a thousand penetrating scorpions. I can feel the rich, red substance being drawn into the sides and base of my open wounds. My head spins. Confusion and disorientation overcome me. I reach my arms out for anything I can grab onto to keep from falling. I clutch at the empty air.

I stumble backward, falling against the outer wall of the second stable that’s thankfully unoccupied. The weight of my body crashing just off to the left of its center, the weakest point, causes a splintering sound. Still gripped by fear and uncertainty of what is to come; I slowly slide my body down the length of the wall until my bottom is flush with the surface below.

My head continues to spin, and all that’s around me blurs. My entire bodies engulfed in a sedative like state. I attempt to lift my right hand, but it’s too heavy and numb to move. With no other option but to relinquish myself to the darkness that continues to envelop me, I stop fighting.

Unable to will my body to move, I’m alert enough to know that I’m in a state of altered consciousness. It feels as if only parts of my mind are affected by whatever has taken a hold of me. The parts area of my brain that’re still functional provide me with the ability to hear the door open and the sound of quickly approaching footsteps. Trying to force my eyes open to focus is futile.

A thick, cloudy haze impedes my ability to see clearly. Lifting my head that feels like a bag of bricks, I squint and focus on the outlined figure that now stands before me.

The silhouette of her body is nothing less than perfect. Struggling to keep my eyes locked onto hers, she crouches down directly in front of me. Hair the color of platinum and eyes that are the color of priceless emeralds slowly fade in and out of focus as I gaze at her mesmerizing beauty.

“Help me,” falls from my lips in a weakened voice that I barely recognize as my own.

She leans in close enough that I can feel her cool respirations upon my lips. Each exhale feels as if her breath dances with mine. Her frigid hand makes its way down the length of my clenched cheek. Her touch sends shivers down my spine. “Well, well, what do we have here? I think I smell the offspring of a Draven. Don’t you worry your pretty little self. Soon enough…. Oh, yes…. what a perfect mate you shall make.”

Cold lips touch mine and the scent of jasmine fills the air. Within an instant, she’s gone. Vanished, as if into thin air. The only reminder of her presence is the scent she left behind.


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