~ Breanna Vincent contributed to this story ~
Alpheus was happy to be a little over half way through his shift. He would soon be with his fiance and away from all these drunks. He smiled as thought of Rehan. They didn’t have a date set for the wedding yet but Alpheus was had been bursting with happiness ever since Rehan had accepted his proposal. Alpheus was wiping down a spill on the bar as he happily thought of going home but the mens conversation that had been mere background noise before now had his full attention, something was wrong in the other kingdom, the kingdom Rehans mother lived in. “yeah, nobody knows where the lot of them came from but jesus they are fierce. I’ve heard some people have died of heart attacks just from seeing them burst out of the ground or seem to simply fall from the sky”
“what’re you men talking about?” Alpheus asked, now standing right by them “The other kingdom, They are having hell on the other side of the world. These horrible beasts have seemed to come from nowhere and are a real plague. There’s been a lot of deaths. Our king is apparently thinking of sending help their way.”
“what kind of beasts”
“someone took a photo, here”
Alpheus’s heart stopped. What were these beasts? He felt chills run through his veins at the very sight of them, surprised anyone could get a picture of this monster and survive.
“Do they know what they want? Where did they come from?”
“Nobody knows what they want or why they are here, we don’t even know where they came from. They just appeared one day and started killing everything in their wake. It seems once they are satisfied they just disappear all over again, like it never happened.”
Worry was all over his face as he thought of Rehan’s mother. They had to get her out of there, to safety, but how was beyond him. He could round up a few men to help him on his journey. He’d be damned if he was going to let some kind of hell beast take him away from his dear Rehan before their wedding day. Alpheus felt ashamed that he was worried about the wedding when there were people dying in the other Kingdom of Jay’reh but being with his love for all of eternity was top priority next to saving his mother. Alpheus decided to leave the bar he ran and ask around to see if anyone knew more about these beasts or how to kill them, but no one had any clue. He decided to ask a few friends he had that were warriors for help in going over there to find Rehans mother before he went home and broke the news to his fiance.
Before Alpheus rushed home he kicked everyone out of his bar and closed it up, leaving a note for his employee. He’d hunt her down but finding her and having her run it for him while he was gone wasn’t a priority right now. She’d come when it was her shift and she’d work it full time or not and either was fine with him. It wasn’t like he and Rehan were hurting for money. He found Rehan in his study, reading as almost always. He took his book away and handed him the picture “what the hell is this?”
“a monster, in the kingdom on the other side of this world”
“I know, someone at the bar just let me know about this. The king is apparently already considering sending men over to help”
“lets get a few of my warrior and mage friends to come with us. I’m sure Elvie would let us ride on her heard of Pegasus” Rehans chest felt tight and he coudl barely breath, his mother, his brother, they were there or at least he hoped they would. He had already lost his father, he couldn’t lose them and his mother couldn’t lose another husband, not Osius. He was so good to her and even if he wasn’t, how could she recover from another husbands death. It had taken her so long to recover from his fathers and find happiness again. “Lets hurry Alpheus”
They didn’t even pack anything, they just hurried out and started gathering what friends would come then hurried to Elvie’s to beg to use her Pegasus. She was more than happy to oblige. Before they flew off she looked Alpheus in the eyes and said “I love these horses, you know that and I trust you to take care of them but if it’s between you guys and my pegasus I would rather see you two again, don’t be stupid to save them but try to bring them all back”
“Of course Elvie, thank you for this”
“By all means, don’t let Rehan lose his mother too if it can be helped” Alpheus nodded and the heard of Pegasus flew into the sky, knowing themselves how to get to the other kingdom. They had been flown there many times and could do it easily. Rehan thought these horses were amazing, he had studied them for months after finding out the incredible stamina they had.
During the flight Alpheus hated the somber look on Rehans face, like he was already accepting his mother, step father and brother might have passed. He knew it could very well be a reality but he didn’t want to see him so broken. In Aideens kingdom Eveny, Osius, Zaylee and Arrow were still trying to find Gaspard, Breena, Emeril and their grandchild. Everything was chaos but they couldn’t do anything until they had their family together.
Alpheus looked over at Rehan, even with the worry written all over his face he was still the perfect picture. He would prefer to have Alpheus safe back in their home but knew going into it he would refuse. He was the strongest mage Alpheus had ever met and Rehan knew they would need his help. Rehan glanced over at Alpheus and caught him staring, lost in thought. He flew his Pegasus closer and gave Alpheus a look that he knew would send the message.
“I love you”
As dawn broke and the air started to warm they started to lower in altitude. They were arriving at Jay’reh and needed to be on alert for the hell beasts that were plaguing this kingdom. Although the men were fearful of their lives their bravery out-weighed any worry. They were on a mission and their lives were not the only ones at stake. They could smell smoke as they lowered and spotted fires, from the sky, scattered across the land. Alpheus signaled to the men to stay on alert as they came to land. It was quiet, too quiet, not even a bird was spotted in the sky. They approached the gate to the kingdom somberly and with caution. Would there even be anyone on the other side to let them enter?
As they drew closer they saw the wall was mostly destroyed and the gate they should be passing through hung off, barely still attached at all. “Jesus Alpheus we need to get to my mother” It was weird for Alpheus’s friends to see such strong emotion on Rehans face. Rehan was normally serious and had an excellent poker face. If you didn’t know him well you’d never know what he was feeling but right now he looked like he might have a complete break down any second.
They were looking for a good place to rest together when Arrow heard “Grandpa!” his head jerked in the direction and he saw his teary eyed grandhcild running for him. Arrow was over to him in seconds, holding his grandson crushingly tight “Chanie, where are your parents?” Chanie just sobbed and Arrow didn’t push it further, he was still so little, had only just gotten to the age he could be understood when he spoke. He was probably too overwhelmed to answer. Arrow knew he needed to let him calm before trying again.
Zaylee took him from Arrow the first second she could “Oh baby” They made a fire and prepared food for Chanie, not knowing the last time he had eaten. They were counting their blessings they had found him before those terrible creatures did. If he had been separated from his parents too long something had to be watching over him for him to get this far and be alive. Once he had eaten Osius tried talking to him “whose blood is that Chanie?”
“Kaiyah?” they hadn’t seen her in quite some time. She had been out doing whatever it was she did when things went crazy. “It was going to hurt me and Kaiyah saved me but I no know where Kaiyah is now. It hurt her and I ran” Arrow moved over to Zaylee and held her. They had had Kaiyah in their life for so many years now, longer than they had their son Osius. If Zaylee never saw her again he knew it would break her heart. He would always remind her though that if Kaiyah did die, it was an honorable death. She died to save their grandson
They gathered and wept for their lost loved ones but celebrated their time as well. They needed to appreciate the time they had together in the present because the next minute or hour wasn’t guaranteed.
It was time to cross over what little remains were left of the wall. They needed to press on and find Rehan’s mother before it was too late, hoping it wasn’t too late. Alpheus could see the anguish in Rehan’s eyes, written all over his face. His shoulders hunched in defeat like he was already accepting the loss of his mother.
“It is not the time to give up Rehan. Now is the time for hope and determination. We must give our all in order to fight this monstrosity that is before us. We will find your mother, I promise.”
Rehan looked at Alpheus in appreciation, every kind word brought him closer back to hope.
The group gathered their belongings and their strength and began their long trek across Jay’reh.
It was a relief to see the pool of black blood filling the courtyard of the castle. It meant that whatever had attacked, had been severely injured, more than likely by the soldiers who trained endlessly for attacks like this. They could see the door had been ripped from its hinges, but the creature had been unable to enter. “Hello?” Alphaeus yelled, keeping Rehan behind him. “Rehan stick close, everyone else go in twos and look for survivors.” His friends nodded and he took Rehan’s hand as he moved toward the castle entrance. He cautiously stuck his head in and when he saw no one he stepped inside. “Is anyone there?” He tried again and listened.
“Who is it?” The voice startled them and they both froze.
“Please, I’m Rehan Irchal, my brother is Gaspard.” He heard muffled talking, his fear for his family only getting worse.
“I apologize, we’re a little on edge.” The owner of the voice stepped out from behind one of the statues that decorated the entrance. “Please, follow us downstairs.”
The survivors of the attack had been moved to the lower levels of the castle where the cellar and then the prison were. Cells had been made into little bunk rooms where frightened people were crying or receiving treatment. “Rehan?” The sound of his mother’s voice sent relief coursing through him and she was soon across the room and in his arms. Gaspard was right behind her, his arm and one side of his face bandaged.
“What are you doing here?” Gaspard asked.
“We heard about the attacks and wanted to check on you. Where’s Osius?”
“He, Emery, Aideen, and Drake went out to look for survivors. Emeril’s in charge until they get back. If it wasn’t for him, that thing may have gotten in here.”
“And everyone else?”
“We don’t know yet.” Eveny answered, her voice cracking.
“I sent my friends out to look for survivors.” Alphaeus said.
“Thank you, we can use all the help we can get.” Gaspard replied.’
“Is it true? You don’t know where they are coming from?”
“No, it’s hard for anybody to think of that right now. The main concern is maintaining life here”
“well I’m here now mom, I’ll figure this out. I’ve never been a strong fighter but here is a situation where my mind is needed” Eveny kissed his forehead “I hate for you to be in danger aswell but maybe you are just what we need. We’ll have a talk with king Drake when he returns”
“Until then I’ll try and learn everything I can from everyone here”
His brother, Gaspard spoke again “Be sensitive around Emeril, his wife and child are nowhere to be found”
Breena sat in the tree shaking, blood dripping off her wounded leg to splatter on the ground. She had hoped to get Chanie to the castle where they would be safe with Emeril when that thing attacked, but it had been so fast. It had grabbed onto her, making her drop her son and if it had not been for Kaiyah, it would have gotten him. Breena had done her best to lure the monster away by screaming at it and throwing things. She had been glad when it had given chase and thanked the Gods she had managed to lose it. She wanted desperately to get down and find Chanie, knowing he must be terrified.
Rehan did his best to speak gently to Emeril. He could see Breena’s husband was barely holding it together, only keeping himself strong to ensure the people taking shelter in the castle felt safe. “I know it’s hard, but if there is anything you can tell me about how you chased it off, it would help protect everyone.”
“Yes, sorry, there were soft spots at its neck, at the base of its skull and its belly. I jumped on top of it from above and just stabbed at the base of its skull until it started screaming and fell over. There was so much blood, but it still got away. I…I don’t know where it went.” He looked around. “I…I need to find Breena and Chanie.”
“They’ll be alright, you have to believe that.”
“If I didn’t believe in how strong and brave my wife is I don’t know what I’d do with myself. Even knowing how strong and intelligent she is sometimes I don’t know if I can continue standing. I’m just…I need her and I need my son”
“well thank you…just as you need them, I don’t know what I would have done without my mother and brother and thank you also for protecting Osius here. She’s lost one husband in her life, I don’t want to see her lose another”
“Osius is Arrow through and through, he can stand against anything”
“I wish I could see you all more often so I’d know them better and be more confident” Emeril seemed to be gone, lost in his own thoughts so Rehan quit talking and walked away. This happening, this kingdom coming to its knees because of this monster made Rehan want to be closer, for her to come back home or for he and Alpheus to come here but he knew that was trciky. Her husband had a life here just as his soon to be husband had an entire life back where they lived. Could either of them really ask the others spouse to drop everything they had going. Rehan now worried when he made the choice not to follow her all those years ago that he was choosing to never be a short walk away from her again.
“Find anything that can help us?” Alpheus asked when Rehan finished his rounds.
“They weaknesses and retreat when they have been seriously injured. As for where they came from, people just say out of nowhere, but things just don’t spawn from thin air, well most things. They could be some form of subterranean creature, but I didn’t see any large holes as we were coming in.”
“What are you thinking then?”
“Perhaps they have a teleportation ability or a cloaking mechanism.”
“That would explain them just appearing.”
“I wish I could examine one, bit that’s not possible.”
“What about the one they chased off?”
“Emeril has no idea where it went.”
“We could follow the blood.”
“I need to talk to my mother and Gaspard, I can’t just leave without telling them. I also need supplies for gathering samples.”
They returned to his mother and talked about wanting to track it down “It’s too dangerous Rehan”
“i’ll be with him”
“No, you can’t”
“Mom, I need to.”
“Then at least wait for the search party to come back, please, have them go with you. Look at Gaspard, please, I can’t have you coming back hurt”
“Okay, I’ll wait for them and see if they’ll come with me” Eveny pulled Rehan into her arms and the two just held eachother. Alpheus was glad people talked so much in his bar. He honestly couldn’t believe he hadn’t heard about all this sooner with the way men gossip and carried on about things over drinks. If their kingdom didn’t come to these peoples aide before all was said and done Alpheus would be ashamed to be a part of it.
Arrow’s hand stayed on his sword as they made their way through the forest and he periodically glanced at Zaylee, who was carrying Chanie, to make sure she was still safely walking beside him. He kept his eyes and ears open, not wanting to be caught off guard by another one of those things. It was the sound of crying that caught his attention and he froze. “Do you hear that?” He asked.
“I do, it sounds human.” Zaylee replied.
“Even so, I want you to hide with Chanie while I look around and don’t come out until I call for you.”
“I understand.” She wanted to follow him to ensure his safety, but she wasn’t willing to put her grandson at risk. She ducked down in a thick bunch of bushes and held Chanie close, talking softly to him so he wouldn’t get upset.
When Arrow found Breena, his heart nearly stopped. She was shivering and pale, blood dripping off of her. “Breena.” He called her name and she jumped, her eyes dropping down to him. “My god, Breena, hold on baby, I’m coming up.” He climbed up and gently helped her onto his back. “Hold on okay?”
“Zaylee has him.”
“Emeril…he’s…he’s terrified…I can feel it.”
“Hush now honey, we’ll get you both back to him.”
“I…I hate I had to leave Chanie”
“shhh, I know whatever happened you did absolutely everything you could. You’re a good mother Breena. Just relax and let me get you to safety” Alpheus was helping where he could while Rehan paced and thought back at the castle. Reha was glad when the king finally returned with the rest of the search party. Emeril, Rehan and Eveny spoke with them right away and they agreed to accompany Rehan and Alpheus to track the beast. “I should go too” Emeril said but Drake shook his head “You need to be here, to protect the people we have rescued. Not only that, you need to be here when Breena and your son show up. You can still feel her can’t you?”
“Yes…she;s hurt but…she’s still alive”
“then you’re place is here. Protect everyone and wait for them.” Emeril nodded, knowing the king was right.Rehan wasn’t much for weapons, but Alpheus strapped a dagger around his waist anyway before they headed out. He told him if he was cornered, all he had to do was aim for the vital areas of the creature and run. Rehan started where the largest puddle of blood was, quickly taking some samples and then scribbling some notes down in his notebook. They then followed the trail of blood the creature had left behind, along with the line of destroyed trees it had slammed into making its escape. “Please make sure to keep your eyes open for anything, skin, teeth, anything.” He said as they walked.
“Don’t get too ahead, Rehan, I can’t lose you.” Alpheus said.
“I won’t, I just really want to find this thing.”
“What if it’s not dead?” Drake asked.
“It’s lost a lot of blood, chances are it’s dead or nearly dead. If we find it and it’s still alive, I’ll stay back while you guys finish it off.”
“That sounds like a good plan to me. Just to make certain I don’t have to see your mothers heart shattered let us make absolutely sure it’s dead before you approach. It could possibly look it and still have some fight left” Rehan gave a single nod to let the king know he would allow them to check first. As they walked Rehan couldn’t help but notice the stomach turning smell of this creatures blood. Most blood smelled of pennies but this smell, it was indescribably disgusting. They walked without stop, amazed it had gotten so far but they did finally come to find it laying on the ground. It didn’t appear to be breathing but the other still went ahead of Rehan just to make sure.
“Alright, it should be safe to approach.” Drake said after he and the others gave it a few stabs.
“Thank you.” Rehan moved around the grotesque creature, taking measurements and notes as he went, even doing sketches from every angle. He documented the wounds Emeril and his men had inflicted on it, making sure to add annotations to his sketches. “Would you mind cutting its stomach open, I would like to examine the contents.”
“Of course, stand back.”
Both Drake and Alpheus sliced its stomach open and instantly jumped back, covering their mouth and nose as black bile and half digested bits spattered onto the ground. Rehan took his dagger, ignoring the smell as he stirred the goop, lifting pieces of what appeared to be meat and even metal. “Looks like it doesn’t worry about consuming weapons and clothing. Its stomach acid is probably quite powerful.”
“How can you stand that smell?” Aideen asked.
“I can wade through anything when people need me too.” He wiped the blade of his dagger on the grass the sheathed it so he could take more notes. “Does anyone know of elemental weaknesses?”
“Fire seemed to help, but it was really the soft spots that killed it.” Drake replied.
Rehan went back around to the creatures neck and pulled his dagger out again, cutting into the flesh. The wounds Emeril had inflicted ran deep. “It seems that Emeril hit what I would guess is an artery and…” He stuck his hand in the hole he had made, feeling around. “Spinal cord?”
Rehan continued to examine the beasts, never even hesitating to reach into places or step into the gunk that laid all around. He was in study mode and Alpheus had seen before, nothing could phase him once he was determined to learn more about a subject. He was truly impressive that way. Alpheus would occasionally call him his warrior of knowledge, partially because it made Rehan roll his eyes. That attitude Rehan had was part of Alpheus’s draw to him. They kept close guard of Rehan until he told them he was done. They all hadn’t eaten since they left but none of them had much of an appetite.
They did however stop at the first lake they saw to clean Rehan up. They didn’t want the stench filling the safe house they had created for the survivors. As Alpheus helped Rehan washed Rehan spoke “I still hate I can’t figure out how they just appear”
“They are new beasts, to us at least. You’ve learned an incredible amount considering we’ve only just gotten here”
“My mother and brothers well being is on the line, I need to know everything” Alpheus kissed him “you know plenty and will learn soon plenty more. We have this, we’re here and are going to keep your loved ones safe Rehan”
“Alpheus, do you think I was wrong not to follow my mother here?” This was the first tiem Alpheus had ever heard Rehan question a decision he made so it took him back a second “what?”
“was I wrong not to follow my mother here…maybe if I had been here from the start”
“Don’t do that Rehan, you weren’t wrong, not at all”
“I’m sorry, it’s just…” He sighed. “If I had been here, maybe I could have stopped this sooner.”
“I doubt it.” Drake said. “No offense to you because I know you’re an incredibly talented young man, but in all honesty, they attacked so fast and so silently that no one had time to do a thing. So please don’t blame yourself and count yourself lucky that you weren’t here for the initial attack. I imagine if your mother had lost you, it would have devastated her.”
“Good, keep your chin up, we’ll defeat these things.”
“See.” Alpheus said as he wrapped his arms around Rehan and pressed a kiss to his temple. “It’s not your fault so please stop doubting yourself.”
When they arrived back Arrow had made it there with Breena, Zaylee, Chanie and Osius. They all felt relief for Emeril. HIs wife may be terrible wounded but she was there, he could now be near his family again. “what did you find out?” Arrow immedietly asked Rehan. He shared all his information with those who wanted to listen as he filled Arrow in then asked to be left alone to think. That of course didn’t include Alpheus who sat with Rehan as he went over what he knew for a good way to stop them.
“So this is what I think we need to do.” Rehan pulled out his sketchbook and pencils. “We need all the best warriors, anyone who can wield a sword or bow and arrow or magic and we set a trap.” He started sketching. “We put bait here in the open, maybe spread a bunch of blood around, like deer or cow blood, make them come in close. I want them near tall trees or cliffs even, some of the soldiers are going to need to jump onto their backs like Emeril did.”
“Once they’ve been attacked they’ll just run.”
“Not if we use fire to contain them. We did a trench around where we want them and we fill it with oil and the moment they’re in the center, we light it and they can’t leave.” He sat there looking at his plan. “We need more soldiers.”
“Our kingdom hasn’t sent anyone yet.”
“I don’t think our king would leave these people vulnerable. If they are walking here, it would take longer. We flew so they might not be here yet. We need to send out a scout or two.” He got up and Alpheus followed him over to where Arrow and Zaylee were sitting. “I need your help, both of you. I need you to head out and see if our kingdom is sending soldiers.”
“We’ll go now.”
“Thank you and I apologize for being so rude.”
“There’s no need for manners in a time like this.”
“What about the bait?” Alpheus asked.
“Live bait, it has to be live.” He looked into Alpheus’s eyes.
“I’m the only one who has enough knowledge.”
“You could die.”
“Please, I can do this. I know I’m not a fighter, but I can do this. Just think of it as an expedition into unknown territory. You…you can be bait with me, you can watch my back.”
Alpheus didn’t want to agree but his fiance was right, it made more sense for Rehan to do it. ‘Okay” Alpheus said with apprehension in his voice. Later Arrow came back with the news they had been hoping for, an army was coming to help them. They wasted no time when they arrived and set their plan in motion. Alpheus tried not to stress, his fiance needed his confidence right now not his doubt. Rehan was smart and fast, Alpheus just kept telling himself that over and over in his head as they were left their as bait for this horrific creatures.
Rehan knew the moment the creature was there. He could feel it, like the air had become thick with danger. It was the feeling of being stalked. He glance at Alpheus who was tense and staring straight ahead. He could feel it too and was ready to get them out of there when the thing attacked. Rehan slowly grabbed his hand and held tightly too it. The hair on the back of his neck was standing on end and he slowly turned his head to look behind him. There was something there, he could barely make out a void. It was camouflage, almost like that of a chameleon. It moved and that’s when he ran, pulling Alpheus as he gave the order for the oil to be lit. The trench around them caught fire and Alpheus scooped him up, jumping through the flames as the thing revealed itself and slashed at them. It screeched, recoiling from the flames. “Now!”Rehan yelled and Emeril, followed by Arrow and the other soldiers attacked the beast.
Alpheus clung tightly to Rehan, still terrified about the whole situation. With the information Rehan gathered they killed them all, all the ones that had come that was. They stayed on guard and tried a few more traps in the following weeks but eventually decided they had killed the last ones or the rest had left their world. Rehan and Alpheus decided to stay until his mothers kingdom was put back together and running normally again. His mother tried to argue since they were supposed to be planning their wedding but he said “Mother, we’re happy and in love married or not. We’re still getting married, we’re just pushing the date a bit. I want to stay until this place is suitable for you again. You know there is no use fighting with me, I’m staying”
She hugged him “thank you for coming baby” They didn’t know how long this would take since those creatures were incredible destructive. Not only had they been eating people they had wrecked homes and left countless trees on the ground. Alpheus was happy to stay though if his fiance wanted to because Rehan was right, they were still in love and happy, married or not.
~ The End