The colorful crowd of the party rushed their way out as a second bird arrived out of the circle of flame. The bird gave out an ear-wrecking screech as it perched near its mate over the dead body of the man in green.

Absolute chaos erupted in the ballroom as everyone started to scream and run away from the predatory birds.

Edgar glanced at the boy who was now unconscious in his arms and then at the bird approaching them, his heart racing. Its craggy, black wings were so huge that as they flapped them their shadow darkened over both Edgar, the unconscious boy and several magic users trying get out of the disruption. Its eyes were a blood red, glaring wickedly at everything around them.

Had Edgar focused more on them, he wouldve noticed that they were the color of the Tanzanian ruby in the necklace they found with their mother.

The creature neared them, with its razor-sharp beak open, aiming for the unconscious boy. Edgar stared, frozen at the birds red eyes for a moment. But then he realized what was about to happen and willed his gift to emerge. A dome of fire rose around them, the flames roaring in their wake, immediately catching the crows feathers. The burning bird flapped his wings with a deadly cry. The fire caught on quickly, roaring around it, filling the air with smoke that smelled like burning meat.

As a huge phoenix surrounded by flames, the crow fell on the marble floor, writhing as it burned alive.

Making his way towards his brother through the commotion, Paul grabbed a sword from the sheath of a warlock dressed as a soldier. Without any hesitation whatsoever, he lunged at the other bird, who was squawking at its burning companion. The sharp blade of the sword connected with its throat, severing its head clean off its neck. The mighty head flew through the air in an ark from the force of the blow, spinning like a boomerang due to the beak and fell with a crash in front of Elliot and his companion. Both of them let out a scream as the blood from the head splattered them.

Edgar took the chance to scramble away from the burning bird with the unconscious boy in his arms. The bird had stopped writhing, and a guttural whine rang from its throat. Eventually it faded to the cackle of the flames that burned the body to embers.

The people stood where they ended up at after running around, staring at the scene. Paul stared at his brother along with them, still holding the sword that dripped blood on the pristine marble floor.

Elliot let go of his companion and walked forward.

”Partys over warlock people! ” He announced, his voice ringing through the shocked silence. ”I suggest you exit the premises immediately before more of those monsters can appear! ”

The magical people needed no more encouragement. They rushed off the hall as fast as their legs could take them, chattering at each other excitedly about the events that had just taken place.

The woman in pink, who the brothers were still to know the name of, raced towards Edgar and knelt on the ground. Taking the hand of the unconscious boy into hers, she whispered in his ear hurriedly, ”Nathan ”

Edgar supposed that was the name of the boy. He held the boy, supporting his torso with his own arms and one crooked leg as he sat on the floor while the woman let go of his hand and placed her palms over the wound on the left side of his stomach. Then she closed her eyes and started to chant in a language unknown to the werewolf. Pink sparks arose from her fingers, spiraling above the boys stomach. Edgar felt the boys weak body thrum with a strange energy. The paleness in his cheeks disappeared under the soot that blackened it, turning rosy. His pulse quickened, and his heart beat steadily.

”Aradia, ” Elliott addressed the woman. ”Is he alright? ”

She nodded, standing up and looking at Edgar in the eye for the first time of the evening. Aradia held a power that made Edgar want to trust and obey the woman. Maybe it was just her warlock shimmer. ”Take him to a bedroom. Elliot will lead you. We must let him rest. ” And with that she turned away and was walking away from them, more into the house.

Paul followed her instead of Elliot.

”Who are those creatures? ” He asked, his voice echoing through the now empty hall.

”Thats what Im going to look for, ” Aradia replied without stopping.

”Well then, Im coming with you. I need to know as well. ” Paul replied. He glanced quickly at Edgar, who nodded.

”Ill join them too. ” Elliot replied rushing after them as Edgar protested.

”Wait, where are the bedrooms?! ”| Edgar called out, but none of them heard him.

Well, that was just marvelous.

With a sigh, Edgar lifted the still unconscious boy and walked up to a staircase. He climbed it, hoping to find some sort of room in the upper levels. He walked through the hallway until he came across an unlocked door, and opened it.

Finally, hed found a bedroom.

He laid the boy on the bed and stared at him. What should he do now?

The cinnamon brown shirt the boy wore was speckled with blood, so Edgar thought it would be prudent to rid him of it. Gently, he unbuttoned the shit and dragged it off the boys slender frame. Then, he dragged a duvet over his shivering body, tucking the edges around him for maximum warmth.

Edgar thought of joining his brother and cousin to look for the creatures but Nathans shivers made him stop. Even with the duvet, he was cold.

Edgar placed his hands on the boys chest, hoping that his werewolf warmth would help the boy. He tamped down the awkwardness he felt and observed the boy.

His brunette hair was tousled. He had a fair skin tone under all that soot, not too pale but more sandy. He had a clear, unblemished forehead that wasn too large or too small that sloped into a shapely, narrow nose. His eyebrows were perfectly arched, slanting gracefully above his eyes. The long, curling eyelashes kissed his cheeks, hiding the color of his eyes

And finally, his pouty lips were a shade of raspberry that shocked Edgar, even covered in the dark soot.

They were so vibrant, so full. Like the fruit themselves.

He stared at the boy, waiting for him to wake up.

***

The library was stacked with wrought iron racking that was nailed to the caving circular walls. A million or so books filled the racks, dizzying at the first sight. Paul couldn help but gape in wonder. There were so many paperbound leatherbacks about many a subject, and the sigh coupled with the familiar musky smell made his miss his own library at home. Seeing books after so many events of distress was peaceful. The library hear was many time larger than their library in the Birdwell mansion or even the library in the boarding school he and Edgar attended.

Thinking about his home and school made him melancholic for the days of the past. He longed to return to them, where his family were still alive and he didn have to worry about warlocks or vampires. His heard squeezed in his chest at the reminder of their ultimate purpose here.

But oh, what won he give to escape to those days where he would be reading his favorite books with Edgar as their darling little sister drew the hundredth family drawing, and their mother sat in front of the fire with her handmade biscuits with the evening tea, making conversation with their father about anything and everything…

”Book lover? ” Aradia asked, breaking him from his nostalgic stupor.

Paul shuddered back to reality, looking around to see if she was talking to him.

Elliot had also wandered into the library, and was now flipping through a rather thick book. Aradia was staring at him, awaiting his answer.

He nodded at her, ”Extremely so, ” He replied.

She smiled at that, her lips curving like a crescent moon on her flawless face, ”The look on your face says it all. ”

Before Paul could reply, Elliott spoke, holding up a green leather bound book. ”How to be a better Gardener, ” He read the title of the book with a snort. ”I hope you don mind, Aradia because I am definitely taking this to Elliana. ”

Aradia didn seem to hear Elliott for her eyes fixed on Paul. From the moment she saw him, she knew he was a Birdwell for the Birdwells were old friends of hers. His toned muscles, his blue eyes coupled with his brownish black hair; all his features resembled Lord Birdwell for whom Aradia had a strong compassion.

”I should ask, why are we here? ” Paul asked Aradia, his eyes moving from one shelf to another.

”To find Creatures of Dark magic, ” Aradia said, ”That book will hopefully give us answers regarding those two wild birds. ”

”Well, where is it then? ” Paul inquired, pulling out a copy of Parmenides Prince of Macedonia from the shelf next to him.

”But its been ages since I last touched that book, ” Aradia replied, her eyes scanning the shelves. ”And it will take some real work to find it among all of these. ”

”My lady, you don have to worry about that, ” Elliott stated, stepping towards Aradia. ”Give me your hand and think of that book. ”

”Think what about it? ” Aradia questioned.

Elliott took her hand, the book he got for Elliana gripped in his other hand. ”Your memories with that book. What you remember reading in it? ”

Aradia closed her eyes and thought of the first time Merlin gave her the book to read. She was so young and obsessed with reading and learning new things. She remembered showing the breathtaking illustrations to baby Nathan as she studied, musing about them.

Suddenly Elliotts eyes turned gold as a golden path showed him the way to the book. He let go of Aradias hand and turned to follow the golden path which surely lead to the book.

***

When the boy finally opened his eyes with a gasp, Edgar was shocked to see the deep emerald color in the irises. Getting to his feet from where he was sitting, he quickly took his hand off the boys chest and stood at a safe distance away, just in case.

Those gem-like irises focused on Edgar.

”Wolf-man? ” He mumbled in a weak voice.

”I-I suppose I am, ” Edgar remarked, ”But my name is Edgar. ”

The boy, Nathan, let his eyes roam on Edgar. Then, with a wince, he sat up on the bed. The duvet fell from his chest to his lap.

Nathan glanced at his naked torso. A single eyebrow raised as he directed his eyes on Edgar.

Edgar felt himself flush from head to toe.

There was blood. On your shirt, ” He replied, ”I thought it would be prudent to take it off. Considering that the bedclothes are white, and it will be really hard to wash off the blood stains. I mean, my mother use to hate it when we got blood on the clothes, especially in winter times. The coldness in water made it really hard to wash it off… ” he let the words hang, knowing that he was jabbering.

The realization only made him flush again. By the Goddess why was he like this?

”I…see, ” Nathan drawled, ”Thank you for being so considerate…about the bed clothes. ”

”You
e welcome? ” Edgar squeaked, and then more deeply, ”I mean, of course. ”

”If its not too much trouble, may I know where Aradia is? ”

”Aradia? Whos-oh, right, the pink lady, ” Edgar realized, ”She left the hall with my brother and cousin to somewhere. Should I call for her? ”

Just then the door opened, and almost coincidentally, Aradia herself appeared in a flurry of pink skirts. With a gasp she rushed towards Nathan and took his face in her hands.

”Nathan, ” relief was evident in her voice as spoke. ”Are you well? I was so very worried when you appeared like that. Goodness, little brother! You
e covered from head to toe in soot! ”

Nathan wrapped his fingers around hers with a smile.

”I am well enough, Aradia, ” He replied, ”Sore, but well, thats a given. Did you find out about the birds? ”

”Yes. They are called Hayaeta, ” Aradia said. ”Servants of dark magic. ”

”Why on earth were they after you? ” Elliott asked Nathan.

But before he could answer, Paul interjected.

”Whats none of our business, ” He said, giving Elliot a look. ”We are here for Merlin. Where is he? ”

Nathan gave a frustrated sigh. ”They killed him. ”

The werewolves gave out a cry of surprise at that.

Merlin was dead?!

”Who?! ” Aradia asked, her heart beating so loud she was afraid everyone around could hear.

Nathan sneered.

”Blood drinkers. ”

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