Demon Kingdom, McNamara Castle
COMMANDER LEON McKNIGHT MADE HIS way along the gigantic hallway, his steps quick and his polished boots clattering loudly against the marble floor. He turned to his right, then his left, and then left again before he came to a stop in front of a massive mahogany double door. He took a deep breath, lifted his hand, and knocked in a rhythm of three.
“Enter!” a voice boomed from inside the room.
He hastily opened the door and entered the conference room. He bowed slightly once he saw the king—not sitting in his large golden chair, but standing with his hands clasped behind him, his head tilted to one side, and his eyes gazing out at the clear, sparkling blue sea in the horizon. Bright sunlight shone on his aquiline features, silhouetting his form in a mysterious shadow.
Drake Oswald McNamara, the formidable, powerful demon king turned his attention to his trusted friend and distant relative, Leon McKnight, commander of the general army. “What news have you, Leon?”
“The ghost birds, Drake,” the soldier began. “They smelled Lucifer’s scent somewhere deep in the Siren Sea of Death.”
“Is he coming home?” a soft female voice that belonged to Lady Vera McNamara whispered.
Leon turned his attention to the beauty standing beside the king. Dressed in a flowing empire gown of a sea-blue color with gold trimming, her blond tresses styled into ringlets about her head, and the beautiful sapphire earrings and necklace that complimented her blue eyes, she looked enchanting. He stared at her, lost for a moment in her beauty. Then he remembered his place and said to her, “I’m not sure, my lady.”
“What else did the ghost birds say they saw?” a male voice that belonged to Lord Adam McNamara, Vera’s beloved husband and the king’s cousin, snapped.
Leon turned as he addressed Adam and said, “They thought they had seen lights.”
“In the middle of the sea?” Adam questioned gruffly.
“I believe we have unwanted guests,” Drake said chillingly soft.
“They have kidnapped my son and dare to even step foot on our land?” Adam growled, slapping his palms on the table.
The fact was Adam was very angry with himself and the incompetency of the Meridianus warriors. If only they hadn’t ventured to Meridianus Kingdom. If only Lucifer hadn’t wanted to celebrate the Summer Rising with his maternal grandparents, the Hemsworth, whom Adam still couldn’t get along with despite Vera’s effort. If only Vera hadn’t encourage the idea. If only he had said no to his wife’s begging to visit her homeland. If only Lucifer hadn’t venture so far off with those other Meridianus boys, then he wouldn’t have been kidnapped. The thought of those lawless Meridianus thieves who dared to kidnap his son sent Adam’s temper soaring. He growled loudly and sent his mighty fist down on the table again.
“They won’t hurt him, will they?” Vera asked, eyeing her husband.
“Lucifer can look after himself,” Drake said. “He is a demon after all.”
“I could not bear it if he is hurt,” Vera sobbed, throwing herself into her husband’s arms.
The moment he saw his wife’s tears, Adam forgot about his own temper. He hugged her tight and patted her slender shoulder to comfort her. “Lucifer is a brave demon. He will be all right,” he said softly. Then with a dark scowl, he turned to the demon with long blond hair and pale blue eyes, sitting behind the large table that separated them. “Well, Julius, use your damn globe to find Lucifer.”
Julius Falkland, the king’s adviser, glanced at Adam McNamara and said, “You cannot force the vision, Adam. It will allow us to see if Lady Fate wants us to see.”
“But surely, Julius, Lucifer is in trouble. My son, your student, is in danger,” Vera said, fresh tears threatening to spill out of her eyes.
Julius said, “I will have to use a lot of power to force the vision.” He stood up then and turned toward the door. “I will fetch the globe first, and Drake?” He glanced at the king. “I will need your superior power to help, sire.”
Drake nodded, and Julius left.
“Don’t just stand there, Leon. Come and tell us what else the ghost birds saw,” Adam growled.
The soldier nodded and took a few steps toward the table. At that moment, the door crashed open. Gerick McNamara stood there, hands on hips, as he surveyed the room at large with interest.
“What’s this? A conference without me?” he said.
Adam ignored the question from his younger brother and snapped, “Well? Any trace of the Meridianus bastards?”
Gerick frowned for a moment and then said, “My warriors and I have traced from the south to the north of the Meridianus Kingdoms using our flying steeds. The hounds smelled Lucifer’s scent. We followed it, and here we are.” He turned his attention to his cousin, the king. “Drake?”
“Gerick,” Drake said, a dark scowl on his face. “They have just arrived in our land.”
“They set foot on our land?” Gerick shouted, his brows rising dangerously. “Surely, they are not that stupid,” he said more calmly, walking into the room.
“What do you expect? They are human after all,” Adam said, helping his wife into a chair. Vera gave her husband a slight smile and murmured to him a thank you.
“Ah, Leon,” Gerick said, slapping the demon’s shoulder. “So you are the one to bear the news?”
“The ghost birds spied them in the night past,” the soldier said. “They reported back this morn.”
“I can’t wait to slice those humans’ guts with my sword,” Gerick said with one hand gripping the hilt of his weapon
“Gerick!” Adam snapped. “You will not talk of such in front of my wife.”
The gorgeously handsome demon thinned his lips and shrugged his broad shoulders. “Sorry, Vera,” he said. “Where’s Julius?”
“Getting his crystal globe,” Adam supplied, taking a chair beside his wife.
“Are we sight-seeing again?” Gerick asked, glancing heavenward.
“Are you trying to say my globe doesn’t work, Gerick?” Julius said from the door.
“Not at all, Lord Wise Wizard.” Gerick shrugged his shoulders.
Julius narrowed his eyes at Gerick. He walked into the room and placed the globe in the middle of the table. “Drake, I need your help.”
“Aye,” Drake said, making his way toward them.
Everyone circled the table. Drake placed both his hands on the crystal ball. Julius did the same. They both closed their eyes and summoned their inner demon power to the surface. Instantly, the clear ball turned cloudy with smoke and waves of blue-green color.
“I see him,” Julius said, his voice thick. “It’s so cold. The water is so deep. Lucifer is alone.”
“My poor Lucifer,” Vera cried, leaning against her husband for support.
“The storm is brewing, strong and evil,” Julius continued.
“Is Lucifer all right?” Vera whispered, turning her teary eyes from the misty magic globe to look at Julius. She saw that his forehead was starting to sweat, his face scrunched in concentration.
“Hush, love, Julius is working,” Adam said.
“Wait, I’m growing warm. I’m not cold anymore,” Julius said, frowning as though he were confused.
“Lucifer is all right,” Vera asked.
“Whoa, it worked?” Gerick said, raising his brows.
“I can feel his happiness. Nay, he is sad again. No wait. ’Tis a different color, a different warmth.”
“For God’s sake, Julius, make up your mind,” Gerick snapped.
“Perhaps Julius is seeing more than just Lucifer,” Leon suggested.
“That is possible,” Adam said.
“So is Lucifer all right?” Vera asked again.
“I don’t know. I…” Julius frowned for a moment. “Wait, I can distinguish the difference now. Lucifer, I feel him. I see him. He is in a small vessel. They have passed the Siren Sea of Death and are on their way to the Deadly Hollow Cave by the beach of our land.”
“They’ve arrived,” Vera said, her voice sounding oddly hoarse in her own ears.
Julius opened his eyes and released his hand from the globe. “Now we know they are here and Lucifer is with them.” He turned to Vera. “Don’t worry. We’ll save Lucifer from those human bastards.” He nodded and turned to look at his friend. “Drake?”
“Why is Drake still holding on to the crystal ball?” Gerick asked, looking at his cousin, wide-eyed.
“Drake?” Vera touched Drake’s arm.
Drake’s eyes were closed and his face was a composed mask. In his mind’s eyes, he saw the coldness of the sea, the whirling of ice-blue water rushing about him. The stormy wind gusted around him as he stood his ground. Then he was flying. He was in the air. He could feel the fresh, cold air fluttering against his skin. He looked down, and below him he saw a vessel. He felt himself descending toward the ship, and then his body went through ceilings and floors. Down below in the vessel was a prison. There he saw two figures lying side by side. He recognized Lucifer. The other boy wrapped his arms around Lucifer as a mother would to keep her child safe and warm. He saw the youth looked up at him, his soft-brown eyes begging him, and his delicate hand reaching out to him.
Drake felt a sudden coldness settling in his heart. A feeling he had never felt before. He opened his eyes and removed his hands from the globe. He looked around and saw his comrades watching him.
“What did you see?” Julius asked. “What happened?”
“I saw Lucifer,” he said. “They are coming up to the beach as we speak.”
“Then let’s go rip their limbs apart,” Gerick said, heading toward the door.
“Stop!” Drake shouted. “Don’t be such a hothead.”
“Well, we can’t just sit here and wait for them to come through the castle door,” Gerick snapped.
“Gerick, I won’t have your temper killing my son,” Adam said firmly. “What is it, Drake?”
“We will surprise them. I think they have more than ransom on their mind,” Drake said, narrowing his eyes.
“You don’t mean…?” Gerick looked at his cousin in disbelief.
“The Pearl of Life!” Julius said, his eyes wide.
“The gall of them,” Leon said with his hands fisted.
“It has been ten years since anyone has reached this far,” Drake said. “Come, we leave now.” He turned and led the way out of the study.
* * * * *