Haven Shorts – Chapter 13 – Episode 18 – A Stranger Magic
Chapter 13 – Episode 18
Xavier Ward stood in the shadows behind the tall maple tree, as he had for the past several nights, his intense gaze fixed on a single window of the Dalcome home. The window that belonged to the boy they called Samuel Dalcome.
Xavier had been able to remain unseen by the Dalcome family by hiding in the shadows and staying out of sight. From all except for the Dalcome boy, that is. Samuel had seen Xavier the night before last; they had stared into one another’s eyes before Xavier had evaporated, which in hindsight had been a mistake. It was a mistake because the boy was unaware of his parents’ true past, and was therefore unaware of magic. Evaporating in front of the boy’s eyes would not be something Sam would soon forget.
Xavier was on a stealth mission. His orders were to observe and not interfere, unless it was absolutely necessary. If the Viper was truly here on Earth then there would be no choice but to intervene.
The Dalcomes are not even supposed to be alive, Xavier mused. They were all supposed to have died in the Great War thirteen years ago. But they hadn’t; somehow Alisa had escaped with her children. The Majesty had covered up their disappearance by sending them to Earth through one of the three portals known to exist on Haven. Portals that were said to have been destroyed ages ago.
Xavier removed a small chocolate from a white wrapper and popped it into his mouth. He let the wrapper fall to the ground and placed his hand back on the glass pommel of his staff. His staff, Ian, which he had named after his only son, began to vibrate beneath his palm, warning Xavier that he was not alone.
“Sneaking up on a Keeper, young lady, is never wise,” he said, still chewing the piece of chocolate. Xavier’s voice was gruff with a thick Irish accent. He was a tall man with sweeping broad shoulders and thin legs. He held firmly on to Ian, his hand remaining on the pommel. The staff was twisted like an old tree branch with a glass sphere at its hilt.
“Can you still call yourself a Keeper dressed like that, Xavier?” a woman said. He could tell by the tone of her voice she found this amusing. Xavier, on the other hand, did not. Wearing the long, ridiculous coat was uncomfortable and hot. But he needed it to blend in if he was going to move around in the daytime, although people seemed to stare at him regardless. Probably it was because he was wearing a coat in this god-awful heat. At first he thought it was expectable attire, since the man he stole it from had been wearing it. But that person had also been going through discarded items on the side of the road. Looking back now, it was obvious that this human had not been the best example for Earthling attire. It had been too long since Xavier studied the history and habits of Earth.
“I call this blending in,” he replied.
“Really, that’s what you’re calling it, huh?”
“It was last minute,” he replied sharply.
“You know, you might just be getting too old, Xavier. There is no harm in admitting that,” she said teasingly.
“Really, and why is that, may I ask?” The frustration in his voice was starting to show now.
“I’ve been standing here for some time, watching you as you watched him. You know, you have a serious sweet tooth.”
Xavier turned around for the first time since arriving at the Dalcomes to see Holly standing several feet away, camouflaged amongst the trees and shrubs of the yard.
“I’m not old, dear, just experienced. I don’t go wetting my pants every time I hear something go bump in the night. But it’s nice of you to finally join us.” Xavier said.
Holly emerged from the darkness. She was wearing the standard Keeper scout attire. It was a plum-colored cloak with a hood that masked her face in shadow. Under it was a black bodysuit beneath her gunmetal gray armor that was fitted in sections covering her chest, shoulders, forearms, and thighs. Tall black boots ran up her slender calves to her knees. Her staff was made of dragon bone, reddish-purple in color, with a pommel made from a silver talon grasping a purple octagon-shaped gem.
Holly smiled as she approached; it was the only facial feature visible beneath the hood.
“So, any sign?” she asked stopping next to Xavier.
“No, not of the Viper.”
“What of Alisa and the children?”
“Home, safe, at least for now,” he said. Holly noticed the concern in his voice.
Xavier continued, “I followed Alisa for most of the day, and she was in no danger. Gordon followed the young girl. She, too is safe. He had some difficulty staying with her on the way to school because he, too, is dressed in a coat. Evaporating is difficult, since we are unfamiliar with the terrain. The truth of the matter is we’re spread too thin. We don’t blend in well so we have to keep our distance. We are not prepared for this; things are getting missed. The boy wandered off on his own today, but thankfully he made it back unharmed.”
“Well, that’s why I’m here, Xavier, and I’m sure there are more reinforcements on the way,” Holly said, trying her best to reassure him, but she didn’t think it was working. Xavier was no fool. He knew the odds of survival should a Viper actually show up, and they weren’t good. They would need at least five Keepers, maybe four if they were all really experienced, to survive. It had probably been too long since Alisa had held a staff or Called an element for her to be of much help.
“Well, it looks like we’re all here for the same reason—to protect our friends we thought were dead, and to settle an old score,” Xavier said.
Old score, Holly thought. He got that right. Vipers were said to have been responsible for killing one of Haven’s greatest leaders, and one of Holly’s dearest friends, Rylan Dalcome. All Holly knew now was that she was overjoyed that Alisa and her children had survived, and that they had not been hunted down by Vipers all those years ago. Her best friend was alive. She was really alive!
“Where is Gordon now?” Holly asked.
“I sent him back to the Portal when you arrived to keep an eye on things there until we need him come sunrise.”
“So, you really did know I was here,” she said with a smirk.
“I’m old, Miss Holly, not blind.”
Holly looked over at Xavier. She could just make out the fine gray whiskers on his cheeks and chin in the moonlight. His long, unruly gray hair hung in his eyes. The muscles in his strong jaw flexed as he chewed on his chocolate. The man never went anywhere without a piece of Becker’s Famous Chocolates in his mouth. She looked on in admiration. He was a good Keeper. He was a little rough around the edges, but he was trustworthy, and good in a fight. He reminded her of her mentor, Demetrius.
“Aw, you’re not that old, Xavier,” she said, nudging him in the side.
“And you’re a bad liar. Some things never change. If I recall correctly, you and Alisa got into a bit of trouble for lying at the Academy,” Xavier continued.
“That’s because she was a bad liar.”
“I see,” he said, now smiling.
“I still can’t believe they’re alive after all these years,” she said, her voice somber now.
“Well, no one really knows what happened that day in the Great War—the day Rylan died. Even if the Majesty lied to us for all these years about his family, they did it for the right reason.”
“Did they?” Holly wasn’t so sure about that.
“Yes. If they hadn’t lied Alisa and the two children would be dead as well. Knowing what we know now there was no other choice. They would have been hunted like animals. The children are their legacy, and Alisa was just as much of a hero and a leader as Rylan was. Back then they were a threat to several factions, not just to the enemies we fought in the Great War. The Dalcomes were destined for greatness—a king and queen of a new era that would never come to pass. Their enemies were vast, and some were within our own ranks.”
That much was true, Holly thought. But still, they had been her best friends. If Alisa was going to leave, leave forever, how could she not have told her? Holly had lived with the horror that her best friend and her best friend’s children had been killed by Vipers, the most unnatural, malevolent creatures alive.
“She has been hiding for so long, Xavier, she may not even know who she is anymore. Everything Alisa was she left behind on Haven.”
“Yes, and she did it all for her children, to keep them safe. But now things have changed. They are no longer safe here.”
“Alisa should know. She should know the danger she and the children are in.”
“No. We have our orders,” he said, looking over at Holly. “We are to secure the perimeter and wait for reinforcements. The objective is to not alarm the children or interfere with their lives if we can help it. The children would not understand the complexity of the situation. They know nothing of the world we come from.”
“They should. It’s their world too!” She exclaimed.
“Not any more, Holly,” he said calmly.
Holly turned away and looked at the Dalcomes’ home. So much had changed, yet here they were after all these years, still fighting a war that had never really ended. Alisa had run to protect her children, to save them from death’s door, but death had found them anyway.
“Look, until the Majesty sends reinforcements, we keep them safe. No harm will come to them on my watch,” Xavier, said, trying to reassure her.
“They’d better hurry. Three Keepers are no match for a Viper.”
Xavier gripped his staff. “For now I need you to guard the back of the home. The Dalcome boy is quite inquisitive.”
“Inquisitive?” she asked, looking back over at Xavier.
“Don’t ask,” he said, rolling his eyes.
Holly turned to stare at the old two-story structure the Dalcomes now called home. It was nothing like the home Rylan and Alisa had shared back on Haven. Their home had been beautiful, a tranquil oasis filled with lush gardens and an enchanting waterfall. But this place, this so-called home, seemed empty, more like a shelter or hideaway for someone who wanted to blend in and stay out of sight.
It made Holly feel empty and angry all at once. It was not right, it just felt wrong. This was not the way it was supposed to have been. This is not where they belong, she thought. The longing to see her childhood friend with her own two eyes was almost unbearable for Holly. She wanted to see Alisa smile and laugh as they used to. She wanted to see Alisa’s children, Sarah and Samuel, again. She wanted them to come back to Haven, their true home, so they could be in each other’s lives again. They were supposed to be friends forever. They had promised one another that, before the war that had taken it all away.
Holly gripped her staff and turned toward Xavier. She gave him one final look. But before she could say anything his cold gaze met hers.
“Not on my watch,” he said, his tone strong and confident.
It was all Holly needed to hear. She turned and faced the Dalcome house. She raised her staff, tapped it once on the ground, and evaporated.
Xavier stared into the purple haze left in Holly’s wake. They had a day at best, he thought, before the Viper found the Dalcomes. Then there would be no stopping it. If reinforcements did not come soon all would be lost, and death would not be cheated a second time.
Good news! We are ramping up for BOOK 2 in the Haven Series: Revenge of the Viper. So in celebration and to say thank you for all your support we are giving away Book 1 A Stranger Magic for FREE!
If you already have a copy, get a new one! Each version (PRINT and DIGITAL) have been reformatted. You will love the new look. Also when you buy the PRINT copy of Haven: A Stranger Magic at Amazon.com you still get the DIGITAL copy in a bundle package for FREE.
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