The Clock Tower Guardian Chapter 10
A smooth smile spread across his face and there was an unhealthy gleam in his eye that scared me. He had dark brown hair and light skin that gave him a rather common appearance, but those violet eyes and the aura around him belied that first impression. He looked just like a human and he was dressed like one of them, in “jeans” and a black “t-shirt”, as my Master had told me they were called.
I swallowed hard, trying desperately to not show my fear. Next to me, Aaron had gone completely still.
“Hello, children,” the Guardian purred.
I suppressed a shudder at the silky smooth voice. It reminded me of a snake, rattling it’s tail.
“Who are you?” demanded Aaron.
I was glad he had asked because my voice seemed to have fled from me. The silky smile never left the creature’s face as he turned his gaze from me to Aaron.
“Who am I?” he repeated with a hair raising chuckle. “Why, dear boy, I am Lotan Wenon, Guardian of the Western Gate.”
“I’m not a boy,” said the MAGI stiffly. “ I am MAGI Aaron Baerandor, agent of NORTH.”
“Oh, big man I see,” said Lotan, voice mocking and smirk clearing saying what he thought of those credentials. “Well do forgive me, sir MAGI. I had no idea they were letting such pups have the title nowadays.”
He turned his gaze back to me before Aaron could reply and those eyes locked on mine. I couldn’t move.
“And who might this pretty little girl be?”
The Guardian reached forward, took my hand, and kissed it, his eyes never leaving mine. I was rooted to the spot with horror. I wanted nothing more than to rip my hand away and run from this creature, but pinned by that gaze I couldn’t move a muscle. The next moment, Aaron had pulled me back, forcing Lotan to let go, and stepped between us. The MAGI used his great stature to his advantage and towered over the Guardian with a menacing air, but Lotan didn’t seem to notice. He smiled blithely up at Aaron.
“Such a touchy child. Are you trying to make some sort of claim? Hmmm? Oh, but I don’t think it’s really yours to make, now is it?”
Lotan patted Aaron’s arm in mock sympathy as he kept talking.
“That’s alright though boy. I’ve no time for the two of you anyway.”
He looked around Aaron and gave me a grin that sent another shudder up my spine. It was carnal and dangerous and held promises of what he’d like to do. Then, quick as a flash, he moved around Aaron and slipped past me into the House.
I saw Cahir close with a shudder as I started breathing again. Reaching out, I petted the Door comfortingly.
“I don’t like that Guardian,” said Cahir in a small voice.
“I know,” I breathed quietly. “I don’t either.”
Then I looked over at the MAGI.
“And what was that?”
“What was what?”
“Stepping in like that a moment ago.”
“Would you rather I had left you alone? I should think you’d be thanking me instead of questioning me.”
He crossed his arms, clearly uncomfortable and I chose not to reply. Instead, I braced myself and opened Cahir quietly, sneaking into the House. Terrified of Lotan as I was, I needed to know why he was here. Plus, I didn’t feel safe just letting him go into the House by himself. He could wander anywhere. Best to keep the danger where I could see it.
Aaron followed, closing the Door silently as I peeked into the parlor. Prothos, Fenor, and Lotan were all standing around the table. Prothos and Fenor looked as though they had just jumped up, their chairs pushed back behind them and their postures tense. Lotan stood completely at ease, his back to me.
“Well, well, no need to stand on my account, gentlemen,” said the Western Guardian, sauntering forward and taking a seat.
Prothos and Fenor glanced at each other before slowly retaking their seats, watching the newcomer warily. The MAGI and my Master kept looking at each other as well, like they were having a silent discussion about who should deal with the new Guardian.
“What are you doing here, Lotan?” asked my Master finally.
Apparently they had decided it was Guardian business.
“Why, I came to meet this new apprentice of yours since everyone else is,” replied Lotan with a grin that was meant to be pleasant.
I swallowed hard. He was here to see me? That was the last thing I wanted.
“No one will tell me anything about him!” continued the Guardian, faking a hurt expression. “So, where is he Fenor? I’ve heard good things.”
He winked. My Master blinked once and replied evenly.
“He’s out for the day.”
Wait, what? He? And “was out for the day”? Then it dawned on me. Of course. My Master was the one who had warned me about Lotan in the first place. He knew how dangerous the Western Guardian was. Fenor was protecting me.
Lotan drew an exaggerated sad face and gave a long, drawn out sigh.
“Oh dear! And I came all this way just to meet him! Oh that is so disappointing.”
Lotan relaxed over the table, leaning toward Fenor, that unpleasant smile coming to his face again.
“But since I’m here, do tell me, who was that pretty little thing outside?”
My heart stopped. Oh no. Not me. I closed my eyes and prayed my Master would quell whatever horrible thoughts the other Guardian had about me.
“No one for you to concern yourself with,” said Fenor, voice dark and warning.
Lotan sat up abruptly, grinning as though he’d hit on some big secret.
“Oh-ho! Touch a nerve, did I?”
He chuckled and the sound sent shivers up my spine. I swallowed hard, forcing myself to keep breathing and stay quiet.
“Don’t tell me she’s another one of yours,” the Western Guardian continued with a wicked little wink. “I thought you liked them a bit older than that.”
My Master sat stiffly and Prothos remained as impassive as the bolder he had put me in mind of when I had first seen him. Lotan looked back and forth between the two, laughing unpleasantly again as his gaze landed once more on Fenor.
“Ah, so I’ll have some competition then, will I?”
Another chuckle that sent shivers through me echoed in the parlor. This creature, this Guardian, had me terrified and sick to my stomach. I knew perfectly well what he was implying.
“If you have no other business here but a social call,” said Prothos, cutting in evenly. “Perhaps it should wait till another time. We were in the middle of something rather more important.”
Lotan drew himself up, face mock serious.
“Oh! Well do excuse me, sir MAGI. I certainly didn’t realized I was interrupting something important. Perhaps I should be going after all. That is... if my dear friend here wants me to.”
His face fell abruptly into a animalistic scowl as he grabbed the table and he snarled at Prothos, reminding me of a tiger.
“Stay out of Guardian business you little prune!”
Prothos sat up a bit straighter and drew in a breath to retort. Before either could say more, Fenor held up a hand to each of them.
“Hold, now,” he said calmly. “There’s no need to be fighting. Lotan, another time would be better. I’m helping the MAGI with an investigation and now isn’t the best time for a social call. So, another day perhaps?”
Lotan sat back with a smirk on his face, eyeing Prothos across the table. The fighting tiger was gone as quickly as it had appeared and he seemed almost calm again. I shivered at the quick change. The Guardian looked over at my Master.
“Very well,” he said reasonably. “If that is the wish of the Master of the House, then I shall abide by that wish.”
He pushed back from the table abruptly and stood, giving Prothos a small, mocking bow. Fenor stood as well and I grabbed Aaron’s hand, dragging him downstairs after me so neither of the Guardians would see us. More specifically I didn’t want to come face to face with Lotan again. I paused a few steps down and listened as Fenor escorted his fellow Guardian out the door.
When I turned to look at Aaron again, I found him staring at the library. Despite my fear of the general situation, I couldn’t help but grin. My face must have had a similar expression when I’d first seen it. He glanced over at me when I chuckled.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said quietly, voice almost bouncing with enthusiasm.
“I know,” I said with a widening grin. “Pretty incredible, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” he said, nodding slowly as he looked around.
I let him look for a moment longer before I sighed.
“We should probably go back up.”
I looked up at the mountain of a MAGI.
“Um... nothing. Nevermind.” He shook his head. “Let’s go back up.”
With a shrug, I led the way back upstairs and came face to face with Fenor. He stood at the top of the stairs, arms crossed and an eyebrow raised at me.
“What’s that have to do with anything?’
“Oh I thought we were just stating facts,” I said, coming the rest of the way up the stairs.
I moved past Fenor and Prothos to look out the window in the parlor, checking to see that Lotan had actually left. Seeing no sign left of him, I turned away from the window, relieved, to find that all three males were staring at me.
“That creature seemed to have taken quite a liking to you,” rumbled Prothos darkly.
“Indeed he did,” mused Fenor, watching me thoughtfully.
Suddenly my Master took a deep breath and turned a smile on Prothos and Aaron.
“Well, I think it’s been sufficiently long enough now. I’m sure we had nothing further to discuss.”
“Are you trying to kick us out?” asked the older MAGI, frowning at Fenor.
The Cambion drew in a deep breath, held it as he looked thoughtfully away, and then abruptly he turned back to Prothos.
“Yes. Yes, I am. Please take the hint so I don’t have to be more forceful.”
The Dwarf’s frown darkened as he let out a low growl, but he motioned for Aaron to follow him as he headed to the Door.
“Fine. Come along, Aaron.”
Aaron came the rest of the way up the stairs, throwing me a worried look, and followed after his overseer. Prothos paused on the porch, turning back to shake a finger at Fenor.
“Mark me, Guardian, I know perfectly well that you’re hiding something from me and I will find out just what it is.”
Fenor waved dismissively at the MAGI as he closed the Door.
“Yes, yes. Safe trip now.”
Then Cahir closed and Fenor whirled on me.
My eyes widened at the serious, almost urgent, expression on his face.
“Yes, you. What did you do?”
“Do?” I repeated, confused. “I didn’t do anything. What are you talking about?”
My Master grabbed my upper arms, shaking me just a bit.
“Lotan. What did you do to get his attention, girl? Tell me!”
“I-I don’t know,” I said, the fear from earlier coming back. “I didn’t do anything. We didn’t even speak. Well, he talked but I didn’t say anything. Aaron cut in.”
Fenor released me as he began pacing in circles, waving his arms dangerously as he began ranting.
“Stupid, useless MAGI! He cut in? He cut in?! What did he think he was doing? Protecting you? Bull! He was challenging him! Undermining him! At least that’s how Lotan will see it. He issued a challenge and that maniac is going to respond! Damn him! Damn all the MAGI! I could take whatever Lotan dishes out, but of course that stupid MAGI just couldn’t let things be easy, could he? No! He had to go butting into Guardian business where he had no right to be! Of all the bad moves he could have made, that one probably takes the cake! Ugh! What am I going to do now? This is bad.”
As I listened to Fenor rant, it slowly became apparent to me the situation I was in. It didn’t matter that I had said nothing to Lotan. He wasn’t just going to forget about me and move on because in his demented mind, Aaron had challenged him. Which would have probably been fine in the long run and not made a difference, but combined with the subtle claim that Fenor had made on me by warning Lotan off, in the Western Guardian’s mind, I was now a prize because I’d had two different males make some sort of claim.
Neither could really be blamed because they were both trying to help. That’s why Fenor had gone along with Lotan’s assumption that his apprentice was male. He was trying to protect me. Adding a subtle claim that I wasn’t to be messed with would probably have helped. Most likely it would have gotten Lotan to back off because Fenor was his fellow Guardian, but Aaron had already beat Fenor to the claim. The whole thing was balancing on a knife blade to begin with but with Aaron stepping in, it had shifted the balance and we’d fallen. Now it looked like I was doubly wanted and that would only make Lotan want to accept the challenge twice as much.
I swallowed hard, fear a solid knot in my stomach. Bad? Try horrifying. Without any effort on my part, the MAGI and Guardian had made a lunatic take notice of me.
Fenor had let his hands fall to his sides and stopped pacing to look out the window.
“Master?” I said in a small voice.
“We’re in trouble now, girl.”
He sighed heavily and turned back to me. Meeting my gaze, he gave me a small smile. He walked toward me and putting an arm around my shoulders to lead me to the kitchen where he sat me down. I watched as he began making a fresh pot of coffee, but I didn’t say anything as it brewed, or when he poured two mugs of it, or even when he set one of those in front of me and sat down.
Carefully, I sipped the hot liquid as I watched my Master over the top of the mug. He was lost in thought. After several minutes of silence, I had to ask.
“What happens now?”
That seemed to jog Fenor out of his thoughts and he looked up at me, blinking.
“What happens now?” I repeated. “Lotan won’t just let it go, will he? He’s going to come back.”
“Yes, he will come back. There’s no way he’ll let it go at this point. So, now?” my Master said slowly. “Now, we get serious about your training.”
A/N: Ah! And he finally gets serous now that there's danger. Lol. :)