The Protector Chapters 1-6 | Teen Ink

The Protector Chapters 1-6

March 20, 2018
By LaDew2000, Kings Mountain, North Carolina
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LaDew2000, Kings Mountain, North Carolina
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Author's note:

This piece (the one I am actually posting on here) is the second version of an unfinished story I started my Junior year. I'm a senior now and have only gotten six chapters in haha. I hope that people who read this will enjoy it and want more from it so I can continue this story.

   Since the dawn of man, there have been events that cannot be explained. Events that involved beings seemingly from another world. These occurrences went on for thousands of years, coinciding with the lives of man. These otherworldly beings became known as The Creatures. As time went on, documentation of such beings were transcribed, becoming things of legend, myth, and folklore till this day. Long ago a group of early man sworn into secrecy, using tactics and methods that would combat those that were present in The Creatures.
   In 3200 B.C.E. Egypt, the men became known as The Protectors. During Octavian's rule of Rome in 27 B.C.E. the ancient Protectors and Creatures made a written truce that stated: As long as the Creatures stay out of sight of man, and do not interfere with their progression, they could live peacefully. But if the Creatures disobeyed, the Protectors would banish them from their plain of existence. Rarely was there incidents to which these Creatures broke their treaty, and so hundreds of years of peace were established.
   In the early 1700s, the Protectors spread their knowledge and reach to all six inhabited continents, all having one Protector who chose a protege to take over if the elder was killed or died. These Protectors took charge and established a network of connections between all Protectors so that they could keep contact between them. The world stayed peaceful between the Creatures and protectors, and into the present no harmful occurrence took place. That was, until now…

   Cherokee County, North Carolina, the most boring place in the world. This is especially the case when you’re an outcast like me. The new girl, the one who moves to the school their senior year and knows no one. No friends, not when all the girls at this dump place don’t like you. I guess down South they have a different way of accepting people into their cliques. Who knows. All I know is I don’t want to be here. I’d much rather be in Salem, where I grew up. Things were simpler then. Now it just seems like everything is so difficult. I don’t know. Ever since I moved here with Aunt Jane it just seems like everything has… changed within me. Maybe it’s just in my head, maybe it’s just the new school and the new people. Who knows.

   It was a cold October Monday and it started like any other day. I rode the bus to school, dealt with the same annoying people as usual, headed straight to my locker then on to first period. It didn’t seem any different than usual that morning, there was a slight breeze and I could see the trees swaying as I looked outside from my seat. I sat in the back of the class, no one sat in the same back row as I did so I was alone. I didn’t mind. I preferred it that way. I didn’t even realize that class had begun. Normally I was attentive and didn’t lose focus but today I lost my train of thought and my mind wandered off into space. I stared out the window and looked at the sky. But, as soon as I did, the sky darkened. Black clouds rolled in as if from nowhere and it was dark. It was then I was snapped out of whatever day dream I was in.
   “Ms. Richards, what in the world could possibly be drawing your attention away from my teaching?” Asked Mrs. Jones, my history teacher. The class laughed as she called me out. She was an older woman, originally from Maine. She’d been teaching for over 30 years and was on the edge of retirement.
   “Nothing, Mrs. Jones. Just thought I saw something.” I replied. Don’t get me wrong I admired the woman, but she often called me out to answer questions. I hated talking in front of people, and she knew that, but she tried to get me out of my comfort zone. That, and I was the only one in that class that actually cared and knew the subject matter.
   “Well, don’t let whatever it was distract you. Now, Ms. Richards, what year did the Salem Witch Trials occur? Shouldn’t be too hard for you since you hail from Salem.” She said.
   “1692. It was one of the largest events in which innocent people were tried and convicted of witchcraft.” I replied.
   “Excellent. Now, class, turn your books to Chapter-” She began, but she was interrupted. The principal motioned for her to come outside. It was odd because he never showed up down towards the history hall. Not with anything important at least. But as Mrs. Jones went out in the hall, I could see someone. He was probably 6’1”, looked a little muscular, and had some stubble. Probably forgot to shave this morning. He looked no older than eighteen, and he noticed me staring at him and smiled. I blushed and quickly looked down. I peaked up and noticed he began to blush a little too. Mrs. Jones came back in with the guy and introduced him.
   “Class, this is Mr. James Alexander. He’s transferring here from Knoxville and will be joining our class as well as your graduating class. Find a suitable seat ,Mr. Alexander.” He looked through the class for a seat. There were a few in  the front row, where the preppy and popular girls sat. They were eyeballing him, I thought for sure he would sit there. But he passed right by them. He walked all the way to the back and sat right next to me on the back row. I didn’t look over, I was too busy blushing. He glanced at me.
   “Hi,” He said. “I’m James, but you can call me Jim. What’s your name?” His voice was surprisingly deep, but not real deep. It was almost soothing. I nearly squealed out loud when he asked me for my name.
   “I’m Anne, Anne Richards.” I answered shakily, trying to calm my nerves.
   “Anne, that’s a real beautiful name. That accent, you’re from up North?” He asked.
   “Yeah, Massachusetts. Salem, actually.”
   “Salem? I’m originally from Salem! Small world, huh.” He said with a smile.
   “Yeah, I guess it is.” I said smiling, then chuckled a little. “I always thought I was alone, no one around that had the same background.”
   “Well, not anymore.” And with that said we were basically friends. Best friends at that. The next few weeks were the best that I had in a long time. We had all the same classes, shared the same lunch period, and always hung out together. We were inseparable. We spoke to each other about everything: what we missed about Salem, how we felt about the new school, about anything and everything. For the first time in forever I didn’t feel alone. He lived by himself, he said his parents owned an apartment here because his dad took business trips and had to stay here for extended amounts of time on end. I often stayed over, but not for too long. He was so kind, but something felt off. Something felt a little odd, like he wasn’t being completely honest with me. One day I asked him about it and he answered: “Anne, I wouldn’t lie to you. I have nothing to hide. All my secrets you know, you probably know more about me than I do myself. Trust me, I wouldn’t hide a thing from you. I don’t want to ruin a great friendship.”
   I believed him. How could I not? But he did act strange sometimes. He often would leave every other Saturday and would call midnight on Sunday and tell me he was back. I often ask where he went and everytime he would answer, “work”. That was uneasy for me. He never would tell me where he worked, but he always came back dirty, as if he was traveling through the woods. One day in the final days of November, he said he would be gone a little longer. We were on Thanksgiving break so he had to “work a little longer” and wouldn’t be back till the following Wednesday. My suspicions were high, and they shouldn’t have been but I was curious. He left my house after saying goodbye and traveled up the highway. I waited about ten minutes the followed him, I kept some distance and began to think to myself. “Am I really psycho? Or am I just overly paranoid?” I asked myself. There wasn’t anything sane about what I was doing, I was following some guy that I had befriended only a month ago and being a total creep. It wa strange, even for me. We were about thirty minutes from the town and I lost sight of his tail lights when I saw his truck parked on the side of the road. I moved over and hopped out of my car, I didn’t know if he had wrecked of if he was okay or worse. I peered through the window, he wasn’t there. There didn’t look to be any damage to the truck, and at that moment I saw a flash of light come from the woods. That must have been Jim, but why was he out in the middle of the woods so late? The thought crossed my mind that maybe he was dumping a dead body but I quickly dismissed the idea. I grabbed my flashlight from my car and headed up towards him. Maybe I could sneakily get near him and see what he was doing, then leave without him noticing.
   I was closer to the source of the light but he turned the flashlight off, so I did the same. I hunkered down near a fallen tree and looked at where he stood. He was just there, looking around. It was as if he could sense something, that he knew something was around. I suddenly got chills that ran throughout my body as I felt the presence of something. Jim felt it too, and we both looked towards an open part of the woods. There was a loud roar in the distance, couldn’t have been but a few yards away. Jim got defensive and lowered his stance. I sunk down lower onto the ground and noticed something: the tree had a handful of scratch marks on it. They were fresh too, only about a day old. The roar was louder now, as if whatever it was was moving closer. “What was it?” I thought to myself, and stared at both the distance where Jim was and the tree. These scratches were deep, obviously from something large. It was like no markings I had ever seen before. Then I saw it, and I knew Jim did too. It was huge, over seven feet tall with dark fur and apelike, almost human like features. It looked right down at Jim and began circling him, while he just stared at it. I wanted to scream but knew I couldn’t. I could only stare in horror and think what might happen next.

   Anne was a sweet girl. We have so much in common: both from Salem, we grew up in the same area, we had the same interests, she was honestly the best. It’s no wonder that we became such good friends instantly. That said, I can’t be completely honest with her. There are just some things that can’t be told and understood. I told her that there was nothing to hide from her, and there really isn’t. Hopefully neither one of us are put in the situation where I may have to tell her. But it doesn’t seem likely. My secret is horrible, awful, there would be no way that she would accept me as what I am. There’s no way that she would believe me if I told her. I wasn’t going to take the chance. The thought of her ran through my mind as I drove further to where I was needed. I had to figure out why all these 9-1-1 calls were happening, they were all related and were all coming from the same area. I put my worst fears aside as I contemplated on what could be causing these occurrences.
She was still on my mind. I couldn’t shake her off of it, even when I was preoccupied with the task at hand. These calls had been coming in for weeks and every time I had to leave Anne in town alone. We spent so much time together that it was hard to get this work done and to remember the real reason I had moved to Cherokee County. I always told her I had “work”. Yeah.. some “work” that this was. When you did it as long as I have it becomes more of a pain than work.
   But it was what I had to do. By the time I finished thinking about all this, thirty minutes passed and I was here. The same location that the calls were coming from, where it had been spotted. I parked on the side of the road and looked back to see if that car that had been following me was still there. When it didn’t show I hopped out and grabbed my light, as I walked I tried my best to not stur any animals or disturb any nature. That would definitely throw it off if I did. I walked around and didn’t hear a thing. No insects, no birds, nothing. It was if something scared them all off. I was in the right place alright. I stopped and tried to spot anything out of the ordinary when I felt like something, or someone, was behind me. That’s when I heard it. The roar was deafening, sending shivers down my spine. It had been some time since I heard that thing. The roar was getting closer and I could hear the thuds of it’s footsteps. The thing moved closer and there it was.
   “What are you up to this time, Knobby?” I asked. That thing was Bigfoot, the legendary manlike monster. Knobby was the name a few North Carolinians gave him in this region, I decided it was a funny nickname to call him. He stood almost at eight feet tall, yet he still looked as ugly as ever. “Heard a lot of calls about you. Why are you stirring so much trouble?”
   “What, can a guy not have any fun?” He said with a laugh.
   “First of all, you aren’t a ‘guy’. Second, you know you can’t have any fun you signed the treaty.” He was circling me at this point. Trying to be menacing, but I wasn’t falling for it.
   “You mean that treaty my ancestors signed signed so long ago? I don’t have to listen to that thing.”
   “Oh really? I say otherwise.” He was starting to piss me off at this point. I looked right as him as he stared into my eyes. He knew I wasn’t playing around this time.
   “Alright Jimmy,” He said. “I’ll leave the humans alone.” He sniffed the air, obviously caught the scent of something. “Right after I take care of her.”
   “Take care of her? What do you--” I stopped and looked in the same direction he was staring. There was some girl hiding behind a log! What the hell was she doing? “Knobby, no! She didn’t do anything she’s probably just lost.”
   “Doesn’t matter, she seen me and you. She knows too much. Besides, I missed my meal today.” He started towards her when I jumped in front of him. I couldn’t let this girl get hurt by him, not on my watch.
   “I swear to you you’ll regret this if you don’t stand down!” I yelled at him. At first he shook it off and started to move again when he glanced down again. He noticed I was serious, very serious this time. He knew how I would get if he didn’t back down.
   “Alright Jimmy. You win this time, but I’m telling you for the last time: if another human gets near me I’m taking them out.” He said with a stern voice and moved back into the shadows.
   “No you stay hidden and stay out of their way!” I yelled towards him. “And for the thousandth time don’t call me Jimmy!” I shook the whole thing off and remembered the girl. Oh my god the girl! I ran towards her and she was shaking, covering her face, “That perfume,” I thought. “It’s just like the kind I gave--” And then I saw her. It was Anne.
   “James?!” She exclaimed.
   “Anne, what are you doing here?” I asked.
   “I followed you, but only because I was worried about you. I thought you had been hiding something..” She stopped and started crying. It was almost hysterical, I wrapped my arms around her and tried calming her down.
   “Listen, it’s okay. Everything is okay he’s gone.”
   “What was that? You called it Knobby, was it really-”
   “Bigfoot,” I interrupted. “Yeah. It was him.”
   “He called you Jimmy. He knew you. How?” She asked. Now that was a harder question. I don’t know if I could answer it.
   “Let’s take a ride, I’ll explain it all.” I told her. We got into my truck and drove off. I called a tow truck for her car and said to drop it off at her house. The owner was a buddy of mine and knew somewhat of the situations I got myself into. We drove a little while as she calmed down. I held her hand as we drove to ease her more. When she seemed calm enough, I began to speak.         “Okay, this is kind of a long story. It’s probably going to be really confusing but I’m telling you the truth. Okay?” She nodded and I began to tell her my awful secret.
   “I realize now I haven’t been honest with you, at least not completely. And I should have been from the start. One of the many truths that I have told you is that I was born in Salem. I was born there on March 8, 1674. Technically, I’m three hundred and forty four years old.” I said.
   “How is that possible?” She asked, shaken.
   “Well, that’s complicated. My mother and father died in the summer of 1691, I was alone to take care of myself and my little sister, Sarah. We lived on the outskirts of Salem, we had a farm and I tended to it as my father did before me. We were aware of the Witch Trials of 1692, especially when all of our neighbors were being accused. I was worried Sarah would be as well, but she was too innocent for that. During the first few weeks of the trials, I had heard of some girl, I believed named Debrah Eathorn that had supposedly fell in love with me on one of the occasions that I had visited the town. She spread rumors that I was her husband and that I was going to be a father and this and that, almost like rumors today spread. I shut it  down quick. I told her that I wasn’t in love with her, that I would never be in love with an accuser. Her and her friends were the one of the main conspirators to put blame on little girls for witchcraft. She was enraged after I said this. She accused my sister of witchery. I defended her but it didn’t matter. They took her away and as I tried to fight to get her back I was locked away. She was tried for witchcraft, found guilty, and executed. She was only ten years old. That foul woman took my little Sarah away from me.
   “I was released two days after she was killed. I immediately sought to find that woman who took everything from me. I reached the forests of Salem where I found her. She was conjuring the dead, she was the witch after all! I tried to capture her but she paralysed me. I couldn’t move, her spell was cast. She mocked me as she moved around my frozen body. She decided ruining my mortal life wasn’t enough. As I pleaded for her to kill me so that I could see my Sarah again, she cursed me. Immortality. The worst pain anyone could endure. After the curse she disappeared. I couldn’t revert it, couldn’t cure this cure. I eventually exiled myself and found my way to Boston when I ran into a man. He was scruffy looking: old wardrobe on, thick grey beard. He saw me and knew who I was. He made me a deal. He somehow knew me and that I had been cursed, he offered me the chance to join something special. Something in which I could take this immortality and make it into something useful, but also granted me with powers I could only imagine. He made me into a sorcerer, wizard, mage, whatever title was preferred at the time. He passed onto me the duties he once had, he opened me up onto a brotherhood of secret warriors and saviors that had been on this earth for thousands of years. He passed onto me the duties of The Protectors.”

   “Wait, did you say ‘The Protectors’?” Anne asked me. Puzzled at her nonchalaunt reply I answered.
   “Yes, why do you ask?”
   “I’ve heard of ‘The Protectors’ before. I’ve read of legends and stories about them. I read books about them. Ancient Native American folklore. Things that were passed down for generations, stuff of legend. Nothing about that is real.”
   “Anne, listen to me. All of that is real. Everything that you read is real. Even the things you didn’t read. I’m being honest and truthful.” She looked at me as I said this. She believed me I could tell, but she was still in disbelief. “That thing you saw out there is real. As well as all other legends you’ve heard about.”
   “So dragons, Greek gods, giants and cyclops’, they’re real?” She asked.
   “Yes. All of them. Every legend and every myth, all hidden away. They stay in the shadows, almost like in their own realm. They stay out of human’s sights and lives. They signed a treaty thousands of years ago. They’re called Creatures. Every mystical being.” I said. I briefly explained the Protectors and Creatures’ history. All the wars, fought out of sight and out of mind, and all the deaths that occured.
   “That’s real heavy, James.” She said. We stopped for a little while and were on our way back to her house. “Tell me, now that I know does that mean you have to kill me?”
We stopped at her door. I thought for a moment.

   “Killing those who know a Protector’s secret doesn’t mean you kill them, especially if they’re mortal.” I reassured her. “But, it does kinda mean you’re involved in things now.”
   “What do you mean, ‘Involved in things now’? What am I involved with?” She asked surprised.
   “With The Protectors.” I told her goodnight and slept on her couch. I didn’t trust her by herself knowing a Creature knows about her. He didn’t necessarily know she was with me, but he had seen her face. I couldn’t risk it. I woke up the next morning and she was already up. We were still on break so she had woke up early and started doing things around her aunt's house. As I saw her move around, I noticed things in the house I never seen before. “I see all these pictures of different people, all of them with you, but none of them seem to be of your Aunt Jane.” I said. She stopped her work, and looked down.
   “I guess we both haven’t been honest with each other.” She said. “There is no Aunt Jane, at least, not since she died. She passed away when I was a little girl, so did my parents. They all died in a boating accident off the coast of Florida. I was upstate in Salem with my grandparents, who I stayed with until I was sixteen. They passed away, so I was sent into foster care. Before I could be put with a family I ran away, spent the next two years traveling down and eventually landed here. I enrolled and said I was a homeschooled student. They let me stay, and I rented a house from the old couple next door. They were so kind, they knew my situation. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.”
   “Anne Richards, don’t apologize. Trust me, we’ve both had secrets we felt we couldn’t share.” I told her. We sat down for a while when I got a message on my phone that read: “URGENT: Meet at H.Q. as soon as possible.” I looked up at Anne and said to her, “Well, looks like you’re meeting the others.”
   “The others? What do you mean the others?” She asked. I laughed a little bit.
   “I guess you didn’t read all that much on The Protectors. There are six of us, one for each inhabited continent. Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America, all have one. I’ve been the protector of North America since I met the old man in Boston.” I informed her.
   “So you travel all across the country?”
   “Yes, in a way. Sometimes by car, other times by different means. I’ve been to every state, every part of Canada, and even some of the countries in Central America.”
   “So why am I meeting the others?”
   “Because you’re involved with us now.” We got ready and took my truck to a shack on the edge of town. It was an old storage shack that some farmers used, and we both entered. I locked the door behind us and waited. “It’ll be any minute now.”
   “So, are these guys as old as you? Not calling you old or anything..” She blushed in embarrassment.
   “Trust me, I know what you mean. I’m not offended by it.” I smiled to reassure her. “I don’t feel old. I still feel eighteen. But to answer your question no, the others aren’t as ‘old’ as me. Only about maybe a hundred years short if anything.” As I finished speaking, a portal opened in the back of the shack. Anne stared at it in amazement, and I led her to the opening. We stepped through and were in a large, garage looking space. “Morning, guys.”
   “Morning.” They said collectively. The three of them look at me and Anne, two were surprised while the other laughed. “Seems you’ve brought us a friend.” He said.
   “Sorta,” I chuckled. “This is Anne, a good friend of mine. She got caught up in a little altercation I had with Knobby.”
   “That large bloke?” Said another.
   “Yeah, he wasn’t having it. Where are my manners? Anne, let me introduce them to you.” I pointed to the man that had been laughing. “This is Shaka kaSenzangakhona, also known as Shaka Zulu. He watches over Africa, next is Brian Godders, he’s over Europe. And Ethan Jones, he handles Australia. Where’s Mateo and Aaron?” I asked. The room became quiet, the looks of brief happiness on the others face went away and was replaced with despair.               “Where are they?”
   “That is why we called you here, Jim,” Shaka said. “They were both found dead this morning.”
   “Dead?! How, what happened?” I asked worriedly.
   “That’s the thing, we don’t know.” Brian replied. “Me and Ethan arrived in Hong Kong to check on Aaron, and Shaka to Argentina to see Mateo. Both were lifeless.”
   “As if they had both had their souls sucked out of them,” Shaka added. “They were not the only ones.”
   “Others in their countries had been attacked by the same thing, and bloody hell was it a mess. News outlets from all over were covering the story, we tried to get rid of all evidence that we could. This is a bad blow for The Protectors.” Said Ethan.
   “Where are the bodies?” I asked. Brian pointed me towards them, and I move to their location. Pulling of the plastic that hid their bodies, I saw the damage. “I’ve seen this before.”
   “You have?” They all asked.
   “Yes. They’re called Soul Takers. They showed up only one hundred years ago, found them in Chihuahua, Mexico. Local villagers were terrified, I put a barrier spell around the city and scared them away. Thought they disappeared but it looks like they migrated.”
   “Creatures shouldn’t migrate that fast,” Shaka said. “The only explanation for this is The Prophecy.”
   “Sorry,” Anne interrupted. “I know I’m the new girl here but what is this about a prophecy?”
   “The Prophecy was written around 3200 B.C.E. in Egypt by the founding Protectors, The Elders. It stated that a swarm of Creatures would invade the world. It described the Creatures as being grotesque, lifeless beings that were deadlier than most other Creatures. Soul Takers are believed to be those the Prophecy warned about,” I informed. “But it doesn’t make any sense. I thought the Prophecy said that a harbinger of Death would make itself known to the world, that it would bring together all Creatures and bring the end of days. That hasn’t happened yet.”
   “Maybe not, but we can’t be too sure.” Ethan said. “Brian and I will look after Asia and South America while you and Shaka figure this out. We’ll let you know if anything strange occurs.” And with that they left out a portal. I put my head in my hands and felt something touch my shoulder. It was Anne.
   “I know this is a lot, but can’t you guys think of something and figure out if this is actually happening?” She asked.
   “There is one way,” Shaka said. I knew exactly what he was about to say. “There is a portal hidden in a deep part of Mexico that was placed there by an Elder. It leads to an oracle where all six continents are magically connected there. Portals from all over the world lead to this spot, which is in a large cavern underground. That is where the ancient Prophecy is located. The Wise Woman is the keeper of the Prophecy, she is the only one who can translate it.”
   “That’s where we’ll get answers.” I told her. But as I got up, a distress signal went off. I looked at one of the many monitors that was mapped with a layout of the United States. There was a beacon in the Northern part of New York State, that’s where the signal was coming from.
   “There have been sightings of a Creature, descriptions are scarce. ‘Tall, thin, and pale with sharp teeth and claws’. Doesn’t sound good Jim.” Shaka said.
   “Piece of cake.” I said smiling. “Here’s the plan: Anne you stay here with Shaka. You’ll both watch through this,” I showed them a fly drone, small as, well, a fly. “This’ll be with me and in the off chance that something goes wrong breach a portal and get me out of there. If it’s what I think it is, maybe it’ll be not such a walk in the park as I thought it be.” I grabbed the drone and headed for the portal. I turned to Anne.           “You’ll be safe here, Shaka will look after you. I won’t but ten minutes.”
   “You’ll be safe. I know you will, you’re immortal remember. You can’t be hurt.” She tried to reassure me. I faked a smile and stepped out the portal. “If only she knew the truth about that.” I thought. The cold air and snow hit my face as I embraced it. The portal closed behind me as I moved towards the signal.

   I moved through the forest as I tried to reach the signal. I put an earpiece in so I could communicate with Shaka and Anne. I made my way closer as I spoke to them.
   “How much further Shaka, am I close?” I asked.
   “Just a little further, Jim. You’re almost there.” He replied. I turned on the drone and let it free. “Fly drone fully operational. You have eyes in the sky.” He said.
   “You okay Jim?” Anne asked.
   “I’m fine. Just a little-” I was cut off by the sounds of movement ahead of me. Blood curdling screams rang out in the distance and began to come closer. Long, pale figures stopped about forty feet in front of me. “Shaka, they’re Wendigos.” I informed him. All of a sudden a larger one of the Creatures jumped in front of me from the tops of the trees.
   “What brings you here, Protector?” The foul thing said. It was the alpha of the pack, all of the others shook in fear as it moved and spoke.
   “Saw that you were out of your zone. You know you can’t be this far out, you and your pack need to push back.” I told it.
   “Not likely. We no longer take orders from humans.”
   “And why’s that?”
   “Inferior being, you are so blind. Creatures are being called upon by a higher power. We are brought together by a sole purpose, the destruction of your world. No more treaties, no more peace. We are preparing.”
   “For what?” I asked sternly. “Don’t play games Wendigo, what are you preparing for?”
   “For war.” It replied. A collection of howls and screeches came from the rest of the pack as it said that.
   “We won’t allow it. The Protectors aren’t ones to be played. We’ll stop you.”
   “Such confidence from a being who is being deceived.” I stared at it, puzzled. “Foolish wretch, you don’t know do you? You are being lied to, played by those who you call your friends, your brothers. Traitors are among your ranks. Your order will fall.”
   “Liar! You think I will listen to monster like you? You know nothing.” I told it.
   “Suit yourself, human. Go back to your home. Wait for the inevitable embrace of death that will follow.” It started to walk away when suddenly I was jumped from behind. Two Wendigos grabbed hold of me and lifted me up. The alpha stood in front of me and gloated. “Foolish man, did you really think I would let you live after all that I have told you?” He then jabbed his long claws into my chest. With a cry of pain I reached into my belt and grabbed a knife. I stabbed the wretch and conjured fire around the beings that held me. Their one weakness, fire. As I was dropped they Creatures fled. I was bleeding heavily and nearly blacked out when I saw Shaka appearing out of a portal and taking me back into the building.
   “Check his vitals,” Shake instructed. I assumed he was speaking to Anne. she must have been so frightened seeing me like this. “Alright Jim, you should be fine.”
   “I thought he was immortal, he couldn’t be killed or hurt. How is this possible?!” Anne asked. I was fading in and out of consciousness but could hear their every word.
   “Creatures have the ability to kill an Immortal, like James and I. Immortals are almost the same as Creatures, the source of our long lasting life is the same as the Creatures. We believe there is a reality separate from our own that the Creatures come from, and that the reality contains the source for their creation and other things.” Shaka explained.
   “So you’re saying you and Jim are.. Like them?”
   “No, we are entirely different. But our powers do come from the same place. Similar in origin of powers and abilities, but of being and moral standards we are complete opposites.” They stopped the bleeding and bandaged me up. The wound wasn’t enough to kill me or be a mortal wound, but it did hurt. I was given a small dose of morphine and closed my eyes to rest. I continued to listen to Shaka and Anne as they spoke.
   “Okay I have a question and it’s been bugging me since we were introduced,” Anne said. “Jim said you were Shaka kaSenzangakhona, Shaka Zulu, the great African warrior. But history says you died when you were forty years old, yet you look eighteen. How is that? Did you reverse your aging process?”
   “Not necessarily, child.” He said with a laugh. “I did, in a way, turn back my age but it was a little different than you think. When I was twenty eight, I had my half brother assassinated in a humane way to take control of my village. His reign was not good, and this action was unanimously voted to be enacted. This is also the time when I partook in a ritual that was shunned upon by my people. It was a common science procedure in my time, but you call it vudu. I was given elixirs and potions that shed ten years of age from my appearance and I obtained immortality. I used spells to make my appearance to my people and enemies to be that of a normally aged man as the years went by. To them I aged, but in reality I had the appearance of a young man. I never felt more alive! As my reign carried on my half-brothers sent out to assassinate me as I once did. I played along and acted as if they had killed me. I did this because I lost faith in my tribe, it was becoming something that I did not want to be apart of. Later I moved to London and began schooling at Cambridge. There I learned more and more about science and technology, as well as the English language. In 1850, I was visited by James and he asked me to become a Protector. The African Protector had died and I was the only one that fit the bill. I don't regret my decision to join.”
   “Wow, that’s amazing.” Anne said astonished by his tale.
   “It is at first, then he just keeps telling it and it gets old after a while.” I said laughing.
   “Only because I enjoy this story,” Shaka said chuckling. “I take pride in it.”
   “As you should my friend.” I began to sit up and winced in pain. Anne ran up and helped ease me up.
   “I bet you’re story is just as interesting.” Anne said as she looked at my bandages. A signal went off on one of the screens. It was coming from the Amazon. “Ethan and Brian should be on that any second now.” But they weren’t. They should have been there already, yet they weren’t.
   “I don’t see their signals anywhere on the globe.” Shaka informed me. “It is if they disappeared from the face of the earth.”
   “Traitors are among your ranks.” I said.
   “What?” Shaka asked confused.
   “The Wendigo, it told me that ‘Traitors are among your ranks’. Mateo and Aaron died, leaving you, me, Brian, and Ethan. We are the only Protectors present, they can’t be found. That means-”
   “They are the traitors.” Anne said.
   “I will head to the Amazon, you two stay here.” Shaka spoke as I tried to get up but Anne didn’t allow me. “You need your rest my friend. You will be fit soon.” He grabbed some gear and left. Anne and I were left at alone. She looked around the place as we waited on Shaka’s return.
   “Where is this place, exactly?” She asked.
   “Well, it’s in a hidden building. No one owns it, so we have our base of operations here. We call it simply ‘H.Q.’ It’s not fancy but it gets the job done.” I answered. “But it’s in the heart of New York City.”
   “That’s actually really cool James.” She said. She brushed her hair aside and sat next to me. “Shaka told me his backstory, why not tell me yours. You know all about me, bout time I learned about you.”
I was hesitant at first, I never really told anyone anything about me. But I took a deep breath and told her.
   “Well, you know all about me up to 1692. I began my career as a Protector after that, the old man died and I took over his role. There were only thirteen colonies at the time so it was a little easier than it is now. As I moved up and down the states, I joined the Continental Army. I fought in the Revolutionary War, my first of many wars. I befriended multiple political and historical figures in my time. George Washington was the first. We had few things in common, but we worked closely when he was in the Seven Years War. I didn’t agree with the fighting but I made sure he was safe. He figured there was more to me than I had given him. He was the first to discover I was immortal, and was the first president to have my aide in his business. Later I made the journey across the central United States as Luis and Clark would follow me. I didn’t guide them but I did ensure no Creatures harmed their party. It wouldn’t be until the mid 1800’s that my life picked up. I fought in the Civil War, fought alongside General Grant and became close friends to Lincoln. I didn’t live much of a life. Never really did anything besides my job as a Protector. I didn’t get married, or grow attachments to anyone. But that changed a few months ago.” I finished speaking as Shaka entered H.Q. with a look of horror on his face.
   “The Creatures, there are none of them left in the Amazon. They have all disappeared.” He said.
   “How can that be? They shouldn’t have just vanished. Unless-” I jumped up in realization. The pain had died down and I was fit to stand and work. “Unless this is what the Wendigo forewarned. He said a ‘higher power’ was calling all the Creatures together. They were preparing for war.”
   “James if this truly is the beginning of the end, and that The Prophecy is becoming a reality, we need to visit the oracle immediately.” Informed Shaka. “We are outnumbered if all the Creatures join this ‘higher power’, what will we do?”
   “We will visit the oracle, ask the Wise Woman about all of this and try to make sense of it. I know for a fact that there are creatures that will help us. After we return I will meet someone who may have some information about this ‘war’ and see if he can help.”
   “This is heavy,” Anne said. “What am I going to do in all of this?”
   “You’ll be with us. We can’t have you hurt while we’re gone or worse.” I looked at the location of the oracle and started to worry, but I put all thoughts to the back of my head. “Let’s go.”

The author's comments:

My original work, whish is technically version two, has a charachter called the Wise Woman just as this one does. The only difference is I had different font for her so she could be distinctive.

   We were in the heart of Mexico City. We stopped for awhile so we could resupply on necessities, I wasn’t sure if we would be able to go back to H.Q. if Brian and Ethan did go rogue. I didn’t want to trust anything or anyone anymore, besides Shaka and Anne. We moved through the city and talked about the game plan.
   “Jim, I know what is at stake. We can not afford to lose any ground on the Creatures, but tell me honestly: is your contact who I think it is?” Shaka asked.
   “He isn’t the same person he was so long ago, my friend. He’s changed.” I responded. He didn’t seem too pleased with that statement.
   “The Wise Woman, she wasn’t a Protector at one time was she?” Anne asked.
   “No one’s for sure. No one has seen her in almost a millennia.” I said.
   “She seems interesting.”
   “Maybe.” I said hastily. I rented a side by side and we headed out into the Mexican wilderness. There wasn’t a Creature in sight, which worried me. If there wasn’t any in the area, that could only mean they joined this new army. The portal to the oracle was in what is now known as Cumbres del Ajusco National Park. We hiked up the high mountains when we came across a flat, smooth wall in the mountain's face. I moved my hand around the area and found the rock that moved into the wall, triggering a stone door to move aside. We walked in and traveled down a flight of stone stairs.
   “These must be so old! They look so primitive, yet elegantly built.” Anne said as I smiled. We were at the bottom of the stairs as we saw the portal. Two Greek-like dishes were present, lit with flames giving us ample amounts of light. We stepped through as we were greeted by luxurious statues, carved in a Greek style with pits of flames surrounding a center piece. The Oracle. We moved closer as Anne looked down over the path. I noticed this and looked down as well: it was a suspended walkway, connected over a deep cave with water miles down. There was a cool breeze moved through the three of us. We moved closer as a large statue of a woman turned to see us.
   “Ποιος είναι εκείνος που κάνει την παρουσία τους γνωστή στη σοφή γυναίκα;”  The Wise Woman said. She spoke in Greek. She noticed our confusion and spoke in English:     “Who is the one that makes their presence known to the Wise Woman?”
   “James Alexander and Shaka Zulu of the Protectors, we come with questions concerning The Prophecy.” I said.
   “There has been an urgent need for the true meaning of the text. It seems that what is forewarned in it is becoming a reality.” Shaka added.
   “Very well,” The Wise Woman said. “The Prophecy reads:
   “Wait, ‘Lead By A Lady’? What does that mean?” I asked. “Is that the ‘higher power’ the Wendigo spoke about?”
   “It very well could be. James this spells doom for all of humanity. ‘Begun By Those With Faces Of Decay’, those are Soul Takers.” Shaka said.
   “You’re right. It all adds up. The Soul Takers, the Creatures coming together by a ‘higher power’ and preparing for war. It all makes sense. But the last two lines, ‘Only The Woman With The Name Of Grace Will Help Bring Peace To All Beings In This Place’. There are probably thousands of women in the world with the name Grace, how are we going to find the right one?”
   “You already have,” The Wise Woman stated. She pointed behind us and we turned. “That girl is the one you seek.”
   “Wait, Anne?! Anne is the ‘Woman With The Name Of Grace’?” I blurted out. Anne looked pale with fright.
   “My mother was named Grace, that’s my middle name. How is this even possible I can’t help stop this I’m mortal. I’m human!” She said scared.
   “Sweet child, there is more to you than you know. Come back here in three days and three nights and you will learn the truth.” The statue as it froze in its original form. We left through the portal as I held Anne close to me, trying to calm her down.
   “Shaka we need to go into hiding for a little bit. Do you still own that apartment in New York?” I asked him.
   “Yes, and it is lined with a magic barrier. No Creature will be able to sense it, nor those two rogues.” He said. We walked out of the cave and he summoned a portal leading to the apartment. I sat down next to Anne on the couch as we all tried to make sense of what was just told to us. When she was settled I made my way over to Shaka.
   “What were the odds of this? By chance meeting Anne at one of my posts, having her see me handle Protector business and then seeing the Oracle with her present, only to be told she is the key. How the hell does that even happen?” I asked him. We moved off to the kitchen, out of view of Anne.
   “I am not certain. Given the circumstances, this is extremely peculiar. Nothing in our line of work is ever normal, but this? This is a whole different game.” He said. Normally he had all of the answers, he was smarter than me because of his schooling and also just because he was an intelligent man. Shaka was always making new devices to try and aid us, like the Fly drone.
   “We need help. We can’t take on an army of Creatures just the two of us, not on our own. We need inside help.” I said.
   “I suppose your contact can help with that?” He didn’t sound too enthusiastic.
   “Listen, I don’t trust most Creatures as far as I can throw them. We think the same way on that one, but he’s the only one that I feel can help us out. Plus he blends in with the public and he has some authority among most Creatures. We can trust him.”
   “And if we can’t?”
   “Then we go in on our own.” I looked at Anne as she layed on the couch.
   “You care for her, I can tell.”
   “Of course I do. It’s been so long since I felt something like this, I’ve known her only a few months but it feels like a lifetime. She sees me as her best friend, and yeah I care for her, but right now I care for her wellbeing and safety.” I told him. “We need to make sure she stays safe.”
   “We can keep her safe, if she is indeed the key to this war as the Wise Woman said then we need to keep her close to us at all times. No matter how dangerous.” She was stirring as we spoke, almost like she was having a bad dream. I went over and sat down with her, she moved over and put her head on my lap. “Looks like her nightmare stopped.”
   We rested for two nights while me and Shaka mapped out in what regions the Creatures had left. From the looks of things, a majority of Creatures remained but some of the more harmful ones disappeared. This ‘higher power’ gained the loyalty of and was collecting the strongest and deadliest Creatures for this war. As we looked for signals on an old monitor, I saw one that stayed in the same place almost all the time.
   “Looks like your contact is right around the corner.” Shaka said. I looked at him and nodded. We packed up somethings and the three of us headed out to meet him.

The author's comments:

Just like with the Wise Woman a great charactrer has different font but it's not present in this version. Also the tv broadcast is supposed to have a different font.

   We walked down the streets of Manhattan as we came closer to the signal. It wasn’t long after we set off that we arrived at McSorley's Old Ale House, one of the finer pubs in New York. It wasn’t hard to pinpoint where my contact was.
   “Why would your contact be at a pub?” Anne asked.
   “Because all the old buggar likes to do is drink,” I replied. “At least he’s drinking on something different for a change.”
We walked closer to the bar. One of the bartenders recognized me and moved away from him. He had long, dark hair with hints of grey, he had a full grown beard and was downing some ale as we sat down next to him.
   “Looks like you let yourself go, old friend.” I said. I sat right next to him, but could smell the alcohol on him when I walked through the door.
   “Yeah, well, when you’re as old as me you stop caring about your appearance.” He said in a rough voice. “What brings you here?”
   “We need your help. Some Creatures are being recruited by someone for a war. You know anything about this?”
   “I’ve heard some whispers about it, yeah. Some guys came in trying to recruit me just the other week but I turned them down.”
   “That must have been Brian and Ethan, those traitors!” Shaka exclaimed quietly.
   “Yeah that was them. But I know you aren’t just here to get information from me.” He said.
   “Vlad, we need your help,” I said before I was interrupted.
   “Vlad?!” Anne said shocked. “Vlad as in Vlad the Impaler?”
   “Vlad Dracula is what I prefer. I haven’t impaled anyone in years, but yes. The one and only.” Vlad proclaimed in his drunkenness.
   “Alright mister high and mighty, we need your help. You have a reach to thousands of Creatures and can persuade them to join our side. We need you to help recruit.” I told him. He looked at me side eyed as if what I just told him was a joke.
   “You really think any Creature would listen to an old relic like me? I’m a joke.” Vlad said. “I’m depicted as a blood sucking, cape wearing, pasty monster who is mocked in movies made by Adam Sandler.”
   “I’ll admit you have been degraded in the past by stereotypes, but we need help. You’re the only one that will get it through to some of these Creatures that don’t trust us. Please.” He noticed the concern in my eyes.
   “Fine, I’ll help. But only if after this I can just drink, I don’t want anymore involvement with Protectors.”
   “Deal.” Shaka said as he shook his hand. We all got up and left as the bartender cleaned up the mountain of shot glasses Vlad had created while he drank.
   “Wait won’t you burn out in the sun? Or is that a stereotype as well?” Anne asked.
   “Oh no, I’ll burn. If there’s one thing that hollywood got right it’s that I will burn.” He put on a coat, large hat, and sunglasses as he said this. “I don’t shimmer like those pretty boys in Twilight.”
   “Good lord you look ridiculous.” I said with a chuckle.
   “You’re just jealous cause I can pull this off and you can’t.” Vlad said smiling. We entered towards Shaka’s apartment and made sure we weren’t followed. I pulled the monitor over and the three of us examined it as Anne layed down.
   “As far as we can tell, most of the Creatures in Europe haven’t been disturbed. It does look like Greece was paid a visit as well as some of Africa and Asia. We look severely outnumbered.” I said.
   “Not necessarily. From the looks of things they are getting a bunch of big, heavy hitting Creatures and some that just kill. I guarantee this ‘higher power’ you told me about convinced the Cyclops to join, maybe even some of the spirit types. No doubt there are Vampires on their side.” Vlad informed.
   “We can convince the Golems of Israel to help us, maybe even the Mountain Giants to give us a size advantage.” Shaka put his input in.
   “That could work.” I said. “There’s also the possibility that some of the remaining Greeks could help us. Maybe even the Norse.”
   “You mean like the gods? Zeus and all?” Anne asked.
   “They aren’t gods, only Creatures with powers that were worshipped like gods-” Vlad said.
   “But yes, the very same. Some of them died off, but others remain. They might not want to aid us.” I said. “But it’s worth a shot.”
   “Vlad and I will go to Greece. James, you and Anne can go to Norway and see if you can get in contact with the Norse.” Shaka said. And with that we departed; Vlad and Shaka stepping through a portal and Anne and I doing the same. I wasn’t too fond of this idea, splitting us all up, but it was the only way things were going to get done. We arrived in an urban field in Norway, I had no way to bridge ourselves to the Norse. There was no way.
   “There must be a way to Asgard from here, but where?” I said to myself. A portal appeared to our side and the image of a goddess-like woman appeared. She motioned for us to walk through and as we did, we stepped into a grand hall with elegant walls made of gold. Giant statues stood tall as we followed the woman. This was indeed Asgard.
   “It’s so beautiful here.” Anne said astonished.
   “Very much so,” Said the woman. “The Allfather would like to have a word with you.” She lead us to an enormous throne room with more statues depiction warriors on the walls. There, on the throne, sat Odin and his wife, Frigg.
   “They don’t look too happy to see you James..” Anne was obviously frightened. We were in the presence of one of the strongest and omnipotent Creatures in existence, next to Zeus. of course I never told him that Zeus was stronger, we was a bit of an egotist.
   “Odin, the Allfather, I wish to speak with you as you wish to speak with me.” I said as I knelt down. Anne did the same as she noticed my movements.
   “James Alexander, you have a lot of nerve showing up here after what happened so long ago.” Odin said.
   “I admit, mistakes were made during that battle. But do keep in mind, sir, that you enlisted MY help and things went south because of your men. Even your son said that.”
   “Be that as it may, many of my soldiers were still carried to valhalla. No thanks to you.”
   “They died fighting for a worthless cause, you mentioned how much of a loss it was and how you shouldn’t have fought in that war. But let me give your warriors something to fight for.” He looked at me with his one eye, almost like a death stare.
   “And what may that be, Protector?”
   “Someone, or something, is recruiting Creatures to fight in a large scale war on Earth. There are only two protectors left, including myself. We are outnumbered and need your aid. Asgardians protect humanity, I request your warriors and possibly the Valkyries to aid us in battle.” He looked down, thinking about the proposition.
   “Have you enlisted the help of the Greeks? Surely they would be more of help than we are.”
   “Shaka Zulu is there as we speak. That’s not enough though. Asgardians are essential to this battle. I also fear that if we lose this war, Asgard is next.” He leaned forward, staring into my soul. “Ragnarok is eminent if you do not wish to help.”
   “I agree, Protector. We will aid you. Only our finest warriors will help. I cannot assure you that myself or Thor will be able to, though.”
   “As long as it’s some help, that’s all that matters.” I thanked him and turned to Anne as we started to walk towards the portal.
   “This plan by the Creatures reeks of Death, Protector. Be cautious.” Odin said. The weariness of his voice frightened me.
   “Of course.” We stepped through as the portal closed behind us. I pulled up another and walked into Shaka’s apartment. They were already there.
   “What is the word from the Norse? Will they aid us?” Shaka asked.
   “Odin did say that he will send warriors to help us.” I told him.
   “But he gave a warning,” Anne added. “He said, ‘This Plan By The Creatures Reeks Of Death, Protector. Be Cautious.’ Maybe his wife had forseen something as we left. She does have the ability to see the future, according to mythology.”
   “That little lady is right, what if she did see something. Something bad might happen, lots of death, maybe innocents.” That was the first time I have heard Vlad worried or even a small bit sympathetic.
   “We’ll be cautious. Odin won’t have to worry. What news from Greece?” I asked.
   “They are willing to help as well. Zeus himself said he would fight by our side. I believe he and Poseidon will be two key factors for us. And possibly Hercules.” Shaka siad.
   “The stronger the better. Call it a day, we all need rest.” As I said that, a message on the television appeared. The national news were broadcasting something, and it looked as if they had seen a ghost. “Someone turn it up.”
   “--and as we look down onto the Empire State Building, you can see fiery red lights coming from the street. Earlier today there were reports of what felt like tremors in Manhattan, which seems to be the cause for the cracks the light is coming from.” The news woman said. The chopper was going around the building, showing the large cracks in the road that shined the light they had mentioned. “Reports are saying that the lights are coming from a hidden area i-”
   “What the hell happened? Why is the screen black?” Vlad asked. Suddenly, a dark figure of a woman appeared on the screen.
   “Humans.. Primitive beings that have ruled over this world for too long. You are not long for this world much longer. We have hidden in the shadows far too long and now, we will take back our rightful place at the top of the world. My Four Horsemen have travelled the globe looking for our brothers and sisters and now, we are together once more. We are the Creatures, the monsters your ancestors feared, the myths you all have played out to be false. We are real, more than you realize. We shall strike in three days time. New York City shall be the first to fall. I would also like to invite the Protectors to arrive at noon that day, I want to have a word with them. Until then, look below…” The signal went out as a laugh could be heard dying down.

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