Dear Diary, since all this monster in the vase business began, I’ve been more and more worried about the children. My first instinct was to sweep them up and escape with Xalen somewhere safe, however, knowing what I do now, it appears whatever this is would follow them. What does it want and why is it picking on defenseless children?
I realized I should have probably spent more time with Holden and Rosetta, instead, I found myself researching an inscription I found inside the urn. The children seemed to have taken to my cousin Olivia and her son Christopher well, which eased my mind to some extent. I knew she was taking good care of them and that they’d found a good friend their own age in Christopher.
At every moment, my entire body vibrated with nervous energy as if a wire was strung right through me from head to toe and wound as tightly as it could possibly go. The negative energy in the house was no better and I attempted to counter this overwhelming anxiety with exercise. I reasoned that working on my martial arts would be useful should I come in close proximity to whatever this entity was.
As a team, we met on a regular basis to discuss the most recent developments. Today’s meeting was the most fruitful because we were able to piece together more information about the vase and its contents. It was also our last meeting prior to a confrontation that still makes me quake in my rainboots.
We were gathered in Xalen’s office, which was situated at the top of the three-story library in our control room. A table had been brought in and was overflowing with more dusty, old books and scrolls.
“I may as well begin,” Owen said. Reaching across the table, he opened a book and flipped through it until he found the page he’d saved. What he showed us was not what I was expecting to see at all.
“Who in heaven’s name is that?” Daniel asked with a grimace.
“This is a copy of a painting that was almost disintegrated. We’re lucky to have this much of it. Anyway, this guy is Bhazza the Trustworthy of the Grisjit people,” Owen responded, a note of triumph in his voice.
“He looks like someone to run away from,” I decided.
“You are definitely not the only one who thought that,” Owen said. “He was a great warrior and widely known at the time to have been undefeated in battle.”
“So what happened?” Shelly asked.
“Uh, he was defeated,” Owen said. “By the Knights of Liaphra, to be exact. Because Bhazza was so highly regarded, the Liaphra followed the Grisjit custom of cremation and placed his ashes in an urn.”
“Our urn,” Xalen said with a thoughtful look in his eyes.
“That’s right. At least, that’s what I think because of what Marty was able to translate.”
I felt my cheeks warming up at the mention of my name. “I’m glad it was helpful. There really wasn’t much there to translate. It was just a kind of warning not to open the urn of The Trustworthy.”
“That last bit is what set me on the right path in the end. I’m pretty sure that we’re dealing with Bhazza the Trustworthy and he’s not too happy about his people being slaughtered.”
“Yeah, I’d say he’s pissed,” Daniel said.
“No,” Shelly abruptly said, her eyes dark with concern.
“What is it?” Xalen asked.
After a long pause with her head tilted strangely to the left, she finally said, “Yes, it is Bhazza, that is certain. Yet it isn’t Bhazza.”
My breath caught in my throat, blocking my constricted airway but I tried to speak anyway. “What does that mean?”
Shelly stood straight now and regarded me with cautious eyes. “He used to be Bhazza but now he is something different. His hatred over what happened to his people… the rage… has turned him into something else.”
“What is he?” I said with baited breath.
“Holden’s monster,” Xalen murmured.
Before I could gather myself, a gasp escaped my mouth. I’d been so quick to dismiss Holden’s monster as a figment of his overactive imagination. Later, I’d come to realize that whatever was in the vase was probably what Holden had been sensing, yet I knew in my heart I wasn’t ready to face the fact that my children were affected by the supernatural.
As if reading my thoughts, Xalen said, “If only I hadn’t brought the urn here. I knew it was a dangerous piece, yet I sent it here regardless.”
“You thought it was sealed,” Shelly reminded him.
“My over confidence has gotten the better of me. I was not careful enough and now my family is in danger.”
“We don’t have time for this right now,” I said, a new urgency overtaking me. “We have to figure out how to get that thing back in the vase!”
“That may not be possible, I’m afraid,” Shelly said. “I think it would be better to figure out how to get Bhazza back to his warrior self and get him crossed over, back with his people.”
“Um, excuse me,” Daniel said, “I’m not trying to be a downer here but how are we going to do that?”
“I don’t know,” Shelly admitted, “but I’m sure at the right time, the moment will present itself.”
I’m glad she was confident because I sure wasn’t. These were my kids we were talking about.
That night, I had the worst time trying to get to sleep. Xalen wasn’t doing much better. At times, he would get up from bed and pace a little or stand by the window to stare into blackness. I doubted either of us would find any rest until this situation was under control. It had already gone on far too long.
Finally, when I didn’t think I could lie there another second, I decided to check on the kids. I knew Olivia was in the next room to theirs but I thought perhaps I’d feel better if I saw them sleeping with my own two eyes.
I was so anxious to see them, I left our bedroom without my robe. Tiptoeing down the hall in my bare feet, I ran my hand along the wall so I could keep track of where I was. I didn’t want to turn on a bunch of lights and awaken the entire house.
As soon as I reached the hall that led to the nursery, the tender skin on the back of my neck prickled and goosebumps rose on my arms, stopping me dead in my tracks. Squinting my eyes, I couldn’t see anything but every nerve in my tightly wound body told me something was there in the dark. Slowly, I inched along the wall and turned on the nearest sconce.
I nearly fainted at what I came face to face with. In the furthest corner from me, loomed a giant, green-skinned monster! Its arms and legs were too long and each oversized hand had long, bony fingers. Now, I understood what Shelly had been trying to explain about this creature and how he was now something other than what he had once been.
Fear glued my feet to the spot, my heart raced and I could feel my pulse pounding in my neck. My throat was dry and my jaw went slack as I stared, unable to look away.
I think this lasted for several minutes, although it felt much longer. Suddenly, as I glared at this thing in my house, my children only a few feet away in the next room, I was filled with anger. It could have possibly been the overall negativity that had overshadowed the house in recent weeks. Or it could have been a mother’s instinct to protect her offspring. I don’t know. All of a sudden, my fear was completely dominated by the rage boiling in my blood.
“How dare you!” I screamed at the entity. “You cannot have my children!”
As I screamed, I ran forward at full speed. I have no idea what I intended to do. I only wanted to punish this awful thing that had intruded on our lives and put Rosetta and Holden in danger.
My arms were outstretched in front of me and as I came crashing into the monster, he shoved me backward with very little effort, right onto my rump. Again, terror swept over me as the entity threw back his awful head and let out a deep growl that shook the floor I was sitting upon.
Then, I heard Xalen bounding into the room, shouting, “You shall not have this family! Leave this house!”
Before I could even get back onto my feet, I saw the most horrible thing I ever could have imagined.
Holden and Rosetta stepped out from behind the monster, into view.
“Noooo!” I screamed, trying to reach for them.
“Marty, no!” Xalen yelled. “Stay back!”
Neither twin spoke as the monster raised his ugly green arms as if to pounce on me.
“Please,” I gasped through tears that instantly sprang from my eyes, “please don’t hurt my babies!”
The monster let out another great growl from deep in his throat.
“Bhazza! Let my family go!” Xalen commanded.
No matter how far I stretched, it seemed my babies were further and further away.
It was no use. As the children tried to run from behind him, the monster stepped to block them. They were so close, yet I couldn’t reach them.
Xalen ran forward in an attempt to make a grab for the kids.
The monster easily blocked him and lifted him up as if he were a rag doll to be slung around.
“Xalen!” I screamed.
“Get them!” Xalen yelled as he tried to push the monster’s face away and get free.
I felt like I was moving at half speed as I leaped forward and grasped the hand of each child. I pulled them backward with me and we almost fell, but somehow, I was able to regain my balance and push the children to safety.
Xalen, on the other hand, was in a terrible predicament.
By then, the team was awake and had run into the hall.
“Help him, please!” I shouted to Shelly.
She was already mumbling some kind of incantation, though, for I could see her lips moving and her eyes locked on the beast before us.
“I’m scared,” I heard Holden say.
“I know, but we have to!” Rosetta said.
I couldn’t imagine what they were talking about.
It didn’t matter, however, because the monster heard them, too, and with a thump, dropped Xalen onto the floor, turning his attention toward them. Daniel reached out to protect the kids but Shelly started yelling at him.
“Don’t touch them, Daniel! Don’t touch them!”
“He’s trying to protect the twins,” Susan angrily said.
“If he doesn’t want to get hurt, he needs to listen to me,” Shelly answered.
“I’m sick to death of monsters!” Rosetta yelled.
“No, no, no!” Holden said with a grimace.
Rosetta grabbed her brother’s hand and pulled him forward, toward the beast. I tried to stop them but Shelly pulled me back.
Susan began to sob and I tried to get my children again, but Shelly grabbed my forearm so tightly, I was sure it left a bruise.
“No, don’t touch them,” she said firmly. “Trust me.”
The kids moved forward and yelled in unison, “We are sick to death of monsters! Go away!”
As quickly as they said that, the monster seemed to shrink until he was the size of a normal man. His skin was still green and he looked absolutely frightening but the twins stood their ground.
Then, they did something I cannot explain. They leaned forward, palms up, as if summoning something…
… And the beast caught fire!
“We are sick to death of monsters!” Rosetta yelled once more.
The being emitted growls and shrieks that made my hair stand on end, still, the twins didn’t move a muscle.
Almost as soon as the fire began, it was over with nothing to show but a small pile of ash on the floor.
“Take him,” Shelly said to the ceiling. “Take him home!”
Swiftly, a wind moved through the room and a dark, cloaked figure appeared. Xalen stood and stepped near the kids but he didn’t seem afraid.
“Bhazza the Trustworthy,” Xalen said.
The cloaked figure nodded slightly and then, spoke with a low, scratchy voice, “I’ve been waiting.”
Xalen nodded slightly and smiled a little at the kids, who had looked up at him for reassurance.
A bright orange light rose from the pile of ash and whipped through them to the other side of the room.
After a moment, the orange light became the outline of what was once Bhazza.
“Come. Join your people. They will rejoice at meeting their brave warrior once again,” black cloak said.
Before our eyes, both black cloak and Bhazza dissipated like raindrops before a summer sun.
“Well! I’m glad that’s over. Who wants french toast?” Shelly asked.
“We do!” the twins shouted, to my surprise.
And that was how Rosetta and Holden joined the ranks, albeit as junior members, of The Inheritance. From that moment on, Xalen vowed never to be careless with an artifact again, and I promised never to take what the kids told me lightly again. Xalen also taught us how to put up an imaginary wall in order to block certain paranormal activity that may be negative.
The last thing we did to close out this chapter on the children’s lives, was to make the kids promise they would never use these strange powers of theirs again. Would they stick to that agreement? I couldn’t say, I could only hope.
Was this a happily ever after? Not by a long shot. You see, we still had to deal with the teen years…
We were in the front hall, working on plans for another fundraiser when the children came in.
“Awww man, there’s your dad. He’s never going to let us go to the arcade.”
“Relax, bro,” Holden said, “Rosetta’ll work on him and he’ll say yes.”
“Boys,” Rosetta said, rolling her eyes. But she knew they were right.
“Holden,” Xalen said, raising an eyebrow. “I sent you to get your hair cut.”
Sighing, he clicked his teeth in disapproval. “Which one?”
“Which one what?”
“Which hair did they cut because I cannot tell.”
“Well, I didn’t want it too short.”
“Father,” Rosetta interrupted, “may we go to the arcade? We’ve all done our homework and chores.”
“There are much better things you can do with your time.”
Rosetta smiled sweetly, then said, “Of course I agree, but these boys need a small break. We’ll come straight home and rehearse for our dance recital afterward.”
As I looked on, I realized Xalen was fit to be tied. Of course, he gave in.
Thank you for reading,