The Underworld, Page 43Jessica Sorensen
But the cuts were the least of my problems because there was no one at the end of the path, and nowhere else I could go. I tried to listen for voices, but the sound of the ocean was too loud. Shaking my head, I started to turn around, wondering why the girl had told me Laylen had come back here.
“Beautiful day, isn’t it?”
His voice sent me scurrying backwards, and I scraped my back on one of the rock’s jagged edges.
“Easy, Gemma,” Nicholas said, his hands in the pockets of his tan cargo shorts. “Why so jumpy?”
I didn’t answer him, my gaze searching desperately for an alternative way out. But after a few seconds, I realized I was trapped.
“Where’s Laylen?” I asked him, keeping my back pressed into the rocks, even though it hurt.
He tapped his finger on his lips, his golden eyes watching me like a cat watched a mouse. “Haven’t seen him. ”
I opened my mouth about to tell him that I knew Laylen had come back here—that an auburn-haired girl back on the beach had told me he had, but the wicked smile on Nicholas’s face stopped the words from leaving my mouth.
“It’s amazing what a little faerie charm can get people to say,” he said, casting a glance back in the direction of the beach. “Well, except on you. My charm never seems to have any effect over you. ”
“Charm?” I said snidely. “Is that what you call it?”
Nicholas pressed his hand to his heart dramatically. “Oh Gemma, how your words hurt me. ”
I glared at him, and he grinned.
“Well,” he said. “As much as I would love to hide out here with you all day—I mean, think of the endless possibilities of the things we could do back here, way out of sight of everyone. But I’m afraid I have a promise to finish. ” He reached for me, and I jumped back, bumping my head on the serrated wall of the rocky cliff.
“Careful there. ” Then, the next thing I knew, Nicholas was in front of me, so close I could smell his flowery scent overlapping the scent of the salty ocean air. “Don’t worry, I don’t bite,” he whispered, sliding a finger down my cheek.
I kneed him in the stomach, and he buckled forward. I seized the opportunity to dodge around him, but I didn’t make it very far, before Nicholas grabbed me by the shoulder and threw me to the ground. My head smacked against a rock, and the world started to spin like a merry-go-round.
He stood above me, looking relieved, as if a huge burden was about to be lifted from his shoulders. “It’s time to go,” he said.
I think my head had started to bleed. Either that or I was lying in some other kind of warm, sticky liquid. I still tried to get up, but my legs weren’t having any part of it. I tried to use my Foreseer power to take me away, but all I got in return was a headache.
Nicholas knelt down beside me and placed his hand on my arm, and there was nothing I could do but lie there as he retrieved the miniature, ruby-filled Foreseer ball out of his pocket. He held it close to my face as if to taunt me, and closed his eyes.
Then we were gone.
When I opened my eyes again, Nicholas was gone. The room I was in was completely empty. And cold—Wyoming mountain cold.
I was lying on the floor, my face pressed against the hard floorboards. My head felt like it had been split in two, my body ached, and there was dried blood in my hair. I also noticed that my necklace was missing from around my neck, which sent a surge of panic soaring through me. The one thing that could protect me from magical harm and it was gone
I sat up slowly and glanced around the room that had nothing more than a door on each side of it, and a single window, which was barred shut. I have been here once before. This was the place that I had seen myself, lifeless, curled up on the floor.
This was bad. I thought Nicholas would take me to the City of Crystal, especially since he had taken out the ruby-filled crystal ball. But he brought me here instead. Why, though?
Fearing the answer, I got to my feet, ignoring the painful head rush I had, and took a few wobbly steps toward the door. It took me forever to get there, but I finally made it. Before I could get the door open, though, it was opening by itself, and I was hit with a puff of air so cold, it froze my body over in a heartbeat.
And then I saw him and part of me wished that the cold air had turned me to ice and killed me.
Stephan stood in the doorway, dressed in black, Death Walker’s towering on each side of him, their ravenous eyes gleaming yellow beneath the hood of their black cloaks. Snow was blowing in from the outside, and I could see snow was everywhere outside, just like it had been in the vision I had seen.
“Oh good, you’re awake,” Stephan said, entering the room as if he owned it.
I stumbled backward, my heart pounding with terror.
“Nicholas said you were out when he left you,” Stephan said, still moving toward me.
Thankfully the Death Walkers didn’t enter. But really, could I be thankful about that because Stephan was here and the scar on his cheek had reminded me of everything my mom had told me.
“Why am-m I-I here,” I stuttered, my whole body shaking, not only with fear, but from the cold that was swirling through the room.
Stephan’s dark eyes stared at me, and they held so much irritation that I wanted to duck under something and hide.
“You’re here because I had to create out an alternative plan. ” He walked around the room, glancing at the log walls, as if he was searching for something. “Since you and my son ruined my original plan—a plan I worked very hard to create—I had to come up with a new one. ” He turned and faced me, his hands behind his back. “But I think this plan will work out a lot better. And the best part is, I won’t have to worry about my son finding you again. He’ll never find you here. ” His dark eyes pierced into me. “No one will. ”
My breathing faltered out of me, and the room was starting to sway again. “What are you going to do to me?” I asked, thinking about the memoria extraho, and fearing he was going to use something similar to it on me.
“Oh, I’m not going to do anything to you, Gemma,” he said, with a wicked grin. “Except leave you here. ”
“Leave me here. ” I glanced at the barred up window, wondering where here was, but all I could see were mountains and trees and the snow that covered them.
“Oh, yes. ” He walked over to the window, dragging his fingers along the bars. “See there is something about the cold that preserves your energy—it’s why I sent you to Wyoming. And keeping your energy preserved is the most important thing right now. ”
“And what about Alex’s energy,” I asked, trying to keep my balance as a rush of wooziness whipped through me. “How are you planning on preserving his energy?”
This surprised him. “I see you’ve been busy. “ He walked toward me again. “My son will preserve the energy himself. It was what I raised him to do. And as long as he’s away from you, the stars energy will be fine. ” He stopped right in front of me. “All I have to do is keep you from him. ”
“Alex will find me,” I told him, but I wasn’t so sure of this myself.
Stephan considered this for a very long time, and then I got the feeling that I was about to experience, firsthand, a villain-confessing-his-evil-plan moment.
“See, here’s the thing, Gemma,” he said, his already dark eyes shifting darker. “Even if he does find you, it’ll never work out. You two were just not meant to be with each other.
I touched the scar on the palm of my hand. Forem. “Yes, we are. ”
He let out a laugh that rang though the cabin and echoed out against the snowy mountains. “The ideas you kids have—always wanting to be with the wrong person. ”
I wasn’t sure what he meant by this. “The wrong person?”
He stood in front of me, the two Death Walkers still hovering in the doorway, blocking my only way out. “You think you’re supposed to be with someone because you having feelings f
or them but trust me Gemma, feelings are way overrated.
Wow. So that’s where Alex had gotten the quote from.
The mention of feelings sent rage surging through me and without even thinking I kicked Stephan in the shin with my bare foot.
He winced, and then hit me across the face. My ears rang like an out of control bell, and I collapsed to the hardwood floor. He leaned over me, his eyes full of anger.
“You think it’s so bad what I’ve done to you. Well, let me let you in on a little secret. Life is way overrated—emotions are way overrated. Even Malefiscus—which I’m sure you know who he is by now—was at one point weakened by his jealousy for his brother. Although, he did turn it into something good” He dragged his finger along the scar on his cheek.
I hated this man more than I have ever hated anyone before. I could feel the hate burning inside me—I could feel the hate poking at the back of my neck. “You’re the one who’s weak. ”
“Oh, am I?” He considered this. “Well, that’s one I’ve never heard before. ” He let out an evil laugh. “Well, I think after awhile, you’ll change your mind. Nicholas has already taken your Foreseer power away from you and when it eventually returns, the praesidium will take over. ”
Praesidium? I glanced around the room and noticed that there were lavender marble-sized crystal balls dotting the edge of the hardwood floor.
“I’d take your power away from you completely if I could,” Stephan added. “But I need it too much. ”
“Need it for what?” I asked, my stomach winding into a billion knots.
He ignored me. “The only way for you to get away from here is on foot. ” He glanced at the window. “And even I wouldn’t try and make that walk. By the time I return to get you, you’ll be nothing more than an emotionless soul. Being alone will do that to someone. ”
I remembered myself in my vision; the emptiness my eyes had held. That’s how I would turn out if I stayed here.
No. I would not go back to that.
I started to get to my feet, not sure what I would do when I made it up, but I needed to do something. “This plan won’t work,” I said struggling to keep my legs under me. “Just like your last plan didn’t. ”
He’d started toward the door, but stopped and turned around. “Even if Alex did find you, eventually you’d both be dead. Every time you two are close to each other, it ignites the power. If you stay close to each other for too long the star’s power will fade out. And so will you and Alex. ”
My jaw just about hit the floor, and I stood there shocked. Alex and I would eventually kill each other? How was this possible? I thought about the electric bond we shared and the Blood Promise we’d made to be together forever. But if what Stephan had just said was true, then did it mean that if we did stay together forever, our forever wouldn’t be that long?
I felt sick; physically and emotions drained, my heart sinking in my chest.
“Like I said, Gemma, feelings are overrated. ” And with that he walked outside and shut the door behind him.