The lost soul, p.10
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       The Lost Soul, p.10

         Part #1 of Fallen Souls series by Jessica Sorensen
Page 10


  “So we’re going to go pick up Nicholas,” Aislin says, pointing at the castle. “Alex is upstairs, sleeping in his room. He shouldn’t wake up for a while. ”

  “I don’t even want to know what you two did to him. ” He chuckles, shaking his head. “You want me to come with you guys? It might be good to have some muscle to get Nicholas to agree. ”

  Aislin pops her knuckles. “We’re not helpless girls. I have my magic and Gemma, well she has herself. You know Nicholas has a thing for her. ”

  “Why does everyone keep saying that?” I ask, offended. “All he’s ever done is torture me. ”

  “But he always helps you. Always. ” Laylen reminds me, tossing the wrench in the air and catching it. “And if I’m remembering right, wasn’t there a particular time when we caught him looking at you while you were—”

  I cover his mouth, shushing him. “We promised never to talk about that again. Remember?”

  His lips laugh against my palm. “Oh yeah, I forgot. ”

  “Nicholas loathes me and I loathe him. And that’s that. ” I drop my hand away from his lips. “So we should get going. This is going to be so odd—I haven’t used my Foreseer power since…” I trail off, remembering the last vision I dipped into, right before Alex and I sacrificed our lives to save the world and each other. My heart compresses in my chest as my eyes drift to his bedroom window. He’s only been possessed for a few hours, but I miss him so much it hurts. “We should go. Laylen, will you keep an eye on him?”

  He promises he will and Aislin and I are off. We journey a distance away from the Keepers’ castle since it’s bordered by praesidium, tiny lavender marbles that contain a power to prevent a Foreseer from entering the castle using teleportation. We stop at the shore of the lake, where the water unites with the dirt.

  “This should be far enough. ” I feel the mild hum of my power. “I’m going to take us into the City of Crystal, just outside his home. That way we can get a feel of things before we go barging in on him. ” My line of vision moves to the castle, back to Alex.

  “We’ll take him by surprise,” she jokes with an anxious laugh. “He’ll be okay, Gemma. We’ll get that Lost Soul out of him. ”

  “I sure hope so. ” Because I feel lost without him.

  I place my hand on her arm and seal my eyelids. The pull overtakes me as I envision the City of Crystal, the wavy patterns of rubies on the wall, the red icicles dangling from the charcoaled ceiling. I picture my feet on the translucent floor, the river flowing beneath it, carrying pieces of gold. I add a domed house carved out of snow-white crystal, the gemstone shingles, the glowing tree that decorates the glistening front yard. Then I put us there.

  “That’s the weirdest thing,” Aislin remarks, impressed. “It’s nothing like transporting. We just go. No magic involved. ”

  I glide across the crystal floor, toward Nicholas’ house.

  “What if he’s not here?” Aislin asks, sliding across the slippery ground. “We probably should have checked before we left. ”

  “We’re here now. So it doesn’t really matter. ” I raise my fist to knock on the icy front door, but pull back. “Maybe we should check though the window or something first before we go in. ”

  “Good idea,” Aislin agrees. “We can take him by surprise for once. ”

  We skulk to the side of the house and hunch below a frosted window. I wipe it with the sleeve of my shirt, hoping he doesn’t see me. Then I sneak my head up. Inside is a bedroom with a single bed, a metallic trunk, and two wooden night stands. In the corner there is a tall mirror where Nicholas is admiring his reflection. Soft music vibrates from the stereo, the closet is open, and the faerie takes a white shirt from a hanger. He shucks off his red tee and replaces it with the white one. It’s a quick move, but I still spot an odd mark on his back; a black serpent spiraling up his spine, the head ending on his left shoulder blade.

  “What does a serpent mark mean?” I hiss, lowering my head beneath the windowsill.

  Aislin picks a glass petal from a flower and flicks it. “I didn’t know a mark like that existed. ”

  “Nicholas has one on his back. ” I pop my head up. He’s got his back turned toward the mirror, his shirt rolled up so he can check out his butt. “So this is what the faerie does when he’s by himself. Why am I not surprised?”

  Aislin’s face scrunches and she looks through the window. “Oh my God, he’s totally checking himself out. ” She stifles a laugh. “And now he’s giving himself a speech on how sexy he is. ”

  I start to laugh, but remember we’re on a mission. I grab her sleeve and guide us to the front door.

  “Knock? Or barge in on him?” My fist hovers in front of the door.

  “Barge in. ” She grins. “It’ll be more fun that way. ”

  I open the door. Nicholas’ house is just how I remember it; green walls, the hardwood floors trimmed by lavender marbles of praesidium. A living room is to the right of the entryway and a slender hallway stretches straight ahead.

  “It smells like flowers in here,” Aislin pinches her nose as we tiptoe up the hall.

  “It’s Nicholas,” I say. “He always radiates a flowery scent. ” She giggles and I nudge her with my elbow, choking back a laugh.

  The walls are ornamented with shelves and an arrangement of crystal balls balance on them; blue, orange, small, large. There is a painting of a field full of vines and yellow roses, and a woman who has the same sandy hair and golden eyes as Nicholas.

  “Ouch! Damn it!” Aislin curses loudly, jumping up and down on one foot. “I stubbed my toe on the table leg. ”

  The music hushes.

  “We’re so busted,” I say.

  Aislin flashes me an apologetic look. “Sorry, but it hurt like a—”

  “Well, well, well,” Nicholas taunts us with smile. He has the white shirt on, his sandy hair hanging in his golden eyes. “Look what the cat dragged in. ”

  “Aislin, are you ready to pull some teeth?” I ask with my eyes locked on Nicholas.

  “You couldn’t stay away from me. ” He places a hand on his heart in a touching gesture. “It was seeing me at the castle, wasn’t it? You forgot how good looking I was, didn’t you?”

  “One thing’s for sure. ” Aislin snorts a laugh. “You sure haven’t. ”

  I cover my mouth, masking a grin. “We need your help with something… a project with a crystal and some information about The Afterlife. ”

  He struts down the hall until he’s invading my personal space, eyes glinting, his lips pressing, his floral scent stinking up my nostrils. “Why is it you always need my help?”

  “You tell me?” I counter. “I’m starting to find it a little strange. ”

  He leans in, his breath hot on my cheek. “If you’re trying to imply something, you need to come out and say it. I don’t have all day to figure it out. ”

  I gently push him out of my face. “I need your help with freeing my dad. ”

  He rolls his eyes. “That’s the stupidest statement you could make. Your dad’s in the Room of Forbidden. And I’ve already told you there’s no way to free him. ”

  “I have the Crystal of Limitation,” I say. “I just need some aid from another Foreseer willing to break the laws. And you seem to fit that bill very well. ”

  He feigns insult. “When did I ever break the rules? Yes, I might have questionable morals, but rule breaker doesn’t fit my style. ”

  Aislin cups her hand around my ear and whispers, “Bat your eyelashes at him. ”

  I shake her off. “Would you please just help me… please?” I’m on the verge of begging, and I don’t like giving the faerie that much power.

  “What’s in it for me?” He licks his lips, his expression questioning.

  “What do you want?” I ask, irritation evading my tone.

  He grins and his hands dart to my hips. “I think the question is what do you want?”

  I stomp on his toes
. “Don’t ever touch me again. ”

  He winces, his jaw clenched, his golden eyes flaming. “I ought to make you pay for that. In fact, I will, by not helping you. ”

  I glance at Aislin for help and she nods.

  “Transire nunc!” Rays of silver and violet stream from her hand. Nicholas starts to run, but slips on the rug and stumbles to the floor. Magic swirls to the ceiling and dives like a bird right into his stomach. He gags, his skin tinting green. His head thuds backward and his eyes roll back.

  “Remind me never to piss you off,” I say to Aislin, standing over the unconscious faerie. “The problem is, now we have to tow him across the yard—I can’t foresee us out of here. ”

  Aislin raises her hand cleverly and waggles her fingers. “I can take care of that. Movere eum deinceps. ” Nicholas soars upward and levitates down the hall. She snaps her fingers and the door flies open, rocking the house. His body descends outside, landing in the center of the icy yard.

  “Again, remind me never to piss you off,” I say, and dash outside. “You know he’s going to be a problem when he wakes up. We might have to do something about that. ”

  She beams and we hurry to Nicholas. I station a hand on Aislin’s arm and prod my foot against Nicholas’ leg. I visualize the Keepers’ castle, the grey stones, the peaking towers, the trees embellishing the clear lake. But I don’t feel the pull. I try again, but my head aches in response.

  I open my eyes. “Something’s wrong. ” My hand falls from Aislin’s arm. “I can’t feel my power. ”

  Our gazes zip around the crystal area.

  “Is there any praesidium lying around?” she asks.

  I’m alert of the absence of power in my veins. “It’s not that. ” I circle around Nicholas, biting at my thumbnail. “It’s something with him; something about him is blocking me. ”

  “Maybe he has praesidium on him?” She shrugs.

  I raise my eyebrows. “You want to do the honors?” She shakes her head and I sigh. I squat down and pat his pockets. “Nothing. But there’s…” The current zaps me like a finger to an outlet. I’m joggled back and I bash my tailbone against the crystal ground. Snakes crawl over my skin or underneath my skin. I can’t tell.

  “Get them off me!” I scream, clawing at my skin. “Aislin! Help!”

  Aislin’s eyes snap wide and she stutters, “Gemma, get what off you? I can’t tell what you’re looking at. ”

  I throw up my arms, showing her the lines slithering under my skin. “I hate snakes! Please!” I thrust my legs. “Get them off!”

  She gapes, baffled, her arms hanging to the side. “Gemma, there’s nothing on you. ”

  I scrape at my skin and droplets of red drip onto the crystal below.

  Aislin seizes my hands and crouches down. “Stop scratching. There’s nothing there. Something’s just making you hallucinate. Now, relax and try again. ”