The lost soul, p.14
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       The Lost Soul, p.14

         Part #1 of Fallen Souls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 14

 

  “Why?” I question snippily. “To torture my soul?”

  “Come with me and I’ll show you. ” Gathering the train of her dress, she resorts to her chambers. The room sparkles with rays of light that shimmer against the graphite. The Queen’s throne serpents to the bowled ceiling, carved of clear and violet quartz. A wooden chair is perched across from the throne in an area where the light gathers.

  “Please, have a seat. ” She lowers onto the throne and adjusts her dress.

  “No thanks,” I decline. “I’d rather stand. ”

  “I’m not asking. ” She snaps her fingers. Two Water Faeries tackle me and force me to the chair. The Queen laughs. “This is my land and my rules apply. Don’t defy me ever. ”

  “But you broke the laws. ” I tread on thin ice. “By bringing me down here. I’m not a criminal and no ash was sprinkled into the lake. ”

  “With you, there’s a stipulation that allows my faeries to bring you down here without breaking the laws. ” She overlaps her thin fingers and places her hands on her lap. “There’s a term for people like you. ”

  “A Protected One,” I say. “I don’t know what that means. ”

  Her eyes snap cold. “Qui redit a mortem. The one who returns from the dead. ”

  “I think you’re thinking of a zombie. ” I point at the flesh on my arm. “My skin’s not rotting. I don’t have any urge to eat someone. I’m pretty sure I’m not one. ”

  “That’s the Undead. ” Her tone’s like a blizzard. “I can assure you Gemma, there are no such things as zombies. What I speak of is someone who dies but revives. One who returns from death and goes on living. One who’s been in The Afterlife, but has returned. ”

  I wonder how bad it is that I’ve done that twice. “Then why did your faerie say I was one of the Protected. How can I be protected if you brought me down here?”

  “Because you’re protected from death, not from me. ”

  “That’s always been the case,” I say. “I can’t die without Alex. ”

  She laughs uncontrollably. “You really think that’s the case still. ”

  “I… why wouldn’t it be?”

  “You two died, and so did the star. There is nothing protecting you from death now. You had your one out and now it’s gone. Well, for your other half anyway. But you—you can die over and over again. ”

  I’m struck speechless. “I’m not immortal. I don’t bare the mark. ”

  “I’m not talking about Immortality!” she shouts, then composes herself. “I’m talking about something bigger. You are now protected from death, from possession of death and Lost Souls. You can travel between the world of the dead and of the living. All you have to do is die. ”

  “I’m not immortal,” I repeat, shaking my head. “I can die. I know I can. ”

  The Queen curls her fingers over the arm rests. “I get it. You need proof. ” Before I protest, she raises her chin and a white blur zips inside the room. A Water Faerie strangles my throat, burrowing its skeletal fingers into my neck. My bones splinter under its strength. My head wobbles like a bobble head. I slump from the chair to the floor. My heart hushes as I gasp my last breath.

  ***

  “Gemma Lucas, what are you doing?” A familiar laugh perks my ears. “Open your eyes. You need to see me for this. ”

  I obey. Grass indents my cheeks and fresh dirt scents the air. A single rose petal drifts, the powdery edge grazing my nose. The twisted roots of a willow tree are half hidden by the ground. I roll to my back. Long branches of the willow tree dance above.

  “Hello Gemma. ” My mother’s blue eyes fill me with love. Pieces of her long, brown hair falls into her face as she helps me to my feet. Her floral dress bunches on the ground and her feet are bare. She dusts the dirt out of my hair and embraces me in a tight hug. “I’ve missed you so much. ”

  I shut my eyes, breathing back the tears, and wrap my trembling arms around her. “I’ve missed you to. ” I pull back and look her in the eyes. “But why am I here?”

  “You’re not technically here,” she tells me. “You’re here in a dream. ”

  “But it feels so real. ”

  “So do all of your dreams. ”

  White and red rose petals flow from the garden, winding and curving freely in the air.

  “Why am I not dead?” I ask. “The Water Faerie broke my neck. ”

  “For the same reason you’re alive. ” She gives my hand a squeeze. “Because it’s your destiny. You have a free pass now to and from death. Helena can’t touch your soul unless you offer it to her. ”

  “But I thought my destiny ended with the star?” I say. “I thought it was all over. ”

  “Everyone has a destiny. Yours is just more important. I always knew it would be, since the day you were born. ” She smiles brightly. “My violet-eyed little girl. You’re going to do great things, but it will be hard. You will be tested, more than you already have. But no matter what, you can never lose yourself. You have to fight not matter what. ”

  “I don’t understand,” I whisper as the wind carries me back to life. “Mom! Wait!”

  ***

  My bones crack as I reunite with my body. My limbs shift in appalling directions, like a creature from a horror movie. I realign them. My neck is the last part to reposition as I aid it with my hand until it locks into place.

  “Why did you do that?!” I cry, charging for her. “You killed me!”

  The Queen whisks from her throne and meets me in the middle. “You needed proof, otherwise you wouldn’t believe me. Your breath, your beating heart, are proof. ”

  I press a hand to my heart. “It stopped beating. I felt it. But how did I come back?”

  “You are now part of the ones who can return,” she says. “If you die long enough, you can go to the Afterlife, but can come back and revive to your body. Of course, you have to wait for your body to except you back. Depending on the severity of the death, you could be dead for a matter of minutes. Or with a more brutal death,” her lips curl with excitement, “then you could be gone for days. ”

  “One’s? As in plural?” I stammer, stretching my fingers as the blood flow returns. “There’s a whole group of people who’ve died and came back?”

  “You think you’re the only one who’s been resurrected?” she laughs at the absurdness.

  “But you said that I was protected from possession. ” I think of Alex. He came back from death.

  “He didn’t make it to death,” she states like a mind reader. “He made it between life and death, unlike you who made it to The Afterlife. ”

  “How do you know this?” I keep my voice guarded. “And why does it matter to you what I am? Why did you bring me down here?”

  “I’ve been waiting for one of you for a very long time. ” A wicked grin curves on her face and she dashes forward, stopping inches from my face. “Have you ever wondered why death and faeries seem to go together? You have Helena, Queen of The Lost Souls. Annabella, Queen of Essences. And then there’s me, Lucinda, Queen of The Underworld. ”

  I stagger backward. “Are you saying that you’re all related?”

  “We’re sisters. ” Her grin broadens like a true villain. “And just like all siblings, we have our quarrels. The current one is over a soul my sister Helena wants. And what better way to enrage her, then to take the soul she desperately searches for—the one that’s crossed over and came back. ”

  “Why does she want my soul?” I ask, my voice surprisingly steady. “Why not take someone else’s soul?”

  “You’re the one Annabella released. ” Her face is a sliver of space away from mine. I can see down her eye sockets. “You’re the one whose soul belongs to another. She wants you because of your high value. ”

  “High value for what?” I ask with a feeling there’s more to the story than she’s letting on. “So she can free all her Lost souls and herself over into the Human World?”

  Without forewarning,
she bashes me over the head with her fist. A shot of warmth vibrates from my head to my toes. Concisely, I sense a connection to The Underworld, as if I’m a part of it—as if I belong here. But it makes no sense.

  I see stars. I hear music. I collide with the ground and black out.

  Chapter 13

  “Where is my mind?” by the Pixies plays in my head, over and over again. Finally, I wake up. A cold sensation possesses me, like I have been hollowed out, my soul robbed. What did she do to me?

  I roll my eyes into focus. Brown water drips from the cement ceiling and pools onto my forehead. I wipe it away and hastily sit up. Cement walls and a metal bed with a filthy mattress; that’s where I am. There’s a heavy metal door and I try to open it.

  “Lucinda!” I shake and bang on the locked door. “Open up! You can’t do this to me! I’m not a prisoner!” My voice echoes around the tiny cell. I slump to the ground and hug my legs against my chest. “If I just had my Foreseer’s power, there wouldn’t be a problem. ” My fingers touch the back of my bare neck. Concentrating, I try to restore my power. I end up with a headache. Tears threaten to spill out, but I refuse to melt down. I remain immobile, until the door clicks and slides open.

  Alex stumbles in and the door crashes shut. His clothes are soaked, one shoe is missing, and his hair beads droplets of water down his cheeks.

  I jump to my feet, the chill swiftly fading. “Alex! Or are you—” His arms are around me before I can finish. He hugs me like I’m his oxygen. I breathe in his scent, cologne mixed with the musty odor of the lake. “You’re… you again. ”

  “Did you think that lake accident wouldn’t work?” He tries for a light tone, but fails.

  “I hoped, but I never assume anything’s going to work out,” I whisper, clutching onto him. God, how did I ever live without this—without him? It’s been a little over a day since the Lost Soul took him over, but it feels like forever. “How did you get down here?”

  “I sprinkled ash in the water,” he says. “After I became myself again. Laylen saw the Water Faeries take you. He jumped in to save you, but didn’t reach you in time. ”

  I lean back and sigh. “As much as I love that you came here to save me, now we’re both her prisoners. We’re giving her more power. ”

  He runs his fingers through his damp hair. “How did she get a hold of you? It’s against the law for Water Fey to surface the lake without being summoned by the ash. ”

  “Because apparently I’m a loophole,” I tell him, wiping the water trickling from his hair to his cheek. When his eyebrows furrow, I explain what Lucinda told me.

  “A Protected One. ” He absentmindedly twists a strand of my hair around his finger. “I’ve never heard of one. Are you sure she didn’t just make it up?”