The lost soul, p.18
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       The Lost Soul, p.18

         Part #1 of Fallen Souls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 18

 

  “Why does an evil Queen do anything?” Laylen asks. “For power. She’s up to something and you know it. ”

  “My dreams don’t mean anything anymore,” I respond hollowly, aware of the missing mark on my neck. “They’re just dreams. ”

  “You know what I think. ” Laylen takes my hands in his and he looks me straight in the eye. “I think that your dreams will always be more than just dreams. I think you’re more powerful than even the Foreseers realize and just taking away your mark isn’t going to stop you. I mean, think about it. Even before you found out you were a Foreseer, you were having realistic dreams. ” He stops, waiting for my response.

  “So let’s say you’re right. ” I sigh. “And all my dreams have meanings. How is that going to help us save Alex?”

  “Think about what you’ve seen. ” He lets go of my hands and bites at his lip ring. “Maybe there’s a clue hidden in one of them. ”

  I rewind through my dreams. “Helena was looking younger and she wanted the Essences for some reason or another. She ate Annabella and kept rambling about her connection to the world. ”

  “That could be Alex. ” Aislin smears the tears away with the sleeve of her jacket. “Maybe she was the one possessing him. ”

  “No, Alex told me he could sometimes hear Helena when he was possessed, but that she wasn’t the one possessing him,” I say. “But Helena did say it was a human connection. Still, we don’t even know if any of this has happened yet. It could be something in the future. ”

  We mull it over. The clock ticks, the wind gusts, and the night swallows the outside. The more time drifts by, the more panicked I become. Alex may be trapped in The Afterlife, with Helena, for God knows what reasons.

  “What about Stasha?” Aislin speaks as if she’s terrified. “Didn’t you see something with her?”

  I frown, dispirited. “Yeah, and she was here for whatever reason… Alex thought she might know something about The Lost Soul possessing him. But he never did explain the details, though. He just said he had a suspicion Stasha showed up because she knew he was possessed. ”

  A moment passes. I dread what everyone’s thinking.

  “Gemma, I hate to say this—” Aislin starts.

  I hold up my hand, cutting her off. “I already know what you’re going to say. ” I sigh tiredly. “And I think you’re right. We should go talk to her and see what she’s up to. ”

  “And since you’re immune to death, you should be safe,” Aislin attempts to joke, but her voice is a high-pitched squeal.

  Laylen offers a small smile. “Yeah, and maybe if we’re really lucky, she won’t just give out the information. Perhaps we might have to torture it out of her. ”

  They’re trying to make me feel better, and I love them for that. But it can’t erase the dream I had; Stasha stealing Alex from me and saying she can save him.

  “So I guess it’s to Stasha’s,” I say and they agree. We depart for the front door. I grab Laylen’s sleeve and lug him back to me. “But if this doesn’t work, Im moving to plan B. ”

  Before he can protest, I free his sleeve and hurry by him. Aislin hooks her purse on her shoulder and opens the front door, allowing in the icy night air.

  “Gemma, maybe you should grab a jacket,” Aislin says, holding the door open.

  I nod, retreating to the stairway. Abruptly, the entire castle’s power fails. Darkness encases us, except for the gray emanating in from the door.

  “The breaker must have gone out again,” Laylen says with a heavy sigh. He flicks on the lighter he carries in his pocket. “I’ll go flip it back on. ”

  Aislin opens the door wider. “I don’t—” The door slams shut with such force it rattles the house windows. “What the heck is that?!” Aislin shouts, yanking on the doorknob.

  The lighter shoots from Laylen’s hand and he hits the floor hard. “Son of a… what is that?”

  “Did you trip ov—” Footsteps barrel between my legs. I skitter to the side. They whirl around and sink their teeth into my knee.

  “Aislin!” I shout, grasping my knee. “Did you ever get rid of the sprites in the closet?”

  Her silence says everything. “Umm… I meant to but I—damn it! Would you cut that out?”

  Thwack. Something breezes by my head. I duck for cover, ramming my chin into the stone floor.

  “Gemma?” Aislin whispers. “Where are you?”

  I scan the dark for her. “On the floor. Where are you? And where’s Laylen?”

  “I’m by the door. ” Sparks formulate in her hand. “Hold on, let me see if I can get some light… I don’t know where Laylen is. ”

  Cold fingers cloak my ankle.

  “Laylen is that you?” I ask with false hope. “Umm… Aislin, do sprites have long fingers? I remember them being short and nubby. ”

  “They’re pretty small. ” Gold illuminates from her skin, lighting up her face and the foyer. “Why?”

  I gape at the hand enclosing my ankle. The fingers are longer and bonier than a human’s. The pale skin is scaly and dry like desert sand. When my eyes meet theirs, I gulp.

  A Water Faerie? On land? Water Faeries aren’t supposed to surface on land. Yet, here was one is clutching my leg, a dried body sprawled on the stairway. Without hesitation, I slam the heel of my shoe into its nose. The bone crunches, but the faerie keeps coming at me. Its hands move up my leg like a tight rope.

  “Aislin!” I yell, clawing at the floor. Aislin stands in the middle of an angry mob of sprites, chanting spells and blasting magic. A ring of fire glitters around her feet, but the sprites use their tiny wings to dive over, taking bites at her hair and face. She swats away one after another.

  The Water Faerie’s nails rip my leg apart. I kick harder and pop its jaw out of place. It gnaws on its tongue, trying to realign its jaw. Taking advantage of the distraction, I rotate on my back and bring my free leg down on top of its skull. It wails, crying its pain into the night. It’s not a Water Faerie, but a really hideous Banshee in hag form.

  “Aislin!” I scream. “How do you kill a Banshee?!”

  “You don’t!” Aislin drop kicks a sprite across the room. “They’re already dead!”

  Nails sink into my other leg and blood gushes out. “Then how do you stop them?!”

  “You give them your soul!” Aislin shouts, leaping over the sprites. “I don’t know how to—”

  Four sprites take her down. She lands flat on her face, splitting her lip. “Why you little—” They pile on her like a mosh pit. She yells frantically, arms and legs flailing. I hammer my shoe against the Banshee’s face repeatedly. But the Banshee is as tough as nails. It dives on me, its bony knee ramming my gut. I gasp for air as it restrains my shoulders against the ground. Tresses of its frail white hair hang in its smoky eyes. It smiles, thin lips parting and cranking out a deathly wail. My hand seeks to shield my ears and block out the premonition of death.

  Suddenly, a sprite soars into the Banshee. Its eyes bobble around and it snarls. Another sprite zips into it and giggles as the Banshee crumples to the floor. The pack of sprites leaves Aislin, their tiny feet pitter-pattering as they march for the Banshee. The Banshee snarls as the sprites pile on it. I crawl away, confused—I thought they were part of the same team, both being descendants of the fey bloodline.

  I make it to Aislin, panting. “We need to get out of here!”

  Sweat beads her forehead and golden sparks sprinkle from her hand. “I know, but we have to find Laylen first. ”

  “Laylen!” I’m on my feet and running across the foyer to the stairs to spot where I heard Laylen fall. The sprites and Banshee roll at the foot of the stairway, punching, hitting, and biting each other. The Banshee is covered in blood and reality smacks me in the face; despite the sprites miniature size they can still do a lot of damage.

  “I’ll check upstairs,” I call out to Aislin, preparing to jump over the fight. “You check downstairs. Maybe if we split up we can
” I trail off as the magical light dissipates. “Aislin?” I spin in a circle, scanning the floor. “Aislin?” My voice is vigilant. “Where are you?”

  A sprite giggles by my ear. “I see you,” he taunts. “You better watch out!”

  I swat it and smile when I hear it drop to the floor. But the celebration is short lived as the rest of the sprites take me down, biting my skin over and over again. I scream and they laugh excitedly. A huff of toxic smoke inhales my lungs.

  “Sleepy, sleep,” One of them laughs.

  I struggle to stay conscious. But the smoke takes over my body, slows down my circulation, my breathing. With one last breath, I black out.

  Chapter 16

  “I did something bad. ” There’s an ache in Alex’s voice. “Something I wish I could take back, but I can’t. ”

  I glance behind me, searching through the light. “Where are you? I can’t see a thing. ”

  “You shouldn’t see me right now,” he murmurs. “It wouldn’t help how hard this is for me. ”

  “What are you talking about?” I ask. “And what is this exactly? It doesn’t feel like a dream or a vision, but it doesn’t feel real either. ”

  “It’s you and I, Gemma. It’s always you and me. Forever. ” He speaks in riddles. “And what I did—you have to understand, okay? You have to forgive me. Please, just forgive me. ”

  I turn in a circle. “Alex, you’re freaking me out. What did you do?”

  He appears in front of me with agony in his bright eyes and longing in his lips. “I messed this up. Really, really bad. But I didn’t mean to. ” He rakes his fingers through his hair. “It was such a long time ago, I forgot it ever happened. ”

  I take his hands, and stroke my thumb across the star on his wrist. “What is it?”

  He swallows hard and his lips move for mine. I think he’s going to kiss me, but his mouth veers for my ear. “I ruined it,” he whispers in dismay.

  I glide my hands up his strong arms and rest them on his shoulder. “Tell me what you did and maybe I can fix it. ”

  He pauses, his breathing faltering. “Our promise. I broke it. ”

  ***

  My eyes slowly open. I feel dead inside. I tell myself it was just a dream and nothing more. But the cracks in my heart are as real as what is in front of my eyes. Bars coil around, securing me inside an iron-rod cage, which is hooked to a tree branch. Leafy vines, dotted with pink flowers, interweave the bars. Below the cage is a small village thick with colorful flowers, green leaves and trees, and grassy forts.

  The Kingdom of Fey.

  I roll onto my stomach, the cage rocking. On my hands and knees, I freeze, stabilizing my weight as I scan the ground. Sprites glitter the forest. Short, fat, winged, teethed—they remind me of gremlins.

  “Gemma,” someone hisses.

  I glance over my shoulder. Vines and flowers sway from the branch. I peer through the leaves, wondering if a sprite is lurking in the greenery.