The lost soul, p.19
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       The Lost Soul, p.19

         Part #1 of Fallen Souls series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 19

 

  “Look above you,” they whisper.

  My head tilts up to a cage suspending from a thick branch. A hand sticks out, the fingernails painted a bright shade of pink. “Aislin?”

  The hand waves. “Yeah, it’s me. Are you okay?”

  I check my arms and legs over. “I’ve got bites all over me, but other than that, I’m good. What about you?”

  “I have bites too. ” A pause as her hair slips through the cracks between the cage bars. “I knew they were mean, but not that mean. I thought they were going to kill us. ”

  “I know,” I mutter. Placing my hands on the bars, I pull up. The cage totters and I plant a foot and hand on each side, steadying it. “Aislin, where’s Laylen?”

  Her cage swings in a circular motion. “I don’t know, Gemma. I didn’t even see him when the sprites took us down. ”

  I sift through my memories. “The lights went out, Laylen hit the floor, and then that gross Banshee showed up. After that, he was gone. Do you… do you think the Banshee took him?”

  “The sprites killed the Banshee I think. ” She pauses. “Gemma, why was the Banshee there? And why did it look so weird? They usually look more human than that. ”

  “Didn’t it come out of the realm in the closet?” I crane my neck to get a better view of what’s going on below. The sprites are busy causing mischief, pinching, kicking, and tormenting each other.

  “Banshee’s are fey, but they don’t come from the Faerie Realm,” Aislin replies. “It came from somewhere else. ”

  “It wailed at me. ” My palms sweat against the iron bars. “That could mean there’s a death in my future. ”

  “You’ll be okay,” Aislin comforts. “We’ll all be okay. ”

  “Aislin, I hate to point this out, but it’s really, really bad that you’re here, especially if Luna knows you are. ”

  “I know,” she concurs. “Now hold on. We’re getting out of here. ”

  “What?” I gape at the bottom of her cage.

  Her hand sneaks to the lock. Black and silver streaks glimmer in her palm. “Hoc redimio quod solvo mihi. ” The sparks heat the lock. Metal droplets rain into my cage. I dodge out of the way and the cage swerves sharply, jolting up from the bottom and dumping me into the bars. I bang my head and blink wildly as I slide back to the floor.

  “Sorry,” Aislin apologizes. “Hold on, I’m climbing down. ” She mutters under her breath. With a poof, she materializes in front of the cage. “Whoops, I was aiming for inside the cage. ” Securing her hands on the branch, her feet glide over the edge. The cage gripes, slanting forward, and I’m flung against the door. Her hands blunder, but she hitches the cage. We’re face-to-face, the bars fenced between us.

  “Phew. ” She clings to the bars. “That was close. ”

  I nod, my eyes wide. “How do we get out now?”

  Her eyes journey up, down, and to the side of the cage. Carefully, she inches from in front of the door. Her palm hovers over the heavy lock. “Hoc redimio quod solvo mihi. ” Silver and black rays energize from her hand, dissolving the lock to a river of liquid. She opens the door and the cage almost dumps us to the ground. Luckily, I grab the bars and climb out. After a struggle, we make it to the branch overhead, breathless, leaves and dirt flaking our hair.

  “You know, I think you’re right. ” Aislin wipes the sweat from her forehead. “I never realized how useful your Foreseer power was—you control it so much better than my teleportation. ”

  I snort a laugh. “Not quite. In fact, I can’t even count the number of times I’ve dropped myself and someone else into a random place. ” Our feet dangle over the side of the branch where the sprites continue to torture each other, oblivious to our freedom. “So, what’s the plan?”

  “We can’t teleport out of here—we learned that during our last visit. ” She collects her hair and twists it in a knotted bun, securing it with a bobby pin. “But there’s got to be a way to bail without having to trek through the forest. ”

  I pluck bits and pieces of leaves out of my hair and then comb the dirt out with my fingers. “What about Laylen? Should we make sure he isn’t here before we bail? And what about Aleesa?”

  “It’s going to take forever to figure out if Laylen is here,” she remarks, her eyes skimming the ground. “We need a better way to find him besides searching and to find where Aleesa is. ”

  “You can’t do a Tracker Spell from here?” I question.

  She shakes her head, considering. “I don’t have the stuff and there’s a slim to none chance the spell would work inside the Faerie Realm. ”

  “So what do we do then?” I ask.

  She sighs. “I’m not sure. ”

  “How about nothing. ” A voice answers.

  The nearness of it surprises us. We shoot around pulling our legs up.

  “Well, well, well,” I say snidely, before he can. “Look what the cat dragged in. ”

  Nicholas grins, his golden eyes mirroring in the sunlight. One hand is grasping the branch above his head, the other slack at his side. There’s something about the way he looks at us that sends an unnerving shiver through my body.

  “I’d watch how you speak to me here. ” He rolls his tongue across his lips.

  “Why? The Fey here hate you,” I call his bluff.

  “Gemma,” Aislin warns, her eyes fastened on Nicholas. “Be careful. He has more power here. ”

  Nicholas’ grin expands. “They may hate me here, but I’m still fey and my blood is connected to the land. Unlike yours, Gemma Lucas, ex-star, ex-Foreseer, ex-everything really, since you lost your other half and all. ”

  Rage burns. Without contemplation, I shove him, hoping he’ll fall. He staggers slightly, but regains his steadiness.

  His lip twitches. “I warned you. ” He snaps his fingers and the vines on the tree branch begin to slither, looping toward us. Aislin and I scamper in opposing directions. I hop to the nearest branch, the wood splitting as I scurry for the trunk. But before I reach it, the branch snaps completely. My legs fly out from underneath me. Plunging to the ground, my fingers desperately seek the limbs. My skin rips and my heart thuds as the ground closes in. I blink my eyes, wishing my foreseer power would return. But again, I can’t sense my power.

  A hand swoops down and fingers coil around my arm. I’m jolted to the side and flipped around. With my feet secure on a branch, Nicholas crushes me against the tree and pins my arms behind my back.

  “I warned you,” he breathes, enjoying himself. “But you never listen. ”

  Every flicker of anger I’ve felt for the faerie swarms through me like bees. “What kind of person are you? I freed you from death—convinced Annabella to release your Essence—and this is how you repay me. ”

  He slopes his head so it virtually touches mine. His voice is a deep rumble. “The only reason I was dead in the first place was because of you. If you would have just left me alone and found another way to change your vision, I would have never been in that car—I wouldn’t have been in the accident. ”

  “Okay…” He has me there. But I straighten my shoulders. “You know what? You’re right. But I don’t get it. Besides accidental stuff, I haven’t done anything to you. And I thought the essence thing made up for what I did. But it’s like you have this vendetta against me or something. ”

  “That snake thing was out of my control,” Nicholas whispers lowly. “The Foreseers made me do it. ”

  My fury simmers to curiosity. “How did you get the mark on you?”

  His eyes glow with fire. “They put it on me. ”

  “Who did?” I inquire with interest. “The Foreseers? Because I thought the only person who could put marks on people is dead. ”

  “Are you sure Stephan’s dead?” Nicholas asks. I stop breathing. “Relax, I was just kidding. He’s dead. The Death Walkers are dead. But now you have other people to worry about. ”

  My eyes narrow. “What do you know?”

 
“Tsk, tsk. ” He clicks his tongue at me. “I never just divulge my secrets. There’s always a price. ”

  “What’s the price this time?” I sigh. “A promise, an evil favor, my life?”

  He places a hand over his heart. “It’s your twisted sense of humor that makes me adore you, Gemma Lucas. ” He’s being genuine and it’s weird.

  “What’s the price?” I repeat.

  He extends his hand. “You have to come with me. There’s something I want to show you. ”

  I elevate my eyebrows. “What about Aislin? And Laylen? Are you going to show me where they are?”

  He points a finger upward. “Aislin’s safe and sound in her cage. And when she wakes up, Luna will force her to use her magic to free her from this realm,” he says and cuts me off when my lips part to argue. “That’s something I can’t help. Luna is an Empress, way more powerful than me. What I can help you with is understanding what you’re getting yourself into with Helena. ”

  “And what about Laylen?” I ask. “What does Luna want with him?”

  His eyebrows incline. “Laylen’s not here. ”

  “Damn it,” I curse, stomping my foot. “Where is he? I’d say the Banshee took him, but Aislin said she thinks the sprites killed the Banshee. ”

  “Banshee’s can’t die. They’re already dead,” he says and shrugs. “And you know what? Laylen’s not really my problem. ”

  “And I am?” I ask. “Because I wonder sometimes if you’ve been leading my solutions to you all along. ”

  He doesn’t respond, capturing my hand in his. I withdraw back, but he only intensifies his grip. “You want the answers it will be on my terms. You, after all, are in my world. ”

  Grimacing, I let him lead me down the tree. I fight not to squirm, my hand wanting to revolt from his. However, when we brink to the bottom and he places his hands on my hips to guide me down, I draw the line.

  “I got it. ” Dodging around him, I leap to the ground. My shoelaces are untied and the humid air dews my legs. I walk next to Nicholas, past the sprites, who eye me with their beady little eyes.

  “They won’t hurt you,” Nicholas assures me. “Not when you’re with me. ”

  I eye him suspiciously. “You say that, but it doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, you’ve told me countless times that the fey don’t like you because you’re only half-fey. ”

  He smiles, ducking through a curtain of vines and cerise flowers. “That’s before I discovered who my grandmother is. ”

  Oh dear Jesus. “Do I dare ask?”

  “I think you already know. ” He sweeps his sandy hair out of his eyes.

  “But she’s so…” I trail off, kicking at the grass as we walk into the forest.

  “Short?” He mocks me with a curve of his eyebrow. “Do you really think that’s what she looks like?” He puts his lips next to my ear. “Fey have multiple identities. ”