The evanescence, p.23
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       The Evanescence, p.23

         Part #2 of Fallen Souls series by Jessica Sorensen
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Page 23


  “Yeah, but why do you think it’s off?” I wonder skeptically because nothing is ever supposed to be this easy. It’s practically a rule these days. Easy equals danger. “I don’t know—” before I can finish protesting, she yanks on my arm and tugs me inside.

  “What if it’s a trap?” I hiss as she releases her hold on my arm.

  “A trap to what?” she asks with doubt. “To trapping us back in here? Because, let’s face it, Gemma, they already pretty much have us. ”

  I nod, still doubtful. “Yeah… maybe…. ”

  “Maybe it’s just a malfunction,” she suggests. “But whatever it is, I think we should risk our chances because staying here,” she gestures around the room and then glances at the cliff where Aleesa fell from, “is going to get us nowhere. ”

  She has a point, but still, it seems way, way too simple. Regardless, it’s all we’ve got, so taking a deep breath, we walk down the tunnel, hoping for once that something will be that easy.

  Yet, when I step through, just like that, I’m heading down the tunnel with Aislin at my side. I grasp onto the rock wall and feel my way along the path. I can’t see a damn thing, but I can hear Aislin breathing loudly, like she’s scared to death.

  As we reach the exit and the tunnel opens up, a dark shadow blocks the light flowing inside. Sticking my arm out, I push Aislin back and step into the shadows.

  “What are we going to do about him?” Aislin whispers. “Usually I’d go to magic, but I’m useless right now. ”

  Tiny glances over his shoulder and we jump to the side, ducking behind a large boulder.

  “I don’t know,” I whisper, peering over. “There’s got to be something…”

  Tiny looks away and sits down on the ground, right in the center of the exit. His diamond wings fold inward and again he glances back, like he can sense us.

  “He’s huge,” Aislin whispers, peeking over the top of the rock. “But he doesn’t look mean. In fact, he almost looks sad. ”

  “He does, doesn’t he?”

  “He does. ”

  We turn around and sit down on the ground, thinking.

  “We could try to take him down,” Aislin suggests, flexing her fingers at her side as she rolls her neck. “It’s two against one. ”

  “Yeah, and he’s like five of us in size,” I mutter, raising my knees up and resting my chin on them. I close and open my eyes, wishing I could just blink us away, but I can’t feel a spark, no energy. I’m useless at the moment and I hate it.

  Suddenly, the ground begins to tremor, pebbles scattering, and pieces of the ceiling chip off and crash down around us. I’m about to ask what the hell is going on, when a dark shadow capes over us. I angle my head back and look above me.

  Tiny’s bright blue eyes stare down at us, his wings expanding like he’s ready to fly away. Aislin leaps up to her feet, throwing her hands out in front of her, a habit that comes from frequently using her magic. My lips part as I start to back away.

  Tiny eyes us both and then places one of his huge fingers against his lips, warning us to be quiet. We both freeze and I look over to Aislin and mouth, “Huh?”

  Tiny motions for us to follow him, still signaling to keep quiet with his finger placed to his lips, which is contradicting seeing as how every step he takes makes the ground rumble and shake.

  Tiny makes his way out into the sunlight while Aislin and I follow quietly behind him as he ducks into the trees, knocking a few over from the roots. Aislin and I rush to keep up with him as he stomps through the trees, going further into the forest until he reaches a clearing.

  I slam to a halt and Aislin crashes into the back of me. “What the heck…” She scans the land in front of us, the tall grass, the leaves blowing in the wind, and the hundreds and hundreds of Fey, kneeling in the dirt with their heads tipped forward.

  Tiny bows his head at me, before joining them, setting his spear down so he can kneel to the ground.

  “What is going on?” Aislin whispers from behind me.

  “I have no idea…” I trail off as Tiny lifts his head up and looks directly at me, pulling a long saber from his belt and lifting it towards the air.

  “All hail, Gemma, Empress of the Faerie Realm,” he says with his sword raised, and it’s echoed by claps and hollers.

  I think back to my vision and how similar the scene is, except for the fact that I’m not wearing a dress and Aislin wasn’t standing next to me.

  “Gemma. ” Aislin nudges me from behind. “Do something!”

  I gape at her. “Like what?”

  She shrugs. “I don’t know, like give a speech or something?”

  I look down at my neck, at the outline of the Cornu Lepore hidden beneath my shirt. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t even show them it, yet, somehow, I’ve become their ruler. The ruler of the Fey? The Fey.

  I blink and shake my head, doing the only thing I can think of. I raise my hand in the air, pretending I’m Empress.

  Chapter 30


  They all keep bowing and it’s starting to make me feel uncomfortable. It’s like they’re waiting for me to say or do something, like give a speech. But about what? How insane is this is? I look at Tiny and he cracks his eyelids open and gives me an encouraging nod.

  “I think they want you to say something. ” Aislin tells me, prodding me in the back, urging me to step forward.

  My jaw hangs to my knees as I stare at her, baffled. “What the hell do I say? Hey, thanks for bowing?” I shake my head and huff a breath in frustration. “I don’t even get what’s going on. ”

  She shrugs. “I don’t know, but it’s good, though. It’ll get us out of here. ”

  I turn around to the Faeries scattered across the land as Aislin gently shoves me forward. Tripping over my feet, I catch myself, and stand up straight, feeling idiotic as I cover my mouth and clear my throat. “Well, this is quite a surprise,” I say in a nervous voice and Aislin snorts a laugh. I glare at her from over my shoulder and she shrugs, stifling more laughter. As irritated as I am, it’s nice to see her smile again, even if it’s at my expense. “And I guess… I guess I’m honored to be your Empress. ” I glance around at them all. “Even if it’s because of this. ” I take the pendant out of my shirt and move it to the outside.

  Giggles, gasps, and whispering spread amongst the Fey and I notice that in between them are Sprites; they’re the ones making all the noise. I wonder if, because I’m Empress, I have the power to make them shut up.

  Tiny rises to his feet with his sword pointed upward to the sky “May I speak with you, Empress?”

  “Um. . . sure… and you can call me Gemma. ”

  Laying his spear on the ground, he weaves around the Fey, flattening the grass with his large feet as he makes a path to me. Tiny glances at another guard as he passes him. He stands up, and together, they make their way towards me.

  When they reach me, their large, lofty bodies block out the sunlight and the temperature descends in the shadows.

  “My name is Wilhelm,” the guard introduces himself, with a solemn bow of his head. “I’m one of the Protectors of the Fey. ”

  I extend my hand out for him to shake. “It’s nice to meet you. ”

  He hesitates and then reaches out, covering my hand with his, giving it a rough shake. “So, it’s true… you do have the Cornu Lepore?” He eyes the necklace with his fiery red eyes.

  I nod, glancing down at the necklace. “I do…” I glance at Tiny. “You saw it, didn’t you?”

  He nods. “When we were taking your friend away. ”

  I suck in a breath, wondering what it means. Wondering if Luna knows. Wondering if I care.

  “That gives you the right to become our leader—our Empress. ” He steps to the side so the crowd can see me. The sunlight hits the pendant and reflects across the grass, the trees, the Feys’ faces. “Our ruler. ”

  “I don’t understand, though,” I tell him as I
trace my finger across the red teardrop. “I thought this pendant gave me the ability to control your world, but it had to be seen first… but only you saw it… how does it even work? I’d think you guys wouldn’t be so happy about it. ” I wait for him to respond, holding my breath.

  “There’s a large amount of Fey that are growing tired of Luna and her antics,” he explains. “Luna wants a war. She wants to control the Fey—our world—however she wants. Things used to be different, you know. We used to have freedom, make choices together, but now it’s what she wants. ” He waves his arm at the Fey and, pushing up from their knees, they rise to their feet; some holding spears, some with their wings expanded, some even have Sprites on their shoulders. “We want a change. We want out freedom back. Once I told them about you and the Cornu Lepore, we saw the opportunity to change our lives—make things better. With your help, of course. You can become our Empress and give us our freedom so we no longer have to be slaves to Luna, getting punished,” he winces, “whenever we don’t go along with her. ”

  I’m not sure what to say. All I ever wanted was an easy ticket out of here. I think back to my vision and how I walked to the throne like I belonged there. Is that what it meant? Do I belong here? The idea is ludicrous, yet deep down, I feel a burn in my heart and a need to help them.

  His eyes are full of expectation. “We need your help. ”

  I glance around at the trees. “Where’s Luna now?”

  “She’s up in your world with her followers,” he replies with a frown. “Doing damage, wreaking havoc, I’m sure. ” He steps forward and the sunlight leaves me. “But if you’re our ruler… you can stop her. ”

  I don’t know what to do. I want to help them. They all look so sad. However, I have my own problems, so I do something I’m sure I’ll probably feel very bad for later. I lie. “I’ll help you,” I say and he starts to smile so I hurry and add, “but I have to go back to my world first. I have… I have some friends that are in danger and I need to help them first. ” I swallow hard, thinking of Alex. “But if you let me go, I promise, I’ll come back as soon as I can. ” When I say it, I realize I’m lying. Well, maybe. Honestly, I don’t know what I mean—what I want to do. Actually I do. I want to go back to school, learn, live, love, breathe. Be free.

  He bows his head and takes a long backwards stride. “I know what you say is the truth, Gemma. I can see it in your eyes. ”

  I try not to furrow my brows because even I don’t know if I’m being truthful. “So I can go?”

  “You’re free to go anytime you wish. That’s the power you have now,” he says. “And if you are ever in need, I’ll be there to help you. It’s my job now. We’re your loyal followers. ” Then, his head whips up and he stares out at the sky, shouting, “Long live, Empress Gemma!”

  The crowd joins in, shouting, laughing, hugging, and throwing things. I feel bad, yet, I don’t. I turn towards Aislin, ready to get out of this place before more stuff happens and I end up turning into a Sprite or something.

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