The evanescence, p.24
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       The Evanescence, p.24

         Part #2 of Fallen Souls series by Jessica Sorensen
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Page 24


  “Ready?” I ask, trying not to sound too eager.

  She smiles and then winks at me with a cheery look on her face. “Yes, Empress. ”

  I shake my head, suppressing a smile. Then, shutting my eyes, I picture the grey stone castle, its peaking towers, the green grass, the sand beside the rippling lake. I let out a sigh of relief as I feel us being pulled away, whisked back to my world. However, a part of me feels guilty for leaving them. Even though the Fey have never been my favorite creatures, they still don’t deserve to suffer and I wonder if maybe I’ll end up going back and helping them.

  As I land on the ground, I shake the thought from my head, relieved to be back in the real world again.

  Chapter 31


  It’s dark, murky, the air smells pungent, but that could be from the mummified corpses surrounding me. Water drips from the stone ceiling and rivers down the walls. I scrape my knife across the rocks as I watch the Lost Souls cower, terrified out of their rotting minds. The fear flowing off them invigorates me, but, for a brief second, it feels wrong.

  “See? It’s not so bad,” Draven says, walking the length of the room with a massive grin on his face. The Banshee watches us from the corner of the room, perched on a rock, occasionally joining us.

  I nod, cutting a piece off the stone wall. I watch the fragment fall to the ground, already forgetting what I was thinking about. “It’s not too bad. ”

  We’re in the basement of his place. Apparently, he’s been working on his army for quite some time because he’s already got a whole stash of Lost Souls on hand. He brought me down here to train me and to add Stasha’s body—soul—to the collection.

  He carries a long, black whip, laced with silver, as he struts around the room, carrying confidence, even though decaying bodies surround him.

  “What you must always understand, Alex, is that strong discipline is the key to their behavior. You give them a chance to disobey,” he cracks his whip as one of them shifts towards him, “they will have no respect for you. ”

  The willful soul returns to its corner, hunkering back down with the others. Draven rolls up his whip and connects it to his hip. He turns in my direction and gestures for me to follow him as he opens the door. “We can continue this later. There are things we need to discuss. ”

  Folding my knife, I put it back inside my pocket and give one last look at the tortured souls before I exit the room. Draven waits for me just outside the door and, when I am standing next to him, he removes a long key from his pocket and locks the door behind us, tucking the key back inside his pocket.

  He departs towards the wooden staircase that leads to the main floor and I follow behind him. The staircase is old and slightly sways under the pressure of our weight as we make our way up it.

  Draven opens the door at the top of the stairs and the light from the hallway greets our eyes, causing me to blink. I follow him down the long hall towards his office. He ushers me to take a seat as he strolls over to the desk and takes a seat in his large leather chair.

  “I have no doubt that you will be able to handle the Lost Souls, Alex. You are more than capable. We need to recruit more individuals so my—or should I say, our—army will be strong enough to overtake Helena. ” He watches me, wanting a response.

  “That shouldn’t be a problem. There are plenty of people walking down the nearby streets every day. We should be able to capture as many as we need—no one would even notice. ” Leaning back in my chair I stretch my arms behind me and lean my head back on them.

  “Unfortunately, it is not that simple. ” He opens a drawer on his desk and takes out a thick book. I recognize it as the book he was reading once before—when he first brought Stasha into the room.

  Flipping open the book, he searches for a page. When he finds what he is looking for he shoves the book across the desk towards me. “I want you to read the section on that page. It will explain in detail why your suggestion will not be a success for us. ”

  Leaning forward in my chair, I reach out to pull the book towards me. I can tell by the thick pages and elegant writing inside that it is very old and is probably something that was difficult for Draven to come by.

  I glance down at the page that Draven wants me to view and skim through the words that are written upon the page. Everything becomes clear to me as I read the words and I understand Draven’s concern about finding the right people for our army.

  Closing the book I slide it back across the desk. He picks it up and tucks it back inside the drawer he took it from before folding his hands in front of him as he watches me with his dark eyes.

  “Do you understand now why it is imperative that we find the correct subjects for our army?” he asks me.

  I nod my head. “I do. If we find people with powers such as Keepers and Witches, their strengths will be preserved in them as they become our Lost Souls. So the more powers they have, the stronger they will be for us. ”

  He is pleased and smiles. “That is exactly right, Alex. So I want to be sure that those that we… convert… have some kind of power. The more power they have, the more power we’ll have. ”

  We need power. I think I know just the person.

  A slow smile creeps across my face. An Omnia is one of the most powerful people I know.

  And I know right where to find one.

  Chapter 32


  We land on the shore of the lake beneath the sun and are instantly blanketed by warm air.

  “Thank God. ” Aislin does a spin with her hands out to the sides of her, her hair blowing behind her like a cape. “It’s so good to be home. ”

  Home? Is that where I am? I stare at the castle at the top of the hill. Is that my home?

  She stops spinning, letting her arms fall to the side, sadness filling her expression. “I just wish Aleesa could have been with us… she didn’t even really get a life, you know. ”

  “I know. ” I have an urge to hug her, but, being an awkward hugger, I keep my arms to my side.

  However, she hugs me, throwing her arms around me and gripping tight. It’s awkward, but not as much as it used to be for me. When she pulls away, she’s smiling and looking like her old self again.

  “I’m not even sure Laylen and Evan are going to be here… they might have gone looking for me,” I say as we start to hike up the hill. The castle looks empty; no lights on, the curtains open, and there are no cars parked out front. “God, what if they did? What if they went to the Fey Realm and are there looking for me, and Luna is there and—”

  Aislin’s fingers wrap around my arm. “Calm down, Gemma. Let’s not jump to conclusions before we see what’s going on. ”

  I nod and she releases my arm. “We’ll get everything fixed,” she says. “No matter what it is. ”

  I nod, frowning, as I think of everything that’s wrong. “Okay. ”

  “And Gemma,” she says, looking me directly in the eye. “When I say we, I mean we. You’re not in this alone. ”

  I have the urge to hug her again and I’m actually considering it, but my thoughts are interrupted by a loud explosion as the castle windows crack, burst, and fly through the air, along with sparks.

  Aislin and I sprint off towards the castle, running as fast as we can, legs fighting to move, arms flailing, but we slam to a halt when Laylen and Evan come running out the front door, their eyes fixed on the castle, which is lighting up with roaring flames. Walking backwards with his back turned to us, Evan spreads his hands to the side, and his skin erupts with flames. He channels it to his palms and starts throwing them at the open front door.

  “What the hell are they doing!?” I call out to Aislin as we race across the gravel driveway. “Trying to burn the place down!?”

  She shrugs, panting and struggling to keep up. “I have no idea!”

  Hearing our voices, Laylen and Evan turn in our direction and shock registers upon their faces.

“Where’d you two come from?” Evan’s flaming arms fall to his side, singeing a hole in his jeans.

  I stop in front of them, gasping for air and hunching over. “What the heck’s going on?”

  Laylen’s bright blue eyes widen as he rushes towards us, grabbing each of us by the arm without slowing down. “I’ll explain later, but, right now, we have to get the hell out of here!” He jerks us backwards and we both struggle to follow as well as keep up with him.

  He lets go of our arms and we sprint behind him as he leads the way to the shore. Evan jogs behind us, shooting flaming balls from his hand towards the castle. He keeps cursing as explosion after explosion fills the air.

  Once we reach the shore, he slams to a stop. “Gemma, Foresee us out of here. ” He pants loudly as he sweeps his hair away from his sweaty forehead. “We have to go! Now!”

  Evan jogs up to us, reaching inside his pocket, and he retrieves the miniature, ruby-filled Foreseer Ball. “I got it…” He stumbles over a log and the ball slips from his fingers, rolling towards the lake. Evan watches it plink into the water and he starts to chase after it.

  Aislin grabs his arm. “Don’t. ” She points to the water and Evan stops moving.

  There are hundreds of Water Faeries in the lake, wispy and hauntingly graceful as they dance and twirl, spinning their fabric bodies and watching us with their hollowed out eyes.

  “Why are they… Crap. I think everything in the Fey world is starting to fall apart,” I declare.

  “Starting,” Aislin says incredulously. “Try, has been for a while. ”

  A loud crash booms from behind us and I tear my eyes from the lake and towards the noise. Suddenly, I understand what the panic is about.

  A giant-size Faerie with purple skin and flowing hair charges from the castle, taking one of the towers out with her. Her skin is singed in spots, along with her hair and dress, and her eyes are burning with rage.

  “Luna,” I say, my eyes widening as I back up towards the water.

  And she’s not alone. Surrounding her ankles are loyal groups upon groups of Fey; carrying spears and more are exiting the trees.

  I stop near the water, glancing down at the pendant on my neck. “Does this work on her?”

  Hearing me, Luna laughs and it vibrates in the ground, sending trees from their roots. “I’m already an Empress, Gemma. Another Empress can’t rule over the same reign. ”

  I point at the Fey around her feet as she continues to charge at me. “They can, though. ”

  She laughs and it sends birds flying from the trees crashing to the ground. “You think they’d pick you over me? Try. Try and see!”

  I don’t want to try. I want to get the hell out of here. I gather everyone in and we huddle together as the world around us falls apart. Closing my eyes I try to visualize someplace safe. Someplace no one will look for us. Someplace where I wish I could be instead of here. What surfaces in my mind surprises me.

  “Stop them!” Luna shouts. “Stop them now!”

  It’s too late. We’re already being pulled away.

  “I won’t let you do this!” she cries, but her voice is fading. “You won’t reign over my people and ruin my plan. I will win the war!”

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