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The Underworld, Page 24

Jessica Sorensen

Page 24


  The City of Crystal.

  I can’t believe I’d pulled it off. I felt like such a bad ass.

  I glanced to the side of me, praying that Laylen would be standing there, but he wasn’t.

  “Laylen,” I called out quietly, my eyes searching the cave. The sound of a light breeze was the only thing that answered me back. “Laylen?” I started to walk toward a bridge that was paved with broken pieces of porcelain. “Are you here?

  A soft bang came from behind me, and I spun around, afraid of what I would find, but my racing heart instantly settled when I saw Laylen.

  I let out a breath of relief. “For a second, I thought I didn’t bring you with me. ”

  “For a second, I thought I died. ” He glanced around at the cave made of glass and crystal. “This place is…interesting. ”

  “Yeah, it is” I agreed. “Wait…You haven’t been here before?”

  He shook his head, his fingers tracing the rubies curving along the crystal wall. “Not too many people have. ”

  People? Neither of us were really considered people, were we? In fact, everyone I knew had a mark of some sort. “So, which way do you think will take us to Alex?” I asked him.

  “Your guess is as good as mine. ” Laylen dropped his hand from the wall and turned to me. “You’ve been here before, though, so your guess is probably better. ”

  “Well, you know what Alex is doing down here,” I pointed out. “So if you’d tell me…”

  He considered this, and then said, “He’s doing something with this big crystal ball that channels energy to all the Foreseer’s crystal balls…But Gemma, I’m warning you that if we do find him, it’s not going to be pretty. ”

  “How so?” I asked. “I mean, what’s he doing with this big crystal that’s so bad?”

  Laylen swept his bangs away from his face, looking uncomfortable “Well…that big crystal collects its energy from…people. And the way the energy is collected…it’s pretty bad from what I’ve been told. ”

  I nodded, trying to ignore the sickening feeling building in my stomach. “Okay, I remember Nicholas mentioning a big crystal ball. I think he said it was in the heart of the City of Crystal, whatever that means. ”

  Laylen glanced from left to right. “So which way?”

  Wow. It felt so weird to be the one in charge, but I guess I’d give the position my best try.

  “Well…” I looked to my right, at the bridge paved of porcelain, which I knew led to the Palace. Then I looked to my left, where all I could see was the crystal floor stretching down the cave. Having to pick between the two choices, I decided that it would be best to head away from the Palace because I figured we’d more likely get caught by someone if we went that way. “I say we go left. ”

  “Left it is,” Laylen said and we started off to our left.

  “So, do you think Nicholas was up to something, or do you think he was just hanging around?” I asked, keeping my voice low.

  “He could have been just hanging around,” Laylen said. “He seems to have a deep fascination with you. ”

  “I don’t know why, though. ” I shook my head. “No one’s ever wanted to hang around me before. ”

  Laylen gave me a strange look. “Why do you think that?”

  I shrugged. “Because I never had any friends in school, well until Alex came along, but that was just him trying to figure out why I started to feel again. He wasn’t hanging around me because he wanted to. ”

  “Gemma. ” Laylen’s voice was deep—pressing. “The only reason you never had any friends was because of how you were. But that’s not how you really are, and you need to realize that. And trust me, Alex enjoys being around you more than he lets on. ”

  “If that’s true,” I said, dragging my fingers along the wall as we walked, “then it’s because of the electricity. ”

  “Trust me, it’s more than that. ” He pondered something for a good-long while before continuing. “Alex puts on this huge front when it comes to how he feels about things, but if you’ve known him for as long as I have, then you’d know it’s mostly an act. ”

  I was just about to open my mouth and tell him that I still didn’t believe that Alex liked being around me, but the sound of approaching footsteps made me stop.

  Laylen and I froze, and we both shot a quick glance behind us. But there was nothing.

  “Where’s it coming from,” I whispered.

  He shook his head, and scooted us over to the side of the path, where we stepped off of a ledge and down onto a glistening surface of blue glass that was as slippery as ice. He took my hand, and we hurried over to a massive crystal pillar that coiled down from the ceiling and connected to the ground. Right as we tucked ourselves behind the pillar, I caught a glimpse of a tall figure walking down the path.

  “Someone’s coming,” I whispered to Laylen.

  He gave me a nervous glance and then carefully peeked around the pillar. “What the…”

  “Who is it?” I whispered.

  “There’s no one there,” he told me, shaking his head.

  I furrowed my eyebrows and then peeked around the pillar. I, however, was met by a pair of golden eyes that belonged to a very tricky faerie/Foreseer.

  I jerked backward, but Nicholas caught me by the arm and reeled me into him. He moved away from the pillar, backing across the slippery glass at a speed I’d never be able to pull off.

  “I knew you’d show up here,” Nicholas breathed in my ear, still backing us away from the pillar—and from Laylen. “I knew you would come and try to save him. ”

  I fought to get free, but my feet kept slipping out from under me.

  Nicholas whirled me around, wrapped his arms around me, and pulled me forcefully against him. “Try anything funny, and I’ll have you out of here before you can even blink. ”

  “Nicholas,” Laylen called out as he chased after us. “Let her go. ”

  “Come any closer,” Nicholas warned, holding up the ruby-filled crystal ball that apparently he had in his hand the entire time. “And I’ll have her out of her before you can reach us. ”

  Laylen slid to a halt, but a look of rage on his face stayed.

  “Wise choice,” Nicholas said, his damp breath hitting my cheek.

  “What do you want?” Laylen asked, his bright blue eyes targeted on Nicholas.

  Nicholas traced a finger down my cheek, sending a shiver crawling down my spine. “I have what I want right here. ”

  Yuck. I was so tired of ending up like this—trapped against Nicholas.

  Laylen got this look on his face, like he was trying really hard to figure out how to free me from Nicholas before he took me away from the City of Crystal. I was panicking with the thought that Nicholas would end up winning. And if he did then…Well, I didn’t even want to think about the possibilities of what would happen if he did.

  Nicholas strengthened his hold on me, the ruby-filled ball glowing in his hand. He was breathing deep, his chest rising and falling, as he raised the crystal ball up in the air. There was a blur of colors that swooshed toward us and then came a loud crack, followed by a soft thump.

  I learned something new.

  Vampires are fast. And I mean fast.

  One second Laylen had been a ways away from us, and the next second he was right there.

  It was amazing.

  Another second and he’d knocked Nicholas out. Yep, actually knocked him out…I think.

  “Is he…alive?” I asked, staring down at Nicholas’s body sprawled across the icy blue glass.

  “Yeah, he’s good—just unconscious. ” Laylen bent down and looped his arms underneath Nicholas’s arms. “We’ll let him sleep it off, and hopefully we’ll be long gone by the time he wakes up. ”

  “And what if we’re not?” I asked scooting out of the way so Laylen could drag Nicholas behind the pillar.

  “Guess we’ll have to make sure we hurry. ”

“Hurry?” I looked around at the giant cave we were standing in. “But we still don’t know where to go. ”

  Laylen didn’t say anything, only taking my arm to help me keep my balance as we walked back across the icy, blue glass. By the time we’d stepped back up onto the translucent crystal floor, I was extremely worried. Nicholas could wake up at any moment, and he probably would be super pissed when he did. And we still needed to find Alex.

  As I rattled my brain for a solution on how to do this, besides searching the entire city for him, something shocked me in the back. At first I thought I’d imagined it—that my brain was searching for an answer and had created the shock on its own. But then it happened again, and I knew.

  “Alex is close,” I sputtered out as I felt another spark, this time in my fingertips.

  “What?” Laylen asked, looking confused.

  “He’s close…I can feel him. ”

  Realization slowly rose in his expression. “The electricity?”

  I nodded, and then we were running, following the path of electricity like an invisible trail of bread crumbs, which would hopefully lead us right to Alex. We kept running and running, going further into the cave, letting my electric sensors steer us as the sparks grew hotter and hotter, until they were going so wild I thought I was going to combust into flames. And when we reached a pair of silver doors, with the Foreseers mark on the top of each one, I knew Alex had to be behind them.

  “You think he’s in there?” Laylen asked as I reached for the doorknob.

  I nodded, slowly turning the handle, and pushed open the door. And what I saw made my stomach churn. People wrapped in chains that were binding them to a crystal ball the size of a football stadium. And all those people…well, they looked dead.

  Chapter 20

  I stood there, my hand still gripping the doorknob, my mouth agape. The people looked like corpses; their skin as pale as a ghost, their eyes sealed shut, their bodies strapped to the massive crystal ball that burned brightly like the sun. They were dead. They were all dead. Alex was dead. I couldn’t breathe.

  “Calm down, Gemma. ” Laylen’s voice was soothing “They’re not dead. ”

  I dropped my hand from the doorknob, unable to take my eyes off the crystal ball, the people, the chains. “Are you—are you sure?”

  “Yeah, I’m sure. The crystal’s collecting energy from them,” he explained. “If they were dead, they wouldn’t be useful. ”

  Calm down. You won’t be useful if you’re freaking out. “Okay, so where’s Alex. ”

  Laylen stepped cautiously into the room, and I followed. Luckily, there didn’t seem to be anyone awake hanging around in there, like a Foreseer guard or something. The coast was all clear. So why did I still feel like I was going to throw up?

  “Maybe we should split up,” Laylen suggested. “You head right and I’ll take the left?”

  I nodded, and he headed off to the left side of the crystal ball. I headed to the right, searching the peoples’ faces as I moved around the burning crystal. It was difficult to feel the electricity in here because the crystal seemed to be radiating off an intense amount of electric energy. But if I really concentrated, I could feel the difference between the crystal ball’s electricity and Alex’s.