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The underworld, p.32
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       The Underworld, p.32

         Part #2 of Fallen Star series by Jessica Sorensen
 
Page 32

 

  “Am I just plain evil?” He sounded mad. “Before you go opening your mouth and saying things you don’t understand, maybe you should consider how much you know about Stephan. Or about his precious son Alex? You trust him so much, yet he is the son of the man who has ruined your life and many others as well. ”

  “Did he ruin your life?” The way he said it made me wonder.

  He didn’t say anything, and I thought I struck a nerve.

  “What did he do to you?” I asked, keeping my voice low and swaying.

  He stared at me with a look of intensity and I thought he was going to tell me, but then that playful sparkle returned to his eyes, and he backed away from me with a stupid grin on his face.

  “I think I’m going to go take a walk. ” He slid his hands into the pockets of his tan cargo pants. “I’d say wait here, but I don’t think you’ll be going anywhere. ”

  “Nicholas, please,” I begged, jerking on the chains again. “You can’t hand me over to Stephan. ”

  But he already left.

  I let out a frustrated scream, tugging on the chains with every ounce of strength I had in me, disregarding the pain of the metal cuffs cutting deeply into my skin. I tried to break free until my wrists were bleeding; until I was so exhausted that I had no strength left in me. Until all there was left to do was wait.

  What I was waiting for, I didn’t know.

  Chapter 28

  It seemed like hours went by. There were no windows in the room so I couldn’t tell if it was dark outside. And where exactly was I? The Kingdom of Fey or the City of Crystal—where did Nicholas live?

  My wrists were sore, my head was throbbing, and I was scared and tired. I wondered what Alex and Laylen were doing. What did they do when I didn’t return to the car? Were they looking for me? Would they even know where to find me?

  I’d just rested back against the wall, giving up all hope that anyone was ever going to be able to find me, when the door opened up.

  My heart leapt, hoping it was Laylen. Or Alex. Although, I couldn’t feel any electricity so I doubted that was the case.

  Of course, the only person who came strolling in was Nicholas. He was carrying something in his hand, and he didn’t look happy at all.

  He walked over and sat down in front of me. “Tell me, Gemma, has anyone told you anything about the fey world?”

  “Umm…no?” Was this a trick question?

  “Well,” he crossed his legs, “we have been around forever. Most people who know of our existence think of us a tricksters, which, most of the time, we are. But we can also be very serious, at least when it comes to our kind suffering. ”

  I wasn’t sure where he was going with this, so I just stared at him vacantly.

  “I’m not sure if you’ve heard of him or not, but there used to be a Keeper who called himself Malefiscus,” he said.

  I swallowed hard. “I might have heard his name mentioned before. ”

  “Good, then I don’t have to explain who he is. And I assume you know what kind of a person he was and what he did. ”

  I slowly nodded. “I do. ”

  “Well, during his time of chaos, he tortured everyone, including the Fey. And the Fey leader at that time, decided he had enough—that too many fey were dying, so he made a bargain with Malefiscus. Leave the Fey alone, and we would owe him one favor. Malefiscus agreed and the promise was bound with a Blood Promise. ”

  “A Blood Promise?”

  He ignored me, continuing on with his story. “Not too long after the promise was made, though, Malefiscus was caught and sentenced. ” He paused. “Everyone thought he died, and who knows, maybe he did, but his bloodline did not die with him. It carried on and now resides in a man named Stephan Avery. ” He opened his hand and placed what he was holding onto the floor between us. A smooth, round stone, with a circle wrapped by an S painted on it—the Foreseers mark. “Because his bloodline carried on, so did the Fey’s promise to grant a favor. Only now the favor is owed to Stephan. No one knew of this, though, until he showed up just a few days ago, demanding his promise in the name of Malefiscus. But he didn’t want just any member of the Fey to honor this promise. He wanted the faerie who possessed the gift of Foreseeing—he wanted me. Or more specifically he wanted me to track down a very pretty, but very tortured girl with beautiful violet eyes and a fiery personality. ”

  If he hadn’t mentioned the eye color, I wouldn’t have known he was talking about me because none of the other parts of his description seemed fitting.

  “This was after I met you,” he continued. “After I’d taken you to Dyvinius. ”

  “What does he want you to do to me?” I was afraid to know the answer, especially because I was in a very vulnerable situation right now, being chained to a wall and all.

  “A few things,” he said. “But in the end, it all comes down to one thing—I am supposed to bring you to him. ”

  I swallowed hard. “Are you going to?”

  “At first I wasn’t sure. I know what Stephan is planning to do—that was made clear from the beginning. ” He pressed his lips together, considering something. “But in the end, I really don’t have a choice. I am bound to a promise I cannot break. ”

  “Are you sure you can’t break it?” I asked, practically pleading. “Because there might be a wa—”

  “No, there is no other way. ” He talked over me. “If I don’t turn you over, then my people will suffer. ”

  “But if you do turn me over, the whole world will suffer,” I told him. “I’ve seen it. ”

  He gave me a mocking look. “Are you sure about that?”

  “Yes,” I said confidently.

  “And how can you be sure. How can you be sure of anything?”

  “I…” He had a point. How could I be sure of anything?

  He scooted the stone closer to me and I scooted back.

  “What is that?” I asked, pointing a shaking finger at the stone.

  “Something that’s going to temporarily take your Foreseer power away. ”

  “What!” I cried, scooting back from the stone even more. “How?”

  “Don’t worry,” his voice purred. “It won’t hurt. And it’s only temporary. For the moment, Stephan needs you free of your powers, but eventually you’ll get them back. ”

  “Please don’t,” I begged. “You can’t give me to him. ”

  “I already said I don’t have a choice. ” He looked livid as he rolled up the sleeve of his black shirt. Across his arm was a mark. Not the Foreseers mark, but a different one—a red symbol traced by a black triangle.

  “What is that?” I whispered, although I think deep down I already knew.

  “The Mark of Malefiscus. ” Nicholas practically growled. “I am forever branded with the mark of evil. And between the Blood Promise and the mark of evil, I have to hand you over. ”

  “How did you—how did you get it?” I asked, trying not to shake from head-to-toe. “Are you related to Stephan?”

  He shook his head. “No. Like Malefiscus, Stephan is capable of making marks, not just on himself but on other people. ”

  My breath caught again. If Stephan could put the mark on people…What if he’d put the mark on Alex? I wasn’t sure if I believed that or not. Yes, Alex had done some questionable things, but now…I don’t know…he went to the City of Crystal for me.

  Nicholas picked up the stone and held it in front of my face, just out of my reach. “Until we meet again,” he said.

  “No!” I screamed as the stone began to hum. It did not glow, though, or create smoke. It just hummed. Louder and louder, until the humming clawed at my ear drums.

  I threw my hands over my ears. “Nicholas!” I yelled. “Please don’t do this. “

  “It’s not my choice,” Nicholas shouted over the humming. Then, suddenly, his eyes were rolling back in his head. He let out a deafening scream that rang loudly through the room. The stone fell from his hands and hi
t the floor with a clank. The next thing I knew he was lying on the floor. He wasn’t dead—I could see his chest rising and falling with each breath—but definitely unconscious.

  I stared at him, bewildered. What happened? Had the stone backfired its power on him? Then I felt a warmth against my neck. I reached up, and slipped my locket out from underneath my tank top.

  “Oh my God. ” My necklace. My beautiful, amazing, wonderful necklace. The stone’s magic must have taken Nicholas’s Foreseer power away from him, instead of from me.

  I tucked the locket back under my shirt and immediately started searching for a way to escape. I didn’t know how long Nicholas was going to be out so I needed to hurry. What I needed was the key to the cuffs.

  I inched my way over to Nicholas, as far as the chains would allow me to go, which was close enough that I could reach Nicholas’s foot. I grabbed hold of his shoe and started dragging him toward me. My word, faeries were heavy. It was like trying to pull a bag of bricks. But I managed and almost started jumping up and down when I found the key tucked away in the pocket of his pants.

  “Yes,” I cried, unlocking the cuffs and then letting out a breath of freedom. I ran for the door, unsure of how far I would have to go to be able to use my Foreseer powers to get me out of here. But then a sudden thought raced through my mind that made me pause just outside the door. The Ira ball. What if it was here?”

  I glanced back at Nicholas, sleeping away. How much time did I have? I wasn’t sure, but I had to try and find it. I raced back into the room, ran over to the table and threw open all the drawers. Each one was vacant.

  Other than the table, this room was empty, so I ran out of it and into the next room, where I began ripping everything apart. I dumped out drawers, threw the cushions off the sofas, tossed books off the shelves, but I still couldn’t find it.

  Frustrated, I kicked a small garbage can that just happened to me in my legs reach. It tipped over and something round and moss colored rolled out of it and across the floor. The Ira.

  I swiped it up and stuffed it into the pocket of my shorts, which was a tricky thing to do since the thing was about the size of a softball. But I didn’t want to be touching it with my skin when I used my Foreseer ability to try and get back to Laylen and Alex.

  Worried I might still be too close to the praesidium, I decided to leave the house. I looked around until I found the front door, threw it open, and ran outside. I almost ate it when my feet hit a slick surface—crystal and it was as slippery as trying to walk across an icy parking lot. I slowly made my way across it, slipping and sliding with every step I took. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and crossed my fingers that this would be far enough away.

  I casted a glance back at the house, which now that I looked at it, was not a normal house, but a dome house that had been carved out of snow-white crystal. The roof was dotted with bright red gemstones, and the tree that towered beside it had leaves that glowed like nightlights.