The Underworld, Page 4Jessica Sorensen
I glared a fiery glare at the back of his head, suddenly wishing I possessed pyrokinetic powers. I refused to go through this again. Get left out of the loop. Be given vague answers. I’d find out what I wanted to know, before it was too late. I’d get to the truth, whatever the cost.
Before going into the kitchen to get something to eat, I decided to go upstairs to change out of the pajamas I was wearing. Alex had told me, when I’d asked him if there was something else I could wear besides pajamas, that there were some clothes Aislin had picked out for me up in the room I’d woken up in.
As I dragged myself up the stairs, I thought about everything I’d just been told. It felt like I hadn’t been told anything really. Like always, I had a huge list of unanswered questions roaming around in my head. And I was worried. Worried about whether or not Alex had told me anything truthful. Worried about why the Death Walkers had just up and left. Worried that Alex would suddenly decide I wasn’t supposed to feel anymore and try to take my emotions away from me.
I reached the top of the staircase and let out a heavy sigh. Lost. Was lost considered an emotion? Because that’s how I felt.
I was half out of it, consumed by my thoughts, as I opened the door to the room. But right as I went to pull the door open, it swung open on its own, and someone grabbed me by the arm and yanked me inside.
I opened my mouth to scream, but another hand came down over my mouth, and all I could do was think, great. Now what?
“Gemma,” a voice whispered in my ear.
I frantically tried to wriggle my way free from whoever had a hold of me. My heart pounded inside my chest as thoughts of who it could be blasted through my mind. Stephan? A Death Walker? Some other kind of monster?
Whoever it was had ice-cold skin, so I was leaning toward a Death Walker or another kind of similar monster.
“Jesus Christ, Gemma. Calm down. ”
This time my brain registered who the voice belonged to and, feeling kind of stupid, I stopped my pathetic fight to get away. Laylen let go of me, and I let my breathing slow down to a normal pace.
“What are you doing?” I asked, breathing heavily. “You scared the heck out of me. ” Again.
“Shhh…” Laylen put his finger up to his deep red lips, glanced around the room, and then shut the door. “Keep your voice down. ”
“Why?” My voice came out way too loud so I lowered it. “Sorry. But why do I have to keep my voice down?”
He glanced around the room again, seeming nervous, and then locked the door. “So what do you think about what Alex told you?”
Hmm…so had I been wrong about Laylen trusting Alex? “I don’t know…What do you think about it?”
He tilted his head from side to side, wavering. “I’m not sure…it just seems a little too…”
“Simple,” I finished for him.
He nodded. “Exactly. Aislin and I show up there and Stephan and the Death Walkers are conveniently gone. It just doesn’t make any sense. ”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought too. ” I paused, considering what it could mean. But in my typical confused style, I felt as lost as ever. “So what do you think really happened?”
He shrugged. “I have no idea. But I know the chance of the Death Walkers just leaving when they know you have the star’s energy in you, is slim to none. And I think it’s really suspicious that Stephan just passed out like that. ”
“Well, Alex told me that Stephan passed out because of this. ” I lifted up my locket, the purple stone reflecting sharply in the lighting of the room. “That this little stone is sugilite and that because I was wearing it, and Stephan tried to use harmful magic on me, it made him black out. ”
Laylen took the locket in his hand, rubbing the purple stone with his thumb. The necklace was still attached to my neck, so I had to crank my head forward, putting my neck in an awkward position.
“That’s interesting…. ” he murmured and let the locket go, releasing my neck from its uncomfortable position. “It’s sugilite, but still…” His expression twisted with confusion.
“What? Does sugilite not protect people from certain kinds of magic like Alex said?” I mean, really, the odds were pretty high that Alex had been lying.
“No, it does. ” He paused. “But I don’t get it. Alex gives you this necklace that has sugilite, knowing if someone uses magic on you, to let’s say take your emotions or mind away, that it won’t work. And that it’ll end up doing harm to whoever is using the magic on you. Yet, supposedly, at least according to the Keepers, you’re not supposed to have any emotions. So what would be the point of Alex protecting you from the thing he’s been telling you has to be done?”
I frowned, not at Laylen, but at the mention of my emotions. “So Alex told you everything then?”
“Yeah, but it doesn’t mean I believe every part of what he said. ”
“Me neither,” I agreed. My leg was killing me, so I went over and sat down on the bed, and Laylen followed, sitting down next to me. “So what else did Alex tell you?”
He gave me a sort of amused look. “Well, he told me that you guys took a little trip to the City of Crystal, where you found out that you’re a Foreseer. ”
I swallowed hard. “Did he tell about the vision I had to go into while I was at the City of Crystal?”
“He did. ” Laylen answered with hesitance.
I hated to be reminded of that vision, and just talking about it shoved the memory of it into my mind; Stephan forcing my mom to go into lake—the entrance to The Underworld—where she’d been tortured to insanity by Water Faeries.
“You okay?” Laylen asked.
“I’m fine. ” My voice sounded choked. There was a gap of silence before I asked, “Do you think there’s a way she can still be alive? My mom, I mean. ”
Laylen sat there, looking at me, not in a feeling-sorry-for-me kind of way, but more as if he was seriously contemplating what I’d asked him. Part of me grew eager that he might say yes; that there was a possibility that my mother, who I hadn’t seen since I was four years-old, and could barely remember a thing about—thanks to the detachment of my soul from my emotions causing my memories to be erased away as well—might still be alive.
“I don’t know, Gemma,” he said softly. “She’s been down there for a really long time. ”
My eagerness dropped to the floor and shattered like glass. “Oh. Okay. ”
“Now hold on one second before you go getting that sad look on your face. All I said was that she’s been down there for awhile, not that there was no way she could be alive. ”
I tried to keep my excitement to a bare minimum. “So, are you saying that there might be a chance she still is?”
He twisted his lip ring from side to side. “Maybe…There’ve been some people that have survived the Water Faeries tortured for a long amount of time without going too insane. And there have even been a few people that have escaped The Underworld before. ”
“There have!” I shouted, and then made an oh-crap face at the loudness of my voice. We both stayed silent for a moment, making sure no one had heard and had decided to head upstairs to check on me. The house was quiet, as still as the hot desert air, the only noise coming from the humming of engines from the cars passing by. “Sorry,” I whispered. “But I’m just really confused. The way Alex made it sound, it seemed like there was hardly any way that anyone could ever escape The Underworld. That once they were sent down there, they were basically trapped there until they died from the torture. ”
Laylen’s bright blue eyes twinkled mischievously. “Yeah, but Alex doesn’t hang around with the same kind of crowd as I do, does he? You learn a lot of stuff when you’re not just limited to the Keepers circle. ”
Now I was letting myself get a little excited over what Laylen was saying. Well, except for the fact that he said “crowd. ” What kind of crowd were we talking about here? Vampire crowd? Witch crowd? Black Ang
el crowd? All were possibilities, and there were probably other possibilities that I didn’t even know about.
“Is there any way we could find someone who will maybe help us find out if she’s alive? And help us find out if there’s a way we could get her out of The Underworld if she is?” I held my breath as I waited for him to answer.
It took him a second, but he nodded. “It won’t be easy, though…And it’ll be dangerous. ”
I should have been scared. But after you’ve faced a swarm of murderous Death Walkers, been hit by their Chill of Death, and stared into the eyes of a man who is trying to wipe your mind away, “dangerous” becomes a little easier to deal with. “So you’re saying that maybe we could go and talk to someone about her?”
He mulled over my question for so long that I was sure he was going to say no. “Yeah, I think we might be able to do that. ”
“Really,” I was practically bouncing. “Are you serious?”
He nodded. “I think your mom may know more about what’s going on than anyone does. I think that might be part of the reason why Stephan sent her there—so she couldn’t tell anyone what she knew. ”
“I think so too,” I agreed. “In fact, in the vision, she told Stephan that one day he’d get caught and that he didn’t have everyone wrapped around his finger. ”
“Then I think the sooner we can find out if she’s alive the better. And maybe we can put all this madness together and get some real answers. ” He paused. “But I don’t want you to get too excited, just in case things don’t turn out the way…the way you want them to. ”
“I won’t,” I assured him, but I still couldn’t help but get a little excited. Well, okay, I was beyond excited. In fact, I think I’d hit a whole new level of excitement and…yep, there it was. The prickle.
I know. I know. I was totally setting myself up for some serious heart-ache here. But I couldn’t control myself at the moment. Just seeing my mother…it would be amazing. Especially after being raised by Marco and Sophia, who were two of the most cold-hearted people I knew. Well, besides Stephan.
Wait. Hold on. “Laylen, what happened to Marco and Sophia?”
“I have no idea,” he said with a shrug. “No one does. They just up and disappeared. ”
Hmmm…very strange. So did that mean they were playing on the good side or the bad side?
I opened my mouth to ask Laylen this, but a knock at the door caused Laylen and I to jump to our feet.
“Gemma,” Alex’s voice floated through the door. “Are you in there?”
“Uh…Yeah,” I called out. “Just a second. ” I turned to Laylen and whispered. “Great. What am I supposed to tell him when he asked why you’re in here?”
“You’re not going to tell him,” Laylen whispered, searching for a place to hide. “If he knows I am in here, he’ll know something’s up. And if he knows what we’re planning to do, hell go out of his way to make sure it doesn’t happen. ”