Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga) (16 page)

BOOK: Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga)
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Yes. That was it. And somehow,
these thoughts combined with the rebel call of my people and brought a sense of
glorious purpose to fill me up from the inside out, a sense that I thought had
been lost to me when my sister had stepped through a portal to another world.

I had been wrong. It was not
lost. No, it was
right.

 

 

Good News

King William was on his way to
the third city on his to-do list, but he would not arrive there until night
fell tomorrow, as the entrances to the Silver City were the farther away than
the others of the five cities. He and his Warriors were taking one of the
underground passages that King William had built over three centuries ago to
ensure that safe travel to all of his territories was always available to him.
The tunnels had taken years of slave labor to build, and millions of dollars in
equally stolen money, but they had been essential. No one knew about them save
for him and his personal guard, and he had combed all of their minds frequently
enough to know that that was still true.

Now, however, he and some seven
thousand Warriors were passing through the tunnels. Though he wished that this
didn’t have to be, he knew that he could not afford to travel lightly these
days. He could feel in his old bones that the Sun Warrior was up to something;
that she would not be able to wait long before making a direct strike against
him, and he had to be ready. Just one Sun Warrior was worth two hundred of his
best men, even those that he had managed to get the Lamia blood to soon enough.
As far as numbers went, this still put him at an advantage, and after he was
finished eliminating all of the traitors, that would be even more true.

But yesterday, when he had arrived
at Running Waters, he had not failed to notice that the crowd of people who
gathered outside of the Council Building was smaller than it should have been.
And by the end of that day, Andre had confirmed what he had known. Some had not
shown up. Some had escaped. Only three hundred or so, while Running Waters’
population numbered over eight-thousand in all, but that was three hundred too
many.

It seemed that those stupid
little girls were building an army. King William wondered how many would be
unaccounted for when he reached Silver City tomorrow night. He was starting to
wonder about a lot of things.

So when the news came, it was so
welcome and wonderful that a terrible smile pulled up his old lips, and his
fangs bared a gleaming white that was stained in the cracks with the black
blood of the Accursed, which had been the King’s sole diet for these past few
days.

Andre said, “I have good news, my
King,” and handed a folded piece of paper over.

King William snatched the letter
up between his fingers and flipped it open, his cold gray eyes scanning the
words as his mouth lifted in that ugly smile. He brought the small ring on his
left pinky finger, the simplest of his jewelry—just a band of black diamonds—up
to his mouth and gave it a kiss.

“This is good news, Andre,” he
said. “This is very good news, indeed.”

His most trusted Warrior nodded
once, and though no smile ever touched his lips, it was present behind the
black of his eyes. “Yes, my King. It seems that the Sun Warrior and her sister
are not as well loved as they think.”

King William laughed now, an ugly
sound that rebounded off of the stone walls of the underground tunnel and
circled the heads of all like a hungry hoard of bats. “So it would seem,” the
King said. “It looks like our side is not the only one that has its traitors.”

 

 

Part II: Any Other Way…

 

Nelly

“I demand that you let me out of
here right now.”

“I’m afraid that I cannot do
that, Night Child.”

I paced back and forth in the
whiteness, and it seemed to be filling my head and leaving no room for rational
thought, but I fought against it with all of my power. I needed to think, and
to think hard. I was only just gaining control over myself, just able to stand
and wipe my eyes and halt my screams so that I could come up with some way to
stop the thing that I saw coming. The thing that I could not bring myself to
think outright, but instead allowed it to be sucked up in the whiteness. But it
seemed only to swirl around the drain, over and over, and would not go down.

Alexa’s death.

It was unfathomable.
Unacceptable. I think that the only way for me to maintain my sanity was to
convince myself that I could find a way to stop it. There was just no way, no
way at all I could sit here and let Alexa take my fate for me. I felt
incredibly stupid, almost at a wonder at how I could have allowed Alexa to talk
me into leaving her at such a time as this. Stupider still for not figuring out
that I was the prophesized Savior. And worst of all, I felt betrayed by my
sister, who had lied to me about the consequences of me coming here, even
though I knew that I would have done the same thing for her had I been in her
position.
I promise, Nell,
she’d said, and I had believed her
wholeheartedly without even considering the idea of Searching her to determine
its truth. Alexa had never made a promise to me that she didn’t keep. Never.

And that is what she’s doing,
a
voice whispered in my head, bursting into the whiteness there like an unwelcome
caller in the middle of the night. I shoved it away, but it kept coming back,
leading trails of thoughts behind it.
She’s ensuring that she can protect
you. She’s taking care of you and your problems, same as she has always done.
She is keeping her promise. Oh, boy, is she.

“Stop it,” I said, out loud, but
only in that silent way that this world had.

The Seer’s hand, where it held
the white paintbrush to the wall, stopped mid-stroke.
“You are having
trouble accepting what I have told you, Night Child.”

I considered rushing him then.
Tackling him or kicking him in the head or something of that sort that was far
more my sister’s forte. But something told me that that would do me no good, or
maybe even do me some bad. Time wasn’t up yet, the clock was ticking, but time
wasn’t up yet. I had to try and play nice. If that failed, then I really would
resort to a few kicks to his head.

“No shit I’m having trouble
accepting it,” I said, realizing that this was also an Alexa-response. “You
bring me here, tell me that my sister is going to give her life to save mine
and then tell me that I can’t leave. What the hell do you think my reaction
would be? You have to see that this isn’t right. You have to know that helping
someone steal someone else’s fate when it ends in death is as heinous as
murder. That’s what you are if you won’t let me out of here; a murderer. Don’t
your kind know compassion, sympathy,
love
? Or are those things beyond
you?”

“You know nothing of fate,
Night Child. You haven’t even begun to understand. Even for all your power,
there is so very little that you actually know about. And I would say that it
is
your
kind that is said to know no love. You should not speak to me of
love, and you should not speak to me of fate.”

I laughed now, and the sound was
cold and hard and sharp in my head. “You really don’t, do you?” I said. “You really
never have felt the kind of love that my sister and I have for each other, and
you’re jealous. You deal in death and backhanded agreements. You’re no better
than some self-righteous Mafioso.”

Silence. The white hand began
stroking the white wall with the paintbrush again.
“Perhaps I am jealous of
such love, Night Child, but it is not yours alone that I envy. You think you
are the only ones who have shared a love so great, but there have been others,
countless others that have come to me out the same love, and I do not wish to
destroy or steal such a thing…inevitably, it destroys itself. Rather lovely,
really.”

I gritted my teeth. I hated being
talked to in circles, like I was some idiot. “Fine,” I said. “You like to make
deals. Let’s make one. You let me out of here right now,” I swallowed, “and you
can have my soul.”

 A laugh.
“You people are
always so quick to offer your souls, as though they were nothing more than
rusty pennies in your pockets. But, as much as your…unique being would be a
wonderful addition to the army, I am afraid I cannot. I have already made a
deal for your sister’s soul, and the Keeper is looking forward to delivery. It
is funny that you, of all people, cannot see the beauty of the sacrifice the
Sun Child is making for you. You must go on, Night Child, as your love for your
sister must go on. What is it that the humans are so fond of saying? Love makes
the world go ‘round.”

I was seriously going to kick
this fucker right in the head. And then bite the stump. “You are a
demon
,”
I spat. “If there is a hell, you are going there for this.”

The Seer placed the white
paintbrush on the floor and found his feet in one smooth movement, though I
couldn’t be certain at all that they
were
feet, because his white robe
covered him from top to bottom. I stood staring at the back of his hooded head.
His voice was just a touch weary when it sounded in my head.

“Would you like me to help you
understand, Night Child? Do you want me to show you the future if both you and
your sister are allowed to go on living in this world? Is that what you want?”

My breath caught. Somehow, that
seemed like a cosmically huge question whose answer I didn’t have even close to
the amount of time needed to consider–not in this lifetime, or the next. But my
lips parted and the words came out before I could stop them, and immediately, I
wished that they hadn’t.

“Yes,” I said. “Show me why you
think you know what’s best for the world, Seer. Show me why you think you have
all the answers.”

The Seer turned. Its face was
powder-white and creaseless, like the porcelain of an unpainted doll. No nose,
no lips, only eyes. Three of them, as milky white as a fresh snow.
“Look
into my eyes then, Night Child. Look and I will show you this future you want
so much, and then if you still wish to leave, I will let you do so.”

I took a deep, shuddering breath.
And I looked.

 

 

Alexa

Things had to be moved along
quickly now. Not only was my sister stuck in the White World until this was all
over, but Tommy’s father’s life was on the line. I had never been fond of Lord
Caslon, but Tommy had done more than enough for Nelly and me in the time that
I’d known him that I was willing to…well, propel myself and these people into
battle. That made me feel a little bad, so instead of listening to the thought,
I listened to the sound of the phantom clock that had seemed to make a home on
my forehead.
Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

They were ready to fight. I had
seen that on all of the faces in the crowd. Now, I was once again in the
sitting room of Silvia’s cottage. There were only a select few people with me.
The rest of the people had dispersed throughout the city to await the battle
plans. Malcolm was leading the discussion, of course, and pointing down at
several maps that were spread out over the coffee table. I felt like I had
stepped into a war movie, sitting in a general’s tent somewhere plotting over
how to take down the empire. In fact, it was very much like being an actor,
because as far as warfare went, I didn’t know the first thing about strategy.
How could I? I was only eighteen years old, damn it.

Olivia sat next to Malcolm,
nodding at almost everything he said. Kayden and Tommy sat on either side of
me, both of their bodies held tight with tension. Gavin and Patterson stood
nearby, looks of hard concentration on their faces, and Camillia stood in over
by the long windows with Silvia, sipping a cup of tea. I was trying to pay
attention, but my mind kept wandering back to Nelly, wondering what she was
doing right now, and listening to the sound of that awful clock.

In front of me, Malcolm held up a
creamy-white piece of paper with black script and King William’s seal posted on
it. “This list says that the Silver City is his next stop,” said Malcolm. He
set the paper down and pointed down at one of the maps, which looked nothing
like any maps that I had ever seen. “This is Silver City. All of its entrances
are at least half a day’s travel from the Outlands, and that’s if the person is
moving quickly. With a thousand-plus people to have to get along, it will probably
take us until tomorrow to get there.”

I glanced down at the flier that
had the list of cities on it, and back at the map, at the huge white section of
land marked the Silver City. “Then we won’t make it in time,” I said, and I
could hear Tommy’s teeth click together. I stared down at the map, trying to
make sense of a landscape that made no sense to me. “What path did you plan to
travel to get there?” I asked.

Malcolm bent over and traced a
finger over the map. “These blue areas here in between are all human
territories, so any supernatural has free pass there. To get to the Silver City
we would need to travel around the Great Lakes, here, through these mountains,
and then cross here to enter the Silver City on its western side.”

“That means we would have to go
in a huge semi-circle.” I shook my head; we didn’t have time to take the long
way around. I pointed to the wide expanse of land that was painted green and
labeled in a text that meant nothing to me, but had a sinuous, almost creepy
scroll to its letters. This green land was the only thing in between the
Outlands and the Silver City. “This is the way we have to go,” I said, tracing
a finger through the green. “What is this land? Who does it belong to?”

BOOK: Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga)
6.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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