Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga) (22 page)

BOOK: Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga)
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I turned and stomped off in the
direction he had been taking us before the psychotic Queen had interrupted with
her twisted test. “Whatever,” I said. “It’s done now, so let’s get moving. I
want to get the hell out of this forest.”

And after that, heads were
really
going to roll.

 

 

Nelly

I raced forward with a speed that
I was sure to feel the effects of as soon as I stopped. But there was no time
to stop now, no time to take a rest and think things through. Slow and steady
was not going to win this race. My sister not only had a head start, but she
had a shortcut. The only advantage I had was that I was traveling alone, but
even that would not be the case for long.

As soon as night fell, the Lamia
would join me.

In my travels, I had been acting
on pure instinct. I had stolen a car, which wasn’t at all difficult for obvious
reasons. I’d had only to reach into the human owner’s head and have him pull
over and give me his keys as though I was a police officer and he had been
caught drunk driving. I had chosen a fast car, of course, and my crossing its
path had only been a stroke of luck. After exiting the Outlands, it had been
the second car that I had come across; a souped-up GTO. I had been flying down
the highway now for over three hours, heading toward a destination on a map
that still made no sense to me. At this rate, I would reach the territory known
as the Silver City just after nightfall.

And, hopefully, not long after my
arrival, the Lamia I had made a pit stop to obtain would join me. It had not
been easy, seeking out Carianna’s soul signature and actively moving toward it,
communicating with her over the distance, hearing the glee in her mind’s voice
as she responded to my summons. And everything that had followed after that had
not been easy, either.

I had done some things that I
could not allow myself to stop and think about. Alexa was the only thing that
there was enough room in my mind for, and it would stay that way until I made
sure that she was safe. The rest of the world be damned. Alexa was all that
mattered.

The beginnings of a loose plan
had formed in my head, and I held on to the threads of it for dear life. There
was no point in second-guessing it now. The wheels had already been set in
motion.

I had reached out with my mind
and seized control of human truck driver’s soul that had passed me on the
freeway. I’d had to swing the GTO onto the shoulder of the road and park the
car so that I could concentrate. He had been the perfect choice, even though I
never saw his face save for the passing glance that I got as he barreled down
the freeway in his eighteen-wheeler in the opposite direction as me. His
trailer had just been relieved of its cargo, and that meant there was plenty of
room to fill it up with my own. The Lamias could not travel in the daylight,
but they could travel in the back of a semi-truck without windows. The command
I gave the trucker was simple; go pick up Carianna and the pack—or as many of
them as could fit in the back of the truck—and drive them to the same place I
was headed. That was about all that I had figured out so far. And, no, I wasn’t
going to think about what would happen to the truck driver after he had
fulfilled his purpose; after night had fallen and a whole pack of Accursed
spilled out of his trailer.

But, I had thought about the fact
that this could be a futile attempt. Even if the trucker could get some of the
Lamia to the Silver City before the battle, there was no way to know if the
Silver City was surrounded by running water or not. If it was, they wouldn’t
even be able to get in. And if that were the case, I would have to go in alone
and try and save my sister. It seemed like an incredibly huge task.

Every minute that the clock on
the dashboard clicked off seemed to echo in my head, and inevitably, the sun
continued making its way across the sky to where it would eventually drop
beneath the earth and drag night over the land. As much as I wished I could hit
a pause button, I almost wished that the time would come, because at least then
this day would finally end. I felt like I hadn’t slept or eaten in days, and
really, considering the difference in time in the White World and time here, I
supposed I had.

I could feel in my soul that this
was it. Things were finally coming to a head. Tonight the final test would have
to be taken, and I was going to use every ounce of my power to make sure that
both my sister and I passed. With flying colors.

But, I knew that the dominant
flying color would be red, for sure.

 

 

Stomping Out Fire

They were not far off now, and
with every passing moment King William’s anticipation was growing greater and
greater. Soon he would get to face the traitors head-on, and show them why he
was King. He would finally be able to avenge his son, to assert his absolute
power and stomp out the fire that had been set alight by two very foolish
little girls.

There had been no word from
Thomas’s son, and that did not disappoint him, as he had expected just that. He
had been lucky to have received the tip-off from another source, and when they
arrived at the Silver City, he would be ready for their attack. He would also
be sure to string Lord Thomas Caslon up in front of the Council Building, so
that there would be no question about whether he made good on his promises. The
boy would be with the Sun Warrior, and once he saw his father being led to his
execution, he would give away the position of their army. And then he and his
eight thousand Warriors would slaughter them like the worthless pigs that they
were.

Everything was just as it should
be, had worked out better than he could have even hoped. The Sorceress would no
doubt strike with the Sun Warrior, and the seeds of fear that he had planted in
the minds of his people would be nourished and grow when they saw that the two
of them were in league. The letter had said that Nellianna was out of reach,
and would not be joining her sister in her pitiful attack. That was good.
Very
good, because when the Accursed girl saw her sister again, she would be dead.

And then he would use Nellianna’s
grief to take her off guard and kill her, too.

Problem solved. Fire successfully
extinguished.

 

 

Alexa

In all my life, I had never seen
such a place, and yet, I felt as though I had been here before, as if I’d
dreamt of it as a child on a night long ago and had long since forgotten it.
The towers scraped the sky, which was deepening and darkening with the fading
twilight. Fearsome things, they were, like enormous stalagmites that had been
growing and growing since the beginning of time, and had reached a point where
the Gods could use them as footstools.

The Silver City. It was not
difficult to see how it had gotten its name. Every inch of the place was
crusted with ice or covered with snow, from the sharp tips of the icicle-like
towers all the way down to the silver streets that were the only pathways where
the powder had been cleared. The houses and buildings and shops sprawled over
what had to be miles and miles of land, but from where I stood it seemed to me
as though the structures were huddled together, pressing in close to the towers
at the city’s center, as if to keep warm.

The air was sharp and fresh and
crisp, and I was more than grateful to Sasha now for giving me the black cloak
I wore. It was made of a thick material that held the cold at bay as good as
any clothing could do, and a Wolf-woman who was part of my party, but that I
didn’t know, had offered me some gloves when we had reached the edge of the Fae
Forest. Now, I pulled the hood of the cloak over my head, but there was nothing
I could do about the stiff wind that battered the skin of my face, ripped the
moisture out of my eyes. Stepping out of the Forest and into the Silver City
had been like stepping out of a sauna and into a freezer. Unpleasant, to say
the least.

We had just been walking along,
and Arrol had put an arm out to stop me. “A few more steps, and you’ll be in
your King’s territory,” he’d told me.

“He’s not my King.”

“No matter. What I’m saying is
that once you cross over, there will be no more access to this land. Whatever
waits for you there, you’ll have no way of escaping it.”

I looked ahead of me, seeing only
more of the same multi-colored trees and pink fog and blue earth that I had
been trudging over for the past five and a half hours. “I guess it’s a good
thing that I have no intention of escaping it then,” I’d said.

The Fae man had regarded me with
sorrow-filled and weary silver eyes. “No,” he’d said, “I suppose you don’t.”
And then he had pulled me into a hug that had tested the strength of Kayden’s
control. In spite of everything, I’d hugged him back. He may not have been
completely forthright in his dealings with me, but he had delivered to me what
he had promised. On top of that, I guess I felt right then that I needed a hug,
as out of character as that was for me.

Arrol released me, stepped back
and nodded once. “Farewell then, Sun Warrior,” he’d said. “And good luck.” Then
his black wings freed themselves from his back and he took to the air and flew
out of sight.

Kayden had taken my hand then,
the army having paused behind us, waiting again for me to take the first leap.
I could feel all of their eyes on me, the way that all of their eyes were on me
now, as I stood by myself atop a small hill that had to be some five miles out
of the Silver City itself. The land immediately before me was nothing but white
and more white, and the wind made my cloak ripple over my body and the cold
made my breath hang in the air.

The people who had followed me
here were behind me, hidden under the swell of the small hill and behind a line
of pine and fir trees that ringed this land, whose branches and needles were
also crusted over with a layer of ice. There was nowhere to take them now but
forward, nowhere to go but into the cold, or the heat, depending on how you
looked at it.

Even with all twenty-five-hundred
of them at my back, including Kayden and Tommy and the rest of my friends and
loved ones, I had never before felt so alone, so completely and utterly alone.

Look at this land before you,
Warrior, with all of its silver and white. When the Red comes, it will be a
beautiful sight to behold.

“No, it won’t. It won’t be
beautiful. It will be the exact
opposite
of beautiful.”

Perhaps we are both right.

I turned on my heel, my cloak
flying up in the wind, and headed back down the hill to where my people were
waiting for me. I wished that I could trade my talents for my sister’s right
then, that I could just throw my mind out, or whatever it was that she did, and
see just who and what was waiting for us across this white landscape. But Nelly
was far away from here and safe, and that was enough to be grateful to the
universe beyond words.

I found Malcolm, the only
Searcher that had accompanied us on this trip, standing over by Kayden. He
looked out of place with the Brocken and Wolves, with his thin frame and
thick-rimmed glasses, and I hadn’t asked him if he intended to join us in the
actual battle. He would either follow us in, or he wouldn’t. It didn’t matter.

“What time did that flier say
that the people here were supposed to arrive at the Council Building to pledge
allegiance?” I asked, speaking loudly to be heard over the wind.

“An hour from now,” Malcolm said,
checking his watch, teeth clicking together. I was happy that I wasn’t someone
who got cold easily. I had my own personal furnace buried deep in my soul.

I nodded, thinking this over. “Do
you think King William is here already?”

Malcolm shrugged. “I guess we’ll
find out.”

I let out a deep breath that
puffed out like smoke and wished that I could have had one final cigarette
before I did this. Turning my head, I pointed at the tower with the tallest
point, which was so high that the top of it was not even visible, but instead
seemed to have been swallowed up by the blackening night sky. “Is that the Council
Building?”

The burly Brocken—Darvin, I
thought his name was—who had challenged me the day before stepped forward.
“Yes,” he said. “That’s the Council Building. It will be the place with the
heaviest guard, and there’s a silver fence that surrounds it. If the King is
here, that is where he’ll be.”

I raised my eyebrows at this, and
he added, “I’ve lived in the Silver City since I was a boy. I know this land
better than anyone.”

I nodded. That would be useful.
“How many Wolves among us?” I asked Malcolm.

“About seven hundred.”

That leaves eighteen hundred,
Warrior.

“Uh, yeah, I passed the fifth
grade, you know.”

I do know. With a C, but
you’re missing the point. Look at the size of this city. It’s the largest on
the map. There has to be at the least fifteen, maybe twenty thousand people
that live here, and they’ve all been summoned to the same place at the same
time. You could take eighteen hundred men in and have a chance at going
unnoticed in the crowd. Take them with you through the silver gates of the Council
Building. Leave the wolves outside, that way you won’t be completely trapped in
one place.

I thought for a moment. It wasn’t
a bad plan, but I wasn’t sure it was a particularly
good
one either. I
looked over at Darvin. “Are there guards in the towers? Will they see us
coming?”

Darvin smiled, white fangs
jutting out behind his thick beard. “Yes and no, Sun Warrior,” he said. “There
are guards in some of the towers, but I know a way in that they won’t be
watching.”

BOOK: Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga)
7.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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