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Authors: Jean Murray

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BOOK: Soul Awakened
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“Are you well?” Bomani leaned farther forward, looking for the remnants of the blade wounds to Asar’s chest. His Sire’s battle with Menthu and Kepi had taken a toll on his Lord’s soul. Asar had succumbed to the beast that hid deep within all of them. If it was not for Lilly’s extraordinary ability to heal and grow new souls, Asar would have never resumed control over his blood thirst. Bomani would have been forced to destroy him.

“Actually, I have never felt better.” Asar laid his palm over his heart. “I have fought so long to keep our curse suppressed…” He looked away and cleared his throat. “I am finally happy.”

A small amount of warmth bled into Bomani’s body. The Carrigan women had truly brought a spark of life to the Underworld. Since the loss of the Ancient Egyptian civilization and their devoted followers, a gloom had descended upon their realm. They had grown complacent with their own depression. Only to plunge further into darkness when Kepi returned to steal Asar’s soul, the gateway key, and entomb Bakari.

Now living energy pulsed through the palace. The sun burned brighter. The breeze blew warmer. The stars pulsed with renewed energy. The source? Kendra and her sisters. Bomani cringed to think the Creation Pantheon threatened to take the women from them. He did not want to slip into that darkness. “Where is your wife?”

“Sleeping. For all her powers I often forget she is still half human.”

“You look as if you could use some sleep,” Bomani said, wondering what it would be like to come home to a warm embrace of a woman. He had never even considered it until now. Despite the war, things were changing for the better. A time of healing.

“Lilly said the same thing.” Asar laid his hand upon a parchment embossed with gold.

“Kepi’s execution letter.” Bomani could not help but stare. “Are there any protests?” It required all forty-two jurors to sign the execution order.

“No, but all the more reason for Kendra to succeed in waking my son. I fear the longer we wait something will derail her execution. I do not want any sympathizers to sway the judgment.”

“You think that could really happen? Hell, I do not need a jury to convince me of her guilt. Is not the curse of the revens evidence enough?”

“It was for the jury, but you know how fickle public opinion in the Pantheon can be. We still do not know the extent of Kepi’s influence. She has supporters out there, otherwise, she would not have been as successful in eluding us all those years. Not to mention, my previous relationship with her caused significant damage to our relations with the Creation Pantheon. I do not want anyone to find fault with my final judgment.”

Bomani nodded. The sooner they executed the goddess the better. Coldness consumed his chest. They would have to open Kepi’s tomb for the execution. The memory of the stench of decay still assaulted his senses. He never wanted to smell her fetid odor again. “I will arrange for small security elements throughout the palace as a precaution. Kepi will remain concealed in the dungeon until the time comes.”

Asar rose and walked around the edge of his desk. Bomani shot to his feet despite his overwhelming fatigue. His Lord laid a hand on his shoulder. “You have honored me, Bomani. More than I can ever express. If there is anything you want or need, I will provide.”

Bomani bowed his head. “Thank you, Sire.” Asar rarely gave compliments, but when he did, they meant something. He could not be more pleased by his Lord’s approval of his leadership. He straightened to his full height.

“Take Kendra to the archives. I will prepare our fallen for their rebirth.” Asar patted his shoulder.

Bomani turned to leave but stopped at the door. He looked over his shoulder to Asar. “If anyone can wake Bakari, Kendra will find the way.”

Asar smiled, but sadness penetrated his eyes. “I am sure she will.”

Chapter Four
 

Kendra laid her head on the ancient text. The old leather scratched her cheek. She had been staring at the thing for over week. Over twenty books and thousands of pages later, she was no closer to finding the spell to release Bakari. She looked along the rows and rows of bookcases. Too many to count.

“I don’t know if I can do this.”

Bomani moved from his position along the wall and stooped next to her. “You need some rest.”

She sat up and rolled her knuckles over her tired eyes. The hieroglyphics on the page blurred. When she first arrived to the archive, she had been certain she would find the right spell. Her watch ticked by the minutes, hours, and days of Bakari’s confinement. His suffering prevailed because of her failure to find the answer.

Irritated, she pushed the frizz from her face and tucked her long unruly hair behind her ears. When had she lost her hair band? She glanced around the chair. The stupid elastic band had deserted her somewhere in the last few hours. Traitor.

Okay, now she was losing it.

“Are you looking for this?” Bomani’s gentle voice soothed her insanity.

“My hair band. I hate when my hair gets in my face. Drives me nuts. You wouldn’t know because you have no hair, but trust me. I should cut it off, I really should.” Sighing, she leaned back again in her chair. “Maybe you’re right.”

Bomani glanced away and smiled. He looked as tired as she did. In fact, she realized he had been with her the whole time, even after the huge battle. “Laugh all you want, but you are not much better.” She poked him in the chest. His grin broadened.

“We make a pretty sorry pair, do we not?”

Sorry was right. She felt downright stupid. Who was she kidding? She was a fraud. Everyone believed she was so smart, getting her Doctorate by the age of twenty-two, but she cheated. Her gift gave her the advantage, not her smarts. And now her gift was blind and her incompetence showed. Or at least she felt that way.

“You are frowning, not laughing. I did not mean to offend.”

She rolled her head to the side to look at him. Sincerity weighted his eyes. “It’s not you.” She knew she was being too hard on herself. Her normal bubble of optimism deflated with each passing minute

Everything had come easily to her—until now when Asar’s son needed her most. Heck, the world needed her to unlock him. More than enough families had lost someone to the curse. They had lost their father to it. Kepi’s death at Bakari’s hand would break the curse and maybe she could see her father again in the afterlife.

“You put too much pressure on yourself.”

“How can’t I?” Kendra sighed in defeat. “He’s stuck in there. And I don’t know how to get him out. The texts I picked should have the answer, but…” She looked at the hieroglyphics etched into the parchment. The passage she had been reading simply stopped. She turned the page and it started a completely different spell category. “There aren’t more volumes of these books?”

Bomani stood and raked a thick hand over his skull trimmed, black hair. He glanced down the center vestibule and cursed quietly, too low for Kendra to translate. She jerked upright. “There are other texts?”

She jumped out of her seat and surged toward the back of the library. Why didn’t he mention it sooner? Well, he hadn’t but she could guess as much from his agitation.

“Wait.”

He snagged her arm and stopped her. When she looked up at him, he ran a hand over his face and then at the base of his neck. Whatever it was, he didn’t want her to see it. “There is another section, but I was hoping we would not have to go into the vault.”

“Why?” Miffed, she took another few steps away, but he tightened his grasp.

“Because what is contained there is very dangerous. I do not want to expose you unnecessarily.”

“What if it contains the spell I need? I could be wasting my time up here.”

“We do not know that, it could be right here.”

“Do you want to bet Bakari’s life on it?” Kendra countered.

Darkness flickered in his gold eyes. He shook his head and his eyes brightened again. “Of course not. Listen, we need to have our wits about us when we go in there. Right now neither of us is in any condition to enter. We need to rest.”

Irritated, she put her hands on her hips ready to make her argument, but he raised his hands in surrender.

“Give me twenty-four hours. You should be strong enough then. I promise I will take you there.”

Despite the small burst of energy, it waned. The heaviness of fatigue and defeat made its home in her mind and body. He was right, they needed rest. If a strong warrior was uncomfortable going in there, then there had to be a good reason. “Twenty-four hours.”

He nodded. “I assure you Bakari is safe. One more day will not make a difference. With some sleep your head will be clear to focus on the task. You want that, right?”

“Yes, of course.” Safe? Sure, nothing would happen to Bakari, but all she could imagine was him locked alone in darkness. Her own worst fear.

“Good. Let me take you to your room.”

Too tired to argue she complied and followed him out. One more day was a day too long in her opinion. 

Chapter Five
 

Soft white sheets called her name, but Kendra couldn’t fathom sleeping when Bakari lay locked in his tomb.
Go to sleep
, the sensible side of her commanded. She rubbed her blurry eyes. Bomani was right, she needed to think clearly. Her intention was all well and good up to the point she started toward the door.

She’d take a quick peek, that’s all.  

Through the crack in the door she slipped out into the quiet hallway. She ran down the long corridor to the archives, chased only by the low squeak of her shoes. Luckily, the dungeon was the only thing locked in Aaru.

The massive gold doors towered above her. She grabbed the crystal handle and gave it a yank. The door didn’t budge. They were of considerable weight and size for her small frame. She dug in her heals and gave it a hefty pull. It opened a crack, enough she wedged herself in the door. With a final push the door slid open enough to let her pass.

A cool draft buffeted her face.

Crap
.

Not a single lantern was lit. She pulled out her flashlight and turned the head to engage the small light. The solitary white beam pierced the blackness and illuminated the familiar chairs and tables of the library. She counted, one, two, three, and four. Yep, four back up batteries. Next time she saw Asar, she was going to recommend electrical lighting in the palace. The crack in the door allowed the hallway light to mark her beacon to freedom—in case she needed to make a hasty retreat.

Her fatigue forgotten in favor of her heart pounding in her chest, she forced her legs forward toward the center vestibule of the archive. Her flashlight provided a six foot radius of visibility. She really needed to buy a bigger flashlight. One that could be used as a weapon
.

Kendra headed in the direction that Bomani had looked earlier. The vault should be marked in some manner, and if not she could use her gift to find it. She stopped at the end of the center aisle which branched to the right and left. She glanced at the entrance toward the small sliver of light still visible. It wouldn’t be for long once she turned down either hallway. With a shaky hand, she pointed the head of the flashlight to the end of both corridors.

Right or left? She scanned the floor’s markings. It would be just like her to be standing on top of it. Losing her nerve, she wondered if it would be better to go back and return tomorrow with Bomani. It may take her hours to find the entrance. Asar was right, she could get lost in here.

Similar to tombs, this library was a labyrinth with dead ends and false corridors. She couldn’t leave a bread trail out of here. Irritated with herself, she tapped her foot against the black stone. Irritated was good, because it kept her mind off the darkness closing in around her. At least this was a solid structure and she wasn’t at risk of falling through the floor into a decayed crypt.
See, there was an upside.
How many of those she had accidentally found over the years? She lost count.

BOOK: Soul Awakened
10.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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