Home > Torn (Demon Kissed #3)(11)

Torn (Demon Kissed #3)(11)
Author: H.M. Ward

The closer we got to the portal, the more the butterflies in my stomach tried to eat me from the inside out. My nerves were relentless, and I wanted nothing more than for this part to be over. When we emerged from the portal, Shannon might be standing there. I was going to be forced to kill her. I was surprised at myself, realizing that I didn't want revenge. She totally screwed me. She made Eric think that I was the one who killed him. Technically, my demon kiss did kill him, but the girl who looked like me and doused him with Brimstone dust was the true murder.

And that was Shannon. Confident, carefree Shannon.

It was unbelievable. But when she spewed words of hatred at me outside the Lorren, I believed it. She changed. Shannon and I no longer saw eye to eye on anything. And up until this point, I thought I'd want to wring her scrawny neck. I thought nothing would give me more pleasure than gouging out her eyes with a piece of Brimstone. But now that the moment was here, now that I might have the opportunity - I was filled with dread. It felt like I swallowed glass and the shards were ripping through me. Collin made it very clear not to hesitate if she was there. I had to kill her first, or we would die - both of us. We had the element of surprise. She might know we'd escape through a catacomb, but she wouldn't know when or which one. If my previous best friend was there, it would be luck. And the way things usually go for me, it would have been my kind of luck too.

Collin had taken me to a different portal than the one we entered through. Shannon, Eric, and I went into the Underworld through the catacombs in Rome, but this time, when Collin and I emerged we were in the catacombs under Paris. Apparently the Valefar used the graves of the deceased to leave the Underworld. And most of the Valefar never returned to Hell. Collin was an exception; he threw himself into that pit portal last fall and fell into Hell, and directly into Kreturus' clutches. No, most creatures that made their way out of Hell didn't want to go back. And I couldn't blame them.

When we surfaced in the tombs, every muscle in my body relaxed. No one was there. No Martis. No Shannon. I smiled at Collin, grateful that we caught a break for once. When we made it out of the tombs without incident, the night air washed over me. I breathed it in greedily, as if I couldn't get enough. The air had such a different quality to it than the air in the Underworld, where it felt, tasted, and smelled of death, decay, and hopelessness. But the air up here wasn't like that. It smelled of hope.

And freedom.

After we were certain no one was around, I wrapped my arms around Collin and smiled up into his face. "Are you ready?"

"Since when do you ask?" he laughed pushing a curl behind my ear. I felt fine. The weakness seemed to fade from the time I left the Lorren and I was ready to take us out of this place.

Smiling up at him, I started the effonation. Heat licked through my stomach and climbed my throat the way it usually does. I fixated on Al and St. Bart's church in New York. This was the longest distance I'd ever tried to effonate two people. It was slightly insane but we both agreed that it was much safer to move around up here this way. I was public enemy number one and the Martis would kill me on sight. The best way to avoid them was to avoid being seen. As for the other Martis that were in the church, we'd have to deal with that when we got there.

If I'd known how the sapphire serum affected my abilities I wouldn't have tried to transport both of us. But, I wasn't aware of what crystalizing the poison had done to me, and now it was too late.


The sapphire serum turned to ice in my chest as we effonated. It seemed to swell and the normal pain of effonation was compounded. I screamed in silence and I clung to Collin. As the boiling blood coursed through my veins, I locked my fingers tightly around him. Losing him before we touched ground at St. Bart's would be disastrous. Collin told me that if I effonated incorrectly, I could peel the skin off my body. There were some things that sounded painful no matter how powerful you are. I didn't care to find out what splicing myself felt like, so I focused on Al and the church as fiercely as possible. My nails dug into Collin's back. I couldn't help it. He could tell something was wrong, but was unable to speak or help. Not until we arrived.

That particular effonation was hard to describe. When a Valefar effonates, everything becomes incredibly vivid - like it's a supersaturated version of its normal self. It doesn't matter if it's a person or a chair. It's just more. Then it feels like liquid flames are poured through your stomach. The burning fans out into every inch of you until you can't possibly stand it another second. There's no air, there's only burning pain and intense heat as your blood literally boils your body into mist. That was why the pain in my chest at the site of the poison was so much worse. The serum was cold and didn't resist the burn of effonation. I'd thought that if I aggravated the crystalized poison that it would melt, but the cold place turned grew and grew. My body was rigid as fire and ice fought to kill me from within. The roar of flames that flooded my ears increased and drowned out my cries. I'd aggravated the sapphire serum and it was no longer frozen in place in my chest. It shot out crystalized tendrils within me, making me feel like I was being stabbed by tiny swords from within. Then, the poison leaked out and melted into my blood. I could feel it happening and couldn't do anything to stop it.

Collin's eyes were wide and his arms pulled me tighter when he saw the look of panic on my face. We weren't there yet, but I couldn't bear it. Not for another second. I did the unthinkable and stopped focusing on the church. The result was instantaneous. My skin felt like liquid and began to peel away off my arms. Collin looked at me in horror, screaming for me to focus, but I couldn't. The shard of ice was growing and stabbing me so fiercely that I couldn't stand it. I could feel Collin trying to maintain his own effonation, as the heat surrounding him increased. But, it wasn't enough to help me.

Suddenly, we collided onto the dark brown floor. A voice was screaming, echoing in the silent hallways. Feet ran at us from every direction. Collin jumped to his feet, but I was unable to move. I rolled onto my side, curled into a ball, and clutched at my chest. Sections of my arms and legs had no flesh, but that wasn't what was causing the scream to pour out of my mouth. It was the poison. It was melting and I could feel the serum sliding back inside of me in a slow trickle. It was like being stabbed with the fang all over again. The seepage finally stopped as the serum turned to cold crystal again as the last of the effonation effects wore off. Tears streamed from the corners of my eyes. I was aware of people around me, but I didn't respond. I didn't care where we were or who was there. The agony finally surpassed my pain threshold and I passed out.


Voices spoke around me, but the words were muffled. It sounded like they were speaking underwater. When I finally made out what they were saying, I opened my eyes. A frizzy-haired old nun hovered over me, dabbing my head with a damp cloth.

"You don't do anything small, do you?" Al asked. She patted my head again, and I realized that I was covered in sweat. Moving slowly I felt the bandages on my arms. Scanning the room, I looked for Collin, but he wasn't there. Al answered before I could ask, "He's fine. You're the one who took the brunt of it. We bandaged you up. Collin went to go get something to heal those wounds, since I don't have a healer here right now."

Sadness stirred through the pain. Shannon was their healer. My voice rasped as I spoke, "Something went wrong." I tried to sit up. Al gently helped me. "The pain was much...more." My hand gently touched my chest where the agony from the sapphire serum was the greatest. It was then I realized that I was wearing a sweat shirt. Someone changed me while I was passed out. I looked at her wrinkled face. "You saw?" If she was the one who dressed my wounds and put this shirt on me, she would have seen the scar - and the streak of blue poison still imbedded in my skin.

She nodded solemnly. "Is that what I think it is?"

I nodded and explained what happened. "I thought it would end the prophecy. I thought stabbing myself with the Guardian's fang would fix everything. Turns out, I thought wrong. I couldn't have been more wrong." I hesitated. "Is anyone else here?"

Al shook her head. "These days everyone is running off trying to stop the prophecy from occurring. I'm just an old Seyer, sitting here, waiting to see what happens next. So you caught me alone. Tell me girl. I see someone patched you up, mostly." She sat on the couch next to me.

I told her what happened, leaving nothing out. I told her about the Lorren, my plans to die there, and the boy who was living inside the deadly maze. "It turns out that boy's name is Lorren. He made the Lorren. And he's not a boy, Al. He's an angel."

Al's skin turned ghostly white as her eyes widened. It took her a minute to close her gaping jaw and recompose herself. "Then we're in much worse shape than I thought." She shook her head and stood, walking away from me slowly. Her black dress swished the floor around her swollen ankles. "The angels would only show up for two reasons.  One reason is because the demons are winning the war and the angels have been forced to make more Martis faster than normal.  The other reason - the reason that seems more likely - is because the Martis aren't fulfilling their purpose any more. As a group, we've strayed from the old ways, Ivy." Al shook her head as a worry creased her brow. "Things aren't the way they once were. Martis once had glorious power. We did more than govern our own, heal, and see visions of what might be. We were holy - a group of people set apart from the rest of the world. The Martis were loyal, kind, and used the power granted by the angels to protect humanity and slay the Valefar. But, as time passed something changed and our angelic power receded, until we were left with next to nothing. " She wrung her hands as she spoke and turned back to me. "We have no place among angels anymore. Not with the Tribunal executing those who stand up and try to do what's right. I'd hoped our kind would change and recognize how far they'd strayed, but that night they condemned Eric... " She shook her head, unable to finish.

One thing that was remarkable about Al was that she always knew what to do, and it was always the right thing to do. But now, I could tell from the look in her eyes that she didn't know. She didn't know what was coming or what to do next.

Her voice was grave as she looked at me, "Seeing an angel so close to home can't be a good thing. Angels don't mess in our world. If they're coming back, then things are much worse than I feared."

I wanted to comfort her, but I knew she wouldn't have it. Facts were facts, she'd told me. When life was hard it just meant we had to work harder too. The nun sat next to me, as I looked to her and said, "But Al, the Martis are as screwed up as the Valefar. They haven't been fulfilling their purpose for a while. It's not like this just happened. Why would the angels come back now? What's so pivotal at this point in time that they'd interfere, especially if they usually have a hands-off policy?"

"Because it's time," Al said looking impossibly old and worn out. Her shoulders slumped as she stared off into space, not focusing on anything while she spoke. "Because you're here, and the prophecy is ready to play out." My mouth shot open, ready to contest her, but she put her wrinkled hand on my shoulder in a soothing touch that silenced me. Her silver eyes gazed at me as she smiled weakly. "The prophecy will happen, Ivy. You must know that by now. There's no question anymore. Whatever paths we may have tried to put you on didn't work. You'll become the Demon Queen. You'll reign in the Underworld. It's your fate. And it's time. That's why the angels are here, child. It's time."

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