Home > The 13th Prophecy (Demon Kissed #5)(2)

The 13th Prophecy (Demon Kissed #5)(2)
Author: H.M. Ward

Twisting my shoulders, I said, “No. Wait. He’s...” but I didn’t get to finish.

The same noise I heard before echoed over the water, louder this time. All three of us turned toward the source of the sound. Something was coming. And I had no doubt who sent it after me—Kreturus. We had to finish this and leave now. But I knew Eric wouldn’t trust Collin blindly. He needed proof. Something definitive and final that would allow us to know if this was the boy I loved or the monster who tried to kill me. Collin watched us, his eyes sliding over Eric’s arm around my waist.

I cleared my throat, speaking before Eric had a chance to ask him. “Prove it,” I said. “Prove that you’re Collin and not Kreturus. Quickly.”

Palms up, Collin smiled and stepped toward us. But Eric’s grip around my waist tightened as he pulled me back, stepping into the water. The frozen Pool soaked through the bottoms of my shoes. A shiver crawled up my spine. Eric’s soul stood next to us, watching.

Collin’s smile faded. His eyes met mine as he spoke, “There’s no way to prove that to you, but something happened. After you left, Kreturus tried to reclaim me, but he couldn’t. Your spell did something to him. I don’t know what, but he couldn’t re-enter me. Ivy...” his eyes were wide, brilliant blue, and pleading—begging me to believe him, “you severed my blood bargain.” His lips remained parted as the last words fell to the ground in a deafening thud.

“But... That’s not possible.” My voice was weak, not even a whisper. Eric’s grip around me tightened and I glanced over my shoulder at him. I wanted affirmation. I needed him to tell me if it was possible. I didn’t think a blood bargain could be broken.

Eric glared at Collin, snapping, “You can’t believe him, Ivy.” His grip around my chest tightened, smashing my torso flat like an oversized seat-belt.

“And she can believe you?” Collin retorted, stepping closer to us.

Eric was breathing hard. I could feel his chest rise and fall against my back. His muscles tensed, ready to fight, “She...” Eric began, but he never got to answer. The faint sound that had traveled across the surface of the water was suddenly louder. Much louder. And it rushed at us in a deafening gust.

Collin’s eyes widened as his jaw dropped, slowly turning toward the sound. Tension rippled the muscles in his arms. He stepped toward us, wrapping his fingers around my forearm. “He knows you’re here.” I looked up at him. No icy hot flash traveled through his touch. The bond was broken. “Kreturus sent something. We need to leave now - before it gets here.”

I shook free of Eric and Collin, turning toward the direction of the sound. The blood lust altering my thoughts faded without Eric’s touch. I could think. Across the waters of the Pool of Lost Souls there was a massive opening in the cavern wall. Behind it was nothing but endless blackness. Shadows thicker than tar dampened all the noises that flooded from that cave—except this one. This sound was a cross between a roar and a screech, and as it got closer there was no doubt in my mind that it belonged to something hideously large.

But we couldn’t leave. Not yet. We couldn’t walk away empty handed. Kreturus knew we were here. It was possible he’d destroy Eric’s soul, and then we’d never find the stone. We had to get the stone. We’d all die without it. I wasn’t leaving without getting that information. I’d rather die trying. The pit of my stomach twisted as I turned back toward Eric’s soul. “If he can’t speak, then we need to take his memories.”

Eric’s mouth hung open. He didn’t follow my thoughts at first. Or maybe he did, but he was too desperate to protest what I was going to do. It felt like I was like desecrating his grave, messing with his soul, but there were no other options. His soul was stuck in the Pool. The only way to take it with us was to shove it back into Eric.

Instead of refuting me, Eric nodded and asked, “How?”

I didn’t answer. Instead, I closed my eyes and focused on my power. It was coiled tightly, deep within me. Lifting my hand toward Eric’s soul, I opened my eyes. The ghostlike boy reached for my hand. At the same time his fingers slid into my palm, a rush of wind blasted me in the face from the screaming cavern across the water. Kreturus’ beast was coming.

The gale was so strong that Eric and Collin were pushed away from me. Power anchored me in place, and before Eric was out of my reach, my other hand grabbed him by the wrist. My hair whipped around my shoulders, as I locked eyes with Eric. Trust me, was the only thing I thought. If he messed with me while I was trying to do this, I had no idea what would happen. Eric nodded once, quickly. His eyes darted across the water, watching the massive black hole, waiting for the creature to appear.

Collin stumbled behind me, and lowered himself to the ground so the force of the wind wouldn’t knock him off his feet. His arms covered his face, keeping the sand from pelting his eyes. I wanted to know if he was the boy and not the demon, but there was no time left. I supposed we would find out shortly. If Collin helped the beast, then he was still bound to Kreturus. If he helped us, he was free.

Pressing my eyes closed, I felt power snake from my stomach, uncoiling, and sliding into my chest as I remained still. Collin shouted as something screeched out of the opening across the Pool. Eric’s eyes went wide as he stared slack-jawed at the beast. Its wings were spread wide, and the wind rippled over the edge of its enormous black feathers. Its head was angular with two small eyes that burned like fire. Scales mixed with feathers, covering its grotesque body. Its underbelly was almost human, with strong muscles and taught arms with fingers balled into fists. It looked like a demon, a human, and a bird all in one. The beast cried again, and the cavern shook with its screech.

Warmth trailed from my ears and trickled down my neck. I glanced at Eric and saw him touch the trail of blood that flowed from his ear with his free hand. When he turned his palm to confirm that blood was flowing from his ears, he said, “We have to fight it! Ivy, stop!” He tried to pull his hand out of mine, but I wouldn’t let him. The power that I’d used would claim the pain price any second and I wasn’t doing this for nothing.

The hideous creature barreled at us from across the water. It’s wings were spread wide as it moved across the surface of the water. Another cry emanated from its beak, echoing across the water. The sound bounced off the walls making it sound worse. Eric pressed his hand to his ears, trying to protect them from the sound. But I wouldn’t release his other hand. The trickle under that ear increased. It was possible this beast could kill with it’s scream.

Without another thought, I felt the dark magic begin. Everything happened in a matter of seconds, but during those seconds, time seemed frozen—stuck. Staring down a frightening beast with outstretched talons and a death cry can do that. The magic fused Eric’s grip to mine. Our palms glowed dark purple and black. It looked as if streams of smoke billowed out between our hands, swirling upward under a black light.

With each second, my grip grew hotter and hotter. Eric’s face turned white as the beast grew closer and closer. It would reach us any second. If its maw could draw blood with a screech, I didn’t want to think about what its beak could do. I closed my eyes, blocking everything out. I didn’t hear the screams. I ignored the rushing wind that was powerful enough to knock me over. But I stood, with my feet fixed in the bottom of the Pool of Lost Souls where my power grounded me. If I didn’t finish this fast enough, that thing was going to kill all of us.

Concentrating on the grip of Eric’s soul, I felt it meld to my hand. And then Eric’s soul began to fade as it was absorbed into my body. The spell I used transferred energy from one form to another, using a conduit. I was the conduit. Eric’s soul was the energy. It was a guess. I didn’t know if it was working or if I was destroying his soul. The palm gripping Eric’s hand burned like it was in a raging fire, the other turned cold—like I was holding the hand of the dead. And I was. The coldness soon faded and I felt the soul being absorbed into my body. It moved through me quickly and snaked into Eric’s body through our woven together fingers, and up his arm.

Eric screamed as if the two were alien to each other when I forced them to fuse. His arm jerked, trying to end the transfer. But I wouldn’t release him. We needed the stone. We had to have it. Eric stopped fighting, and his grip went slack. His face contorted with pain as he pressed his eyes closed and forced his body to relax. That was when I felt it. The magic completed itself. Eric’s soul was in his body. My hand dropped to my side, exhausted.

Eric fell to the ground, his arms pushing him upright as he tried to stand, but the magic weakened him. His arms gave way and he crashed into the shallow water at the edge of the Pool. His eyes closed, and I wondered if I killed him. But there was no time to consider anything. When I looked up, the beast was about to crash into me. Dropping to my knees, I tried to avoid his hands, but he grabbed me. Cold flesh burned into my arms, as the beast plucked me from the shore. Its grip on my arms tightened as it turned sharply.

Just as we turned, the pain price for merging Eric’s soul back into his body pounded into me. Suddenly, there was no air. It felt as if it had been ripped from my lungs in one merciless gush. My jaw opened to scream, but nothing came out. The pain price stole my voice, my breath, and if it didn’t stop—my life. My hands frantically tried to grasp my throat, as if that would help. But the beast’s grip on my arms didn’t falter. Pressing my eyes closed, I tried to suppress the panic that was lacing up my spine and squeezing every last bit of air from my body like a steel corset. The force that was crushing me didn’t ease, but continued to grow. A sharp snapping sound came from my chest as it filled with fire. And then it happened again. Rib after rib cracked, like my bones were made of toothpicks. Pop. Snap. Fire. Burning flames poured through my chest in an unrelenting wave.

I pressed my eyes shut, trying to endure the pain, when the beast was hit from the side. It screeched as its body was sent off kilter, slamming into the cavern wall. The burning cold hands that clutched my arms went slack. Wind rushed against my face as I opened my eyes. I was falling toward the Pool. My hair streaked around my face in a wild tangle. I barely pressed my lips closed as I crashed into the Pool of Lost Souls and sank beneath the surface. I continued to tumble downward, out of control as the frigid gel-like water penetrated every inch of my body. The pain price continued as I drifted down, deeper and deeper, into the Pool. When my body finally collided against the bottom, my fingers frantically grasped at the silt.

The pain price stopped as abruptly as it started. I forced my eyes open. Something to my left gleamed, though it was mostly covered with mud. Recognition flashed. It was a tooth—a silver tooth. Reaching out, I grabbed it and shoved it in my belt. Launching myself off the Pool floor, I swam back to the surface. My lungs burned as I kicked wildly. Now they were really starved for air. I couldn’t tell how far away the surface of the Pool was. It was so dark. I just kicked my feet as fast as I could, hoping that my face would break through the surface any second. But it didn’t.

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