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Shadow blood, p.13
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       Shadow Blood, p.13

           Jayde Scott
 
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  From across the room I watched Kieran smashing his fist into Brendan’s skull and pulling his head back as his fangs elongated, preparing to bury themselves into the werewolf’s neck. Brendan twisted in Kieran’s clutch and roared, then pounced, sending Kieran flying against the nearby wall. Kieran groaned and rose quickly, his face resembling a mask of fury. I had never seen him engaged in battle, wild and eager to tear his adversary’s throat to pieces. With blood smeared across his skin and his clothes in disarray, he resembled Aidan so much it sent shivers down my spine.

  Aidan.

  I had to save him. Now was my chance.

  “Amber, over here,” Julie shouted. My skin felt both parched and stiff, as though fried. My lungs whistled as I opened my mouth to speak, but no sound made it past my cracked lips. I rose on shaky feet and stumbled toward her and the altar, where Elyssa stood near the tracker witch, their eyes glued to the water spinning inside the bowl. Even though my brain screamed to move faster, my legs wobbled beneath me, and my vision blurred. I held on to a pillar to steady myself and waited until the dizziness passed.

  The shimmery water inside the bowl stirred once more, then stopped. Its surface cleared and the face of a redhead with freckled skin and beautiful green eyes appeared. If it weren’t for her chubby cheeks, she would’ve been the spitting image of the devil’s daughter, Cass. Only, her name was Patricia and she was Kieran’s girlfriend, and a Seer.

  “That’s the girl. Angel,” the dead tracker witch croaked; her unnatural voice sounded raspy as she communicated Patricia’s whereabouts: a tiny bakery named Magic Cupcakes, situated in the Swiss Alps in a town called Winterheim.

  “Bring her to me,” Elyssa commanded.

  “That’s not Angel,” I whispered so low, I doubted anyone could hear me. My head spun, confused as to why Elyssa would believe Patricia was Brendan’s bonded mate, Angel. My still foggy brain fought to make a connection. My eyes rested on Brendan as I recalled his words. Everything would be easier had we only found Angel. But what did he need Angel for? As far as I knew she was a half-Shadow with no abilities. I admit I need your help to find Angel, Mother, but there’s something else you have. Connections. If Brendan went behind his mother’s back and killed the witches, he was likely to have kept half the truth to himself and probably told a few more lies along the way. My heart hammered against my chest as I put the pieces together.

  And then I understood. They were summoning Kieran’s girlfriend, Patricia, because the Prophecy of Morganefaire said something about a powerful Seer that could not only foretell the war’s outcome but also change it by revealing the enemies’ next step before they even decided upon it. Patricia might just be that Seer. Brendan needed to find her so he contacted his mother and led her to believe Patricia was Angel so she wouldn’t question his motives.

  Elyssa lifted the bowl of water out of the tracker witch’s hands and offered her a dagger instead. The dead girl clutched it and in one swift motion ran it down Elyssa’s arm. A stream of blood began to gush instantly, staining their clothes and pale skin, and gathered beneath their feet in a dark puddle. Elyssa barely flinched even though the cut was deep enough to soak the front of her dress. My gaze remained glued to the red liquid as my mouth turned dry and my body shivered. If only I could get my hands on a tiny drop—

  “Amber, do something,” Julie shouted, peering at all the blood around her. I pushed up slowly and took another step forward. A growl formed at the back of my throat, though I couldn’t tell whether it was from bloodlust or the strong wish to seize a drop before it dried.

  “Hurry up, Mother!” Brendan yelled. “Save Angel.”

  “Listen to me, Elyssa! The girl’s not Angel,” I repeated, this time louder so Elyssa would hear me. “He lied to you. That’s not his bonded mate.”

  Elyssa looked from me to her son who struggled in Kieran’s grip. The pain only a mother could feel at seeing her son suffering was written in the lines on her face. For a moment, I thought she believed me, and then she grimaced and her eyes shimmered with anger.

  “Bring her to me now.” Her voice grew impatient, oblivious of the dead tracker witch’s ordeal who nodded and began to rock back and forth, her white eyes focused on a point behind me, her mouth moving silently.

  The air began to shift. The ground shook beneath our feet. For a brief moment I thought I heard the wind whistling outside the windows and tiny snowflakes clung to the glass. And then the blood at the tracker witch’s feet began to shift and rise, shaping into a young woman’s body.

  “Blood from my blood, I bind you here. Dust from dust I call you to rise.” Elyssa started to chant as she ran the blade of the dagger over her skin in a deep zigzagging cut.

  The woman was a loony. I couldn’t let her have Patricia. They’d use her powers and wreck her body like they destroyed the poor witches inside Elyssa’s basement. That is, if Patricia made it out of the bakery alive. Like Cass, she was bound to that place and couldn’t live until she married her bonded mate. If she so much as set foot outside her prison, people around her would try to kill her. I barely knew Patricia but I couldn’t let such a fate befall her, so I summoned all of my strength and dashed toward them, ignoring the pain rippling by body. I reached the tracker witch and pushed her with such force she flew against the nearest pillar. Her head smashed against the marble and she dropped to the ground in an unnatural angle. I expected her to be dead and yet, a moment later, her bones began to move and she raised again, her skin covered in Elyssa’s blood, her eyes shining white. Dead.

  “What the heck?” I muttered.

  “You can’t kill someone who’s already dead,” Julie said. “Go after the source.”

  My head turned sharply toward Elyssa. Her nervous gaze floated to me but she didn’t budge from the spot. Instead, a soft smile tugged at her lips as she continued the tracker witch’s incantations. The puddle of blood began to shift again. The female silhouette grew sharper as it rose from Elyssa’s blood and I recognized Patricia’s green eyes, her red hair, and small hands.

  Somewhere behind me, Kieran shouted, “Amber, don’t let them bring her here!” He lunged for us, but Brendan was faster. He kicked Kieran hard, sending him flying through the room again. To my horror, Brendan grinned and turned his attention on me, moving in my direction, leaving me with little time to act.

  I had to save the one Kieran loved so I charged for Elyssa when a wall of fire rose before me, scorching my skin.

  “I can’t get close to her,” I said.

  “Then break the magic,” Julie yelled.

  “How?”

  Silence. I didn’t wait for her answer. Ignoring the burning pain, I inched forward. My hands wrapped around Elyssa’s neck and squeezed hard, a moment before hundreds of flames engulfed me, sending more jolts of searing pain through me. Her mortal bones snapped beneath my fingers and she slumped against me. The fire disappeared. I dropped her lifeless physical carcass to the ground. The puddle of blood that formed Patricia’s shape liquefied and poured over me, soaking my clothes and staining my skin. My vision blurred slightly as the room began to spin around me, making my stomach reel. But for the first time ever since arriving in Morganefaire I felt content because I had finally done something right.

  The witch was dead.

  Chapter 25

  As I peered around me, the pictures before my eyes began to sharpen and my blurred vision shaped into Aidan’s beautiful face. I almost jumped from joy thinking he had recovered until I recognized it was just a vision, similar to the one I received when Aidan was captured by Layla and suffering in her dungeon. I could feel his presence, even though he wasn’t here—another effect of our bond that couldn’t be controlled.

  His face was silent and serene. His eyes were closed—just like before, but his mouth hung slightly open. Seeing him overwhelmed me so much that I didn’t understand. Not at first. All I knew was that something felt so very wrong. That’s when I noticed the gray hue of his skin and how it seemed to envelop his whole
body. Something silvery shimmered in the air just above his chest. Our bond. And then realization dawned on me. Our bond was growing weaker, as though something or someone was tearing us apart.

  And then, ever so slowly, it began to face. And as it dissipated, Aidan’s image disappeared, and I was in the hall again.

  His time was up. The reaper was cutting the cord.

  He was leaving this world without me.

  “No!” I screamed.

  A wave of fear and despair rippled my body a moment before I felt my heart breaking and another painful scream escaped my throat.

  He was dying.

  Crying, I collapsed to the floor, wishing I was with Aidan because I couldn’t live without him. Even if I had to enter the Otherworld again, I promised myself to find him and be with him forever. Seeing Brendan coming towards me, probably to avenge his mother’s death, I knew he was the one who could grand me that last wish.

  Chapter 26

  The room kept spinning faster and faster until it felt as though I was watching the world from a carousel. Brendan never reached me. Or maybe he did and I just couldn’t feel any pain through the curtain of haziness that had enveloped me.

  “Amber!” a male voice yelled.

  I turned my head sharply, surprised to find that I could still hear what was going on around me. From behind the haziness clouding my vision, I could make out Seth’s shape.

  “Join my court and I’ll save Aidan,” he said calmly. His eyes had turned moss green again.

  “He’s gone,” I whispered.

  “No, he lives, but you’ll have to be quick with a decision before it’s too late.”

  “What do you mean?” My haziness lifted a little and his shape became clearer. He was holding something. I squinted until I recognized the tiny, red vial in his hands, like the one I had seen at Bells, Books & Candles.

  Witch’s blood.

  It was the same vial.

  The way he regarded me with a smile on his face, arrogant, aware that he was in control, made my blood boil. Rage surged through me at the thought that he let me search for the vial while he hid it all along. I took a sharp, painful breath to calm myself, and nodded. “I’ll do it. Just give him the witch’s blood.” My low voice sounded alien in my ears. If it wasn’t for saving Aidan’s life, I would’ve never taken him up on his offer, but I had no choice.

  “Wise decision.” He smiled. “You were right about Angel. I’ve been keeping her safe from everyone’s clutches. If Angel dies, Deidre dies with her. If Angel’s released back into the world, Deidre will regain her powers, and Flavius and Rebecca stand no chance against the Shadows.” His grin widened. “You see, I hold Fate in my hands, which makes me the most powerful immortal in the world. It’s only a matter of time until people realize it.”

  “You’re a psycho,” I said through gritted teeth. The mist before my eyes disappeared. An instant later, someone appeared behind Seth. My heart hammered harder and Angel was forgotten—at least for the time being. My breath caught in my throat as my brain screamed that maybe it was all too late and I was seeing a ghost.

  “Where is she?” Aidan asked, his voice reverberating from the walls.

  A sob of happiness escaped my throat. So Seth had administered the antidote before returning to resume his head hunting. Aidan had been alive all along...even when Seth asked me to join his court in exchange. It had all been a ruse to get me to work for him.

  I pushed up to my feet and forced my aching body to take a step forward when something held me in place, unable to move. I tried harder, but to no avail. The air kept me back like an invisible barrier.

  “Where’s Amber?” Aidan asked sharply. His frantic gaze swept over me...and then right through me, as though I didn’t exist.

  “I’m over here.” I waved my arms but he didn’t react. A sense of dread and foreboding washed over me. Did I die? Was this how it feels like to be a ghost?

  “They got her,” Seth said gravely. “I’m sorry. But we’ll get her back. I promise.”

  Aidan’s beautiful face turned into a mask of fury and his hands balled to fists. “Who got her? Where is she?” he hissed. Seth pulled him away as he began to explain. I tried to follow them, but couldn’t.

  For the umpteenth time, I forced my legs into motion, pushing against the invisible wall with my whole body, without success. Exhausted I slumped to my knees, unable to make sense of what was going on.

  “But I’m here,” I repeated.

  Seth turned his head and looked straight at me. A soft smile tugged at his lips, and in that instant I knew I couldn’t have died because he didn’t have the ability of seeing ghosts, which could only mean I was trapped inside a portal. Was it his doing? What sort of morbid games was he playing? Did he try to punish me for resisting pledging my loyalty to him? I had no idea and didn’t even care. All that mattered was that I couldn’t be with Aidan now when I needed to wrap my arms around him and bury my face against his strong chest. I could deal with whatever Fate threw my way, just not with being separated from him, leaving him in the dark, not knowing what really happened to me or where I was. There were so many things I wanted to tell him, things I never got the chance to say. That thought hurt me more than anything anyone might ever do to me.

  “No.” I shook my head vehemently as my fists pounded the air. I closed my eyes to teleport. The air shifted slightly and then all became still again. The hall disappeared slowly, and a thick white wall reaching up into the vast sky took its place.

  “I don’t think they can hear us,” Julie said. I turned my head sharply to regard her. She was standing behind me. The fog around her feet was gone now; the pallor that once covered her cheeks was replaced by a rosy hue. The fact that the reaper hadn’t come to transport her soul to wherever she was meant to go confirmed that finding out the identity of her killer wasn’t her purpose after all. There was something else. Maybe she had to find her family or discover some other secret.

  “How did you get in here?” I asked surprised, unable to stop the feeling of happiness grabbing me at the thought that I had company, someone to share my anger and burden with, even if this someone was as annoying as Julie.

  “When I saw you disappearing, I didn’t know what was going on so I clutched your hand and followed you inside.”

  “Thank you,” I whispered, smiling.

  She shrugged. “That’s what friends are for. Besides, I bet being stuck in here’s more fun than wasting my time in Morganefaire.”

  “Maybe.” I highly doubted that. “We’ll find a way out.”

  A huge grin lit up her face. “You can bet on it. Until then, think of it as a vacation.” She pointed at the white space all around us and kneeled down to scoop up a handful of snow, then spun in a slow circle to take in her surroundings. The ground shimmered like a frozen desert; the snowy mountains built a beautiful backdrop against the blue sky. Everything looked so untouched and serene and yet different from the portal in which Seth had trapped Angel. I figured it must be a different dimension.

  “Looks like someone paid for an all-inclusive trip to the Alps,” Julie said. “Too bad they forgot to tell us about it so we could pack. Do you think we could go skiing because I’ve never been and I think I’d look cute in one of those overalls?” She took off down the narrow path, her boots leaving thick imprints in the virgin snow.

  “Wait, what are you doing?” I shouted after her.

  “Looking for a place to stay,” she shot over her shoulder, rolling her eyes at me. “I’m not sleeping on the ground. Not after I worked my butt off going through Darson’s files and finally finding a connection.”

  “You did what?” My jaw dropped as I stared after her. Granted, sleeping on the ground had sort of been my plan since I doubted anyone bothered to build a hotel inside a portal. But of course I could be wrong. “Wait up,” I said, hurrying to catch up with her, interested in what she had found out. “I’m coming with you.”

  As the snow swallowed us up to our thighs, a
soft breeze ruffled my hair. Portals don’t usually come with their own wind and blue sky, which made me realize Seth didn’t want to hurt me, maybe just hinder me until he got what he wanted. Like Aidan’s undivided attention and motivation to win the war for the right court.

  But even if he meant no harm, the idea that I was trapped with no way out and no clue when I’d be released again didn’t appeal to me. Only one person could’ve been so devious and brilliant to trick all of us. Seth had screwed us over, and no one saw it coming. I promised myself to find a way out of the portal. Everyone has a weakness. I swore to myself I’d find his and make sure he’d regret his treachery for the rest of his existence.

  Ancient Legends to be continued in The Prophecy of Morganefaire…read on for an exclusive preview.

  The Prophecy of Morganefaire by Jayde Scott

  Preview

  1399 AD

  Prologue

  Blake Tremayne stood at the edge, staring down at the abyss stretching to his feet, and sighed. Just one tiny step and he’d be gone, swallowed by darkness and what lay beyond. The wind ruffled the trees, twirling the dark brown leaves on the ground. On the horizon heavy, dark clouds had gathered. Snow would be falling soon. He heard the soft thud of Logan’s footsteps draw nearer long before his guard and friend appeared.

  “Are you really going to jump?”

  Blake turned and paced away from the edge. “Naturally. Do I have a choice?”

  Logan’s jaw set, annoyance and stubbornness crossing his young face. Blake couldn’t help but smile for Logan would make an excellent leader if—he drew a sharp breath at the thought. No, Blake would fight and he’d come back. At twenty, Logan was too young to carry the responsibility of the Tremayne clan on his shoulders. The prophecy had revealed a different future for Logan. But seers could be wrong. They had been wrong in the past.

 
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