Unraveling Destiny (The Fae Chronicles Book 5), page 11
“No, she’s been quiet for too long. I tried calling for her again last night when we got back, but she hasn’t answered me. I’m getting rather worried; it’s out of character for her. She’s usually rather fond of being a nuisance, so this silence worries me.”
“Maybe she found someone else to torment,” Ristan muttered under his breath, which made me wonder just what the fuck had gone on between them. Danu had been absent more and more since the turmoil in this world began escalating—which coincided with when Olivia and Ristan had begun to spend more time here in Faery.
“She promised to train me, and so far, I’m pretty sure I’m playing havoc with the sheep in Faery. The other day, the entire herd tried escaping from the pen as soon as I got near it.” I could see the corners of their mouths twitching as they struggled not to laugh at me.
I’d blown up one sheep, one! Gah, they acted like I’d meant to do it.
“Poor sheep,” Ryder chuckled.
“It was one sheep, one!” I huffed. “It’s not like I have the same powers as I used to. I can literally move my fingers and shit explodes. She needs to get her ass back here and teach me how to use it before the Mages are here and it’s too damn late to learn how to use it.”
We’d just entered the main hall when Olivia approached Ristan. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed she was wringing her hands nervously; her eyes were red and puffy and my heart flipped a little as I wondered what the cause of her upset was.
“Ristan,” she whispered, as if it was for his ears alone. “I need to talk to you.” She worried her lip with her teeth.
“Olivia,” he smiled and kissed her, not caring one little bit that everyone was watching their exchange. “You look beautiful, what’s wrong?” He gently grasped both of her shoulders and peered at her face when his eyes finally noted the puffiness of hers.
“I need to speak to you in private,” she murmured in a rush as she bounced nervously from one foot to the other.
“Olivia, I’m rather busy right now,” Ristan replied uncomfortably as he looked around the room at the small assembly gathered. “Can we speak about whatever it is later?”
“This can’t wait anymore,” she whispered impatiently. “I need to talk to you right now.”
“Olivia,” he said carefully. His eyes took in her nervous energy.
I crossed my arms over my chest and watched it unfold. I could tell that he was sensing something was wrong, but it didn’t look like he was getting a sense of her overwhelming panic yet. She was upset, and she’d probably gone to see Eliran as I’d instructed her to. He could normally read her, but we had a ton of shit going on at the moment, and his worry for Ciara was taking a lot out of him.
“I can’t leave right now,” Ristan clarified patiently when she didn’t answer him; his eyes watched her with confusion. They slowly lowered to her hands that were clutching the front of the waistband of the skirt she was wearing, as if she was trying to hold onto that small piece of fabric for support. Her feet shuffled as he slowly brought his eyes back to hers, a worried look in their beautiful depths.
“I’m late!” she exploded as if the secret could no longer be concealed. Oh, Gods. Her hands slapped over her mouth in mortification and she wildly looked around the room for help. I swallowed and struggled with how to help her. She squared her shoulders and I exhaled as she soldiered on. “I’m late and it’s your fault,” she growled meaningfully as she poked her finger at his chest.
“You’re not late, we just started,” Ristan said slowly with a comical look on his face. It faltered as her words started to sink in, and he frowned for a moment, as if he was confused about what was his fault. Hesitantly he tried again. “Olivia, I glamoured you clean and I tried to dress you so you wouldn’t have to spend so much time figuring out what to wear, but you wouldn’t let me, so it really isn’t my fault you were almost late for the meeting. It hasn’t started yet, so no reason to be upset, love.”
I laughed silently at his triumphant deduction, only to see his grin wilt as he watched her, waiting for her response. Was that the only thing he could come up with, or was he only saying that because he didn’t want to understand what she was trying to tell him? I stifled a groan as her eyes zoomed in on mine with a silent plea for help. I should offer her a lifeline, but I wanted to give her a chance to be the one to tell him he was going to be a father.
“I’m late,” she hissed.
“We’ve only just…” he paused as I injected myself into the conversation.
“She’s late, as in she didn’t get her period. She hasn’t been cursed by Mother Nature in a while, and won’t be for some time,” I explained, and swirling silver eyes turned on me, the look of pain took me by surprise as his eyes moved between me and her. The Demon was great with kinky shit; any sexual position you couldn’t name, he could. Jokes? The Demon had endless supplies of them on hand, and he was an encyclopedia on the world’s best movies, but apparently, he had a thick skull. This topic seemed to sail right over his head.
I watched as the color of his skin seemed to fluctuate between red and back to his usual alabaster coloring. I wondered if I should fetch him or Olivia a bucket to toss their cookies in. Both looked uncomfortable, and the men snickering around us weren’t helping the situation. When Ristan failed to say anything else, I continued.
“Congratulations, you’re going to be a father,” I announced, enjoying being able to finally fuck with him. After all, he’d cut me open and I wanted a little payback, even though I loved him for saving my babies. He, however, didn’t look happy. As a matter of fact; he looked like he was angry and sort of hurt. My eyes moved between him and Olivia, who was watching Ristan’s reaction with a mixture of horror and panic. “So, do we call a Demon and Angel mix a Dangel? Or, what will it actually be?” I asked, playing for the best-sounding combo to lighten the mood.
“We won’t call it anything. I can’t have children,” Ristan rasped out angrily, the swirl in his silver and black eyes was frenzied as they locked on Olivia’s with a look of betrayal and hurt. The hair on my nape stood up and I swallowed. Uh-oh.
“Well, she’s having a baby, your baby. You guys should probably do this in private, come to think of it,” I offered as my stomach flipped with unease. Olivia didn’t strike me as the kind to sleep around. She loved Ristan. That much I would bet my life on. “Maybe you should speak with Eliran, maybe he can help you guys?”
“She’s not having my child. I can’t breed. Alazander made damn sure of it when he sterilized me so I wouldn’t be able to create life. He didn’t want me adding to the Horde gene pool. So he made sure I wouldn’t be able to procreate when he took everything else from me,” Ristan spat out furiously.
“Shit,” Ryder cursed as his eyes changed from gold to black, his anger for his father pulsing from deep within.
“Balls,” I whispered with a frown.
“That makes no sense,” Olivia cried as her frown mirrored mine as tears slid from her eyes.
“It’s true,” Ristan growled, and I knew without needing to read his mind that he was about to put the word ‘ass’ in assumption. “I can’t have children, so if you’re expecting…”
“Don’t finish that thought, Demon,” I offered, and angry, swirling eyes turned on me.
“Stay the fuck out of it,” he hissed, and I could feel his pain radiating from deep inside of him. This beautiful creature wanted babies. He loved mine with a fierceness that only made me love the crazy bastard more.
“Ristan,” Ryder warned, but I stayed him with a wave of my hand. There was an awkward silence that filled the hall as everyone waited to see what happened next. Ristan glared at me and then Olivia, as Ryder glared at me. Ristan moved to Olivia and placed his mouth close to her ear as they whispered so that no one else could hear them. Something caught my eye as we waited for what Olivia or Ristan would do
Danu was watching me from the other side of the great hall, near the unlit fireplace. Her image shimmered, faded, and disappeared. Startled, I blinked, trying to find her again in the sparsely populated hall. I spun around, searching for her. A gentle touch on my shoulder turned me towards where she stood, fading in and out of sight.
“What’s wrong with you?” I blurted, but it took her a moment to register my words.
“I made it so.” Her voice was so faint, I could barely hear her.
“Made what so?” I asked carefully.
“I did this for him, Synthia,” she explained as her image continued to shimmer and appeared to grow weaker with every passing second. “He adores your children, especially Kahleena, and he deserves to be happy with children of his own. I owed him that much. It’s my gift to him, the ability to be able to breed again; considering all he’s lost, it isn’t much.”
“What exactly did you do to him?” I asked, feeling the tension rise behind me as everyone figured out I was speaking to Danu, who had apparently played some part in undoing what Alazander had done to Ristan so long ago. I was hoping it wasn’t as weird as replacing eggs or his little swimmers with someone else’s.
“What occurred between me and Ristan is not your business, daughter mine. You have bigger problems to worry about. Fixing the Tree didn’t repair Faery as we’d hoped it would. I’ve lost the power to be seen in this world except by those of my own blood. I am weakening. Something much bigger is happening, and you have to figure it out. Faery is in trouble, and so am I; if the damage cannot be fixed, I will cease to exist.”
“You’re dying?” I asked as my throat constricted and tears pricked at my eyes.
“I am connected to Faery, and it’s damaged. You have seen the portals that cannot be closed. If this world connects to Tèrra, I will fade away to nothing. I’m tied to it, Synthia. You are not. While you can feel what is happening to Faery, you’re not connected on the same level. I couldn’t chance it, not with you.”
“That’s why you brought me back,” I whispered. “Because if you die, someone else has to take your place,” I exhaled. “You tied me to the Fae and not Faery so that if the world dies, I’m still tied to the Fae. You knew this might happen,” I accused. “You should have told me so we could have stopped it from getting this far. You didn’t bring me back to save Faery at all, because you were already dying, which meant you knew Faery was, didn’t you?”
“Did I? Or did I selfishly save my child the only way I could? You are blood of my blood, and the only daughter who hasn’t betrayed me. You may not think it, but I do love you very much, Synthia,” she whispered. “I couldn’t save this world and you. I had to make a choice. I chose you. By choosing you over this place, the others have noticed. This world may die, and you may have to abandon it at some point, but you won’t abandon our people. I knew this scenario may come to light, but I had no questions about your loyalty in the grand scheme of the bigger picture. If you can’t save this world, it will be all right. I’ve lived a good life; I’m tired.”
“No, not okay, Danu!” I growled. “If we can’t save this one, you die, correct? You tied yourself to that damn tree and it can’t live outside of Faery because it is the heart of this world. You tell me what to do, you tell me how to fix it now,” I cried. My hands fisted as my eyes burned with unshed tears. I struggled to remain calm; struggled to keep breathing without breaking down. “No, you tell me what I need to do and I will do it.”
“It’s not that simple. There are other things happening in the human world, and this world is not the only one that is crumbling. Something is upsetting the balance, and that isn’t something we can control. This is bigger than us, daughter. I will do what I can to protect your children for as long as I can. Find the Stag; he may know more about the portals than I do. He can train you, Synthia; he can help where I can’t.”
“I don’t want the Stag to train me, I want you. I want my mother,” I argued, knowing she couldn’t do it. I felt like I was losing her, and that she was fine with it happening. Why wasn’t she fighting? Why wasn’t she pissed?
“Because I chose you and, given the chance to do it again, I’d choose you every time. I interfered, and if this is the cost, I’ll gladly pay it. Tell Ristan that I am sorry. Sorry for all that was done to him by his father that I couldn’t stop or change because I am not supposed to interfere directly. I am already paying the price for defying them by interfering with you. So there isn’t anything else they can do to me if I interfere for him now. This is why I can return that which was taken from him physically, when I couldn’t help him before. For centuries, he has faithfully served me; he deserves at least this much. I only hope it is enough to restore everything that was lost. My powers, however, are not at their fullest.” Her voice was soft and full of regret as her form shimmered and dimmed as she began to fade from my sight. “I love you, daughter, more than you could ever know.”
“Danu!” I screamed when she vanished. “You get back here!” I spun in a wide circle as I searched for her. I stopped as my eyes latched onto Ryder like a lifeline and I rushed into his arms, burying my face against his chest. Danu’s words had drained the warmth from my world, but Ryder refilled it as his arms wrapped me as he sensed my pain.
“What the fuck did Danu do now?” Ristan snapped angrily. I didn’t blame him, but I was in pain too.
“She chose me,” I whispered as I ignored Ristan and looked up into the amber eyes that centered my world and kept it from teetering over the edge. He anchored me. “By bringing me back she chose me, and her own life is now hanging in the balance as the price for mine. She’s dying.” I swallowed a sob as Ryder’s arms held me and kept me from falling when my legs refused to support me due to the pain that lanced through me as I said the words out loud. Once I found my balance, I turned and looked at Ristan, who was frozen in place, a look of uncertainty on his face. Tears burned and threatened to fall. “I don’t know what happened between you two, but since you both have chosen to leave us in the dark about it, so be it. Whatever happened, it’s in the past, so leave it there. Danu is dying. Whatever occurred, it no longer matters because we’ve got a lot bigger problem than the portals being fractured. Faery is dying. We have to work together to figure out how to save it. She did say that she fixed whatever Alazander broke and that your boys,” my eyes moved to his dick and back up to him with meaning, “can make swimmers again. She made it sound like you may eventually get other things back, but she didn’t say when. It sounds like it was her parting gift for whatever transpired between you, even though she didn’t quite say that. Just that she wasn’t supposed to interfere and it wasn’t until she broke the rules with me that she was able to do this. Without Faery, there is no Danu. So right now we need to fix this world and then you can go back to hating her.”
“Danu can’t die,” Ristan argued softly. His eyes spoke of his fears, but it wasn’t for him or Olivia. There wasn’t any gratitude for whatever it was that he was going to get back, only fear for Danu. I swallowed my anger and shook my head. Whatever had happened between the two, he’d loved her once upon a time. Deeply.
“She can die, she’s tied to Faery. I’m tied to the people; until the last Fae draws breath, I’ll exist. She’s told me several times that she couldn’t directly interfere in our matters, but when I died, she brought me back. She gave her life for mine, and I don’t accept that. We have to fix whatever is wrong with Faery.”
“We will, Synthia,” Ryder assured me. His hand slipped in mine and he pulled me close to his welcoming heat. “We’ll save it, because it’s our world.”
“I’m going to be a father,” Ristan whispered, and I turned, watching as he kissed Olivia deeply with a look of wonder I’d never forget. For whatever shit Danu had done to him, it looked like she’d tried to make it right. I just wasn’t sure if it was a reward for a lifetime of service, atonemen
“What about Ciara? She’s still out there and could be hurt,” Dristan wondered out loud.
“Ciara is strong. She’s smart; she’ll buy time until we can get to her,” Ryder murmured as he kissed the top of my head. “We’ll find her. It may not be today or tomorrow. We will find her, though, I am sure of it. And whoever took her will understand what pain truly is.”
I walked around in the nursery, slowly taking in the toys and empty cribs. My heart felt like it was splitting apart; my duty to the realm and my children were supposed to be one and the same, and yet to save one, I had to send other away.
“Synthia.” Liam’s voice startled me as he materialized inside the room.
“How did you sift in here?” I demanded, my hand covering my wildly beating heart.
“Ryder gave us specific marks to be able to do it; he wanted to surprise you today since Madisyn is coming to help with the wedding plans.”
Oh yeah, today I was being fitted for the dress. The one I would walk down the aisle in, and pledge my life to my King and Kingdom.
“I’m surprised.” I frowned, trying not to sound disappointed that he hadn’t brought my children with him.
“No, I’m not the surprise,” he laughed, his tri-colored eyes smiling as I frowned deeper. “It’s in here.” He turned the knob to the other door that opened up into the nursery playroom.
I watched as it opened and the beautiful sound of babies playing greeted me. I moved inside, finding Ryder already on the floor with our daughter in his lap. He looked up at me and grinned. I exhaled and slowly sank to the floor in front of him as I accepted Cade from Sinjinn, who beamed with a knowing smile.