Unraveling Destiny (The Fae Chronicles Book 5), page 25
His ocean eyes lifted to mine and he smiled as he felt the huge surge of my power. I wasn’t sure I liked him knowing I held so much power. I moved closer, taking his hand and pushing a little more power into him. I watched as his eyes glowed, and something dark moved inside his eyes.
“You have secrets.” I wondered if I should push to see what they were.
“Of course I do. We all carry secrets with us, vixen. It isn’t share or care day, girl. Focus; I need your…juice.”
“You irritate me,” I blurted, and heard Ristan laugh from behind me.
“Are you always so blunt?” Callaghan countered distractedly.
“No, sometimes I’m sarcastic, but you have to catch me on a good day for that.”
“Hmm, you sure you’re attached?” He gave me a roguish grin as sweat dripped and ran down his massive chest.
“I’m positive I am,” I quipped back. “Can you wake her or not?”
“She’s awake.” He pulled a soft cloth out of one of his pockets and wiped the sweat from his neck as my eyes narrowed and I looked down at the Witch, who was observing me warily.
“Good morning, beautiful. Welcome to the twenty-first century. You’re safe, Hannah, for now. I’m going to need you to get up and help me out a little,” I said softly as I stared down into her beautiful eyes and grinned. “Let’s get you some coffee, hmm?”
Ristan stood beside me as we waited in silence while Hannah explored the room and its contents. She wasn’t speaking to us yet, but her curiosity about us was in full swing. She’d pick up one thing, only to get distracted by something else that caught her fancy. Callaghan waited by the door in case he was needed, and Hannah gave him a wide berth.
“You bathed her?” Ristan asked, giving me a sideways glance.
“She’s been asleep down there for a long time. For most of us of the female persuasion, a bath is always a good idea if you want to ensure better spirits. She’s not my enemy, not yet,” I mused, knowing she was listening to us.
Darynda and I had bathed her in a tub, since so much had changed since she and her sisters had been placed into stasis, and glamouring her clean might just freak her out. She marveled quietly at the huge claw-footed tub, but that wasn’t what had shocked her the most. I had to refrain from smiling as she’d searched beneath the tub for flames or coal as to why it was heated. Instead of the hauling in buckets of hot water as she’d been used to back then, I’d placed my fingers into the water and heated it to a comfortable temperature. The bubbles had changed colors, giving the water a rich, heady fragrance of lavender.
After her bath, I’d glamoured some undergarments and clothing for her, including an ivy colored skirt that reached her ankles comfortably. Last was a soft white silk camisole top with wide straps and lace edging. She’d hugged her chest, probably wishing she’d had something more to cover up with, but it was the twenty-first century and she’d need to fit in. Darynda had done her hair and clipped midnight barrettes in it to keep the long dark mass out of her face.
I had taken a chance bringing her here. Faery was a maze of powerful Leylines, more powerful than the ones she’d been plugged into. Tapping the lines would be child’s play to her, but I was willing to bet she was disoriented and a little confused about her abrupt awakening. Until she knew why she was here, she wouldn’t chance showing her cards. Neither would I, though, not until I knew everything she did.
“I’m still not sure why you brought her here,” Ristan commented, his mouth slipping into a slight frown. His eyes left mine and moved to the woman, examining her as an unknown factor just as Ryder would have. “It’s dangerous showing her any part of our world, considering her sisters are behind the portals,” he finished in a soft tone, not chiding or rebuking my decision.
“They opened them, but maybe she can tell us how to close them,” I offered.
“You’re in pain,” Ristan pointed out offhandedly, which caused me to wince at his astute ability to read me like a book.
“Faery is in pain, and so am I. We’re attached,” I grumbled. “It’s the drawback of being connected to the people. We feel what the land around us does. Imagine what Danu must feel as it crumbles to become one with Tèrra?” I turned to him, ignoring the Witch who listened keenly to everything we said.
“I can’t say what she is feeling, but you can drop the hard-ass act, Flower. It’s me you’re talking to. Tell me how to help you. You need to rest as well.” The concerned look on his face made me smile weakly.
“I’m exhausted.” I laughed but it was as hollow as I felt. “I killed Faolán, and I felt nothing. No regret or remorse. I know I shouldn’t feel anything for him because he was a monster, but what about my father? My mother? They have to bury a child that I killed. That weighs on me, because I should feel something, anything for them. There’s nothing there, and the worst part was, I’d do it again. I’d do it a million times over and make them have to bury him, just so that my children could live without him hiding in the shadows as a threat. Danu is dying because she saved my life, mine, and there’s nothing I can do to save her. Ryder is in the hands of the Guild and you more than anyone else knows what they are probably doing to him. There are so many what ifs, and I know partly what is playing out because of the Enforcer’s memories. I mean, I could go in there balls to the walls and get him, but there are too many unknowns in the way. Then to top it all off, Destiny shows up and tells me that if I interfere to get him back, I will have to pay a price but she can’t tell me what it is, because she doesn’t know what it will be. I can’t leave him there; it’s not an option. So, I’ll have to live with whatever it is they will demand of me. If you can fix any of those problems, Demon, feel free to.”
“What do you mean by a price to pay?” he inquired sharply as his eyes narrowed, and I realized I may have said too much. His recent behavior with Danu told me he knew more about how the Gods worked than I did.
“I honestly don’t know,” I replied, turning to find the Witch observing us closely.
“We will get him back, and we’ll make it a safe place so that we can bring the others back as well,” he mused softly. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to reassure me, or himself.
“I know we will,” I agreed with a tight frown. “I would think that since they threw the first punch, I’d at least get to hit back without having to pay for it. I didn’t ask for this, nor do I enjoy playing games with the Guild. I’d allow them to live if they handed him back; well, most of them anyway.”
“Gods are fickle fuckers, to be sure,” he agreed. “They seldom make any sense. They meddle and call it destiny or holy intervention, but when it comes to the humans, it’s all a touchy subject.”
“That’s not something I will argue with.” I expelled a shaky breath and rolled my neck. “Hannah, it’s time to talk.” I watched as her eyes rose with open curiosity she couldn’t conceal.
“You are a Goddess. Were you born as a Goddess, or made?” she asked; her accent was thick with a brogue I couldn’t place.
“Made, I guess. It’s rather complicated.” I couldn’t find a better way to explain how I came to be.
“And you woke me because you think my sisters took something from you, or did something to this world?” she continued carefully; her eyes spoke of mistrust as she watched me for any sign of lies.
“They did take something from me. Someone, to be exact, someone I love very much. But you knew that already.” I watched as heat flushed in her cheeks.
“Matilda and Bettina have him, yes. Inside the Seattle Guild—and you plan to hand me over in exchange for him?”
“That’s the plan,” I agreed. “How is it you know that? Do you communicate with them?”
“No; stasis does not mean we were asleep. Not exactly; it means you lay there unable to do naught but listen and wait for
“What else did you hear inside the Guild?”
“Everything you said, and you said a lot of things over the years. I slept, but I was not exactly asleep. I have heard everything inside of that place. Every word whispered, every lie ever told, every love affair that transpired behind closed doors. Then there was you; you were one of my favorite beings that lived there. You were such a sad child, with what you endured and what the Guild put you through. Even before you left, it was changing. Over the past twenty or so years, the whispers became different, no longer the innocent hushed tones of lovers, the training of the Enforcers, or the chatter of the children at their lessons; but the conniving Mages who slinked in the shadows. You assume we do not know what we are helping, that we are using them for revenge. We are aware that those who wronged us have long been gone from this earth, but their children are not. Most of our children did not get that choice, to breed, to multiply. They were murdered, slaughtered in horrid ways as if they were naught but animals.”
“And Callaghan over there said you were not like your sisters.” I waved a hand at the silent but watchful Paladin, who cursed under his breath as I tried to weigh my options for how to handle her.
“I am the nice one.” She smirked a little saucily. “And I am also the one who does not wish the humans dead, even though some of them deserved something more than death. Revenge is not something I enjoy. We were good once, but it did little to help us or those who we gave birth to, now did it?”
“Life’s a bitch,” I muttered softly. “What happened to them shouldn’t have ever transpired. However, it’s ancient history, literally. You and your sisters will see that. But killing humans who had nothing to do with what their ancestors did isn’t the answer. People are flawed, just as we all are. No one is perfect, but they do learn from their mistakes, and the world has changed since the trials.”
“Some fates are worse than death,” she spat, eyeing me. “I would have preferred death over being made into a lifeless being that could see and hear everything that happened, but could not interact. I felt each sacrifice, each girl’s death which was used to secure the state of stasis. I knew each of them after they had been murdered. They deserve justice, but this world did not even weep for those women,” she choked out and shook her head. Her eyes misted with tears as she smiled sadly. “I admit, I wanted to wipe out the human race, but unlike my sisters, I listened. I learned that the world went on without us; our own children were inside the Guilds. We went on, they went on. I understand that killing the descendants of the humans responsible for the deaths of our children would mean killing our descendants as, in some cases, our remaining children’s descendants bred with the children of theirs. Their deaths are something I cannot allow,” she said fiercely with determination in her eyes.
“So, you don’t want to kill the human race?” I asked, hopefully.
“Not I,” she said calmly. “I will always feel the need for revenge against the lines who committed the crimes, but I realize that they were not responsible for the wrongdoing of their forefathers. I have never taken an innocent life to date, but most of my sisters think otherwise. I am not a saint, and I enjoy sinning. Those who committed the trials did so in mock ones, and I knew they would not stop. That was the reason I agreed to join my sisters. It had to stop. To them, we and our children were monsters and yet they were the ones who did the monstrous acts against our sisters, children, and those of our direct lines. You are a mother. You will eventually be like us, having to feel every child of your bloodline as they die. Could you watch them be murdered like animals, and treated as even less?”
“My children are immortal, like you,” I corrected.
“Do you think they will mate with immortals, all of them? No, for love is blind when it comes to longevity. They will not consider it when love finds them. How do you think the Witches of old mated with mere mortals? The first of our kind were immortal, like me. Part God or Goddess; then a few took mortals as mates, and they bore children who were weaker until finally, some became so weak that they were akin to mortals. You cannot know who your children will love, or their children for that matter. You will be as helpless as we were in that endeavor. Now imagine those children of your direct line being slaughtered for having abilities they inherited from your blood. Imagine their screams as they curse you and what you passed on to them as they were murdered for it. You would want revenge; you would crave it like the air you breathe. We killed only a few who put our children and their children to death. The humans who stoned them, burned them, or drowned them to prove they were immortal, and when they died, those who doled out their torment received nothing for their acts. I know how history recorded it, saying no Witches were burned alive, but I can still smell the flesh of my great granddaughter as I collected her burned remains to bury her. The humans did that and we were called monsters, put into stasis because we wanted revenge against those who would continue to hunt us and our children. That is why my sisters crave an end to the humans, because it’s too late to seek revenge against the humans responsible for the deaths of our children, but there will always be new monsters born of the human race who seek to do the same to our remaining descendants, or anyone who might be different or have something they want. Avarice, jealousy, and bigotry are all human traits that caused the death of our children.”
“I couldn’t imagine what you were put through. But revenge won’t change what happened to them, nor will it bring them back or give you solace for their losses. Do you think your sisters still crave revenge?” I asked.
“I will not pretend to know what is in their minds. Not anymore. I was preparing to leave them when we were captured. I had planned to go to the sacred altar to find our mother, to see if she could reason with the monsters. My sisters discovered my plans and so my stasis, my purgatory, has been in silence for the most part. It was only recently that they started to communicate with me again. Even then, I know not of what lies in their hearts.”
“Hecate has been absent for a very long time,” I agreed.
“We do not think she chose her absence from this world. We believe she was taken, but we do not know who could have enough strength to accomplish it. At first we thought Morgana had taken her, but then, she too has been missing for centuries. We believe someone is collecting very powerful Witches to either cast or break a spell. I had planned that if I couldn’t find our mother and obtain her help, then I would ask for the Gods to help us.”
“And that is why your sisters are helping the Guild, because they believe they can help them locate your mother?”
“Has Destiny taught you nothing?” she muttered offhandedly, almost as if she was a little exasperated with me. “Taking your fiancé was not an accident. I asked them to play the Guild’s game. I needed to be awoken to find our mother. You more than anyone should understand, considering your own plight with Danu. We care not if the Guild on this continent falls, for they are not of our line anymore. Our bloodlines are in England and Scotland, and those who did come here are safe because of people like you who will ensure they survive. That is where we will go. Most assume that my sisters at the Seattle Guild are the strongest of the thirteen, but they are wrong. We are only strong together, and so we shall go wake the others. Once we’ve accomplished that, I will ensure we only hunt down those who know what happened to our mother.”
“Your sisters opened the portals to Faery. Can they fix them?”
“I do not believe the portals can be fixed. Not until this world is healed. If it fails to heal, they may never close entirely. Everything is linked, and everything happens for a reason. Trust that if you cannot trust anything else.”
“And what about Ryder? They are torturing him while your sisters help them search for a way to kill him!” I hissed as Ristan stiffened beside me as my tone grew hard and cold.
“You and your sisters set this entire thing up from the beginning?” I questioned and her smile was answer enough.
“Of course we did. From the first moment we heard the Mages agree on their idea to wake a few of us to help them destroy the Fae, we knew that you were the only thing they were scared of. We had to make you want to fight them, to give you a reason to free me from stasis. You have been away from the Guild for some time, so we did not count on you being a Goddess and a mother when we put our plan into play. As I said, your entire time at the Guild, I watched you. Larissa made sure of it, and I was so happy when it became clear that you would be our path to freedom.”
My stomach dropped. “Leave her out of it.”
“Why would I? She was of my direct line. Everything is connected, everything. I am sure Destiny told you how everything is connected, like dominos. Something as simple as a push in the right direction, and you found the Fae; the Fae gave you what you were missing. Your heart, which you forsook when your first fiancé, ahem, died. Your heart brought you to me. Larissa knew what her fate was going to be before it happened, and even knowing what was to come, she chose to stay and complete her purpose, knowing that completing her task would be the prelude to her death. She is not alone in her death; her parents are with her. She loved you, though, so much. So much that she did not want to leave you or Adam, the man she loved even knowing her time was short. So here we are, and it matters little how we arrived here. What matters is what you decide to do next. So tread carefully because dominos are always falling, no matter what you do to stop them.”