Chapter One Hundred Forty Five
Word Count: 1,037
The strange churning of power in the center of her chest was new but Eden was a creature made for rolling with the events of her life – she was a master at simply letting things happen and adapting to them. This ability was only strengthened when her visions began, and it seemed her inheritance was not quite done flexing its figurative muscles. She was calm; so steady and tranquil that the ripples of new power quaking through her body did not disturb the surface of her consciousness. She floated like the breeze over the battlefield; never quite being touched, but in her wake, bodies fell – the only evidence of her presence a single mark in the shape of her fingerprint, burned into ashy black lines over the lips or jowls of her victims, as if she’d shushed them to death. It was a quiet graveyard that grew behind her.
In the back of her mind she kept track of all of her people; her sister, Phaedos, Dante, Arisa, Melody, even Melody’s brother, Will. Following their movements was the easy part, she could practically see through their eyes simply by thinking of them. Eden first understood the gradual awakening of power when she was changed; unlike anyone else in their group, Eden was the product of three different creatures. When she was changed, the venom reacted with her genetics – awakening not just the inordinate grace and skill of vampires, but also a secret ability, hidden beneath her new life, that began to emerge. Eden was a mutt of extraordinary origins.
She was a Royal Atlantean, a vampire, and a hand of Destiny.
She and Pilot owed the same debt, and as a result, they were given unique roles; two sides of the same coin. The keepers and takers of souls, bound together by choice and by destiny – they had learned to adapt, even to find a certain amount of peace in their roles.
A man crashed into her, hard, his armor bloodied and dented. His blood stained her arm where they’d touched. Running behind him, cerulean eyes wild with bloodlust and a war cry cracking through the air, Phaedos appeared like a vicious apparition. With the man scrambling for balance at her feet, his eyes wide and terrified, Eden held her palm up to Phaedos, stopping him in his tracks.
Her voice was level and gracious, smooth like a good wine and as calming as the setting sun. “What has he done?”
Phaedos sneered at the Atlantean, pleased with the turn of events, “I overheard him providing Intel to one of the Lycan commanders.”
Eden turned sad eyes to the guard, studying his face. He did not try to deny the claims against him. She frowned at him and said, “A traitor against your own people, Muric?” Gesturing with a slow inward curl of her fingers, she shook her head and added, “Rise, Atlantean. I won’t have a man die on his knees.”
Muric stammered for a moment but Eden knew more than any words he could spit out. His soul was bared to her eyes, as all souls were, and she could see the blemish of his corruption like an ink stain spreading through him. As she’d done to a hundred Lycans behind her, she pressed her index finger to his fumbling lips and made a single, gentle noise.
When she pulled her hand away, the rivulets of her fingerprint glowed faintly. She held it between them, allowing Muric to observe his last moment fully.
Behind her, Phaedos held his breath.
The deciding moment hung in the air heavily. There were only two things she could do with his soul hovering just over the annular pattern of her skin – only two places it could go. She met his panicked gaze and held it.
With a quiet smile, she snapped her fingers and the Atlantean guard before her crumpled to the ground. Synchronously, Eden and Phaedos heard the scream – their eyes locked and, without words, they both began to sprint toward the source of the noise. She’d known it would happen but still, her heart raced in her chest.
She’d known it would happen but she didn’t know the outcome. Sometimes, not everything was set in stone. Any factor could influence the events, but some events were destined to be up to chance. To be the catalyst in a timeline, the defining moment of a lifetime.
They could see her shield from a distance and it was a beacon, flickering and fading and driving them both to run harder, faster. Eden had never wanted to fly so desperately in her life. Why hadn’t she stayed closer? She had known. She had known and she’d still strayed too far.
She was a fool. She was the faulty variable. The guilt pushed her harder.
Phaedos took down the Lycans with the ease of an army of a hundred men, his limbs moving with a sickening precision, his blows deadly. When they finally reached her failing shield, Atlas was unconscious and convulsing, blood leaking from the corner of her mouth as her body twitched violently.
Everything slowed. She was done, fed up with the battle and the bloodshed and the risk. Her sister was dying on the ground, bleeding out like an animal. Eden spun on her heels, facing the wave of Lycans swooping in, and swung her arm in an arc as she moved. She spoke softly but the command echoed over the valley. “That’s ENOUGH.”
Almost in synch, the Lycans hit the ground and Eden went to her knees beside Atlas. There was no hesitation in Eden’s motions – she had already shifted her attention to her sister and she paid no mind to whether the Lycans were alive or dead, obeying the command or attacking.
It didn’t matter.
She pulled Atlas up to rest against her torso, ignoring the mouthful of blood that covered her as she did so, and said, “Not today, Atlas. Not today.” Eden clung to her, then, for a long moment, simply letting her inheritance hold them both. She tried not to cry as she chanted quietly, her words barely a whisper, her forehead pressed to Atlas’ as she rocked softly.
Come back to me.