Mara Jade Benson has been introduced to the world of mythical creatures, portals to other worlds, and her own demonic powers. After losing her mentor, she must fight through the pain and suffering to defeat her former friend, who killed Mara's mother. If she survives this underdog mission, what new trials and choices will Mara have to face? (I suck at summaries, please read anyway!)
“Mara! Please!” Graham shouted. I turned, unable not to look at his face one last time. Shocked, I saw that he had tears streaming down his face.
“Graham…” I said quietly. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to say. Don’t cry? I’m sorry? I don’t have a choice? Nothing quite fit.
“Mara, you don’t have to do this!” he shouted from behind the invisible barrier. I shook my head. “I know you think you do, but there’s got to be another way! I know there is!” I continued to shake my head at him. “Somewhere…” I glanced at him again, and saw the look of complete despair that drowned his handsome features. “Please, Mara. Stay with us… Stay with me…” I closed my blue-violet eyes, holding in my tears.
I tried to be brave. I turned my back to him and walked forward. But my feet stumbled and my clenched fists trembled. I couldn’t hold my tears in anymore. They fell silently on my path, the path that would lead to the end.
No. That wasn’t true. I had to believe that my sacrifice would save the world. Would save him. A quote I’d heard somewhere popped into my head: “It’s not the end. Just the end of me.”
I never meant to be a hero. I never wanted a hero’s life, much less a hero’s death. I never wanted this. But they left me no choice.
The path began to crumble beneath my feet. I looked up to the blood red sky and glared at the figures vaguely outlined in the stars. “Percy, Rebecca, no matter where this path leads me, I’ll find you. I’ll find Kamahi and end your lives,” I whispered.
A burst of black wind flapped around me. My black hair was twisted around in the small tornado. I closed my eyes and emptied my mind, calming myself. Eventually, the wind dissipated.
I looked away from the evil couple, back to my feet. The ground began to burn and catch on fire under my feet. My Converse were unharmed by the flames, but the path behind me charred and fell to the golden sea below. Trapping me in this world.
The way in front of me led into a thick patch of Sweet Woods, a never-ending forest filled with candy and other desserts instead of plants. But I was sure this was the section Kamahi had warned me about. The Poison Branches. I was to be tested.
“Bring it on!” I shouted at the sky. It was probably stupid and unnecessary, but I couldn’t believe I was still being tested, after everything I’d been through. A constellation shimmered and disappeared. Instantly, the twinkling lights reappeared next to me. A figure formed. “Percy,” I spat.
“What’s up, Mara?” the “god” of this world grinned. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”
“Yeah,” I replied, my heart burning with hate. “Last time I talked to you was when you ripped my mom’s body to shreds and tried to kill all of my friends too.”
“Don’t be bitter, Mara!” Percy smirked. “You should be freaking proud! I don’t bait just anybody into entering my world!”
“Why do you want me here?” I hissed. Percy just glanced down at his fingers, examining them for flaws. Stalling.
I was done waiting for answers. I’d done everything they wanted.
I bit him.
“Whoa, girl!” he yelled, shaking his hand. “Damn! You got me bleeding!”
I smiled, feeling satisfied. He held up his bleeding appendages to my face. Violet vapor swirled up from them and into the heavens.
“I guess purple is the blood of the evil, then?” I sneered, spitting. “Hope I didn’t get infected.”
His blue eyes widened. “Infected,” he whispered. “Oh, great Judges!” he swore. “You infected me with your DNA! You demon!”
I laughed bitterly. “I’m not really a demon, remember? I’m half-human. Although I’m sure you think that’s worse. What was it you called humans? ‘Strong-willed and weak-bodied.’ That’s right,” I taunted.
He glared at me. He lifted his uninjured hand, preparing to throw me off the path and into the depths of his sea with his dark magic. I braced myself. I gritted my teeth and shut my eyes.
I opened my eyes. Percy stared, disbelieving, at his disobedient fingers.
“What’s wrong, Perce?” I asked sarcastically. My heart thumped at hearing his nickname. I used to say that so often, without a thought. Before he got dragged into this. But it was his fault. “Your hand not so submissive now? Is it the curse of the humans? Or are you just losing your touch?” I tusked. “To have peaked so soon… I’m glad I’m not you. Rebecca will be angry, won’t she?”
His familiar blue eyes widened, scared. No matter how strong he was, he knew Rebecca could destroy him at his best. “You shut your mouth! I can still get rid of you with ease!”
“Oh, really? I don’t see how.”
Percy stepped forward, clenching his fists as if to fight me. I laughed.
“Percy, I’m shocked! You’d hit a girl?”
“If I have to.” He nodded, hiding his eyes beneath his blonde hair. He took a few more steps, placing himself within striking distance. Then he planted his feet.
I deftly whirled around, landing behind Percy in a rather cliché ninja stance as he swung where I stood a moment ago. “Huh?” I heard him mutter, confused.
“It’ll take more than that to hit me,” I told him loudly. He spun around. His expression was surprised, to say the least, but then he regained his usual angry mask.
“You’re faster than last time our paths crossed,” he commented. “But you didn’t take advantage of that while you had the chance. Now you’ve lost the element of surprise.”
“The last time our ‘paths crossed’?!” I asked incredulously, incapable of letting that go. “You’d been tracking me down for two years so you could destroy me! Don’t let Fate take the blame for that!”
“It doesn’t matter. Now I can do what I tried to do a year ago. Prepare yourself, Arabella Jade Benson, Demon Warrior of Migliore! These moments will be your last.” I smirked at those words, the taboo words that began a fight to the death, though his calling me Arabella pissed me off.
“You have to catch me to kill me,” I breathed, twisting to stand next to his ear. He began to turn too. I took a few steps backwards, and then flew sideways.
Percy looked frustrated as he flung himself around again and again, trying to block and attack at the same time. I decided to cut him some slack. “Tell you what,” I proposed. “I’ll let you have a go at me with your bow. Okay? And I won’t walk, run, skip, or gallop an inch any which way.”
He glared. I just smiled serenely. “It’s a trap,” he said, pointing out the obvious.
“Not really,” I replied. “But even if it is, it can’t hurt, right?” He shrugged. “You accept?” He nodded.
I knew this was dangerous. If I wasn’t fast enough, my soul would be ripped from my body. But I knew I had the speed.