I screamed until my voice gave out and I couldn’t produce a noise louder than a weak whimper. The pressure on my chest had grown, and I had rubbed my frozen wrists raw trying to move around to relieve some of the pressure so I could breathe. The blood had freeze-dried on my cheek. I’d thought that Eidolons were immune to cold, but there’s something unnatural about the cold in Hollë. It’s the type of cold that makes the crypt seem warm, the kind of cold that freezes bones and souls.
I wasn’t sure how much time had passed since Iâ had left. I didn’t know how long I’d been stuck here. Instead of worrying for my own safety, I kept thinking of Ryan and how he was handling the transition from Shadow to ghost. About how when Kendra killed me, I wouldn’t be able to make the transition. I wouldn’t even get to be a Shadow. There’d be nothing left. Once you kill something that’s already dead, the soul vanishes. I would feel better about my impending cessation of existence if I knew that Ryan would be okay, and that Henki and Daemon would escape.
More time passed. Even though food is not vital for Eidolons, my human half was crying out for a small amount of food. A drop of water. I was becoming dehydrated. My entire body ached. I was thankful that my wrists were numb and that my body had quit shivering to try and stay warm.
I heard the familiar sound of the door opening down the corridor. Instead of Eira’s train scraping over the ice, I heard the heavy, self-assured sound of booted footsteps. A soldier. Had Kendra returned already? Was she not going to kill me herself? Would I be immediately taken from freezing cold to the excruciating heat of Gahenna?
Two shapes appeared through the thick ice door. A shadow flickers in the corner of the room as the door swings open, slamming into the wall behind it. Iâ regards me with his cobalt eyes, an expression I can’t place. I’m scared to mention our previous conversation with the huge guard standing behind him.
“Remove her chains,” Iâ commands coldly. “Bring her to my chambers. Use the back hallways. Don’t let Eira know what you’re doing. She’ll be jealous if she finds out I’m torturing it without her.”
The guard nods curtly and steps forward. He roughly jerks me down from the chains, scraping off the rest of the skin from my hands. I cry out sharply at the pain and collapse to the cold floor. The guard’s shadow stretches out, tall and thin, as he jerks me to my feet.
Iâ towers over me, cruel smirk on his face. “Humans are such pathetic creatures. It is no wonder than Kendra wants you dead. You are so gullible.” He barks a laugh and harshly lifts my chin to meet his gaze. “As if I would actually help you. You are going to die slowly and painfully, Shadow Princess. I will make your beloved Ryan watch. And when Kendra is finished with you, I will kill him.”
I scream in fury at the mention of Ryan’s name and lunge at him. The guard squeezes my skinned hands and I pull back with a cry of pain.
Iâ gazes down at me with contempt. “I hope you are this loud when we are alone. I like screams and challenges.”
He spins on his heel and walks back down the corridor. The guard releases my hands and grabs my shoulders, pushing me forward. His shadow stretches out to the side in the cold light reflecting off the ice.
“Wait,” I rasp as my legs give out. “I can’t walk.”
The guard grunts and throws me over his shoulder. He picks up his pace, boots pounding against the ice floor loudly. He stops at the end of the corridor and presses his fist into a depression in the wall. A column of ice silently moves to the side, revealing a narrow hallway. The guard resumes his hurried pace. His boots echo loudly against the tight walls.
“Please put me down. You have to let me go,” I plead, weakly trying to slide off the guard’s shoulder.
He continues on in silence.
“Please,” I beg again. I’ve never been more scared of what awaits me at the end of this hallway.
“Just trust us, Nikki. It will be okay,” a voice says in the darkness.
“Henki?” I lift myself up and look around.
The voice is gone and it’s just me and the guard again. I hang my head over the guard’s shoulder again and concentrate on the lack of pain in my chest. Trust. I’ve already extended trust to a Shadow. Why not try to extend it to another that I was told to fear? That’s my last coherent thought before everything fades out.