A Gift from the Goddess Chapter 93

…What the hell is this?

I should be dead. I know I should be. I‘d received a lethal blow to my shoulder with silver. No one could survive that.

And yet…

And yet I couldn‘t help but notice that, if I were dead, then the Abyss smelled oddly like a hospital room. A new renovation they must have added since the last time I visited.

Everywhere in my body ached, everywhere felt… cold. Except for one place. My hand. My right hand felt warm compared to the rest of me.

So, if I‘m not dead… then what sort of intervention had Selene done this time? Was this the same year or had she brought me back to an earlier time?

Honestly, it wouldn‘t surprise me if she had just sent me on my way without even telling me. After all, I did try to kill her the last time we met face to face. That probably didn‘t instil a desire to catch up and chat.

Though how many times could she do that without completely destroying herself? I‘d seen the way Selene looked after reviving me the first time… she‘d basically faded into nothing from exhaustion. Knowing what I knew now, I was pretty certain that she‘d already used up whatever she could spare.

But if I was alive… didn‘t that mean I could warn the others? Tell them everything I‘d learnt?

And with that thought, all the past events suddenly started to swarm at me inside. The things Thea had told me, the fighting, the pain… all of it. The weight of the memories finally hit me and I felt my face wincing under its brutal reminder.

Cold. My hand abruptly felt colder now. As if whatever had been warming it just disappeared.

“Aria. Are you awake?”

It was a voice I was familiar with.

And my breathing caught in my throat, relief instantly flooding me.

So, I really was alive… and he was here.

Despite all my failures, I‘d somehow been given my final wish after all.

I slowly opened my eyes and turned to see Aleric by my bedside.

I‘d never seen a sweeter sight.

Only, he looked tired. His black, wavy hair out of place, appearing the same way as when he was woken u p too early. Though, all things considered, that didn‘t really surprise me. He‘d probably been out leading the search for Thea for however long I‘d been in here

…But that would mean I was still in my own present time, lessening the chance of Selene being involved.

Which then still begged the question…

“…How am I alive…?” I asked, my voice barely louder than a whisper.

He didn‘t look surprised or taken aback by my question. A reaction that told me he probably knew just as well as I did that my survival shouldn‘t have been possible.

“I guess you could call it a medical miracle,” he answered. “One that you can thank your old silver collar for.”

“My… collar?” I asked, frowning. Maybe I really was dead as that would have made more sense than what he‘d just said.

“The doctors are pretty confused too but everyone seems to agree that the collar is the most likely cause of your survival,” he said, “They think that, because you were exposed to silver all day, every day, for such an extended period of time, your body built up a sort of… natural resistance to the poisoning effects. Trace amounts must have been entering your system via the irritation it left on your skin.”

When Elder Luke had once said that the effects of prolonged silver exposure were unknown, I don‘t think anyone would have predicted this. This was… completely unheard of.

“I‘m immune… to silver?”

“Silver ‘poisoning‘,” he corrected. “And, no, not entirely. Just a better resistance. I guess it‘s sort of like when people regularly subject themselves to low doses of poison if they deal with venomous animals. Makes the effects not as bad should they ever get bitten.”

“I don‘t…,” I started but wasn‘t sure what to say. I was so confused… but at the same time, none of this seemed possible even if it were true. “I saw the blood… there was so much of it. Too much to survive.”

“Don’t remind me,” he said, his eyes narrowing from the memory. “Honestly, I‘d never felt so sick in my entire life before when I saw you just lying there, lifeless as your blood embellished the walls and floor.”

He then paused and took a deep breath before continuing. “…But, that being said, you managed to start healing before it became irreversible. In fact, by the time I arrived with the others, you‘d already stopped most of the worst bleeding on your own.”

so I guess it was lucky I’d managed to get the handcuffs off then. Resistance or not, I wouldn‘t have been able to use my natural accelerated healing had I not taken extreme measures to remove them.

“But that‘s not to say you didn‘t almost die, Aria…,” he said, a small crease forming between his brows.” Calling it a close call would be a gross understatement.

Over the last few days, you‘ve undergone several surgeries and a blood transfusion to fix what your body couldn‘t do on its own to stabilise. You‘re going to be recovering for a few more weeks yet.”

| stared at the wall, completely in shock over everything he was telling me. If what he was saying was true


“So… I‘m alive because of Tytus and Elder Nathaniel?‘

Words I never thought I‘d say in my life. Somehow their barbaric approach at imprisoning me in silver, forcing me to suffer through the humiliation and burning for over a year, had become the very thing that had allowed me to live. If I still believed in divine plans, I would have used this as a prime example,

Next to me, I heard Aleric then softly chuckle under his breath, catching my attention to see he held a small smile. He probably realised just how absurd this all sounded too.

…And yet, I couldn‘t help but ache a little at seeing him do so; to see his smile. To think I almost never saw that again.

“Yeah… something like that.”

“And… and I‘m not dead,” I reiterated.

“… Not dead.”

Some things were perhaps beyond even Selene‘s interference. The chances of this happening seemed… astronomical.

Carefully, I then scrunched my right hand into a fist to test how much it‘d healed. Unlike the rest of my injuries, the dislocation was probably the easiest to mend given no silver was involved. And, after a few more checks, I was pleased to feel that it had basically completely healed.

Good… because there was a lot of work to do.

Namely, I wanted to start working through everything I remembered before I forgot. Especially when the information included theories of, not only how Thea‘s ability most likely worked, but also how to possibly counter it.

They were things I‘d managed to figure out during our fight. It was the only reason I‘d been able to hide m y plan from her, the one to stall her for time. Otherwise I was sure she could have just meddled inside my head to find out what I was up to.

No, like all things, she wasn‘t perfect. And her arrogance had given me more clues from just within a ten-minute encounter alone than out of the entire four years I‘d been hunting her.

Unfortunately, the way to keep her out of my mind was not going to be easy. In fact, if my theories were correct, it might not be possible at all for a while; not whilst I was recovering anyway.

For what it was worth though, it wasn‘t all bad and I even felt a little satisfied. Because if I focused enough, I could still feel that nagging bond inside that used to be the place I mistook for my ‘past self‘.

I might have let her in, allowing her to dig through, but it was also a two–way street. It meant that I could be certain of one, very important thing.

I was certain that she would know I had survived… and she would be pissed.

Despite the impossible odds, despite even the outcome of our battle, somehow I‘d managed to dig my claws in enough to live… and that very fact alone would be eating her up inside.

“Aria?” Aleric then asked, a little alarmed when I started to suddenly move. “You shouldn‘t do that….”

I was trying to sit up in bed but immediately hissed from the pain in my shoulder. I wanted to start work as soon as possible. There was too much to do. Even if that just meant writing down my ideas until I could walk again

“Help me… help me sit up,” I huffed, grimacing from the effort.

He looked less than pleased by this idea but probably assumed I was going to do it whether he helped me or not, and stood up to assist.

And it had seemed like an innocent enough request when I first thought of it; asking someone to help me sit up. Only I swiftly realised my mistake as the contact made me recall the revelation I‘d had right before I was going to die.

The one that made me painfully aware of just how close his body was as his arm wrapped around my back, supporting my weight to sit upright.

… That if I turned my head right now, his face would be right there.

I found myself picking up little details I probably wouldn‘t have normally noticed. Things like his calm breathing, the warmth seeping into my skin from where he held me.

Yet I wondered if….

He promptly finished helping me up and was about to pull away, but, before he could even take a step, 1 quickly pinched at his shirt to pause him a second.

It had been a reflex reaction I hadn‘t expected, finding myself reaching out for the comfort his presence gave me. Having almost lost it forever made me now critically aware of just how much I craved it.

“…Aleric,” I said hesitantly, unable to meet his eyes as I stared at my hand.

There had been so many things I‘d wanted to say before dying. So much I thought I‘d never get the chance to find out. I owed my life to him and more. A debt I was never going to be able to repay.

And I wanted so badly to apologise, to find out if he hated me for what i‘d done to him. To hear from him that things hadn‘t been completely destroyed between us, even if that came at the cost of his rejection.

…Because, after all, I was the dangerous, unpredictable one now.

And, though it was probably wrong of me, I wanted to know I hadn‘t ruined everything.

“…. I, umm…,” was all I said, unsure how to say the words I needed to.

‘*“The second you walked into the cells, it was like all of my anger and frustration just immediately evaporated, *‘ was what he‘d said to me not long ago. ‘“Almost as though the world just completely stopped… and there was only you.“*‘

But that… that wasn‘t him. That was just him describing the effects of the mate bond. I knew all too well what it was like to want to hate someone under its influence; to be trapped by the emotions the bond forces you to feel. I‘d often found it disgusting how it could make you forgive the most heinous of acts.

…No, it would be wrong of me to exploit that.

I couldn‘t just disregard everything that had happened in the last few months. If I were him, I would want to hate me… and it meant that, if I were to ask him for a straight answer right now, I‘d possibly be taking advantage of that bond.



… Monster.

And I sharply inhaled, shaking my head as Thea‘s influence reared its ugly head inside me. A reminder to stop this chain of thoughts immediately before I regretted it.

I‘d definitely become a little better since before but obviously not enough. I still had a long way to go in my journey of recovery.

It was yet another reason to avoid this topic for the time being. Something that would need to wait until I could process all the information I‘d gathered and work on countering what I could. It would be safer for everyone that way.


“I… I think the drugs are wearing off,” I lied, letting him go.

“I warned you not to get up. I‘ll get a doctor.”

“Wait,” I said, cutting him off. “That‘ll just knock me out. We both know it‘s more important to discuss what happened with Thea first.”

He looked like he was going to argue but hesitated, probably realising I was right. This information could b e time–sensitive and who knew how long medication might make me sleep for.

“Brayden told me a little about what happened but it wasn‘t all that helpful,” he said, giving in to my request “There is only so much he remembers because he doesn‘t have any context for what you and Thea were talking about.”

Oh, right. Brayden wouldn‘t have known about my first life, or about the lineages, or even Thea‘s involvement with Selene. The only thing he knew was that I‘d made Thea a national public enemy.

‘Then it‘s a lot worse than he was able to tell you,” said. “Much, much worse. Before now, Thea wasn‘t able to touch me; or any of us, for that matter, directly. It was caused by some sort of curse on her which Selene had set up to keep the original families safe. Something that made playing the waiting game a bit easier as I tried to dig up information. Unfortunately for us though, she‘s now managed to meet the requirements for breaking that.”

“So… all this time….”

“She was using me as a pawn on her behalf,” I answered. “Now, she doesn‘t have to entirely rely on that anymore. She‘s able to enter the arena on her own. It means… It means none of us are safe. If she manages to get her hands on one of our bodies… it‘s over.”

“That‘s why you said to protect the morgue.”

And I nodded.

“First thing we need to do is tighten security,” I said. “Given how you look as though you haven‘t slept in a week, I‘m assuming you weren‘t able to find her. Not that I‘m surprised. She‘s far too good at hiding in plain sight. She won‘t be too far away though, I‘m certain of that. We have to be on the defensive at all times.”

I then paused for a second, thinking through everything as much as possible.

“…By the way… did we manage to retrieve the old ceremonial sword?”

Even though I wasn‘t sure why Thea would still need it, that didn‘t mean the blade wasn‘t still important. I couldn‘t be certain she hadn‘t taken it with her before she‘d fled.

“The one she stabbed you with?” he asked. “Yeah… they cleaned it up and returned it to the cabinet inside the vault.”

I bit at the inside of my cheek. I wondered if….

However, I didn‘t get to finish my thought though as suddenly a fresh wave of pain came from my shoulder wound. I‘d been bluffing earlier about the drugs wearing off but I guess that had quickly become a reality anyway.

“I‘m fine,” I said, grabbing my shoulder.

Though he obviously didn‘t believe me.

“No, very clearly you are not,” he said. “You need to lay back down.”

“But I can just do a little before–.”


“But, Aleric–.”

“Aria, stop,” he said, and then immediately poked his finger against my forehead to push me back into bed.

It had been so unexpected that my only initial reaction was to freeze, staring up at him wide–eyed in surprise. It might have even been enough to keep me quiet had another wave of pain not hit, resulting from the abrupt jolt to my shoulder.

“… That hurt,” I whined.

“Good,” he said, leaning over the bed to raise a brow at me. His face said he was being stern but his eyes gave him away. I could tell he was laughing at me a little inside. “You‘re too stubborn. Hopefully, you can use this as a reminder for exactly why you need to be laying down.”

“I wanted to help though–.”

“You‘re not going to be very helpful long term if you don‘t give yourself time to properly heal,” he said, cutting me off, If not for yourself, then for the rest of us If what youve told me is true, it means we need to be preparing for more physical attacks in the future now. You‘re only going to hold us back if you wear yourself down without healing first,”

And I closed my mouth again, no longer having an argument for what he was saying. He was right. I would be a liability in my condition. Forcing myself to work was only delaying the time I needed to get better

The best thing you can possibly do right now is rest. Heal. We need you at full strength if we have any hope of getting through this.‘

And I gave in, accepting that my condition was probably a lot worse than I realised

Since that looks to have finally sunk in,” he said, moving back, I‘m going to get a doctor now. I imagine there‘ll be no further objections?”

And I shook my head.

“Alright, then.”

And he immediately left to get a doctor, just as he said he would.

So it seemed I really was going to be recovering for a while. A strange feeling since I‘d never had an injury this bad before. The wounds I‘d had in the past had never been more than what my natural healing could handle.

Though I‘d wanted so badly to start work as soon as possible, to write everything down and begin solving more of the puzzle, but.. clearly, my body had other plans. I needed to accept that the first step of

stopping Thea meant letting my body heal before anything else. Too long had it been under multiple stresses and pains, constantly exhausted from anxiety and fear. The sword wounds were just cosmetic when compared to the mental damage inside.

And so, before Aleric could even return with the doctor, I closed my eyes willingly, trying to let my drowsiness carry me back to sleep.

It might not have been in my original plan, but it now became a necessary one.

And, after a minute had gone by, I finally fell asleep peacefully to the smell of Aleric‘s scent still on my clothes

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