The surrounding air was all I could hear, the whooshing loud, like I stepped inside a hurricane. Yet her final words travelled to me regardless, almost as if carried on the wind she created. I witnessed the destructive determination on her face, as seconds slipped by me, before I truly understood the intention behind the look Aleera gave me, I raced toward her, tried to shield her power, absorb it..
Yet the moment my magic touched her, she siphoned me for every drop, red energy zapped toward the tower, stealing my breath as I knew I would be powerless within the barrier, when she hit me with so much strength I could no longer hold onto the miniscule piece of power I had left.
A panicked scream ripped out of me the moment her power blasted me into the damned portal. They rebounded off the crystal tower, and echoed inside the portal as I was vacuumed back to Astrid Castle, back home and far from her reach.
My heart beat harder as I hit the ground, hand outstretched, as if my sheer will alone could stop the portal closing. I couldn’t hold it in.
Why had she done it? None of it made sense, and try as I might, I couldn’t fathom why Aleera just handed herself over to them like she was a gift on a silver platter.
Meeting death while fighting beside her would have been far better than being forced back home. I tried to keep the portal open, so I could return to her or even just fight to make it bend to my will, but all of my power was gone.
Aleera had completely sucked it away, so she could overthrow us and throw us back home through the portal.
Home? This place could no longer be labeled that, not without her. Not for me at least, and I was pretty sure it would be the same for our mates.
“No!” Kalen gasped. He fell to his knees at first, then sprang up, flinging his hand out, trying to scrounge up enough power to conjure a portal back to her. But just like with my magic, his had been siphoned too.
All of us were powerless. She’d stripped each of us of any real chance we had to get back to her side. Despite knowing that, Kalen, frantically, continued to pull on any bit of magic he could muster. He succeeded in opening a portal up for half a second.
“Maybe we can drive?” Tobias suggested. There was a dark haunted look in Kalen’s eyes that hadn’t been there before this whole mess. A look I hadn’t seen in ages, not since Aleera’s Phoenixes brought him back to us.
The city was way too far, we all knew it. He was grasping onto anything he could think of that had even the slightest chance of working. By the time we got there, they would already be long gone. There was no way the wannabe Queen B*tch would give us enough time to get to Aleera and fight for her. She never played fair.
I still couldn’t believe Aleera just tossed us aside as if we were unworthy of fighting by her side. She abandoned us, knowing full well what her mother was capable of.
Kalen slammed his fist into the hard ground. “She promised!” his scream echoed through the room bouncing off the walls, angry tears streamed down his cheeks.
He slammed his other fist down again. “She lied!” Anger was getting the best of him, but I couldn’t blame him. We’d been prepared to lay our lives down to protect her, and she’d shoved us all to the side.
I understood why, though I didn’t want to acknowledge it. Kalen hissed as he grabbed onto his own hair, fisting his hands in it, as he pulled until the strands were tense in his grip.
He jerked his head up to the sky and screamed in anger, frustration and the heartache we all felt.
When Kalen had calmed down, I’d explain her reasoning to him. Aleera had sent us away on purpose, it hadn’t been a last-minute decision, her actions were calculated. We would find out the reason for her actions, I was sure of it. She tossed us away, but I knew it was only to save us.
I paced the room, mind-focused. Had she given us any hints in the last words she’d said to us? I thought about our last encounter, replaying every detail. She’d given herself up to save us, her last words, saying she forgave me and I needed to forgive myself, left me no clues as to what she was thinking. Unless she wasn’t sure if she had signed her own death sentence.
Kalen groaned, the sound of a man breaking. “I’m not running this time. I would never run from you,” she had told him, and the words left my lips in a whisper before I could stop myself from repeating her.
She understood how off the rails Kalen would get without her, how the shadows would come and haunt him.
She had lied about that too, come to think of it. It was a flicker of a memory, something buried deep by this point, but I recalled her words, that if she ever ran away from us, she would take Kalen with her.
Did that mean she had just fed us all these lies? Or was there something else going on that I hadn’t understood? A reason for her actions? What had been going through her head in those moments? Her Phoenixes had still been around at that point, she could have ordered a full-on attack, she had more than just my magic, more than what those crystals could hold power over.
Everything snapped into place in an instant, the puzzle solving itself as I finally understood. Aleera hadn’t been captured, she’d surrendered, and that changed everything.
Now the question was, why had she done it? What was her plan, or was it a last -second decision? Maybe one made out of desperation?