Page 10

And that was what the Martis found out. That was why they were enraged. Someone told them that I'd saved Collin. Someone had told them that my kiss with Collin worked like a demon kiss in reverse. Instead of stealing Collin's soul, I gave him a piece of mine - a piece big enough for him to live.

I saved a Valefar. And not just any Valefar. The leader of the Valefar - Collin Smith.

And Eric...he did nothing to stop it, which was equally shocking since he was the golden boy of the Martis warriors. Martis came from all over the world to learn from him. There was no one better than him. But, he let this happen.

My eyes widened, and I felt myself leaning towards him. Why did he let that happen? I never realized what he did. There was a second when I was vulnerable, but Eric didn't strike. He sliced through Collin, but hesitated when it came to me. I always thought that the dark mist that swirled around Collin and I had protected me. Maybe it hadn't. Maybe Eric faltered.

My opinion of him shattered. I had no idea what to think. Eric hated Valefar. He detested everything about them, and I was half Valefar. But he saved me. He spared me when he thought I was a full Valefar? What the hell? Why would he do that? Did he really do that?

Stunned, I stood there with my mouth hanging open. I had no idea what I thought of Eric at that moment, but I wanted him to stop speaking. He was damning himself. His kind wouldn't forgive his actions.

Not for this. It appeared to be beyond an accident. Sparing me was beyond a colossal failure.

It was mutiny.

Before I realized I was moving, a strong hand clamped down on both my shoulders. I looked back at the guards, and they shook their heads indicating for me to remain where I was.

Eric swallowed hard. A vein on the side of his face was throbbing, and his temples shined with sweat. He unclenched his jaw and spoke calmly and evenly, not apologizing, "I cannot say."

Julia shot up from her seat enraged. "You can say! And you will! Why didn't you kill them? You had the Prophecy One in your grasp and she was vulnerable. She proved she can create more of her kind, and you did nothing! Nothing! A new Martis stood at your side, waiting to attack, but you did nothing! Eric, you were our most trusted warrior. You pursued the Prophecy One for almost two millennia. You did exactly as commanded; found her, befriended her, but when the chance came to destroy her, you failed. Answer for your misconduct, or we will answer for you."

The sound of silence filled the air. No one breathed. Everything felt surreal, passing slower than time allowed. Mixed emotions flooded my chest. I had no idea that he pretended to be my friend. I thought he cared about me the same way Shannon had before we ended up on opposite sides. As if he could hear my thoughts he turned his head toward me. His golden gaze softened, and there were words in his eyes that he could not speak.

Not here. Not now.

The Martis grew impatient with his lack of response. Julia screeched at him, but he said nothing. The Martis guards that surrounded the room were rigid, waiting for something that I didn't see coming. When Eric refused to answer and Julia was done berating him, another Martis spoke.

This man was older, his voice softer, but no less powerful, "Eric, if you will not defend yourself we have no choice but to find you guilty...of treason." The old man looked at Eric with concern.

Behind him sat Al, and several rows back sat Shannon. Shannon's face revealed raw terror as the guard behind Eric moved slowly toward him, holding silver chains. Her green eyes were wide when she caught sight of me. It looked like she was caught in a silent scream.

Eric didn't move. He didn't speak. He remained on the chair, with his jaw locked tight. The guards pulled his wrists behind his back and bound them with the silver chain. Eric's brazen gaze did not falter. He stared at Julia.

The old Martis sighed in resignation, "Eric, you've left us no choice. You have broken our code of honor and abandoned your quest before completion. You did the unthinkable and allowed a powerful Valefar to regain life, by failing to kill your target. Your defiance makes us think that you are under the influence of another." His eyes cut to me, and then back to Eric. "Because you will not counter these claims, we have no choice but to sentence you as traitor. You are hereby stripped of your title and rank. Celestial silver made you one of us, now it will take you away." The man's face was grim, as he turned away from Eric. It was as if he were too horrified to watch.

The guard, who restrained Eric, stepped in front of him. Eric didn't move. He didn't plead, flinch or try to run. He sat rigidly; intent on taking whatever they were going to dish out. The guard tore open the front of Eric's white shirt, and ripped his Celestial Sliver necklace away. They took his only means to protect himself against the Valefar. Now there was no way to kill his enemies or hide his Martis mark.

The guard touched the small silver X pendant on Eric's necklace to his mark. The silver glowed blue before changing into a sword, Eric's sword. The guard turned, and walked toward the elder Martis with the sword lying across his open palms. He was saying something that didn't make sense to me, as some Martis handed him something. Were they speaking Latin?

The guard moved carefully, as if he were handling poison. The room was eerily silent. It wasn't until the guard turned around again that I realized what he'd done. The gleaming silver sword was covered in a black substance that clung to the blade. My heart jumped into my throat. It couldn't be. But it was.

Brimstone. They coated the entire blade with the lethal black substance.

Paralyzed, I stood there watching. I didn't know what was happening. There was no way they were going to do what I thought they were going to do. They wouldn't kill their own kind, would they? Suddenly, I wasn't too certain. Some of the Martis looked shocked, while others were outraged. But, Eric's face didn't waiver. He didn't beg, speak, or cry out. Surely he'd say something if he was in mortal danger.

Disbelief was making me stupid. The guard continued to move towards Eric. Eric continued to remain silent. If he spoke, and said why he didn't kill me that night, there was no way that this would happen. The elder Martis made that clear. But Eric said nothing. Why was he doing this?

Everything else happened in a matter of seconds, utterly horrifying seconds. The Martis guard turned. He held Eric's sword above his head for the entire court to see, careful not to touch the blade, turning slowly to each side of the room and then back to Eric. The entire assembly was on the edge of their seats. Al was vigorously pulling at the man sitting next to Julia, spewing off angry words in his ear. But, he only shook his head. Shannon was sitting rigid with a look of horror frozen across her face.

The sword. The fear. The guard. The guard was delivering the punishment. My eyes widened as I accepted the reality of the Martis penalty for treason.


This was an execution. My mouth dropped open in horror. I couldn't swallow. My body wouldn't move. Every sound in the room faded away. I stared at Eric in disbelief. He knew. He knew his actions that night were guilty of treason, an offense punishable by death - but he did it anyway. He let me live. Me and my rancid demon blood filled body. Me. The abomination. Me. His prey for centuries.

My eyebrows pinched together as trembling worked its way up my tense muscles. It was then that Eric finally looked at me. His expression softened, as he mouthed, I'm sorry. His golden eyes remained locked with mine. They revealed unspoken sorrow that I would have never listened to had he tried to put it into words.

That did it. I couldn't stand it anymore. I couldn't wait here! Not another second. No way. I don't know what Eric's angle was, or if he even had one, but at that moment I felt utter hatred flame through me. But, this time it wasn't directed at Eric. It was directed at everyone else - the Martis. They were the ones who were sentencing him to death. And, it was because of me. They thought I deserved to die. Eric didn't. He spared me. I couldn't watch whatever they were going to do to him. I couldn't tolerate it. This was unjust. It wasn't right. Eric saw something in me that they didn't. His logic didn't always make sense to me, but this was wrong.

I felt my eyes rim violet, as I began to lose control of my anger. I could feel it happening. It was the same insane rage that shot through me when I slashed down Valefar after Valefar last fall. My lungs felt like they were on fire. Every muscle in my body went rigid as if I were prepared to fight to the death. The tips of my hair flamed deep violet. I could see it happening out of the corner of my eye. I didn't know why that happened some times and not others. Truth was I didn't care. I let the surge of power overtake me. The air felt like it was stifling hot, crushing my body.

I must have looked insane. Someone near me shrieked, while others pointed in alarm. My guard hesitated, backing away from me. They were terrified. I could see it in their eyes.

Now many of the Martis were standing, and screaming to be heard over the chaos. Julia was standing, leaning over the oak divider, and screaming at the guard to finish his job. Al was silent, watching me. The old Martis next to her was pulling at Julia to sit down and restore order. But, she wouldn't. Utter hatred flashed across her face when she looked at Eric. And something worse appeared when she looked at me. She knew what I could do, even if I didn't. And at that moment, I didn't have any clue what I was capable of or why I was dangerous.

I acted without thinking. I had to. There was no time left. The guard suddenly remembered he had arms. His sword swung backwards, poised to swing down and lodge the blackened blade in Eric's skull. I launched myself across the room at exactly the same moment that the silver sword swung down. The swordsmen did not falter until my hurtling body appeared in front of him. During that brief second, he hesitated making his sword falter mid-swing.

I crashed into Eric, causing his chair to rock back and crash to the floor. The sword completely missed Eric and nearly cleaved me in two. The silver sword slashed down my back ripping the flesh open. Pain shot through my body, as the tainted blade tore through me. Others were shouting, but it was too late. Heat surged through my body as the efanotation began.

My arms were wrapped around Eric, as we fell and I allowed the heat of the efanotation to overtake us. The screams, gasps, and chaos were soon muffled by the roar of fire coursing through my body. I knew where I wanted us to arrive, but I'd never been there before. And the screaming pain in my back was making it difficult to concentrate. I'd broken a cardinal rule of efanotation. In order to move your body from one place to another, you had to have been there before. Collin once told me he spliced himself, and separated his skin from his body, because he didn't observe that little rule. I never bothered to ask him how to fix that. I just knew it would hurt beyond comprehension.

As it was, no other Valefar could efanotate with another person. But, I could when I didn't have a fatal wound on my back. While Celestial Silver or Brimstone alone couldn't kill me, combined they might succeed. The demon blood that flowed through my soul-ravaged body overtook me. The dark magic coursed through my veins. Valefar powers were always paid for with pain. Efanotating felt like I was being burned alive from the inside out. I could barely tolerate it under normal circumstances. The wound on my back made it unbearable. I noticed I was crushing Eric's limp body in my arms. He didn't have any demon blood to protect him from the scalding heat. And, I knew he felt it. As long as I maintained contact with Eric, he would come with me, and feel what I felt - or worse. I risked killing him instantly and splicing us both, but I had to. There was no other choice.