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He stared at me, completely still. "But, I saw you. Shannon and I were ripped away from you and thrown out of the Lorren. I wanted to go back in...Shannon said no. She said to leave you. We fought and I walked away from her. I went back into the Lorren myself. Within three steps, you appeared. I was so relieved. I figured that wind must have carried you through the Lorren as well. I spoke to you, but you didn't answer. When I approached to see if you were all right, you threw Brimstone dust on me. I was shocked, and inhaled more than I would have if anyone else had done it. I remember you disappearing, leaving me there to die, only to let me writhe and then turn me into a fucking Valefar! It was you! It was you."

"It was the Lorren. It doused you in the dust, not me. I swear to you. After the wind separated us, I walked through it on my own. It wasn't a tunnel. It was a maze. The Lorren almost killed me. Right before I found you, it looked like Collin. The mental fog it threw over me was so thick that I couldn't think. It wasn't a matter of keep walking like we'd thought going in. The Lorren didn't let me walk."

"Mental fog? There was no mental fog." He was quiet for a minute. "I remember everything, and it was you. Without this," he pointed at my pendant. His face pinched in confusion.

"I never take this off," my hand was over Apryl's necklace. "The Lorren would have appeared with it. No, it wasn't the Lorren. You're right. It was someone else. But the only other person was..."

Eric's face contorted with rage. "Shannon."


"Shit," Eric said, "They made her the Seeker! The Martis made her the Seeker and sent her after us. That's why she knew about the Lorren!" He turned and punched the cave wall. It cracked under his fist. The night of Eric's hearing was so chaotic that the memories blurred together. Shannon found us just as we were entering the portal to the Underworld. Casey ratted out my location. She'd seen the page I was reading in the archives. This entire time Shannon was waiting to ambush me. The bond leading us into the Lorren worked right into her plan. She killed Eric and tried to kill me! "Where is she?" Eric growled. His eyes were rimming.

My face contorted into a sneer as anger burned inside of me. I looked him straight in the eye and lied. "I sent her back to Rome." Eric stared back, neither of us breaking the intense gaze.

Suddenly, Eric turned and tore off like a wild animal. He skidded to a stop, looked over his shoulder, and said, "I'm not done with you." Then he efanotated, and I was alone. His Valefar powers were already in full force. He didn't have to learn how to use them like I did, because I made him completely Valefar. That was how he snuck up on me this time, and it would mean he could do it again.

I screamed in an incoherent fury as my fists balled and I struck a stalactite, shattering it into a million tiny pieces. Why did I take so long to learn? I was so stupid! Shannon was trying to kill me. It made sense that she'd try to kill Eric too. He was a traitor as far as she was concerned. Fucking Martis. They thought everything was black and white. There was no middle ground. Shannon sided with them, choosing the Martis over me a long time ago. Anger coursed through me as every muscle in my body flexed, looking for something else to punch. It messed horribly with my head when she came after me, but I didn't see the point in killing Eric. He was trapped down here anyway. It's not like the Martis would have ever welcomed him back. But, he would have helped me. And now he was a deranged demon. The boy I knew was gone. My fist collided with another rock smashing it to bits.


The memory of my vision smashed into me with icy accuracy. I remembered the darkness, the slant of the cave floor, and the slick stone under my feet. My fingers grazed the cavern walls as I walked, dragging slowly over the cold stone. Hysteria rose in my throat, but I couldn't stop. Knowing what was ahead made my heart pound in my chest. With each step I took, the familiarity of it made me think I was one step closer to death. But, my visions weren't set-in-stone predications. It was possible that something else would happen - I just had no idea what.

When the glowing red ring of light appeared in the distance, my heart caught in my throat. Collin would come into view in a minute. His body would be ravaged, torn to shreds by demon talons, as he lay unconscious on the ground. Tears stung behind my eyes, but I couldn't let them fall. I rubbed my face hard, and took a deep breath. This was it. This is where I failed or succeeded. He needed me, and I needed him. He was my soul mate, and I wouldn't leave him here.

Lying on my stomach, I peered over the edge of the chasm. The gorge dropped off steeply and appeared to go on forever. A faint red glow emanated from somewhere deeper down in the ravine. Swallowing hard, I pushed my head back from the edge and looked up. Collin was in front of me. It was like my vision, which meant I would be spotted by demons at any moment. As soon as I thought it, the rest of the vision played out exactly as I'd seen it. Something tugged the shadows that masked my scent, and it didn't matter how hard I tried to retain them, the shadows were ripped away in one painful pull. As the last cold shadow was torn away, the demons caught my scent and turned their snarling deformed heads toward me - and charged.

The demons terrified me more than I could have imagined. Their vicious eyes focused on me, before the demons' bent and blackened bodies sprang into action. They moved like a wave as each one fought to reach me first. Glistening black scaly flesh had a red cast as they neared the edge of the ravine. Teeth like daggers, stained with blood, bore at me.

I efanotated to where Collin lie, with my scream cut off as my body seared from within. The scalding heat filled my body and when I thought I couldn't bare the pain for another moment, I was kneeling in front of Collin. A smug smile began to spread across my face. As I reached for Collin's hand to take him away with me, I saw the confusion unfold en masse as the demons tried to locate me. Within a matter of seconds, they saw that I'd reached my target.

I focused on the ruby ring to generate enough power to efanotate Collin and I to safety. Breathing hard, my finger trembled as I rubbed the stone. The heat began to lick my stomach and travel up my throat. Any second and we would be safe. The heat just had to intensify and surge through Collin, but there wasn't enough time. The enormous black wings appeared above us, descending like a falling plane. I held onto the heat, refusing to release the power of the only thing that could save us. The creature's black belly dropped out of the sky faster than I thought possible. That damn dragon had been following me the entire time I was down here. Why did he wait so long to kill me? Why allow me to get so close to Collin and then attack? A panicked cry flew from my throat. The monster's maw was wide open as it descended, making a horrific noise as it extended its taloned paws towards us. The massive blades came crashing down around us, pinning me to the ground. The creature shrieked, as it closed its gnarled fingers around Collin's limp body and pulled him away from me.

Cowering, screams continued to erupt from my throat. Only when it spread its wings and pushed upward, did I realize that it hadn't killed us. Collin's hand was pulled out of my grip as he ascended with the beast into blackness. I jumped to my feet shaking, screaming incoherent words at the dragon. Tears streamed down my cheeks and every blood vessel in my neck felt like it was on the verge of exploding. I was screaming incoherently, telling it to come back, taunting it.

The demons didn't attack. They stood motionless, watching my fit of rage.

Screams of pure hate flew from my mouth, as my throat was ripped raw by the sound. "WHERE ARE YOU?" I screamed at Kreturus. I knew he was here. My jaw locked as my nails bit into the flesh of my palm. "Come out you coward! It's me you want! I'm here and I'm not leaving!" I bellowed. My voice bounced off the cavern walls as the demons watched.

I stared at the darkness surrounding me with my jaw clenched tight. My heart was hammering in my ears, as I turned slowly. The place directly behind me, the darkness I'd crossed when I efanotated to Collin on the stone island - it moved. Complete certainty washed over me. It was Kreturus. I stepped towards the edge of the chasm.

"What did you do with him?" I growled.

A smooth, disembodied masculine voice flowed back at me, "He's mine, Ivy. You can't just take things that don't belong to you." The voice radiated through the blackness.

My sneer intensified, "He doesn't belong to you! You stole his life and trapped him in this one. I freed him. He is no longer Valefar. He does not belong to you." My eyes were transfixed on the darkness. I looked for the enormous red glowing coals there were his eyes the last time I'd seen him. I waited for the rancid breath to wash over me as he approached, but he stayed masked by the shadows on the other side of the ravine. A noise caused me to look above the black void. The dragon nestled its gauzy black wings tightly at its sides and sat as a sentry high above us. Collin was not in sight.

The voice answered, "That's where you are wrong. Everything in this realm is mine. If the darkness can touch it, it belongs to me. Nothing is beyond my reach. Not your love. Not your sister... No one."

Apryl appeared out of the darkness and remained perfectly still. Her cheeks were streaked with tearstains. She was frozen in a silent scream with terror etched across her face.

Alone in the blackness, surrounded by demons, I felt the rage festering in every inch of my body. My eyes burned, as I breathed, instantly pooling violet. My jaw locked and I said nothing. Apryl's words from the Pool of Lost Souls echoed through my mind, Kill Kreturus! But how? How! "What do you want?"

"What I've always wanted." The voice was smooth and seemed closer. I turned expecting to see the massive demon looming over my shoulder, but no one was there. He spoke into my opposite ear and I flinched. "You."

Faltering, I took a step back. "I'm not for sale." My voice lost its fury, but none of the venom.

"What if I offered you something that you already want? What if you came willingly?" His voice spoke from within the shadows across from me on my side of the pit. There was a faint outline where he stood in the darkness.

"I'd rather die." I spit the words at him with hatred. He was toying with me, but his words were difficult to ignore. It was impossible to maintain my rage. Frozen, I stood there. Listening.

"You don't want to free your sister?" he cooed. "You wouldn't restore her soul if it was within your power? You wouldn't give her back her life?" he asked. I didn't answer. How could I? He continued, "I don't think we want different things. I think you would be secure in knowing that you and your sister were safe. Control over your fate would be within your reach. No more prophecies to bend to. No more commands to follow. No reason to prove yourself to anyone. You'd have complete control over your life..."

Anger surged through me. His words were playing me, and I could feel my resolve swaying. That pissed me off. Ignoring everything he'd said, I yelled, "Show yourself, you coward! You keep hiding behind shadows, too afraid to show your ugly face. But you forget, I've already seen you. I've already snuck in here and saw your evil form. Stop trying to manipulate me. I won't bend. There is no way in Hell that I'd ever help you."

He laughed, "I'm only offering you what you already want. And the form you saw before was the illusion. It was your own making, Ivy. You imagined the heinous demon that could pull you into Hell and make you his slave. You created that reality, including what I looked like. In reality, I have no form. No shape. No body. I am power, a force of pure destruction, and utter devastation. The Martis trapped me here, but they made an oversight." My heart sank. Shit. Al was right. He did find a way around it. Kreturus laughed, "You already know, don't you? I've not been stuck in this prison for some time. If I enter another form, our powers combine and I am free. You wouldn't lose your free will Ivy. You would just be more powerful. Powerful enough to restore life to the only family member you have left."