It felt like ice slid down my spine. I could barely breathe. His words seduced me, offering everything and requiring nothing of me, but to allow him use of my body. I stared into the blackness, revolted by how easily he could tempt me. Words fell out of my mouth and I knew they were right without contemplating. "No. If you want me, you'll have to kill me first. And I'm done with this conversation." I turned on my heel ready to walk away. I had no idea where I was going, I only knew I had to find Collin and get away from Kreturus. I felt my will weakening. The more he spoke, the more his words sounded logical. I had to remind myself that if he had my cooperation, he would open the gates of Hell. Demons and the other evil spawn I saw walking around would overflow from the Underworld and destroy my world. Kreturus needed it as a stepping-stone to overtake the angels realm. Earth was middle ground, a neutral zone. No, I couldn't let him win. But, I couldn't kill him. As he said, he was pure power, a trapped force with no physical body to destroy. Why did I think I could kill him? Why did I ever think this would be easy?
His voice spoke softly behind me, "You cannot walk away from me, Ivy Taylor."
"Then stop me," I blurted out. But, I'd underestimated his ability. I thought if he had no form, his powers would be hindered, but they weren't. Suddenly, I felt like I was in a straightjacket and slammed into an invisible wall. My feet were heavy and glued to the floor.
"Ivy," he sounded amused, "this is petty. Of course I can stop you. Of course I could end your fragile life and snap you in two. I can do anything I want to you, and you can't stop me. But, that isn't my desire. I don't want you that way. I want you to invite me - willingly. This is your last chance. Don't refuse me."
His invisible bindings dropped and I turned, staring into the darkness. "Or what?" I screamed. "You've taken everything from me. There is nothing - NOTHING - else you can do that would make me willingly offer you anything." I spat the words like they were poison. Hate fueled my passion, and his amusement fanned the flames. Kreturus' hollow laugh reverberated off the cavern walls. His demons drew away, cowering. The dragon, high on the cliff, buried its head under its wing after giving me a look that said it thought I was an idiot. I sensed the same thing they did. His power was so thick I could feel it sliding over my skin. Shivering I backed away.
I came down here and I lost. I saved no one, but I'd be damned if I was going to let him take me. There was no way that thing was welcome in my body. As Kreturus' power ebbed, the darkness thickened. Things happened too quickly to think. The swirling black mass in front of me flowed outward like a storm cloud bursting open. Stunned, I watched as it swirled around creating a space in the middle. In that space, I could make out a prone form lying still on the ground. My heart sank. No, no, no! My gaze jerked up towards the dragon's perch, but he was gone.
Shaking I ran straight towards the black mass screaming. But, when I threw myself against the wall of darkness, I was launched back. My body flew through the air and collided with a stalactite before sliding to the floor. Pain shot through me on impact, but it didn't stop me. As I righted myself, rage engulfed me. I felt the instant transformation consume me. My eyes pooled instantly. Violet tongues of fire raced down each strand of hair until the tips of my long curls glowed bright purple. It was like flipping a switch. There was no fear. Only intense anger.
Eric had said to contain my rage when this happened last time. My inability to mask my emotions cost me the Martis' trust. And it later cost Eric his life. And now, there was nothing left to lose. Strength flooded my body as Kreturus' voice resonated in a hideous laugh throughout the cavern.
Suddenly, the black cloud became translucent and shone like oil on blacktop. Its spinning shifted directions as the blacked mist streamed rapidly towards the prone boy who was trapped in the center of the vortex - Collin. The oily mass flowed rapidly into the sliced skin that covered his body. Collin remained inert, but his body stiffened and writhed as the black mass slid into him through his marred flesh.
Again, I ran towards him, trying to penetrate the black mist that was surrounded Collin. But, the invisible force that surrounded him threw me backwards, screaming. As I jumped to my feet to try and reach Collin another way the sound of wind rushing through the cavern whistled at a deafening pitch, and paralyzed me. My hands instinctively covered my ears to block out the noise. I looked up and saw Collin's body within the vortex, spine arched, hovering above the ground. The last of the inky darkness was sucked into his wounds, and his limp body dropped to the floor. Everything began to pass in a matter of seconds that felt like eternity.
Complete coldness engulfed me, filling the pit of my stomach like lead. I didn't need an instruction manual to know what had happened. The black powerful mass that spoke to me, the thing that was Kreturus, the thing that wanted to reside inside of me - it was inside of Collin.
Kreturus wanted to control me and use my powers. When I refused, he chose the one person I couldn't deny. The boy who held my heart. My soul mate.
We were now enemies again and it was so much worse than before. Before the stake was his life or mine. But now, it was kill him or let Kreturus destroy the world. The demon had to be vulnerable in this form. Kreturus inhabited Collin's body, and that body had limitations. This was my only chance.
Shaking, I walked towards Collin's prone form. My fingers felt for the cold silver of the Guardian's tooth that was tucked in my waistband. It was the most powerful weapon I had. That tooth was the only thing that could destroy a person who had both Valefar blood and Martis blood flowing through their veins. If I killed Collin, Kreturus might die with him. I'd destroy the old demon and wouldn't unleash evil upon the world. It would end the battle, and I would not become the girl in the prophecy.
Slowly I approached Collin, hesitating. I wanted Kreturus dead. He was responsible for killing my mother and turning my sister into a Valefar. He stole Collin from me in a way that wouldn't allow me to ever get him back. My Collin was gone. When he awoke he would be crazier than Eric. The massive powers of the demon that inhabited his body would dominate him. Kreturus had no compassion. He ended lives without thought, bringing pain and misery upon anyone he chose. Now the form delivering that hideous evil was the boy I loved.
I didn't want to do this. Collin saved me. He loved me. But that boy wasn't Collin anymore. Kreturus stole him from me, and in a cruel twist of fate, I'd have to kill the only boy I'd ever loved.
Certainty washed over me as I stared at Collin's sleeping form - I couldn't survive this. There was no way to plunge the Guardian's tooth into Collin's heart and live with myself. I didn't care that Kreturus was in there. He still looked like Collin. It was still Collin's body lying in front of me. Dropping to my knees, I sat next to his motionless body. His perfect face was caught between the worlds of sleep and wake. There was no time to think; no time to know if this would even work. It was possible I'd kill Collin, and Kreturus would revert to his mass-less form and still live.
Glancing down at Collin, I noticed the smoothness of his cheek. His wounds were healed, and his skin looked as beautiful as it did the first day I saw him. With each breath I took, I prayed for another answer to come to me. There had to be another way. But, there wasn't. This was the prophecy. It said I killed Kreturus and became Queen of the Demons, ruler of the Underworld. This is where I would succeed or fail. This was the action that would define who I was at my core - good or evil. Could I sacrifice my soul mate to save the world?
My heart thundered in my ears and I couldn't stop shaking. Somehow the tooth was withdrawn from its hiding place and clutched firmly in my hand. I grasped it, ready to kill. Stab him and end this. End it now.
I'd like to say resolve shot up my spine with each breath I took, but it didn't. Doubt latched on, and I couldn't shake it. Losing Apryl nearly killed me, and I wasn't the one who killed her. I'd killed Valefar, and felt no regret, but this wasn't the same thing. The boy lying on the floor in front of me had part of my soul. I gave it to him.
Killing him would be like killing myself.
The poisoned fang hovered above his slowly breathing body, shaking in my hand. I wanted to touch my fingers to his sleeping face. I wanted to tell him that it had to be this way, that there were no other options. I wanted to hear his voice again, but I knew I couldn't. If he opened his startling blue eyes and spoke to me, I would lose my resolve. And I'd decided. I knew what I had to do. I knew how to end this.
I knew how to defeat Kreturus.
My jaw locked as I bit my bottom lip hard enough to taste my own blood. Straightening my spine, I drew every ounce of strength I could conjure. My muscles flexed.
I positioned the point of the silver tooth directly over my heart. And I swung. I swung as hard as I could. Every ounce of my being, every ounce of pain, every shattered dream, and every bit of misery that consumed me fueled that swing of the poisoned tooth. A scream erupted from my lips, as my arm came crashing towards my chest.
The prophecy would not be fulfilled.
Kreturus would not harness my power. He would not tempt me. He would not use love to twist me to his will.
The prophecy would die with me.