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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Borrowed Ember (Page 5)     
  • Borrowed Ember(Fire Spirits #3)(5) by Samantha Young
  • involvement in a trial must have traveled because the whole place was so packed there were Jinn floating in the air above the seating, like brightly colored hummingbirds watching him with curious eyes. Charlie gulped, seeing a Jinn sitting upon a floating rug. He felt like rubbing his eyes to make sure he was seeing right. It had al just gotten a little too ‘Aladdin and his lamp’ on him.

    Before Charlie could crumple under the stress of being in such a surreal situation, his gaze drew past the flying Jinn and magic carpet and widened at the sight of the mountains glimmering green in the sun in the distance. Now that was awe-inspiring, he licked his lips almost greedily, the need for the emeralds suddenly over-powering any possible humiliation he’d felt earlier.

    A prickle of awareness crawled up his neck as he strode into the center and he glanced to his left only to lock his gaze with eyes of a changing color. A worried Ari gave him a tremulous smile as she sat in the front row, dark circles under her eyes teling him she had been up for hours, probably because of her anxiety over today. A rush of warmth flooded his chest and he gave her a tentative smile, feeling better just for having her there. The smile slipped from his lips though as his gaze tripped over the person sitting far too close to her.

    Jai.

    He gave the Jinn a brittle nod and turned back to face center. Everything felt so surreal, so off, his vision seeming to come in and out. A smal round stage sat center and the Shaitan urged him onto it. The Red King stood off to his left and he gave Charlie a sharp nod of encouragement. On his right was a Jinn almost as tal as Red, his bare head gleaming in the winter sun. Like Red he seemed dressed for the part in black leather trousers, gold armlets, gold wrist cuffs, and a torque around his neck.

    Jewels glittered on his fingers and in his ears. His black eyes bore into Charlie with dangerous hatred, and Charlie quickly looked away from who he assumed was The Gleaming King, only to come face to face with life and death itself. The power of the Jinn in front of him almost blew him back off his feet. Charlie felt frozen under the Jinn’s dark gaze. The Jinn was huge, even sitting down on his black marble throne. His long, silver-white hair stayed perfectly stil around his face despite the soft breeze that seemed to whisper through everyone else’s. Turquoise silk robes fel in a waterfal around him. His powerful torso was bare underneath the robes while his long, powerful legs were wrapped in the same black leather as Red and the other Jinn King.

    This was Azazil, the Sultan of al Jinn.

    Charlie didn’t need to be told that.

    The Sultan smirked cheekily at him and Charlie blinked, not sure whether he saw right or not. The blink shifted his gaze to Azazil’s left and he quickly looked away from the massive, young-looking, dark-haired Jinn who was staring at him as if he were about to eat him.

    Footsteps interrupted Charlie’s inward frantic thoughts and he looked down to see Red approach him.

    “Charlie. How are you?”

    He shrugged, pretending indifference. “I’m dealing.”

    “I’l be defending you today against my brother, The Gleaming King.” He gestured to the Jinn with the bald head.

    Charlie nodded. “Okay.”

    Sighing, as if he were already weary with the trial, Red nodded his head towards the white-haired Jinn and his companion. “That is Sultan Azazil. He is accompanied today by his Lieutenant, Prince Asmodeus.”

    Charlie resisted the urge to bite the skin around his thumb like he did when he was sitting in an exam. “Is the Sultan… you know the judge?”

    “No. Azazil watches over the trial. The Marid,” Red indicated a tal, slim man who was sitting in a sprawled out, bored position just along from Ari, “His name is Adeel: the just, the wise.”

    “He looks bored.”

    “Wel the trial hasn’t started yet.”

    “So Azazil has no say in this?”

    Red nodded in assurance, and for some reason the knowledge that the mercurial and frankly, insane, Sultan had no part in the outcome of his trial made Charlie feel better—insane or not, the guy was al-powerful.

    He shot another quick glance at Azazil. “Do I need to bow or anything?”

    Red smirked. “Only when you’re acquitted.”

    “Ooh I’m liking the confidence.” Charlie rubbed his sweaty hands down his jeans. “Confidence is key.”

    Chuckling, Red nodded and retreated.

    Sucking in a deep, controled breath, Charlie tried not to let his legs shake again. He was going to make it through this. Today did not feel like the day he was going to die.

    Right?

    Ari watched as Charlie was led into the amphitheater by the Shaitans, and her stomach almost bottomed out. Seeming to sense her anxious gaze, Charlie turned and caught her eye. She offered him a reassuring smile and he returned it before giving Jai a sharp nod as he headed towards the center of the floor.

    “I feel sick,” she murmured to Jai, pressing her thigh against his in comfort.

    Immediately her skin prickled, like little uncomfortable needles al over her face. Her heart literaly skipped a beat as she glanced up to find Azazil smirking at her, and Asmodeus watching her with an emotionless but somehow focused expression. She gulped and fought to restrain herself from digging her hands into Jai’s arm.

    Do you think he heard me? Azazil, I mean. Look at the way he’s looking at me.

    Probably, Jai replied softly, Let’s just stick to telepathy while we’re here, okay.

    Yeah. Okay. She shrugged off Azazil and Asmodeus’ frightening attention and glanced back at Charlie. He was shivering in the winter of the realm and Ari wondered bitterly why, if he was going to make a dumbass wish to be a sorcerer, he couldn’t have gotten the nifty temperate temperature bit of the deal. She should have brought him a sweater or something.

    Jai pressed his leg back against hers, drawing her attention. Have you thought about what we’re going to do if Red doesn’t pull this off?

    Loving that he used the word ‘we’, Ari wanted to take hold of his hand in hers, but with Azazil watching on and Red’s warning earlier, she managed to refrain from seeking comfort in Jai’s touch. I honestly don’t know.

    Ari, he was using his ‘I’m older, wiser and a guardian’ voice, You’re not thinking of using your power are you? That’s a death wish.

    I don’t know, Jai. I just know that I can’t let him die.

    She felt his body tense next to her.

    Don’t worry, her words were soft and cajoling, My power is the last resort. I’ll speak up first. For all their twisted ways, Jinn believe in honor and

    upholding their laws. Well, Gleaming’s son attacked me—a full-blood. He was going to kill me— a crime punishable by death. Let’s see Gleaming talk

    his way out of that.

    After a second, she felt Jai relax, his arm brushing hers in a way that sent inappropriate tingles shooting to inappropriate places. Her eyes fel to his hand that was fisted atop his thigh. Slowly, his fingers unfurled as he relaxed, believing her. He had nice hands, she mused, strong but graceful. Just the sight of them gave her tingles too.

    Flushing, Ari was glad for the distraction as The Gleaming King spoke out to the arena.

    “Ladies and gentlemen, we are here today to bring my son justice.” He strode in front of Charlie, his powerful muscles flexing in a way that made Ari gulp for Charlie’s sake. His eyes driled into her friend with bitter hatred and it took everything she had not to throw herself in front of him and hide him from Gleaming’s view.

    “This monster, this half-blood, pretender of Jinn, kiled my son in cold-blood…”

    …Unlike any trial Ari had ever witnessed, Gleaming and Red argued back and forth about the events that led to Dalí’s death with no real sense of logic—there was no offering of evidence for a start. It was just assumed that a Jinn King was to be believed.

    The argument was difficult for Red because he was trying to keep Ari’s involvement in this whole ugly business as low key as possible.

    “The case is not about what my son did, Red!” Gleaming belowed and Ari found herself almost sneering. Red and even her father, White, were so cool and

    colected that she couldn’t help admire that about them. Gleaming was a hot-head and he came across as petulant, childish and undignified. Plus, he was trying to nail her best friend to a cross. “This boy, this barely Jinn, half-human murdered my son.” He turned to the crowd. “A knife in the back, if you please.”

    The crowd gasped at that, and Ari heard the murmurs of ‘coward’ ripple through the arena.

    “He was in the middle of choking to death a Guild hunter. Charlie saved the girl’s life,” Red caled out, trying to draw their attention back, but it seemed to have no effect.

    Ari glanced anxiously at the Marid, Adeel, who was judging the trial. Earlier he’d looked half-asleep but now he was sitting up, studying Charlie carefuly. She swalowed hard, noting Charlie flex his hands, seeing the tremble in his fingers.

    She felt like crying for him.

    “If I may,” a strong, familiar voice rang out around them and al heads turned to where Charlie had entered earlier.

    Shock and frightened anticipation froze her in place and she felt Jai press closer to her as The White King garnered everyone’s attention. Blank-faced, he strode towards the center of the amphitheater and addressed Adeel. “I have a testimony to make on the accused’s behalf.”

    There were more gasps, including Ari’s.

    Adeel bowed his head at The White King. “The White King is of course alowed to provide his side of the events.”

    Ari’s eyes locked with Charlie’s as his head whipped around to her, his eyes questioning her silently. She shook her head, letting him know she hadn’t arranged this.

    “What are you doing, White?” Gleaming asked quietly, al his posturing deflating under his brother’s gaze.

    White didn’t answer him. He looked right through him and then turned to the crowds. “This trial is irrelevant. Had Charlie Creagh not kiled Dalí, son of Gleaming, Dalí himself would be here facing inevitable death for kidnapping and torturing, with the intent to kil, my daughter Ari Johnson.” He eyed her in the crowd and she felt the murmurs rise and the gazes fal on her. “My daughter is a ful-blooded Jinn.”

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