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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Borrowed Ember (Page 9)     
  • Borrowed Ember(Fire Spirits #3)(9) by Samantha Young
  • Jai stepped aside as Red led her past them, coming up the rear and acting guardian as always. Ari shivered, feeling his gaze on her back. Part of her was annoyed at him for acting like an idiot when she already felt so exposed… but she guessed she’d be put out if someone was parading him around shirtless in front of lots of other women.

    If it makes you feel any better, I really wish I wasn’t dressed like this too. She telepathed back to him, as her eyes wandered out of the windows they kept passing. Outside, a huge marketplace was lit up in the dark of the lowest level of the outer grounds of the palace. There was hardly anyone there as night had falen on Mount Qaf but Ari could stil see selers wandering around amongst their stals. It was so normal for a place so… weird. And creepy.

    She heard Jai sigh in her head and relaxed a little at the sound. I know. That’s partly why I’m pissed off too.

    And because of all the leg and cl**vage right?

    He grunted. Only because we’re not alone. The dress isn’t really you but…

    But?

    You look really beautiful.

    Ari’s insides melted, her muscles relaxing as they approached a large entranceway and four Shaitan’s guarding the talest double doors she’d ever seen in her life.

    Thank you.

    You’re welcome. Sorry. About before.

    Don’t be. I’d be pissed too if it was the other way around. She gave Jai a soft smile as he came to stand beside her. He eyed her appreciatively, seeming a little surprised by her understanding.

    “Ahem,” Red cleared his throat deliberately, drawing their attention back to the doors. Ari avoided Charlie’s quizzical gaze and waited as the double doors swung slowly inwards, the icy confusion of the great hal becoming clearer and more vivid as the entrance widened. Since the last time she’d been there, warm, blood-red tapestries had been thrown up in the middle of each wal, the lighting had dimmed into romantic candlelight, and a long dinner table now sat center of the room, piles of food awaiting them. Ari’s stomach growled a little and she realized she hadn’t eaten al day. Standing beside the head of the massive table was Azazil. With the exception of hundreds of Shaitans who stood guard on either side of the room, the Sultan was alone.

    No Asmodeus.

    Ari breathed a sigh of relief.

    “Welcome, guests,” Azazil’s voice boomed around the room. “Come, be seated. Let us feast in celebration.”

    Azazil asked a lot of questions. Banal, every-day, probing questions that he knew was making them squirm uncomfortably, fearful that the next question would be even more personal than the last. Ari was barely looking at the food in front of her and had only started to nibble at the delicious chicken tapas after Red had given her a pointed look.

    Seeming done for the moment after griling Charlie about what he thought was the best beer, Ari tried to steer the conversation. “Your trials are so different from human trials, Your Majesty. It was ful of surprises.”

    Azazil smiled at her. “Yes. They’re most entertaining.”

    “How does it work exactly?”

    Red frowned at her. “What do you mean?”

    “Wel how can you possibly know when someone has broken the law? You said you knew when someone had done so, and you track them down and drag them

    back here. I don’t understand how that works?”

    “I see.” Her uncle nodded. “There are Jinn in this realm whose sole power creates the law. The Law Makers. The magic is complex…” He frowned in thought. “I’m trying to think of a way to describe it to you… Okay… think of it as a barrier, a barrier created by the Law Makers that is attuned to what we consider right and wrong. Anytime someone breaks the law it’s like they’ve slammed into the barrier and the Law Makers feels the vibration of the impact. They can trace that vibration to the law breaker to within striking distance of where he committed the crime. From there it is a case of trying to trace the criminal through their power or finding another Jinn that knows his whereabouts. That’s why it is harder to chase down a half-blood, especialy a sorcerer with an emerald, because the magic is diluted and also drawn from a piece of rock, rather than being a part of them. Jinn magic is like a signature. The less Jinn you are, the fainter the signature. Half-bloods are more of a priority to the Law Makers. Despite what everyone has been told, ful-blooded Jinn are rarely tried for kiling one another, but the threat of the law has decreased in-fighting. If-”

    “I hear you had trouble in one of your vilages, son?” Azazil interrupted.

    One of his vilages? Ari’s curiosity over Red’s information quickly transformed into curiosity over Red. As if sensing her questioning gaze, Red smiled at her. “Every Jinn King has his own State in Mount Qaf. I rule over the State of Madani.” He turned back to Azazil. “There was a Jinn who thought to quarry emerald from the Mountain without license. I believe some thought my preoccupation with Royal business and my absence meant I was somehow unaware of everything that happens on my land.”

    His father grunted. “Simpletons. What happened to the thief?”

    “I stole a large portion of his essence and banished him from the realm.”

    “Stole his essence?” Ari interrupted, quickly adding, “Your Highness?” Her uncle couldn’t hide his smirk at her pretense of polite deference toward him for Azazil’s benefit, but Ari was in no mood to laugh. Whatever Red had done, it didn’t sound like a light punishment, and the thought of him being cruel and autocratic in anyway made her feel sick. She needed him to be different from Azazil and her father. How different, was something she stil hadn’t realy worked out in her head. Was she able to trust him even when he did crap like steal a person’s essence? “His essence?” she asked quietly, needing more information.

    Red grew thoughtful and serious. “A very powerful Jinn can draw the essence of a less powerful Jinn from them. Their essence… as in their power and that which connects them to life and to the balance. We can keep the essence locked in a bottle or place the essence within another Jinn.”

    “How is that possible?” Ari shot Jai a worried look.

    He shrugged. “I don’t know. I didn’t even know it was possible.”

    “As I say,” Red sighed before taking a sip of wine, “Only the very powerful can do this. Sometimes it even takes two very powerful-”

    “I’m bored,” Azazil cut in, in his booming petulance. “Let us move onto dessert.” He waved a bejeweled hand at the servants who rushed to clear their plates, and Ari fought down the scowl that was determined to mar her expression. She wanted to know more about the essence stealing deal. “So Charles,” Azazil murmured as Awamet was put in front of him. He paused for a moment as he eyed the donuts like a child seeing his very first sweet. Ari had never met anyone so contradictory in her entire life. Smiling a little, Azazil glanced back up at Charlie. “How does it feel to have blood on your hands?”

    Yup, that was more like it.

    Ari curled her fingers around the handle of her spoon, biting her tongue in the hopes that it stopped her from insulting the Sultan. Watching Charlie carefuly, she was impressed to see that he didn’t even flinch at Azazil’s question.

    Instead he shrugged, chewing on a donut and swalowing it leisurely. “I imagine that’s a feeling you’re quite familiar with, Sultan Azazil.”

    As thick silence fel over the table, Ari froze, her heart lodged in her throat as she waited to see how Azazil would react to Charlie’s impertinence.

    Finaly, after what seemed like forever, the Sultan boomed out a forced, unnatural laugh that made her shudder in fear. His dark eyes narrowed on her friend as his laughter abruptly cut off. “I think I like you, Charlie Creagh.” His look turned calculating. “Indeed.”

    Ari tried to relax but for the rest of the meal she sat tense, curbing her natural instinct to grab Jai and Charlie and get them the hel off Mount Qaf.

    5 - It’s an Old Kind of Magic in Kisses and Starbursts

    He didn’t know what had possessed him to act so flippant with the Sultan, but Charlie was regretting it now. He sat on the edge of the bed in the guest suite Red had given him, wishing like hel they could just leave already. The way Azazil had looked at him through the entire meal had freaked him out, though he tried his best to hide it. Ari was pissed at him. He knew. He could feel it coming off her in waves as they left the dining hal and were led back to their rooms by Red. If he hadn’t already guessed by the incredulously angry looks she kept shooting him, he certainly knew when she stopped at the door of her suite and said, “Try not to say anything stupid to the wals when you get in your room, okay.” Then she’d slammed inside her own room leaving him chastened in front of Jai and Red. The disgusted look Jai had given him was nothing new, so Charlie tried not to let it bother him too much. Instead he’d turned around and walked casualy into his room like he hadn’t a care in the world.

    He had a care.

    The whole night had sucked.

    First Ari turned up in that get-up that… Jesus Christ… that get-up. He breathed, feeling jealousy twist into ugly knots in his chest. Every time he saw her he was reminded she was no longer his, and it took his breath away. Even when he’d been pushing her away he had always thought of her as his, because she’d been so determined to be his. Charlie guessed he’d always thought that at some point they’d end up together. Now it seemed she was going to end up with Jai the Jinn-Boy and she looked at that guy in a way she had never looked at Charlie.

    So what did he do? He took his anger out on the one being in the whole world that could fry his ass with just one look.

    So smart.

    Yeah. He was getting smarter every day.

    Charlie groaned, burying his head in his hands. He needed to get back home. He wanted to see Jack and start training again. He wanted to hang out with Falon, and not have to pretend that he didn’t think about taking his vengeance 24/7.

    “Charlie?” The Red King’s voice broke through his musings and Charlie froze, surprised to hear Ari’s uncle’s voice on the other side of his door. Slowly, curiously, he strode towards the door, remembering that the last time he and Red had spoken in private he’d happily accepted Red’s offer of a wish. Something Ari stil didn’t know about. Charlie squelched down the guilt at that, seeing how much Ari was coming to trust the Jinn King. She’d definitely stop trusting him if she found out, and Charlie reckoned Ari needed a Jinn King on her side more than she needed to know the truth about where his sorcery had come from in the first place.

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