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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Borrowed Ember (Page 12)     
  • Borrowed Ember(Fire Spirits #3)(12) by Samantha Young
  • Asmodeus’ face darkened. “You are grieving. You are saying things you do not mean. If Azazil heard you speak thus… Lilif you are to be married to him

    within a sennight. Do not do anything foolish to ruin that.”

    Lilif curled her lip in disgust. “As if I could. The way our Master speaks of the future, he cannot do anything but marry me. I am to bear him sons.”

    “Exactly. And once you do, the balance will even out. Perhaps we will no longer be required to fight all these wars.”

    Seeming weary now, Lilif slumped, a single tear rolling down her soft cheek. “Do you think so, brother? When I am Sultana mayhap Master will allow me

    to suggest some changes?”

    “Mayhap.”

    “Oh, Asmodeus,” Lilif sniffled like a little girl, “I have dreamed of a world so far removed from this one, my chest aches with longing for it. It is a barren dustland, new, untouched. Empty. Ready for life. I cannot seem to stop dreaming of it lately.”

    “You mean The After,” Asmodeus sighed.

    Lilif stiffened. “You have dreamt of it also?”

    “It plagued my dreams for a while so I confided in Azazil about it. It is not a dream, sister, but a warning.”

    “A warning?”

    “The After is what will happen if balance is destroyed. If we destroy the balance. The realms collide and cause desolation to all that already exists. In its place will exist The After and only those powerful enough will survive… only to find themselves alone.”

    “The most powerful?”

    “Azazil. You, me… a few of the stronger Jinn as Meenah was.”

    Lilif dropped her gaze from her brothers. “It is too late for Meenah,” she murmured and Ari felt the grief lessen as a new feeling enveloped Lilif.

    Hope.

    … Ari, wake up, Jai’s voice invaded Ari’s conscience, bringing her out of the dreamworld and back to his. Her eyes fluttered open and to her happy surprise she found herself in Jai’s warm arms, his gorgeous face hovering over hers. Morning. He leaned over and pressed a soft kiss to her mouth, the bristles of his cheek scratching against hers.

    Mmm, she mumbled lazily, brushing her fingers over his face, you need to shave.

    His laughter made her eyes pop open and ask ‘what?’ He shook his head, smiling. It’s nice.

    What’s nice?

    Waking up to my girlfriend telling me I need to shave. It’s so normal.

    Ari chuckled and kissed him again before pushing herself up into a sitting position. So… she was definitely his girlfriend. Good to know.

    She looked away from Jai’s na**d chest, determined not be distracted. I can de-normalize things for you by telling you about the dream I just had.

    Jai frowned. I want to hear all about it. But we better be quick. You can’t be found in here.

    When she was done relaying the dream, they were both even more confused than they already had been. Deciding it was definitely time to tel Red, Ari scooted out of Jai’s bed and into her clothes, rushing across the room and out of it and into hers in record-breaking time.

    After a quick shower, she stood in the middle of her guestroom and telepathed Red.

    “You rang?” The Red King uttered droly as he stepped out of the Peripatos.

    Ari smirked, and just in case there were ears listening at doors or watching through peepholes (and wasn’t that just a creepy-ass thought?) Ari replied, “We ready to leave?” and telepathed, We need to talk. Pronto. Somewhere private.

    Red raised an eyebrow and nodded. “Yes. We’re leaving right now. I’l get Charlie.” He then telepathed an address in Los Angeles, teling her to give Jai the

    address. I’ll bring Charlie. Let’s get going.

    The Peripatos was definitely one of Ari’s least favorite things about the Jinn. Sure it was fine when you were just flashing from one room to the next, but leaving Mount Qaf for Los Angeles was gut-wrenchingly sickening. Ari colapsed on cement ground after what felt like the fastest, most vomit-inducing rolercoaster ride ever.

    She felt strong hands wrap around her arms, steadying her to her feet.

    “You okay?” Jai asked softly, his brows drawn together in concern.

    Ari swalowed down vomit and smiled weakly. “Just peachy.”

    “You made it,” The Red King’s voice brought her head up and Ari stared across the length of a practicaly empty warehouse to see Red striding towards her with Charlie at his side. Charlie looked refreshed and eager. She hated him for that, knowing she looked like she’d just donated three pints of blood.

    “Where are we exactly?” Ari asked, brushing dust from her knees.

    “A studio warehouse. TV.” The Jinn King grinned. “It’s got state-of-the-art soundproofing.”

    “Oh gee, you think of everything.”

    Red eyed her thoughtfuly. “Stil not used to the Peripatos, huh?”

    “Was it the hair that gave it away?” Ari asked sarcasticaly.

    Charlie snorted. “You have definitely inherited a bite since you became Jinn.”

    “Look, I’m just trying to keep whatever pigeon we ate last night down so, can we get on with this.”

    Red didn’t seem to take too kindly to her attitude. He stared her down until Ari began to squirm. “You wanted me here?”

    “Yeah. Sorry. Your Highness,” she added for good measure, glad to see him smirk. “I’ve been having these dreams…”

    When Ari was finished explaining the dreams, from the ones where she saw Lilif fighting Asmodeus, to the one where a faceless Jinn kiled Lilif, to the ones where Lilif bemoaned her fate as a simpering wife to Azazil, to the one of her speaking with White and finaly the last in which she’d lost her friend at a much earlier time in her immortality, Red had become strangely quiet. There was a tension around him, a crackle of expectation. When he realized they were al watching him, the blank mask slipped over his face, concealing his reaction.

    No way, Ari thought. There was no way he was keeping important information from them.

    “This means something to you doesn’t it?” she probed.

    Sighing, Red took a moment. “I don’t know how much to tel you. Or where to begin.”

    “Let’s start with the truth. Please… uncle.”

    His eyes sparked at her use of his familial title. Sighing again, Red turned away from them, his long, bright red braid swinging against the leather label on the back of his jeans. “Lilif… my mother… she tried to destroy everything.”

    “Why?”

    He shrugged and threw Ari a forlorn look, seeming so much like a young man whose parent had deserted him. “We were raised to believe in the balance, and yes for many years the Jinn fought in al the wars of men, but then my brothers and I were born and we brought a new balance to the world. Now we only fight in large-scale political wars. Wars that determine the outcome of a grander fate.” Red rubbed his forehead, as if he were trying to see his memories. “I always knew my mother was unhappy with the state of things. I didn’t know why, but I knew she was. As the centuries passed and the birth of her sons failed to bring the changes she obviously sought, she began to plan… to plan the destruction of the balance.

    Her first stop was her sons. Each of us had more of one parent’s essence within us. White, Shadow, myself and Gilder al have more of Azazil within us. Glass, Lucky and Gleaming have more of Lilif. She attacked Glass first because even though he had her essence, he was most like Azazil in his bearing. Ironicaly, Glass was her favorite.

    She planned to kil my brothers because over the centuries we had become embroiled in so many destinies, and so many bloodlines, that we had been threaded so deeply into the fabric of nature that our deaths would rip at the seams of our world just as Lilif wanted. Think of this realm as made up of milions of paths, and those paths are created by bilions of people as though they were paving stones. Al those paths are connected to seven major roads—my brothers and I. Think of Azazil as split into seven bridges that connect us to him, to this realm and the Others. If you destroy the roads one by one, everything begins to disconnect, to crumble, and eventualy al the paths are destroyed too. It would leave a barren landscape; a new world with nothing in it, but only those powerful enough to have survived without connection. That’s what Lilif wanted. She wanted The After.

    But I saved Glass. She was no match for the two of us. I warned Azazil and tried to warn White… White did not believe us. He was poisoned by Lilif. He actualy believed she was trying to protect the balance.”

    “I think he stil does,” Ari whispered sadly.

    Red nodded distractedly. “My father believed me, but he had a harder time convincing Asmodeus. With my brothers now protected by Azazil, Lilif stooped to the one level none of us ever imagined she would. She went after Asmodeus.

    Though it so clearly pained her for there was no one in either worlds that my mother loved more than her twin brother, Lilif believed that by kiling Asmodeus she could steal his essence and become powerful enough to take on Azazil. You see, they were the half of one another, Asmodeus and Lilif. Asmodeus was calm, light, wisdom, patience. Lilif was passion, darkness, impetuous, and unforgiving. Together they were able to balance one another out, that’s why they were never without one another. But Lilif began to withdraw more and more from Asmodeus until finaly she attacked him. My father saved his life and Asmodeus has been completely loyal to him ever since.”

    “But changed,” Ari said, thinking of how different Asmodeus was in the past compared to now. “He’s darker.”

    “He doesn’t make sense without Lilif. Asmodeus goes through periods of dark and light. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be one of the latter, and I am curious as to what exactly he wants with you, Ari.” He shook his own comment off, not wanting to be derailed. “My father kiled Lilif. He stole her essence and destroyed it. He then buried her body in a tomb no one has ever seen. No one knows where it is. White has never forgiven him. That’s why he wants to use you. To punish Azazil. To somehow overpower him without ticking off the balance.”

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