• Home
  • Directory
  • Popular
  • Authors
  • Series
  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Borrowed Ember (Page 35)     
  • Borrowed Ember(Fire Spirits #3)(35) by Samantha Young
  • Ari’s anger—at herself, at Azazil, at this Marid before her—was growing more impatient every day. So impatient it had awoken the Seal. Her whole body felt

    drenched in the Seal’s darkness, as if she was fighting to wade through its tar every time she took a step. Its whispers grew louder every day, pressuring Ari into commanding to be alowed to leave.

    She was an idiot. A damn, unthinking idiot. Despite al her promises to herself that she wouldn’t let the Jinn Kings and their father use the people she loved against her, al it had taken was watching White’s blank eyes as he stole Jai into the Peripatos to send her spiraling into a panic. So afraid that her fear would wake up the Seal, that the Seal would use her, Ari had let Azazil use her.

    When left alone in her room in the palace the Seal’s paranoia would whisper to her, burying its opinions deeper into Ari’s mind. But whenever Asmodeus came near her, the whispers quieted, cowed by him somehow, and Ari was a little more herself again. So now, once again, in the hopes of hushing the Seal she’d alowed herself to be taken on this strange tour of Azazil’s lands with Asmodeus.

    They’d gone down to the lower level of the palace grounds to the market again, where Ari had watched the Jinn selers and customers step warily out of Asmodeus’

    way, dipping their heads in deference as he passed through with cold indifference. He barely spoke to Ari, and when he did his words were clipped, and she knew she should be wary of why he’d asked her to join him today when it seemed he could not stand to be around her. But… Ari was more afraid of the Seal. She was losing herself to it.

    In her darkest moments these last few days, Ari had begun to wonder if leaving Mount Qaf was even a good idea anymore. She couldn’t put Jai, Charlie and the people she cared about in danger. And she was dangerous now.

    And so, so angry it hurt her to her very fingertips.

    Blinking back tears, Ari took a calming breath, trying to shove down the panic attack she felt coming on. To annoy Asmodeus she’d proclaimed she was bored in the exact same tone he’d always say it. It had earned her a rare smile from him and he’d decided to take her down to the mines.

    The Jinn miners—looking nothing like human miners, in their brightly colored shirts and harem pants—had al drawn to a stop as Ari and Asmodeus appeared at the gates of the mines. It had taken them an hour to wind down through the fog, passing homes Ari had never seen before, noticing how, ironicaly, the homes grew less lavish the further down they traveled. She did not dare to peer over the edge of the roads that had been carved into the mountains, but Ari was certainly curious just how far down they went. Explaining that the mines moved every year, Asmodeus had led her through the gates and stopped to speak quietly to a worker who carried a barrel filed with hundreds of glittering emeralds. Awed by the beauty of the gemstones, Ari had been entranced for a moment before a cough had drawn her gaze up.

    Asmodeus had smirked at her.

    “I would not think about stealing any if I were you.” He’d pointed toward a tal female.

    She’d glowered at Ari, her strong muscular body garbed entirely in black, reminding Ari of a Japanese Ninja. Glancing around, Ari had noted in amongst al the color of the workers, more Jinn dressed in the same black ‘uniform’.

    “Guards,” Asmodeus had explained, returning to her side so he could take her gently by the arm. The workers had scurried to bow to him as he strode past. “They are here to make sure no one steals the emeralds. They’re Jinn who guard treasures.”

    “Treasures…” Knowing what kind of Jinn they were Ari had immediately been reminded of Teruze, the Jinn who protected Luca Bitar’s treasures, and with the

    thought of Teruze came the thought of Jai. Ari missed him. She missed him so much it was an aching pain in her entire body. She wanted to tuck her head in the crook of his neck and inhale the spicy exotic scent of him; she wanted to feel his strong arms around her waist, his lips brushing her ear. She’d gasped at the lance of pain in her chest as she thought of the Seal and of the fact that she might never see Jai again because of it.

    Slanting her a look, Asmodeus seemed to have heard the gasp but ignored it, continuing onward. Ari had folowed him, praying that numbness would take over her body so she didn’t have to feel anymore. Darkness had engulfed them as Asmodeus strode into the mouth of a cavern further back on the site, where there were fewer workers miling around. With a wave of his hand, the cavern lit up, and Asmodeus had released his hold on her to journey further inside.

    So here she was. Alone in a cavern with Lieutenant Asmodeus. Another foolish move no doubt.

    “Every time an emerald is chipped out of the rock,” he said suddenly, running a hand over the wal he’d stopped beside, “another emerald appears in its place.” He turned and shot her a boyish smile so disarming it immediately made Ari suspicious. “One of the few mysteries in these worlds.”

    Why had he brought her here? Ari heaved another big sigh at the feel of her chest constricting, pushing the first symptom of her panic attacks back down. Red had promised her Asmodeus couldn’t hurt her. But then again, Red had also gone behind her back and destroyed Charlie’s future.

    “It shouldn’t be possible.” Asmodeus shook his head as he studied her.

    “What shouldn’t be possible? The emerald?”

    His eyes narrowed and he ducked his chin, his gaze so focused Ari had to fight off a shiver of intimidation. “I have a theory I’d like to test.”

    Wel, that didn’t sound good. That didn’t sound good at al. “A theory?” Ari asked, her feet wanting to back her away from him, but her pride teling her not to let the bastard know he frightened her. “What theory?”

    He responded with a lazy shrug. His thick silence began to pop the oxygen molecules in the room until Ari’s breathing grew shalow again. Finaly, his lips tilted up at the corner in a smirk she thought she was beginning to understand. The threat of him—of whatever it was he wanted from her—was back. “Before you made the deal with Azazil for the Ginnaye’s safety… White tortured Jai.”

    If he’d fired a shotgun bulet into her, it would have had the same impact. Ari staggered back from the words, their suggestion as powerful and as painful as being hit by that Haqeeqah. “No,” she breathed.

    “Oh yes.” Asmodeus was walking slowly towards her now. “He strung him up and started with the basics. A cat-o-nine-tails ripped at his back until the stubborn brute finaly let out a grunt of pain….”

    No. Ari shook her head, the cavern beginning to spin around her. No.

    “…and I think you were probably taking your first amusing little trip around the marketplace when White puled out the tar. Oh that must have hurt…”

    “Stop,” she whispered hoarsely, feeling her limbs grow hard as the Seal fought for dominance. “You’re lying…”

    “…then there were the nails in the feet. Oh and don’t forget the starvation…”

    Let me out, Ari. I’ll make him stop. Together we can make it stop. Stop him! Stop HIM! STOP HIM!

    “… I think I most admired when White shapeshifted to look like Jai’s father as he beat him with a belt. He used al those painful memories to torture that boy’s soul.

    That’s realy when the screaming started. There were even tears. And you were here, playing guest, doing nothing to stop it-”

    “STOP!” she shrieked, the noise causing the cavern to tremble.

    And suddenly it was as though she were looking out through someone else’s eyes, buried behind the thoughts and emotions of another person.

    Asmodeus had stiled, his eyes wide with surprise as his mouth fel open. “I knew it.”

    The person she was inside opened the mouth of the body they shared, and Ari could feel the strange but familiar woman’s triumphant thoughts as she began to

    command Asmodeus to his knees.

    The words didn’t even get a chance to fal from their shared lips.

    He was a streak, a blur of movement towards them before the curtain fel and everything grew dark and silent.

    ***

    The familiar feeling of a hard floor beneath her brought Ari to consciousness with an aching head and shoulders. She groaned, curling onto her side, feeling every muscle twinge and bone creak as she did so. As the fog of unconsciousness lifted, Ari became aware of Azazil’s powerful presence pulsating across her body like waves lapping at the shore. Quickly she tried to remember what had happened, images of Asmodeus and the cavern flying across her vision.

    Jai.

    Her eyes slammed open and the pain in her chest was back as she remembered what Asmodeus had told her.

    “Relax,” Azazil’s deep voice captured her ears. “Asmodeus was lying to you about your Ginnaye, Jai. He was never harmed by my son. Only imprisoned.”

    Hope gloated at her, teling her she weak as she lifted her head and turned to look up at Azazil. He was seated on a glass chair in front of a barren fireplace.

    Casting a quick glance around, Ari found herself in the smal chamber. There was little furniture or decoration, just cold stone wals that glittered with emeralds and flagstone floors beneath her. She stiled, her eyes narrowing in hatred as she became aware of Asmodeus’ presence. He stepped out of the shadows to stand by

    Azazil’s side. “Why?” she asked him bitterly.

    “He is your trigger.” Asmodeus was a bored school boy again as he shrugged at her. “I needed to unleash the Seal to see if I was correct about something.”

    “So Jai is okay?” Ari’s heartbeat thundered in her ears.

    “Jai is fine. Stil imprisoned, but unharmed.”

    Disbelief and betrayal wrenched her from the ground and she stumbled inelegantly to her feet to gaze up at the Sultan, desperately fighting her rage and the Seal. That last time had been terrifying. The Seal had truly taken over her, and she’d known what the Seal was. Whom it was. She gasped, her anger at finding out Jai was stil imprisoned dissipating as she turned to gaze wide-eyed at Asmodeus. “Lilif,” she whispered.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire