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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Borrowed Ember (Page 39)     
  • Borrowed Ember(Fire Spirits #3)(39) by Samantha Young
  • The Seal.

    Lilif’s essence…

    It was gone.

    “I’m alive,” she managed, trying to sit up. Red reached to help her, his features a little strained as he puled her up into a sitting position. She had been lying on a mattress scattered with silk blankets and a mountain of cushions. The room Azazil had given her.

    She was stil at the palace.

    “I survived?”

    “Yes.” The Red King gave her a gentle smile and she swore she saw relief in his startling blue gaze. Maybe she did. But was it real? “You’re you. No longer the Seal. Just Jinn.” He frowned suddenly. “Yes, just Jinn. I had wondered if, without the Seal within you, you would be like your mother, an Ifrit. But I don’t know what you are yet. Or how powerful your father’s blood has made you.” His face clouded over at the thought of White.

    Ari barely registered Red’s diagnosis of her Jinn heritage. She was too busy being distracted by the splintering pain in her chest. Ari winced, pressing gentle hands to it. It was a little tender, but when she glanced down, there was no ugly scarring, only bruised flesh. Asmodeus had punched through her chest.

    Gross and so disturbing.

    She was definitely going to need therapy after this.

    Rubbing the spot, Ari glanced back up at Red and his companion. Azazil had told her she may or may not live… her eyes flicked to the healer. “Because of you? I survived because of you?”

    “You needed a helping hand. I don’t believe you would have died, but when the Lieutenant tore the Seal from you, the trauma caused your conscience and your

    physical body to separate. They were struggling to reconnect and it’s likely you may have ended up in a coma if his highness hadn’t had the forethought to bring me with him.”

    Filed with such turmoil, Ari turned to her uncle. “You helped save my life again, Red. What am I to realy think of you, huh?” she asked in a shaky voice.

    “For now, let’s just assume I don’t want you dead,” he retorted in an amused voice.

    “And Azazil just let you fix me?”

    “I don’t think he cared what happened either way. He left your fate to play out itself…”

    “So, can I leave now?” she was exhausted knowing the Seal was no longer within her, that there was no reason for the Jinn to want anything to do with her anymore and she was… wel, it would be an understatement to say she was relieved. “Can we find Jai and Charlie, and get word out that the Seal is most definitely back around Asmodeus’ neck?”

    “You made a promise to my father that you’d stay here indefinitely, Ari. We need to know if he intends to hold you to that. Let me speak with him while Kit here checks you over and gives you something to eat. You’l need your strength if my father alows you to leave.”

    Oh, he would alow her to leave, Ari growled inwardly. She’d extracted an oath from him that he would grant her a favor. But she’d let Red speak to him first. No point using up her golden ticket just yet. “Okay.”

    After he left, Ari turned to the healer. “So…Kit? That’s an unusual name—for here anyway.”

    He smiled at her, looking no more older than Ari. “My mother is a diehard Christopher Marlowe fan, but she thought the name Christopher was plebian, so she gave me his nickname instead.”

    She smiled gratefuly at him. “Thank you, Kit. Again.”

    “You’re very welcome.”

    “So, you’re from England?”

    “Was it the accent that gave me away?” he teased.

    “Oh, just a little bit.”

    “Yes. I’m from England. I come from a long line of Jinn who have particular abilities when it comes to healing. When my mother realized the ful extent of my gifts, she asked for an audience with The Red King and offered me to his service.”

    “Your mother deliberately put you in the middle of al this crap?” Ari snapped.

    It was the wrong thing to say. Kit’s face closed down. “It is considered a great honor to be chosen as a Jinn King’s personal healer. No one from my family has worked for a royal court for centuries.”

    Ari groaned, brushing his clipped defensiveness off. “I don’t get you people.”

    Deciding to ignore that, Kit reached for her. “Enough about me. Up on your feet. Let’s see if you’re alright.”

    He made her move her limbs around, searching for any signs of injury he couldn’t see or feel. But, other than feeling incredibly tired, Ari was okay. In fact, she thought, touching the place on her chest where she used to feel that coiled darkness, maybe she was more than okay. Experimenting, Ari concentrated on the fact that Jai was stil missing, and that Charlie was closing in on the Labartu. Ari felt angry, frustrated and a little desperate…. However, the dark rage was no longer there. That immediate need to punish and overpower had disappeared.

    Ari sagged with relief, tears prickling her eyes. Not only was it a relief to know that Lilif was gone from her, and that Ari no longer had the kind of power that people would kil for, Ari was also relieved because in amongst it al, she’d begun to doubt which feelings were truly her own. It was good to know she was a little more together than Lilif was.

    Perhaps a lot more, she shuddered, thinking of some of the vile things Lilif had put in her head, the feel of her fury in her veins and the taste of it on her tongue. That woman was apocalypticaly bad. Ari could only hope that al White’s horses and al of his men couldn’t put Lilif back together again.

    “Here,” Kit offered kindly, holding out a bowl of what looked like broth. “It wil give you some energy.”

    “Thanks.” Ari took it from him. “For everything.”

    He bowed his head in acknowledgement of her gratitude, the silver strands of his hair shimmering in the low lighting. Together they sat in silence as Ari finished her broth.

    He was right. She did feel better.

    Ari had barely put the bowl down on the floor beside the mattress when the familiar hiss and crackle of flames signaled someone’s arrival through the Peripatos.

    Asmodeus stepped out, dressed al in black, the Seal hanging from thin, black leather rope around his neck. Unlike the replica he’d worn before, the real ring throbbed with an invisible energy that drew the eye of any Jinn strong enough to feel it. The Marid flicked a look at Kit as Ari’s heart pounded at being back in his presence. She felt sick with fear and to her surprise her palms were sweating. It was weird Jinn could stil sweat even when they didn’t feel temperature change. Must be a nervous thing.

    Nervous, Ari guffawed . Try terrified.

    It had suddenly occurred to her that having the Seal within her had diminished her fear in situations like these—the power she’d wielded was a shield between her and anyone who could do her harm. That was gone now. There was just her and her normal Jinn power and the training Jai had given her.

    “Leave us,” Asmodeus commanded Kit, an ordinary command and not from the Seal, for Kit—though his eyes were wide with fear—shook his head.

    “His Highness, The Red King, asked me to guard the young lady in his absence. I folow his orders, sir, not yours.”

    Ari eyed the healer. God, he was brave.

    Asmodeus took a menacing step toward Kit and Ari automaticaly stepped in between them, holding a hand up to halt Asmodeus. Heart banging away against her

    ribcage, Ari threw Kit a pleading look over her shoulder. She didn’t want him hurt. Go get Red, she telepathed.

    For a moment she didn’t think he was going to comply, but after a second of hesitation he nodded and hurried from the room before Asmodeus thought to stop him.

    Ari was alone with the Lieutenant.

    She straightened her shoulders. She may not have the Seal anymore, but she stil refused to be intimidated.

    “Stil foolishly self-sacrificing, I see,” he mocked.

    Ari glowered at him, crossing her arms over her chest defensively. She felt like she’d gotten to know Asmodeus over the last few weeks and showing your fear of him only irritated him. “Is this another self-sacrifice? You’ve come to try and kil me, again?”

    “Oh never fear, Ari, if I wanted you dead now, you would be.”

    “Then what do you want?”

    “A little gratitude maybe.” He flashed her a wicked smile, and since it was the first proper grin he’d ever given her, she noticed his white teeth were slightly crooked, adding a certain imperfect charm to his beauty that she wished it didn’t. “I did save you from Lilif’s poisonous power.”

    Eyeing him carefuly, Ari considered him. He seemed different. A little lighter. Happier? No. Not happier. She didn’t think he was capable of ‘happy’, but he was definitely lacking his usual doom and gloom. Was it the Seal around his neck? Was having Lilif’s essence close to him affecting the balance within him just a little?

    “You would have put me in a coma if Red hadn’t arrived with his healer,” she snapped back at him, the memory of his apology as he’d ripped the Seal from her making her voice die out on the last word. Had he realy apologized? And if so… why?

    “However, I did let him heal you,” Asmodeus argued. “I could have stopped him, but I didn’t.”

    “How generous of you. And why exactly was that again? I thought I was too ‘dangerous’ to be around?”

    He took another step towards her and Ari refused to back up. “You’re so young. Realy just a child,” he mused. “But I’ve lived long enough to recognize a

    complication when I see it, and you are a complication.”

    “A complication?”

    He gave her a nod, a cruel smile twisting his wel-shaped lips. “You have your mother’s unusual beauty, but you’re even stronger than her. You fight even when you are frightened and you care even when you should not. You have integrity. You have grit.”

    Trying not to blush under his assessment of her, Ari’s body took an involuntary step back as if it sensed what she didn’t. “I thought those qualities are ones you despise?”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire