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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Scorched Skies (Page 1)     
  • Scorched Skies(Fire Spirits #2) by Samantha Young
  • Prologue

    A Dance of Giants

    Rusted earth trembled beneath Ari’s feet, cracks in the thirsty ground glowing ember in the pervading darkness. The air burned against her cheeks as though she were stuck within a circle of invisible fire — her lungs oxygen deprived, her tongue thick and teeth dry. She blinked, disorientated, wondering where she was and how she had gotten there. Her arid and pained eyes found nothing to snag upon as they swept the vast emptiness around her. The arching, deep darkness of the starry night above her folded over on her in its infinite black.

    “Hello!” she choked out, her voice hoarse and small as it echoed into the nothingness.

    Where am I?

    The thought had barely launched into the alien night, when a foreboding rumbling sang out from a great distance. It grew louder and more ominous as it was joined by crashing and crunching that shook the very ground beneath Ari’s feet.

    “AAAAAARRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!” A war cry split the world into two as a mass of giant limbs flew past Ari and thundered to the ground, their impact blasting Ari off her feet. She took a minute to suck back in the breath that had been knocked out of her. She winced at the stinging pain as skin scraped off of her elbow, and as rocks bruised the back of her bare thighs. The shrieking, pounding, and uproarious explosions of violence that was met by rough, guttural eruptions of rage that she heard beyond, made Ari’s heart slam against her chest. The terrifying sounds made her forget to question where she was or why she was still in her pajama shorts and t-shirt.

    “Holy fu-macaroons,” she caught herself, breathing the words of frightened awe under her breath as she scrambled to her feet. “Aah!” she squeaked, dodging a piece of flying earth that had been pounded out by the largest fist she’d ever seen. Before her, two Jinn fought. Two over-sized, forty feet tall Jinn. Even from the distance she’d been thrown, her neck craned back to watch the Jinn’s fight. Ari forgot to run, to find safety, to listen to her adrenaline. The sight was mesmerizing in its ferocity. Ari studied them. Bursting in and out of flames, the fire seeming to be physical evidence of both Jinn’s attempt at control as they fought manically. One was female, her long dark hair abused and bloodied near the forehead, her beautiful face, for the most part, unmarred. The male Jinn was worse off. Blood streamed from cuts on his face as the female made new ones every time the old ones began to heal. His own long dark hair was falling from its midnight braid as the female attempted to rip it from its hold. It occurred to Ari that the beautiful male Jinn was not trying to hurt the female, rather he was trying to hold her off.

    The female lunged onto the male and the two collided to the ground, knocking Ari off her feet once more. Blood trickled down Ari’s arm but she barely noticed as she shakily hurried to stand. Her heart raced at the sight of the female Jinn’s sharp-nailed hand she’d wrapped around the male Jinn’s throat. He reached up, tugging at her grip. Ari’s breathing grew shallow with fear at the sight of the stunning gold circlet around his bicep. It was smeared with blood so fresh it matched the ruby inset in the middle. Afraid (but for whom Ari did not know) she let her gaze drift back to his face, and she watched as his dark eyes looked into the female’s eyes in mute sadness. The female froze, her hand still wrapped tightly around his neck.

    Without thinking Ari took a step towards them, her heart tugging at the sight of the male and his hurt showing in his eyes. She wanted to ease his pain, to wrap her tiny self around him. She felt as if she knew him somehow. At the same time she was drawn to the female Jinn. To her desperate need. Her want. But for what? What?

    “I’m sorry, brother,” the female Jinn whispered, a tear dripping from her luxurious eyes - eyes that matched his. “I must.”

    Before she could execute whatever she ‘must’ the female was thrown by invisible hands and landed with an earth-cracking thump. This time, having expected it, Ari had braced her legs and only stumbled on impact. Her eyes widened at the massive female foot that rested before her; so large she could have climbed upon it as if it were a tiny boat. She gulped, mesmerized by the gold ankle bracelet that could have chained the boat to dock and the pretty gold toe ring that Ari would have been able to put her head through.

    The shift of air and the unbearable heat that kissed at Ari’s cheeks like burning pieces of paper, alerted her to his advancing presence. The thunderous roar of giant footsteps vibrated through the ground as Ari turned and watched him approach. Her eyes travelled the enormous feet, the gigantic legs in the bluest of watery silk, to the tightly roped abdomen and upper body, and thick bulging arms with matching gold armlets…

    … Ari squinted, the features of his face shadowed by the night as his head reached into the stars.

    Swallowing hard Ari took a few steps back, her feet staggering on the moving earth as he kept walking until he stood braced over the male Jinn’s prone body.

    “YOU WILL NEVER HAVE HIM, MOTHER OF MINE,” His voice boomed into the world and even the stars dimmed in awe at his words.

    The female gazed up at him as she pulled herself into a sitting position. She was so beautiful that Ari was transfixed, not wanting to acknowledge the viciousness in the pretty turn of her mouth, and the madness in those velvety eyes. Ari had never known such wicked beauty.

    “YOU WOULD PROTECT HIM FROM ME, MASTER?” Her painted words sang out in glittering ethereality and Ari found herself sighing along with the earth.

    “I WOULD PROTECT YOU FROM YOURSELF.”

    “NO!” Her shriek sliced the ether, shattering the stars into pieces. Ari’s hands flew to her ears as she was blown back off her feet for what felt like the fifteenth time, her mind trying to play catch up. What had she missed? What had HE said? What did it mean? Why did she feel such despair?

    Her body slammed into softness and Ari’s eyes flew open.

    “Holy…” she breathed as her eyes adjusted to the dark of her bedroom. Her heart still raced inside her chest and she shifted uncomfortably. If she had a normal body temperature like normal people she would probably be soaked in sweat after that dream. A wonderful breeze whispered into the room from the crack of the open window and Ari turned onto her side to catch its cooling balm on her face. Well, it would have been a cooling balm if she could actually feel more than a tickle of its presence. This whole temperate thing was getting to her.

    Temperate thing? she snorted inwardly. What about that dream?

    What the hell had the dream been about? Was she finally losing it?

    It was the stress of everything. Of her dad, Derek. Of Charlie. Of Jai. Not to mention the evil biological father that waited patiently in the darkness. Ari buried her head in her pillow, willing herself back to sleep so she didn’t have to deal with all that crap until morning. She only hoped she didn’t dream about the strange giant Jinn again. Why couldn’t she dream like normal people and have stress-related dreams that involved losing teeth?

    She groaned.

    Oh right.

    “Because I’m not normal.”

    1 - A Raincloud of Stolen Wishes

    Sleep eluded Ari and she rolled out of bed early, slumping around the house like a zombie as she showered and readied herself for another day in limbo. As had been typical since Derek returned from the hospital after the demon Jinn, Pazuzu, had put him in a coma (not that Sandford Ridge was aware of that; as far as they knew Derek’s coma had been a medical mystery), the calls started pretty quickly and once more she found herself telling well-wishers and her dad’s work colleagues that he was still resting and she’d get him to call back as soon as possible. Finally, at around eleven in the morning, when it became apparent Derek had no intention of coming out of his room (again), Ari headed up with a tray of cold toast, eggs and some coffee. She knocked on his bedroom door awaiting the sound of movement. She hadn’t seen his face in a while now. Not even when Jai and Charlie had had a shouting match the other day. He’d slept through the entire thing. For the last few days Ari had been leaving food trays at his door and collecting the empty ones. It was perhaps time to begin a stakeout. She’d wait for him to open the door and then launch herself at him.

    “Dad?” she asked softly. “You awake?”

    No answer. A shuffle from beyond the door told her he was there though.

    “I have some breakfast here.”

    No answer.

    Feeling impatience burn in her veins, Ari struggled to keep her voice even. “Mr Zellman called from your office again.” As if she didn’t have enough problems to deal with.

    “I’ll call him later,” Derek replied softly, sounding pretty close.

    “That’s what you said yesterday.”

    “I’ll call him, Ari. Just… I’m tired, sweetheart. We’ll talk later.”

    Each bite of rejection was getting bigger, and frankly, Ari was getting tired of standing there like an unmoving, idiotic target. Letting the tray drop with a petulant clatter, she turned away muttering under her breath, “You said that yesterday, too.”

    Beyond annoyed, Ari fled the unbearable loneliness of the house, slamming out of the kitchen door and into the backyard. The sun smirked down at her and she felt like flipping it off. Everything was a mess. She hadn’t spoken to Charlie since she’d asked Jai to throw him out that fateful morning they’d discovered he was a sorcerer. Ari had been too enraged to be in the same room with him. She couldn’t look at Charlie, never mind talk to him, and her cell was switched off because he wouldn’t stop calling.

    A sorcerer? According to Jai and his stupid book, a sorcerer was such an ambiguous status. It could send normal half-breeds off the deep end, never mind humans imbued with Jinn power. Who knew what this would do to Charlie? And why had he done it? Her heart literally ached thinking about it. Ari just couldn’t understand why he would wish to become a part of this world when she had told him how much she wanted to be free of it. The pressure on her chest increased, and she glowered up into the bright sky. No. She wasn’t stupid or clueless enough to think Charlie’s decision had anything to do with her. It was all about revenge. He was going to get himself killed. Matters were not helped between them when he refused to tell her and Jai who had granted the wish. Jai reckoned it had to be a Marid or a Shaitan. Ari couldn’t discount that perhaps her real father, The White King, and all-around swell piece of crap was behind the wish. She hated to even think her uncle, The Red King, had something to do with it. In fact, right now she had to believe otherwise; no matter what. She needed at least one powerful ally in all this craziness.

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