Elemental Heir : Book 1 Of The Elemental Heir Series

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Chapter 65

“This can’t be the answer.” Torryn grumbled, crossing his arms over his broad chest. “The lost city of the Sirens is just a myth.”

I stared at him, my brows furrowed, as he and Andromeda stood in the doorway of their chambers. They were both dressed in night clothes, which was a strange sight to see. Andi had some strange, white cream covering her face. She wore a robe, and her hair was braided behind her back.

Torryn was shirtless. I felt a bit awkward as he was only wearing a pair of baggy, white sleep pants. Somehow, he looked less intimidating.... Smaller, without all of his usual armor on.

“It seems highly unlikely.” Andi agreed, nodding, though her expression was apologetic.

I glanced between them frantically, my hope dying out. “But... It’s the only idea we’ve come across that makes any sense!”

“Hardly.” Torryn huffed.

Dristan’s hand tightened around mine at my side. “There are myths that have turned out to hold truth. This could be the answer, we shouldn’t rule it out right away.” He said, defending me. “Even though none have been seen in a century, we know that Sirens exist. So we cannot rule out the existence of this lost city.”

Torryn scratched his jaw. “Dristan, you know as well as I do that Sirens are stupid creatures, driven by one, singular instinct. How could they be capable of building an underwater city?”

Dristan’s lips thinned.

“What do you mean, stupid creatures?” I asked, confused. “If they haven't been seen in a century, then how would you know?”

Torryn’s eyes slid to mine, his eyes growing dark. “They’re no more intelligent than dogs. Sirens are hunters. They thirst for blood, it’s all they think about. They do not think as we do. They do not converse, they do not know right from wrong, and they certainly do not build cities. They only care about luring unsuspecting men into their waters and devouring them. They are evil.” There was anger behind his voice.

I blinked at him, shocked. He’d never spoken to me that way before. In fact, it was the most he’d ever said to me at one time. Why was he so upset about this? We’d faced dangerous enemies before. Were the Sirens truly as terrible as he described? The image of the creatures from the book flashed across my mind and a small rush of dread crept up my spine.

“Mind your tone when you speak to your future queen, Torryn.” Dristan growled.

Torryn’s eyes fell from mine, and he stared at the ground. There was an awkward moment of silence. “Forgive me.” He said, hardly audible.

Dristan did not respond, only stared at him. My hand tightened around his, willing him to calm down. Andromeda reached out and tucked her hand into Torryn’s. She gazed at the side of his face, her eyes softening with sadness and sympathy.

She met my eyes. “His brother was killed by Sirens long ago...”

My gut twisted with horror. “Oh... I’m so sorry, Torryn.”

His only response was a soft nod of his head, his eyes still glued to the ground.

I gaped at Andromeda, unsure of what to say. “... How? How can they kill our kind? Do they have silver weapons?”

She shook her head, her eyes flashing with muted fear. “No... But there are other ways to kill magical beings.”

I glanced up at Dristan, perplexed. “There are?”

He turned his head, meeting my gaze. He nodded, studying my eyes. “Do you remember what I told you about draining your power? How it can kill you?”

I nodded, feeling my throat bob up and down as I swallowed.

“Sirens don’t only feed on flesh and blood... They feed on power, too.” He said.

My eyes widened as unease settled into my bones. Dristan looked as if he wasn’t going to elaborate, so I rose my brows at him.

His jaw flexed and he sighed before continuing. “They use their magic to entrance their victims. It’s like hypnosis. They make them see their deepest, greatest desires or fears, and then lure them into the water. While the victims hallucinates that they are having the time of their lives, or the worst, the Sirens slowly drain their magic until they die. Then they drain their blood and feast on their flesh...”

“Oh my gods...” I breathed, tearing my eyes from Dristan and settling them on Torryn. He looked extremely uncomfortable, shifting from foot to foot, his eyes searching the floor.

That had happened to his brother? Gods, how awful...

“They are not the sort of creature anyone should ever cross on purpose.” Andromeda said, her eyes shifting between Dristan and I. “They will not listen to what we have to say. They don’t fight the way the other enemies we’ve faced have... They fight with their mind games. They are impossible to approach, or catch off guard. If the rune is hidden within this lost city, there is little hope that we could ever get to it, Brenya.”

I shook my head at her, unwilling to accept what she was saying.

She sighed. “People have tried to find it before. They’re never heard from again... Once a Siren knows there is prey, their victims are hypnotized before they have any idea that there is a Siren nearby. They never see it coming. They confuse you, they trick you into believing they look like your best friend, they make it impossible to decipher reality from fantasy... They use your emotions against you.” She explained.

I continued shaking my head.

No...There has to be a way...

“Which is why...” Torryn spoke, his voice strained. He lifted his face, his eyes locking onto Dristan’s. “You’d better pray that the lost city is a myth.” His eyes shifted to me, and then back to Dristan.

There was some kind of unspoken communication in his tone, and I felt Dristan go ridged at my side. He glanced at me briefly, but quickly turned his attention back to Torryn.

I knew exactly what this was about. Torryn didn’t think I could survive the Sirens. They all thought that I couldn’t control my emotions. Part of me understood their concern. Especially Torryn’s. It was plain to see that his experience with the Sirens was nothing short of unpleasant.

But hadn’t I proven myself by now?

I’d faced dangerous enemies several times now, and I’d always come out of it alive. I’d always found a way. I could handle a few Sirens... Couldn’t I?

Again, the images from the book bombarded me, flashing unwelcome across my mind. I inhaled sharply, recalling their white, cloudy eyes and sharp, needle like teeth. The hairs on my arms rose, and for a moment I felt as though I might vomit all over Andi’s pink slippers.

She seemed to notice my unease, because she reached out and took my hand. “Don’t worry, Brenya.” She said softly. “There’s nothing to fear. I’m sure it’s not even the correct answer to the riddle.” She smiled hesitantly. But I could see in her eyes that she knew it was possible, and that if it was the answer, there was much to be fearful of.

But I wouldn’t be afraid. If facing the Sirens was what I had to do, I would do it without question. There was no choice involved. The last elemental rune was at stake. The final puzzle piece, the final key in the complex lock to the portal.

“There’s only one thing to do.” I said, pulling my hand gently out of hers.

Dristan looked down at me, his expression wary.

I glanced between the three of them.

“I need to talk to Aella.”

(Dristan’s POV)

I watched from the balcony as Brenya and Aella spoke quietly in the dark expanse of the night sky. They looked like two ghostly figures as they hovered eerily over the sleeping forest far below.

Seeing as Aella and the other Syplhs preferred to spend most of their time high in the sky, above the Aviary and far away from everyone else, Brenya was forced to seek her out by flying to her. Aella was the only one who might know the truth about the Sirens. She knew things that no one else did.

When we had retired to our rooms, I’d tried to convince Brenya to wait until morning to speak with her, but she was too determined. And when she set her mind to something, there was no talking her out of it.

I was beginning to learn to accept that about her, and no matter how much it aggravated me, it was also something that I greatly admired about her. I chose to concentrate on that appreciation rather than the irritation to save myself the headache of arguing.

Although, if it turned out that the riddle did indeed point to the lost city of the Sirens, I did not know if I would be able to keep myself in check.

This would not be a battle of magical power. It would not be a test of physical strength, or persuasion against the enemy. It would be a mental battle, one that involved extreme emotional control.

Anxiety buzzed beneath my skin. The feeling of dread, protectiveness and unease was so uncomfortable that I wanted to crawl out of myself just to escape the dreadful sensation. I ground my teeth as I gazed into the sky, trying to control my emotions so that my dragon would not become restless and make things worse.

Brenya spoke animatedly to Aella, using her hands to emphasize her words like she always did when she was upset. She floated gracefully on a phantom wind, much like the Sylphs were able to do. I tried to appreciate how beautiful and enchanting she looked in an attempt to distract myself from my growing worry...

But gazing at her only made me feel worse. My mate, my soon to be wife, so lovely, so precious and sacred to me... I couldn’t bear the thought of forcing myself to allow her to face an enemy as formidable as the Sirens. I prayed to the gods that Torryn was right, and that the lost city was only a myth.

I strained my ears, curious as to what Aella might be telling her. My brows furrowed when I was met with silence. Fucking hell... There was a bubble of power surrounding them, blocking anyone from overhearing. I braced my hands on the thick, stone railing, glaring at the two of them as my mind began to race. The small amount of control that I’d had over my emotions fell away.

A low growl crept up my throat as my dragon stirred, lifting his sleepy head, suddenly aware that something wasn’t right. His attention zeroed in on Brenya through my eyes as we watched her. His unease settled on top of my own, clinging to my bones and doubling my anxiety.

Aella motioned in my direction with one of her thin, spindly hands. She said something to Brenya, who shook her head in return. Aella nodded, folding her hands in front of her as Brenya replied with words I could not hear. Her face was creased with tension and I could tell that she was even more upset than she had been before.

Another, louder growl rumbled up from my chest. The stone railing groaned beneath my hands. The sound must’ve been audible from where they were because both of their heads whipped in my direction.

Brenya’s eyes widened for a moment as she took in my expression, which I was sure was not a pleasant one. Aella’s round, much too large, shiny black eyes stared down at me. Her expression was relaxed and unreadable, as it always was.

Brenya looked from Aella, to me, and back again. Her shoulders slumped slightly as she closed her eyes for a moment. When she re-opened them, she smiled at Aella. She spoke a few more words to her, seeming more calm than before. I frowned as I watched Aella bow and then turned away, floating back up into the sky like a shadow in the darkness.

My grip on the stone railing did not relax as I watched Brenya float down to the balcony. She watched me with wide, wary eyes as her bare feet finally touched the cool stone. She did not speak, only gazed at me.

I glared at her, trying to rein in my dragon’s temper. “What the hell was that?” I asked, my voice low and even.

Her throat bobbed. “... The lost city... It exists.”

My jaw moved slowly to the side, my teeth grinding against each other harshly, as I bit back the growl of frustration that threatened to erupt out of me.

“And,” She said, lowering her eyes to the railing, which was now crumbling noisily beneath my fingers. “She knows where it is.”

I closed my eyes, turning my face away from her.

Gods be damned... That meant the answer to the riddle truly was the lost city. And I knew, without question, that Brenya would be bound and determined to find it. She would have to face the mental manipulation of the Sirens, something that no one had ever survived before.

And I... I would have to allow this?

No. She could not face the Sirens... She would die.

I could not let her do this.

But she would never give up the hunt for the final elemental rune. The fact that she had little to no emotional control would not deter her... She was too damned stubborn.

How was I going to talk her out of this?


“Don’t even try.” She murmured, turning and walking through the doorway and into the living room.

I pushed off of the railing angrily, trailing behind her. “Brenya, you don’t understand...”

She whirled to face me, her eyes suddenly alight with rage. “Oh, I understand perfectly!” She exclaimed. “I understand that no matter what I do, no matter how many time I prove to you that I am strong enough to take care of myself, it will never be good enough for you!”

I stared down at her, fuming, my chest heaving as I struggled to contain my growing anger. My dragon roared inside of me, confused, on edge, ready to defend her against whatever danger that was making me feel this way.

“I’ve faced dangerous enemies countless times, Dristan!” She hissed.

“This is different.” I said through gritted teeth.

“You still see me as this scared, fragile little human girl who needs to be protected, don’t you?” She seethed, her hands balled into fists at her sides.

“No, I-”

“You keep promising me that you’re going to let me make my own decisions, Dristan. But every time there’s a little bit of danger, you break your word!”

“That’s horse shit!” I bellowed, taking a step closer to her. “You don’t know the battle that constantly rages inside of my head! You don’t know what it’s like to wrestle the instincts of a feral beast that lives inside of you!”

She flinched, turning her face away to stare at the fireplace.

“I have tried my best to give you your personal freedom, Brenya.” I ran a hand through my hair, trying and failing to calm down. “I forced myself to allow you to face a pack of wolves in an attempt to save your father’s life. I forced myself to sit back and watch as you walked into the Black Forest to face the Kadoma alone. I forced myself to allow you to remain friends with Ronan, against my better judgement. And what fucking good came of any of those things?!”

A silent tear slid down her cheek.

“I’ll tell you what came of it.” I growled. “A coma that nearly killed you, a guilt that consumed you for weeks, a vicious fight with the human soldiers that nearly got us all killed, and a traitorous bastard who nearly killed me and broke your heart in the process!”

I panted heavily, watching the side of her face. The edges of my vision were tinted with red and my hands shook at my sides. “I won’t let you go on a suicide mission!”

Just fucking listen to me! For once, just do as I say! Let me keep you safe! My mind screamed silently. Her mental shields were up, not a single one of my thoughts able to slip through.

Protect, protect, protect...
Our, our, our...
Mate, mate, mate...

Another tear slid down her cheek as she turned to face me again. Her mismatched eyes slid to mine, shining with moisture, and even as angry as I was, I still longed to pull her into my arms and kiss her tears away.

“Do you know,” She whispered, wiping the back of her hand across her cheek. “What else came of it?”

I stared at her, my heavy breath filling the long silence between us.

“I retrieved my Book of Shadows and I killed the pack leader, crowning Marrok alpha and gaining the wolves as our allies in this war.” She said, her voice trembling but strong. “I found the Earth Rune, gained the alliance of the Kadoma, found a way to protect the human villagers, AND made the human soldiers pay for what they did to you...” Her voice broke on the last word, and I felt my heart sink with regret.

“And as for Ronan...” She whispered, gazing at me with an expression that evaporated all of my anger like steam, leaving guilt in it’s place.

“Well, that was a low blow. Even for you...” She turned, leaving me gaping after her, and slammed the door behind her as she disappeared into the bedroom.

(Brenya’s POV)

I didn’t know how long I’d been laying in bed when I finally heard the bedroom door creak open. A small sliver of light illuminated the dark wall. I was laying on my side, curled into a ball beneath the blankets, staring at nothing. My pillow was damp with tears.

The door clicked shut softly. I closed my eyes as the mattress shifted beside me. I could feel his warmth, so close to me, and yet so far. A few, silent minutes ticked by.

“Please don’t cry.” He finally whispered from behind me. He was closer to me than I’d thought he was.

I swallowed. “I’m not crying.” I lied.

“I can smell the salt.” He said gently.

I didn’t respond, choosing instead to study a long crack in the stone wall.

His hand brushed over my arm. “I’m sorry...”

My lower lip wobbled, my vision blurring with tears again, at the sound of the sincerity in his voice. The crack in the wall disappeared as the wall of water grew behind my eyes.

“Please...” He whispered, draping his arm over me. I could feel his breath at my ear. “Don’t hate me.”

I covered his forearm with my hand, stroking it lovingly, and he tightened his hold around me. A small sob escaped my lips and he pulled me against him, my back to his front. He buried his face in my hair and inhaled deeply, nuzzling me as he held me close.

“Baby, I’m sorry.” He said again, smoothing my hair out of my face. He trailed tender kisses across my shoulder as I struggled to reel in my cries. “My sweet, brave girl... Don’t cry...”

“I’m not brave...” I whimpered, shaking my head.

“Yes, you are.” He argued, murmuring against my skin.

I turned in his arms to face him. He pulled me close, using the pad of his thumb to wipe the wet tears away. His eyes alternated between mine, his expression soft.

“No.” I said, sniffling. “I’m scared, Dristan.”

His eyes trailed over my face, which he cupped gently in his hand. “We will find another way... We don’t have to do this. You don’t have to do this."

I closed my eyes, feeling my lower lip quiver again. “Yes, I do.”

He pressed his lips to mine. “No, you don’t. I will find another way to end the human king. I swear it to you.”

“There is no other way.”

“I won’t let you do this, Brenya.”

“Dristan, I must.”

“You’ll die...” His voice broke.

I gazed at him, wanting to re-assure him, but knowing it wouldn’t do any good. He wouldn’t let me do this, just as Aella had told me he wouldn’t.

“Tell me what you and Aella spoke about.” He said quietly. “I couldn’t hear you... There was a barrier.”

I gave him a weak smile, lifting my hand to press a finger to his lips. I didn’t want to fight anymore. I just wanted to enjoy this moment, to feel his arms around me...

“Please...” I whispered. “No more talking. Just hold me.”

His hand left my face, snaking around to cradle the back of my head. So gently, he pulled me flush against his body, leaving no spaces between us. His legs tangled with mine as he pressed his lips to my forehead. “I love you.”

I smiled, more tears slipping down my cheeks, as I nuzzled against his warmth. “I love you.”

An hour passed. I lay in Dristan’s arms, replaying Aella’s words in my mind over, and over again. I felt numb, no sadness or fear left in me. My tears were all gone, my eyes swollen and itching from the lack of moisture in them.

“Yes, the Sirens are still thriving in the eastern sea. It is where the city dwells, deep below the surface.” Aella said evenly.

“Torryn said they are too stupid to have built a city.” I replied, rolling my eyes at the memory of his words.

“They were not always what they are today. What happened to the Sirens is very sad. Very sad, only. To speak unkindly of them is unbecoming.” She retorted calmly.

My brows furrowed. “What do you mean?”

“Long ago, the Sirens were a good people. They had many great underwater cities. They were not always called Sirens... They were once known as Merpeople. They were kind, and gentle, and creative...” She explained.

“What happened to them?”

“They were cursed by a sea witch many centuries ago.” Aella said sadly. “She tore away their compassion. She replaced the kindness in their hearts with malice and burdened them with an unending thirst for blood. Insane with their thirst, they perfected their hunting skills and used their mental powers to lure unsuspecting victims into their waters to feast on them. But their hunger is never satisfied... Now, all they know is hunger and anger and hatred. They were cursed with evil. Their once beautiful cities were abandoned and forgotten, which is why they are called myths today. But the lost city still exists, and I am certain that there are still Sirens in those waters. You must tread very carefully, Elemental Heir.”

I stared at her, shocked. “How am I going to face something so powerful?”

“You must endure their visions and overcome them. And you must face it alone.”

“Alone?! How am I going to do that?! There is no way that Dristan is going to allow me anywhere near that kind of danger!” I argued, frustrated.

“If you take your companions, they will likely perish. The Sirens are able to more easily confuse their victims when they are in a large group. They can imitate others, making it impossible to tell a friend from an enemy in disguise. You must go alone. It is your best chance.”

“What am I supposed to do?” I huffed, running my hands through my hair.

She gestured toward Dristan. “You are right about your mate. He will not allow you to put yourself in such danger. I can sense it in his heart. You must leave in the night.”

I gaped at her, shaking my head. “I can’t do that to him...”

“You must obtain the final rune. Your people need you. It is your destiny, young one.” She said, her large eyes staring into my soul. “I will take you there, if you wish.”

A snarl sounded suddenly from the balcony far below. My attention snapped to Dristan, who was glaring up at us angrily. The stone railing was beginning to crumble beneath his hands, probably because he realized that he couldn’t hear our private conversation.

I turned back to Aella.

A million thoughts and emotions flashed through my mind. But I knew deep down that she was right. I did not have a choice. I had to do this... And the only way I was going to be able to do it properly was on my own.

I closed my eyes, already sorry for the emotional turmoil I was going to cause by agreeing to do this. But it had to be done...

My people needed me.

I opened my eyes and smiled at Aella. “Meet me here in two hours.”

She bowed. “As you wish.”

Dristan’s breath grew deep and even, and I knew he was asleep.

I wanted to stay in his arms as long as possible, but time was running out. I couldn’t stay in the bed any longer. The time had come...

I studied his face, committing it to memory as he slept peacefully at my side.

I promise you... I will come back. I will survive this. I thought, slipping carefully out of the bed. Guilt cascade over me. He would be a wreck in the morning... I only prayed that he would forgive me.

Quickly, I grabbed a piece of parchment and wrote a note. I placed it on the bedside table, giving my sleeping mate one last, long look...

And then, I silently made my way to the balcony, a ghost among the midnight shadows.

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