The Rise

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Chapter Fifty

“She’s fine,” the doctor said to Valerio in the corner of the room. Valerio pressed him for more information about me absorbing the darkness, his brows pulled into a worried expression. “I ran all of the tests,” the doctor said. “Nothing is off.”

“Valerio,” I said. “Stop bothering him about me. We have more important things to talk about.” Like killing this damn divine. We were getting closer, and I was getting stronger. I couldn’t wait to finally wrap my hands around her neck. I wanted to burn her, bury her, destroy every piece of her.

Valerio walked over to me, eyeing the dark stars on my skin that were glowing. He pressed his lips together and sat down next to me. “I’m just taking precautions. I don’t want you to end up like Selene.”

“Well…” I gazed over at me, my heart warming. “You’re going to pull me from the darkness when it gets too difficult, aren’t you?”

He paused for a moment, a small smirk tugging at the corners of his lips. He placed a hand on my knee and squeezed lightly, nodding his head. “I will. Always.”

We gazed at each other for a few moments, then I turned away when the doctor placed two CT scans in front of us. “Okay, now to business.” I crossed my hands on the desk and leaned forward. “Tell us about the Infected. You were able to get CT scans, I see.”

He nodded and pointed to one of the scans. “They were very… interesting,” he said. “We see something unusual here. This one is a normal scan of a werewolf… and this one is a scan of the infected.” I studied each one, noting how similar yet different they both looked. “Despite my predictions of what we would find, there is much more activity happening in the infected brain compared to the normal brain.” He paused and furrowed his brows. “He is unable to move his body. He won’t be able to truly function again. Many of the body parts that are exposed to his outer body, like the inside of his mouth, his tongue, his eyes, they are all immobile. But his insides…” The doctor shook his head. “Let me just show you.”

He flipped through a file and pulled out two more body scans, laying them side by side. One was a normal body, it was easy to see the bones, the lungs, everything. The other was of the infected body. It had abnormally large growths within it, like some sort of vines growing from each bone.

“With Valerio’s permission, we did surgery on one of the infected in order to remove one of these growths and test it for diseases or cancer.”

“What did you find?” I asked.

Again, he paused, looking slightly confused or still in shock. “If it’s cancer, it is a new type. I don’t understand it that much yet. My understanding is that cancer takes over the body and slowly shuts it down. This takes over the body and makes the innards flourish.”

“Has anything like this ever been recorded?” I asked.

“As far as I am aware, no.” The doctor rummaged through a couple of his papers. “There has been a similar event that has taken place called The Sunder of Seven. I don’t remember all of the details, but I believe there is a book about it in the library.”

After I thanked the doctor, Valerio and I walked to the pack-house library. I’d barely been down there since Mother basically abducted me to this place to train me. But Valerio was down there quite often. He always brought up new books to read before bed. I wasn’t sure exactly what kind of books were down there though, since I did catch him reading a steamy romance one time.

When we made it down to the library, I walked in and gazed up at the hundreds, if not thousands, of books that were on the shelves. Valerio easily led me around the towering bookshelves until we came to a small door. He pulled out a key and unlocked it.

Inside, the room was dark and dusty. I coughed, trying to adjust to the room that looked like it hadn’t been touched in decades. I carefully brushed my fingers against the spines of each ancient book. They looked so old, some of them were probably written during the reign of Selene.

Valerio pulled out a notebook labeled Myth of The Sunder. We sat down against one of the shelves. I gazed over Valerio’s shoulder, reading the pages he was sifting through. He paused on a page toward the middle and smiled. “I knew I read about this before.”

“Sunder Island, off the shore of southeastern Pangea, was thought to be inhabited by evil spirits. The residents destroyed the natural beauty of the island, cutting down every tree and dirtying all of the waters,” Valerio read. “Seven people in particular had gone on a rage one day and were met with sudden death. Having had enough Mother Nature did one big turnaround on them. She made the most beautiful flowers emerged from their eyes, their ears, their months. Their bodies nearly turned to stone, yet every single one of their features, especially the fear on their faces, was etched into their bodies and solidified for all to see.”

He flipped the page and continued. “The Seven were scattered around the island when it happened - surrounded by dead plants and trees - but they all faced the same end. This was a warning to all other residents to stop destroying the lands. Every now and then, a green aura can be seen emitting from their bodies. And each time this happens, their flowers grow a bit more beautiful and their bodies decay a bit more.”

“Is there mention of a cure in there?” I asked.

Valerio flipped through a few more pages. “No…” He parted his lips and began reading again. “A doctor who wanted to examine and find a cure for these creatures decided to cut one open. After taking their insides apart he found the green core thriving in their bodies. But before he could dissect the core, the doctor was turned into stone as well.”

My eyes widened. Our doctor dissected one of the infected. “Do you think our doctor is in danger?”

Valerio stood. “He removed it yesterday. From this reading, it seems like that doctor was infected almost immediately, but we should take caution.” He pulled me up and we exited the room, locking the door behind us. Valerio linked some Protectors, ordering them to guard the doctor’s office.

When we returned to the main floor, a Protector ran up to me with a phone.

“Who is it?” I asked.

“The human hospital. They are angry.”

I took a deep breath. It was probably Brett’s dad, wanting to complain about the scans or having to deal with werewolves for far longer than he wanted to. “Hello, this is Mae.”

“What have you done to him?” a man screamed through the phone.

“What are you talking about?”

“Don’t try to play this off so easily. Those beasts were here at the hospital yesterday, using our equipment with Dr. Braxon. And now he won’t return my calls, he won’t answer his own door. What did you do to him?”

“We have done nothing to him. I have had no contact with him in days.”

“Don’t you lie to me. I know how your kind works. If he doesn’t answer by the end of the day, I am calling the police. Do you know how that would look for you. A prestigious doctor getting abducted by some filthy animals, even after graciously helping you.”

I had the urge to hang up the phone. I was so over the disrespect people had for werewolves. “I am unaware of what happened yesterday after the scans were taken; however, that doesn’t mean my kind did anything to him. My doctor reported back to my pack immediately. But, I will look into this matter for you.”

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