The Rise

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Chapter Fifty-Eight

“I’m going to make sure the cells are clean and make sure Vihaan isn’t causing trouble before you bring Ashur to meet Nakida,” Valerio linked me.

I nodded my head, watching him walk out the door. It was odd to just let him go without feeling a tinge of jealousy or insecurity. When I was with Damon I constantly thought about Alexandra being with him when I wasn’t there. But with Valerio it was different. I wasn’t bothered that he was basically going to check up on Nakida in jail. I knew he was loyal.

“Ashur,” I said. “Like I said before, you are in my friend’s body. His name was Ayodele.”

He nodded. “Ayodele.” He grinned. “That’s a cool name.”

“It is.” I rubbed my sweaty palms together. “He has a sibling that resides here for now. She didn’t get to say goodbye to her brother before he died. If you’re up for it, I know she would be very happy to see you.”

Ashur nodded. “Okay.”

I widened my eyes. I thought that was going to be so much harder than it was. Ashur seems like a go-with-the-flow kind of guy. He’d honestly be down for anything.

“Is she coming over?”

“We need to go to her.”

I stood up and walked with him to the front door. This was going to be weird explaining why I was bringing him to the cells to meet his body’s sister.

We walked along the path to the cells. The wind blew harshly today, making the trees whip wildly. I grazed my fingers across the glowing moon flowers on the path.

When we made it to the cells, I nodded at the security guards at the door. “How is everything in there?”

“The prisoner is being difficult today.”

“Nakida or Vihaan?”

“Vihaan,” he said. “Nakida’s been quiet.”

I nodded as they opened the doors for me to enter. As soon as I stepped in, I heard the screaming. It was Vihaan’s voice - crying, screaming, hollering. Honestly, it sounded like a bit of him was dying on the inside and I didn’t feel that bad for him.

Immediately, I smelled the strong stench of blood. He had been tortured… lightly… for any information that he may have had about Mother Nature. Who knew what kind of information Aeron had given him.

I didn’t want to know what they were doing to him. I hadn’t opened his file that Valeiro placed on my desk this morning. Honestly, a part of me was terrified to even think about the darkness. I knew how quickly the dark side could make you turn bad. The first moon goddess couldn’t even handle it.

I hoped that I was doing a bit better than her. Literally, one wrong move, one sinister thought - I could turn. But everyone was counting on me to fix this problem the Moon Goddess had gotten us into.

Before I could step down the first stair, Ashur stopped me. “Why are we at your prison?”

I took a deep breath. Here we go. “Nakida, Ayodele’s sister, and her mate betrayed me. We are keeping them both here for now.”

“Is her mate the one yelling?”

I nodded. “Her mate is the man who I brought the skull to.”

Ashur’s eyes widened, then he nodded. “Okay,” he stepped in front of me, “Let me go first.”

I chuckled. Already showing signs of a strong Protector. I liked it.

Ashur walked down the stairs and past Vihaan’s cell. He was rattling the cage, screaming at me to let him out. His chest look like it had been carved up. “Please!” he screamed as we continued down the hall.

Vihaan shouted a few inappropriate words in my direction, and Ashur turned back to him and growled lowly. My eyes widened at the exchange, which immediately made Vihaan settle down.

I didn’t say anything to him. It was best to let him figure out his new body and new characteristics by himself.

I knocked twice on the interrogation room which I knew Nakida was in. A guard on the inside answered the door. Nakida was sitting in the chair, cuffs on her wrists. Valerio was leaning against the wall on the opposite side.

She was staring down at the table. “Moon Goddess. Please, forgive me. I will accept any punishment from you. Just please forgive me.”

I cleared my throat. “I’m not here to give you punishment.”

“Nakida?” Ashur said, stepping into the room behind me.

Immediately, her head snapped up at the familiar voice. Her eyes filled with tears and she stood, her chair falling behind her. “Ayodele?” I could hear her heart racing from here. “You’re alive?”

He shook his head and walked further into the room. Nakida rushed over to him. The guards stepped forward, but I put my hand up to stop them. Let her have a moment.

She wrapped her arms around him, drawing him closer. It took him a moment, but eventually he wrapped his arms around her too. Not as tightly, but just enough.

“My name is Ashur,” he said.

She pulled away, tears streaming down her cheeks. With a sad nod, she spoke his name for the first time. “Ashur.” Her voice was quiet.

“Nakida.”

I gazed back and forth between the two. Nakida was taking in every aspect of Ashur, still holding him so close to her. “You don’t know how happy I am to see you, Ashur.”

A hint of a smile crossed Valerio’s face. “You made the right choice.”

“We,” I corrected. This wasn’t just my decision.

Nakida looked at me, her arms slowly dropping from Ashur. She walked over to me. This time when the guard stepped forward, I let him. She stopped immediately and frowned. “Thank you… thank you so much,” she said. “I didn’t deserve this.”

I didn’t know what to say. I could’ve been mean, but I decided to just seal my lips. With a curt nod, I eyed Valerio, telling him it was time to leave.

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