The Rise

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Chapter Fifty-Nine

After returning Ashur to his mother and Sameul who were in the city for the day, I got roped into staying out for a few hours. It wasn’t a terrible waste of a day. We were able to visit the school and restaurant that Mother Nature planned to hit. Nothing had shown up yet on the radar, so we had the rest of the day to enjoy ourselves and to work.

When Valerio and I finally got a chance to sneak away, I teleported us to the Mountain. I hadn’t had a chance to lift the Aeron’s curse from the mountain since I killed him and I really needed to give the Woman on the Mountain her freedom and ask for a very special favor.

I stood on the top of the mountain, closing my eyes. The power from the curse overwhelmed me more than usual today. The Woman on the Mountain stood next to me, her heart racing. Her family has been waiting centuries to be released from this curse, and it was finally time. I was making that dream come true.

Tears streamed down her face. “I can’t wait for this to end. I want to explore the world and get off of this damned mountain.”

There was only one way that I knew how to lift a curse. I called upon the darkness within me. Already today I had tried to lift the curse as Mae, the Moon Goddess. But, each time I became weaker and weaker until I nearly fainted. Lifting the curse required the Night, the darkness since he was the one to place it on her.

I was terrified that I’d fall into the darkness. I hadn’t attempted to use his powers yet for this exact reason. I hope I didn’t need to be pulled out.

Valerio reassured me that he wouldn’t let anything happen to me. He wouldn’t let me fall into the darkness ever - like my mother and the previous moon goddesses have so many times.

Darkness rumbled inside of me, and instead of my vision fading into a white plush color, all I saw was black. My insides ached and desperately begged me to stop. But I couldn’t. I was truly tasting the darkness and I wanted to get used to it.

My veins began pulsing violently, then my skin began burning. The tips of my fingers burned more intensely. My heart raced. The snakes - Aeron’s snakes - wanted to be released.

Without being able to stop myself, the snakes ripped through my fingers, extending until the edges of the mountain side. Something snapped and then the power around me - around the mountain - began to diminish.

The snakes pulled me in different directions, wanting to travel further down the mountainside to destroy anything in their path. I swallowed hard, trying to control them, but it was far too much. My heart raced in my chest and I felt the sweat drip down my back.

“Valerio,” I desperately tried to say through the link, but I couldn’t seem to contact him. He was too far, the wall between us was too high. I parted my lips to scream, but no words came out. Instead my skin began to burn again, until I was burning up.

Everything was killing me from the inside to the outside and from the outside to the inside. My body began shaking - seizing almost. The snakes were eating the trees around the mountains, searing them with a single touch. Before I knew it, everything was getting hotter and hotter.

It reminded me of the red moon when I took the pain of the heat away from the thousands of she-wolves. It was worse than anything I ever felt before. I opened my mouth again. This time my scream pierced through the entire forest, making everyone and everything silent. From the birds to the deer to the wolves who were on their daily run, everything stopped.

Someone’s wrapped their arms around me and suddenly I was on the ground, seizing against it. I reached my hands up, still feeling the snakes trying to pull me in all sorts of directions.

“Valerio,” I cried out. “Don’t… don’t… let them touch you.”

He swore under his breath and I heard him fall backwards. My heart was racing in my chest. I still couldn’t see anything again - only blackness. Everything was dark and I couldn’t seem to find any light.

I hoped that he wasn’t hurt. He was one of the only people left that I could fully trust. If he was gone… I didn’t know how I would be able to stop Mother Nature. “Valerio,” I said again, as loud as I could… but I couldn’t hear his response.

Someone’s fingers grazed against my head, holding it in place. They brushed against my cheeks, my nose, my lips. They were so soft, it brought me back down moment by moment. When the fingers brushed against Damon’s mark, I felt like a huge weight was pushed off of my shoulders.

My vision cleared as the darkness slowly faded away, piece by piece until I was staring up at Valerio. His hair was a bit disheveled. He was yelling something, but all I saw were lips moving.

He took a deep breath when I took one. I furrowed by brows up at him. “Mae,” he said, voice quiet. With his help, I stood up and leaned against the only tree left on top of the mountain.

My jaw nearly fell to the ground as I took in the scene in front of me. The snakes must’ve been damn hungry. Trees were covered in black matter and slowly disintegrating like Damon’s heart had. I pushed myself off of the tree, surveying the Protectors to make sure everyone was safe.

Everyone was staring at me, completely fine. The Woman on the Mountain was crying, and for a moment I thought that I had hurt her, but she smiled at me, nodding. “I don’t feel it anymore. I’m free! I’m free!”

She collapsed onto the ground, tears streaming from her face. A Protector sat by her side, gently brushing his fingers over her back to try to keep her calm.

Valerio stared at me, the side of his cheek seared lightly. I brushed the blood away from his cheek, releasing White from my hand and letting her heal Valerio. She stuck her tongue out and licked him right across the face, healing him at the touch.

He scratched the top of her head, making her tail wag eagerly. Then, she jumped back into my palm. Valerio walked closer to me and placed his hands on my shoulders.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Are you okay?”

I swallowed hard. He grazed his finger against my skin. I gazed down. I was covered in little black dots, like Aeron had been. They were inked all over my body, and when Valerio touched them, they glowed a black color.

My fingers traced them, suddenly more amazed with how they looked on my body then they had on Aeron’s. I was officially the Moon and the Night.

“Mae?” Valerio asked, awaiting an answer.

I nodded my hand, placing it on his as it moved against my forearm. “I’m fine.”

I let our hands touch, suddenly aware that everyone was staring at us. We hadn’t hidden the fact the Valerio and I were getting closer to each other from our pack. Everyone knew of our past and our past lovers and everyone knew that this little thing that was going on between us was bound to happen.

I was glad that nobody said anything. I honestly doubted that they would dare ask such things about me, especially because they were all respectful. I squeezed Valerio’s hand gently and turned toward the Woman on the Mountain. “Let us go to your home. We have an important question to ask you.”

I just hoped that she would accept this gracious gift. I took her hand and together we walked to her home. “What is it?” she asked as she packed her bag.

“I know you want to travel the world, to explore. And I think I have an easy way for you to do that, but it requires a lot of your time and your life,” I said.

She looked so sure of me until I said the last few words. “You want to take my life from me like Aeron did, don’t you?”

I shook my head. “No, I don’t want to hold you in one place for the rest of your life. I want you to be able to go anywhere in the world. I want you to inherit the powers of Mother Nature.”

Her eyes widened. “Mother Nature?” I could feel her heart race, so I grabbed her hand. “I know this is a lot to ask of you, but I really, really need you to do this for me. It is the only way this madness will stop. I need to kill her now and give you her powers.”

She pressed her lips together. “That is a large request.”

I squeezed her hands gently. “Please, please… think about it for me. You will be saving so many lives.”

“If I say no, then what happens?”

“If you say no, then people will die. She will inherit another body and will kill more people, drain more pups. I will lose everything we all worked for.”

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