The Rise

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Chapter Sixty-Five

She floated down to the ground and landed on it with a light tap. The green aura, mist--whatever it was--surrounded her entire body. “What took you so long? Too weak to actually think you could defeat me?”

Luca’s eyes stared back at me and I could tell that at this single moment he had some control over her. But I knew it wouldn’t last long. It would probably last a single moment, but I took it in and savored the moment. I didn’t know when or if I would see him alive again.

He gave me a warm smile with his eyes. And if I wasn’t about to fight the biggest fight of my life, I would’ve smiled back and even become a little teary. But I fought my emotions back. He would know why and I hoped that he accepted my decision--whatever it might be in the end.

Suddenly, his eyes filled with green, and he disappeared. A small part of me went with him to whatever place he disappeared to. Maybe he was back in the meadow with his family planting Moon Flowers or maybe he was back at our old apartment hanging out with the old Mae and Aaisha. I hoped he was happy wherever he ended up.

“I see you got my little gift.” She laughed, referring to the disgusting tree of pups. “Did you like it?”

“Stop fighting me,” I said blankly. “Submit and I won’t hurt you.” I ordered her like I would one of my own wolves, but I knew she wouldn’t dare submit. She submitted to me when she was Alexandra and that must’ve been embarrassing for her. She would never submit to me again, especially in Luca’s body.

Even if she surrendered, I would kill her. I needed to, but I wanted to taunt her a bit, to get her angry so I could drain her power when she was at her strongest. I figured that would have the best outcome.

“I wonder why you chose to fight me in the same place I left your pups to die, and why so soon after?” she asked. “I thought you’d hold out for at least another week or two, you know, to try to get stronger because you’re just weak little Mae.”

I took a deep breath. She knew how to play this game. Of course, she did. She’s been playing it for the past thousands of years. She wanted to try to get under my skin to force me to feel weak again, but I wasn’t going to let her have it.

“Weak little reject Mae. Damon didn’t want you. Your mother didn’t want you. And the people who did want you, they wanted you because you were weak, Mae.” She continued to put me down, but it still wasn’t working. “Brett took advantage of you because you were weak. And Luca,” she scoffed. “You really thought he loved you? He just loved you because you were the girl that was there when he was hurt. You were never his second chance mate, he forced himself on you because he thought you were an easy target.”

Black growled viciously, feeling my emotions. She could talk about me all she wanted, but she brought up Luca - the body of the man she was using. I stepped forward and so did Black and White.

“At least I don’t inhabit body after body because I don’t have one of my own,” I said.

That one sentence was enough for her to break. She hurled a vine at me, making me jump out of the way. “Your family did this to me!”

Good. Exactly what I wanted to happen. Now, it was time to throw some of her hatefulness back at her. I knew exactly how I was going to do it. She had called me weak - made everyone think I was weak - because she had been the one who was clearly that.

“Maybe if you weren’t weak, you wouldn’t have let that happen,” I said.

Although those same words hurt me before, I found some strength in them. I didn’t feel bad about throwing them back at her. She had dug her own grave by continuing to kill my pups.

One of her vines came swinging around a tree and grazed the side of my arm. I smirked. Okay, good. I was actually getting her angry. She wasn’t going to hold back and neither was I.

I summoned all of the darkness I had within me to continue to bash her. “Are you really that weak that you had to pick on young pups to try to defeat me? Because that’s really, really sad.”

She let out a scream that echoed throughout the forest. Her green veins became more apparent on her skin, turning from blue to a blazing green. They were pulsing violently and I was almost afraid that she would kill Luca herself, by accident.

“You knew where I lived, you could’ve attacked me at any time. And why didn’t you?” I asked. “Because you’re weak.”

Vines began to fly from her fingers in every direction, trying to snatch me by the ankle or the wrist or even the hair, but I dodged them all. She was going to have to try harder than that.

“Were you jealous when I took Aeron’s powers back and became stronger than what you’d ever be?” I asked, pushing her more. I stepped back when she stepped closer to me. “Have you been jealous of me for all these years?”

The vines were flying so fast that a gust of wind shook the trees around us. I continued to duck out of the way while Black bit at what he could, trying to hurt her a bit. It was working to some extent.

A tree directly behind her began to emit the same green aura around her. I smiled to myself. I was right. My plan was working.

“You’ve been trying to stop me for centuries and every single time you fail,” I said. “I think that’s the saddest part about this whole thing. Your whole life you’ve been weak. You’ve had to put me down for it, but really I was the strong one.”

Suddenly, every tree around us began to emit the aura, green and burning and poisonous. Layer after layer I watched it surround her until she was floating again above me, the vines moving more furiously than before.

“Fight me now, Luna!” she screamed. “Let me take everything that’s mine!”

A black film swept over my vision. It was time.

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