Chapter Thirty-Two- VERA
Kgar remains frozen in place, a terrified expression on his face. I allow my anger to flood back as Livia rushes to Zyrik’s side. My gift sparks at my fingertips. This time there’s a fullness to my gift that wasn’t there before. It feels stronger.
My lips rise in a snarl. “Well, it seems you’ve found yourself alone and unguarded, and facing a very angry girl.”
The king’s expression shifts back into his well-practiced outrage. “You think you have power over me? I own you and your sister. Remember, you signed a contract. If you kill me, your life is forfeit to the Enchanter.” He looks past me to Zyrik. “And the other part doesn’t matter.”
I flick my wrist, cutting off his air supply. I don’t want to hear his voice any longer. He grabs at his throat and makes a strangled, choking sound. I smirk as he falls to his knees.
“No one owns me,” I say. “Not you, not the Enchanter. No one.”
He gurgles out what seems to be an irate response, but I hold his tongue.
“I don’t care what you think you need to say. I’m done hearing you speak and I’m done living under your thumb. The memories I have are what others would call nightmares. Your hands will no longer touch me, nor will they anyone else.”
I welcome the sound of his hands crackling as I shatter them. Kgar’s face scrunches up in pain. If I weren’t holding his tongue, he would be screaming at the top of his lungs.
“You will no longer kick me or beat me down like an animal.”
He crumples over, his legs fracturing into a thousand pieces. He writhes in pain, and moans like the creaking of a rusty door. Tangled up in his oversized robes, he attempts to crawl away on his elbows. If the councilmen could see him now, crying and crawling like a baby...
I have no love for this man, and torturing him feeds those desires I’ve had every day, that I’ve so longed to satisfy--to bring revenge down upon him.
For years this man has made me hate. It’s time for me to end it all. I pluck a knife from my belt and walk over to the king, who is trying to squirm away.
“You deserve many years of pain and torture for what you’ve done to me and to Zyrik. So I hold this knife for Zyrik, to finish what he wants from you: an end to your evil, cunning ways.”
King Kgar shakes his head, and his eyes are pleading as I plunge the knife deep into his chest. I watch the light slowly leave his eyes before I bring the knife back out. Kgar slumps onto his side. Just in case the knife hasn’t hit the right spot, I snap his neck with a single thought. His body jerks, then stills. Without a question or a doubt, he’s dead.
Broken glass crunches under my boots as I run over to Livia. I wipe the bloody knife off on my threads and return it back to my waist.
“How is he, Livia?”
“She can’t hear you.” The man’s name is Kamon. He introduced himself as he was running with me to find Livia. He scoots over and pats the ground next to him. “Come, sit and wait while she works her magic.”
I glance over at an injured man sitting on Kamon’s other side. Unlike Kamon, he doesn’t wear his mask.
“Oh, him? No one important. He’s here for her.” He points to Livia, and then motions me to come and sit. I shake my head, and he shrugs his shoulders. “His pulse was gone by the time she got here. I’m unsure what she’s doing, but whatever it is, it’s not working,” he says.
I kneel down by Zyrik’s side. Livia’s hands are on his chest and beads of sweat are running down her brow and upper lip. My heart sinks knowing she has been at this for awhile, and nothing has happened.
I place my hand on top of hers, hoping I can lend her some of my strength. I reach out tentatively with my gift, but nothing happens. My head hangs down in defeat. I’d thought something might happen. But there was no wind or flash of light, just the sound of my heart thumping inside my chest. I leave my hand on top of hers. If anything, for comfort.
Kamon takes a deep breath, “If nothing happens soon, we’ll have to get going. I’m sure there are more assassins who’ll be heading this way.”
I can tell he’s trying to be gentle, but I don’t want to listen, even if he is right.
Livia’s hand warms and my eyes snap to hers. She’s staring at me with the biggest smile on her face. I feel Zyrik’s chest rise, and I glance back down.
“He’s breathing!” I burst into tears as I reach across and grab Livia in a tight embrace. “You did it! Oh, thank the Maker, you did it!”
“I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen,” Livia confesses. “I was so close to giving up. That is until I felt something push my gift along. It was the strangest feeling. It coated my thoughts and I was able to grab his life strings and place them delicately back together.
“It was me,” I cry. “I pushed my gift through you.”
“Well, it worked. Together, we brought him back.”
A thundering noise roars below us.
Kamon jumps to his feet. “We must go now!”
Livia looks over at the hunched man against the wall. “Reddik!”
Reddik? The Regent’s right-hand man? He slowly lifts his head and gives Livia a weak smile. She places her hands on his head and closes her eyes. I look to Kamon who only shrugs his shoulders yet again, before gathering Zyrik in his arms.
Reddik’s painful expression fades away and he pulls Livia to him, kissing her firmly on the mouth.
“Okay, you two love birds,” Kamon interrupts, “we have to get out of here.”
We sprint after Kamon who leads us down into the kitchens, then takes the stairs to the empty corridors below. How does he know about this part of the castle?
We enter a chamber. Reddik runs ahead and pushes a grate aside, near the fireplace. He helps Kamon guide Zyrik down the steps; Livia and I follow. When my boots hit wet stone, I realize we are in the underground drainage tunnels.
“I’ll remember you said that,” Kamon calls back.
We continue through a labyrinth of twists and turns until Kamon leads us outside. We’re near where the castle butts up to the mountain. He takes us to a small opening, with a fissure that cuts deep inside it.
“Is that where you came from?” I ask.
He nods. “There are two horses waiting on the other side. Reddik, get the princess back to her people. She’s not safe here.”
“They’re Vera’s people too,” Livia presses. “And she isn’t safe either.”
Kamon looks to me and I give him a subtle shake of my head.
“Look, Livia,” I begin. “I know you want me to come home. But I am not sure I am ready. Not yet. There is so much for me to figure out right now.”
Tears well up in Livia’s eyes. “But you’re my family. There is so much we have already missed out on with one another.”
I take her hands. “I promise I will come visit soon. We have the rest of our lives to get to know each other. And we have our dreams.”
As Livia looks over to Reddik, I see light bounce off the collar around her neck. Grabbing my knife, I push her hair to the side. She freezes.
I huff out a laugh. “Don’t worry, you can trust me.” I slide the knife in the latch and pop it open. The collar and chain fall away to the ground.
“Thanks, Vera,” she says.
“No, thank you, Livia. For all you’ve done for me. I owe you so much for the lives you saved today, including my own.”
I’ll always be grateful to her for tearing down my walls with her love. I’ve never felt more free.
When she and Reddik leave, I look to Kamon. Zyrik is still in his arms with his head resting on Kamon’s shoulder.
“Where do we go from here?” I ask.
“To the end of the world, if that’s what you want.”
I roll my eyes and laugh. If he only knew that’s exactly where I need to go. Someone has to stop the Enchanter before he comes looking for me. It might as well be me.