A Dying God (Book 2)

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Ariel-Prayer

Ariel

In the tenebrous recesses of my mind, I hear the desperate call for my presence. It has been going on for several days. Only recently have I found a name to identify the man eating at my subconscious. Leave it to Alexander to annoy me even from a distance.

Ariel, help her.

It is the same mantra, continuously repeating. I hear its faint plea every time I am near a semiconscious state caused by my drug-induced sleep. It increases my heart rate, sending brain waves into an erratic disorder that alarms my baby-sitters enough for them to send someone speedily to my side, compelling me to wake sooner than I wish. If I could concentrate on Alexander’s voice, perhaps I could find him despite the space between us.

He prays. It is not a telepathic transponder or a bond between us. I can hear prayers that direct toward me. It is part of my Transcending.

I used to hear prayers all the time.

I had only begun Transcending before I left the Icelandic Range. Part of my departure was because of the debilitating lapping of voices licking at my consciousness, a symphony of songs droning, never-ending. The natter of hundreds required me to attend to all the niggling needs of my people, which I did not care for any longer. They sought a thaumaturge, and I was simply an Angel of God, much like them. I could not save them. Why was I suddenly required to perform marvels?

Alexander, my fool of an apprentice, was a voice that did not impede on the cognizance of my thoughts. His ego too extreme to tolerate prayer; he required nothing from no one. I would stand in his presence and receive no plea for aid. No yearning for my unduly strength. Such faith he had in himself.

Despite my absolute fidelity to a Soul Mate that betrayed me, I found myself in a predicament. I fell in love with Alexander.

I despised him for it. I am an Erelim Elder. To fall in love was a human peculiarity I was not prone to. I do not get such liberating emotions. I rule a bastion, with thousands of creatures relying on my austere and astute judgment to keep them sheltered and safeguarded. What wisdom would I be exhibiting if I took a Newborn to my bed?

Yet, I could barely find enough concern to bother myself with the Fallen attacking in the Southlands, and still, I rose from my pillows every day, if only to pester Alexander.

I treated him poorly. Worse than most, I dare say. I knew of his affections. His subtle looks did not go unnoticed. His slight touches were not undetected. He forced his presence upon me, and I did little to push him away, aside from rude comments. My words were justified in my defense. His dignity could handle a few blows.

I found myself willing to love him. My Soul Mate and I could never come to terms. I hadn’t spoken to him in hundreds of years. I needed another to ease the ache of my heart. God accepted my decision, and I would have gone into Alexander’s arms like a dumb virgin girl. But Alexander shattered it when he unveiled his timeless love to my entire Elder court.

“I have an announcement.”

I recall glaring at him as if it were a fool. And a fool he would prove himself.

“Ariel, we all can see that you hurt. Your Soul Mate betrayed you. It has made you ice and steel. It has turned a genteel heart to stone.”

Even the simplest of words and I knew then how far apart we were and would forever be.

“You are tired of loneliness, and now you wish to abandon all that you have strived for and hide away your pain in the arms of God. I will not let you. I am a glorified healer. I can undo the damage the bastard has done to you if you let me try. Allow me, and I will get your heart to beat once more. I love you, Ariel.”

I was grateful as I heeded his dirge. I nearly made a disastrous mistake, courting a Newborn. What would he understand of my plight? He knew so very little of whom I was, how the world revolved, and what went on in the shadows. His pompous speech in front of my Elders proved that my love was only superficial. I loved his ignorance, his naivety, his lack of care. I desired him physically. The constant gossiping from the female populace had piqued my curiosity.

I did not love his Soul. Our relationship would have lasted a fortnight before I would have broken him with the burdens I carried.

I went too far in my response. I tore apart his fragile spirit. I watched the pieces of his love curl and tatter. I shamed him, as it needed to be done. He left my clan. Too soon, I left it as well. I could not bear it without him. He was the silence I yearned for, and without it, the noise bombarded me. I was overrun and, thus, could do no more.

Charu, my Second, abandoned the clan with me. The clan, I left in the hands of a woman who would be the next future Erelim. Isis, a Heaven Patron, was a friend of mine at the very beginning of my life. Our Soul Mates were good friends, and she and I became well acquainted. After my Soul Mate Fell, she became close, keeping me from despair. Isis’ strength is like none other, and I remember well after all that time. It was that, that I wanted for my clan.

We, unfortunately, became distant after her Soul Mate Fell. She curled into herself and allowed no one to intrude in her grief. I gave her the clan, with the hope she’d reawaken. I’d like to know if the future had turned out well for my clan. But these enslavers tell me nothing.

Ariel. Please help.

I jerk my eyes open. Panic floods. I pant with open lips. A hand rises, shaking fingers cover my eyes.

I saw the unmistakable sight of the translucent bat wings of the Vetalas. Green life fluid splattered on the ground and covered the hands of a stranger’s.

Was it mine? Was it Alexander’s?

The door opens. I lay unresponsive as Mark steps to my bedside, “Erelim Elder Ariel? Are you well?”

I swallow tight, ashamed to speak while my emotions go uncharted. I lick my lips, forcing words upon stoic lips. “Only a dream.”

“They’ve been coming quite often.” A touch on my arm sparks my attention, and I do as he wills, sitting up. “Can you tell me about it?”

I am unwilling to divulge any information. I strengthen, gathering pieces of myself back together. “There is nothing to remember, sir. Will you give me space?”

He smirks much to my dislike and takes a step back, bowing his head in respect.

I adjust my clothes. I haven’t yet gotten used to the odd attire I wear. It is slightly uncomfortable. They’ve dressed me in a white silk button-up shirt with long sleeves and matching pants. I feel naked still. It is as if I wear air. My animal skins were no less than thirty pounds, and with the added weight of weapons, I felt as if I carried another body. Now there is nothing to hide my attributes. This silk sticks to my frame like a second skin.

To pass the tedious hours, I’ve become besotted with baths. Hot steaming water flowing in a tub with the pleasantry of bubbles is simply fascinating. The white particles of soap float and formulate into circles, sticking to one another. There are hundreds of smells and oils to choose from, and the Ruling willingly gives into this guileless preference if only to satisfy me.

In the middle of washing my long hair, I decided to cut it to a more manageable level. The edges now end at the tip of my elbows. Straight and stiff as always, it causes no ruckus for me.

“How many days have I been awake?”

“Four.”

I rest my back against the concrete wall, frigid upon my skin. Skimming the place with mild boredom, I sigh, “I grow weary of this place.”

Mark begins to pull the plasma screen from its permanent location in the corner, rolling it just before my bed. He finds me humorous as his eyes sparkle. “I’m sorry, your grace.”

“Tell me. Does anyone know I live?”

His amusement swiftly flees. Mark presses random buttons, setting up yet another day of movies. “I cannot answer that.”

I fold my fingers in my lap. “Answer it.” His movements stall, catching my ardent gaze. He shifts to the mirror, to his owners. “No, look at me. They do not rule here. They may think they are in charge, but that is a delusion. Do you know who truly rules this world? I do. Dane Monte. Tymician. We are the Three Lambs, and we together conquer and sequester this planet.”

His brows knit in terrible grief I cannot place. Mark bows his head, stepping up to my bedside before he murmurs delicately to me. “Tymician has died, your grace.”

I stare impassively. “You are mistaken.”

He shakes his head, meeting my gaze, insistent I grasp the certainty. “He fought two of the seven Sins a few weeks ago. He lost, Mistress. He’s gone. Lucius grieves. He will not leave the castle. Kio gains a new Leader.”

I put up a hand, stopping his hollow punches. I blink, unable to do much else.

I do not allow myself to think. I permit no heartache. I simply swallow and move on. “I believe that is the first honest thing you’ve said, despite it being misled.” I tighten my lips, keeping a firm grip on the blanket. “It matters little. Be quite sure who you are loyal to, Mark. For there will come a time for you to select what side you are on. I implore you, to be on the virtuous.”

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