I keep feeling this steady thumping sensation against my body, my eyes are closed as I moan, and for a brief moment I’m imagining being back home in my bed, with Wolf.
A small smile suddenly creeps up at the corners of my mouth as I lean into the feeling, but the moment that I breathe in the scent, I’m instantly awake, that’s not Wolf.
My eyes fly wide open and I’m suddenly looking straight up at Noah, my brain is trying to move a mile a minute, and then, it all comes rushing back to me. The portal, me vomiting, I must have blacked out.
Noah has me in his arms, holding me tight against his chest, bridal style as he keeps walking forward. Wriggling slightly in his hold, Noah’s eyes instantly lower to mine, lifting an apologetic brow at me the corners of his mouth turn into a grin.
“Yeah, maybe traveling through portals aren't heavy for us because we’ve done it all our lives.” And I want to smirk at him, roll my eyes and say something like ya think. But I decide against it, and rather look up over his shoulder when I suddenly realize we’re all alone, walking through a forest of trees my first initial thought springing from my lips in a hoarse voice, “Where is everyone, where’s Atlas?” Noah’s brows come together as he clears his throat,
“They all left, Atlas didn’t really think you would do it, suppose he was hoping you wouldn’t I guess.”
Swallowing a heavy lump in my throat I grind my teeth, a pang of hurt settling in my chest the moment he says that, and its preposterous that I should even care if Atlas left without giving a damn to see if I would follow through with it. I’ve physically known him for what, two days. The fact that he’s been linked to me all my life should mean nothing to me, right?
But still, the fact that he didn’t even bother to stick around and wait to see if I would come through that portal hurts, and realizing that it does irritates me more than it should. I make a mental decision right there and then, I’m here for one purpose and one purpose only, to find Lisbon and free Wolf from the curse, not to try and figure things out with Atlas.
The moment Wolf pops into my mind I suddenly feel it, the soul crushing ache of leaving him behind the way I did. Every instinct in my body is shouting for me to go back, to stop this nonsense and go home. He’s my mate, and being separated from him is torture. But what good would it do me to go back home empty handed, Wolf has a curse around his neck, he can’t even shift into his beast. And it’s all on me, because of what I am, because I’m half a witch, now Wolf has to suffer at the fate of an enchanted curse all because of me.
I will spend the rest of my life making it up to him if he’ll let me, because he deserves more than what I am, a hybrid, some freak of nature created from a wolf and witch, how could my parents have ever thought that that would be a good idea.
Noah keeps walking as he continues carrying me, and I want to tell him that he can put me down, that I’m sure I can walk now when suddenly, I notice an incredible feature come into view right in front of us.
“Where are we going?” I ask Noah as I look up at him. Smirking he looks down at me,
“The castle right up ahead,”
“You live in that?” I don’t mean for the question to leave my lips with such disbelief but, what the actual... It’s like this medieval mega structure as it comes into view just past the tall trees.
“Yes, we live in there,” He smirks with a grin, “That’s castle Aeonian.”
“And you’ve always lived there?”
“I was born there, we all were,”
“What do you mean you all were?” My brows furrow as I look up at him. Shrugging nonchalantly, Noah’s eyes meet my own.
“Ronan likes keeping his five pointed star witches together under one roof, and even they’re twins.”
“Yeah, we are all born with a twin, they share our elemental power from the moment of birth, they help strengthen our powers and in the event of one of us dying, then Ronan uses the lesser twin to fill the gap.” My brows knit together as I think it over for just a second before responding,
“The lesser twin is like a back up?” An amused grin creeps up at the corners of his mouth then,
“I suppose you could look at it like that.” He shrugs. Clenching my jaw I'm already not liking this Ronan guy much at all, who treats people like they're expendable like that anyway?
A sudden thought occurs to me, and I ask the question the moment it pops into my head, “Does Atlas have a twin?” Looking back down at me again Noah shakes his head.
“Atlas was born an only child, but it is pretty interesting how you both share the same elemental power, that doesn’t normally happen.” My body tenses for a moment, the complicated situation regarding our bond isn’t something I really want to delve into right now. So I push the sudden anxiety to the back of my mind when I look back up at him.
“Why exactly doesn’t that normally happen?” I press on with a mumble, already I'm wondering if the fact that I'm half wolf is the reason that our bond isn't the norm.
“Well, because only twins share the same elemental power, not mates, but seeing as you are both spirit elements which are perceived as the highest ranking power in our elements, I guess it works differently. Regardless, I think it’s pretty cool that you both share the same element, just means that your kids will both be kick ass spirit elements.” Gulping, I’m suddenly tensing in his arms the moment he mentions kids, and he must notice my apprehension because, in the next breath he points out the long narrow bridge we’re about to cross.
“See this bridge, it connects on both ends of the castle. This side being Aeonian white witcher woodlands, and the other side connects us to the Seelie Fae side.” Biting my bottom lip I'm suddenly taking in the majestic sight before me, I’m just staring at everything in absolute awe, walls and towers, a large building structure built with thick and high walls that stretches up to the heavens like it has no end.
This gigantic feature in front of us clearly extremely ancient, strong and seemingly moorish, magical and royal. It’s indisputably solid and three-dimensional ornate and frightening towering stern is some how terrifying, a sudden fear of once I go in there, will I be able to get back out comes to mind, and as it settles in the pit of my stomach I’m immediately wondering if this was indeed a good idea.
The mountain of water on my left however instantly distracts me, it looks like a wall of blue satin threaded with silver. I suddenly notice the large drop on the other side, the adrenaline suddenly pumping through my veins like a freight train, and I find myself holding on even tighter to Noah now. Smirking in response, Noah tightens his hold on me like you would a small child.
“It’s alright, this bridge and infrastructure works hand in hand with the water, it’s a strongly fortified, permanently garrisoned stronghold. Besides, I'm a water element remember, I promise I won’t let the water hurt you.” He winks playfully at me, swallowing hard at the lump still sitting there, all I can do is stare out towards the raw power of the water, his words doing very little to reassure me right now.
The water seems to stretch out on either side of us in such a way that the width of it seems never ending. It’s both the most scariest and most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, the angle is so incredibly steep, there must be at least a ninety foot free fall drop on my right, swallowing hard yet again as I continue to try and rid myself of the lump in my throat, the feeling of plummeting over the other side suddenly has me feeling so incredibly small.
The moment we reach the castle, I notice a heavy vertically-closing gate consisting of a latticed grille made of wood and metal. It immediately begins to open, the heavy metals clanking and churning as the wood creeks under it's hold. Noah notices me looking up at it when he says, "This kind of gate is called a portcullis," and all I can do is nod. I sense he's about to say something else when he suddenly stops dead in his tracks, an instant scowl forming against his face.
My eyes suddenly follow in the same direction of his stare, and it's then that they are met with a commotion happening a few feet away from us. Atlas is standing with his back towards us, his shoulders are slumped down as he looks down at a girl in front of him. Liam and Caleb are standing a small distance behind him, and the tension in the air is so thick you can cut it with a knife.
Noah slowly starts moving in closer towards them, and honestly, at that moment I want to tell him not to, something tells me that I don’t want to be a part of what’s about to unfold right before my eyes.
The girl standing before Atlas is beautiful, she has soft features and in a sense, looks just as out of place in a world like this as I do. She has light brown hair that's done in a french braided up do, she’s wearing a very Celtic looking cream dress, and I can't help but question which time parallel I'm caught in here, everyone seems to dress like they live in medieval times somehow.
The girl facing Atlas is flanked by another girl, she’s got blondish hair stretching down to her shoulders, and such captivating beautiful blue eyes, she’s a little bit shorter than the other girl but not by much. She isn't wearing a dress, but rather more of a black outfit consisting of black tights, long high black boots that reaches just bellow her knees completed with a long black shirt.
I'm suddenly snapped out of my reverie the moment I hear the sound of a tight slap, and I instantly know the girl in the cream dress was the one who delivered it to Atlas’s cheek. Only then do I realize she’s crying, her face portraying a deep agony and gut wrenching sadness as she stares up at him.
Atlas merely stands there looking down at her, his jaw clenched tight as he swallows a heavy lump in his throat, the girl however is shouting at him, pounding her small fists against his chest with all her might when he suddenly wraps his arms around her and pulls her close to him, whispering, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry Miera.” But the girl struggles against his hold until she pushes herself free from him. Standing back she’s suddenly glaring at him as more tears shimmer behind her eyes.
“He was your best friend, Atlas. Your men are your first priority in battle, but they weren’t this time, were they?” She whimpers as her tiny frame sobs. Turning her head in our direction I suddenly wish that I was invisible, the moment her eyes land on me she narrows them angrily as she grits her teeth.
“So she’s the reason Kris is gone,” She spits out the words with such distaste. Atlas’s eyes follow in the direction she’s looking, and the moment they land on me his brows furrow, his jaw clenching in disbelief as his eyes confirm what Noah had said before, Atlas never really expected to see me here.
Looking back up at him the loathing, hurt and anger is suddenly pulsing from her body in waves. “Kris is dead and you finally get to have her with you, just like you always wanted. I hope it makes you happy every time you look into her eyes, knowing that she’s the reason Kris will never open his again.” Her words slice right through him, I don’t need to see it in order to feel it, I’m connected to him, and no matter how much I want to deny that fact, I can’t deny the truth. Every part of me has this deep need to console him, and the very thought of it has me feeling uncomfortable.
The moment she turns on her heel and storms off the other girl who was standing beside her takes a deep breath before looking up at Atlas. Tears are about to fall from her eyes, but she holds them in, she looks stronger and more capable of holding her emotions when she speaks.
“Where is his body now?” Swallowing hard Atlas’s brows come together,
“Down bellow in the charnel house.” His own voice suddenly sounding so small as he looks her in the eyes. Nodding she slowly lets out a heavy breath she must have been holding before looking back up at him.
“I don’t blame you for what happened to my brother, Atlas. We all know the risks involved when it comes to what we do, but, it doesn’t mean that I’m ready to let you off the hook either. His death will always be on your hands, and not because of anyone placing it there,” lifting her hand she comes to rest it right against his chest, the action causing him to wince, almost like her hand is burning him somehow. “You have already placed it there yourself, haven’t you?” Nodding, Atlas suddenly has tears swimming around in his eyes when he quickly goes to wipe them away with the back of his hand. Nodding in response, she looks down as the first tears begin to fall from her eyes, “That’s something you’re going to have to come to terms with somehow, but not now.” Her last words falling short as her voice breaks, more tears flowing down her cheeks.
The moment she looks my way she clenches her jaw, I’m expecting to see the same anger and hatred in them when her eyes land on mine, but I don’t. She slowly begins making her way over to us and I suddenly feel myself push up against Noah even more, if I could sink right into his hold and disappear right now, trust me I would.
But what she does the moment she comes to stand right in front of us completely shocks and surprises me, she forces a small smile through her tears shimmering behind her eyes as she clears her throat.
“I’m Circen, and you must be Sasha?” Finally swallowing that heavy lump in my throat, I can only nod as I look her in the eyes. Nodding in response she shifts her attention up towards Noah when she speaks,
“I think you should take her to the chambers right down at the furthest corner of the west wing, at least for now. I suspect that Ronan will want to speak with her at some point, but probably not today, he’s not in the best of moods all things considered.” She says grimacing, nodding Noah responds with, “Thanks, Circe.” She stands there and watches as Noah turns with me and begins heading down a long corridor away from everyone else. I quickly get a last glimpse of Atlas who still has his eyes trained to the floor. The pain of his own emotions slowly fading from me with every step Noah takes away from him.
Slowly lowering me to the floor in front of a massive bed before stepping back, Noah sighs which has me turning around to face him in response, and I'm suddenly feeling really unsure,
"You know you really didn't need to carry me all that way, but thank you." Nodding he shrugs nonchalantly," I know, but considering that you fainted..." His voice trails off, and my brows instantly knit together as I look down, hating that I fainted in the first place.
“So this will be your chambers for now, you know, until we can figure things out.” My eyes suddenly fly up to look Noah straight in the eyes when he says this.
“I don’t need a room, I’m not going to be staying that long. Just point me in the direction of where Lisbon is and I’ll be on my way.” And Noah suddenly cocks a questioning brow at me when he smirks,
“You are joking, right?” Giving him a confused look, he suddenly scratches at the back of his head like he's trying to figure out the best way of approaching this situation. “Sasha, do you have any idea how far the dark side of the realm is from here?” Swallowing hard I shrug as I shake my head.
“No, but if you maybe draw me a map of where I need to go, I’m sure I’ll figure it out. With my wolf it will be easy to...” Noah instantly cuts me off then.
“No! Whatever you do, do not shift into your wolf. You want Ronan to lose his goddam mind.”
“But, I am half a wolf, Noah, and she will be able to track Lisbon down far quicker than I would in human form.”
“That may be true, but just don’t do it, trust me, Ronan hates wolves. Just stay here, you know find your feet and I’ll ask Circen to come and check on you in a bit. Whatever you do, do not go out that door until you are told you can.” Narrowing my eyes I suddenly give him a hard stare as I grit my teeth,
“Am I a prisoner here, Noah?” Sighing he scrubs a hand over his face,
“No, of course not. You can go home any time you wish, but you also can’t just go wondering around the castle either, not until you’ve met with Ronan and some form of common ground has been established.”
“So what, I have to wait for this Ronan guy to give me the go ahead before I can go after Lisbon, is that it?”
“Considering that you are in his kingdom and currently under his roof, yes.”
“I don’t want to be under his roof nor in his kingdom, I just want to find Lisbon, break this curse and go home.” Groaning, Noah slowly starts rubbing at his temples.
“Look, I’m just trying to keep you safe, Sasha. I promised Wolf that I would, remember?” The mention of Wolf’s name instantly has a new lump forming in my throat as I look down, I’ve been away from him for what, two hours now, maybe three, and I already want to just call this whole thing off and go back.
“So, do we have a deal, will you stay here until I can come and fetch you? I need to go and check on my sister, she was pretty upset earlier.” Nodding, I don’t look up at him, because honestly I just want to be alone with my own thoughts right now, the tears of my own heart felt pain an irritable reality as it pushes up in my throat. But then the word sister pulls me out of my own anguish as my head snaps up to him.
“Wait, that girl from earlier, was she your sister?” Nodding he sighs,
“Miera, yeah. She’s my twin, she was mated to Kris so..."
“Noah, I’m really sorry..." Shrugging his brows come together when he looks at me,
"Yeah, it's really shitty. But it's part of who we are, we know that death is in the fine print of our job description." Hearing him say it like that makes me smirk,
"How do you manage to look at the world in that way?"
"We could all focus on how fucked up our lives are, Sasha. I guess, I choose to focus on the good instead of the bad." With that he nods once in my direction before turning and finally leaving the room, leaving me all by myself the moment he shuts the door behind him, and I can't help as my bottom lip quivers. I’m instantly wrapping my arms protectively around myself, scanning the insanely large room I’m in, my soft whimpers quickly turn into sobs. I feel even smaller than ever before in a room this big, and not having Wolf with me suddenly has me feeling even lonelier than I’ve ever felt before in my life.
I can’t do this.