“Are you particularly attached to your clothes,” Ves asks. “You wouldn’t be upset if I destroyed them, would you?”
“Amethyst bought them for me,” I answer.
“Fine, fine. Just change into this and come out.” I look at what she gave me.
“This is just underwear.” I’m not about to expose myself to her.
“I’m not trying to ogle at you. I need a good look at your markings so I can custom make this suit to cover whatever Azula didn’t.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ll explain after you get changed.” She shoos me away. I sigh and go into a room. After changing, I step out. She points the center of the room. “Stand here.”
I go where she tell me to stand. The section I stand on rises, becoming a circular platform. Ves doesn’t look at me as she begins wiggling her fingers in the air. She makes a gesture, and giant magnifying glass descends from her ceiling.
“Damn,” she says, looking at her wrist. “Your mate is paranoid. Your mating marks are engraved with multiple layers of protection spells that protect you from almost all types of magic. Now to answer your question, this whole trial thing is suspect. It may or may not be an elaborate ploy against Amay. If it is, I need to make sure you’re safe. I also need to factor in that there is a chance she’s lying to us and did commit those crimes.”
“She didn’t.” Ves raises her brow at me.
“You sound so sure.”
“She gave me her word that wouldn’t kill anyone because of me.”
“And you believe her?”
“She keeps secrets from me but she’s only ever lied to me once.”
I think back to the day she gave me my watch. It took me a couple days to realize that she never left anything in my room. I still have no ideas what she was doing inside my home but I also don’t care. Ves goes silent for a moment.
“What were her exact words to you,” she asks.
“She said she wouldn’t kill them or be a direct cause to their deaths.” Ves lets out a long whistle.
“That explains so much actually.”
“Nothing,” she says with a shake of her head. I let it go.
“Is she in danger?”
“She shouldn’t be. She is capable of defend herself. I’m taking measures to ensure your kids’ safety.” A table rises from the ground and she picks up a small silver disk. I hope it’s not. She zips in front of me. “Don’t be alarmed. I’m just placing this on your chest. It’s not silver. It’ll feel a little weird, though.”
She give no warning as she places it on my chest. I watch in fascination as spread across my skin. It feel cool and weird. I freak out a little when moves up my neck and over my face, but it doesn’t suffocate me like I thought it would.
Then suddenly, I’m wearing clothes. I look at my skin in confusion. The silver metal thing isn’t on my skin anymore. At least, it doesn’t look like it is. I can still feel it on my skin, though.
“Okay,” Ves says. “You’re all set.” Everything resets itself with the platform lowering back to the ground and the magnifying glass disappearing back into the ceiling. “See, that wasn’t too bad.”
“I guess,” I grumble. “I have a question.”
“When those enforcers took Azula. One of them called her wild. What does that mean?” It sounded like an insult, but my mate seemed unfazed by it.
“Technically she’s not wild. She’s defected. Wild implies she has a choice in the matter.” I frown. “Calm down. I’m not insulting her. It’s just the facts.”
“When every phoenix turns 25, we have the choice of merging with our beast half,” Ori explains. “Given that we’re practically immortal, and our animal halves have their own personalities. We tend to get on each other’s nerves after awhile.”
“Imagine being in the same body as someone you can’t stand,” Ves adds. “Never turns out pretty. They end up killing each other, splintering into tiny pieces.” Ori glares at Ves. “Wild phoenixes are phoenixes that chose not to merge with their beast halves.”
“Amay is incapable of merging with Azula even if she wanted to.”
“So Amethyst and Azula could eventual hate each other,” I ask, my heart stuttering a little. “And die?”
“Yes,” Ori answers. “But it’s unlikely. They love you too much.”
I stand next to Ori in the courtroom. We’re standing in a balcony area that’s reserved for family members. Usually, only one family member is allowed up here, but since I’m not a phoenix, they made an exception. Ori said that the rule was made to keep family members from helping the person on trial from escaping.
I watch as who I can only assume is the judge enter and sit behind his podium. He looks young, but then again I haven’t seen an old looking phoenix. Even Amethyst’s parents don’t look much older than me. He pounds his gavel, causing the room to fall silent.
“The trial of Amamethysta Iceheart will now commence,” he announces.
Azula gets escorted in. She’s wearing a white dress and cuffs around her wrists. She looks to tiny next the other phoenixes, but she stands with a pride that makes her height unnoticeable.
Her eyes meets mine briefly. I’m fine. Her face is impassive even as I feel her shock and confusion as a woman that looks so much like Ves that I take a double look to make sure it isn’t steps forward. I look to Ori in confusion.
“what’s going on,” I ask.
“Our aunt is acting as the prosecutor,” he answers.
“Present the evidence,” the judge says.
“Six children were killed last night,” the aunt says. “Frozen to death. All of them were children of those who had assaulted her mate.”
“Freezing children to death is something anyone can do,” Azula says in a bored tone. “Do you have any evidence that actually points to me?”
“Your magic was found on one of the children. Suzy Kim, sounds familiar?”
“What kind of magic was found on her? Was elemental or was it a spell?”
“Does it matter?” Azula says nothing for a moment and stares at the judge.
“I stand trial with so little evidence and so little proof? If you check the magic, you find that it’s not deadly.” Her aunt hands the judge a sheet of paper. He says nothing as he reads it. “Has our justice system failed in the short time that I was gone? Why waste my time with this?”
“Because I needed you here,” her aunt says before pulling out a gun and shooting Azula in the stomach. I scream. I lean forward, ready to jump over the balcony. If I break anything, it’ll heal quickly. In a split second, Azula’s aunt is front of me.
She smiles at me before everything goes white.