Dark Skye Read online

Page 11


Chapter 10

  Lanthe’s thoughts were in turmoil. Encountering Felix again after all these years was throwing her. Not to mention seeing Ember’s lust for Thronos. The fire queen’s need to seduce him had affected Lanthe in surprising ways, ways she’d have to think about later. For now, she was a mite busy preparing for an amputation. Sweat dripped down her forehead and neck, pooling against her damned collar. “Lose your tongue, and gain your freedom,” Ember sneered. Thronos bellowed at that, his wings flaring inside his cage. As if he cared about Lanthe. He acted this way because of uncontrollable instincts—despite hating everything about her. Was Thronos that much different from Felix? Two males wanted something from her; yet neither cared about her. They only saw what she could give them, how they could use her. “Be quick about it,” Felix said, earning a scathing look from Lanthe. “The sooner Mel’s tongue goes, the sooner it regenerates. ” Flashing white teeth, he quipped, “I know just how she’s going to want to break in her new one. ” Lanthe shuddered. He could make her believe she loved every minute of her violation. “Open wide!” Ember cried. “Don’t worry—the blade’s not quite hot enough to cauterize. ” Lanthe swallowed again. All the Pravus allies closed in on the scene, the promise of gore exciting them. Seeing them like this, she could almost understand why one species would feel the need to police them. Unless someone swoops in to save the day, I’m about to lose my tongue. Though it’d grow back, tongues were supersensitive; mother of gold, this was going to hurt. A toll I’ll pay to get free. She glanced over at Thronos. He was thrashing against the immovable stone. When she stuck out her tongue and Ember pinched the tip with her gauntlet claws, he grew crazed, ramming his horns into the rock until blood dripped down his face. She tensed, readying for the pain. Felix murmured, “Be over in a minute, Mel. ” Soothing words, even as he avidly watched— Slice. She screamed, blood spewing. Cheers and laughter broke out. Agony assailed her; black dots swarmed her vision as she choked on blood. When her legs grew weak, Ember held her up by the collar. With her other hand, she raised Lanthe’s severed tongue for all to see. Then she tossed it into the crowd. Stay conscious, stay conscious. Portia ran Fegley’s hand over Lanthe’s face before she used the thumb to remove the torque. Freed, Lanthe dropped to her knees, digging into the ground. She spat up mouthful after mouthful of blood, crimson streams splattering over her gauntleted hands. Colorful enough, you bitches?! “The threshold, Lanthe,” Portia said in a casual tone. “Directly to the centauri capital, if you please. ” Lanthe gave them a shaky nod, as if she was about to get right on this. She began manifesting her sorcery, and the pleasure of it counteracted her pain. After her enforced hiatus, she was brimming with power! When she caught Thronos’s gaze once more, she smirked around pouring blood. Like him, these Sorceri continued to underestimate her. She had a secret ability, one she’d been sure not to reveal in their cell. Because at heart, she was a sneaky, suspicious sorceress. Even her new friend Carrow hadn’t known Lanthe could communicate telepathically, a power stolen more than a century ago. Lanthe’s persuasive commands didn’t have to be uttered by her; they merely had to be heard by her victims. She raised her bloody gauntlets, iridescent blue light and heat blurring the air all around her. They’d think it was for the portal. Wrong. She would utilize the command that came in so handy whenever Auntie Lanthe babysat Cadeon and Holly’s twins. She mentally ordered: —Pravus, SLEEP. — She watched as their legs grew unsteady, lids heavy, expressions baffled. —SLEEP. And forget I was ever here. — Bodies collapsed one by one. Portia and her platform of pebbles dropped to the ground, motionless. Ember yelled, “Portia!” —You are exhausted, must sleep NOW. — Ember fell unconscious beside her lover’s slumbering form. All the Pravus were out. The sorcery expenditure and continued blood loss had debilitated Lanthe, but she was in no way safe. Because for some inexplicable reason, she’d excluded Thronos from her commands. Without Portia’s force against the stone cage, he was able to lift the top slab. His scars and limp had always made Lanthe discount his strength. When he tossed the slab away like a piece of tile, she promised herself she never would again. If he captured her once more, she’d be right back where she started from, minus a tongue. Just because she hadn’t necessarily wanted him to be a Sorceri plaything didn’t mean she wanted to be his! So dizzy. Need a portal. She could crawl through it—away from him, from this treacherous island. She had a moment’s worry for Carrow and Ruby, but they had been in the care of that lethal vemon. Surely, he’d protect them. Lanthe spat more blood. Did she have the power to open a rift? She had just used her persuasion, and so many things could go wrong with a portal opening. The last one she’d created had been to Oblivion, one of the demon hell planes. But she’d only had to reopen a portal that was already in place. Easy as easy pie. Now, in her exhaustion and haste, she might point a door back there. Or what if she portaled herself to somewhere even deadlier? Like a plane with mustard gas instead of oxygen, or a completely aquatic bubble realm? Even worse than instant death, some planes could change a person forever. Thronos limped toward her, his gray eyes intent, his expression determined. Behind him more centaurs galloped into the clearing, taking in their fallen comrades. Double threat—no choice but to portal! Swallowing back blood, she began to open a rift, a small scalpel cut in this reality. She tried to concentrate on her home of Rothkalina, yet fears of all that could go wrong tangled in her thoughts. Opening, opening. With a yell, Thronos started sprinting, snagging a sword from a sleeping demon on his way. Opening . . . When the centaurs charged behind him, Lanthe scuttled backward toward the threshold. As he ran, Thronos kept his gaze locked on her, even as he made a sweeping downward cut with that sword. Why would he . . . ? The blade came back bloody; Felix’s head was rolling from his body. Her jaw slackened, blood pouring from her mouth. The Vrekener’s crazed. She twisted over to her hands and knees, now scrambling through the portal. Night. Fog and murk. Definitely not Rothkalina. The overcast day of the prison island flickered into this rainy world like a flashlight’s beam. Before her eyes could adjust, she heard Thronos bellowing for her. She commanded the portal to seal itself. Just as the seams were about to meet, he dove through them, crashing beside her. As soon as the rift was no more, territorial growls and hisses sounded from all around them. In the gloomy dark, Thronos grated, “Have you taken us to hell, sorceress?”