Dark Skye Read online

Page 54

Chapter 53

  Having completed her and Thronos’s history, Lanthe was tweaking her opening to Sabine. The letter would go out in one hour—and would prove even more important than she’d thought. Sabine and Rydstrom still thought she was a prisoner. Lanthe had begun . . . My dearest sister, How I do adore Skye Hall! I now enjoy cooking and cleaning, tasteful jokes, and demure clothing. Why, I hardly miss my sorcery or gold at all! JK JK! I wouldn’t know if I like any of that shit, because I’ve never tried it. My lust for gold is as strong as ever, my sorcery even stronger. Your little sis is quite a boss. And she’s totally in love with a Vrekener. In Inferno, Thronos had asked her if she’d ever been in love. She’d answered, “I’ve never known romantic love. ” True. But as a girl, Lanthe had loved Thronos—fiercely. Deep down, maybe she’d never stopped. Maybe it’d always been there, waiting to bloom into a different kind of love. The fragile sprout of affection that she’d copped to in faux Feveris had grown into . . . a moonraker. And her feelings for him were so strong, they’d even started coloring how she viewed Vrekeners. Lanthe could still call them lame—but if anyone else did, she’d shut that down. Sabine, when you read the rest of this letter, please keep an open mind. I’m not brainwashed, and I never will be. Just as you’re bringing change to Rothkalina, I plan to here. Once all the dust settles, you can give me queenly pointers! When Lanthe felt a vibration of power, she frowned, laying the quill down. She sensed sorcery—not hers. She leapt to her feet. Something was approaching, a threat to the people here. She raced for the assembly hall. Where was everyone? Was it dinnertime already? Lanthe hastened toward the vibration, out the front doorway of the Hall. A portal was opening, right before her eyes. On the freaking steps of Skye Hall. Her jaw dropped when Sabine emerged. “Ai-bee?” Her sister was in full war regalia, with a broad gold headdress atop her flame-red tresses. A metal breastplate served as her top, and a jade mask adorned her face. Sabine was a jolt of color in this monochrome realm. “What are you doing here?” “I’m rescuing you,” Sabine said blithely as she traipsed onto Vrekener land. “Look at your necklace—is that red gold? To die for! It almost makes up for that dress. ” “I don’t need rescuing!” “As I feared, the Vrekeners brainwashed you, just like so many Sorceri before you. But I vow I will get you back. When we return to Rothkalina, I’m enrolling you in cult deprogramming. ” “You’re not hearing me. I want to stay with Thronos. ” As if Lanthe hadn’t spoken, Sabine said, “The stress of all you’ve been through isn’t helping. I know about the Order, about your fight to stay alive. About your capture and imprisonment here. ” “I’m not imprisoned! Why would I still have my sorcery if I were a prisoner?” Nothing. “How did you find the Skye, Sabine?” Can others? “The same way that Dacian vampire did: with a one-of-a-kind scry crystal. It’s been tucked away in hidden Dacia for ages. Anyway, the leech let us borrow it. And then we used a portal power similar to yours. ” “We?” With a wave of her hand, Sabine used her sorcery to make Lanthe’s necklace invisible. “I wouldn’t want that to be taken from you. She’ll think I merely gave you a glamour. ” “She . . . ?” Lanthe trailed off, swallowing with fear when Morgana emerged from the threshold, also in war regalia. Her pale blond hair was interwoven throughout her gold headdress. Her irises were the color of a bottomless pit. Sorcery of differing colors swirled around her. Lanthe had never perceived so much of it in one being—Morgana was overflowing with reclaimed powers, laden with them. Like a snake who’d recently fed. The queen glared at her enemy’s domain with a vicious eye. Lanthe held up her unlit hands, a gesture of yielding for Sorceri. “Now, let’s just talk about this, Morgana. Can we do that?” Lanthe glanced around; the people were all gathered in the bastion, which meant no targets at hand for Morgana to smite. For now. But this also meant Thronos would return soon. . . . “We shall talk,” Sabine said. “Back at Rothkalina. Come, Lanthe, we’re on a bit of a clock here. ” “Tick tock,” Morgana sneered. “I’ve seen more than enough. ” When Lanthe vowed, “There’s no way I’m leaving here,” Sabine clamped her arm in her gauntlet, turning her toward the portal. On the other side, visible through the threshold, was Lanthe’s tower room. “Behold, sister, your room in Rothkalina. ” As if speaking to a baby, she asked, “Do you remember your room? All your fabulous clothes, luxuries, servants, and self-help books are just beyond this threshold. Your TV and vault of gold await you. That is where you belong. ” Lanthe fought to throw off her grip. “I belong here. What can I do to make you believe I’m not brainwashed! I’m not going anywhere—” “Nooo!” Thronos had caught sight of them from above. “Don’t touch her!” His wings snapped close to his body as he dove for them. An enraged Vrekener was attacking, expression grim, eyes deadly. A reckoning. “Stay away!” Lanthe screamed. He was the embodiment of physical power, Morgana of mystical. Despite all the strength in his mighty body, and all his battle-hardened centuries, Thronos couldn’t match that queen. “She will kill you!” He didn’t even slow; the rage in his eyes . . . Morgana raised one hand. As if a giant fist had seized him in the air, he was brought up short, held in place—though he grappled to reach Lanthe. “Don’t hurt him!” She started drawing on her own power. Morgana squinted at her as if she were an insect in need of a good crushing. “Careful, little girl, I’ll snatch that persuasion from you before you could ever wield it against me. ” She turned her attention back to Thronos in the air. With another wave of her hand, the queen began lowering him in front of her for a better look. Lanthe turned to Sabine. —Ai-bee, please, please help us! I love Thronos. — Behind her mask, Sabine rolled her eyes. —You cannot be serious. — —I’ve loved him since I was nine. I have so much to tell you, but if Morgana kills him, she’ll be killing me!— —I don’t believe your brainwashed babble. It makes no sense!— —What if there’s even a chance it’s true? Imagine if Morgana was about to murder Rydstrom. Imagine how you’d feel. This is HAPPENING to me, right now. — —How could you possibly love one of . . . them?— Sabine flicked her hand in Thronos’s direction. Lanthe wanted to strangle her. —If I’m brainwashed, you can always kill him later. For now, HELP US!— —I suppose that is true. — When Morgana brought Thronos to the ground, to his knees, he grated, “Release my mate, and begone from these lands. ” Gnashing his teeth, he fought her sorcery enough to stand. Morgana appeared surprised by his strength. But when Thronos again tried to reach Lanthe, the queen redoubled her hold, halting him in place. “This one had the audacity to abduct one of my subjects. ” Prismatic wisps of sorcery coiled around her. “Actions against Sorceri will now have swift and severe consequences. ” “Morgana, I wasn’t abducted! I made a conscious decision to come here!” The queen merely ignored her. —Ai-bee, please!— —Fine. My gods. — Sabine’s insouciance never faded as she said, “Morgana, though this is tiresome even to bring up . . . ” “What is it?” she demanded. “I wouldn’t slay that one if I were you. ” Sabine peered at her gauntlets, rapping the claws with boredom. “Why wouldn’t you take him as prisoner?” Morgana’s eyes sparked ominously, glinting like obsidian. “Do you comprehend how long I’ve waited for this?” She squeezed her fist harder until Thronos labored to breathe. “My ward was brutalized by his brother. This Talos will pay as well!” Lanthe tried to get between Morgana and him, but the queen’s magic was an impenetrable leash from her to her prey. “Please, Morgana! Thronos was disgusted by what happened to Bettina. He’s already in talks with her. Just speak with her! But for now, spare him. Please!” At once, the air blurred around Morgana’s body. Above her headpiece, her blond braids wavered like a gorgon’s serpents. “Spare him?” she bit out. “SPARE him? Are you jesting with me? You and your sister have been running from him and his brother for ages! Now that your queen is in a position to mete out justice, you cower from what must be done?” Before Lanthe could say anything, Morgana cut her off. “Do you know how many powers I pulled from the Vrekener vault? Do yo