Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga) (9 page)

BOOK: Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga)
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“What the f—” Surah began, and
was cut off when someone behind me said, “Stop.”

I knew the voice instantly.

Without my having told it to do
so, my sword lowered from where it had been aimed at Surah’s heart, and I
noticed for the first time the sai in her left hand had been only inches from
my own. I guessed she wasn’t the only one that had slipped up.

Surah’s face was calm and
unreadable, but her soft voice was strained when she spoke. “What are you doing
to me, demon? Get out of my head!”

Nelly’s voice filled my head
Be cool, Alexa,
she said, and then she let me go.

I breathed in and out, sounding
very much like an angry wolf, a growl trailing my every breath. I gripped my
sword hard in my right hand and swung it back up before I could stop myself,
fully intent on removing this girl’s head from her shoulders. Maybe part of me
had thought that Nelly would stop me again. But Nelly didn’t, and at the last
moment I arched my blade, sending it over Surah’s head rather than through it.
I spun around on my heel, my Monster roaring inside my head that I should have
finished it. A string of obscenities came out of my mouth and I stalked over to
where Nelly, Kayden, and Tommy—who I hadn’t know was here—stood. I felt like a
starving animal denied a piece of prime meat.

When I was safely over the invisible
boundary that kept harmful things out of the Outlands, Nelly released the
Sorceress from her suspended position. “Cowards,” the girl spat. “You hide
behind your border and refuse to fight? I would have expected more from the
fearsome Accursed and the Sun Warrior I’ve heard so much about.”

Nelly stared at the girl for a
moment, and I didn’t have to ask to know that she was Searching her. It only
took her a flash of a moment, and then Nelly took a deep breath, and I could
see sympathy behind her hazel eyes as she looked at Surah. “I’m sorry for your
loss,” she said. “But you’ve been lied to. My sister and I did not kill your

“Oh, no?” Surah said, her chest
heaving and her sais still gripped tightly in her hands. Despite the mask that
she had managed to slip back into place, she still looked like she was about
two seconds from charging the invisible border. I kind of hoped she would. It
would be funny.

She didn’t. “Then who did?”

Surprising us all, Nelly stepped
over the border before I could stop her. She came to stand face to face with
the Sorceress. I tensed, wanting to trust that Nelly could handle herself, but
more than uneasy about letting this girl near her. Nelly met the girl’s stare
squarely. “I think we have a common enemy,” she said.



According to plan

“I have the list for you, your
Majesty,” said Andre.

King William looked up from the
paper on which he was writing, and gave his most trusted Warrior a droll stare.
“Well, I would say that it’s about time,” he said.

Andre handed him the list. King
William took it between his jeweled fingers and read through the names. Anger
flashed inside of him as he saw that the Accursed girl had taken a larger party
with her in her escape than he had known. There were even two villagers listed
here, their names unfamiliar to him, but the composer of the list had labeled
them so.

“Her power proves greater and
greater with each move she makes, Andre,” he said through gritted teeth.

Andre gave his King his usual
level stare. “Yes, I would say so, my King.”

King William waved an impatient
hand. “And the Sorcerers? What moves have they made?”

“The girl, Surah, is at the
Outlands now. The last time that our scout checked in was only five minutes
ago. He said that the Sun Warrior and the Sorceress were fighting, would have
killed each other if not for…”

The King’s gray eyes glittered
more brilliantly with hatred than all the diamonds he wore. “If not for
Nelliana, correct?”

Andre gave a curt nod. “Correct,
your Majesty.”

King William rose from his chair
behind the desk, his knuckles pressed down into the oak. “Good. Very good,” he
said, handing Andre the paper on which he had been writing. “Then everything is
going according to plan. Take that message and see that it is distributed
throughout the cities. When will we be ready to leave?”

“We are ready now, your Majesty.”

The King nodded, straightening
the jacket of his pristine suit. “Good. Let us go, then.”

“Is there anything else, your

King William paused in the
doorway. “Yes, actually. Print the names of those who left with our little
Nelliana on that message I gave you. Label them for the traitors that they are,
and make it clear that anyone associated with them will be considered traitor
as well.”

Andre nodded.

“Is that Thomas Caslon’s son on
that list there?”

“Yes, your Majesty. It is.”

“Funny, he did not mention that
his boy was with the traitors. Find Thomas, Andre, and bring him to me. I have
a few questions for him.”

Andre nodded.

“Good. And make sure you tell me
immediately when we receive word from our scout again. I do hope that the
Sorceress and our girls are getting along nicely.”




You have to know that we can’t
trust her, Nell. She came here to kill us, for shit’s sake.

Nelly’s voice sounded softly in
my head.
I know that she came here because the King told her we were
responsible for her brother’s death. We just need to convince her that it isn’t
true. If her brother has gone missing, we both know who was more than likely
responsible for it. And…she’s powerful, Lex. Very powerful. She could be an
important ally.

Yeah, or she could be a spy.

She’s not.

And you’re so sure? You said
yourself that she’s very powerful.

Nelly took three slow steps back,
and didn’t take her eyes from Surah until she was safely inside the barrier of
the Outlands.
Just trust me, Lex.

Nelly held her hands out to her
side, regarding Surah with gentle eyes. “It’s your choice, Surah,” Nelly said.
“King William is a liar and a murderer, and if your brother went to see him and
has not returned, my money is on the King for his absence. You know you can’t
enter here with vengeance on your mind, and you may try whatever magic is
available to you, but I will not allow you to harm my sister. We are not
responsible for your pain. If you will allow me the chance, I would like to
help you put the puzzle pieces together. I think we will find that we have a
similar goal.”

Surah inclined her lavender head.
“I have no interest in the wars of Wolves and Vampires,” she said, and slowly,
she tucked her hands under her cloak and stored the sais there. I didn’t miss
that her black gloved hands were still clenched into fists, though. “Your King
tells me you are the ones I seek. You tell me that he is the one. Maybe I
should just kill you all, cover all the bases.”

I stepped forward now, having had
enough of this girl’s attitude. “Look, I’m sorry about your brother, and I get
it that you’re angry, but
to kill us will only end badly for you.
Trust me, and it would give him what he wants. You’re not the only one who has
lost someone to this man. The enemy of your enemy is your friend, right?” And
then, because I couldn’t help it, I added, “And you really don’t want me for an

Surah smirked and flipped her
cold purple eyes to Nelly. “She seems to be the one I should worry about making
enemies with,” she said. Nelly inclined her head, but said nothing. After a
moment, Surah spread her hands out before her. “Fine. I will listen to what you
have to say, but if you reach into my mind like that one more time, I’m going
to reach into your heart with one of these,” she said, tapping the place under
her cloak that hid her weapons.

If I didn’t want to kill her,
I think I might actually like this little bitch, Warrior.

“She’s got a certain spunk,
doesn’t she?”

Mmm, remind you of anyone?

With a nod from Nelly, and one
final deep breath from Surah, the Sorceress took five steps forward, and joined
us in the Outlands.

Seems too easy, doesn’t it?
Monster mumbled in my head.

Yes, it did.



A Message to the People

Again, the fliers were hung
throughout the city, on the lampposts, in the shop windows, on the houses of
the people. Today the King would be “cleansing” the second city on the list,
Running Rivers, the same way he had cleansed Sun City of the traitors the day
before. No one outside of Sun City knew what had happened there, what awaited
them when their time came and their numbers were called. But the common mood
among the people had grown grim, nonetheless. It was as if they could smell the
trouble coming in the air, could sense the death that waited beyond the
horizon. And the new fliers did nothing to ease their anxiety.

The fliers read as such:

People of the Five Cities, I,
King William, regret to inform you that our safety and way of life is under
threat. A Sun Warrior has taken up arms with the Accursed and the other races.
They sent in a Sorcerer, Syris Stormsong, to steal the locations to the
entrances of our beloved cities, but the Sorcerer has taken care, so you
needn’t fear him. The Sun Warrior, Alexa Montgomery, and her allies are regretfully
still at large, however. Anyone with any knowledge about this regime is to come
forward at once and share what they know. Anyone caught associating with these
criminals will be considered traitor. Most of you are too young to remember the
Great War over a thousand years past now, but I remember it very well, and I
assure you that it is not something that we would like to face again. For your
own safety, I will advise you to take this threat seriously, and follow the
orders given to you. I am confident that these traitors can be stopped, but
your cooperation is required. Make sure you arrive at the Council Building at
your scheduled times to pledge your allegiance. Listed below are the names and
races of those known associates with the Sun Warrior.


King William




I sat in the corner with my arms
folded over my chest, leaning back against my chair, staring at the Sorceress
with what I knew to be my Monster’s eyes. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the
girl, or even that I didn’t trust her—which I didn’t—but rather that being what
I am made it easy for me to recognize what
was. Like a sixth sense.
The dark side of me could sense another predator in the room. Not the same as
all the others. One that needed special consideration.

I could see it in her lithe
movements, the way she seemed to float about from here to there, without making
a single swoosh noise with the long cloak she wore. In the way her violet eyes,
many shades darker than the soft lavender of her short hair, would roam over the
room with a trained disinterest, while taking in everyone and everything that
they touched. In the way her slender gloved hands relaxed at her sides, but
always Nano-seconds away from the weapons she kept hidden beneath her black
cloak. Surah’s gaze only settled on me every so often, never lingering but
always seeming to flick over me, casting a smile somewhere in the dark iris’s,
as if to say,
yes, I see you watching me. I’m watching you, too.

She’s got a firm mask on her
monster, wouldn’t you say, Warrior? I’m almost impressed.

“Yes, I would say. She looks
as harmless as I do, and yet…”

And yet you know she is just
as disappointed about not being able to kill you as you are about not getting
to kill her. Maybe you two should exchange recipes.

“Maybe I should punch myself
in the face and see if you scream.”

A cold laugh.
Don’t be
ridiculous, Warrior. That would downright crazy.

Crazy. Huh. That’s a laugh.

I rolled my eyes a little as I
watched Surah pace back and forth on the other side of the room. Disrupting my
thoughts, she said, “I don’t understand what your King could possibly gain in
killing Syris, or why he would think that I wouldn’t find out. He cannot be
such a fool.”

We were back in the room that
Camillia’s sister, Silvia, had lent us. Kayden stood beside me, silent and
watchful. Tommy and Nelly stood over by the bed, while Surah paced back and
forth in front of them. The cold hardness of my Gladius tucked under my shirt
was as welcome as always. I didn’t particularly want Nelly in the same room and
so close to the Sorceress. Hell, I didn’t particularly want them in the same
building. The girl screamed danger in much the same way as others surely
thought I did.

Ah, but our little Nelly can
look after herself now, can’t she? Things are not the same as they once were,
Warrior. Perhaps she doesn’t need us anymore.

Across the room, I saw Nelly’s
eyes settle on me, and I knew right away that she had heard my Monster’s
thought. The look in her hazel eyes was half-glare,
half-love, and I understood what it meant without her having to speak in my
head. Her eyes told me that my Monster’s last comment was, in a word, bullshit.

Nelly’s gaze flipped back to
Surah, not missing a beat in the conversation despite the fact that she’d just
been having the equivalent of one silently with me. “Is there a dream spell?”
Nelly asked, her brow furrowing in that way that I knew meant that she was
following a thread of thought somewhere, figuring something out. “Or, I mean,
like some kind of magic that your kind knows that can reach people in their
dream states?”

BOOK: Redemption (The Alexa Montgomery Saga)
11.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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