Beware: Endless Magic Chapter 2

Chapter Two

Lucan rose from his throne as soon as we entered the stately room. His red velvet robes flared out behind him and his extravagant, golden crown sat tilted on his head like always. His closely-cropped goatee twitched with anger, but what concerned me most was the steely, ice cold glare his eyes had formed, their dark blue penetrating through me as if holding his stare for much longer would shatter me into a million pieces.
His wife, seated next to him, rose too. Her delicate mouth turned downward in a concerned frown and her hands, gripped tightly together, shook ever so slightly. Her dark, auburn hair fell over her shoulders and around her face in a way that reminded me of my mother. I stopped for a moment, taken back by the similarity between the two women.
Queen Analisa was very pretty; objectively I couldn't say if she was equal to my mother, but still she was strikingly beautiful. However, she definitely lacked the independent spirit that Delia possessed, the quiet determination that radiated from her. Analisa was reserved, and submissive, hardly making herself known at all. She stayed loyally by Lucan's side, an accessory to his crown and nothing more.
I stood still for a moment longer, missing my mother and working hard to find my composure. I was halfway to Lucan and, even without acknowledging him, I could feel his hateful eyes on me. Kiran took the opportunity to step in front of me and bow to his father, clearing his throat suggestively so that I would follow suit.
I didn't.
“You wicked child!” Lucan shouted, breaking the tense silence.
“Father, please,” Kiran started, but Lucan cut him off with a wave of his hand.
Lucan rushed at me, down the stairs from his royal seat. He pushed Kiran out of the way and stood in front of me before I could flinch. His angry hand closed tightly around my throat and he picked me aggressively off the ground as if I weighed nothing. His hand, rough around my neck, felt like it could snap me in half with only a little more pressure. He tightened his iron grip, his strong fingers pressing themselves cruelly against my skin, leaving long, thin bruises. My eyes fluttered, my vision blurred and to the sound of a man screaming something incoherent I lost consciousness.

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My head pounded as if it were being banged violently against a wall and the sound of shouting did nothing to alleviate the migraine. I brought my hand to my ear hoping to drown out the sound, but even the touch of my own skin sent me reeling in agony.
Slowly the memories came back, the events that led to the blackout. Lucan with his hand around my throat, closing off the oxygen I needed so vitally without magic to stay alive. I pulled my knees to my chest, realizing I was on the ground, my head on something soft, while my body shivered against the cool, hard stone floor.
The more awake I became, the more my head throbbed, a searing pain demanding my attention on the back of my head. My head swam, nauseous and dizzy. I wanted desperately to open my eyes and ask those in the room to keep it down, but it was all I could do to keep from vomiting. I moved my hand to my neck where it came away sticky and soaked with hot blood.
“Careful,” a soothing voice warned me, taking my soiled hand and wiping it clean.
I rolled over, daring to open my eyes and recognized Sebastian. He held me in his lap, gently stroking my hair away from my forehead. I winced from the pain even the dim light of this throne room glared into my sensitive eyes. I gasped; it was an uncontrollable sound that escaped my lips from sheer agony before I could think through a reaction.
The room immediately fell silent. Even with my eyes shut tight, I could feel the focus of the room shift to me. I dared not move from Sebastian's care and not just out of fear of another one of Lucan's tantrums. He had clearly thrown me once I blacked out and either the wall or the floor caught my poor head, splitting it open and cursing me with this sickening pain. What was it about this room and me getting thrown around?
“Oh, you're pathetic!” Lucan cried out, and I felt his words directed at me. “You're truly the most rebellious creature God has ever created, aren't you? And now look at you, so helpless, so.... mortal! Such talent.... such.... potential wasted. And for what? Misery? You disgust me. There's no other way to say it. You, more than any other Immortal, make me regret the very day I first met you. It's not enough that you try to turn my kingdom against me, or that you blow up my favorite palace! No, it's not even enough that you have ruined the happiness of my son! Now this? How did you do it Eden? How did you manipulate the blood oath?” His voice turned gravelly with disgust.
I cringed, but forced myself to open my eyes and face the brightness of the room. I struggled to prop myself up on one elbow so that I could stare into his eyes and summon the small bits of rebellion I still held deep inside, deep enough that no amount of exhaustion or pain would ever take them away from me.
“I don't remember,” I growled, lying obviously. Lucan's face flushed red and his eyes bulged out of his head in a way that made me hope he was suffering from a heart attack.
“You stupid girl!” he shouted, lifting me roughly off the ground with his magic and shaking me violently.
A scream involuntarily escaped my lips and I shut my eyes tight to hold off the crippling nausea.
“Enough!” Kiran yelled, interrupting whatever abusive deed Lucan planned next for me. “Enough, father, she can get it back. She is trying to get it back. She just needs more time, that's all.”
“No!” I found my voice. I opened my black eyes and screamed at the evil king holding me in the air. “I will not get it back! I do not want it back! Do what you want with me, but that magic is protected!”
“You spoiled, petulant child,” Lucan scolded, setting me back on the ground while seeming to come back to himself. He calmed down, smoothing out his black tunic and clearing his throat. Now more than ever, Kiran resembled him, his blue eyes piercing me, his blonde hair tussled but kept. The way his anger was carefully concealed, masked by strong self-control reminded me too much of his son. Lucan stared at me for a minute, while I struggled to stand and his eyes softened from pure hatred into intense determination.
I was more afraid of his wit than his anger, but I held my ground, tilting my chin and squaring my shoulders. No amount of pain would weaken my resolve.
“Fetch me a prisoner,” Lucan commanded calmly, his hand stroking his goatee. “Get the mother of that Transmogrifier she's so fond of. Do it quickly.” Lucan turned on his heel and walked back to his throne, settling into his seat with renewed arrogance.
“What are you doing?” I demanded, moving to the base of the throne.
“Teaching you a lesson,” he answered simply.
I was swept away with fear. I turned on my heel, hoping to enlist the aid of someone else in the room. I realized then that this was Kiran's fear too, and Sebastian's. They were never concerned for my safety, but knowing the wrath of Lucan more intimately than me, they understood what he was capable of.
I paced the room anxiously, unconcerned with propriety and forgetful of the migraine and the still dripping wound to the back of my head. There was nothing I could do, nothing to save Lilly's mother from whatever cruel fate Lucan intended for her. I was weak without magic, and helpless to make any difference. Even ideas for diversions were lost in my muddled brain. There was nothing I could do for her.
And whatever happened would be my fault.
I came to this castle to protect those that I loved. I offered myself in place of everyone else, and yet here I stood, a powerless witness to more bloodshed at my expense.
“You can't do this! You can't hurt someone else just because of me!” I cried out, accusing Lucan in my very tone of his tyrannical blood-lust.
“Dearest child, I can do whatever I want,” he chided me gently, his voice sickly sweet and churning my stomach. “Lest you have forgotten, I am the king!” He jumped up, shouting at me with more aggressive force, spit sprayed from his lips and his eyes turned wild with hatred and evil.
“Kiran,” I turned to him, pleading with him to intervene. “Please, you have to do something; you have to reason with your father.”
He held my eyes for a moment, his face oppressed with grief and I knew that he tried to warn me. I felt his admonitions and his daily pleading like a knife in my heart. He broke his gaze, looking away ashamed and emotional.
“My son has done enough, hiding you away in his bedroom, lying to me, manipulating me. So, let this be a warning to you both,” Lucan began lecturing once Lilly's mother was dragged into the throne room. “You will learn to obey, child. When I give a command, you will follow it. When I tell you to do something, you will honor it without hesitation. I am your king and you will treat me as such. And if you cannot follow these very simple directions then there will be consequences. It is your disobedience that has cost this woman her life, and if you are not in full possession of your magic by tomorrow morning at dawn, then I will execute every other prisoner held here, one by one, while you watch helpless and mortal. Is that clear?”
Tears started to stream down my face at the gravity of his words. And as much as I wanted to blame him for his cruelty, he was right, this was my fault. “It's impossible, I've tried to get it back,” I whimpered, pathetically, looking at Lilly's mother who had just started to understand what was about to happen to her.
She was a beautiful woman, with more auburn hair than Lilly's fiery red, and it fell in delicate waves down her back. Her green eyes sparkled with magic, after the suffocating prisons that deteriorated one's power. Her skin was as porcelain as Lilly's and she radiated the self-sacrifice any mother would gladly give for the freedom of her child.
“Obviously, you have not tried hard enough,” Lucan snapped. “You have until tomorrow morning at dawn, Eden, or this Shape-shifter will not be the only victim of your insubordination.”
Lucan stood from his royal seat and walked slowly over to a Titan Guard, reaching for his decorative sword and pulling it from its placeholder at his side. I screamed something even I didn't understand and went blind with a fight that I didn't think I still had in me. Strong hands, forceful against my arms, held me back, and pulled me to the corner of the room. I struggled desperately against them, fighting with everything I held on to, to save the innocent.
Lucan turned on Lilly's mother, as she stood tall and still, held by two Guards that were not necessary. She was ready for death, determined to be martyred with dignity and grace. Lucan tilted his head and sighed with pity before plunging the sword forcibly through her heart.
The room fell silent; even I gasped with horror and then found no sounds to express my outraged sorrow. The Titans that held her, let go so that she could slump to the ground, impaled by the ornamental sword. She held on to the hilt, agony constricting her face, and her magic floating from her body in a visible energy field of soft lavender. She was dying slowly, too slowly not to feel the pain as her violet magic drifted out of her.
“Tomorrow at dawn, Eden, or you will relive this moment one hundred times,” Lucan vowed, staring me down with arrogant resolve.
I believed him.
He left the room, his robes sweeping out behind him and his Titan Guard was close at his heels. Analisa sat in stunned silence for a few more minutes, her face paling with the horror of Lucan's punishment. She eventually stood and left the room in silence, her own Guard trailing after her.
Left alone with just the dying woman, Talbott, Sebastian and Kiran, Sebastian and Talbott let go of me and I too sunk to the floor, weeping in heartache for the unnecessary murder of another guiltless victim. I let my head fall into my hands and my weeping turned into deep moaning as I felt the weight of this war more severely than ever before.
I had been naive, too innocent to understand what I fought against. I had interacted with Lucan and seen what he did to Avalon, but I justified the cruelty to his pursuit for immortality. I witnessed the murder of my grandfather, but I credited an ancient rivalry to the hatred between the two men. This was something different; truly my imagination could never have conjured up this kind of cruelty, the senseless killing of innocent Immortals. I believed too much in the goodness of others to ever anticipate these kinds of repercussions. And now, not just one woman would suffer at my fate, but Lucan promised a hundred. A hundred prisoners, as innocent as Lilly's mother, would die because of my stupidity and stubbornness.
I heard the sword pulled from her chest, and the morbid sound itself, the sharp blade slicing against hot flesh, sent me into a deeper hysteria. I wailed, rocking back and forth, unwilling to look at the woman whose blood now stained my hands.
“Eden, look!” Sebastian demanded but I refused, burying my face further into my arms “Seriously, Eden, look!”
Something like hope in Sebastian's voice tugged at my resolve and I lifted my eyes, carefully finding Lilly's mother and bracing myself against the rising nausea. But instead of a purple energy field moving toward the heavens, the room filled with blue smoke.
The blue smoke, moved in wisps and soft movements, surrounding the woman and wrapping her up in its billowy folds. She gasped, as if being revived from the hold of death and the lavender electricity slowly returned to her. Her chest stopped hemorrhaging and her skin returned from the ghostly white of death to the pale pink of life.
I stood up, slowly, noticing that the gash on the back of my head had stopped throbbing. I stumbled toward Lilly's mom in unbelieving awe. She sat up, rubbing at her healed chest and eying me with intense curiosity.
The room was still filled with smoke, and I took careful steps through it. Now that the smoke had finished healing, it spread across the stone floor in playful movements, swirling in and out of my legs as I walked. I breathed again, a thankful sigh of relief and my heart swelled with the impossibility of the miracle. I had banished the magic and with it I assumed the smoke, but here it stayed, released from some secret part of me, capable of healing and unwilling to leave me.
“How is that possible?” Kiran asked, breaking the silence and voicing the question on everyone's mind.
“I don't know,” I answered honestly.
“It is not bound to your magic?” Kiran questioned, more pointedly, demanding an explanation.
“Kiran, I don't know.” I replied with more force. “This doesn't make sense to me either. But you could tell your father about it, just in case it's enough to convince him I'm at least trying to get my magic back....” I mumbled, finishing halfheartedly. The room stayed silent, nobody offering to tell Lucan anything.
Lilly's mother, stayed still on the ground, unsure what to do or if she should move.
“I'm Eden,” I introduced myself to her, offering my hand and helping her stand. “I'm a friend of your daughter’s.”
“Yes, I know who you are.” She smiled at me, a thankful, genuine smile, her eyes brimming with tears and I felt loved. “I'm Rosalind.”
“I'm so sorry for all of this,” I apologized, humbled by the horrifying event of her almost death.
“No, please, I should be thanking you!” She reached out for my hand again, holding it between hers; the look of gratitude displayed on her face was identical to one I had seen on Lilly's numerous times.
“Well, I don't know if you should be thanking me,” I admitted. “We kind of got lucky with the whole smoke thing....”
“Very true,” Kiran interrupted. “Sebastian, can you still get a hold of that friend of yours?”
“Yes, absolutely,” Sebastian replied, pulling out a cell phone and immediately dialing a number.
“We're going to need to meet. Tonight. And tell him that Avalon must come. I will not let Eden destroy a hundred plus lives tomorrow morning because of her stubborn unwillingness to help,” Kiran commanded.
I looked at him, truly hurt by his words, but he responded with only a glance of mild disgust. Then he turned to Talbott and gave quiet instructions about what to do with Rosalind.
I fell silent, reluctant to argue with Kiran and not ready to admit to myself the truth of what would happen tomorrow morning. There was hope in meeting Avalon tonight, and in being reunited with him, but unless I could get the magic back, hope meant nothing at the cost of so many lives.
Talbott led Rosalind away, and Sebastian took my arm, guiding me back to Kiran's room. I leaned on him, exhausted from the day already. How could I have let things get so bad?
“Did you call Titus?” I whispered.
We were walking up the stairs to Kiran's room. Sebastian put his arm around me, holding me tightly to him. Kiran followed silently after us. Even without my own magic, I could feel his angry electricity swirling around the stairwell. I was too afraid of him to even turn around, so I snuggled closer to Sebastian, letting his friendly presence shield me from more royal wrath.
“Yes, they will meet us tonight,” he whispered back, his tone thick and serious. “Eden, you have to get your magic back. No more messing around, all right?”
“All right,” I agreed, although I no longer needed convincing. “I'm sorry for all of this,” I apologized to Sebastian because he was the only one who could hear me right now. He kissed the top of my head and deposited me into Kiran's room, staying outside to speak quietly with Kiran.
I sat down on the edge of Kiran's bed and felt myself crumble from the weight of my role. Lives were at stake, a hundred lives, with a countdown clock ticking away the precious last minutes of their existence. I put my hope in Avalon, and seeing him. Surely our twin connection would make the process smooth and quick. He was able to get his magic back from me. I would be able to do the same. And I would return in the morning to offer my magic again for the safety of my people. Only this time, I would be offering more than my magic. I was offering my obedience, my loyalty, to a king that would use me for his monstrous intentions. I would not be martyred. I would not be given an easy way out. Whatever Lucan manipulated me into doing for him, I would have to live with the consequences for the rest of my life.

Rachel

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16 comments:

  1. Amazing! I need the whole book though...

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  2. Rachel, you don't have to do this! We appreciate it but it's your book and you should put it all out together and charge for it! You deserve to get paid for a job well done! I hope your cover artist is giving you a discount!!!

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  3. Rachel, thanks for the wonderful Valentine's Day present. We are anxiously awaiting the book. It is not the cover art that is going to sell your book...it is your unique and gifted writing. Don't worry so much about the cover. Trust in your fans to love you the way they already do and to love the book as well.

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  4. OMG! Sebastian! I love him even more! And I agree with the person above me. Thank you for the wonderful treat! :D I sure hope it gets published before next week so that I can start some serious studying. I've been unable to get myself to do some serious studying because I've been waiting for this book to come out @_@

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  5. These two chapters are making me sit on pins and needles for the rest!! I'm so excited you're almost ready to release it and can completely understand not wanting to without a cover. This is going to be an amazing book that I know I'll stay up all night reading. You've done an amazing job with these books and I can't wait to see what other stories you have to share with us! Keep up the wonderful work, Rachel - YOU ROCK!! :D

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  6. Thank you again Rachel! I was so excited to find the second chapter when I checked on your site today - an awesome Valentine's day present :-) Can't wait for the rest!!!

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  7. Rachel love (and at this time I mean love for your writing and brain) I can't believe you are only 28. You so have hooked me on your wonderful imagination. I have to honestly say, if it came out as expected I would be sulking that it is over. In honestly it makes it last a little longer with knowledge of what is to happen. You are hitting it out of the park with the curve balls that have been thrown to you.
    ThankYou

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  8. OH MY GOODNESS!!! My heart was breaking for Lilly!!! AHHH!! I cannot wait to read this book in it's entirety.. it's going to be so awesome!!!

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  9. Rachel - thank you for creating this world that we just can't get enough of. I can't wait to read the rest of the book!!

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  10. I'm not sure what was better; the big bunch of lillies and roses from my fiance or getting to read the second chapter. Loved it.

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  11. Rachel- You have an extraordinary gift and I love your writing! Im so elated with the character that Sebastian has become! I almost want him to get together with Eden, almost... I can not wait until the rest of the book comes out! I have been checking multiple times a day for the past month!! I tried to explain this story to my fiance and he just couldnt get it! I'm going to force him to read it one day! Im so glad that you have such a strong following through your blog and the dedicated readers on amazon.com. I love being able to express how I feel with other readers and get their prospective. I was so disappointed (shocked mostly, now that I reflect on the first time I read it) at first with Kiran and Eden not being together at the end of the last book, but after re-reading it a couple of times, Jericho is a much stronger man for Eden. I know I'm rambling, but you are so talented and you elicit such strong emotions from your readers. You have created such wonderful characters, I will be so sad to see it come to an end, but happy to see their journey resolved!

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  12. Love it seriously cant wait to read it all !!! I really want Kiran to make things ok again !!!

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  13. Thank you, thank you! Can't wait to read the rest!!! :)

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  14. Thank you for writing your awesome books. They had all the best elements of Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet, combined with action, adventure, and magic. I could hardly ask for more. I loved the three books I have read. However, I am going crazy trying to find Endless Magic on the Nook ebooks. I can only find it on amazon for Kindle. I must find out how it ends!
    Thanks!

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