Two Kingdoms (Page 36)
“Can we discuss the thing I do or don’t have a chance at killing?” I ask in deflection before they all get super suspicious and repeat old patterns.
Gage stiffens against me, and everyone clears their throats as they look away.
“We’ll have to fight with you to keep you from hitting a desperate point of weaponized detonation, according to everything we could find. Otherwise, you won’t even have a chance at being strong enough,” Jude says without looking at me.
“I’m not selfless enough to detonate if all of you are there to die. In other words, I’ll have nothing to gain if I’m not saving your lives,” I explain to myself, since it’s shitty how they want to.
Gage kisses the top of my head, and Kai slides over to put his head against my hip, stretching out and getting comfortable on us since I can’t be pulled away.
Ezekiel stays unusually quiet, still frowning down at the ground.
“Any idea what this thing even looks like?” I ask when no one bothers to say more. “We’ve seen a lot of purgatory and haven’t stumbled across it yet.”
“It’s in a different section inaccessible by anyone not at least near royal level,” Gage says on a harsh exhale.
“We have no idea what it looks like, but we were told there was some pieces of footage from the last battle that didn’t end well for the chosen champion,” Jude goes on.
My eyes drift back to Ezekiel, since he’s not acting right. Gage darts a worried look toward him as well.
“We haven’t seen it yet,” Kai adds, dragging my hand down to his lips to kiss it. “Let me be the favorite for a little while. He’s getting way too much attention and it’s annoying me.”
I smile to myself.
“I bet it looks like a unicorn,” I state very seriously as I sit up.
They all blink at me. “Yeah. I’m sure that’s exactly what it looks like,” Jude states flatly.
I slip over Gage and walk over to Ezekiel before I drop to his lap.
He startles and puts an arm around me like he’s snapping out of a trance before he gives me his attention through strain.
“If this is about another woman, I should warn you that I’m feeling a little bit crazy today,” I warn him.
He kisses me before I can stop him, and I let him since he looks so pitiful right now. What the hell was in the Black Heart?
I kiss him back simply because…I’m a sucker for all four of the assholes.
Breaking the kiss, he drops his head to my shoulder, exhaling like he’s somewhat relieved, for whatever reason. No one says anything as I play with his hair and try to silently soothe whatever problems are going on inside him right now.
“But seriously, a unicorn makes perfect sense. Who would expect this horrifying power of destruction we’re expected to face to look anything less than like a unicorn?” I go on.
Ezekiel snorts against my shoulder, and Jude groans.
“She’s doing the thing where she’s ridiculous,” Jude gripes as he covers his eyes with his arm and yawns.
“We’re not saying we’re agreeing to fight this or allow you to fight this yet,” Kai continues, giving me a pointed look.
“I’m the one with a crown,” I remind him.
“No…you’re the one with a lower back tattoo,” Ezekiel drawls.
“And to think I was pitying you for being pathetic over here,” I grumble, struggling to get up.
I feel the b*****d’s smile against my neck as he keeps me trapped to him.
“Why does it have to be a unicorn?” Gage asks like he’s reluctant to do so…but just can’t help himself because he’s a bit of a m*******t.
I quit struggling and give him all my attention, even as Ezekiel keeps me strapped to his lap.
“Because it’d be the perfect balance. Who expects something that shits rainbows to be the end of the world? Unicorns only make sense if they’re evil…”
I wait a minute to let that sink in before giving them a conspiratorial nod.
“Her nose isn’t bleeding, but I still think she’s serious,” Kai says like he’s genuinely horrified.
“I am serious. How do you not see the genius in the balance?” I argue just before someone knocks at the door again.
We all look over as Lamar steps inside, holding a small compass that could fit in the palm of a child’s hand.
He gives me a miffed look before stating, “Your errand boy has returned to bring what your horsemen demanded,” he says before dumping the compass into Jude’s hand and walking away.
“What’s that?” I ask as Jude starts twisting dials on the compass thingy that’s not really a compass thingy.
“This is what sort of recordings could be taken of the battle all those centuries ago. They said it was s**t, so don’t get your hopes up,” he tells me distractedly.
With a very tired tone, I answer, “There’s really not a whole lot about any of this that helps me get my hopes up, so I think that’s just redundant to request at this point.”
Ezekiel lets me stand when something starts flashing on the wall, and Gage goes to blow out the candles as the distorted, mostly static-coated reel plays out. The compass is acting like a projector of sorts as the roar of sound gets louder.
It takes me a second to realize the roar of sound is an actual, horrifying, steady roar of…something I really, truly, and honestly don’t want to fight.
Oh, I am so not fearless. Just the sound it makes is terrifying me.
It’s like howler monkeys crawled up a gorilla’s a*s and had a dinosaur baby that f****d a radioactive Godzilla…and had an even worse baby. If any of that makes sense.
Chills spread all over me, and my heartbeat ratchets up. I’m a big, pathetic phony, because I am so not fearless. I’m not fearless at all.
If I had a mommy, I’d run and hide behind her skirt right now.
My eyes narrow on the shadow that turns into a billowing, black fog and drives down on something just as white flashes and the screen scrambles again.
A scream tears through the room, and I leap so high up in the air that I embarrass myself.
Red eyes glow in the fog for only the briefest of seconds, and I suck in a breath when I realize it’s not a fog at all. It’s the evil I’m supposed to fight.
Another scream tears through before the screen disappears and scrambles, turning into white noise on a continuous loop.
We all just stare at the static for a quiet, palpable moment.
“What the hell was that?” I demand very seriously.
Without hesitation, Jude steps in behind me and lowers his head next to mine, staring with me at the static.
“Not a f*****g unicorn,” he deadpans.
“Terrible time to adopt a sense of humor,” I say with a shaky voice. On the next breath, I add, “Someone call the angel who killed me. If we’re going to do this, he’s going to have to help.”
“Why the hell would you want his help?” Gage snaps.
I shrug a shoulder. “He kicked my a*s and he trained that champion. You do the math, Einstein.”
No one argues for a second.
“If you can’t do this easily, we don’t do this at all,” Jude says without moving from behind me.
“Careful, Death. You almost sound like you care,” I drawl as my head tries to work out any possible way to sound badass right now instead of a scared little real girl.
I didn’t have these sorts of problems when Ghost was my dream world.
“We’re starting to sound like the punchline to a bad joke,” I point out as I groan and turn around. “The Four Horsemen and The Apocalypse walk into Purgatory to save the world because they’re selfish brats who want to live long and prosper.”
Jude picks up his bo staff and gives it a lazy twirl before casting me a dry look. “You’re a lot of f*****g work for a girlfriend,” he says like he’s put out.
“Agreed. You’re still stuck with me, though,” I tell him as I move to the door.
They all filter out before me, talking like they’re unafraid of what comes next. I turn around and lean against the wall as my nose starts steadily dripping black and my hands shake.
There’s no way they can go in there with me if I can’t figure out how to kill it without detonating. And there’s no way I’m leaving that thing alive to kill them.
My chin wobbles for a second as I suck up the tears and clear my throat, and I wipe away the blood from my nose before I follow them out.
I guess it’s time to finally learn to be a real badass.
I just wish I remembered how I used to do it.
End of Book 3