Page 31

The slave’s eyes went wide as he looked past me. The chill crawling up my spine like damp fingertips tickling along my skin had nothing to do with the actual temperature of the day. I turned, already knowing who would be behind me.

“Larkspur, how convenient you are here considering I have been looking for you.” Requiem smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “Interesting that your ambassador would have two Enders at her side when she is so powerful in her own abilities. What have you been up to this morning, Ender Larkspur?”

I didn’t take my eyes from his, not for a second. For the first time in weeks, I heard Granite’s voice in my head as if he were standing there with me. He’ll telegraph his every move through his eyes.

“I’ve been exploring your palace; it is quite expansive. One could get lost easily.”

“Ah. Exploring, is that what you’d call it, now?” He raised his left hand, the swirls of blue wrapping around each finger as obvious to me as if he stated what he was going to do. A small cloud formed over our heads and rain pattered around us. The human slave flinched and backed away, but Requiem stopped him with a crook of one finger.

I didn’t flinch, not even when a miniature bolt of lightning danced across his hand. A second flex of his hands, and white spools of electricity danced up his arm and the clouds blew away. Blew away . . . that wasn’t possible, unless . . .

“You’re a half breed.” The words escaped me before I thought better of it. And I really should have thought better of it.

Requiem’s eyes widened. “What did you say?”

The slave went to his knees, but I didn’t move. I held my ground, bracing myself for a fight. “You’re a half breed, aren’t you? Why haven’t your people slapped you into chains? It’s what they do, isn’t it?”

He moved around me, closer to the slave. “Tell me something, Larkspur, do you realize the power rumors have?”

Before I could say, or do, anything, his hand shot out and he grabbed the slave by the hair. With a vicious twist, he snapped the human’s neck. The crack reverberated through the room and down my own spine. “I would suggest while you are here, you keep your thoughts to yourself.”

A flick of Requiem’s hand sent the human’s limp body flying. Limbs twisted as the slave fell, slamming into the wall. His head rolled back at an impossible angle, and I couldn’t look away. His death was my fault, because I’d spoken without thinking. Tears pricked at my eyes. The slave had shown me kindness despite having every reason to hate me along with the other elementals.

Requiem’s black eyes focused on me, snapping me out of my spiraling grief and guilt. “We have a problem. I have given my word I wouldn’t kill you. Yet you know things you should not. Whatever are we to do?”

Heart beating so hard I thought it might climb from my throat, I shook my head. In for a blade of grass, in for the whole damn field. “Somehow I don’t see you as a man of your word. Someone who would kill their own father and poison their sister in order to take a throne that would never belong to him doesn’t strike me as trustworthy.”

He flicked his hand, white lines racing around his fingers and up his arms. The wind caught me and shoved me through the doors of his personal quarters. The distinct sound of locks slamming into place rang in my ears. I was on the floor next to a monstrous bed, big enough for ten people to sleep in. I stood, but didn’t take my eyes from him. Not for a second.

He strolled around the room, hands on his hips as he walked. “Bold. Very bold, indeed. Not something I see anymore.” His black eyes flicked to me and a smile curved his lips. “Not that it means you’re safe. I wouldn’t want to give you the wrong idea.” Requiem stopped in front of a huge drawing on the wall. “Do you know what this is, Larkspur?”

Forcing my breathing to even out, I walked closer to get a better look. Names and dates were scattered over the paper, the history of several families by the looks of it.

“Genealogy of your family.”

“Not my family. All four families. We all stemmed from the same place.” His fingers caressed a name on the far right. The Mother Goddess and next to it, her consort. No name, but his place was there beside her.

I couldn’t help but look closer, seeing the places the families blended back together and tore apart. The desire to grab the paper from the wall and study it hit me hard. Somewhere in it was my history, my mother’s history. No, that wasn’t correct. “You have no one representing Spirit.”

He turned to look me over. “Beautiful, fiery, and intelligent. You are correct. There is no history on those who dealt in Spirit. A great disappointment to me that all records of their bloodlines were erased. Though I have heard there is a child of mixed parentage in the house of Basileus. That one of his daughters carries Spirit and Earth.”

I stepped back, sure he could hear my heart pounding. I had to dissuade him of the idea. “I do believe you are wrong. None of his children are half breeds. Cassava would never have allowed it.”

With a shrug, he turned to me. “She is already here, isn’t she? The legends say Spirit enhances the other elements. Makes elementals so strong, they have the force of many. The power of the tsunami was raw, and in it I knew she was here. That is why I tried to kill you. I do not want her to have a protector.”

He thought Belladonna was the child of Spirit and Earth. “Then why didn’t you just kill me?”

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