Lighting quick, he caught the candelabrum and tossed that to the side, too. “Always throwing things,” he said, voice thick and different. Gone was the musical quality. “Such a naughty, naughty Alex.”
I inhaled raggedly. “This… this is not you.”
“It is me.” He reached for me. “And this is us.”
Dawn’s voice distracted him. “This is treason!” she said. Terror filled her amethyst eyes. She was trembling, hugging her elbows. Other Ministers stood behind her, faces pale. “This is treason against the gods, Lucian. What you ask from us cannot be given.”
“Do you think change is not needed?” Lucian asked.
“Yes!” She unfolded her arms and raised them in front of her, as if she was shielding herself. “Change is needed. Half-bloods need more freedom and choice. There is no doubt to that. I have a half sister. I love her dearly and want a better life for her, but this… this is not the way.”
Lucian cocked his head to the side as he smoothed his hands over his white robes. “And what about the gods, my dear?”
Her breath came out ragged as her spine straightened. “They are our only masters.”
All my nightmares were coming true, as were the Order’s. History was on repeat. Seth stepped to the side, facing the Council members who would not bow to Lucian’s will.
“No!” My voice came out ragged as I slid along the wall, away from Seth. “Seth, don’t!”
But Seth was on autopilot. He grabbed my hand again. Mark pressed against mark. Pressure filled me and then the cord snapped again, pushing akasha through the bond. There was no reaching him when the power took over, no compassion.
Seth was just Lucian’s killing machine.
The brilliant amber light erupted from his hand a second time.
Screams rose above the pandemonium. I swore I could hear Lea’s above them all. I knew that couldn’t be true, because everyone was screaming. I was screaming.
Seth released his hold, and I dropped to my knees, gagging and choking on the smell of burnt cloth and… flesh—burnt flesh. Where the seven had once stood, only three remained huddled together as they stared at Seth in horror. One whimpered, clutching a blackened arm.
Lea’s sister—Dawn—was gone.
He had done it—attacked the Council. My cheeks were damp. When had I started crying? Did it matter? I didn’t know.
Lea’s sister was gone.
I pressed my hand to my mouth, ordering myself to pull it together. Something had to be done. This was bad—horrendous—but it would get worse once I Awakened. In the chaos, I could escape. I couldn’t break down now. Struggling to my feet, I held my breath and edged toward the stairs as Seth’s back was to me. I reached the steps and arms went around my waist, lifting me over the edge. Warmth immediately surrounded me, my body—my heart—telling me who it was who’d grabbed me. Sweet relief flooded me.
“I’ve got you.” Aiden set me on my feet. His eyes searched mine intently. “Can you run?”
I heard him as though through a tunnel, and I think I nodded.
Within seconds, we were surrounded.
“Shit.” He let go of my hand, blocking my body with his. Coiled tension rolled through his body.
I wished I’d had the foresight to find the lost dagger, because then I’d at least have something to ward off Lucian’s Guards. Not that I’d be able to do much with it. It was taking everything in me to stand, to push through the nearly overwhelming exhaustion that’d come when Seth tapped into my power.
Then Aiden sprang. Spinning around, his boot connected with the jaw of the closest Guard, and then he dipped under the outstretched arm of another. Coming up, his fist struck the second in a fierce uppercut. Without missing a beat, he caught another with a kick to the chest, knocking the Guard back several feet.
It had been so long since I’d seen him fight. Forgetting how graceful and fast he was, I stared in awe. Not a single Guard made it past him. He mowed them down with just his hands and kicks.
One, however, did creep up behind us.
The Guard grabbed me from behind and started to pull me back toward the dais, toward Seth and Lucian. With my arms pinned to my side, I was only able to slam my foot down on his. He grunted and his grip loosened, but that was about it.
Aiden turned, seeing my predicament. Our eyes met for a brief second, and then his gaze dropped. I let my legs collapse. Aiden moved so fast the air stirred around me. A second later the Guard hit the ground, unconscious.
“Nice,” I croaked as Aiden tugged me to my feet.
His smile was tight as he grabbed hold of my hand again, and we were running up the center aisle. My uncle and the stranger were making short work of the Guards by the door. On the floor, Luke was holding Lea, rocking her back and forth as he kept an eye on the battle. When he saw us, he stood and pulled Lea to her feet. She was hysterical. I didn’t think she even knew what was going on around her, not even when the stranger with the scar threw a dagger and took out a Guard right beside her.
“Who… who are you?” I asked.
He bowed at the waist and grinned. “Most call me Solos.”
“Solos from Nashville?”
Solos nodded, spun around and punched the living crap out of a Sentinel who’d made a run at us. The punch knocked the guy off his feet. It was pretty epic.
“Are we getting out of here?” Luke asked. He held Lea close to him, his movements near frantic. “We’ve got to get out of—”
The air popped and crackled. Light followed, flashing over the entire room. When it receded, Apollo stood in the middle of the aisle. “Go,” he said. “Get off the island now. I will hold him off, give you enough time.”
“Alex!” roared Seth.