Chapter 2

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I didn't move until Tritteon's eyes went back to normal and he took to leaning up against the far wall, his arms folded across his chest. 

I wanted that cloak. I wanted it badly. And since he was so far away, I had to try for it.

I pulled my left leg in first, turning my face toward the window to hide my grimaces and watering eyes. My knee cracked and popped like I was breaking ice and the muscles all the way up to my thigh knotted and twisted like a dozen charlie-horses. I pushed it back out and did it again and the pain wasn't as bad. I did it a third time with a little more ease and moved on to the other leg. The pain was equal to the first but I was expecting it this time and breathed through it better. The second and third time was even easier and I decided that I was ready.

I slipped off the bed to the floor, my bare feet touching soft, black rug. But I hadn't taken so much as a step before my left leg gave out under me. The floor came at me faster than frozen limbs are capable of wisely reacting, but that didn't stop my hands from trying.

My unhelpful hands, reaching back for support, slipped on the silky comforter edge and toppled me sideways. I found myself staring up at the glittering chandelier, gasping and cursing, suddenly more annoyed by whatever they had done to me then actually embarrassed.

It took almost a minute, but I managed to turn over and prop myself up against the bed.

"At least the rug is thick," Tritteon said, still leaning against the wall.

I glared at him and he smirked.

"How much longer is this iciness supposed to last?" I demanded.

"Until I have figured out where you are from," he said, still grinning.

I thought back to how the old man, Pharro, had told me to hold still or I would break whatever magic he had used to numb my pain. "So, this isn't some magic thing that wears off at some point?"

He tilted his head curiously, amused by whatever I had said. "It is not a magic thing," he said in a mocking tone. "It is a technology thing."

I fisted my hands into the rug. "What is its actual purpose, other than to humiliate me?"

That mocking grin. "Is that not enough?"

"That's not funny."

He tilted his head in a sarcastic bow. "Of course." He rubbed his bristly chin with his thumb. "I will admit, for a moment, I believed you had it. Few individuals are able to move as much as you have while wearing that brand of Neutralizer."

Wearing. I gave what I could see of myself a once over, but there was nothing unusual.

"It is on the back of your neck." He held out his hand when I reached back for it. "I would not advise that. You will receive a very sharp shock. It can only be touched by those whose fingerprints are already programmed into it—mine, my master's, and Lord Gonreem's."

I lowered my hand reluctantly. I really didn't want to find out the hard way if he was telling the truth or not. Why would he lie about something like that?

"So what is its purpose then?" I said through my teeth. "And don't just say it neutralizes."

His grin widened. He pushed off from the wall with his elbow and came toward me. He pointed at something to my right and before I had time to look, one of the stone chairs flew toward him, landing five feet in front of me.

He did have magic like the old man! Did that mean he actually was human? Or was the old man not human either?

My heart thudded painfully as he passed the chair and kept coming toward me. I tried to get up so I could feel like defending myself was an option, but the ice had settled into my knees again, locking them up. I wouldn't have time to break through it. I closed my eyes and balled my fists, ready to swing.

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