Chapter X

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Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho, Present Day

"YOU CANNOT CRUSH IT, break it, or trick it into going away," Kreios said. "The Bloodstone is not of this world, Michael—it must be sent back if it is to be overcome." Kreios paced in front of the fire, unsure if the boy had what it took to go on, to withstand the Bloodstone.

"What do you suggest?" Michael was tired, frustrated, and it showed on his face. They'd been at it for hours and come up with no better plan than to have Michael surreptitiously take the oath of the Seer and destroy the Brotherhood from within. But that was fraught with problems, one being that Michael had to live as the Seer and somehow keep himself from being overtaken by the most powerful form of evil in creation.

"What if we . . ." Kreios spoke aloud. It was a passing thought, but it might work.

"What if what? Kreios, what are you thinking?"

Kreios rushed into his study and rummaged through his books and scrolls. "Where are you hiding?" he muttered under his breath. Finding the right one, he returned to Michael.

"Are you going to share or keep all the good stuff to yourself?" Michael seemed to be in better spirits, and Kreios was glad for the distraction.

"This is a book covering the history of death, the grave, and Hades. It talks of the afterlife of the foulest, of the undead."

"And how does that help us? Are you planning on going there?"

Kreios held up a finger and paused, thinking. "You may be on to something, and if I am right, I think I found a way to get rid of the Bloodstone for good." Kreios permitted himself a modest half grin, but it disappeared when the earth began to tremble. Like a firebeast of ancient times about to break forth beneath the mountains, he could feel the thin place on which his house had been built beginning to change.

Michael sat up. "What's wrong? You have a funny look on your face."

"Do you not feel the earth groan?"

Michael knit his brows together. "No. I don't feel the earth groaning. What's going on?"

"I am not sure." Kreios went to the bookshelf on the far wall, slid a wooden panel aside, and turned on the display that was hidden there.

Michael whistled. "I see you did keep the cool stuff to yourself."

CNN flashed a banner across the bottom of the screen, and the announcer—a woman with a perfect complexion and long, dark hair—read her notes with a practiced voice.

"An earthquake surpassing a magnitude of twenty on the Richter scale that has occurred in the Pacific Ocean is predicted to set off a series of events such as we have never before seen in the recorded history of mankind. The series of tsunamis over the next few days may, in fact, be global. The president has declared a state of emergency. Everyone in the flood zones is encouraged to stay calm. We urge you not to panic."

The broadcast cut to a map of the world with large areas in red marked as the flood zones. Michael swore.

Kreios muttered a prayer to El. Many millions would die. "We are running out of time."

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