Chapter X

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ELLIE MOVED UP THROUGH floor after floor, reforming just in time to see Airel's father reach out and touch the Bloodstone. Michael was nearby, one hand extended, horror on his face. The room was packed solid with chanting Brotherhood generals and key members. Some she recognized. Others were new to her.

But Airel's father, the man whose name was John Cross, was not new. He was no longer a mystery, no longer an unknown quantity. The hijacked memories of the dead rebel from Airel's house came pounding back through her, storming roughshod over what hopeful doubts she had cultivated. Now that she saw him with opened eyes, she knew who he really was.

She rushed toward him to keep him from touching the cursed Stone. But she was too late. Everything went red-dark, and the shockwave threw her across the room.

She righted herself against the back wall at the feet of the jubilant demon horde, pleading with El that she hadn't struggled all these years, that she hadn't come all this way, that she hadn't gotten here only to have run out of time, only to be a witness to the ultimate atrocity. She cried out to her only son, Qiel—the Seer.

* * *

I PAUSED HIGH ABOVE the desert, the Sword of Light drawn and ready in my hand. Blackness enveloped the city of Dubai below. The Brotherhood moved like locusts, covering every inch of land, leaving nothing in their wake. The ocean surged over its beaches, and weird waterspouts sprang up from it in tendrils that reached and grasped like animals.

A part of me knew I should be scared. But I wouldn't let myself give into my fear. I didn't care that I was alone, that it was total insanity to even be here. I was going to kill every last member of the Brotherhood or die trying.

I reached out to Kreios, knowing he was far away but still hoping he could hear me. I could use your help. Come as soon as you can.

She filled me with hope and confidence, and for once, we had nothing to say to each other. As I considered my opening move, I saw a wave two miles out to sea begin to swell. It gathered more and more energy as it moved inland.

The Palm—a manmade set of islands—ceased to exist. The tsunami surge consumed everything. Dry ground farther inland cracked open and water poured upward, flooding streets and crumbling the foundations of many buildings as I hovered overhead.

I had never seen anything like it.

But I had read about it. This can only be the work of Qiel, but he's dead. Or missing. This was a pretty big assumption, I realized. The Book of Kreios had revealed no information to me about Qiel after the fall of Ke'elei.

It looked like I had our work cut out for me.

El? A calm overtook me and then I looked, and I saw the first wave of the angelic host army descending. They peeled off on trajectories of white, streaking toward the battle. It was time.

* * *

JOHN COULD STILL HEAR the chanting voices of demons, a language which he now understood. He wasn't sure if he understood it for the first time or if he was beginning to understand it again. They called him master, Seer, lord. His mind atrophied as the stone took over his every thought.

He closed his eyes and his fingers around all the facets of the stone. He allowed the voice to probe deep within. He surrendered everything to it.

There was a beach. It was years ago. Bright sun overhead. The surf rushing in again and again, like the hand of a lover awakening him to the dawn of a new day.

He took his first breath in thousands of years. He opened his eyes.

There were paramedics. An ambulance. A hospital room and bright lights, and he chanted the same word over and over again.

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