Chapter 37

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"Ava!"

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"Ava!"

I open my eyes. Everything is fuzzy. I'm not sure how much time has passed by. Blurry figures run towards the wall, and it's not until they're closer can I tell it's Josh and Gio. When the twins pop up, Marc blocks their view.

Marc unsheathes his long sword and stabs it into the ground in front of him. Through its dark ominous blade, black vines flare out like a fire engulfing a field; crackling, snapping at whoever gets too close. This is the curse mark of the Crown Prince—the only one who can use the dark art of manipulating the shadows into whatever plant he can conjure up.

"For someone who hates that curse mark, you seem okay using it," I whisper.

The dark branches grow, blocking out the sun, but with so many thorns they can't possibly block out all the light. He looks back once we're covered under his protection. "I was hoping I didn't have to kill anyone else. But since you had to mess everything up, you've left me no choice."

An uncontrollable coughing fit hits my chest. My heart clenches up as I spit more mixed blood onto the ground. The spell absorbs it, taking all of it away, and for a split second, I imagine it doing the same to my body.

The winter air steams into heat, baking us slowly in an oven. Marc wipes the sweat from his forehead and frantically looks around as if he's trying to pinpoint the location. His hand swishes across the air, exposing a spot in the veins and a fiery white winged falcon high above.

The ability to control a sun's spirit. There are only two beings I know who have this ability—Mom and Gio.

The falcon's flaming wings engulf the sky and rises far above the dome. Its body is so massive it blocks out the sun. cries out a horrendous scream, cracking the ground beneath the spells solid glass base. Marc swiftly writes out the character for barrierin quick movements as the surge of electricity spikes up our hairs.

I don't have to time to brace myself, I can only pray to the stars that Mom will be okay as we're doused in the sun's own flames. Her power is truly what I always imagined a god to possess.

She collapses to one knee and keeps her hand up and steady, ready for the next strike, but this might have been the only attack she could use. It requires too much energy. And it still does nothing. It only leaves scorch marks all around as the ground sizzles to a burnt crisp. Being surrounded by it, the charred smell is revolting.

If Mom can't take this barrier down, then can a reaper help me?

I'm losing hope, again, even more when Marc rises with only a few healing burned scars and singed hair. The curse mark crawls on his arm, wrapping itself around his sword. He's getting serious if he's using the full strength of that curse.

Struggling, Mom clutches her arm. Her robe is in shambles, torched at the sleeves with smoke wafting off her hands. As she limps towards Marc, she stumbles forward, landing face first into Gio's shoulder when he catches her.

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