Chapter 8

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Chapter 8

Reality hit me in the face like a flood of water.

It was cold, icy, and impossible to bear.

I woke with a scream.

"Heavens," someone cursed. "The feline wakes."

Anyone who dared to pour water on me and call me feline deserved to be bashed in the head, but I didn't say anything because a light blinded my eyes.

I stood groggily, wiping the water from my eyes. There was a blurry figure standing outside the bars. He wore a simple tunic and trousers, but attached to his belt were several sheathed knives.

His face was unmasked, and I was met with Ezra's rugged features.

"What do you want with us?" I asked -- I should have been angry, but I could feel nothing. Ezra had betrayed us, called the bandits to capture us.

But this darkness still had such an effect on me. This was the Shadow's power.

Ezra instructed the guard to open the cell. He beckoned me forward.

I stayed right where I was and glared at him.

He stared me down, hand outstretched, but still I did not move. Past him, my vision cleared to see that the others were not in their chambers. "What have you done with them?"

"They are waiting for you," Ezra said. "Now get moving." He turned without giving me a second glance, and I resigned to follow him. Before I left, the guard fastened chains around my wrists.

Eden's personality emerged from me in one split second in which I smiled at the guard and said, "Don't worry about the chains, youngling. I can break them anyway."

Every bone in my body cringed in mortification. Eden, shut up!

In my mind, I could see her turn her posh Norian nose up at me and walk out of my reach to leave me with her mess.

The guard looked warily at Ezra, who simply shook his head, like he knew I couldn't do anything -- which was absolutely correct. I followed him down a narrow passageway and into a vast crystal room with stalactites embedded into the high ceiling. I stopped abruptly and stared at it in shock.

Dozens of men and women milled about, packing supplies and sorting weapons. But it wasn't the humans that shocked me.

It was the magical creatures.

Nymphs, satyrs, gorgons, fairies, and other creatures of all kinds spread about the room, free and unbound.

"What is this?" I asked in astonishment. We were in the Askareven Range, between two slaveholding countries, Balua and Drush. So how was this possible?

"Welcome to the Underground," Ezra said. He did not look at me. "The rebels of Etheia. Freedom fighters. Call us what you will." He tugged my chains roughly and directed me through another tunnel. A tall, lanky boy peered at me oddly before avoiding my gaze like all the others. It was as if I were a poisonous item.

We entered another room laden with weapons along the crystal wall. A nymph with glittering stones for skin -- an oread -- saw Ezra and said, "Master, there is something--" She stopped immediately when she saw me. The nymph turned abruptly and headed into another room.

"See how they fear you," Ezra said. He now looked at me, and there was an accusing tone in his hazel eyes. "See what you have done."

"I would appreciate," I said through my teeth, "knowing what I have done to wrong these people."

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