Home > The Wicked (Vampire Huntress Legend #8)(10)

The Wicked (Vampire Huntress Legend #8)(10)
Author: L.A. Banks

Nefertiti closed her eyes as Eve's body slumped. "He has just seen Damali, who is a much more recent image in his mind, and he will go after her, a female in season rather than you, dearest above all queen sisters. It is the nature of that line, and we all know this. Even if your hope is damaged, heed Nzinga and keep your faith in us, as well as your love for us. We say these things to you out of love and compas�sion, not cruelty. I also have children and know the terror of a mother's heart... never to want to face such a decision." Nefertiti kissed Eve's cheeks. "Give us each a little of your pain that we may all bear this burden with you. Allow Aset to heal you as much as she can, dear, dear sister of Light. I beg you that. Your son is gone. Do not look upon what he has become or you will go blind from the horror of it."

"I will keep constant prayer vigil," Joan said quietly. "I was never blessed with children before my demise, but I know that the Most High lost a beloved son and wept until the angels could weep no more. The Light will not abandon you. Do not leave us, or we shall never be the same without you."

"I will stand by Damali as an Amazon warrior who knows battle and loss of this kind, and I will guide her blade to be swift," the newest of the spirit queens, Penthesileia, said. "As your sister, this is my solemn promise. Your son will not suffer."

"He has family on both sides, and perhaps... his grandfather's people will show mercy, if his soul is not remanded into the Light?" Aset said with her eyes closed.

"Or maybe he will remember to die with a prayer in his heart," Joan murmured. "Carlos did... he listened to the living queen Neteru and was spared. I will start petitions immediately. Do not lose hope, even though corporeally, they may take his body below."

Bitter sobs consumed Eve as the other queens gathered nearer, each going to her knees to surround Eve with comforting arms.

"They cannot be allowed to desecrate my son's body or his spirit. We can take an army," Eve said, sputtering her futile complaint as she wept. "Both councils, every Guardian on the planet, to free my son!"

"If we do so-we-not Heaven, will begin the Armageddon... and the moment any of us saw Cain, we would do mortal combat," Aset murmured, petting Eve's hair. "And how many worthy warriors would we lose down in the bowels of Hell, thus making our side vul�nerable to a war that will rage on for years?" Aset paused, allowing the reality to permeate Eve's mind. "Carlos and Damali must do this, as you are not capable because of your love, and we are bound to follow orders from On High."

Eve leaned her forehead against Aset's shoulder. "Then why didn't the warrior angels stop him? Why didn't they keep my Cain beyond the reach of Hell? Why didn't they intervene and abduct him the mo�ment he left Nod?" Her voice was hoarse and weary as her arms slid around Aset's body in defeat. "Please, before you attempt to heal my wounds that will last forever... Great Queen Sister, tell me, before I lose my mind."

Aset motioned for the golden healing staff as Eve's frantic eyes sought hers. Aset touched Eve's face with trembling fingers and pushed her disheveled Kemetian braids away from her cheek. "Be�cause," Aset murmured, swallowing another sob, "as much as it pains me to say this from one mother to another-it was simplyhis choice."

"War is the only way! Give me the blade!" Adam growled, squaring off with Ausar. "Together we ride or die, side by side as a matter of honor, or you stand down and allow me to pass through to the Gray Zone alone!"

Ausar shook his head and kept his tone even and firm. "I will not grant you access to the Gray Zone, nor will I give you my blade. It has been conferred to Carlos Rivera this millennium, and Cain, as well you know, has been your Achilles' heel since the beginning. I will not see you sully your soul over this."

"Then we ride with Rivera now! How many battalions will stand with me?"

Two old warriors glared at each other, deadlocked at the Archon's Table, their towering six-foot-seven heights and sinewy girth evenly matched. Adam's long, silvery locks crackled with blue-static charge as his dark, Ethiopian face remained stone rigid. Ausar lifted his chin, sending a spill of jet-hued Kemetian braids over his shoulders. Hanni�bal slowly rose with Akhenaton, both kings prepared to separate po�tential immortal combatants.

"I, who will would ride with you, my brother," Hannibal said, his eyes shimmering pure silver in his near onyx face. Perpetual light in the realm of Neteru kings gleamed off his bald head as his aura grad�ually began to flicker with battle-prep silver. "But have you thought of the consequences to your wife's spirit should her husband slay her son?"

"That he is your stepson," Akhenaton said evenly, his tall, lean car�riage slowly walking toward Adam, "will only make matters worse." He made a tent before his full mouth as he approached his outraged king brother calmly, his golden robes billowing behind him with un�spent energy. "Before the other kings enter this chamber, my sugges�tion is that you think of what you are prepared to lose. Eve will never forgive you-and if you weigh what is in your heart upon the scales of Ma'at, you will find that murdering Cain has been there since Abel was slain. True?"

Akhenaton did not wait for Adam's response as he stroked his goatee. Solid silver glittered in his eyes, and his toffee-hued complex�ion held a tinge of angry crimson that made his cheeks become more ruddy as he spoke. "Ask Solomon to judge this before we mount up. If our wise counselor deems it so, then I will ride at your side with a winged steed of pure Light and place demon heads on pikes. We are always ready to go with you, this you know."

"This you know," Ausar said, repeating Akhenaton's words in a low rumble. "That you have doubted my brotherhood for you carves at my soul, Adam. You and I have ruled this council since the begin�ning... Our wives are one. Blood sisters, beyond spirit. We are also brothers joined at the heart. Eve is thus and will always be my sister. My wife grieves at the sorrow of her closest queen sister. You and I, as men,brothers in spirit, have kept each other's deepest regrets at our core. Your loss is mine, Adam; your rage is my very own. I, more than you know, want Cain's head on a silver platter for doing this to Eve."

Ausar drew a steadying breath and walked away. "This turn of events tears at the fabric of the realms of Light Councils. However, I also want my brother whole-you. And if you are the one who assas�sinates Eve's now evil son, you will experience true eternity incarcer�ated in regret. I owe you more... enough to temporarily abide your fury. So what shall I do? My hands are tied by wisdom. The blade stays with Rivera."

   
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