Chapter 24 (Part II)
Chapters 23, 24 and 25 were originally written as one chapter, but it was so long that I decided to split it into 3 parts, because I like my chapters to be under 3,000 words and it was over 8,000. The same format might happen for the final two chapters if it's long enough. You'll see seven characters in this one, six of which you've heard from before, and one you've never heard, not in the entire series.
Here you go!
UPDATE: The chapters will each be posted daily, at 7:05. The next chapter should be posted tomorrow if I edit it in time. Also, this chapter gives a sneak peek of what the romance between Aurox and Zoey would be like, for Aurox –Zoey shippers, and a brief lemon that I think you will love. (I did it very tastefully, like PC handles the sex in the books, so younger teens can read it.)
He spotted Zoey at the same moment she spotted him, and then he couldn't keep his eyes off her- until he saw her with another man.
Her Guardian Warrior, Stark, was lying under her. He hadn't looked up yet, but he would. Aurox knew he would. There were some things that just came to him recently, things about the future he could see so easily.
Raw... feelings surged through him, hot and delicious, and he had to use every fiber of his strength not to run to Zoey and kiss her right then and there. His skin seemed to vibrate against the black muscle shirt he was wearing. Heart pounding against his chest, Aurox tensed, trying to stop himself from killing Stark.
Why was he so angry all of a sudden? It wasn't like the guy had done anything. And then it hit him and he swallowed, fear curling through his system.
Darkness still lurked within him. He could feel it, shivering at his side, ready to be commanded until it couldn't be commanded anymore. He could almost see it in the air, a slight dark shadow that seemed almost invisible against the white...
There wasn't much Darkness in him, but Darkness there was indeed. Energy pulsated between he and Zoey, and he heard the tainted High Priestess's horrible voice in his head, giving him an order: Turn around. As much as the Light within him warred with his Dark calling, he spun around and faced her. She was standing right behind him. Her long, auburn hair billowed in the sudden wind, and her cold green eyes pierced his. The terrifying white bull materialized at her side, a cold twist of his lips showing that he was smiling- in a way.
"You have chosen Light and turned away from me, your creator, your Priestess... your mother," Neferet finally said, smiling almost angrily. "You were to be my beautiful vessel; a weapon of mass destruction- of chaos."
"I love Zoey," Aurox whispered, his heart beating faster as the realization of it exploded through his soul. "I love Zoey," he repeated louder. "There's something between us that we can't ignore- a spark- a connection. I love her- and if it means giving your command up to be with her, I'll give that up readily."
"I know you will," Neferet snapped. "Nyx has tainted you- given you the soul of the human boy she loved, Heath Luck, so that you may have feelings for Zoey. But the Goddess couldn't make you love the little bitch. The feelings you have for her are also your own." Neferet turned to the sky, Darkness throbbing almost excitedly between her fingers.
"The love with Zoey Redbird is destined to be," the white bull laughed from beside her, just before fading away so that Aurox couldn't see him, even though his presence still lingered in the air.
"But since you were created for me, there is a part of you that is still bond to me, and always will be, whether the connection is good or bad." Neferet smiled. "At the moment it is bad. You have not fully chosen Light, and you cannot until Zoey parts Darkness and sees you with True Sight. And she does not know how to do that."
"I'm sure she will find out." Aurox's body was shaking- not in fear, but in anger. He was really tiring of Neferet ordering him around as if he were her slave- which he honestly believed he wasn't anymore. He could make his own decisions. However, his body was shivering in a different way, too- a more familiar way. Aurox knew that if he changed forms now, in a moment where he was angry, he would lose the already small connection with Light, and he didn't want to do that. He forced himself to calm down.
"We'll see about that." Neferet laughed.
"What are you doing here, Neferet?" He realized it was the first time he'd called her that, instead of Priestess. Her name in his mouth seemed to sizzle through him with delicious Light. He could speak her name now!
She seemed shocked when her name passed his lips, but the shock only remained for a second before the evil-joy mask was back on. "I was here to alarm you. Diverting from my path could be a very dangerous thing to do."
"How so?" he cried.
"When Light has you, your invulnerability will shatter, and you will be as normal as a fledgling. It will be very easy for you to be killed. Plus, outside of the shapeshifting, you will be human."
"I don't care," he realized. "I would give up anything to be with Zoey."
"Of course you would," Neferet agreed. "But would she do the same for you?" She laughed and snapped her fingers. Darkness seemed to wash over her image, causing her to fade away as if she'd been blown by the wind. As if on a schedule, Darkness crackled from his fingers, floating over to Zoey Redbird.
"No!" Aurox screamed. The Darkness was going to destroy her, rip her apart and eat her alive, and then there would be nothing left of the beautiful, divine Fledgling High Priestess.
It had started off as a dream, just a couple of weeks ago, and now it was really happening.
Darkness wrapped around Zoey like chains. She screamed as it tightened around her, making a veil, and choked over her screams. People stared at her, but passed her off as someone not quite right in the head, a crazy person.
The dream exactly, only this time Stark didn't have a sword.
And then suddenly the Guardian Sword seemed to materialize in his hands. "Fight, Guardian." Seoras's voice erupted in his mind, seemingly vibrating with power. "Fight the Darkness with all your might, and combat it with Light."
"Hey, that rhymed," Stark murmured, but he didn't dwell on that for too much longer, swinging the sword at the growing Darkness with as much strength as he could muster. It pierced through easily, but the Darkness grew right back, just like in the dream.
It wasn't happening this way again. He was not going to let Darkness eat her.
Zoey tried to scream through the Darkness's binds, but it wasn't happening. Stark slashed three more times, cutting her arms free, but before he could slash again the Darkness had reappeared. What good was this sword if it couldn't even stop Darkness?
"Stop!" A deep, intimidating voice penetrated the beach, and Stark turned and stared at the person who'd spoken. It was Aurox. He strode quickly over to Stark, a determined look in his eyes- a kind look that made Stark instantly see that something had changed within him. "Stop. All you're doing is making it worse. Only I can destroy this Darkness."
"What do you mean?" Stark shouted. "Why can't I do it?"
"When Light combats Darkness, it cannot be destroyed... but Darkness can destroy Darkness, and mortality can best immortality." Stark gasped as Aurox ripped the black muscle shirt he was wearing off and changed into a huge bull, with glistening white flanks, his horns seeming to sparkle in the sunlight. Stark saw the others staring at him, gasping. Some of the red fledglings were staring up into the sun. It was rising up into the sky, and soon they would burn if they didn't get back to the hotel.
Aurox the bull lunged straight for Zoey. Stark's instinct was to jump in front of her, but he forced himself to stand in his spot- for some reason he trusted Aurox, and he knew his trust was correct when the bull's horns sliced through the Darkness around Zoey and it didn't grow back.
Aurox continued slashing until all the Darkness had been destroyed, fading away as it fell from Zoey. She gasped weakly, falling to the ground, and Stark caught her before she could hit her face in the sand. He felt her pulse, which was still beating strong and pure through her body. She was alive, and she would be fine.
Aurox shifted back into a human, and everyone gasped when they realized that he was totally and completely naked. He looked bigger than the last time Stark had seen him, as if he'd been lifting weights. He didn't really want to think about that. He turned and looked back at Zoey, letting his Guardian Sword arm fall.
"Stark," she whispered weakly. "Will I be... okay?"
"You're going to be fine." Tears shined in his eyes, and he didn't try to hide them.
Zoey turned to Aurox, and in an almost unrecognizable voice she whispered something. He nodded, smiling, seeming to understand, and turned, walking away. Stark realized he'd never seen Aurox smile.
"I'm okay... I'm okay..." Zoey kept murmuring, her eyes wide. Stark swept her up and carried her, turning to the others. "Guys, we need to get Zoey back to the hotel, and those of us who are red need to get inside anyway."
"He's right," Stevie Rae agreed. "It's pretty warm out here already. We should probably go with them."
Everyone packed their stuff up, and they all left the beach. The entire time Zoey was whispering something to herself about a seer stone... destiny... True Sight.
After he was several miles away from the beach and had found clothes to wear, Aurox sat down, rested his chin on his palm, and started to think.
"The white bull said the love with Zoey was destined to be," he murmured to himself, almost in a trance. "So if it's destined to be... does that mean Zoey will choose me?"
He stared straight ahead, looking upon the fountain of Nyx and Erebus before him, thinking about the first time he'd seen it and the impact it had taken. A shiver seemed to roll through him as a diaphanous light shimmered around the fountain. Entranced, Aurox stepped forward as the light moved ethereally, fading in and out of existence. He was sure the light was tethered to the Otherworld, and that was why it was barely visible.
Nyx's voice flittered through his mind. He knew it was her because she sounded so kind, beautiful, and wise. "My Aurox, I will allow you to bear witness to what your future will be like if Zoey Redbird chooses you." Aurox blinked again and the light flitted between him and the fountain, seeming to open a pathway, a window into the future.
He saw himself and Zoey in a huge, four-post bed. He looked different. His once moonstone-colored eyes were now blue, and his hair looked different- a little darker. His features looked more human. Zoey looked the same, though there was something much more mature about her- she was a Changed vampyre. Aurox looked down at her and whispered, "Are you ready?"
"I'm ready," she whispered.
Aurox kissed her lips gently, and she seemed to moan, moving closer to her and slipping off the thinly-concealing bathrobe that covered her body. Her breasts caressed his already naked chest, and he thought he had never seen something more beautiful. He watched himself slide his jeans off and go inside her, smiling as she moaned and her eyes rolled back in her head.
"Drink from me," he whispered.
Zoey grasped his neck, pulled herself up and sank her teeth into his neck. Even though he was only watching, he could feel the pleasure that the future Aurox felt, the desire that he already felt growing for her in that moment. The vision shifted. Now Zoey was asleep, snuggled into his arms, and he was kissing her forehead. It shifted again and she was fighting a great Darkness, a powerful sword in her hand, Aurox at her side. Together they charged at the Darkness.
Aurox's vision faded, and he gasped as the light skittered to ribbons, and with it his last image of Zoey Redbird.