Day 8: least favorite book

Burned. I didn't like what was going on with Zoey shattering, because it was obvious that she was going to make it, considering that this was the seventh book in a twelve book series. I maintain they should've done that in Revealed and changed the plot a bit. That would make the tension so much more real. (I may have to write that as a plot bunny, my re-write of Burned and then the end of Hidden/Revealed) for now, I'm just going to write something canon in Burned. Or sort of canon, anyways.

Kalona

I stood outside the grove, feeling disappointed that I would never again be allowed to enter. That's when I saw her. A-ya. Was I hallucinating? I hoped not as my eyes locked on hers. A-ya ran out of the grove, just as fast as I recalled.

"Kalona!" she exclaimed as she ran over

"my A-ya!" I cried and embraced the beautiful Cherokee maiden. She felt exactly as I remembered warm and pliant. I stepped back and looked at her, committing her every detail to memory. Her beautiful caramel coloured skin covered in intricate swirls of red that resembled the marks Nyx gave to her children. Her dark eyes, rimmed with long lashes, which stared into mine, penetrating deep into my soul. Her long curtain of ebony hair, which still looked smooth and silky, and made me want to run my hands through it. Her hourglass physique, ensconced in a short buckskin dress, covered in beads and shells. She had not aged a day since I last saw her.

"Zoey shattered, as you no doubt know. I thought in my moment of freedom I would come visit you." Her voice was like music.

"I missed you." I whispered, trying not to let my voice convey just how desperately

A-ya wrapped her arms around me. "I'm right here. We will have awhile. Stark went to talk to Zoey."

I kissed her lightly. The way her warm body felt on mine was unbelievable. I deepened the kiss, holding her and being more insistent, letting myself release everything I had always wondered about whether she would ever be back and living in this moment.

"Kalona" she murmured, her voice like an aphrodisiac to me.

"Yes my love?" I asked

"If I do this, you have to promise to not hurt them. Zoey is me and I don't think I can play this game with you."

I paused then, and a part of me wanted nothing more than to lie to her and then ravish my A-ya one last time. But I could never lie to her. "I have to. Neferet will enslave my immortal soul if I don't. Zoey and her Warrior, and consort can stay here, and you can stay with me. We don't have to leave." I said the last sentence as a plea.

A-ya's eyes met mine. There was anguish present in them as she spoke "Zoey without me will be no more than a Caoinic Shi. Would you will that on her on the chance that I would be yours again?" A-ya demanded

I wanted to say yes. I wanted to have my A-ya, but the part of me that had been a warrior, had been honourable refused to grant me this. Refused to say yes. I stood, completely at odds with what I wanted to say, but said it no less. "I could never will that on you. I could never let someone do that for me."

"Then promise me that you'll let her return." A-ya begged

I was torn between my immortal soul, and my honour. I only told her "If there is a way to do it and keep my soul, I will do it."

She kissed me, passionately. I could feel the urgency and the emotion as we shared one last kiss, one last glorious kiss.

"Goodbye, my love." She whispered as she disappeared back into the grove, to try talking to Zoey one more time.

I tried to whisper "goodbye" but the words died on my lips. She would always be in my heart, no matter who her new incarnation was.

Stark

Zoey and I sat in the grove, near an enchanted lake-type-thing. We were sitting under a tall oak tree, with verdant branches, on a couple of rocks. Everything about this place screamed happy, relaxed. But honestly, being here sort of put me on edge, because Zoey was starting to slip, but I tried to ignore that, and the fact that being here meant neither of us were really living.

"Why did you come here?" Zoey asked

"Because I'm your warrior," I replied "you were in danger, so I came."

"But I'm safe here." Zoey insisted. Was she trying to get rid of me?!

"No, Zoey. You're not safe until you're back in the real world." I insisted "I want you to return with me."

Zoey looked at me, and I saw sadness in her hazel eyes "I can't leave." She said sadly

"Of course you can, Zoey." I responded "Your friends need you. Hell, I need you."

"Stark, Heath-" She started

"Would've wanted you to be happy." I finished her sentence

"But what if I can't do that?" she asked "he died because of me, Stark, do I really deserve to be happy? Hell, being here is slowly killing you too. I'm pretty much the death of everyone." She turned away from me, trying to stifle her tears.

I turned her around so she'd face me "Zoey. It's not your fault. Kalona killed him, not you. You tried to save him." I whispered, in what I hoped was a soothing tone of voice. "And I'd still be wrapped around Neferet's finger. You saved me, so it's time for me to save you."

Zoey sighed, still trying desperately not to cry, so I guided her onto my shoulder and whispered to her "Just let it all out"

She wrapped her hands around my neck and sobbed into my shoulder. I whispered things to her about how it was going to be okay and we all missed her but most importantly, about how much I loved her.

Finally, she sat up "I'm so sorry." She blurted

"Why?" I asked "I don't mind being your shoulder to cry on."

"No, it's not that. I should pass on, like Heath did. I don't belong here; I don't belong in the normal world." she wouldn't meet my eyes

"Zoey! If anyone belongs there, it's you. Nyx chose you for a reason, are you just going to walk away from all that?" I demanded "And, if you don't leave, neither will I." I said stubbornly

"Stark I-" she started, but I cut her off

"You can't? Are you really going to say that? Of course you can, you're Zoey Redbird! Nyx chose you for a reason; you can do this, Zoey." I insisted

Zoey looked at me, giving me a look that said I'd said far too much. "I can't let you stay. You'll die. You go back home and I'll stay here and sort my own crap out."

"Yeah, some warrior I'd be then. Leave my queen to die and save my own ass? If you die, do me a favour and don't try to send me back knowing I failed." I admonished "Did you really think I could just leave you after everything?"

Zoey blushed "I just wanted you to be safe. You didn't think I'd let you die, did you?" I demanded

"I don't know, Zoey." I fumed. "I don't know what to think. The Zoey I knew wouldn't give up this easily. The Zoey I know would be sure Nyx wanted her to go on and the Zoey I know would think of more than just herself." I explained "I'm going to leave for a moment, and let you think, and once I come back, you'll realize I'm right." I promised

I walked a sufficient distance away before collapsing to my knees. "Nyx, please. I don't know what to do or say to get Zoey back. All I know is that we need her in our world and that I'm our only hope." I felt a few stray tears of my own slide down my cheeks.

Nyx appeared before me, like spirit made tangible, despite the fact that that's not a description that really helps with anything. "James Stark. You can't guilt Zoey into it, nor goad her into it. Follow your heart, and follow your instincts. They will not lead you awry."

"But, if I can't help her." I trailed off, silently begging Nyx for help

"I do not interfere with free will, Stark. You know that." Nyx replied "But if you follow your instincts, you will not fail."

This was the longest one yet! Originally it was just the second half, but then I added Kalona's POV, because I realized I couldn't write that much with Zoey and Stark. Nothing personal, I just realized I was trying to milk the scene I'd created and I didn't like that. See you tomorrow, KShade out.