Dead of Winter

Page 77


“Don’t ever underestimate him! Everyone does and he ALWAYS surprises them. He’s alive!”

“Look upon this sight, Empress!” The valley floor was blanketed in lava, had to be thirty feet deep. Waves of it lapped at this rise. “Mark this image. Where will you search for him?”

I didn’t know, just knew I wanted to be with Jack. As Aric dragged me away, I fought him even harder.

The Arcana clamored.

—The Emperor struck.—

—Took out the Archer.—

—The Moon sets. The Moon rises . . . no more.—

Was that last one Matthew’s voice?

MATTHEW, I NEED YOU! Where is Jack?

Silence.

ANSWER ME!

Selena had been riding directly beside Jack, watching his six. If she were dead . . .

“AHHHHHHH!” I screamed my pain, my fury. The earth trembled again—from me.

“You’ll share a grave with him!”

“Good! Let me go!” Death kept taking me farther from Jack. I stretched my arms out, fingers splayed toward the heat. “He can’t be dead.” I sobbed. “Can’t. NO, NO, NOOOO!”

“You want to follow the mortal? Get your revenge first. The Emperor mocks your pain.”

I could hear that fiend in my head—laughing.

The red witch exploded inside me, a force that could never be contained. I shrieked, “You will PAY!”

As the Emperor laughed and laughed, Death murmured in my ear, “I have your grandmother, sievā–. That was the gift I spoke of. We’ll teach you how to kill the Emperor. You’ll avenge Deveaux.”

“Don’t you understand? Jack’s not DEAD!” I screamed that over and over. “He’s alive!”

With my mind teetering on the brink, I spied something in the skies above us. I gaped, disbelieving.

Real? Unreal? Just before oblivion took me down, a mountain of water curled over our heads, racing toward that hell of flames. . . .


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