Mekhi welcomed Arya and her companions into the Red Towers. Dax had sent word and asked that he aid them in any way they needed. He showed them preceptor Nyx’s chambers and Arya’s blood had an adverse reaction to being in that room. It felt as if it were trying to claw its way out of her veins to get away.
“Any word from Ihsan?” Arya asked.
“No,” Mekhi shook his head confused. “He never checked in. I have some ideas of where he might be. I’ll let you know if any of them pan out.”
Arya nodded. She followed the trail of dried blood from Nyx’s bed to the wall on the far side of his room. It disappeared behind the wall. She traced the surface of the wall with her fingers before finding what she was looking for, a loose brick. She pushed it in and a hidden door opened. Rayu, Lumi, Jax, Zahn and Mekhi all followed her into the hidden room beyond. There were wall-to-wall weapons from floor to ceiling and another wooden door leading to a tunnel beneath the Red Towers.
“Have you ever been in these tunnels?” Arya asked.
“No,” Mekhi shook his head. “When Malich bought the place, he bought it as is.”
“So then you would have no clue if something already resided down here.”
Again he shook his head. The tunnel was dark and cold. There were fire lamps along the corridors every fifteen feet or so and they lit each one until they came to a room. It was vast and dark, with crumbling stone pillars holding up the ceiling. The ceiling doubled as the floor of the first level of the Red Towers.
A soft whisper filled the room and they all unsheathed their swords. The whispers echoed and Arya could swear the shadows around them were moving. “The shadows,” Arya whispered.
Mekhi followed her gaze and they all watched as the shadows moved about before coming to rest around a tall figure donning a black cloak. He was bald, eyes the color of blood with sharp teeth and he was still covered in preceptor Nyx’s blood.
They all spread out, flanking the stranger on all sides and slowly closed in on him. He knelt, whispering to himself. They weren’t sure if he even knew they were there. He didn’t seem to.
It wasn’t until they were a few feet away from him that the whispering stopped. His eyes slowly slid to Arya and he stared at her as if she were the only one in the room. “I can smell your blood,” he hissed. “Seelie Regina, Seelie Regina, Seelie Reginaaa…”
Arya knew many tongues, but this one was hard to place. “Why did you come here?” She asked. He laughed maniacally then lifted a bony finger and pointed it at her. “What is it that you want and why did you kill my friend?”
“Seelie Regina, Seelie Regina, Seelie Reginaaa…” he sang. It was a very creepy, very disturbing song. “The preceptor’s blood taste like the finest wine.”
“You still haven’t answered my question. Why are you here?”
Again he points his bony finger at Arya, “Lord Balor wants, Balor wants, Balor wantsssss…”
“Balor?” Arya frowned. The name didn’t ring any bells, but Mekhi stiffened. He looked frightened. “Preceptor?”
“Balor is the God of death,” Mekhi informed her.
“What does the God of death want with me?”
“It belongs to him,” the creature hissed.
“I beg to differ,” Arya replied. “If he wanted my soul so badly, he should’ve held onto it when he had the chance.”
The creature roared, flinging itself at Arya, disappearing into the shadows and reappearing as she could. One minute it was all over…everywhere, and then it was nowhere. It appeared and drew blood with fingernails like razors before disappearing again.
“Holy Gods!” Zahn gasped.
“I need light!” Arya shouted.
Lumi tried to light a sconce and was thrown across the room at the same time Jax was flung into a pillar. Whatever this creature was, he was far more powerful than Arya expected. Objects moved and crashed into them, razor fingers slashed, sharp teeth tore flesh and shadows tugged at their feet, holding them in place.
Just when Arya thought it couldn’t get any worse, the damn thing multiplied. There was thousandsof him. “It was nice knowing you all,” Zahn laughed. They knew this would probably be a death sentence, but they never expected this. This was far beyond anyone’s imagination.
They braced for whatever came when a bright light erupted in the room, eating away at all of the shadows until only one remained. Arya used her hand to shield herself from the light. She could make out several figures, but she couldn’t see them clearly.
One of the figures tossed something around the creature’s neck and he roared in pain. The light dimmed but it took a moment for Arya’s eyes to adjust before she could see again. Soldiers dressed from head to toe in white, armed to the teeth, had the creature in chains. “Who are you?” Arya asked.
“Part of the royal army of the Seelie Court,” one of the soldiers replied. “I am General Evander Kale.”
“We are in your debt general, but where is the rest of your army? This creature has killed many.”
“This creatureis not alone. There are others and the rest of my army is scattered I presume. Or dead.”
“I beg your pardon, but did you say Seelie Court?” Lumi asked. The General nodded. “Arya, isn’t that where your family is from?”
The General’s head whipped to Arya. “You’re from the Seelie Court?”
“I’ve been told, yes, but the source isn’t exactly reliable since she slit my throat and left me for dead.”
Evander eyed Arya carefully, before motioning for one of his men to take the creature away. “For hundreds of years these creatures have been locked away, their God Balor banished to the plane of lost souls. If these creatures have returned then their God isn’t far. We should move.”
“The creature told me Balor wants my soul,” Arya confided. “He kept saying Seelie Regina. Do you know what that means or what language that is?”
“I’m sorry, I can’t place it, but if Balor wants your soul then he won’t stop until he collects it.”
“Would you happen to know whyhe’d want my soul by any chance?”
“Your guess is as good as mine,” Evander shrugged. “Would one of you mind pointing me in the direction of Malich Jarrah?” Everyone looked to Arya who gave a terribly curtsey. She’d work on that later. “You know him?”
“Knowhim?” Arya huffed a laugh, “I’m his betrothed General.”ns 22.214.171.124da2