“Malachi,” I whispered his name. “Malachi,” I repeated with no response.
Eveie and Eos had left suddenly leaving Malachi and me alone. They moved us to a cage with silver bars that reminded me of a fancy birdcage. The terrain was littered with grey rocks and surrounded in a lavender sky. It reminded me of pictures of the moon’s surface with its barren, grey landscape.
I had tried to loosen the lock on the door, and even bend the bars in hopes of slipping between them, but it was too strong even though it looked delicate and I should have been able to easily twist it with my fingers.
“Malachi, we have to get out of here.” I knelt beside him as he stared blankly in front of me.
Eos had simply stared into his eyes rendering him into almost like a zombie. If we were going to escape, now was our chance. I tried the bars again. It was useless and I was just wasting time and my energy.
“You can wake him,” said a voice—Ezra’s voice—in my head.
I knew she was with me, and just like a pretty knickknack sitting quietly on a shelf, so was Ezra inside of me. I felt her strength since I did my second Taking on her. Our thoughts, feelings and personalities were beginning to blend and bind as one. I wasn’t scared of it or felt it wrong, and in fact, for the first time in my life I felt complete like I had suddenly grown another arm or leg that had been amputated and miraculously had regrown.
I turned to Malachi. Pushing back his dark hair, I tilted his face towards mine. His eyes were fixed and pupils dilated like two black dots. I wasn’t sure how to bring him out of this demon-trance, but I didn’t need to, Ezra did.
With unblinking eyes, I burrowed my gaze into his expressionless stare. At first I thought I was doing a Taking, but before I stopped, Ezra reassured me.
“You are giving him some of your energy,” she said just before I started to release my hands from his face.
I let Ezra guide me like a blind person through traffic. I trusted her enough to let her share a body with me, and I trusted her with Malachi.
I kept my eyes on Malachi’s blue eyes that reminded me of a summer day, but not any summer’s day, the first nice one that was the start of the season and a relief from the erratic winter that didn’t want to end. I felt the air change around us—it became sweeter and blew gently across us and ruffled a few strands of my hair. The grey-purple light that surrounded us, transformed into a bright light that released the different colors of our surroundings that the lavender light had covered in a shroud.
I let my connection to Malachi deepen and suddenly, it felt as though someone had taken a spoon and scooped out a part of me like ice cream out of a container. Grateful pain. That is the only way I could describe it. It was like pulling a thorn out of a sore finger—it made it worse at first, but when it was done, you felt no more pain. My energy slipped to Malachi like a summer’s cloud drifting across the sky.
Malachi drew in a deep breath and blinked his eyes.
“Malachi,” I said with relief as I sat on his lap with my hands still cupping his cheeks.
He looked around then up at me with a smile. “Was it good for you?” He teased as he curled his hands around my wrists.
The comment would have normally agitated me, but it didn’t. “Yes, yes it was.”
I stood up and smiled at him as I helped him to his feet.
“Then we should do that more often,” he said looking around at the bars of the cage.
“Help me with the lock before those two demons get back.” I went over and rattled the door again.
“What about the third demon, dear?” asked a woman that suddenly stood in front of me.
She was dressed in a white gown that draped across her body and trimmed in gold threads. Her hair, skin and the iris of her eyes were all the same shade of grey and looked like someone had created her out of clay. She was beautiful as if she had been shaped by an ancient artist in some distant land from another time with her hair piled high on her head and adorned with looping gold thread woven through her grey strands. Her skin was smooth and showed no blemishes or any imperfections. Even when she smiled, it barely revealed any wrinkles.
“I’m Ebony, and you shouldn’t draw attention to yourself like this.” She motioned around her.
The grey landscape had changed into one filled with trees, grass and blue skies overhead.
“I think Eos underestimated your power, and I’m beginning to question her ability to keep things on schedule.” She slid her hand across the lock and it clicked open. “Both of you come.” She shifted her grey eyes from me to Malachi, and then turned walking away.
Malachi went out first and tucked me behind him as we followed Ebony.
“Where are you taking us?” he asked.
Ebony turned and glanced at us over her shoulder. “If you like dealing with Eos, then stay here, because she wants you as a pet, and you,” she fixed her grey eyes on me. “She wants your energy. And the only way for her to get that is by killing you.” Ebony turned and faced us as she crossed her arms across her chest. “I’m offering you something entirely different—decide your own fates here in the Shadowlands.”
“And what is that?” I asked stepping out behind Malachi and closer towards Ebony.
She smiled. “We can both benefit here, and Eos isn’t offering anything to you. If you don’t come now, you won’t have a choice, but will die instead. Eos’s power is strong, but combining ours will be stronger.”
Ebony turned and walked towards the green landscape that I had unknowingly created. I looked up at Malachi, and then wrapped my hand in his.
“We don’t have a choice, let’s follow her.” I gently tugged on him.
He took in a deep breath. “These are no ordinary demons,” he warned in a low voice. “They are powerful, cunning, and by the sound of what Ebony said—fighting already amongst themselves over power of the Shadowlands.”
“I know, but this one is helping us. Eos wants to suck the life out of me when she gets back, and turn you into a zombie puppet,” I said in a hushed voice. “This is our escape, and we need to take it.”
Ebony stopped, and gazed over her shoulder at us as if waiting for Malachi to decide. I looked at her too, and realized she wasn’t forcing us to go with. She wanted us to go willingly. I didn’t understand why since she was a demon and could have what she wanted right now and get rid of Eos when she came back.
Malachi looked at her, and then at me. “Let’s go, I don’t want to be a zombie puppet and have the life sucked out of you.”
Ebony led us through the mini oasis that I had unknowingly made when I gave Malachi some of my power to a cavern with towering, jagged rocks. A narrow, sandy path wound its way through the yellowish colored cliffs. Ebony didn’t say anything to us, and glanced back with her clay-colored eyes. A gently breeze would swoop down on us stirring up some of the sand that was the same yellow color as the cavern walls that jetted out in sharp angles. The lavender sky overhead was like a tiny ribbon of color that contrasted with the warm colors surrounding us.
Malachi walked in front of me and held my hand tightly. He didn’t say anything, but I could tell he was getting more and more nervous the farther we went. His hand was sweating in mine, and he repositioned it several times. I didn’t feel threatened or scared at all, and really should have been, but I wasn’t. Maybe it was Ezra calming me in her own way, but I knew Ebony wasn’t going to hurt or lead us into a trap.
“If she does something, run as fast as you can out of here,” Malachi said without removing his eyes from Ebony who walked gracefully in front of us with her sheer dress curling around her feet like mist.
She glanced back with a smirk and a raise of her left eyebrow. “We’re here, lovelies.”
The slender pathway opened to a large crevasse of the same yellow rock, but open to the sky above. I stood in awe of the intricately designed buildings carved out of the rock. Arched window, doors and carvings of swirling designs graced the walls of the many structures that lined this large circular area.
“It’s beautiful,” I said staring up at it.
“It should be,” Ebony said with crossed arms gazing up at it as well. “Ezikel designed and carved this for me. He’s an amazing architect, and quite an accomplished demon with amazing ideas—that is until Eos sucked the life from him.” Her voice filled with sourness. “But all isn’t lost yet, come,” she said walking up to the largest of the carved buildings.
Inside was as magnificent as outside. The walls were scalloped in deep arching designs that reminded me of frozen waves, and the floor was smooth with pastel colored stone. Overhead were irregular, dimly glowing balls of light.
“You have orillions?” Malachi questioned with surprise.
Ebony turned with a gloating smile. “Yes, we demons do enjoy what others create, but not all demons respect and enjoy what others make. I have an appreciation for many things, my young Malachi.” She stood in the center of the room that was a mix of many colors pale and some shining in this elaborate room.
“It’s really beautiful,” I said with a glare from Malachi as he shoved me behind him.
Ebony walked towards us with a smile. “Ah, you appreciate as well.” She stopped in front of us as Malachi squared his shoulders.
“If I wanted to kill you I could, but I don’t. I’m tired of killing, taking and being ruthless, lawless, and without an ounce of humanity. That is the one trait we can all learn from the human race—being compassionate to others and having a sense of respect for others. Being a demon or angel, there is no in-between, there are only definite lines and from that spawns wars. Sometimes I think humans as well as monsters would be better off if they didn’t have us looming over them.” She switched her grey eyes from me to Malachi. “I wish to change that.”
“And how do you plan to do that?” Malachi asked.
Ebony smiled. “By letting April Snow do what she does best—she will take my power and Eos’s power as well.” She stepped towards us. “She will do a Taking.”