Home > End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days #3)(7)

End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days #3)(7)
Author: Susan Ee

I turn back toward him. ‘I’m not stupid enough to give you my sword.’

‘You don’t need to give it to me. You can hold it while I just touch it.’

I look at him to see if there are any tricks. ‘Why should I risk losing my sword just to see if you’re telling the truth?’

‘There is no risk. The sword will not allow me to lift it or to take it from you.’ He’s talking to me like I’m an idiot. ‘It’ll be perfectly safe for you.’

I envision myself being in a memory trance within easy reach of Beliel. ‘Thanks, but no.’

‘Afraid?’

‘Not stupid.’

‘You can tie my hands, chain me, bag me, put me in a cage. Do whatever you like to ensure your safety from an old demon who can’t even get up on his own anymore. Once you do that, you know the sword won’t allow me to take it, so you’ll be perfectly safe.’

I stare at him, trying to see through his game.

‘Are you really afraid of me harming you?’ he asks. ‘Or maybe you just don’t want to know the truth about your precious archangel? He’s not what he seems. He’s a liar and a betrayer, and I can prove it. The sword won’t let me lie – it doesn’t pass on pretty words. Just memories.’

I hesitate. I should be turning around to leave, and he knows it. I should be ignoring everything he says.

But instead, I stand rooted to the porch. ‘You have your own agenda that has nothing to do with showing me the truth.’

‘Of course I do. Maybe you’ll let me go after you realize that he’s really the bad guy, not me.’

‘You’re the good guy now?’

Beliel’s voice turns cold. ‘Do you want to see it or not?’

I stand in the sunshine, looking at the beautiful view of the bay and the green hills beyond it. The sky is blue with only a few puffy clouds.

I should explore more of the island to see if there’s something here we could use. I should be coming up with a plan to get my sister better. I should be making myself useful instead of flirting with disaster.

But my dream keeps coming back to me. Could Beliel have been one of Raffe’s Watchers?

‘Were you . . . did you used to work with Raffe?’

‘You could say that. He used to be my commanding officer. There was a time when I would have done anything for him. Anything. That was before he betrayed me. Just like he’s going to do to you. It’s in his nature.’

‘I know you lied to my sister just for sport. I’m not a lonely, scared seven-year-old, so drop the evil manipulation act.’

‘Suit yourself, little Daughter of Man. You wouldn’t have believed what you saw anyway. You’re too loyal to the archangel to believe that he was the source of so much misery.’

I turn around and walk into the house. I check to see that Paige is sleeping in her room. I check the cupboards in the kitchen to take stock of the few cans of soup left by the men who were camped here before us.

While wandering around, the desire to see what Beliel is offering nags at me. Maybe he’ll show me something that brings me to my senses about Raffe. Maybe I’ll snap out of it and move on with my life – my life with other human beings, where I belong.

I can’t even think about what happened earlier with Raffe without my face flaming in embarrassment. How am I supposed to look at him when he comes back?

If he comes back.

The thought twists my gut into a knot.

I kick a decorative pillow on the floor, getting no satisfaction out of seeing it bounce off the wall.

Okay. Enough.

It’s just peeking into Beliel’s memory. Obi’s men are risking their lives every day, trying to spy on the angels for tiny scraps of intel. And here I am with the best spying device in the world, plus an offer to go into an enemy’s memories. I’ll have my sword with me the whole time, and it’s true that he won’t be able to use it against me.

I’ll just get it out of my system and move on. I’ll be extra careful.

Regardless of what Beliel has to show me, Paige and I will leave the island afterward, and we’ll go back to the Resistance. We’ll find Mom and see if we can find Doc. Maybe he can help Paige eat normal food again.

And then, after that, we’ll . . . survive.

Alone.

I go upstairs to grab Pooky Bear, then walk outside to Beliel. He’s lying near the fence post, curled in the exact same position he was in when I left. I can see in his eyes that he was expecting me to come back.

‘So what do I do?’

‘I need to be touching your sword.’

I lift my sword, pointing it at him. It shines in the sunlight. I have the urge to ask it if it wants to do this. But I don’t want to sound stupid in front of Beliel.

‘Come closer.’ He holds out his hand to grab it.

I hesitate. ‘Do you need to hold it, or can you just touch it?’

‘Touch it.’

‘Okay. Turn around.’

He turns on the dirt without protest. His back is roped with strings of dried muscle. I don’t want to touch him with a ten-foot sword. But I press the tip of my blade into his back anyway.

‘One wrong move and I’ll stick you right through.’ I’m not sure if the connection is enough with only the tip touching his back, but he doesn’t seem concerned about it.

He takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly.

I feel something opening in my head.

It’s not like the other times when I suddenly found myself somewhere else. This one is weaker, lighter, as if I could choose not to go there if I wanted, as if the sword isn’t so sure about this particular voyage.

I take a deep breath too. I make sure my feet are in proper fighting position and brace myself for an attack.

And then I close my eyes.

7

I feel a moment of dizziness, then I land on firm ground.

The first thing that hits me is the overwhelming heat. Then the stench of rotten eggs.

Under a black-purple sky, a chariot is drawn by six angels harnessed like horses. Blood and sweat stream down their shoulders and chests where the harness cuts into them. They strain to drag the chariot and the giant demon who drives it.

The demon has wings of course. He could just fly to his destination if he wanted. Instead, he rolls slowly through his domain.

The demon is so big he makes Beliel look like a child. His wings flame with what looks like real fire reflecting off his sweaty skin.

He carries a stick with a circle of shriveled heads at the top. On the heads, the eyes blink and the mouths try to scream. Or maybe they’re drowning and gasping for air. I’m not sure, because no sound comes out. Each has long blond hair that flows up and around the heads like seaweed waving in a current.

 

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