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Chapter Nineteen

Nothing feels the same anymore, my entire body aching, my head spinning, and joints feeling aged sixty years. As I rise to my feet, shivers run down my back as I can feel my heartbeat, but it is slower than every before, as if nonexistent as it barely beats. I blink my eyes rapidity, my vision trying to focus as if I have gained a new prescription, my vision still blurry as my eyes undergo strain to adjust. My joints pop as I roll my shoulder back, trying to regain the strength I had before Lucretia had thrown me against a wall and I found myself consuming the soul of a dragon. As my body is weak, there is a stir within me, one with a strength I have never felt before, as if I feel light on my feet, able to move swiftly, and my back, my back feels muscles flexing that it never had felt before.

Someone calls my name, their voice loud as my ears ring, my hands shooting up to over my ears as the noises around me are beyond loud. I can hear heartbeats other than my own, ones that beat fast, I can even hear the light steps they take upon the ground, their lungs taking in air, and their scent, I can smell every fiber on their body. My eyes begin to adjust to the light as a warm ray of sunlight shines upon my figure, the sunset coming to an end as the sky begins to darken outside. Trying to open my eyes wider, it burns my eyes as they look to the figures beginning to focus, the familiar face of Kyril looking as if under a microscope. I always had good vision, but now, it is as if I see every piece of him, the hairs that are raised on the back of his neck, the light freckles dashed across his cheeks and nose, every detail of his eyes, and every small hole in the fabric of his clothes. Nothing feels normal anymore, nothing feels the same.

"Candice," the voice calls out again, this time my ears adjusting to the volume of the voice as I try and calm myself down. "Candice, can you hear me, are you okay?" I look to the young King, eyes watering as the sun still burns my eyes, as if I am seeing light for the first time. "Tell me you are okay."

I nod, rubbing my temples as I try and calm myself down more, try and make the pain go away. "I think I am okay," I reply, my voice cracking as I look around to see the remaining elves and King's men staring at me, fear in their eyes. Looking to my feet, the body of Lucretia lays limp at my feet, white dress stained in her crimson blood, her eyes lifeless, and she looks weak, as if she never held any power. Killed by a human, by a human who swore to a goddess she would never kill anyone, yet here I am, having killed my first enemy. It was in self-defense, yet a piece of me knows that it was not just self-defense, but something that had to be done.

"Heka is still here, your majesty," Duke Gravon interrupts, calling Kyril's attention as I stumble back against the wall, feeling a sudden rush of energy spread across my body. "We must find him and complete the task at hand."

Kyril nods, agreeing with Duke Gravon as he turns to me. "Do not leave this room, Candice, for we will be back soon." I shake my head, knowing that Kyril made that bet with me just an hour ago, that agreement that whoever found him first would get their way with Heka.

"No," I croak, "you said whoever finds him keeps him, that we leave the other alone with Heka, I am going to find him and without your aid. This is where we split on this battlefield, we agree that separating is for our own good now to find our common goal."

Before Kyril can even retort, I leave, moving faster than I ever have before as one second I am in the dining room and the next I find myself down one of the halls. Taking in a deep breath, I try and find any unfamiliar scent, knowing that my father will smell neither werewolf nor elf. He will have a distinct smell that I now will be able to pinpoint. I raise my head high, taking in another deep breath as I close my eyes, focusing on the gust of wind that flows past me, feeling the ground beneath me, the walls around me, the warmth within my soul, and the prescience of someone I felt only minutes ago. My eyes snap open, head turning to the balcony where Lucretia had me hours ago, telling me about both my father and great ancestor who motivated her to consume a soul.

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