Chapter 28

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Athens

Neoshad raised a Saffron flowers up to his face. His asymmetrical face practically beamed at the presence of the pedals beneath his chin. He smelled it soothingly, with a calming smile that could melt the heart away.

Keveh walked out of the forest brush with a white haired girl grappled by the arm. He flung her in front of Neoshad. Her hair was covered with a hard layer of dirt and mud. The once lustrous silk tunic was muddled with blood and dust from her struggle. A curved golden blade was lodged deep into her abdomen, blocking any use of her powers.

Keveh said, "there was another deviant with her."

Neoshad raised an eyebrow, "are you sure?"

Keveh nodded, "I decapitated him. I couldn't kill him without your permission."

"Yes, that won't be necessary." Neoshad raised up his bracelet. The light energy within the crystal didn't stir, "this is so odd. I'm not detecting another deviant in the city."

"Let me go," she yelled kneeling up at him. A sickle of purple blood sprayed out from her lips. It splattered beneath her, sprinkling the tulips with her violet deviant blood. "I already told you, I don't know who she was or where she went! I'm useless to you, just let me go!"

Neoshad leaned closer to her, "useless? A deviant? Nonsense. The Asha order always has a need for concubines." He pinched her cheeks, "would you like that? To be imprisoned in a tower and breed deviant soldiers like cattle? Only women can pass deviant blood to their children, there are plenty of nobles that would love to own you."

Her eyes watered, "What do you want from me? I'm bound to this city, I can't be anyone's slave."

He stepped back from her and smiled. "True, but that still that puts me in quite a predicament. Your mark kills you the moment you leave Athens or someone else removes the mark. So when the Persians come, how can we be sure you don't oppose my people?"

Castor's voice croaked, "I swear to you, I only wish to live. I won't fight the Persians if you leave me here. I've only just been given freedom after a lifetime of torment. I don't want to die, never feeling what freedom is like!"

Keveh gave off a low growl, "if you ask me, Greeks here value freedom far too much. Such mindsets are poisonous. You're better off dead."

Castor slammed her fist into the grass. Flower pedals gusted into the wind. "I am not a tool! I am not an animal you can cast out to the slaughter! I am begging you, show mercy! Just let me live life free!"

Keveh said, "us deviants are natural slaves. Don't lament over it."

Castor looked over to Neoshad with desperate eyes, "please. I won't oppose your people."

Neoshad kneeled down and patted her like a pet. "Oh, don't fret little one. I'll spare your life, but only because you've helped me find what I'm looking for."

Neoshad straightened up and took a few methodical steps around her. She looked back at him with dim eyes, and he smiled as he circled behind.

He unsheathed his knife. It was a wavy dagger, meant to outline the shape of a living flame. A crystal was lodged into the hilt of its handle. It glowed white as he pointed the knifepoint to Castor's back.

Aura from his knife flowed onto the seal, shifting energy into Castor's body. Fire seeped through her veins while shock trickled across every part of her body. Saying it was painful was an understatement. It felt like needles were piecing through every centimeter of her skin. It took minutes before the foul pain ended, and she collapsed to the ground in a coughing fit.

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