Read Chosen Online

Authors: Kristen Day

Chosen

 

Chosen

Daughters of the Sea Trilogy #3

 

Ӂ

 

Kristen Day

This is a work of fiction.  All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are a product of the author’s imagination. 
Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, or organizations is entirely coincidental.

 

Copyright © 2013 by Kristen Day.  All rights reserved.

Prologue

 

             
A crisp, biting wind swirled through the open window; lifting the thin sheet draped over his aching body.  The night surrounding his isolated room was dark and still when the roar of the ocean’s waves was interrupted by an entrancing melody.  The full moon shone into his tired eyes as they cracked open at the faint singing; its silver glow pulling at his conscious.  He wrapped the tattered sheet around his body and slowly made his way to the window.  The night sky above glittered with the dancing of stars, while the radiance of the moon highlighted the rolling waves below. 

             
The bubbling surf raced up the beach until its energy was spent; tugging on the sand and rocks below as it retreated once again.  The cool breeze swept through his white beard and he squinted his eyes at the beach below.  With each fallen wave, the glow grew brighter.  Hundreds of magnificent blue lights sparkled within the water, creating a magical blanket of effervescence along the water’s edge.  He had only seen this phenomenon once before…many, many years ago.  It was a type of plankton that glistened a beaming blue when it became stirred up; however, he knew that it was typically found farther out in the ocean. Its unexpected arrival on land had his suddenly guarded eyes scanning the beach.  That’s when he saw her.

             
The sheer white fabric of her flowing dress drifted in the breeze as she glided in a wide circle, dancing and spinning with a power he could feel down in the core of his tired soul.  She was spellbinding and beautiful - and deadly.  The captivating symphony of her voice cascaded down the stone walls of his prison and whirled around the crescent-shaped beach below.  Her wild, curly dark hair was accentuated by streaks of silver as it blew around her pale face.  Eyes closed, her skin shimmered silver in the light of the moon above while she continued her trancelike dance.  Loose silver ribbons lifted from her wrists, ankles, and hair where they were loosely secured.  They created an illusion of fire; its sparkling flames shooting up into the air and around its writhing center.  He shook his head and closed his eyes to snap himself out of her allure. 

             
As the singing faded slightly, he looked on as she stopped twirling and raised her thin arms into the air with closed fists.  She tilted her head back; her dark hair falling down her back, her body now fully embraced by the moonlight.  She herself emanated an eerie glow.  She wasn’t just dancing amongst the night, she was a part of the night.  The moonlight that caressed her angelic face also shone from within.  She stood perfectly still for what seemed like hours, while the ever-moving world around her continued its pace.  Finally, she slowly dropped her arms and flashed open her palms.  What appeared to be small crystals scattered around her onto the sand.  They shimmered and flickered as they brightened further. 

             
She raised her arms again very slowly, making the circle of crystals hover in the air around her.  As they started to spin, they took on the appearance of a solid ring of light.  Her arms continued to lift, taking the ring of light higher and higher.  A bright flash caught him by surprise and he stumbled backwards; shielding his face.  After regaining his balance, he approached the window once more; only to see the ring of light had disappeared as well as the glowing plankton.  All that remained was her.

             
She stood rigid and silent as the surf swept over her feet and rushed back toward the waves. She swayed gently from side to side and he realized how innocent she looked.  Her small stature was a reminder of who she used to be, but he knew better.  He knew what she was capable of.  In a flash, she twisted her head; locking him in her chilling glare.  The startling silver of her eyes chilled him to the bone and had him slowly backing away from the window.  Amongst the dark shadows of his room, he stared at the long ray of light cast across the floor by the moon.  He knew what her witching hour display meant.  He knew it with certainty.  A creeping cold slithered up his spine and squeezed his heart.  They were running out of time.

 

 

Chapter 1
               

             

              Sleep.  Too often our nightly slumber full of dreams and rejuvenation is taken for granted. The mind and body deplete quickly if they’re denied that all important intermission.  Unfortunately for my body, my weary mind refused to rest; refused to give in.  Sleep was a luxury I couldn’t afford.  When the most important person in your life has had their soul ripped out and stolen by the evil princess of the Underworld, sleep drops to last place on your priority list.  It had been five days since Finn’s eighteenth birthday.  Five days since Nadia had taken his soul.  My nights were spent jumping from reverie to reverie searching for him.  My days were spent in class, trying to numb the pain that followed each unsuccessful night.  Although Charon and the Sons were searching vigilantly as well, they had yet to find their new Prime.  Nadia was clever.  She was cunning.  They could be anywhere, but I wouldn’t stop until he was found.  Until then, nothing else mattered.

             
I reminded myself to breathe as I painstakingly opened my eyes.  My hope was instantly squelched by the crushing disappointment that caused already pooling tears to trickle down my cheeks.  Finn’s bedroom.  Again.  I sighed as I took in the large black and white rendering of a skull and crossbones hanging above his bed.  Although the room was dark, the moon’s light fought its way through the closed curtains.  I ran my fingers along the soft comforter and thought back to the night of our argument.  My heart shattered all over again.  His intended sacrifice had woven a net of powerful love around my heart that could never be unraveled, even if I tried.  At the moment, that love was the only thing pushing me forward.

             
The silence of his abandoned bedroom was deafening.  I missed his voice.  I missed his eyes.  I missed his arms and the warm darkness he carried with him.  The very darkness I now carried within my own soul.  I carefully sat down on his bed and closed my eyes.  Why wasn’t this working?  I had the ability to find Finn in my reveries long before I knew what they were or who he was.  I had been able to find Nadia through a reverie a couple of weeks earlier.  I should have been able to locate Finn easily, but I consistently found myself appearing in only the places we had been together.  

             
I had a bad feeling that Nadia had something to do with my continued failure.  She had the ability to manipulate my reveries, so it would only make sense that she’d be able to block them as well.  It was becoming apparent that I had to find another way.  I put my head in my hands and decided it was time to go back.  I thought about the cool sheets of my bed, the familiarity of my own bedroom and tried to ignore the utter defeat that laid heavy on my heart.

             
A high-pitched, off-colored laugh woke me from the few hours of sleep I had allowed myself to indulge in.  The sun was just beginning to make its way over the horizon and my empty stomach was already growling.  I threw the tangle of blonde and aquamarine hair on my head in a bun and tugged on a sweatshirt before making my way out to the living room of our suite. 

             
“Phoebe, get away from her!  You’ll only make it worse!” Willow was gripping Phoebe’s thin arm; her wide blue eyes examining Carmen as her frown deepened.  Another hysterical laugh gave Phoebe the strength to wiggle out of Willow’s grasp and lunge toward Carmen in a panic.  Before she reached her, I wrapped my arms around her waist and was able to hold her back.  Willow was beside me in a flash, and we wrestled her onto the couch where she slumped over; eyes remaining fixed on Carmen - a Carmen that, as of several days ago, had grown unrecognizable.

             
Something had changed within her during our time in the Underworld.  Natasha and Liam had done everything they could to ease her mind but she was still unreachable. It was if it were being held hostage by some unknown, unseen terror.  She was plagued by nightmares, voices that no one else could hear, and she rarely ate.  After five tormented days, she was rapidly becoming more and more frail.  Although Natasha had redirected her energy to locate Finn, Liam and Ricker were still vigilantly searching for answers.  All we could do in the meantime was look after her and make sure she was fed and showered.

             
“What’s she doing?” I asked quietly, praying Carmen wouldn’t hear me.  She was parked on the living room floor, surrounded by a wall of pillows stolen from the couch and her bed.  The pillow currently within the vice grip of her hands had become the unlikely victim of a butter knife.  Tufts of cotton lay in her hair, on her clothes, and scattered around her pillow fort. 

             
“She’s making it snow,” Phoebe murmured and hung her head.  As if on cue, Carmen fisted another pile of pillow stuffing and flung it into the air.    

             
“It’s better than making it rain, I guess,” I shrugged, attempting to lighten the mood.

             
“Snow! Not rain.” Carmen tossed up another snow shower and glared at me.  Against my better judgment a grin snuck its way across my lips.  I didn’t know if it was from lack of sleep or the sight of Carmen huddled on the floor tearing pillows apart, but a bubble of laughter forced its way up and I was helpless to stop it from spilling out.  Phoebe’s green eyes flitted up at me in surprise, but the corners of Willow’s mouth were drawing up into a smile.  I stood, gathered the ‘snow’ around Carmen’s fort, and set to making a snowman.

             
No sooner had I gotten a good ball mashed together for the bottom layer, than a hand came crashing down on top of it; forcing me to jump back.

             
“No!  I’m using that for snow cream!” Carmen eyed me with obvious disgust.  Willow burst into a fit of giggles and Phoebe finally smiled. 

             
“It’s not funny!” Carmen growled at Willow, who was failing miserably at stifling her laughter. “Get your own snow,” she spit back at me and began to scoop up the ‘snow’ I had been rolling.  Phoebe finally allowed herself to join in the laughter; silently at first, then louder once Carmen began to stuff the ‘snow’ back into the pillow from whence it had been ripped out of.  It felt so good to laugh, we couldn’t hold it in.  After my stomach had begun to hurt and tears were rolling down Willow’s face, we heard a loud knock at the door. Before anyone could get up to answer it, our visitor let themselves in and stomped into the room.

             
Olivia came to an abrupt stop in front of us; crossing her arms and raising a skeptical dark eyebrow.  Her slinky blood red nightgown made me wonder if she had a visitor of her own next door.  However, it was entirely possible she slept in skimpy lingerie every night.  I couldn’t picture her in anything as mundane as cotton shorts and a tank top.  Her dark hair was piled on top of her head and her eye makeup had smeared at the corners of her eyes, but somehow she still managed to look strikingly beautiful.   

             
“Loud much?” she huffed. “What could possibly be so funny at 7:30 in the morning?”

             
“Your face,” Phoebe quipped.  

             
“Sorry, Olivia.  We were just having a little fun.” I tried to apologize cordially and shot a warning look at Phoebe.  Carmen chose that moment to let out a squeal of delight and launched another handful of ‘snow’ into the air.

             
“Who let the psycho out of the crazy house?” Olivia peered down her nose at Carmen.  Phoebe was on her feet in a flash, but I got to Olivia a split second before she did.

             
“Don’t,” I threatened Olivia in a low voice, holding Phoebe back. 

             
“Get her a straight jacket or something.  I need my beauty sleep,” Olivia shrugged innocently and flashed Phoebe a toothy smile.  Even though she had been crucial to the success of our first trip to the Fortunate Isle, she always had a way of reminding me why I didn’t completely trust her.

             
“You
need
to get out of our suite,” Phoebe snapped at her from behind me.

             
Olivia sighed dramatically and rolled her dark brown eyes at Phoebe’s scowl. “Don’t start foaming at the mouth or anything.  I was just leaving.” She twisted on her heel and disappeared, slamming the door behind her.

             
“You’ll be forced to surrender to the unrelenting affliction,” Carmen declared in an unnatural, devilish voice accompanied by unblinking eyes.  Once I dispelled the shivers that danced down my spine, I had trouble figuring out if she was talking to us or herself.

             
“What’d you say, Carm?” Phoebe whirled around while Willow and I exchanged bewildered looks.  Instead of responding, she clapped her hands against her ears and squeezed her eyes shut.

             
“Make them stop!” she howled in anguish, “Make them stop screaming!!”

             
Phoebe’s eyes grew wide and she fought to wrap her arms around the now writhing Carmen.  Willow and I ran to them in an attempt to ease Carmen’s panic, as well as Phoebe’s.  A memory from Tartarus flashed in my mind.  During our time in the Underworld, Carmen had been able to hear the screams of the damned souls that had somehow eluded me and Phoebe.  They had been unbearable to her then, and were apparently still haunting her back in the land of the Living.  Dread washed over me as another knock sounded on the door.  My irritation flared as I flung the door open, expecting to see Olivia again.  Instead, I met the soothing, blue eyes of Finn’s mom, Natasha.  Her black hair was braided down her back, highlighting the black feathers dangling from her ears.

             
“Shall I?” she asked simply.  I stepped out of her way and she glided over to where Carmen was crouching down in agony.  She carefully peeled a now frantic Phoebe from Carmen’s body, and we observed while she pulled a small glass vial of smoky gray liquid from her bag.  Natasha was somehow able to pour some of the liquid into Carmen’s mouth, as she lashed out again in the midst of her mental anguish.

             
“Carmen, dear,” Natasha cooed and somehow held onto her. “Listen to me.”  She bent down and whispered in Carmen’s ear.  Finally, her body relaxed and she surrendered to the safety of Natasha’s loving arms.  Phoebe shifted toward them quietly but Natasha raised a hand in warning.

             
“She needs sleep.” She gingerly laid Carmen’s head down onto one of the unharmed pillows scattered around the floor, and Willow promptly covered her with a fleece blanket.

             
“Is she okay?” Phoebe chewed on her nails and paced back and forth anxiously; all the while watching the now unconscious Carmen.

             
“For now, yes,” Natasha declared wearily.

             
“How did you know…?” I asked her incredulously.

             
“It was purely happenstance,” she clarified. “I’ve come to deliver a message.”

             
“A message?” My mind automatically conjured every possible horrifying conclusion to Finn’s life.  Her ominous tone was anything but comforting. “Is it Finn?  Did they find him?”

             
“No, dear. I’m afraid not.” Her face fell at the mention of her son and I pushed back the adjacent disappointment that clutched my heart. “Come…sit down,” Natasha gestured toward the couch.  I did as she instructed; followed by Willow.  Phoebe knelt beside the sleeping Carmen and smoothed her hair.  We all regarded Natasha expectantly.

             
“You’ve been summoned,” she instituted, as she slipped a light blue envelope out of her bag and handed it to me with a tight smile.  I could tell Finn’s absence was taking its toll on her as well.  Dark circles hung below her eyes that had lost all of their usual fire.

             
“Summoned…”  I repeated quietly. I flipped the envelope over in my hands, but its blank cover revealed nothing.  I opened the flap as carefully as I could and unfolded the thick paper within.  A silver seal with several symbols that I couldn’t identify adorned the top of the paper.  The message below had been handwritten and only consisted of three sentences:

             

             
Anastasia,

             
We request your presence on the island country of Cyprus. Your sisters await                                           your arrival. Herete gia panta.

 

              “Wow,” Willow breathed as she read the elegant script with me.  I was too shocked to say anything at first.  I glimpsed back and forth between Natasha and the letter several times before my voice returned.

             
“Herete gia panta?” I pronounced deliberately.

             
“It means ‘be happy forever’ in Greek,” Natasha translated for me.

             
“So…this is from…” I was having trouble making out the lettering on the page as my hands began to shake uncontrollably.

             
“The Nereids,” Natasha finished for me breezily. “They’d like to meet their future sister.”

Other books

Rise of the Notorious by Katie Jennings
Beautiful Music by DeVore, Lisa
Alexandra Singer by Tea at the Grand Tazi
A Dinner Of Herbs by Yelena Kopylova
delirifacient by trist black
Riders on the Storm by Ed Gorman
The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan
Donovan by Vanessa Stone