I gasped as Luc struck.
Luc spun, grabbing the Origin by the collar of his shirt. For a second they were eye to eye, and then the Origin was flying backward. He slammed into the tree, the impact sending several branches to the ground. The Origin fell, shaking the ground.
Within an instant Luc was in front of me, his fingers splaying around my cheeks. “Peaches. God.” He tilted my head back as I clutched the rock. Warmth radiated from his fingers, easing the throbbing in my jaw.
He was healing me.
“I need you to get up and get out of here,” he said as the warmth poured down my spine. “It’s going to hurt. It’s going to be hard, but I need you to run as fast as you can—”
Luc shifted suddenly, covering my entire body with his, shielding me as something bright and hot hit him in the back. His entire body shuddered as the smell of burnt clothes and flesh stung my eyes. Pain tightened the lines of his striking face. I dropped the rock.
“Luc,” I whispered, realizing he’d been hit—hit with something bad. Panic blossomed in my chest as I reached out, grasping the front of his shirt.
He let out a roar of rage that would’ve sent anyone running, and he spun around, throwing his arms up. A terrible rumble shook the ground, knocking me onto my side. Tiny pieces of rock and clumps of dirt lifted up in the air. Trees all around us rattled as what was left of their leaves floated to the ground. A loud crack reverberated through the trees.
The Origin was standing several feet in front of Luc. “There it is. The great and powerful Origin known as Luc. I’m so scared.”
When Luc spoke. His voice was deep and booming, shaking my rib cage. “Oh, you should be.”
I slid backward off the ground without being touched.
He stalked toward him, skidding to a stop as the trees trembled with fury. Several of them snapped and lifted, their gnarly roots dripping clumps of soil as the rich scent of earth filled the air.
My God . . .
I made it to my knees just as one of the trees whipped out. I couldn’t see the Origin. I had no idea if the tree had hit him or not, but another one flew out. Several kept coming, piling on top of one another, shaking the ground every time they landed.
Luc lowered his arms and started to twist at his waist.
Trees exploded, sending rock and bark shooting in every direction. I didn’t even see Luc move. I was suddenly flat on my back and his body was over top mine as the jagged, sharp pieces rained down. He jerked, and his hands slipped from my shoulders as he fell to the side.
“Luc. Luc!” Confusion gave way as horror as I could see the dark stains spreading all along the front of his shirt at a rapid clip. “No. No!”
His eyes were closed and he wasn’t moving. Under my hands, his chest felt still—too still. Bitter panic exploded. “Luc!”
“Oh, I think I might have broken him.” The Origin laughed softly. “Just a little.”
With my hands shaking, I cupped Luc’s cheeks. Blood trickled out of the corner of his lips. “Please. No. God, no.” Acute horror choked me. “No. No. Please.”
“I don’t think God is listening.” He was closer. The air heated around me. “I think God stopped listening a long time ago.”
Luc’s skin warmed under my palms. Faint white lines appeared, a soft glow in the darkness, and I cried out, remembering what the Luxen had looked like as they died. Was it the same for an Origin? I didn’t know.
Hatred rose from deep inside me, as fierce and bright as the brightest star in the night sky as I stared down into Luc’s face. No. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t fair. He saved me years ago, and now he would die because I couldn’t fight back. He was going die trying to protect me—dying and taking all the memories of us with him. Memories I suddenly, desperately knew I needed to learn, to know if those good memories he’d talked about had included me.
“This would’ve happened eventually,” the Origin said. “You’ll see.”
My cheeks felt damp. Tears coursed down them. My hands slipped off Luc’s chest to the ground. Under my palms were several thick pieces of bark. Sharp pieces. The same that had impaled Luc over and over, possibly killing him. My fingers curled around one of them.
“I didn’t want to do any of this.” The Origin’s voice sounded like lightning. “Not really.”
I never thought I could kill someone.
Maybe who I was before could’ve. I didn’t know, but it was something I never thought I was capable of purposefully doing.
Not until that moment.
I twisted and lifted my gaze. The Origin stood there, this thing that was some kind of creation that had gone horribly wrong. “You didn’t have to do any of this.”