My gaze shifted to the Arum. He was a different story. He wanted to hurt me. I remembered that. There was a reason, a sad one. I remembered feeling sad, but now …
He was a predator.
But I was the apex.
Rising upward, I pulled on the Source, and I felt it sputter before it sparked, weakened but there. I turned to the Arum.
“Dammit, Hunter,” Purple Eyes growled. “Tone it down.”
The darkness around him flickered and then faded, revealing a dark-haired man. He didn’t look happy, but he was backing down. I watched him, not trusting the retreat.
“Look at me,” came a soft command. I only obeyed because it was him. Purple Eyes took a step forward, hands lifted at his side. Soil caked his fingers, and I imagined he and Blue Eyes had had to dig their way out. I doubted they’d liked that, but they were alive, weren’t they? “Evie?”
Evie. That was one of my names.
“You remember me? Right? You remember all of us.”
I did. I know I did. I just needed a moment to make sense of what I remembered.
“It’s okay,” Purple Eyes continued, and his voice was soothing. I liked it. I loved it—the sound and how it made me feel. “You did good. Made sure she couldn’t hurt anyone here. You did really good.”
I didn’t fail.
Relief flickered across Purple Eyes’s striking, dirt-smudged features. He was solely focused on me, only me. “No, Peaches, you did not fail.”
I lowered myself, and my feet had just touched the ground when there was a sharp, cracking sound, a popping noise. Pain exploded in my back, between my shoulders and then my chest, stealing my breath away from me.25Everything happened so fast.
Purple Eyes spun toward the green-eyed Luxen, who was also turning around. A man stood there, hands clutching a gun.
“What have you done?” the green-eyed Luxen gasped.
“She’s the intruder, right?” The man kept the gun pointed. “She has to be, right? She just took out the building! I had to—”
Stunned, I looked down at my shirt. It was a light gray color, and a small dark stain had appeared in the center of my chest, an irregular circle that doubled in size within seconds—
The sound that tore through the air was a roar of pure, unfathomable rage, and it came from him. From Purple Eyes as a network of veins filled with the luminous glow of the Source, spreading across his cheeks and down his throat.
Green Eyes spun. “Luc—”
His arm cocked back as the bolt of energy exploded from his right hand. A streak of crackling energy shot like lightning across the space, finding its target. The man’s scream ended just as it began, cut off as the Source consumed him, burning through clothing and skin, obliterating muscle and bone.
Seconds, only seconds had passed between the popping and the burned patch of ground.
I tried to take a breath, but red-hot pain swept through me. Managing only a thin, wheezy inhale, I lifted a hand to my chest. Blood stained my fingers, seeped through them. Wet warmth trickled down my back as I stumbled back a step and then my knees went out—
Someone caught me from behind. A Luxen. The one with blue eyes, the one who always had a lollipop. “She’s down!” he shouted, and I tried to pull away, but I didn’t seem to have control over my body. Blue Eyes was holding me as he went to the ground, on his knees. “Luc!”
Confusion clouded my thoughts as I stared at my hand, at the blood coursing down my arm, over the rapidly churning black dots.
I hadn’t seen the shooter. I hadn’t known the threat was there.
An arm slid under my neck, and the scent of pine and burning leaves surrounded me. Instinct fueled by the Source told me I would heal—that I just needed to find somewhere safe, and where I was now wasn’t safe. I needed to get away, but whatever messages my brain was sending to my body weren’t getting there. I tried to summon the Source, but the flutter in my chest was even weaker. The marks on my skin no longer appeared like glittering shards of onyx. I couldn’t move, and I wasn’t safe—
“You’re safe, Evie. I got you,” a deep voice intruded, a voice that belonged to hands gently brushing my hair back from my face. “I won’t let anyone else hurt you. You’re safe.”
I was being laid down, and the rapidly scattering dark clouds were replaced by a face I knew, by eyes the color of wild violets, pupils a brilliant white. Him. I knew his name. It was on the tip of my tongue.
Moving his hand from my cheek, he placed it on my chest. Mine had fallen limp and useless to my side. As if it were some long-buried reflex, I kept trying to summon the Source, but the hum of energy was faint and growing weaker.