Smokeless Fire (Fire Spirits 1) - Page 39

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“Got it,” Ari agreed.

“OK. Repeat after me: I, Ari Johnson, wish to request an audience with Azazil, Master and Sultan of the Jinn.”

Feeling stupid, like some lost cast member of The Wizard of the OZ, Ari blushed but repeated the words, infusing meaning and belief behind them, “I, Ari Johnson, wish to request an audience with Azazil, Master and Sultan of the Jinn.”

Almost as soon as the words were out of her mouth pins and needles started in the tips of Ari’s fingers. Oh crap, not this again. Ignoring the uncomfortable pain that began as a tingle and turned into a nip, Ari lifted her eyes from her slowly disappearing limbs to Charlie and Jai’s faces. “I’ll be OK. I’ll be back soo—”

An exhausting blackness dripped into her eyes like thick paint and the accompanying sickly fumes and Ari gave into the overwhelming sensation, letting her body relax and float away into the ether.

Her cheek was smooshed up against something hard and smooth. Not just her cheek but her whole body. Her chest ached, flattened against the hard surface and Ari groaned, shifting her torso at an angle to relieve the pressure. Just that slight movement felt exhausting. And familiar.

Reality swamped over Ari as the dam broke, the memory of The Red King in her living room unfurling fear in her heart. She was terrified to open her eyes.

“I haven’t got all day, Seal.”

That voice.

Horror pried her eyes open and she jerked up from her prone position on the floor at the warped reflection of herself in the glass tiles. The White King? Pushing herself up with more strength than she thought she’d have, Ari glanced around, her eyes almost crossing over at the warring, clashing reflections that collided with one another in the monstrosity of the glass room she found herself in. Focusing, Ari fought her way through the confusion, her eyes zooming in on the huge figure before her. Not The White King.

Thank the ever loving gods.

“Will you not stand before your Master, Seal?”

This was… Ari’s gaze started at his huge bare feet, travelling up the long legs clad in black hand-sewn leather, to the bare chest inked with tattoos of ancient script, to the billowing blue silk robes and the startling face upon a thick neck. Like The Red King Azazil’s head was unshaven, his long silver-white hair loose and flowing around his shoulders. His skin was a dark contrast to the pure brilliance of his hair, as were the deep black abysses that qualified as eyes. Those eyes were narrowed on her between a strong nose and a hard mouth.

He was huge.

Standing next to a black marble throne that must have stood at least ten feet tall, Azazil was an awe-inspiring and intimidating figure. The Jinn was at least seven feet tall, the largest she had yet to meet.

She guessed it made sense that the daddy of them all was the biggest of them all.

Coming to her senses, Ari struggled to her feet, her sneakers squeaking on the glass floor, making her wince. When she glanced up at Azazil for a reaction he merely frowned and the next thing Ari felt was glass against her bare feet. She blinked, stupefied, down at her tan toes and chipped nail polish.

He’d taken her sneakers.

Shoving down her indignation at that, Ari drew her head back up. How was she supposed to address this guy?

As if reading her mind, Azazil stuck out a hand and she noted that every finger was bejeweled. Guy likes his accessories huh? “You may kiss my hand, Seal.”

Seal? That was a creepy-ass nickname.

Gulping down her trembling nerves, Ari took a few tentative steps forward, placing her feet carefully one in front of the other as she headed up the dais. She didn’t know why but she kept expecting something to jump out at her and attack her. Despite her resolve to be cool, when Ari reached out a hand to clasp his, her fingers shook like she was on her first ever date. Her hand looked tiny gripping onto his, the heat of him no longer affecting her like it once would have before she’d tapped into her own powers. The butterflies in her stomach raged a war as she pressed her lips to his knuckles, darting back so quickly she nearly fell down the stairs. Glancing up at him, petrified at his reaction, Ari was surprised to see humor glittering in the black depths of his gaze. Unlike his son, The White King, Azazil’s features were warm with emotion. Oh, Ari had no doubt he was terrifying when enraged, and cruel and spiteful when he wanted to be (she’d read the book Jai had given her cover to cover after all), but she also could see that he had the ability to feel. The White King, for some inexplicable reason, didn’t have that. He was the darkest, soulless being she had ever met.

Trembling at the bottom of the dais, Ari waited for Azazil to speak.

“You are quite lovely.” Azazil smiled and Ari felt the warmth of that smile seep through her, her muscles loosening and relaxing. “But then if I remember correctly so is Sala.”

Like always the mention of her mother felt like the crack of a slap across Ari’s face. The warmth dissipated and she grew tense again.

Sensing it, Azazil waved his hand dismissively. “But that is not why you have come. You wish to save your human father?”

“Yes... Your Highness.”

He nodded. “A noble quest. One that…” as he trailed off, his eyes flicking over her shoulders, Ari felt the atmosphere within the humungous room shift and change, like the cap on a bottle of soda twisting, trapping all the gas inside. Ari felt choked by the sensation. Inexplicable fear exploded through her and she whirled around, her eyes fighting through the sparkling reflections to the end of the room. She strained her eyes, noting the Jinn servants in white all staring towards the massive thirty feet double doors at the end of the hall. “Have you mastered the art of the Cloak, Seal?”

Whipping back around, the fear transparent on her face, Ari shook her head. What the hell was coming?

“Well.” Azazil smiled. “You better learn it fast. I invited my son, The White King, today. I wanted you to hear from his mouth what a scheming, manipulative bug he is.”

Ari’s teeth chattered as she jerked around again, watching the doors slowly swing open. “I already knew that.” Feeling betrayed she shot Azazil a watery glare.

He tutted. “I just wanted you to be sure. Don’t panic,” he now coached her soothingly. “Just believe you are hidden, that no one can see you. Just believe.”

Drawing in shuddering gulps, Ari tried to calm, turning her thoughts inwards. I am invisible. No one can see me. I am invisible. No one can see me. I am invisible. No one can see me. She shut out the sounds of the doors creaking wide and kept chanting.

“It worked,” she heard Azazil murmur and she shot a look at him in surprise. “Don’t break your concentration. Just move up to behind the throne. My son will never know you were here.”

Shocked but too petrified to question him, Ari followed Azazil’s directions, moving forward and up towards the throne. A gasp escaped her when she looked down and right through her body. Where was her body? Holy macaroons!

“None of that,” Azazil muttered under his breath, shooting her a venomous look. “Don’t make a sound.”

Cowed, Ari moved fluidly behind the throne, placing her invisible hands against the chilled marble for support and peering around its back. Her eyes widened at the sight of her real father’s face peering back at her from all directions around the hall. He seemed to glide along the glass floor towards Azazil, his purple robes trimmed in gold, his shaven head shiny under all the brilliant light created by the glass. As he grew closer, Ari noted the diamonds winking in his ears and the rings bejeweling his fingers. He’d dressed up to meet his dad, she mused.

Without a word, The White King strode up the dais. He grasped his father’s hand in his and placed a kiss upon his knuckles. Militantly, he returned to his stance at the bottom of the dais. For the first time, as Ari glanced between father and son, she wondered why on earth her ‘father’ was The White King when Azazil was the one with the white hair? She got why The Red King was The Red King — he had that blindingly passionate mane of his. Her real father, however, was bald.

She guessed the Seven Kings of Jinn hadn’t been titled after their looks, then.

For what seemed forever, Ari held in her breath, watching Azazil and The White King stare at one another. Peering around, she caught the tension in Azazil’s jaw that said he was amused. He seemed perpetually, scarily amused. The White King, however, looked just as he had before. Emotionless. Blank. Soulless.

And suddenly it occurred to Ari why he might be titled The White King. There was a purity about him.

A purity of evil.

“Are we just going to stare at one another?” The White King cocked his head, for one moment seeming almost introspective.

The amusement fled Azazil’s eyes and the air seemed to pulse around him, like waves rolling out tumultuously and crashing against rock. The rock in question was The White King and to Ari’s awe he actually stumbled back against the attack. She shot Azazil a giddy, impressed look before reminding herself she was supposed to be concentrating on remaining in the Cloak.

“How dare you address me so disrespectfully.”

The White King looked up at Azazil from under his lashes, his features still cruelly blank. “Apologies. Master.”

Accepting the apology with a brittle nod, Azazil settled down into the throne, causing Ari to flinch back. The tart, citrusy scent of pomegranate washed over Ari as her nose missed being buried in his silver white hair. She felt pressure against her skin, like a strong wind was trying to blow her in the opposite direction. Heart thudding, Ari held her feet against Azazil’s unconscious power and tried to concentrate on the conversation taking place. What had she missed?

“…Master has requested an audience with me to ask if I had Pazuzu curse the human, Derek Johnson?” The White King asked, pursing his lips.

“Yes,” Azazil replied calmly. “That’s exactly what I am asking?”

Her father shrugged elegantly. “Even if that were true, Master, there is nothing anyone but the Seal can do about it.”

“What a heartless child I reared that would cause his daughter so much strife.”

Tags: Samantha Young Fire Spirits Fantasy