Eden raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything. Instead she nodded her head, indicating they keep walking under the dark of the trees. If there were any soul eaters lurking about surely it would be here. Finally she sighed. “And what do you mean by that?” she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
“You were a soul eater once. You know what it’s like… to be missing a piece of your humanity. When you look at me, you’re not desperately searching my eyes for more or flinching every time I say something. Being around Tobe… even Noah… it’s exhausting.”
“OK.” Eden nodded. She understood. “So what can I do you for?”
He shrugged. “I don’t even know if you care… after… everything… you know, after the whole Romany situation…”
She stumbled against the reminder like a twisted god had dropped an iron cage out of the sky; an iron cage with spikes sticking inward around her and each one had pierced some part of her body. The pain knocked the breath right out of her. She shook off the horrifying feeling. “Just say what you need to say.”
“I think I have a psychic connection with the soul eater who took a piece of my soul.”
This time Eden did stop. Stunned. She turned and faced him, her lips parted in surprise. Is that even possible? “How… wha-”
Cam shrugged again. She was beginning to find the gesture annoying. “I’ve never heard of it… of someone having a psychic link to their attacker. Maybe it’s an anomaly or…”
Her brows creased. “Or… you… you’re a psychic. Like… Chris… just a different kind of psychic.”
“Tobe’s dad is more of an empath.”
“Yeah well, Cam, if what you’re saying is right you’re a frickin’ psychic.” She grinned now, her eyes hard and filled with fire. “Where the hell is he? The soul eater?”
He shook his head, his dead eyes glued to her face. “I don’t know. But it’s not just any soul eater that attacked me. It was Darwin Rice. He’s one of The Tribunal.”
Well that made sense. Eden nodded. “We gathered they were the ones behind this.”
“Oh no that’s not the good part. They have no idea.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Rice has gone rogue. If The Tribunal finds out what he’s up to he’s dead meat.”
A slow, wicked and triumphant smile spread across Eden’s face. “Cam… you’re beautiful you know that.”
He frowned in confusion. “I am?”
She smacked him enthusiastically against the arm, excitement coursing through her as she thought about Tobe and how relieved she was going to be. “You are. All this time we thought The Tribunal was gunning for war and we didn’t know just how much arsenal these guys have. But they’re not gunning for war… in fact, now that we know they specifically don’t want these guys going after us, I’m guessing they’d be horrified at the thought of war. I’m also betting Cyrus knows how to contact The Tribunal. See, our concentration has been on eradicating individual soul eaters, not the soul eaters who actually try to lay out some ground rules for the dicks. But… if they refuse to hand over Darwin Rice’s location… we’ll do everything in our power to destroy The Tribunal. You see where I’m going?”
Nodding, Cameron eyed her in surprise. “Good plan.”
Feeling a little smug Eden shrugged. “Well I am awe-” she cut off, her ears pricking up at the slide of a foot along concrete.
Cameron tensed as well and they jerked their heads around in opposite directions, eyeing the darkness before them. A whisper of steel shot adrenaline through Eden’s body. Her eyes narrowed when two men stepped out onto the footpath a few meters in front of her.
“Two here as well, Eden,” Cameron told her softly and she slanted a gaze to check out the two woman that blocked them on the other side.
“You got them?” Eden asked under her breath.
“I could take the guys if you want,” he replied flatly.
She curled her lip at him, rolling her eyes. “I’m Ankh, douchebag. You take the girls. And anyway who’s to say the Neith girls don’t have more game than the guys? Sexist much?” A throat clearing drew her attention back to the guys. “Just take the girls. And try to keep one of yours alive.” They took a few measured steps, bringing themselves back to back, each unleashing their katanas from under their coats. Eden faced the tall warriors and smirked. “Let me guess… you’re two of Cosmina’s bitches?”
The older of the men glowered, a growl burrowing up from his chest. “Ms. Arcos wants you dead, parasite.”
Eden made a face. “Well, I’m a little offended she didn’t see fit to send someone who could offer a decent insult let alone one that made sense.”
At the shifting of Cameron’s body, Eden knew he was going in for the kill. She felt her blood heat with the glorious rush of the fight, her pain and memories fading away as her mentors’ instructions took over. She stepped towards the men, her eyes trained carefully on the older, stupid one. He was also the shortest, easier to engage in a sword fight. While they tried to inch closer to her - the tall one edging around to her left, thinking her focused on his partner - Eden surreptitiously slipped her empty hand under her coat, holding her katana like an amateur. She felt their anticipation rise, calculating by her unpracticed move that she had no idea how to use her sword. That was good. Their ignorance worked in her favor. Her fingertips brushed the leather holder strapped around her thigh, brushing lightly upwards until they found purchase on the wooden handle of the punyal she’d hidden there. The sounds of metal clanging against metal from behind her faded as she focused. Eyes still on the short, older, idiot guy, Eden made a move so fast the tall Neith was dying on the ground before his short partner could draw another breath. Eden and the remaining Neith stared at the guy for a second, the punyal launched so hard and so fast it jutted out the back of his throat. His wide eyes were full of pain, pain caused not by Eden but by Arcos’ obsession – at least that’s how Eden dealt with the guilt of killing a Neith. The warrior’s eyes turned vacant just as his body collapsed to the ground with a thud. The shorter guy, for all his stupidity, was on her before she could take advantage of his horror. He lifted his weapon and Eden’s eyes widened, a flash of the emotional kind of hurt freezing her momentarily. The son-of-a-bitch was actually facing her with an executioner’s sword.
Cyrus had told her during her training that there were some warriors who liked the symbolism of the executioner’s sword. It had no pointed edge. Its entire purpose was for decapitation. And the only way to kill a soul eater was by decapitation.
The red rage gripped Eden, joyriding on her adrenaline. “I am not a soul eater,” she hissed.
He glared back at her. “You’re a monster… just like them... you are nothing.”
Holding in a cry of fury, Eden gripped her katana with both hands and rushed him. She was a blur of movement, a wave of color on the wind. She’d never moved that fast before. In one second she was behind the Neith, in the next half second her blade had sliced open his back, and in the next he knelt on the ground, crying out softly in agony, his executioner’s sword clattered beside him. Eden raised her katana and brought it down slowly, the tip grazing his neck. With a sickness in her gut, with Cameron, who had stabbed one of his two attackers and knocked the other unconscious, watching on blankly, Eden leaned down to whisper in the Neith’s ear, “Wrong. I am Ankh.”
A second later his head lay beside his body, her katana blooded by the consequences of his betrayal. Fool. It was all for nothing. He’d been killed in five seconds… and all because of his ignorance.
Trembling Eden pulled out the cloth she’d remembered to bring this time. Fingers shaking, she carefully wiped his blood from her blade and dropped the cloth on his wounded back.
“You OK?” Cameron asked. Eden knew he didn’t really care; he was acting on the memories of his old self. His old self would have cared.