Auren finds a way to escape the pain of her torture, but when Makari realizes it’s preventing him from “cleansing” her, he finds ways of randomizing the pain to keep her present. Still, she does not succumb to the torment.
When Makari can’t get through to her, he decides Drevin, the emperor of the Galvadi, is right. Auren is the delohi-saqu. Now Makari is no longer concerned with cleansing her because the delohi-saqu cannot be cleansed. He resorts to more sadistic methods to extract information about the Coalition. If Auren can’t resist, her friends and hundreds of innocent people will die.
“The shadow people are the biggest liars of all,” Makari said, softly.
His tone wasn’t unkind, but I didn’t want to hear anymore. I wanted to dissolve back into my world, so I tried to take my hand back. He held it firmly, caressing my knuckles with his thumb. I felt something stir inside me. My breath quickened, and my desire to kiss him returned. He was doing it on purpose, I realized, attempting to distract me so I would focus solely on him. I was tempted. I wanted nothing more than to bury myself in him and let him be my world.
Stop it, I scolded myself. “No, they know everything. They know my father can save me.”
Makari tucked my hand back under my torso, then lifted my shirt so my back was exposed. “Please, Auren. Try to see reason. Stop fighting this. Let go. That’s the only thing that can save you now.”
He didn’t give me time to respond. He placed the shock wand on my lower back and pain erupted throughout my body. He was using the shorter one, meant for punishment, and I cried out in defeat. What did it matter? I would let go, like he said, and go back into my safe world.
“No, Auren,” he said, entwining his fist in my hair and yanking my head back so he could look into my eyes. “That’s not what I meant by letting go. You need to let go of your former beliefs.”
“They’re all I have,” I said between my screams.
“No. If you let all that go, you will have me. That has to be better than this, Auren. It has to be better than death.”
Was it better? “Yes,” a part of me screamed. Hadn’t my mother told me I was meant for him? If she was wrong then Makari was right about the shadow people, and it would make more sense to do as he asked. But if she spoke the truth, then this was all some cruel joke and either way I lost. My mind rebuked the thought because, even if the shadow people weren’t as they seemed, I refused to believe my own mother would choose this path for me. I had to be missing something. There was more to this. I had to believe it. It was the only way I could survive.
Renee Scattergood, author of the high fantasy series, Shadow Stalker, lives in Australia with her husband and daughter. Aside from writing, she loves reading (Fantasy, of course), watching movies with her family, and doing crafts and science experiments with her daughter.