Home > Day Zero (The Arcana Chronicles #3.5)(10)

Day Zero (The Arcana Chronicles #3.5)(10)
Author: Kresley Cole

I had always been headed toward the abyss.

Tears streamed down my face. Ned will think I left him. I reached the water, and the gentle waves lapped at my ankles. A glimmer beneath the surf caught my eye.

Somehow the trident had returned to me.

As I dipped to collect it, a tingling sensation flowed up my forearms, and light-blue scales appeared there, like long, iridescent gloves. They sparkled in the sunlight. My elbows itched maddeningly. I scratched them, and my skin sloughed off—to make way for jutting blue fins.

I sobbed. How could Ned ever want me like this?

Those cryptic symbols on my trident were now legible to me. They read: The Abysmal Ruler of the Deep.

In a daze, I cradled the weighty gold weapon in my arms and waded into the water up to my knees. To my waist. To my neck. I did not stop until I was submerged.

I expelled my last breath, awaiting the burning suffocation of water filling my lungs, but instead I . . . became the sea.

The weight of my trident made me sink. The pressure didn’t bother me. The temperature had no effect. I could see, hear, feel, taste, even scent through the water. This jumble of new sensations made me giddy, as if my soul was soaring—instead of sinking.

Deeper and deeper I dropped. Although it should have been pitch black as the waning daylight faded above me, somehow I could see. Luminescent sharks darted through me. Plankton and crustaceans tumbled within me as if buffeted by an island breeze.

I descended till I’d reached the bottom of Circe’s Abyss. Rocks parted, revealing a vortex that led beneath the seafloor shelf. To the aquifer?

I was swept into the vortex, then sucked even lower through a tunnel—as if down a drain. Or down Alice’s rabbit hole.

The water turned fresh. Before me was the structure from those pictures! I flowed around the stone exterior.

Swarms of phosphorescent creatures teemed on the walls, illuminating carvings in the rock. The symbols were from the same language as the words engraved on my trident. I read:

Abysmal temple of the Great Priestess, the Ruler of the Deep.

All who hear the Priestess’s call will fear her catastrophal powers.

TERROR FROM THE ABYSS.

This structure, these markings, those creatures . . . I was seeing things no normal human had ever beheld. All my life, I’d been obsessed with the sea, with Atlantis.

I was the sea. Was I also an Atlantean?

Live coral adorned an entrance, each branch ending in a trident shape.

Curiosity driving me, I flowed through the opening. Inside was an airlock with steps rising out of the water. I instinctively knew how to regrow my form, to become a woman again. Trident in hand, I arose from the sea and climbed the steps.

Shafts of that phosphorescent light beamed inside. Shadows rippled.

Ancient mosaics decorated the walls. I ran my fingertips over the damp tiles. The eerie scenes depicted tidal waves engulfing helpless lands, and monstrous sea life—giant sharks, whales, squids, a kraken—attacking ships. The shadows made the scenes appear to move.

Chills skittered up my back when I came upon a bloodstained altar, liberally carved with trident symbols. I glanced at my own weapon.

Could this be my temple? Hadn’t Death called me “Priestess”?

As I eased farther inside, memories from my dreams arose. This place was mine.

I got the sense that my temple was a refuge. But also a . . . jail? Somehow I knew I would quickly die on land, but slowly die here in this lonely, echoing abyss.

Solitude would be my punishment, and fear my jailor. What crime had I committed to be cursed like this?

No, I didn’t care about my fate; one way or another I would return to Ned! He would accept these changes in me. I believed in him.

I ran to the airlock and became the sea once more. I’d almost reached the top of the tunnel when the seafloor above began to quake.

The water was heating. I gazed up from the tunnel opening, disbelieving my vision.

A giant submarine was hurtling down, far too fast to be a normal descent through the depths.

Past the vessel, I could see lights in the sky—as if the ocean above me had disappeared, the water sucked out.

Though it must be night, the sun seemed to be shining. And I thought I saw a sky full of . . . flames. I was riveted. Until that light went dark—snuffed by the submarine crashing down atop my only exit.

I was trapped.

In my lonely, echoing abyss.

The Emperor (IV)

Richter, Stone Overlord

“Quake before me!”

A.k.a.: Jersey Number Four

Powers: Pyromancy, magma generation, terramancy. Can create and control fire, mountains, volcanoes, and earthquakes.

Special Skills: Athletic skill, brute strength.

Weapons: Rock and fire.

Tableau: A stony-eyed ruler, surrounded by flames and slabs of granite, holding a scepter with an engraved ankh.

Icon: Ankh.

Unique Arcana Characteristics: Lava flows from his bleeding hands, and his eyes glow like fire.

Before Flash: Right wing for Oshawa Generals, Ontario Junior Hockey League team, NHL hopeful.

Vancouver, British Columbia

Day 0

I hope I broke Number Eight’s fucking neck. I kicked back in the penalty box—the sin bin—as they loaded him onto a stretcher.

Minutes ago, I’d body-checked the shit out of Eight, and our sticks had “accidentally” crossed. Now he was moaning on his side, dribbling teeth onto the ice like they were Chiclets.

I didn’t enforce just for a game. I enforced for life.

Scouts loved that shit; they were on their phones in the stands now.

   
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