The Silver Siren (Page 45)

“I am kind of a mystery, aren’t I?” Was he trying to lighten the mood?

“Shut it.” I turned on him and he looked down at his hands and stayed quiet.

Sevril snorted in response. He moved to the table, picked up a cloth napkin, and poured water from the pitcher onto it. Then, he handed it to me. I stared at it with a look of confusion.

Sevril looked at me sheepishly and then glanced at the floor. “Uh, your neck.”

How could I have forgotten the wound? It had stopped bleeding, but now I was streaked with blood and my dress had stained a dark black. I dabbed at the bloodstain, but when I pulled the cloth away, it was still black.

“Blistering son of a scorpion, why is it still black?”

“It’s just you. It’s who you are.” Sevril stated. I wiped at my neck furiously, but the cloth kept coming away black.

I could feel myself start to panic. It was the dreams—the dreams were becoming real.

Xiven glared at Sevril in obvious frustration. He came over to me, grabbed a knife off the table, and made a quick slice down the palm of his hand. He held up his hand and I could see rich, red blood making a fine line across it.

Prince Sevril winced at Xiven’s actions, but held up his hand for Xiven to pass him the knife. A second later, Sevril mirrored Xiven’s actions and held up a hand lined with dark black blood. “Do you want any more proof you are not human or Denai? You’re Siren.”

“But it wasn’t always like this. You did something to me!” I tossed the wet and bloody napkin on the table and went and sat down on an empty stool. I made sure to turn just enough that I wouldn’t have to make direct eye contact with Xiven.

Sevril let out a rush of air and tried to explain, “If you had grown up in Sinnendor that would have always been the color of your blood. It would have eventually turned black like mine—a sign of royalty and a sign that you are indeed Siren. It was only because you lived in Calandry and away from our lands that you showed more human characteristics. There were rumors that the Valdyrstal clan living in Calandry weren’t exhibiting the same traits as us. The only thing we could think of was that maybe the trait had died out genetically. Or somehow, because they were living on Denai land, it balanced it out.”

There was that word again. Balance.

He shifted in his seat and continued. “Thelonia went looking for your father as a means of escaping her own curse. We don’t know if she found it or was ever cured because she died a few years later. But it seems she succeeded in raising an heir to the throne that isn’t…well, useless like me.” He smiled feebly and his hands started to scratch at his skin, like something was crawling under it.

“What about the Septori?”

Xiven leaned forward. “My story was similar to yours. All I know is the Septori—they are my family. Or were.”

“You admit this and yet you want me to trust you?”

“No, I just want you to listen.”

I was about to say more but pinched my lips together and crossed my arms.

“I have no memories before my time with them. I don’t even know how old I am.” Xiven paused and stared at the back of his hands as he held onto his knees.

I nodded my head in encouragement for him to continue. Having no memories was something that I could relate to.

Xiven continued, “They ingrained in me their convictions, their mantra, and their cause for a better future for the Denai. I had no reason to argue with them. They convinced me that they had the key to helping the Denai regain their former glory.” Xiven stood up, lifted up his shirt and turned around to show me the Septori brand on his upper back. “We have to be willing to be branded, to show that we are willing to inflict pain as well as endure pain for the good of Denai kind.”

I flinched and had to look away. It was uncomfortable for me to hear this, making me feel sympathy for those who did this to me. I couldn’t allow my feelings to be swayed. But his words made sense, they were doing this for the good of Denai and the map with the tokens centered around Haven filled my mind.

Xiven saw my hesitation and spoke. “Thalia, if you don’t want me to continue, I’ll stop. Just say the word.”

“No, I need to know what else happened. I want to know what you know,” I answered.

Xiven looked grim but kept going. “I think I was a scholar’s apprentice or something before I lost my memories, because I know how to read complex formulas, translate ancient texts and languages, and build things.” He clenched his hands together in frustration. “They used me to translate these journals and I was kept on a tight leash. I didn’t complain, because I was completely fascinated by the whole idea and process. Of course I wanted to see if it worked. I was only allowed to set it up and watch. It didn’t take long to figure out that what they were doing was wrong.”

“Of course it’s wrong. People died.” I stated. My skin crawled when I looked at Xiven—and at the realization that he may have seen me being tortured.

“Not you! Not Kael,” Xiven answered, a knowing look appeared in his eyes.

“Luck,” I said.

“I had heard about you long before I met you. You surprised the Raven, Talbot said. You reacted differently than the others, differently than the Denai. Sirens thrive on pain, anger, and destruction. Your anger made you stronger. More volatile, and that was intriguing. I heard that in one of the sessions, you actually destroyed the machine.

“No, I didn’t. I would remember that.”

“I’m just telling you what I heard. You didn’t show evidence of any Denai traits at the time, because you were definitely not Denai. That’s what alerted the Raven to the existence of the Sirens here in our world. I had found the name of the race repeated over and over in the Horden journals. You were just proof that they truly existed.”

“I thought I was turning into a monster,” I sighed and rubbed my arms, trying to make the goose bumps running up my spine go away.

“All I can say is that the news of your escape traveled fast. The Raven wanted you captured quickly and silenced. There was even a bounty placed on your head, but the attempts to collect you kept failing. Thanks to the SwordBrother.” Xiven smiled slightly.

“Yeah, Kael takes his job very seriously.”

Xiven wiped his palms on his pants and looked at me. “They didn’t know he was a SwordBrother. They thought he was part Denai, so you could just imagine their shock when they accidentally bonded the two of you. Now you are a hybrid of the two races. Which made the Raven value your gifts even more. Not only were you collecting more traits than any of the others, your Siren powers were coming through and you were bonded to a SwordBrother. You were the ultimate threat,” Xiven started to chuckle wanly.

“Why did you leave? Why are you here?”

“I didn’t want to be a part of what the Septori were doing. I started to feed the Septori false information in the translations of the journals. Which unfortunately led to more failed experiments.”

“Deaths of innocents.” I snapped. Xiven flinched as if my words physically hit him.”

He licked his lips and continued, “Raven was beginning to distrust me, so he sent me with Talbot and Mona for collection.”

“Collection?” I let the word slip out.