Scent of Magic Page 101

“Let’s go,” I said.

“Where?” he asked.


We rushed down the steps and crept out the back door. I pointed to the forest. Enric nodded. With my heart jumping in my chest, I led him across the open yard, expecting to be attacked at any moment. Behind us ufas howled, but I didn’t hesitate.

When we reached the outer edge of the woods, I said, “Go silent.”

The rest of the night we pushed to cover as much distance as possible. My goal was to reach the Lilys before Cellina and her ufas found us. I guess I should have been grateful for the ufas as they helped me escape Jael, but it was only a matter of time before they picked up my scent.

We rested briefly in the morning. Enric laid Noelle down. Her skin tone was one shade darker than death’s pallor.

She waved me over. I knelt beside her.

“I didn’t...trick you,” she said, tapping her chest with a closed fist. She held something. “Jael...” A violent shudder shook her. Noelle curled into a ball, panting. “Jael...set me up. I’m sorry I...”

“Shhh. It’s okay.” I pressed my hand on her forehead. The skin burned my fingers.

“No. Jael said...Prince Ryne was hiding in the east.” Noelle grabbed my wrist with her other hand. “I wanted you to...find”

A nice sentiment, but I was beginning to think he’d used me to keep Tohon occupied so he could rescue Estrid’s troops. Which was a great plan for them, but not so much for me. Plus I was tired of being a pawn.

Noelle noticed my expression. “Prince Ryne asked me.” Another convulsion struck her.

When she recovered, I asked, “What did he want?”

“Me to go with him.”


“Right before...he disappeared.”

“So you knew he was leaving, and you didn’t say anything to Jael?”

She nodded.


She looked away. “He said something...about family...and you.”

“Are you going to tell me?”

“Ask him.” All her muscles trembled, and she gasped.

“He’s not here. And I doubt I’ll find—”

“He said...” Blood ran from her nose and streaked her cheek. “Said...when you’ve go...”

I pulled her into my arms and rocked her as I used to do when she was little.

She thrust something hard into my palm. My fingers closed around it, but I leaned closer as she struggled to talk.

“To go...home.” Noelle exhaled but didn’t inhale.

I glanced at what she’d given me. My necklace with the hands pendant. As much as I wanted to cry and carry on, I couldn’t. Time was more an issue now than ever. I didn’t want the Lily to reject her because she’d been dead too long, like Ursan.

Enric crouched next to me. “Ah, hell. I’m sorry.”

“Can you carry her?” I asked.


I explained about the Peace Lily. “It’s her only chance.”

Although he didn’t appear to be convinced, he said, “All right.”

I looped the necklace around my neck and then set a fast pace, heading straight for the clump of Lilys. Even though the odds were in our favor, I still worried and hoped there was a Peace Lily in the bunch.

We reached the area by late afternoon. After a few moments of frantic searching, I found one Lily tucked behind a row of trees. Death or Peace? I approached the flower. Nothing happened.

Relieved, I gestured Enric to join me. He held Noelle in his arms. Stopping under the plant’s huge petals, he waited.

Nothing. I sank to my knees. “Please?”

The flower dipped toward us. I had a brief moment of joy before the Lily snatched me.

“No!” I screamed and kicked, but its barbs soon wrapped around my arms, holding me tight while it injected serum into me. A chilly numbness spread throughout my body, robbing me of emotion. The crushing weight of grief lifted, the worry and anxiety about Belen, Ryne, Flea and the monkeys disappeared. I relaxed for the first time in months. Enjoying the sensation for a moment, I breathed in deep, smelling vanilla. Then I returned to the matter at hand.

“My sister?” I asked.

The Lily’s sadness washed through me. No  magic.

Surprised that the Lily spoke to me, I floundered for a moment. “But—” Another blast of serum shot through me.


* * *

I woke on the ground. Through the tree’s canopy, stars flashed like diamonds. For a moment I felt at peace, until the memories rushed back in one awful wave. I groaned as my grief returned, gnawing on my heart with its sharp teeth.

Enric leaned over me. “Are you all right?”

No. “I’ll live. How long—”

“A couple hours.”

I pushed up on my elbow and looked around. A small fire burned. A blanket covered my sister, and Enric had dug a grave for her. No, I’d never be all right again.

“What happened?” he asked.

I told him. My second attempt at using the Peace Lilys had failed. It seemed it would only save someone with magic or the potential for magic and only if they were freshly dead. Bitterness threatened to consume me.

He listened with sympathy.

When I finished, I lumbered to my feet and knelt next to Noelle, pulling the blanket down. I smoothed her hair and closed her eyes.

A whole list of I-should-haves bubbled to the surface of my mind along with the I-shouldn’t-haves. Mistakes made, regrets and wrong decisions popped up, as well. The I-wishes and if-onlys had their say, too.

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