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Powerless (The Powerless Trilogy): Chapter 61

Paedyn

“Please.” I keep muttering the word, over and over again like it can bring her back to me. Like a prayer, a plea. “Please, please, please.”

I barely hear the cheering crowd over the roaring grief in my head, my heart. I clutch her against me, my forehead resting atop her soft curls. I can still smell the faintest scent of honey on her, sticking to her hair and body. She always smelled like honey. She always smelled like home.

My face feels numb, and I can no longer feel the tears rolling down my cheeks. I lift her up gently, cradling her back so I can hold her closer. My blurry eyes snag on her bound hands tucked behind her back, and the sight of them sends a shuddering sob through me.

They broke her fingers.

They are bent at odd angles, bleeding, bruised. Those small and slender hands are mangled, a mockery of what they once were, of what they could do. Before death, the thing that made her feel most alive was taken from her.

Her sewing hands. Her talented fingers.

Broken.

Then they broke her.

A wave of white-hot anger sweeps through me, washing away the guilt and sorrow to replace it with searing rage.

She broke her.

Blair.

I’m going to kill her.

I blink down at Adena’s lifeless form. Even in death she is beautiful, brilliant, breathtaking. Just the sight of her so still, so silent, fans my fury, redirecting it towards another murderer.

He broke her.

The king.

He brought her here to be killed. Adena is—Adena was—no criminal. My hatred for him flares. He did this on purpose. He warned me I wouldn’t win these Trials, made sure of it. Not when I had to kill my best friend to do so.

This man has taken everything from me.

This king has killed the only family I’ve ever known. First my father, and now Adena.

Screams from the crowd finally reach my ears, pulling me out of my pathetic state for a moment. I look up to see that the walls of the maze have vanished, leaving me sitting in the center of the sandy Pit.

The other contestants are standing close by, all looking equally confused. The crowd is crazed. Elites are yelling and pointing and—

“The tunnels! They came through the tunnels into the box!”

I stiffen.

They’re here.

My eyes scan the crowd for anyone familiar before landing on the glass box. Sure enough, I spot Calum leading the king out, one hand clutching a dagger to his throat while the other clutches his arm. A man I’ve never seen before, whom I can only assume is a Silencer, follows closely behind to the rail overlooking the Pit.

“—came through the tunnels!” I hear another Imperial shout through the crowd, barking out other orders along with it. But there are few guards who aren’t trapped by the Mute encased stands where members of the Resistance are blocking the exits. And the handful of Imperials that are free make no move to rush to their king’s side. They can’t. Not without fear of their leader’s throat being slit if they get to close.

For once in their life, Elites feel truly powerless.

And then I feel his eyes burning into me.

They are like green emeralds, sharp and cutting from where he meets my gaze inside the glass box. How wrong I was to think their eyes weren’t similar.

Because when his gaze pierces mine, I don’t see him. I see his father.

The future king knows this was my doing.

He knows because he showed me that tunnel and its key.

He knows because he trusted me with that information.

Kitt knows that I betrayed him.

He holds my gaze, looking so hurt, so horrified, so full of hatred. His eyes are so cold that I nearly shiver under his stare. The boy glaring down at me is devoid of every bit of warmth, every bit of charm I’ve come to know. He is cold. He is calloused. He is like this because of me.

He is his father.

I hear sand shifting beneath feet and rip my eyes away from Kitt to find four Silencers walking towards us, hands outstretched, power pressing.

Grunts echo from the contestants near me and my gaze lands on Kai only a few paces away, eyes squeezed shut against the pain. My heart constricts at the sight of him clutching his head, sinking to his knees in the sand. Blair, Jax, and Andy do the same, grimacing with the pain of their powers being silenced, smothered, subdued.

“And this concludes the sixth ever Purging Trials.” Calum’s voice booms over the arena, stilling and silencing everyone with a single sentence. Tealah is beside him, looking terrified with her hand pressed against his arm. The king, on the other hand, looks almost deceptively calm as he tries to seem completely unaffected by the dagger at his throat and the Resistance surrounding him.

“Many of you may not know who we are,” Calum continues, voice clear, eyes roaming over the crowd. “And that is because we are your king’s most deadly secret. His dirtiest secret. We are Ordinaries. We are Fatals. We are the Resistance.”

A collective gasp echoes through the stands, shock settling over the crowd. They can do nothing but watch the scene unfold with their powers suppressed by the Bowl and Resistance members blocking their escape.

“Today, we come out of the darkness and show you who we are. What we want to change.”

I can’t move, eyes glued to Calum as he turns to look at the king now. Every guard, every citizen watches in stunned silence, unable to stop this. “This could all be over. No more death, no more fighting.” He gestures to the crowd now, waving a hand. “We are everywhere. We are not extinct from this kingdom, despite what your king has you believe. We have never stopped growing, never stopped fighting against the injustices that the Purging brought. And we have gathered here today.”

The people seem terrified at the prospect of so many diseased Ordinaries living among them. It’s clear that Elites will do anything to keep their powers, to survive, and if they continue to believe that Ordinaries will kill them off, then they will only continue to kill us off first.

I silently plead with Calum to tell them the king’s lie, tell them we are healthy and whole. We may not have proof, but the fact that we’ve lived among them for decades with no outbreaks of disease or loss of Elite powers will have to be enough for now. Although, it seems that most of the kingdom doesn’t care enough about Ordinaries to even consider that. They just blindly trusted their twisted king.

Calum’s gaze shifts between the future king in the glass box and his future Enforcer grimacing in pain beside me. “We can peacefully come together, or we cannot. I would think the lives of your only heirs would be enough to persuade you to set your pride aside and reunite all of Ilya’s people together.”

My heart stops before sputtering back to life.

They are going to kill the princes if the king does not relent. They are gambling with the future of Ilya. Gambling with lives.

They didn’t tell me that.

No, no, no.

The crowd’s response is a roar of rage. This was not how it was supposed to go. Threatening the prince’s lives will only lead to the people’s anger being directed at us, at our cause. It’s harmful, not helpful.

My head is spinning while Ilyans scream in protest.

Calum’s voice is stern. “People of Ilya, welcome us home. We are no threat to—”

A sharp intake of breath from behind startles me, pulling my attention from Calum and the king. The Silencer standing before Kai stiffens. His eyes are wide, sweat slicking his brow. He opens his mouth as if to shout something, a warning. And then—

Kai erupts in flames.


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