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Shattered Souls: Part 3 – Chapter 106

Cassiel

Cassiel took every memory of them and tucked them away in a secret corner of her mind. Tears fell endlessly as he saw each moment they had, not knowing it would lead to this. He wiped away every part of her life he touched, and filled them with others.

All he ever wanted was to stay by her side forever. To share her laughter and hold her close. To kiss her endlessly. He could be selfish and try to keep her, yet he knew in the end it would come at the cost of her life.

At first, he thought if he broke Dyna’s heart, hurt her so much she would hate him and never think of him again. The words of rejection had burned on his tongue, and all it did was unleash an agonizing pain he couldn’t withstand leaving her with.

He was a weed, and the only way to remove himself from her life was to remove all of him. Disappear so completely the curse of his love would vanish with it. So that the one who was his heart could survive, he had to shatter their souls, and become nothing but flame.

When he finished, Cassiel carried her limp body to the bed and set her on the edge.

She slowly blinked against the low rays of the sunset streaming through the windows as they fell beyond the trees. After taking in the room, she noticed him and her brows creased with confusion, but not shock. Dyna looked at him in a daze, as though unsure if she was awake.

There was no recognition on her face, and it tore away another vital piece of him.

“Who are you?” she asked, her voice a weak rasp. “Am I dreaming?”

Cassiel had to work his throat before he could softly say, “Yes.”

“Why do you cry?”

He looked into those blank eyes, feeling as if he would scream. “The dawn is gone.”

The sun had set on his world and it wouldn’t rise again.

Not for him.

Cassiel made himself walk away from his mate. From the one the fates had given him but wouldn’t allow him to keep. Every step he took from her was more painful than the last. The band in his chest stretched and stretched until he thought it might snap and sever him in half.

He entered the next room where his uncle and Yelrakel waited. Their faces were grim. Disapproving. She nodded at his prepared pack already on the bed.

“Your father only wanted you to be happy,” Lord Jophiel said. “That is all we ever wanted.”

Cassiel stopped by the windows and looked at the twilight sky painted in deep blues and purples. “It must have been hard to be my father. One brought me into existence and the other raised me. Uncle, you were my raft back then, giving me a much needed place to belong. I never felt right anywhere, but you I could always count on. I suppose you did what you felt was right.”

“I have always done what I could to guide you on the right path. I only ever had your best interest at heart.”

“No. You had yours.” From his pocket, Cassiel took out a piece of the bangle his uncle had placed on him in Hermon. It was all that survived when he broke it apart in his fire. He held it out for him to see. “My father never ordered you to put this on me, did he?”

Lord Jophiel stilled.

“How about this one?” Cassiel took out the bangle they had removed off Dyna from his left pocket. The band had the same inscriptions that were on his and had been a match to the other bangle placed on her in Hermon. “I have been told time and again what it means to hold power, and shown the lengths many would take to keep it. Finally, I understand and I know what I must do.”

His eyes widened, and he shook his head. “Cassiel, it’s not what you think—”

“Don’t feed me lies,” Cassiel said softly, too tired of anger and treachery. He clenched his teeth as fire flickered around his fingers. “Or I’m afraid I may kill you where you stand. I did not want to believe you were like them. I did not want to believe the only one who cared for me never cared for me at all. You have damned me and I can no longer bear to look at you.”

Yelrakel and Sowmya took Lord Jophiel’s arms.

“Wait! Cassiel, please listen to me. I’m the only one who can help you!”

“The only thing I wish to hear from you is the name of the one who sent you.”

“I was not sent,” he said, shaking his head. “I didn’t plan this. Those bangles were given to me by Zekiel. He said it was a command by the king.”

Cassiel searched through the desperation in Jophiel’s eyes for some truth, but he didn’t have the strength to believe in him anymore. “You should have left me to waste away in Hilos, Uncle. I think it is only fitting that you take my place. When you receive word of my exploits, know you were part of it.”

Jophiel’s expression grew pained, realizing what he planned. “If you do this, you will hate yourself.”

Cassiel laughed dryly. “I already do.”

At the wave of his hand, Lord Jophiel slumped at their feet, falling unconscious. The Valkyrie dragged him away into the hall. He didn’t know if his uncle had been merely used by the whole scheme, or if he was indeed part of it. But Zev and Rawn would have recognized his voice if he had been the one behind the first attempted on Dyna’s life. Someone else was after him and he knew it could only be those who stood to gain power.

Four Lords.

Four Realms.

He would go through them one by one. And he would start with the one who escaped.

Cassiel exhaled a breath. After another, he released his friends.

It wasn’t long before a growl rumbled from the doorway. “What have you done?”

“What needed to be done.”

“You used compulsion on her.” Zev grabbed him and turned him around. “You took away her choice. How could you do that?”

A wretchedness speared through his being and Cassiel inhaled sharply through his teeth. He loathed himself for doing it. For going back on his word and stealing something so vital from her.

“It may be tomorrow or years from now, but one day Dyna will remember what you did, and she will never forgive you for it.”

His rotten heart deteriorated further in his chest, but it didn’t change his mind. Cassiel removed his hold. “She is free of me, Zev. Safe. I can live with her despising me—so long as she lives.”

He went to the bed and picked up his pack.

“Is that it, then? You’re simply leaving her behind? Did you really endure every trial together only to become strangers again? If so, then you don’t deserve her.”

He never did.

She deserved better. Oh gods, she did. Much better than him.

“You’ve ascended to the throne and risen above those who spat in your face, but at what cost?” Zev snarled. “You fought for my blessing, Cassiel. You begged me!” He roared, his eyes shining wet. “I gave it to you because you swore to protect her and you—” His voice cracked. “If it wouldn’t hurt her further, I would keep my word and rip that heart from your chest.”

Cassiel felt miserable enough to let him do it, but he had other things to do first. “I have not gone back on my word. Every assurance I made to you, every vow I made to her, this is my promise kept. I won’t see her die for loving me. I must go so she can live, because nothing will ever be worth the loss of her life. Not even the preservation of mine.”

No matter how much he wanted to crawl right back to her, he had to let go.

“What of our journey to Mount Ida?” Zev asked as Lucenna and Rawn entered the room behind him. “Are you abandoning the chance to find your mother, too?”

“The reason my mother was lost to me was because of me. Dyna will not suffer the same fate.”

“But you are True Bonded,” Rawn said. “A twin flame. Your souls were created from the same fabric in the ethers. Without her, your life will be incomplete.”

A heavy bleakness fell over Cassiel’s shoulders, but it was merely falling back where it used to be. “I have lived all my life incomplete, Lord Norrlen. It’s nothing new.”

“Then go, if that is what you want,” Lucenna hissed, her eyes glowing bright. “But you won’t take Dyna’s magic. Remove the barrier you placed on her. Now.”

“No.” Cassiel met her glare head on. “She is powerful, and the trace of her magic can be used to track her. I cannot allow that. I have ordered the Valkyrie to announce her death and my time in mourning. As far as the Realms know, Dyna is dead. No one can know she survived, or more will come.”

“What do you mean?” Zev demanded.

Cassiel reached in his coat pocket for the crumbled page and handed it to him.

“What is this?”

“The names of everyone who wants Dyna dead simply for being my wife and my weakness. For being a human with a crown. Do you understand now?”

Zev’s eyes flared yellow as he read the long list, the page crinkled under his shaking fist. “So what?” he growled. “When have we ever cowed before our enemies?”

“There comes a time for peace,” Rawn said. “And a time for war.”

What monarchy isn’t founded on blood and war?

As much as his father wanted to avoid that, Seraph fire was meant for battle.

Electricity crackled around Lucenna. “We will do away with whoever comes after her. We aren’t deserters, Cassiel. We don’t run.”

“You misunderstand.” He recovered the page, tucking it away. Then he grabbed Esh Shamayim off the bed and buckled it around his waist. “I made a promise to Dyna that I would always be her shield, even at the expense of myself. That page full of names is not the reason I run, but the reason I cannot stay.”

Zev’s eyes widened. “It’s a kill list. You’re going after them.”

Starting with Lord Hallel.

“The day they decided to come after my mate—to kill my father—” Cassiel gritted his teeth. “It was the day they sealed their fate.”

He’d been beaten down, spat at, despised, all for what he was, constantly living in the shade of resentment and hate. Whatever healing he’d gained was gone with the loss of his father. He was the one who should have died. Both at the Hyalus tree and today. His father died because of him. And that fact punched a gaping hole in his chest, leaving him not knowing what life meant now.

They had taken so much, but he would never allow them to take her.

When he saw Dyna come down the steps in her shimmering white gown on their wedding night, he knew one thing with absolute certainty. For her, he would set the world on fire merely to watch their enemies burn.

“Whoever shall contest it or not, I am now the High King of Hilos and the Four Celestial Realms. I will do what is necessary to protect my Queen, even at the cost of my soul.” Blue fire burst from Cassiel’s hands. It violently danced around his fingers and licked up his arms, swarming his body to flare behind him into massive wings of flame, filling the room with ominous shadows. “Those who oppose me, those who dare wish her harm—I will eradicate them all.”

Zev, Lucenna, and Rawn looked upon the crown of fire on his head, and in perfect synchrony, they lowered to one knee and bowed their heads.

“Then we will fight with you,” Zev said. “Dyna may be your Queen but she’s our Maiden. This is our battle, too.”

They would fight. He knew they would. For her, it didn’t matter the blood they would spill. But the price of his vengeance would cost more than he was willing to let them give. What he planned to do, there was no going back. For at the end of this path he would find only death, and mostly likely his own.

“It’s not,” Cassiel said. “This battle is mine and mine alone. Your only duty is to protect Dyna—and to forget any of this ever happened.”

Their faces went blank as his compulsion wove through their minds once more. Cassiel sent it forth through the manor and Skelling Rise, so everyone who ever saw him forgot. He erased memories like cleaning away a stain with a cloth.

It was always him—the one who was left behind. This time, he had to be the one to walk away.

So, he did.

Cassiel walked out of that room and away from his family.

From every part of him breaking.

Away from her.

He leaped over the railing, letting his wings soften the fall. He strode past the foyer, the fading voice of his mate echoing in his skull. The glass doors to the courtyard were already left open where Sowmya waited outside in the shadows. She knew her orders.

His lieutenant clanked a fist over her heart and inclined her head. “On my life, Your Majesty.”

Cassiel kept walking.

His wings spread open and the flames took him into the sky. The cold didn’t reach him, only the fire of the destruction he left behind. He headed north for the sea and flew as far away from Dyna as possible.

As he fell apart in the Heavens, a cruel realization came to him. He had never been made of stone. For beneath it all, he was fragile glass, now broken so completely, the slivered pieces lodged in his chest, making every beat of his heart a torture.

He gained a throne he never wanted.

And lost the only thing he did.

Perhaps this was what it meant to love. Destroying himself so the one he cared for could live. Dyna had to live. He couldn’t go on if she didn’t. This would pass, and she would thrive as she took a new path that didn’t include him.

Cassiel shut his eyes against the torture tearing him apart. Fire blazed through his veins and he screamed with every part of his shattered soul as it consumed him in a plume of blue light. He forced his wings to carry him higher and higher in the atmosphere until the frosty air grew thin, and he could no longer breathe.


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