the man’s grasp, but he couldn’t. Cronus held tight, his fingers digging through the material of Louk’s clothes to hold him in place.
And then it was gone. Airiana was gone.
The blackness descended on him instantly. The raven crowed, flopped on his side and quivered in pain. A pain matched by his own. The energy clawed for its partner, but it was nowhere to be found.
He was lost. Alone. Without her.
Louk felt his legs give out, and his knees cracked against the hard marble floor. He fell forward, barely conscious enough to put his hands out to catch his body before his face hit the ground.
Cronus was gone, his energy removed. But, so was Airiana’s.
Louk felt like he was crawling through sludge, his mind stuck in a fog, his energy moving in half time. In the distance he was aware of a commotion going on. Voices rose and fell in angry tones—bodies moved and scuffled around him.
She was gone. That was all Louk could process.
“ Louk .” Airiana’s voice broke through his haze and jolted him awake. He jerked his eyes open and turned in the direction of her voice. Red, searing rage fired through him at what he saw.
Airiana struggled, clawed and fought as she was dragged away in the arms of his brother, Phelix and the leader of the Guard, Xander.
“Airiana.” His voice came out in a barely heard whisper. Fear clawed at his chest. He couldn’t lose her. This was wrong. But, he couldn’t move. His body was immobile despite every thought he that had to move. To fight. To go to her.
“Stay where you are, Louk.” The voice sounded in his mind, and he struggled to process what he was hearing. They were almost to the door with Airiana.
“You must wait. You will see why I have done this.”
Louk looked around to see Cronus staring at him. Every other eye was on the struggle at the door. Cronus was speaking to him in his mind. A power exclusive to the Spirit Energen and Cronus was the only one in the room with that ability.
What was the man thinking? He couldn’t do nothing and let them take her.
But, his body wouldn’t move. He was pinned to the floor as soundly is if there were metal nails in his hands and feet.
He had failed. She’d trusted him, and he’d failed her.
The raven screamed, a cold wet tear streaming from its eye to drop on Louk’s clammy skin. The finality of the moment ripped across his soul to tear it in two.
She was lost.
Desperation pulled on Airiana, banking down the fear and firing the anger. His energy was fading, drifting away and leaving her empty and cold inside. Why was Louk just crouching there, doing nothing?
He let her go. Let the men take her.
She pulled on the arms that held her, jerked her shoulders and kicked her feet in resistance, but there was nothing she could do. The two men dragging her from the room were too strong.
Louk did not rise to help. Did nothing to stop them.
Her heart tore at the sight—he simply looked at her from his position on the floor and watched them pull her away.
Why? She’d trusted him. Believed him.
The energy didn’t lie. Did it?
He was hers.
But, he did nothing.
Her dragon fired in anger, the heat stoking over her skin and raising her own ire. The injustice of the moment kicked her in the gut and spurred her own sense of self-preservation. If he didn’t believe in her, trust her, want to fight for her, then screw him.
Screw them all.
The change took over before she could double think the action. It had been over a hundred years since she had shifted, ever since she’d discovered the oddity that separated her from her people. But, that didn’t matter now. Here. With them . She had nothing to lose.
If she was going down, she would die there. Now. Not in some cell fifty years from now.
The fire rippled through her, then burst into a full inferno. Her nerves snapped, and she felt it coming. Her dragon stretched and prepared, freedom only seconds away.
Her bones cracked, her