“Love!” The Keymaster looked at the toddler angel, who was sitting on a bench in a humble stone house, playing with her toys. She smiled at him, and said, “Love.”
He rolled his eyes and crouched. “Seriously? It’s been a year since you made me carve the Key of Pisces out of three stones. I have used all my resources and the knowledge of hundreds of years making keys, and I couldn’t make them snap into one piece. And now you’re telling me it’s love that glues them together?”
The toddler giggled and raised her hands.
“No, no. No clapping inside the house, please. Remember what happened last time when you clapped? I’m too busy to build one house after another just because you have a compulsive clapping disorder!”
She smiled at him and twirled her finger in a lock of his hair. “Love,” she said again.
“All right, let’s say I’m not offended at all because I’ve taken care of you for a year, and the first word you’ve ever spoken to me regarding the glue for this crazy key is love. How the hell am I going to use love to make them snap together?”
* * *
The dim light in the room made Lorcan’s hair look even darker. Faye couldn’t take her eyes off his face. He looked peaceful when he was asleep, but when he woke, she knew a storm would be heading her way. She didn’t know how to handle this. It was rare for her to be in a situation where every decision she made tended to go wrong.
She tugged at the ropes tying his hands and feet to the four posters of the bed, ensuring they didn’t cut into his skin. It pained her to do so, but she would rather he live imprisoned than be free and dead.
Her father had knocked him out using his energy suction. That meant when he woke, he would be very weak and certainly not in a good mood.
Lorcan’s eyelids fluttered and gradually opened. His magnificent blue eyes were now looking at her, demanding answers.
She braced herself against the wall. “Before you accuse me of anything, remember I saved your life, Lorcan.”
“I’m not sure about that. You hired Pexami to capture me and destroy the boat, did you not?”
“I paid Pexami to obtain the key, and you got tangled up in the ordeal. I didn’t have any plans to capture you.”
“Then why am I here? Why am I tied up? Why did your father think I was holding the whole key?”
“He was suspicious because you had the white piece with you.” She pulled out the piece of the key and placed it on the bed next to Lorcan.
“That was only because a stupid shark chased me into that stupid cave. I know nothing about the key’s whereabouts. Why did you suggest to your father that I had that information?”
“It was in your subconscious mind.”
“So you’re saying that in only two days, you know my mind intimately enough to know what’s in it? Not only that, you’re suggesting that when I wake, I conveniently forget that I know?”
“I suggested nothing like that to my father. I’m trying to figure out a way to tell you what’s going on without killing you.”
“I’m a big boy. I can handle the truth, especially what you can accumulate in a couple of days.”
“For pity’s sake, I’m a mind reader, and for two years, we were intimate in your subconscious mind. You told me everything about your life, Lorcan.”
“Two years?” he exclaimed.
She walked to one side of the room then whirled around and paced in the other direction. “Yes, you were in a coma for two years.” She returned to the bed. “Look, you need to calm down, Lorcan. I need to explain to you how I think your mind works before we can proceed—”
“It’s been two years since the incident? What about Orla? She must think I’m dead. She can’t think I’m dead. I can’t just vanish from her life for two years without a trace!” He pulled hard at the ropes tying him to the bed. “Let me go!”
Faye walked back and forth again, raking her hands through her hair.
The door slid open, and Kai walked in with a tray and a glass of water. He glanced at Lorcan. “He’s awake. You can rest now, Faye. You’ve been up all night.”
He gave her the water.
“Since when do you do Millie’s job?”
“Millie is back and is waiting for you in her quarters. She said she has what you asked her to get.”
Kai’s eyes darkened when he looked at her face. Faye wiped away a tear that had rolled down her face.
Kai pointed his chin at Lorcan. “He won’t give you the information?”
Lorcan tugged at the ropes again. “If I know, I don’t remember. Let her pry the info out of me. She’s a mind reader, isn’t she?”
Kai jumped right onto the bed and grabbed Lorcan by the neck. “You prick, if you don’t fucking give the information, I’ll break your neck with one hand. I don’t have the patience she has. And more importantly, I don’t have the feelings she has for you.”
“Don’t do that, Kai.” She grabbed Kai’s shoulders but couldn’t move him an inch away from Lorcan.
“Then break my neck, asshole. When you’re gone from the lives of everyone you care about for two years, you’re better off being dead.”
“You think I won’t kill you?” Kai squeezed harder on Lorcan’s neck. “I don’t believe you want to die.”
“Please don’t do that, Kai! Please stop!” Faye cried.
“Try me!” Lorcan shouted at Kai.
“We still need the info, and dead men don’t talk. But I’ll see how well you handle pain.” He grabbed Lorcan’s head at the temples and pressed.
Lorcan yanked at the rope, his eyes rolling back with the pain.
“Kai! Please stop, Kai!” Faye cried. She untied Lorcan’s hands and could see he wasn’t struggling at the ropes. He was convulsive. She saw blood soaking his shirt on his side.
She threw herself to the floor. “Kai, please stop! You’re killing him. And by doing that, you’re killing me, too. Kai, I love him. I love him with all my heart. Please don’t kill him.”
Kai stopped and backed away.
The blood at Lorcan’s side continued to pool, and he continued to convulse. She flipped his shirt up and could see a piece of jade had broken his skin and was sticking out. The white piece of the key on the bed vibrated.
“This isn’t just a theory now. We need to wake him, Kai.”
Kai untied Lorcan’s feet.
Faye held him in her arms to calm him down. “Lorcan, when you love someone more than your life, it puts the key pieces together. But you won’t die because of this. You’re not going to die. I will take you back to the time you come from. You will not lose Orla. Do you hear me?”
Lorcan didn’t appear to hear anything. The jade piece had come completely out of him and dropped to the bed.
“He’s not in control of this. The red piece is in his heart. If it comes out, he’ll die. We need to snap him out of this. Please do something, Kai.”
Kai grabbed Lorcan from Faye’s arms, threw him on the bed, and punched him in the face. The convulsions stopped. Soon after, Lorcan let out a moan and opened his eyes. He sat up, wincing with the pain.
Then he looked at Faye’s face.
She scrambled off the bed and wiped the tears from her face.
Lorcan looked at the piece of jade and the blood on his shirt. “I heard part of your conversation,” he said.
“Which…which part?” Faye asked.
“The red piece is in my heart, and you were trying to stop it from coming out. Thank you.”
Faye exhaled her relief. “You’re welcome. I have a plan to get it out, but before I tell you, I need to clear something up first.”
Lorcan sat, leaning against the wall. “Please…entice me.”
“Kai, if he moves wrong, could you please punch him?”
Kai cracked his knuckles. “With pleasure,” he said.
Lorcan rolled his eyes.
“The three pieces snap into one complete piece only when someone loves someone else more than his or her own life. Even if we extracted the pieces from your body, if you die, we still can’t put it together.”
“So the key is broken, and someone with great love can put it together. Sounds mythical, but I get it,” Lorcan said.
“This is the hard part. Judging by the way your mind works, I believe you’re not one hundred percent human.”
“My mother would be offended to hear that. But please continue.”
“Not only that, it seems to me if the right piece of information is triggered, something in your mind just switches on and takes control. To what extent, I don’t know. But so far, I gather that one of the triggers is anything that has to do with your relationship with Orla. And when your mind is taken over, it rejects life.” She stared into his eyes.
“Don’t worry. I’m still here. If you’re right, I think the process only kicks in when I’m in helpless situations. When I believe I can’t get out of a situation, all the life and death thought processes kick in. But now, I’m fine, and if you touch me again, Kai, I’ll kick your ass.”
Kai smiled. “All right, so now that that is out of the way, what’s your solution to get the key, Faye?”
“I asked Millie to borrow her father’s pass to the gateways. He used to be one of the gatekeepers. When you sank down to Nepolymbus, you went through several dimensions of time and space, not just water. If we travel back up and choose the right gate, we can get back to the time before the explosion.”
Lorcan smiled. “Perfect plan. That way I can avoid the involuntary implantation of foreign objects into my body, and you can get the key in entirety. But will I remember anything when I travel back?”
“This isn’t standard time traveling. So in theory, yes, you will remember. Just like us.”
“Great, so let’s do it,” Kai said.
Lorcan stood and said to Kai, “I don’t really like not being in control of my own body. So if you ever knock me out again, make sure you kill me, because I’ll kick your warrior ass when I get back.”
The door slid open, and Fabian stepped in. His purple eyes sparked when he saw Lorcan. “Going somewhere?” he asked.