Devour - By Megan Duncan
Flames licked our tear-stained faces as we gathered around the funeral pyre. Massive bodies tangled in grotesque heaps turned to ash in the powerful heat. It was doing more than penetrating the flesh of our enemies it was erasing their very existence from this world. Their souls would never find rest. Never be granted access to the underworld.
Yet, for me, that still wasn’t punishment enough. Having their souls spend an eternity wandering aimlessly in the void between the living and the dead was too easy. I wanted them to suffer. I wanted them to feel the pain that I felt. The pain we all felt.
Eerie shrieks exploded from the blaze as each body was consumed. The essence of every dark vampire howled; their anchor to this world being devoured by the blazing blue heart of the flames. Within the silver smoke that swirled into the sky were flickers of light. They blinked for only a moment, twinkling like stars before being swallowed up by the gloomy cloak of night.
Was that all we were inside, a tiny spark of light that could be extinguished so easily? Is that what Baal had used his malevolent power to trap inside each stone? They were more than just stones made of dark magic. They were soul stones. I grasped the stones that lay hidden under my blouse and felt them warm to my touch as I slid my fingers across their smooth surfaces.
Maybe fire would set them free?
I took a step closer to the pyre and rolled the thoughts around in my mind. They were thick like molasses and I couldn’t decipher a clear path through them. I wanted to free the souls trapped inside, but I feared letting them go. I feared being without them after they’d saved my life.
“You’re burning hotter than the fire,” Arrick commented as he wrapped an arm around me, pulling me farther from the flames I’d so dangerously wandered close to. “I know you’re angry, Claire, but…”
“Don’t say it.”
I smeared the hot tears across my cheek and avoided his gaze. I knew he was worried about me. Heck, I was worried about me. I couldn’t get my anger under control, but did I really want to? There were more important things I should have been focusing on; like mourning our losses and rebuilding our lives, but those got lost in my thoughts; shadowed by an overwhelming urge to destroy my enemies. To kill them a million times over and tear the flesh from their bones.
Arrick looked up at the moon that spotlighted our gathering and sighed. “I will say it, Claire. I’ll say it a thousand times if I have to. Don’t let your rage consume you.”
I groaned and shrugged off his arm, focusing my gaze on the raging fire before me. Sparks popped and embers sizzled as the flames ravaged the bodies of the dark vampires inside it.
“I know you want revenge. We all do, but we can’t lose ourselves in the process. We’d risk becoming like our enemy, instead of destroying them.”
I agreed with Arrick. I really did, but I couldn’t let it go. Not tonight; it was too soon, and maybe not ever. I glanced away from the flames and cast my eyes around. The bonfire flickered and flashed across the faces of the vampires gathered around me. My friends, my loved ones, and vampires I didn’t even know, yet still ached for their loss. Tonight was just the first night of the mourning ritual, and it was almost more than I could bear. How would I ever make it through tomorrow? How would any of us?
Robin stood beside me, sheltered under her mother’s arm. We weren’t touching, but I could still feel the violent shuddering of her petite frame vibrating through the air. It rippled across my skin, cracking my hard exterior and creating a chasm of misery inside my heart. She didn’t deserve such pain. She was the kindest, sweetest soul I’d ever met, and to see her hurting so deeply seemed a crime against the goddess.
I let Arrick pull me back toward him, but not before I clutched Robin’s hand and squeezed. I didn’t feel strong, but whatever strength I did have I hoped I was lending it to her. My eyes crept upward, as I cast a silent prayer to Nyx. Surely she wouldn’t allow her children to suffer.
Someday the pain would have to end, and peace would return.
My nerves tingled, shaking me from my thoughts. I could feel someone watching