Saving Thomas: A Midway Novel Book Two (Hidden Wings)




Chapter Twenty-Three


Thomas




I woke to a knock on the door.

“Come in.”

The knob turned and when it opened, Samuel was standing there. “Fallen are outside.”

“How many?”

“Hundreds. And Beleth is with them.”

I sighed. “That bastard was there the night I was taken. He was the one who led the entire attack and kidnapping.” Samuel’s eyes turned dark, but he kept quiet. “Did they bring any of their Underworld creatures with them?”

“Not this time,” he replied. “I think they know that Sage would be able to manipulate them, turning their weapons against them.”

“Well, that’s one less stress. Because the Fallen can’t breach the barrier, we shouldn’t have to worry too much.”

“Yes,” Samuel agreed. “But, Alaine would like everyone downstairs in a half-hour to discuss our next move.”

“I’ll be there.”

Samuel gave me a nod and shut the door.

Beleth was outside. I had a score to settle with him. He couldn’t allow all of this to happen with no repercussions. I could still see his smug face in the torchlight, watching and giving orders for those countless hours of torture.

No, I didn’t want to settle a score with him. I wanted him to pay. To avoid this from happening again to one of my Guardian brothers, Beleth would have to die. To possibly avoid war, I had one option. And I was going to exercise that option. My friends came into the Underworld to save me. It was time for me to repay that good deed.

After washing up, and quickly writing out a contract, I changed into my fighting gear, strapped on my sword, and headed downstairs. I’d rested and healed, the only thing that would take some time to heal were my wings. But Samuel had proven that wings could grow back. He’d lost his wings in the Underworld as well, but they’d grown back and seemed stronger than ever.

I knew the others would be in the dining area, having a meeting. So I quickly made my way down the stairs and snuck out the front door.

As soon as I stepped outside, growls and screams erupted. I swallowed the short spurt of fear that came up seeing the faces of hundreds of angry Fallen.

“There’s our boy,” a familiar voice spoke.

“Just the ugly bastard I wanted to see,” I said, trying to taunt him.

He laughed crossing his arms over his chest. Bastard. “Why don’t you come out here and talk to me?”

“I have a proposition for you,” I said.

Beleth looked back at his army of Fallen and laughed. “Did you hear that men? This boy has a proposition for me. What do you think? Should I hear him out?”

They all cheered and shouted, “Yes!”

“Majority rules,” I said.

“Tell me about this proposition.”

I sucked in a deep breath. “I will leave the barrier on two conditions.”

“Name them,” he said with a glint in his eye.

“One. You and I will fight alone. No one else can be involved.”

“To death?” His brow rose.

“To death.”

“And what’s the second thing?”

“If I win the fight, the Fallen must leave this area immediately, and not hunt down Nephilim in the future.”

“And if I win?” he asked.

“You will have killed a Guardian. Isn’t that enough?”

He shook his head. “If I win, I want Eden.”

“You’ll never get her. She’s bonded to my best friend and he will never give her up, especially to scum like you.”

“Killing you isn’t enough. You stole Sage from me, why don’t you give her back. You do that, and I’ll pull the army out right now.”

Bastard. He wasn’t going to listen. “And what makes you so sure that I won’t kill you first?”

His laughter echoed and I hoped that my friends didn’t hear him inside. “You, kill me?”

“Yes. You snuck up on me the night I was on the mountain. I had no weapon and was caught off guard.” I had to make him bite. “If put on an even playing field, I think I’d have no problem taking you out. I’m a Guardian. I’ve been trained to fight Fallen pricks like you.”

I could see the fire in his eyes. He was taking my bait.

“You’re an old dog,” I continued. “And I think you’re scared to take on a young pup like me.”

“I’ve fought in countless battles and have risen to the top by my own hands.”

“Then, fight me! Fight me and let’s end this, once and for all.” I was chumming the water. “Unless you’re too afraid to make an ass of yourself in front of your men?”

He growled and slammed his fist against the invisible barrier between us, his fists shot back.

“Deal.”

“I will exit after you sign this contract in blood.” I slipped the parchment tucked into my back pocket and handed it to him.

He read over it and laughed. “Even if I sign this now, it doesn’t say that I can’t return another day.”

I shrugged, waiting for him to sign. After a deep sigh, he pulled a dagger and placed the sharp edge over his finger and slid it across. He then pressed his bloodied finger at the bottom of the paper. The blood moved, magically creating his angelic mark, which acted as his signature.

He held it up, just outside the barrier, so I grabbed it quickly and pulled it back inside. I did the same with my dagger, placing my mark next to his. The contract stated that only Beleth and I would fight until the death. If I won, they would have to leave and never hunt Nephilim again. If he won, he would leave victorious, having killed one of Midway’s Guardians.

I folded the contract in half, then placed it under a rock on the front porch, right where Alaine would see it.

I wanted to do this on my own terms, because I knew that if I brought it up to the others, they would have disapproved. I could take this guy. The only reason why he beat me was because he caught me off guard. This time I would be ready.

The Fallen army outside of the barrier started cheering loudly. “Fight! Fight! Fight!”

I pulled my sword from its sheathe and just as I was about to cross the barrier I heard Alaine scream.

“Thomas, don’t!” she yelled, running down the front stairs. The rest of the group came out next, all standing on the porch.

“There is nothing you can do,” Beleth growled, pointing to the parchment I placed under the stone. “We signed a contract.”

Alaine stopped and turned around, watching Samuel bend down and pick it up. He unfolded the paper and read it. His face solemn as he nodded to Alaine and showed her the signatures.

“Why, Thomas?” she cried. “We risked our lives to save you. Why are you throwing it away?”

“Live or die, they have to leave this place. If I win, they cannot hunt Nephilim ever again.” I stepped toward her and hugged her. “This was the only way I could repay you. Let me fight him.”

She shook her head. “No. This is stupid.” She turned to Samuel. “Can’t you do something?”

Samuel shook his head. “It’s a binding contract.”

Alex stood in the doorway with Eden wrapped in his arms. “Thomas?”

“I’m sorry, Alex. I had to try and save the Nephilim and keep the Fallen from using my brothers as bait. This was the only way I could think of doing it.”

Dom hopped off the porch and headed toward me, his eyes on Beleth. “How about you fight me instead? You’re fighting an injured angel, so even if you win, you’ll still be considered a pussy,” he said, slapping his chest. “Fight me. I’ll sign the contract and take his place.”

“Why are you all so weepy?” Beleth jested. “This was all his idea. I had nothing to do with it. I am going to fight him and no one else.” Beleth pulled a sharp, double edged sword from his back. “Today, one of us will die.”

I didn’t want my brothers or my friends to think I was second guessing myself. I turned to them with confidence. “Come on, guys. All of you have seen me fight. Don’t you think that I could beat him?”

Then, one voice answered, “I believe in you, Thomas.” It was Eden. Her brown eyes met mine, her smile as bright as the sun.

Alex glanced at her, then at me. “I believe in you too, bro. I know you have the skills to take this guy.”

Dom slapped a hand on my shoulder. “Just remember everything I taught you and you’ll survive this.”

“Dom, you didn’t teach me anything.”

He shrugged. “Well, fight like I did. Kick his ass and show no mercy.”

I hugged him. “I will.”

Tears were still trailing down Alaine’s face as she slowly made her way to me. “Just win, all right?”

I nodded, hugging her. She had become a mother to us all, and seeing how much she cared about me, really touched me.

Kade and Emma approached me last. They both wrapped me in their arms at the same time, squeezing me tight.

“Thomas,” Emma breathed, as tears welled in her eyes. She shook her head and turned away, too emotional to speak.

“What she meant to say is . . . Thomas, you better kick his ass. Go big, bro. Don’t hold back.”

“I won’t.”

The Fallen were starting to get rowdy and restless, screaming obscenities. Beleth slammed his sword against the barrier.

“Let’s dance,” he said, swinging his sword above his head.

Before I left, I glanced at all the faces I’d grown to love. Faces that traveled into the Underworld, risking their lives to save me. I was so grateful.

I gripped my sword in my hand, took a deep breath and stepped out of the barrier. As soon as I did, Beleth swung his sword at me. I dropped to the ground, missing his blade by centimeters, feeling the breeze as it passed by.

I had to focus. I was in a battle for my life.

I hopped back to my feet when Beleth’s blade came crashing down. I swung up to meet his. Our blades collided, sending sparks raining on the ground.

Beleth spun and swung again, but I countered, blocking his attack. He was strong, his sword heavy. I could feel pain in my chest, back, and arms. They hadn’t fully healed, and I was slowly starting to tire.

Screams and yells bellowed from all around us, cheering with every blow. And with every blow, I was growing weaker. My opponent saw this. He charged forward, slamming his sword down on top of mine, over and over again. I held the sword, enduring each blow.

Stepping back, my foot twisted on a rock. Beleth pounced and kicked me in the chest. I went flying, my back slamming against the ground. I heard my name being screamed, but I had to stay focused. Beleth raised his sword up and slammed it down. I rolled out of the way, the blade slicing through the earth.

As he pulled his sword, I kicked out his legs. He fell to the ground with a thud. Hopping up, I jumped on his chest. Using the butt of his sword, he slammed it into mine. I felt a crack and gasped for air, falling to the side.

“Thomas, get up! Get up!” I could hear my brothers and friends calling my name, crying out. I could barely breathe. My ribs were broken and I could barely hold up my sword.

Beleth slowly rose to his feet, feeling victorious. I tried to sit up, but he pushed me back down with his foot. My body was exhausted. It was still healing from the massive amounts of torture I’d endured.

Beleth raised his sword over his head and turned to his Fallen army and they went mad, causing an uproar.

I held up my sword to block his next swing, but he knocked it from my grasp.

I was spent. I’d failed my friends. All that was left to do was die.

I turned my head toward them, and every one of them had tears in their eyes, screaming my name. Trying to get me to move.

I shook my head. I could barely breathe, let alone move. I just hoped Beleth’s blow was quick and painless. I saw him raise his sword over his head, one last time. The Fallen went wild.

Then, Beleth gave a war cry as he swung his sword down, and I closed my eyes.

A shattering sound filled my ears. When I opened them, a sword had been thrust forward, blocking Beleth’s from his final death blow. I tipped my head back to see who the sword belonged to. Who was my savior?

Mariel’s black eyes were narrowed on Beleth, her lip curled over her teeth. “I leave for one day and you almost destroyed the Underworld.”

Beleth growled and moved toward her, lifting and swinging his blade. Mariel was quick. Twisting her sword around his, she flicked her arm. Beleth’s sword dislodged from his hand and went flying off to the side. Mariel pushed the tip of her sword to his neck.

“Stupid imbecile. I should cut off your balls and leave them for the wild animals to eat.”

The Fallen army started yelling again. Booing Mariel’s actions.

Mariel faced the army. “Anyone want to challenge me?”

“They signed a contract. Fight until death!” one of them yelled. The others hollered in agreement.

Mariel’s wicked stare found me lying on my back. “Is this true?”

I nodded.

“Where’s the contract?”

Samuel stepped forward with the contract in his hand.

“Well, well, Samuel. My, it’s been a long time since I’ve laid eyes on you,” Mariel purred. “We’ve missed you in Hell.”

“I’m sure you have,” Samuel replied, holding the contract out to her.

Mariel snatched it from his grasp and read it, the entire area silent.

“You call this a contract?” She laughed and squeezed it in her hand. The parchment caught fire and burned to ash. Mariel wiped the dust on her pants.

In a blink, Beleth called his wings and took to flight. The coward ran and left his sword.

“I’ll catch him later,” she said. She faced her unruly army. “Leave now. If anyone disobeys my order, you will be punished and unwelcomed in the Underworld.”

In less than a minute, the hundreds of Fallen outside of the barrier had cleared out.

Mariel knelt down beside me. “It seems you have a knack for being beaten to near death.”

I tried to laugh, but pain shot through my chest.

“Thank you.” I managed to push the words out.

Mariel smiled. “Nothing in this life brings me more joy than to make Beleth’s life a living hell.”

“Why?”

Sad eyes looked into the distance. “Because he killed my bonded in a fit of jealousy.”

I reached out and took hold of her hand. “I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be,” she said, instantly shaking it off. She walked over and picked up Beleth’s sword and sheathed it behind her back.

Alaine, Emma, and Eden stepped through the barrier to meet Mariel.

“Thank you,” Alaine said to Mariel, before kneeling down beside me. “Can you sit up?”

“With help.”

She placed her hand behind my back and helped me sit up. Samuel stepped out and lifted me to my feet. “Could you please take him to his room?” Alaine asked. “I’ll be right up.”

Samuel smiled at her. “Of course.”

Dominic came to my other side and put his arm around me. “How many freaking lives do you have, man?” he teased. “Shit, I really thought you were dead this time. I even had a tear in my eye, waiting to fall.”

I laughed, but moaned as pain radiated through my chest.

Dom shook his head. “Let’s get you to bed, and if I find out you’ve left without healing, I will personally beat your ass.”

“Deal.”