Invision (Chronicles of Nick #7)(3)

Written By: Sherrilyn Kenyon

The statue tsked at them. “Still hiding behind your friends? Shame you don’t have the same loyalty to them.”

Rising to his feet, Nick scowled. “Excuse me? I emphatically disagree. I protect my friends. Always.”

“You can disagree all you want. But I know the truth and so do they.” The statue held its hand out toward Nick and opened its palm. A ball of light hovered there, showing him images of another ally they’d thought had died in their last battle against the demons that had been trying to kill Caleb in his own home. “Zavid isn’t dead, Malachai. He’s only abandoned by you. Have you the nerve to come get him? Or will you stay and protect the princess?” It glanced meaningfully at Kody before it turned back to sneer at Nick. “After all, he who leaves Rome, loses Rome.”

And with those words spoken, the ball vanished and the statue returned to being immobile again.

Nick’s jaw went slack. “Zavid’s not dead?”

“It’s a trap.” Caleb turned to face Nick. “Don’t listen.”

“You knew?”

Caleb shook his head. “It’s not as simple as you think. Noir used his body to attack you. No one survives that kind of possession. Not even an Aamon. While his soul might be with Noir now, his body isn’t.”

In that moment, Nick’s Malachai powers kicked in and fed him the information he needed. The aether around him began to whisper with information and facts. He saw Zavid in the Nether Realm, being tormented in a pit where Noir threw his enemies.

Wincing, he couldn’t believe that no one had told him about this. “I have the powers to bring him back and restore him?”

“Again, not that simple.”

Nick stared aghast at Caleb. “How is it not that simple?”

“You haven’t learned those powers. Yes, you sort of … kind of…” Did Caleb always have to use that mocking tone? “Learned some necromancy—”

“A little bit,” Kody added for emphasis.

“But you’re not at the level where you can actually command those powers with any degree of skill.”

“Yeah, boyo, you could bring him back as a goat.”

“Already did that to Madaug,” Nick mumbled, then louder, “but I got him better and made him human again.”

“Sort of.”

Nick rolled his eyes at Caleb’s sarcastic tone. Was it too much to ask for his friends to have Alzheimer’s? They were old enough to be senile and then some.

But no …

Leave it to him to be surrounded by demons with perfect recall.

“You’re not being helpful.” Nick growled under his breath. “I can’t leave Zavid in Azmodea.” That was a hell realm of unimaginable horrors. He’d only been to it once, and briefly, but it’d been long enough to leave a crappy impression.

Cocking his brow, Caleb crossed his arms over his chest. “Thought you were out of the fight? What happened to drowning your woes with beignets?”

Nick glanced at Kody then Aeron before he met Caleb’s gaze. “That was before I found out one of our own was being held by He-Who-Wants-Me-Chained-to-his-Bony-Throne. I don’t leave my friends behind to suffer in my stead. Especially not Zavid. Not after he saved my life and not after everything he’s been through. I made him a promise and I intend to keep it.”

With those words spoken, he headed toward home to make plans.

Kody watched as Nick lowered his head and went into that sexy predator’s lope that he always fell into whenever he had a mission to protect someone he loved, or was heading to fight for someone else. He had no idea that he even did it, nor did he know just how incredibly adorable he was when he did so. That stubborn Cajun blood and his ever-faithful heart were why she couldn’t bring herself to complete her mission to assassinate him. Why she loved him even though he would one day kill every member of her family.

Kill her.

It was so hard to reconcile this decent young man with the beast she knew she’d one day face in battle. How could anyone change so much?

She cut her gaze to Caleb. “What did you see in the Eye? What changes him?”

“The ruthless bitch who ultimately betrays us all. Death.”

A single tear slid past her tight control. Caleb was right. Death changed everyone. Each time she’d buried a member of her family, it had left a savage hole in her heart. One that never fully healed.

Nick had so little family to begin with, and as a Malachai, his natural state was that of hatred and cruelty. His mother and her unwavering love were the only things that kept him from becoming the same monster his father had been.

The monster he was destined to become.

“So Cherise is definitely a pith?” she asked Caleb. Pith points were those events that were chiseled solid in everyone’s life. Predestined intersections, such as birth and death, that were unstoppable moments nothing could alter. What happened in between to bring them into being were transitory and subject to free will. Humans and other creatures could move things around the pith points and make a thousand changes—those arbitrary events were never predetermined.

But a pith …

It was set in firmly in the Divine Book of Fate. Nothing and no one could change that.

Caleb shook his head. “No. She’s not a pith. Her death isn’t necessarily what sends him over.”