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CHAPTER 14. Jericho paused in front of the large windows that looked out onto the serene beach far below
Jericho paused in front of the large windows that looked out onto the serene beach far below. It was beautiful here, and he wondered how many times Delphine had stood in this spot unable to appreciate how lovely it was because of what Zeus had done to her.
That would no longer be her problem.
Madoc joined him. "You know, I've been faking not having emotions for so long that I'm not really sure how to show them now. I still want to be completely stoic. Weird, huh?"
Jericho shrugged. "Makes sense to me. When you live a lie long enough, it has a way of becoming the truth." Although after all the centuries he'd spent living as a mute, it was hard to believe how easily he'd adapted to speaking again.
It made him wonder if anyone other than Delphine could have opened him up the same way.
No. No one had ever had her effect on him. She was unique, and without her, he would have been lost for all eternity.
Madoc stepped closer and lowered his voice. "I didn't want to say anything in front of the others, but Zeth and I talked it over. We'd like to offer you the third position as Oneroi leader. We think you'd be great at it."
Jericho frowned. "I'm not an Oneroi."
"No, but you're a warrior with practical experience outside of dreams. We need someone to teach us new tactics against the demons."
What a nice world that would have been. But his new reality would never allow him that kind of luxury. "Yeah, well, I'd love to, but I have to decline."
Jericho glanced to the door where Delphine had vanished. "My time is spoken for and there's no way to get out of it. Sorry. But I can think of someone else who would be great at it. Someone who can move entire mountain ranges with nothing more than the sheer force of her obstinate will."
Madoc smiled as if he understood perfectly. "Delphine?"
Before Jericho could answer, the door crashed open to show him Delphine battling three identical women. Clad in black, they came at her with swords even as she danced around them, blocking their moves with her staff and thrusting back with a skill most men lacked.
Jericho knew those lethal bitches in an instant—at one time they had been his allies on ancient battlefields.
Rage consumed him at the sight. How dare they attack her! Without any rational thought, he flashed himself to Delphine's back so that he could protect her while she fought. But the moment he did, the Phonoi vanished.
"Cowards!" he shouted. "What? Are you too afraid to fight someone you know can kick your ass?" But then that was how they operated. They never attacked in the open. They moved like wraiths. Out of the darkness to kill and withdraw.
Scared for Delphine, he turned to face her. There was a vicious cut on the side of her neck that made his anger rise even higher.
"What did they do?"
She grimaced as she dissolved her staff. "They tried to cut my throat. But unless my powers are bound, I'm not helpless."
Thank the gods for that because he still wanted blood over the attack.
She hissed as she wiped at the wound. "It hurts, though."
Jericho looked past her to where Madoc had paused near them. "Madoc, can you heal her?"
The Oneroi wasted no time. He placed his hand over the wound and sealed it shut. But his eyes were as worried as Jericho's. "Who do you think sent them?"
Delphine wiped her hand over her neck and clothes, removing the blood from both. "Why would they send them?"
Jericho stared at her. "Who have you made mad?"
"Just you and Noir. With everyone else I tend to keep a low profile to avoid events such as this."
"Well, you obviously pissed off someone with some pull." The Phonoi only served a handful of gods. And he was determined to find out who was behind this.
Jericho summoned Jared to him. The Sephiroth came instantly, but there was a trace of blood at the corner of his lips that he wiped away with one knuckle. Whether it was his or someone else's Jared didn't say.
"Is there something you needed?" Jared asked.
Jericho nodded. "While I draw my powers from the Source, I know that you are more in tune with it. I need you to listen and tell me who sent the Phonoi after Delphine."
"Will that knowledge help you?"
Jericho looked at Delphine. "Absolutely."
Jared stiffened his arms out by his body and splayed his hands as if he was connecting with something none of them could see or hear. His eyes dilated to solid black and then turned completely red. Even the pupils. His skin turned so pale that he looked dead. The veins on his forehead protruded as he whispered in the language of the most ancient of gods.
Then his voice changed to that of the Source. Neither male nor female, it was a soft whisper and spoke in a language they could understand.
"You have summoned us from our slumber. Tell us what you seek."
Jericho crossed his arms over his chest. "The name of the god who is controlling the Phonoi."
"You know the answer, dear Cratus. There is no need to bother us with something so trivial."
"I know my suspicions, but I need to know the truth."
"Zeus." The name echoed throughout the hall. Jericho growled low in his throat as his fury snapped hard. "Why?"
A single tear of blood ran down Jared's white cheek. "She is the one who can destroy him. Fathered by a mortal man and from the womb of a goddess she was born. It was why you were sent all those centuries ago to kill her. Why her mother fought so hard to protect her."
Delphine froze as she tried to understand what the Source was telling them. "My mother was human."
"No," the Source whispered. "Madoc was there the night they came for you. He fought by your mother's side."
"I fought with Leta, but Jericho wasn't there," Madoc said.
"You had already been taken into custody when he joined Dolor in their small hut. Though you didn't see him, he was there, and he saved the life of the one child Zeus was trying most to kill."
"I don't. . ." Madoc paused. "No, Zeus punished us for a dream he had."
"You knew the truth then as you know it now. No Oneroi ever came forward or was punished as the one who gave Zeus his dream. You even suspected it then, but never dared to breathe your suspicion out loud for fear of what more they'd do to you. Had any Oneroi dared to humiliate him, Zeus would have taken the one responsible and displayed his remains as a warning to all the others."
Madoc cursed. "He's right. I always wondered why Zeus failed to point out the one responsible. Why we were banned from ever mating again . . ."
Jared looked to Delphine. "A prophecy is only as powerful as the one who believes it. Now that you know the truth, it is only you who can command it." Jared hissed as his eyes and skin tone returned to normal.
He had broken his connection to the Source.
Delphine still hadn't moved as she tried to sort through everything. "My mother wasn't my mother?" She looked at Madoc. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I didn't know. I mean, I knew you favored Leta in your looks, but never in my wildest hallucinations would I have dreamed you were her supposedly dead daughter. Thank the gods that I never told Zeus about you."
Indeed. And thank the gods she had made it a point to avoid the others. Had any ever suspected . . .
But it made her wonder about the woman who'd borne her. The woman she'd never met. "Is my mother still alive?"
"Yes. She lives in the human realm with her husband."
Delphine let out a happy yet sad cry as tears filled her eyes. Her mother was alive.
She turned to look at Jericho.
He wasn't there.
"Jericho?" Frowning, she glanced around the room but he was nowhere to be found.
Madoc scowled as he looked about, too. "He was right here."
The same thought went through them at the same time.
Jericho had gone after the father god . . .
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