By: Sunset Gold
After the death of two famous Councillors, the Lost Cities are thrown into an upheaval. And 17-year-old Clara Lewis is just as shocked as everyone else. And when armed emissaries show up at her door, insisting that she was the that killed them, the only thing Clara knows is that she’s innocent.
After a group of rebels break her out of Exile, she discovers that the demons of her past might just come to haunt her in the present. Secrets are unraveled, and things that should better stay untouched are awoken. The stakes are higher than ever in this dangerous game, and making a tiny mistake might just lead to her death.
From writer TheBookQueen16, her newest, most plot-twisty book yet comes to light. And this one will keep you thinking What if? for a very long time.
“Gemini!” My mother yells, anger laced through her voice. “Get Dan’s bottle right now!”
“Don’t call me Gemini!” I yell back, hating the nickname that I’ve had since I was born. I sigh and began the monotonous process of taking out the baby formula, heating it to the perfect temperature, and placing it in a blue bottle for my baby brother. I go extra slowly just to spite her.
I love Dan, I really do, but he needs so much care and attention, and with my mom working at Foxfire for most of the day, either she does some of the work or I do all of it.
I pull back my dark brown hair in a quick bun before taking the bottle upstairs. I enter Dan’s room, where my mother is, rocking him gently. As soon as I see her face, I feel instantly bad. She looks so tired and weary. I gently slip Dan out of her hands and tell her. “Go to sleep, I’ll take care of him.
She gives me a look of such gratitude that I don’t deserve, and heads off to her room.
I coo at my brother, he looks at me with large electric blue eyes. I give him his bottle, bouncing him a little. He greedily drinks down the whole bottle, and I lay him down in his crib for a nap. “Sweet dreams” I whisper, clicking off the light and closing the door.
I plop downstairs and take out my imparter, only to see that I have 6 missed calls, all from the same person. I sigh and call her back. “Hey Katie”
“Clara!” Katie squeals “Did you hear?”
Katie’s been my best friend since I was three, and crazy popular. With her short blond hair and cornflower eyes, she’s quite pretty as well.
I half expected her to say something about a cute boy being interested to me, but I reply, “No, what?”
Katie says in a way to cheerful voice. “Two Councillors have been murdered!”
“What?” I say, sitting up straight.
“Yeah, they were both found in one of their palaces with their throats slit.” Katie says, still way to cheerful.
“Who did it?” I say, intrigued.
“That’s the thing, no one knows!” She says, excitement cooling a little.
“No way” I whisper, still shocked.
“Yes wa-” I hear the sounds of muffled talking, and Katie starts again. “My dad’s telling me we have to go, talk to you later!” Her dad jumps in right before she ends the call. “Bye Clara!’
I put down the imparter, feeling sad. I never knew my father, he abandoned my mother as soon as we were born. Time has healed most of the pain, but sometimes when I hear other people’s dads, I wonder if mine would’ve been like that.
I shake my head, and start towards the kitchen. Maybe making some mallowmelt would help.
After a few hours of banging pots around, I realize that’s not the only sound. Someone’s knocking on the door.
Expecting it’s Katie, I start walking towards the door. I hear a few muffled words, and a “NOW!”
The door falls down, and 5 emissaries with melders flood into our house. One yells “Clara Watson, you are under arrest for the murder of Councillor Constantine Delacorte and Councillor Vera Adair!”.
I stand there, shocked. “What?”
Dan starts crying, a hiccuping sob. My mother runs out of her bedroom, and dashes down the stairs. “Clara, what is going on?”
“I don’t know!” I say, practically in hysterics. Two emissaries grab me roughly by the shoulders. “You daughter has murdered two of our Councillors.” One of them informed her.
My mother glares at him. “Where’s the proof? I demand a lawyer. What about a tribunal? She’s innocent until proven guilty.”
There goes my mother, the Elven History teacher I think to myself.
The emissary glares right back. “We have her DNA found at the scene of the crime. We’re taking her to a holding facility till her tribunal.”
“What holding facility?” I whisper
He looks at me, cruel glee in his eyes. “Exile”
Exile isn’t as bad as everyone thinks it is. It’s actually quite clean, and the smell isn’t gag-worthy.
Then again, the only people who would know that is people who actually lived there. Like me.
I try to maneuver to get in a better position, but the goblins behind me have grips like steel. I can’t even see through the black bag they put on my head.
My mother fought to help me, but the emissaries threatened to incapacitate her. Which is fancy talk for shoot you with a melder.
After what seems like hours, the bag is ripped off my head and I’m thrown in a bright, white room. The stones glow, making my eyes water.
I turn around, only to see the door slammed in my face. Oh well.
I turn around, only to hear a scrape against the marble floor. When I turn around, I see a platter of food and a cup of water. I realized how thirsty I am, and gulp down the water. It tasted a bit odd, and when I realize why, I mentally groaned.
Oh crud I thought as I fall in a drug-induced sleep.
I hear a rough scraping, and a “Is she awake?” I groggily turn on my side, only to see two figures dressed in black, peering down on me.
I quickly flip onto my side and grab the plastic spork that was on my tray. “Who are you and what do you want?”
The shorter one walked closer and crouched down. “We’re here to get you out of here.” She said calmly. I say she since the voice had an unmistakable feminine hint to it.
“How do I know it’s not a trap?” I say, then I slap my hand over my mouth. Apparently, drugs make my tongue go loose.
The shorter one leans forward slightly. “Why? Because of this.” She pulled back her hood and I gasp at what I see.
It’s my own face staring back at me.
“Clara, I’m Bella.” She says, “I’m your twin.”
“B-B-But,” I stutter, “I can’t have a twin! I never knew about me, and my mom wouldn’t lie to m-”
She interrupts me. “As much as I’d like us to get acquainted, we have to get out of here before the new guards come.”
“What happen to the old ones?” I question. Bella turns her eyes down in some sort of version of shame.
“We killed them.” She says brusquely.
I gape at her, once in my life at a loss for words.
The cloaked figure behind her steps forward and examines the chain. They then stick out their hand and a jet of red-hot fire bursts out, melting the lock. They then beckon for me to exit.
I look at Bella nervously, already realizing that, even after just meeting her, I trust her. She nods.
“Clara, this is Carson,” She says, gesturing to the tall figure. “He’s...a friend of mine.”
Something about the way she says it tells me there’s probably more to the story, but I don’t push. I simply get to my feet and stride out of my cag- I mean cell, and try to stop my knees from shaking.
Carson pulls off his hood, since he’s the only one with one on. He’s handsome, with jet-black hair and sapphire blue eyes. But I have bigger problems then that to worry about.
Bella looks around with piercing blue eyes the same shade as mine. It’s like looking in a mirror and seeing your reflection, except this reflection doesn’t do exactly what you do.
“Come on,” she says, “We’ve been here too long.” She starts walking down the side tunnel, cape billowing out behind her. I tentatively follow behind her, Carson bringing up the rear.
Less than half a minute later, we find a dead end. I look at Bella, who strides up to the wall and takes out a folded black mat. She then unfolds it and places it on the floor. It’s about 4 feet in diameter.
“It’s a portable tunnel” She says proudly.
Bella walks up to the edge before turning around and raising an eyebrow. “Coming?”
I glare at her. “It’s a big hole in the ground, do you expect us to jump?”
“No, a big no-no.” I said, walking backwards. I have an incurable fear of heights, and jumping down a hole would probably give me a heart-attack.
Bella rolls her eyes, and it one smooth motion, grabs my hand, twists it behind my back, and pushes me into the hole.
Some twin I have.
I’m too terrified to scream, and as the ground appears and comes closer and closer, I can feel my heart threatening to beat out of my chest.
Then, the ground disappears, and I belly-flop onto a wooden floor. It’s painful, but not as painful as jumping down a 300 foot hole would have been.
I get up and take a step in a single direction, when Bella comes tumbling out of the roof and onto the wooden floor. At least she managed to land on her feet. Bella grabs my arm and pulls me out of the way right as Carson slams down on the floor right where I was standing half a second ago. He has the portable tunnel in his hand.
“Thanks,” I mumble, hating that I already owe her a few hundred times. Bella grins and waves her gloved hands. “Don’t mention it.”
I notice the gloves on her hands. “What are the gloves for?”
I immediately know I shouldn’t have asked, a pained look goes into her eye and Carson takes a menacing step towards us.
Bella looks up. “I promise I’ll tell you, just give me some time.”
I nod in agreement, thinking that someone could probably cut the tension in the room with a knife.
Bella smiles. “It’s time for you to meet the rest of the gang, Twinsy!” And with that, she grabs me arm and pulls me out the door.
The first thing I see is two people around a table playing Go Fish. What made it funnier was their attire.
The first girl had deep brown hair and skin the color of cinnecreme. She had a knife strapped to her belt. I wasn’t able to see her face due to the fact she wasn’t facing me. The boy had red hair and had a large crossbody on his arm. Totally not at all menacing at all.
The girl gets up, and faces me, turning sharp ice blue eyes my way. “Is this your twin?” She asks Bella, not even acknowledging me.
Something in me snapped. In two steps, I’m directly in-front of her. “My name is Clara. I swear, if everyone here’s going to treat me like I’m an idiot or security hazard, I don’t know what’s going to stop me from heading back to Exile. And I will not hesitate to tell them who broke me out.”
The girl blinks. “I guess you are Bella’s twin.” A smile curves her jaw. “I’m Savvy.”
I step back, slightly embarrassed by my outburst.
Bella points to the red-haired boy. “That’s Jack, he doesn’t talk much.”
Jack turns in my general direction, and I gasp when I see his eyes. They were green.
“He’s human?” I say.
“Half-human,” Bella corrects. “His mom was an elf.”
Jack looks at the floor, and Savvy looks between all of us. “Well, I guess it’s time for dinner!” She says brightly.
Dinner wasn’t bad, and a whole lot better than Exile. My water wasn’t drugged. At least I don’t think it was. Bella might've of added something to it.
The dinner talk was plain out awkward. It didn’t help that Carson was glaring daggers at everyone, Savvy kept stabbing the table with her hunting knife, Jack kept dropping his silverware, and Bella kept fidgeting with her gloves.
I stayed quiet, trying to think through the millions of questions racing in my head. The one about Bella’s gloves keeps coming back to me. There’s was obviously something I didn’t know, and I wanted to know. Very badly.
Savvy finally speaks. “Any ideas on the plan?”
Carson tries, and fails, to nonchalantly tell her I was right there. Savvy waves him off.
Jack speaks in a low voice. ‘I still think we should go with the original plan.”
Carson gives up. “You know how much danger that’s going to put Bella in!”
Bella glares at him. “I can take care of myself, thank you very much.”
Everyone starts yelling at one another and I felt an urge for my mother to be here. She had a calming aura, you just couldn’t be mad around her.
Also, I was slightly scared by this group of Exile-prison-breakers. Not that I would admit that.
I get up, and slam my hands against the table. Everyone quiets down. I glare at all of them. “Are you just going to pretend I don’t exist, or tell me this plan?”
Carson obviously wanted to go with the first one, but Bella gets up. “The plan is that I murder someone.” She says quietly.
I gape. “How?”
She looks up, eyes glimmering with unshed tears. She leaves the room, and comes back with a tiny ladybug in one hand. She slips off the glove of her left hand, and lays a single finger on the wriggling creature.
At first, it started writhing with pain. Then its movements became slower and slower, until it stopped moving. I could practically feel the moment its tiny heart stopped.
Bella looks up, a single tear streaming down her face. “I can kill with a touch.”
Bella slips on her glove, and turns away to the door she had just came out from. Before I know what I’m doing, I’m right beside her, hugging her.
She melts into the hug, and I feel all the love I would’ve felt for her had we not been separated. She’s my sister, my other half. Being a twin isn’t like being ripped in half, it’s like having that one person in the world you trust more than yourself.
Carson makes a throat-clearing sound, and I give him the best glare I could muster. Bella laughs, but without much humor.
I step away slightly from Bella, but still stay somewhat near to her.
That doesn’t mean I’m not terrified of her ability. It scares me, more than I would admit. But I trust Bella, she wouldn’t hurt anyone on purpose.
Other then the person that Bella had to murder in this “plan”. I’m struck with a terrible thought. It Bella kills, on purpose, would she break? I shiver at the thought.
Bella looks at everyone. “I-I have to go. I’ll be back soon.” She says, running out of the door, giving me one last look that seems to say I’ll be alright.
Savvy shrugs and walks out a similar door on the right. It’s at this point I realize that Jack is gone, as if he vanished into thin air.
I start to walk out of the door Bella had left through, but Carson grabs my shoulder. I whip around. “Give her time,” He starts “She’s been through a lot.” His eyes don’t hold the same chilly anger, but a soft, worried look.
“I know.” I snap, everything that’s been happening getting to me. “I’m not an idiot.”
He holds my gaze. “I don’t think your an idiot, Clara.”
“The way you’ve been treating me is awfully misleading, then.” I say haughtily.
He sighs and runs a hand through his hair. “Clara, your one of the smartest people I know. Crazy brave, too. But there are things happening that you don’t know about, things that no one should know about.”
I say quietly. “Then tell me what’s happening.”
“Please” I urge.
He finally relents. “Fine. On one condition.”
“Okay” I say, slightly suspicious.
He looks me right in the eye. “You don’t tell Bella, and you will obey me.”
I hesitate. “Fine.”
He sits down and gestures for me to follow suit.
“Here” He hands me a small remembrall. “It’s better if you see it for yourself.”
“What?” I say, confused. The world starts to get hazy, and a memory blooms before my eyes.
A woman with hair the color of the night stands in front of a man in a black suit. She’s yelling at him, a hysteric edge to her voice. “Why did you mess with their abilities?” She sobs, a dry hacking sound.
The red-haired man winces, obvious pain of his face. “I only messed with one of them” He says in a convincing voice. “One of them is perfectly normal!”
“And the other one will grow up to be a killer?” She says, tears streaming down her face.
The man turns around, tearing his hands through his hair. “It’s for the greater good. I’m trying to protect you!” He says, a look of pure determination on his face.
The woman wipes her eyes with the back of her hand. “I don’t want your protection!”
The man turns around, some anger dancing in his eyes. “Tara, I’m a Councillor! I never was supposed to fall in love, much less have children! What do you think enemies of the Council would do if they found out about you?"
Tara glares at him. “I’m a pyrokinetic, I can take care of myself.”
“Another reason why,” The man continued. “You are in danger. I have to protect you.”
Tara turned around. “Leave me be!”
The man turns of his heel and walks out, anger thrumming through every step. Tara looks back, murmuring “I have to protect them, I have to.”
The memory fades, and another one picks up.
Tara stands in front of a burning house, two babies in her arms. Tara looks on, a tear slipping down her cheek. “I had to.” She says quietly.
She turns around and walks into the woods in the back, the house burning to pieces behind her.
I’m shoved back in my own body now, and I look at Carson, betrayal on my face.
He starts. “That woman was your mother, Tara Clark.”
“Who was the man?” I question, even though I sickenly know who. There’s only one councillor that fits the bill.
He looks me in the eye. “Councillor Kenric. Deceased, but still alive.
“My mother took Bella and I away from him,” I say tonelessly. “She faked all our our deaths. She then took me to start a new life. What happened to Bella?”
Carson hesitates a bit before saying, “Bella was taken to an orphanage. A worker at the orphanage adopted her. She lived with her for 15 years, then she manifested.”
I read between the lines. “No.” I gasp, instantly knowing what happened.
Carson looks up. “She killed her adoptive mother. She was so guilty, she almost broke. I found her wandering in a forest, babbling nonsense.”
I close my eyes, grieving for the person who took care of my sister. I open them and look at Carson.
“What happened after the fire?”
Carson looks at the door Bella had left through before turning his attention to me. “Kenric was trying to use Bella as a weapon, against the Black Swan. They had killed his parents, who were Neverseen operatives. He wants revenge.”
I swallow. “Then why did my mother pick me to take care of? Why was I framed for the murder?”
“Well, tell me!” I insist.
He says without any emotion, “Your mom was trying to protect Bella. She had made it seem like you were the one who could kill with a touch. That’s why she took you with her. She was counting on them finding you. She was sacrificing you for Bella.”
I try to take this calmly, but water seems to appear in my eyes. A single tear slips down my cheek. Carson gently wipes it away.
“My eyes are leaking.” I say, trying to use my humor like a shield.
Carson laughs softly.
I bury my face in my hands. I start laughing, and Carson looks at me as if I’d lost my mind. “She used to call me Gemini.” I laugh, sobbing slightly. “I thought it was because of my zodiac sign, but Gemini means twin. It was to remind her of my twin.”
“Clara-” Carson begans.
“She never really loved me.” I say, my voice going tone-less again.
“She did,” He insists. “There’s no way she couldn’t have. You were her daughter.”
I glare back at him and start to argue. “You don’t kn-”
A loud beeping sound echoes through the bunker. I look at Carson with confusion. His eyes dawn with understanding.
“Get down!” He shouts before tackling me to the ground. Barely a half second later, the bomb makes impact.
The ground shakes as if were an earthquake, and the objects on shelves fall off, only to shatter on the floor. A crystal globe shatters, and a glass shard as long as my hand spins to a stop at my feet. A thundering roar turns to white noise as multiple pieces of furniture tumble.
“What the *beep* is happening?” I yell at Carson, hating the scared edge that has taken my voice.
“Kenric found us.” He yells back.
Our eyes meet and we both dawn upon the same thing. My eyes widen.
“Bella’s still up there!’I yell, as another bomb slams against the ground. This one dislodges a lamp, which I dodge at the last second.
Carson grimaces and looks around. “We need to find Savvy and Jack!” He yells back.
Another bomb rattles the ground. “Let’s find them and get the *beep* out of here.” I say, not caring for my foul language.
Carson nods. We both run towards the door, tearing it open.
Nothing could prepare us for what we would see. I clap a hand over my mouth to stop from screaming, and my eyes water.
Because Savvy and Jack were on the ground, throats slit, dead as a doorknobs.
Carson leans against the door, grief in his eyes. Another bomb rocks the bunker, but Carson doesn’t seem to hear it as he slides to the floor.
I grab Carson’s arm and pull him away from their bodies. “We have to get out of here!” I say as the roof makes a terrible splintering sound.
He grabs my shoulders and spins me around. “Clara, those weren’t natural cuts. They were deliberate. Someone killed them. It’s fresh, they’re still here.”
The room turns silence except for the roar of the bomber jets above.
I swallow hard. “Then we have to get out of here before we both get killed.”
He nods. “There’s some underground tunnels, but they aren’t going to be very sturdy.”
I’m mentally having a panic attack, but I don’t show it. “As long as they’re there, we’re going.”
The door suddenly flies open, and I barely know what I’m doing as I grab a shard of glass and throw it at the person, aiming at the chest.
Bella freezes it with telekinesis seconds before it hits her. “Hold it, it’s me.”
“H-How do we know its you?” Carson says, getting over his initial shock of Savvy and Jack’s murder.
Bella rolls her teal eyes. “This is the same person who caught you half a second before you fell into a pile of unicorn poop.”
How Bella can keep up the easy camaraderie is beyond me, but I focus on the pressing problem. “We have to get out of here.” I say.
Bella nods. “We do.” She turns to Carson. “You’ve showed her the memories?”
“Speaking of which, where did you get those?” I question as Bella pulls up down a flight of stairs and into a tunnel.
She smiles grimly at me. “Our mother made them. The only thing she ever gave me was a necklace that stored the memories. By the time I figured out how to access them, I was on the run.”
The unspoken statement hangs in the air. For killing my adoptive mother
Carson fills Bella in on Savvy and Jack’s murders, and I see the ocean of grief in her eyes. I can only imagine what’s she’s went through in the past 17 years.
I swallow hard and stay quiet as Bella pulls us up a flight of stairs and pushes open a trap door, letting the sunlight stream in.
We climb outside, scanning the perimeter for anything suspicious. Bella shuts the trapdoor with ringing finality.
“We’re a good 2 miles away from the bunker.” She says, pulling out a compass from her pocket.
“What?” I question, surprised. “We’re barely walked for 5 minutes!”
Carson beats her to the answer. “That bunker manipulates space. It isn’t even ours really, it belongs to the Black Swan. It was abandoned for years before we found it.”
Normally, I would’ve asked more questions about Carson and Bella’s backstory, but I didn’t think we had the time, nor the patience.
Also, it seemed to get crazier as we went along.
Bella stiffens. “Someone’s here.” She says, drawing a menacing dagger. Carson flexes his fingers, letting embers fly between them.
I pull some water from the air around me and try to look scary. It really didn’t work.
A tinkling laugh breaks the silence, and a girl in a eerily white bodysuit walks out of the forest, her blond hair pulled back in a ponytail. She looks about 18, maybe 19.
“Who are you?” Bella asks, her voice carrying through the field.
The girl laughs some more, chilling me to the bone.
Bella grits her teeth and repeats her question. “Who are you?”
She shrugs eloquently. “No one.”
“I mean your name. “ Bella clarifies, her handing moving to her dagger.
She smiles. “Scarlett.”
Bella grips the dagger. “Why are you here?”
“They sent me.” She says, a smile on her face.
“Who are they?” Carson questions.
She tilts her head. “You know.”
Bella takes a single step forward. “I really can’t stand riddles, so either you leave us be or I will blast you off the face of the earth.”
Scarlett smirks. “I’ve already murdered two of you, why can’t I make it a third?”
Bella’s eyes widened. “You killed Savvy and Jack!” She threw the dagger with expert precision, right at Scarlett's chest.
It slides right through her, dropping behind her.
“Stupid Phasers.” Bella mutters.
Scarlett makes a tsk sound. “Now, Bella, show a little more respect.”
“Why should I show you any respect? You’re a murderer!” Bella snaps, gripping another dagger on her belt.
The irony was, she was one too.
Scarlett looks up, eyes gleaming. “Because I’m your sister.”
To be continued...
END OF BOOK 1