Home > Redeemed (House of Night #12)(8)

Redeemed (House of Night #12)(8)
Author: P. C. Cast

“No. I will never hide again. I am a Goddess, an immortal, gifted with the ability to command Darkness. Nyx never understood me. Kalona never understood me. No one ever understood me. Now I will make them understand—I will make them all understand! The residents of Tulsa should hide from me, and not me from them.”

She must move quickly and decisively, before the police arrived to attempt, unsuccessfully, to arrest her—or before her feast at the church hit the news and began scaring away the Mayo guests: her future supplicants.

Neferet found the remote and clicked on the large flat-screen television that was wall mounted and had, luckily, come through the battle unscathed. Turning it to a local station, she muted the babble and began to pace, thinking aloud, as she kept her eyes on the screen.

“It is a shame that I cannot encage the humans as I did that old woman and release them when I require their worship or their services. It would be so much easier on them and, ultimately and more important, on me. I would wager a great deal on the fact that none of them would put up the fight Sylvia Redbird did. Normal humans could never enter or leave a cage of Darkness created by you, my darlings. And, from what I have seen thus far, my humans are exceedingly normal.” Neferet stopped abruptly, considering. “My supplicants are normal humans. Tulsa is filled with normal humans. And I have become so much more than a normal human or vampyre.”

Absently, Neferet stroked a tendril that had wrapped itself around her arm. “I wouldn’t be imprisoning the humans here. I would be protecting them, allowing them to exchange the tedium of their lives for the fulfillment of worshipping me, just as I have done for Kylee.” She fondled the smooth tendril while it wriggled in pleasure. “I don’t need to encage them. I need to cherish them!”

Throwing her arms wide, she beamed a smile at her Dark minions that was both exquisitely beautiful and terrifying. “I have an answer to our dilemma, children! The cage we created to hold Redbird was a weak, pathetic attempt at imprisonment. I have learned so much since that night. I have gained so much power—we have gained so much power. We will not cage people, as if I am a gaoler instead of a goddess. My children, we are going to blanket the very walls of my Temple with your magickal, unbreachable threads so that my new supplicants will be able to worship me unhindered. And that will only be the beginning. As I absorb more and more power, why not encase the entire city? I know it now—I know my destiny. I begin my reign as Goddess of Darkness by making Tulsa my Olympus! Only this is not a weak myth passed down as trite stories from schoolchildren to schoolchildren. This will be reality—a Dark Otherworld come to earth! And in my Dark Otherworld, there will be no innocents being abused by predators. All will be under my protection. I hold their fates in my hands—they have only to look to my welfare to be fulfilled. Ah, how they will worship me!”

Around her, the tendrils writhed in response to her excitement. She smiled and stroked those nearest to her. “Yes, yes, I know. It will be glorious, but what I require first, my children, is room service. Let us summon my new minions. Some of them will clean and set my chambers to right. Some of them will replenish my wine. All of them will obey me without question. Ready yourselves. The time of Neferet, Goddess of Darkness, is here!”

* * *

It went smoother than even Neferet had imagined. Not only were humans ridiculously easy to control, they were also all as utterly defenseless as little Kylee against the infestation of a single tendril of Darkness. She had been absolutely correct. They needed her to order their lives as a babe needs its mother.

The only problem in her plan was that Neferet did not have access to an infinite number of tendrils. Only the most loyal, her true children, had remained at her side after she had shattered.

She briefly considered sending out a call for more threads of Darkness, but just as quickly rejected the notion. She would not reward betrayal—and the threads that had abandoned her in her time of need had betrayed her at her deepest level.

Neferet sipped her favorite cabernet from a crystal goblet as she paced around her penthouse, counting the humans who were laboriously cleaning and setting to right the mess Zoey and her friends had left. Six. There were four women from housekeeping and two men from room service. Neferet’s lips tilted up. Actually, they were little more than boys—both blond and eager to answer her room service request. Stepping off her elevator, their expressions had given away their thoughts so clearly she hadn’t bothered probing their minds. They wanted her. Very badly. They had obviously been hoping she wanted a little blood and sex with her wine. Fools! Now they moved mechanically, completing the commands she had issued with no complaints, no worries, and no irritating flirtatious glances. They were, as she preferred her human men, silent and biddable and young.

“Gentlemen, life is glorious. Don’t you agree?”

The two blond heads lifted and turned in her direction. “Yes, Goddess,” they spoke together, as if by rote.

Neferet smiled. “As I often say, free will is a terrible burden. You are welcome for relieving you of it.” Then she commanded, “Get back to work.”

“Thank you, Goddess. Yes, Goddess,” they repeated, and obeyed.

So, she had used six threads already. No, seven, counting little Kylee at the front desk. Neferet glanced contemplatively at the nest of tendrils where they swarmed around the broken doors that led to the rooftop balcony, absorbing the last of Kalona’s dried blood. How many were there? She tried to count, but it was impossible. They moved too quickly and too often, and they tended to merge together and then separate at will. There did appear to be many of them remaining, though. And they had all grown larger, thicker, markedly stronger, after feasting.

I must make sure they remain well-fed. They cannot waste away—thus will my absolute control over the humans waste away.

Decisively, Neferet lifted the phone and punched zero for the receptionist.

“Front desk. How may I help you, Neferet?” Kylee’s perky voice answered on the first ring.

“Kylee, when I call you, the correct way to answer the telephone is to say, ‘How may I serve you, my Goddess?’”

Kylee’s voice flattened out, and with no emotion at all she said, “How may I serve you, my Goddess?”

“Well done, Kylee. You are such a quick learner. I need to know how many staff members are working here at my Temple today.”

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