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Veronica Kamwetz

VI

Soul Of The Soulless

We moved with speed through the ridiculed door. Josh had to be around here somewhere, so it was a good thing JT seemed to know where. Victory was a guarantee.

At least, that's what I thought.

Veronica Kamwetz, Daughter of Nike, Bringer of Victory who can't even fight her own battles. Suddenly, I was wary. Something about this place was raising all of the thoughts I worked hard to avoid. And if it was doing that to me, I could guess that it was doing the same to the others. Jack's momentary shudder confirmed that, since this area was pretty warm.

"Come... just a little closer, little demigod..."

Wait a second. If we were in a whole new place that the gods hadn't visited, how could the cave know I was a demigod? Or a daughter of Nike for that matter. Unless...

"It's a trap!" I screamed, drawing Unbreakable Fire. Suddenly threads shot like arrows of pure light, surrounding us in trip wires. Eventually, we were locked up tight, like the makings of that woman my mother's friend Athena cursed. A funnel of wind came from above, forcing us all to move.

The wind was slowly pushing all of us toward the threads. Emma was the first to touch one before she winced in severe pain. There must be something in the threads; poison, perhaps. The point is, we had to stay close to the center.

From above, a figure came, tossing more threads. It was Maxwell Eir, son of Aeolus.

A member of Liquid Fire.

"Maxwell Eir!" JT exclaimed. "How'd you manage to trash talk the door well enough?"

Maxwell grinned. "Because I wasn't alone."

He waved his hand toward the top, sending another guy down. He stared at us blankly, through still eyes, his expression never changing. But it was a face I knew well - one we all knew well - and we were all surprised to see it on someone helping Maxwell and Liquid Fire.

It was Josh.

"Yes," Maxwell continued. "Without a soul, or his so-called 'friends' around to protect him, it was easy to make him our demonic pet. Although, I must say I'm appalled. Which one of you kicked him into the freaking lake?"

We all took good care not to look at Jack.

"No matter," he continued. "Our power extends to bodies of water, so once he was submerged, soulless, and had no way to defend himself, we could have possessed him in our sleep, though that would've taken longer. Once he was capable of moving, his body's natural urge was to reunite with his soul. We figured you would also be out looking for poor Josh's soul, so we used him to lead us to you. And it worked."

"Only one problem with your plan," I shouted, mustering every ounce of courage I had. "The gods will never truly leave us, and we're all the more powerful for it. Liquid Fire may have planned this all out, but Team Delta's got something you'll never have - heart. And we'll be using that heart to every last bit of potential it's got, and then we'll see if your demonic pet is so fun to have around if, no, when our Josh gets his soul back. And then we'll be taking this back to you. And. We. Will. Have. VICTORY!"

Maxwell and my teammates looked at me. The vanity in me wants to say they were all impressed by my speech, but they probably weren't. Still, it warranted some reaction - even Josh's mouth threatened to curve into a grin. I was suddenly gaining something I'd never had in the face of an enemy. Confidence.

Desmond was the only one not distracted by all I just said. While everyone else was wondering who I was and what I did with the real Veronica Kamwetz, Desmond casually walked up and punched Maxwell in the face.

Maxwell was out cold, and landed with a gasp on his own threads. Without Maxwell controlling the wind, Josh fell, landing in Jack's arms. Emma immediately took him out of Jack's hands. Smart move, in my opinion.

We each slashed at the threads in our way until we could all safely get out. Then we looked forward.

In the center was a blue fountain filled with twisting images. Some made no sense to me, but I saw one that looked like a human. Like a demigod. Josh's soul.

And that was when an enormous eight-legged rabbit came from the side and roared.

Oh, yeah, and in the roar, fire came out.

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