Giordan heard Narcise's scream and the terrible crash. Terror arced through him as he spun around and flung the door open, dashing back into the chamber without hesitation.
Woodmore was crouched next to Narcise, who was in a heap of twisted skirts and hair on the stone floor. Even from the entrance, Giordan could see her writhing and twisting in agony. Her silky dark hair dusted the floor, clung to her face and neck.
"What is it?" he demanded, rushing over to them, taking note that Cezar still sat, alive, in his helpless position. He saw the pike on the floor where it had rolled, and noticed the upended chair.
And the stiff, terrified expression on Woodmore's face. "She stopped me," he told Giordan. "She saved his life. And now she's..."
But he needed to say nothing more, for Narcise's low, tormented moans and the dead-white look on her face told Giordan everything.
He shoved Woodmore out of the way, pulling Narcise into his arms. She couldn't die. Not from this.
"Narcise," he said calmly and loudly, giving her a gentle shake in an attempt to pull her from the sort of seizure, the frenzy of pain. Trying to keep himself collected. "Look at me."
She shuddered and blinked, her breathing coming in short, anguished gasps. Her eyes were blank with pain, empty and lost, and he didn't know if there was anything he could do to help her...but he brushed the hair from her face and murmured, "Narcise. Look at me."
He closed his arms around her, drawing from deep within, from his soul, his core...focusing on the white light he'd found in his mind while in the alley that day. Peace. Light.
He held it in his heart, in his mind, as Kritanu had taught him, and looked into Narcise's fathomless violet eyes. "Look at me. I love you, Narcise. I need you...stay with me. Fight it, Narcise. Fight him."
He didn't know if she could hear him through the pain, but he kept talking to her, ignoring the solid brown boots standing next to him on the ground as Chas stared down at them.
"Narcise. Look at me. Look at me," he begged. If she could look at him, focus on him...
She bucked, shuddered and gasped, and beneath his hand, he felt the pulsing rage of her Mark through the fabric of her clothing. A ripple of shock flashed through him and without realizing what he was doing, he tore away at the bodice of her gown as she agonized against him. But she was softening...slowing... Was he losing her?
"My God," breathed Chas, kneeling next to them again when he saw her shoulder. "It's alive."
Like black veins, tiny black snakes, Lucifer's Mark twisted and surged on her creamy skin: stark and wicked, evil emanating from the Devil himself. It was alive, and it was fighting-for Narcise.
Giordan didn't know exactly what to do, but he knew he had to try. He bent his head to the Mark.
His lips touched the raging black weals and he felt the sharp, excruciating sting, the bolt of peace and light meeting dark malevolence. He kissed her, his lips soft and gentle, absorbing the shock, taking on the pain... He moved his hands over those curling, twisting worms, closed his eyes and prayed.
"She's ready," came the voice inside his head. "Help her."
He pulled back, needing to look in her eyes. Still covering the Mark with his hands, both of them, holding her up, he lifted her so he could look into her eyes. "Look at me, Narcise. Look in my eyes."
She blinked through pain-filled eyes, focused for a bare moment and, still holding the light, warm and clean in his heart, he gave it to her. Their eyes met and he felt another bolt, a shaft of effort and then release surge through him...and into her.
Narcise gasped and looked at him again, this time with clarity and the light of serenity. Beneath his hand he felt a searing heat where Luce's Mark thrived. She screamed, then closed her eyes and sagged into unconsciousness...and then the writhing black veins collapsed.
When Giordan looked at them again, he saw they had disappeared. In their place were pure white lines marking the battle won.