It wasn’t until Amadhay wilted against him that Ben realized something serious was going on.
The two of them had been working as a team to attempt to interrogate Atlas in hopes to gain even the slightest bit of information from him. Even misinformation would have been better than what they got.
The man had spent the entire zoot staring blankly ahead. He had given no reaction to any of their questions. He’d ignored Ben when he’d gotten in his face. He hadn’t even batted an eyelash when he’d had one of Amadhay’s blades to his face. He was completely stoic.
Or rather, he had been until now. The moment Amadhay gave a low sigh and leaned against him, he had noticed Atlas sit up a little straighter and turn his gaze to her. Ben instinctively put her behind him in a protective manner after the man had looked her up and down, a slow grin appearing on his lips.
“Amadhay, you need to leave,” Ben said out of the corner of his mouth. The girl gave a soft sound of protest, which made him look away from the Lord Palnoki and to her. All of the strange glow she had been carrying with her and never explained was completely gone, and instead she just looked exhausted and weak. She was barely standing, so he sincerely doubted that she could use her Gift to get out. He doubted she could walk out at all, even without using her Gift, not without his help.
Atlas was standing, becoming more menacing by the click and Ben knew that he should leave and lock him up in there, but Ben refused to leave Amadhay. He scooped the girl up into his arms, ignoring her squeal of surprise and slurred protests. Inching toward the door with her, he kept his eyes steady on Atlas, who didn’t move, simply kept his eyes on Amadhay.
When he was almost to the door, Atlas grinned at him. “Go ahead. I’ll let you go on. Get her to safety.”
Ben narrowed his eyes. “What do you think you’re doing?” he demanded, shifting Amadhay’s weight in his arms. She purred softly, pressing her face into his shirt.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Atlas responded dismissively, moving from the table.
Ben made a rash decision when he realized that Atlas had no plans to hurt Amadhay. Moving from the door to set Amadhay down on the table, he jumped back between Atlas and the door when the shorter man made his way to leave the room. “You aren’t going anywhere,” he said, making Atlas sigh.
“Either you let me go and take her to safety or I kill you,” Atlas stated blandly.
“Don’t you dare kill my Benjy,” Amadhay slurred, trying to get off of the table and to her feet. Ben looked from Atlas, to her, and back, trying to keep his stand against Atlas, but not wanting her to fall. He had no idea what was wrong with her, but knew that it was probably Atlas’ fault. Atlas’ doing was actually probably a better phrasing, he suddenly realized, finally coming to the understanding that Atlas Palnoki had been in control from the moment the man had allowed Amadhay to bring him here.
“It’s your choice, Base,” Atlas said, giving him a look that told him that he couldn’t be bothered to care one way or the other.
“You can’t kill what’s already dead,” Ben told him with more bravado than he felt, reaching toward the gun on his belt.
“Wanna bet?” a voice came from the doorway.
Too late, Ben looked behind him to see the necromancer standing with his arms crossed over his chest. Before the phantom could move, Skeletal Smile stabbed him with a blade. He was sure it was a different one than when he had sealed him because this one hurt much more than the other had.
The last thing Ben saw before he fell to his knees, fighting for breath, was Atlas going back to the table and picking up Amadhay.