Home > A City of Lies (A Shade of Vampire #55)(5)

A City of Lies (A Shade of Vampire #55)(5)
Author: Bella Forrest


We looked at each other for a while, then nodded, silently agreeing that feeling tired and hungry after that spell was performed would be a simple price to pay if it put us in touch with GASP on Calliope.

“That’s fine,” I replied. “I think it’s the least we can do to help you.”

“Thank you.” Patrik gazed at me softly, a warm flicker in his blue eyes reminding me of our kiss the day before. My chest tightened a little; the memory of his lips on mine made me yearn for more. I was looking at a whole day in his company, and that most likely meant that we would have to talk about what had happened yesterday.

I wasn’t sure whether I looked forward to that or not. On one hand, it could lead to a new stage of our relationship—not that what we had was an actual relationship, but it could lead to something new and wonderful. On the other hand, it could lead to him telling me that he was still mourning, that Kyana was still an essential part of him. A pang in my stomach signaled that I would not fare well if the latter came to pass.

“Okay, you guys do that,” Fiona said, “and I’ll go look for Arrah, because I haven’t heard from her yet. I’ll go back to the South Bend Inn and see what she’s been up to since I returned her brother to her.”

“Just be careful, so the other Imen servants don’t see you,” I replied. “We must remain vigilant and under the assumption that they have all been mind-bent. That may or may not be true, of course, but I think the mindset will keep us sharp.”

“I completely agree.” Fiona nodded. “I’ll be careful. I just need to see her. Arrah has secrets to tell, and now that her brother is safe, and back with her, she’s free to tell us everything—whatever that may be.”

Fiona then frowned, and exhaled sharply, giving me what seemed like a guilty look. It wasn’t like her, and it made me wonder what else she wanted to tell us, but hadn’t found the words to yet.

“What’s up, Fi?” I asked in a soft voice. “Is there something else you want to tell us?”

“Yeah…” Her shoulders dropped, and she looked at me with wide amber eyes. “I still can’t wrap my head around Zane’s visit.”

Fiona had told Patrik about this last night. Zane coming into the city meant that the protection spell didn’t work in keeping the daemons out of Azure Heights. It had prompted Patrik to rush out and alert the Correction Officers, to make sure they stayed vigilant throughout the night. The chances of another attack so soon after the explosions were dim, but existed nonetheless.

“Is there anything else we can do, since the protection spell didn’t work?” Avril asked.

“I was thinking about using the swamp witches’ cloaking magic,” Patrik replied, “but I don’t know whether I will find all the ingredients needed. We will look through the Spring Fair today, and hopefully we’ll be able to work something out. Otherwise, we are stuck with being vigilant. I did set some… alarms on the lower levels last night, just to see if any daemons would pass, but none were triggered. It means that they weren’t out hunting in the city last night.”

“It’s worth looking into swamp witch magic,” I agreed, then looked at Fiona. “But yeah, it is kind of weird that Zane, the freaking daemon that abducted you in the first place, stopped by to… do what, exactly, say hello?”

“I honestly don’t know,” Fiona said. “He seems to have a peculiar interest in me. But he didn’t mean any harm, even though he kept using those damned yellow powders on me to knock me out whenever I started asking questions. And he kept mentioning that we’re not ready for what comes next… though I could not find out what that means, exactly.”

“You know,” Heron chimed in, “while I do find it alarming that a daemon seems to have the hots for you, I think we could use that in our favor.”

Fiona gasped, looking downright alarmed.

“Are you freaking kidding me?” She scoffed. “What the hell do you want me to do? Cozy up to the daemon?”

“What? The guy’s obviously interested!” Heron defended his reasoning. “Who knows what kind of influence you could have on him? He could tell you more, eventually, about his people, about their objectives, and about that ominous ‘what comes next’ part.”

A couple of moments went by as we all mulled over Heron’s suggestion. The more I thought about it, the less bad an idea it seemed. If Zane was interested in Fiona, and sought to do her no harm, she could definitely try to befriend him. Not only could she get information from him, but maybe she could even persuade him to exert some kind of influence on his people—though that did seem like a stretch for a creature belonging to a nation that thrived on killing innocents and eating their souls.

“Although I’m reluctant,” Fiona surrendered, “I might as well take one for the team here.”

“Well, that’s a double entendre I never thought I’d hear you say,” Heron chuckled. Avril immediately slapped him on the shoulder. He rolled his eyes, trying to keep a straight face before a blushing Fiona. “I was kidding, of course. But yes, you could explore this further and see what you could get out of him, as far as the daemons go.”

“I must say,” Patrik added with a shrug, “I do agree. He may be the enemy, but he did give you back to us, and he even came here to see you. It’s not often that such a thing happens. It’s an interesting anomaly, one you should certainly explore.”

“I get it.” Fiona sighed. “I’ll try a different, friendlier approach the next time I see him. I get the feeling he’ll come around again.”

“Okay, now that that’s out of the way,” Avril said, nodding at Heron, “it’s our turn. We saw Hera and Cynara yesterday. We had a brief conversation about the Maras and the Imen, and we can now confirm that there is definitely something weird going on here. Like you said, Scarlett, chances are that more than a handful of Imen have been mind-bent—and for more than just emotional distress, like the Lords claimed. We know the sisters were tampered with, for example, because their memories are faulty, and yet they have knowledge that the Mara people know nothing about. Basically, the Imen are keeping secret archives of their culture, their legends and history. But since the Maras don’t know that such archives exist, they have not scraped that knowledge from the Imen’s heads.”

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