Home > A City of Lies (A Shade of Vampire #55)(7)

A City of Lies (A Shade of Vampire #55)(7)
Author: Bella Forrest


The Lords themselves were moving around, discussing plans with architects and making sure that their preferences and requests were taken into account as the Imen went on building. Vincent was in charge of overseeing the entire reconstruction process, going over plans with the foreman. Emilian, Farrah, and Rowan were discussing city business, from what I could hear—security measures, the Spring Fair, and the general state of the public after the explosions.

Rewa was really coming into her own as Lady of Azure Heights. Two Imen maids followed her around as she circled all five properties and passed out orders to various workers, telling them to look out for a certain gap, or clean up some corner, or do a better job polishing the marble bricks before laying them into walls.

I went up to Vincent and gave them a polite smile as I said hello. He glanced up from his plans and beamed at me, his pale green eyes twinkling.

“Fiona! What a pleasure to see you this morning,” he said, then nodded at the foreman to move away and give us some privacy. He moved closer, enough for me to feel slightly uncomfortable, but I was unwilling to show it. Given everything that we had learned over the past day alone, I couldn’t have him or anyone else thinking that they were suspected of further wrongdoings.

“I see you are hard at work here.” I pointed at the mansions, all of which had ground-floor walls fully erected, as stairs were being built.

“Yes, well, since the incident two nights ago, my mother decided that I could be given a more active role in rebuilding our homes. She trusts my good taste and architectural instinct.” He smiled, pride oozing from his voice.

“Yeah, and I see Rewa is passing out her fair share of orders as well,” I replied, watching her as she disappeared behind one of the mansions, along with her maids. Vincent chuckled slightly, then ran a hand through his ginger hair.

“There’s only one thing she can do better than any of us—that is, give orders,” he said. Sadness darkened his features. “It’s also the only thing she can do since her father died. I guess it’s her way of coping with the loss of him.”

“She strikes me as a very strong young Mara.” I sighed. “I imagine she will pull through just fine, and that she will be more than capable of taking his place at the helm of the city, along with your mother and the other Lords.”

“I’m glad we agree on that.” Vincent smiled softly. “I really enjoyed our dinner last night, by the way, and completely unrelated… I was hoping we could do it again sometime soon.”

He changed the subject so quickly that it took me a minute or so to catch up, during which time he simply looked at me, almost adoringly. An uneasy feeling crept up my throat. I gave him a weak smile and thought of good excuses to give him.

Fortunately, Emilian spared me the trouble.

“Fiona! Good to see you! How is everything? Have you heard from Miss Hellswan and the rest of her team, by any chance? Have they come back yet?” he asked as he walked up to us.

“Lord Obara, good to see you too,” I said, thankful that he had cut in. “I will have more information for you by nightfall when the team comes back, provided that we don’t have to put together a search party…”

“I must say, I’m very curious as to what they will discover down there,” Emilian muttered, scratching his beard. “Before you and your marvelous people got here, we didn’t even know what our worst nightmare looked like. So, for that alone, I must thank you once more, on behalf of all of us. I know we’re not easy people to deal with, but rest assured we only mean well, even when we seem difficult.”

“Thank you, Lord Obara,” I replied with a courteous nod. “I stand by our promise to get to the bottom of this, and to find a way to keep your people safe from the daemons. I’m hoping that Harper and the others come back with valuable information. Obviously, the more we know about the enemy, the easier it will be to crush them.”

I glanced around for a couple of seconds, noticing the flat stares that Farrah and Rowan were giving me—virtually unreadable. Vincent, on the other hand, was all soft and smiling at me. Zane’s warning from the previous night came back to haunt me, adding more turbulence to my stomach. I couldn’t help but take his words into account as I looked at Vincent, and got the distinctive feeling that not all was what it seemed, not even with him.

“I haven’t heard of any abductions last night,” Emilian said. “Does that mean that the protection spell worked?”

“Unfortunately, no.” I sighed. “The spell doesn’t work, but we cannot identify the reason. The best we can do is stay vigilant. Patrik added some traps on the lower levels, and he will know if they’re triggered. In the meantime, we’ve asked the Correction Officers to keep a lookout, particularly on the second and third levels of the city.”

Emilian didn’t seem happy with the notion of daemons still able to simply stroll through the city, but it was the best we could do given the circumstances. He was, by far, the hardest to read, especially considering the Maras’ ability to deceive. He came across as the typical all-around good guy, with plenty of wisdom and kindness to pass around, and yet, given what we had learned about mind-bending, I had to admit that not even Emilian could be fully trusted.

It made me feel weird, standing there, surrounded by all these Maras with seemingly good intentions. I knew for a fact that they had systematically wiped the memories of the Imen living in the city. No matter the angle from which I approached this, it did not look good for them.

I couldn’t even understand why they were doing it. What were they hiding? What was it that the Imen could not be trusted with, in terms of knowledge about the Exiled Maras? The more time I spent in their presence, the weirder it felt, as if secrets were pushing through the thin and iridescent membrane of reality—their reality, to be specific.

As if, any moment now, it would all split open, and all the answers—especially the unpleasant ones—would come pouring out. My only hope was that the truth would come out sooner rather than later, mainly because I had no intention of spending the rest of my life on this wretched planet.

 

 

Avril

 

 

(Daughter of Lucas & Marion)

 

 

Heron and I went back to Lemuel’s studio, deep in the slums of level one. We skillfully broke in, without anyone seeing us. We found the secret switch in his library and gained access to his archives. We barely said a word to each other as we rummaged through the old papers, scrolls, and leather-bound books, looking for anything of use regarding the Imen, the Maras, the daemons, and the asteroid belt.

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