Home > Devilish Game (Shadow Guild: The Rebel #4)(4)

Devilish Game (Shadow Guild: The Rebel #4)(4)
Author: Linsey Hall

No.

No matter what it cost, I would not subject Carrow to that.

She deserved better than me, anyway. This would allow her to find it.

“Well?” Cyrenthia raised a brow, and I jerked slightly, realizing that they were waiting for my attention.

“Apologies.” I was never caught daydreaming—yet here I was.

This needed to happen fast.

“What do you need from us?” I asked.

“A bit of your blood.” Cyrenthia looked down at the ancient scroll I’d retrieved for her. “We’ll take care of the rest.”

Carrow was already drawing her dagger from her pocket. Mordaca brought over an onyx bowl, and Cyrenthia hurried to the wall of shelves and began to collect various tiny vials of liquid and powder. While Carrow cut into her vein, I pierced my wrist with my fangs. We both allowed a thin stream of liquid to drip into the bowl that Mordaca held. Cyrenthia worked at the table, combing various ingredients in a larger cauldron.

Mordaca joined her, adding our blood to the mix. She watched Cyrenthia work, dark brows raised and scarlet lips pursed.

“Quit judging,” Cyrenthia said.

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Mordaca sounded sincere, but her eyes sparkled with laughter. She bit her lip, clearly wanting to comment on Cyrenthia’s technique.

“It’s ready for you.” Cyrenthia stepped back from the cauldron.

Mordaca stepped up, raising her hand over the cauldron. She sliced her thumb with one of her long, pointed nails, shaking her hand a bit so that her blood could pour into the cauldron. She held her hand carefully, not allowing us to see the blood itself, but there was something strange about it. My vampire senses picked up on it, but I couldn’t identify where the oddness came from. Cyrenthia added her blood next.

Carrow leaned close and murmured. “Why do they add their blood?”

“There is magic in their blood. It’s what makes the spell work, and it’s why we needed Mordaca. She’s one of the most powerful blood sorceresses in the world.”

“Yet she doesn’t live here?”

“She lives in Magic’s Bend, Oregon. One of the largest all-magical cities in America.”

Cyrenthia finished contributing her blood, then picked up the cauldron and carried it to the fire. Instead of hooking the vessel onto the hanger over the flames so that it could heat, she dumped the entire contents onto the flames.

As it hissed and sizzled, she and Mordaca began to chant ancient words in a language long dead. Their voices rose in a low, vibrating hum as magic began to spark in the air. The flames roared higher, a dark smoke coalescing over them.

The smoke condensed, drawing in on itself until it was black as midnight. It grew heavy, the cloud lowering over the flames.

“It’s ready.” Cyrenthia held the now empty cauldron over the flames, right beneath the cloud of heavy black smoke. The smoke liquefied itself, pouring back into the cauldron.

“Wow.” Carrow whistled low. “I didn’t realize physics could work like that.”

“Magic, darling. Not physics.” Mordaca smiled. “I think it is time I took my leave. My beauty sleep calls me.”

It was mid-morning in Oregon by now, but that was Mordaca.

She strolled to the mirror. Before stepping in, she threw a glance over her shoulder. “Be careful what you wish for. You may find that the results are not what you desire.”

A scowl crept across my face. Damned cryptic sorcerers. Of course I didn’t wish for these results, but they were necessary.

With a grin, she stepped back through the mirror and disappeared.

Cyrenthia brought the cauldron to us, along with two silver ladles. “Now, all you must do is drink.”

Carrow’s gaze flicked to mine. “Is it really that easy to fix all of this?”

“Easy?” Cyrenthia scoffed. “Do you see how hellish he looks? He walked into the bowels of the place itself to get this spell, and nothing about my magic is easy. Not to mention, the magic of your bond is powerful. You’ll feel it when it is gone, and you will mourn.”

“I apologize.” Her gaze caught mine, worry flickering in her eyes. “Are we doing this now?”

“Yes.” Memories of the night last week flashed in my mind. It had been the best night of my life. Not solely because of the act, but because of how it felt.

Those feelings would be lost now. After a drought of emotion for hundreds of years, I should be used to that state. Hell, I should welcome it back. Life was simpler and easier that way, certainly.

Yet, I dreaded it.

Fate seemed to be pulling at my arm as I raised it to take the ladle, trying to drag me backward. I resisted, taking the utensil. Carrow took hers as well.

“Drink at the same time,” Cyrenthia said.

I nodded, dipping my ladle and retrieving some of the potion. Carrow grimaced and did the same.

“Don’t be a ninny,” Cyrenthia said. “It’s no big deal to drink a little blood.”

“Frankly, that sounds insane,” Carrow said. “But I’m not from your world, so I’m going to trust you.”

“You’d better.” Cyrenthia scowled.

Carrow almost scowled back—her nose wrinkled just slightly, and her eyes narrowed—but she smoothed her features and nodded. I could feel how on edge she was. The tension vibrated off her.

Did she not want to break the bond?

Of course she did. That was ridiculous.

But maybe . . . just maybe . . . she felt the tiniest bit of regret for what might have been. It all but swallowed me alive.

“Now?” I asked, forcing myself toward the task.

“Now.” She raised her ladle.

We drank, maintaining eye contact. The potion was sweet and sour at the same time, and I swore I could taste the faintest hint of Carrow’s blood. The beast roared inside, me, but I forced it back, aided by the potion that raced through my body.

Magic sparked along every nerve ending, shooting through muscle and bone. When it happened, I felt it, so strong and fierce.

The bond broke, like a great tree snapping in the middle and tumbling to the ground. Loss surged through me, followed by despair.

I stiffened, clenching my jaw.

I must get ahold of myself.

This kind of reaction was unacceptable.

But the bond was broken. I could feel it. The invisible threads of fate that had bound us together were severed, and their absence was like a lost limb.

Carrow’s eyes flickered, but it was impossible to read them. She raised a hand toward my face, and I nearly leaned into her touch. Before she made contact, she closed her fist and lowered her hand. “You look better.”

I caught sight of my reflection in one of the mirrors, and the change was obvious. The weight that I’d lost had returned, and I looked like myself again.

Cyrenthia frowned at us, her gaze flicking back and forth.

“What?” I asked.

“Your bond . . . it is severed, but . . . You must be careful. Do not spend much time together. You must not fall for each other, or I can’t guarantee that fate won’t reassert itself.”

It was like a punch to the gut.

Of course we couldn’t be around each other. I shouldn’t even assume that Carrow would want that. But . . .

To face it.

My future looked bleak without her, an endless dark tunnel that pressed in on me.

“Sure.” Carrow smiled. “Thank you for the help.”

Cyrenthia nodded, her gaze still glued on us. It burned.

“Come.” I nodded my thanks to Cyrenthia and turned. “We should go.”

“There’s no we any longer,” Cyrenthia said.

Of course. I turned back to Carrow, unable to believe it all ended here, in a shite part of town with a blood sorceress watching our corpses with the avarice of a vulture. “Goodbye, Carrow.”

She blinked, looking almost surprised, then hurried after me out of the shop.

Carrow

Grey moved quickly out of Cyrenthia’s place, and I had to hustle to keep up. My chest felt so . . .strange.

I’d felt the bond break. It had snapped like a twig, leaving me feeling empty and hollow. Cyrenthia said I would feel its absence, and that I would mourn.

She was right.

Yet, Grey wasn’t a stranger to me. I still cared. True, the insane pull toward him that I’d been feeling had vanished. That heavy hand of fate.

But I still felt for him—how could I not?

We could just never be together, or the curse might return. Pain pierced my heart.

Yet he was so much healthier looking now. This had been worth it. We’d had no other choice.

I caught up with him about halfway down the alley, squeezing alongside him. He looked down, surprised. “We shouldn't spend time together.”

“I-I know.” I shook my head. “I’m sorry. I risk your life by pushing.”

He spun toward me, his entire form vibrating with suppressed emotion. “It’s not that. You shouldn’t be so confident in my strength.”

“You would never hurt me.” I’d tried to get him to take my blood when I’d lain dying, and he’d refused. “You would never do what fate compels you to.”

“I wouldn’t. But there is a beast inside me, Carrow. The vampire within is not always controlled by the man. As my strength waned these last days, the beast fought to rise, as it had in the past. You weren’t there then, but when the beast gains control and is driven by blood lust, there is no fighting it. I can’t guarantee that I would not turn on you.”

He loomed over me, and my back pressed against the wall. All around, the tall buildings rose high, overhanging the street and creating a tunnel. I should have been afraid, but I couldn’t be.

“You wouldn’t hurt me.” I knew it. Just like I knew that the alternative to hurting me was his death. Cyrenthia was right. We couldn’t be around each other. We couldn’t fall for each other. “I never should have followed you. I’m sorry.”

He drew in an unsteady breath and stepped backward, composing himself. “I apologize for losing my temper.”

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