Home > Devilish Game (Shadow Guild: The Rebel #4)(3)

Devilish Game (Shadow Guild: The Rebel #4)(3)
Author: Linsey Hall

Severed body parts floated in the air, all of them withered and wrinkled. Claws and talons tipped the hands, and the organs were unlike any I’d ever seen in diagrams or at the coroner’s office.

“What is that place?” I whispered, my stomach turning.

“Demon body parts emporium. They’re used in spells.”

I shook my head, horrified. “I don’t care if demons are the personification of evil and their souls wake back up in their hells, that seems wrong.”

“I must say that I agree.” He walked a bit faster, putting himself between me and the shops so that I couldn’t easily see what was inside.

“Thanks. I’ve definitely seen enough.” I kept my gaze glued on the cobblestone walkway that gleamed gold and dark beneath the streetlamps that burned even in daylight. The stones looked wet, though it hadn’t rained recently. In fact, this whole place appeared damp.

“We’re nearly there,” he said.

“Thank fates. I’m surprised the Council lets a place like this exist.”

“They toe the line between legal and illegal. And there are some bribes involved.”

“Do you facilitate any of those?”

“For the blood sorceress, yes. For places like the demon body parts emporium . . . definitely not.”

“Why does she live over here if she is a member of the Sorcerer’s Guild? I thought they liked to stick together—loyalty and all that.” The sorcerers were generally bastards to outsiders, but they were a fiercely loyal bunch amongst themselves. I quite admired it, actually.

“She’s not a member of that guild. Not formally, at least.”

“What do you mean?”

“She’s a member in the same way that I’m a member of the Vampire Guild. She pays dues so that the Sorcerer’s Guild will claim her, and the Council leaves her alone. But she isn’t involved with them in any way.”

“That’s possible? Could I have done that if the Shadow Guild hadn’t appeared?”

“It requires money and connections, but yes.”

“Oh. I don’t have those.”

He looked down at me. “Yes, you do.”

“Connections, maybe.” I nudged his shoulder. He was pretty much the most powerful connection one could have in Guild City, albeit an unorthodox one. “But money? No.”

“I do.”

“You’d have used it for me?” Surprise surged inside me.

A perplexed look flickered in his eyes. “I don’t see how that is a question. Of course I would have.”

Our bond might be broken in a short while, magically torn asunder, but how could I not fall for a guy like this? He always had my back.

“But it was a last resort,” he said. “It’s a careful balance to be outside of a guild, and always more dangerous. You’re safer as a true member. That was always the goal.”

“And now I am.” I had my ragtag guild—tiny, but fierce.

Grey stopped in front of a dark red door. It was ornately carved with roses and vines. The thorns looked deadly sharp and dripped a dark red liquid that drew my gaze. “Is that blood?”

“The blood of everyone who has requested services. Including ours.” He raised a hand and pierced his thumb on a thorn that wasn’t dripping. Dark blood welled, and he removed his hand. The gleaming droplet hung suspended, not falling.

I did the same, wincing slightly at the little pinch of pain. When I removed my hand, my blood hung immobile as well. Magic swirled around the door, a dark mist that traveled up the front of the three-story building. It was Tudor, like the rest, but the wooden beams surrounded red plaster instead of the usual grayish white, giving the place an ominous feel.

A moment later, a tiny hatch in the main door opened. It was about waist level, and a withered hand appeared, holding a golden goblet. Black liquid swirled within, and ornate golden rings decorated the fingers on the hand. Dark red talons tipped each withered finger, and I flashed Grey a startled look.

“What?” I mouthed.

“You are worthy.” The creaky voice intoned from behind the door, cutting off any response he might have given. “Now make your offering.”

Grey raised his thumb to his mouth and pierced with a fang, then held his hand over the cup. The wound bled freely, and he allowed a thin stream to drip into the cup.

When he finished, I raised my hand, assuming I had to go, too.

He shook his head, and I lowered my hand.

“Her, too,” the voice said.

“It is unnecessary,” he said. “I have made the offering.”

“Two wish for services, two will make the offering.” The voice was firm despite its obvious age and the weakness of the speaker. The withered hand trembled as it held the glass.

“It’s fine.” I raised my hand and drew my own small knife, cutting my finger, feeling the pain pinch as the blood welled. I let it pour over the cup, dripping into the dark liquid. Only a few drops had fallen when Grey gripped my arm and withdrew it. “That’s enough.”

I pressed my thumb to the cut, staunching the flow.

The hand withdrew, and the little door slammed shut. A few moments passed, and I looked up at Grey, catching sight of something unidentifiable in his eyes. “What?”

“Would that I could heal you.” There was a slight wistfulness to his voice.

How the hell was I supposed to not fall for a guy like this?

Impossible.

“You’ll be better soon enough, your healing abilities returned.” I stared at the closed door, waiting. “What’s happening?”

“I’m not sure you want to know.”

“I do.”

Before he could answer, the main door creaked open, revealing a stunningly beautiful woman. Brilliant red hair fell down her back, and blinding green eyes glittered with life. She wore a black robe trimmed in what looked like diamonds, and it swayed around her as if blown by an impossible wind that no one else could feel.

I blinked, surprised.

Where had the crone gone? There was no way she was the same person who had stuck the goblet out of the tiny hatch.

And yet, she was holding it. Her fingers were tipped with scarlet nails and the same golden rings glinted on her fingers. Even her lips were gleaming a vibrant red. At first, I’d taken it to be lipstick.

But no, it was blood.

My blood.

This woman had drunk our blood and grown young again.

Wow.

And yuck.

“Devil.” Her voice hummed seductively low, nothing like the voice that had filtered through the door. “So pleased to see you again.”

“Cyrenthia.” His voice was devoid of emotion. “May we enter?”

“But of course. I have everything prepared, as you requested. We just need to call upon my colleague, and we’ll be ready to start.”

“Colleague?” he asked.

“Mordaca of Darklane. This requires powerful magic.” Her gaze turned to me. “This is the one?”

“I’m Carrow Burton.” I inclined my head in greeting, not extending my hand.

“Hmm.” Her lips pursed, and it was clear she wasn’t impressed.

I suppressed a scowl. We needed her. And maybe she was being miserable because she had a thing for Grey. Why wouldn’t she?

“Come.” She turned and strode down the short, empty hall, entering a room at the back.

We followed, stepping into a surprisingly modern space. The walls had been plastered smooth and decorated with dark glass mirrors. They shimmered with an eerie light, appearing full of smoke. My reflection was dimmed, just a shadow of myself, and I drew my gaze away, not liking the hollow feeling that rose in my chest when I looked into them.

The furniture was low and sleek, dark leather and extremely uncomfortable looking. A huge table was covered in all manner of cauldrons, tiny metal tools, and vials of ingredients. Shelves of similar items lined one wall, and a black marble fireplace flickered with bright orange fire.

“Just a moment.” Cyrenthia walked toward one of the mirrors and knocked, shouting, “Mordaca! Come on, I need you.”

A voice grumbled from the other side. “Your timing is foul, Cyrenthia.”

Cyrenthia grinned widely, as if the words pleased her. She glanced back over her shoulder. “Mordaca keeps late hours.”

A moment later, the shadowy image of a woman appeared in the mirror. She stepped through, one bare leg appearing first through the glass. A black stiletto heel landed gracefully on the ground, and the rest of the woman followed.

She wore a deeply cut black dress that revealed miles of cleavage. It was cut high on her leg, falling in waves behind her. A pound of black eye makeup swept out from her eyes, looking like a mask that Cordelia would envy. Her hair was piled high on her head in a bouffant, and her entire aesthetic looked a hell of a lot like Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

I looked between her and Cyrenthia. They were like two sides of the same crazy coin. What the hell were they going to do to us?

3

Grey

Cyrenthia and Mordaca turned toward us, the two blood sorceresses grinning widely. It was an eerie effect, blood lust gleaming in their eyes.

“Thank you for transferring the money so quickly,” Mordaca said. “Shall we get started?”

I inclined my head. The money had been the least of it. The journey to find this spell had taken me three miserable days, every step of it shadowed with doubt.

The truth of the matter was . . . I didn’t want to be parted from Carrow. Breaking our bond made my heart shrivel inside my chest into a shape even smaller than it had been before.

Yet, it was the only way.

I didn’t want to be dragged to hell. And I didn't want to return to the blood lust I’d felt as a turned vampire. All my desperate research suggested that as my strength waned and the grip of hell became stronger, my desire to feed on her would grow—possibly to the point that I couldn’t control it. I could still remember the early days, when I’d been nothing but a rabid mess of hunger, rampaging across Transylvania, more animal than man.

   
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