Some love heals. Some love consumes. Which love wins?
Learning the truth about the malevolenci war changes everything. The fairies, jinn, and vampires have already rebelled, and now zealots threaten to go a step further by siding with the enemy. Traitors are everywhere. Covert plots disrupt centuries of peace. Those still loyal to the Order must end the war quickly, or else there won’t be an Order left to save.
For Esme, their greatest ally’s reappearance is soul-shaking. She knows they must work together, but what does this mean for Esme and Owen’s relationship? And what is Esme’s place now that she’s not this world’s only protector? Do they even need her anymore…or want her?
By invading the heart of the malevolenci world, Esme and Owen have a chance to end this war once and for all. Their elite cavali team is ready to face the dangers of the demons’ hellscape, but the greatest threat is one they never see coming.
“I think he was talking to me.”
Esme stood frozen, staring at her crouched origini. The cloaked woman smiled at her reaction but turned back to Owen. She reached out a hand to help him up.
Owen was also still in shock, but he reached up for the offered assistance and got to his feet. Apparently he couldn’t think of anything to say either, and the trio stood together between the colossal fallen bentaforx wings. Esme peeled her gaze from the origini long enough to peer down the empty space and see the burning bentaforx corpse. It appeared the cavali had taken care of the other demons, and they looked around for further orders.
Owen eyed the cloaked version of Esme. “We need to get you out of here.”
She gave a nod. “Yes, I imagine my return will cause a commotion.”
I’ll say, thought Esme.
She noticed Loukas, the muscular Master Cavali, pointing back up the hill toward the trucks. The black man’s deep voice boomed orders to the men, but then he turned the king’s way and started jogging around the demon’s corpse.
Esme examined the bentaforx wings on either side. “Any idea how we sneak her away?”
“I’ve got one.” The origini held out her leg and aimed her castorca at the toe of her boot. Pulling her fingers together, she burned an illuso spell into her boot. Once the symbol sparked to activate and a shield went up, she disappeared from sight.
Wait, thought Esme as she studied the space where the origini had stood. I can still see a slight shimmer from the spell whenever she moves. Weird.
Loukas jogged closer, and in the dim light Esme saw the relief on his face.
“Try to act normal,” Owen whispered.
“Sure, no problem.”
They exchanged a look as Loukas arrived.
“Glad you’re okay, my lord. We had no idea what was happening in here.” His head turned from one wing wall to the other. He squinted at Esme. “Was that you attacking the demon? I saw someone jump on its chest, so I made the men hold fire, but I couldn’t tell…”
Esme swallowed. “Yeah. It was me. How many cavali did we lose?”
“Five dead. A few more wounded. The bentaforx was so focused on you and Owen that it mostly left us alone.” Loukas paused, hand resting on his cavali gun belt. His eyes moved from Esme to Owen and back again. “Everything okay?”
Owen let out a breath. “I won’t lie to you, Loukas. Something’s happened. But we can’t explain right now. Esme and I need to leave ASAP, and I’d prefer to avoid questions. Can you tell my team to head back without us?”
Loukas hesitated only long enough to glance at Esme again, but he nodded. “Yes, my lord.” He pointed behind them to the building ruins at the far end of the wings. “There’s a road back there. I saw it when the conjuri were putting up illuso spells around the area to hide our battle. None of our trucks came that way. You should be able to sneak off without anyone noticing. I’ll tell the men you had other work to do.”
Owen nodded. “Thanks. I promise we’ll explain as soon as we can.”
“That’d be great.” Loukas seemed like he wanted an explanation now, but he jogged back to his cavali.
Owen looked at Esme, then at the blank space where the origini supposedly stood. “Okay, let’s go. I’ll call Teddy and have him pick us up.” He reached into his cavali pants pocket where he stored his phone while on missions.
Esme kept quiet and continued to walk through the space between the fallen wings. She allowed herself an occasional glance over her shoulder to see the shimmer that showed the origini was following. Only half aware of Owen talking on the phone, she reached the ruined building and started the climb through and over the rubble.
★★★★★ “What a story. Fairies, Jinn and vampires have rebelled. This story just moves along at a surprising speed. At each chapter, things happen that you don’t anticipate which makes for awesome reading. ” — Goodreads Review
★★★★★ “I have read every story in this series and I’ll tell you what, i’d read them again. Everything is represented here. Magic, Royalty, every creature that ever made you scream in your sleep. But these are not the scary types. I highly recommend this book.” — Amazon Review
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