A Grave Magic: The Shadow Sorceress Book One (8 page)

BOOK: A Grave Magic: The Shadow Sorceress Book One
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Chapter 15

t carried
me through the club, weaving its way in and out of the groups of people and creatures, passing tables of vampires enjoying their latest conquests. The moment it paused near the back wall, I took my opportunity and swung my blade up, slashing at the shining skin.

The sound of metal on the rock-like substance it appeared to be made of grated on my ears. Sparks flew beneath the blade as I tried to cut it.

It dropped me, and my Elite training kicked in, telling me to bend my knees beneath me to absorb the impact. Landing on my feet, I stayed low, out of its reach. My shoulder itched and burned where it had held me and the urge to examine the damage it had done to me was overwhelming. But there was no way I was going to make that mistake.

The stranger caught up to us, the slight widening in his eyes the only indication that he was concerned about the demon.

ust who the
hell was he? How did he know about Madeline? Why had he been at the crime scene, and why wasn’t he more disturbed by the lump of volcanic evil standing between us?

“What do you want?” I said, addressing the demon.

It didn’t answer me, but I could see the flicker of hatred in its glowing red eyes. I didn’t know it, but for some reason, the way it was staring at me suggested that it knew me.

“I’ve found the pure ones aren’t big on the whole chatting thing,” the stranger said, meeting my gaze around the girth of the beast.

“It’s a waste of our time; it’s something petty humans take comfort in.” The beast spoke, its voice reminding me of the way my blade had scraped against the hard rock of its skin.

I longed to slam my hands over my ears just to block out the sound of its voice, but it would only take that as a sign of weakness.

“Why did you grab me?”

“You wish to see Madeline. I was merely obliging.”

Despite the pain its voice caused, it was a surprisingly eloquent speaker. The two things seemed such a contradiction, but the fact that a Fae was doing dealings with pure-bred demons was a contradiction in itself.

There was something majorly wrong, something that I couldn’t quite pinpoint. The only person who could possibly give me some of the answers I sought was Madeline. But whether she was willing to spill her secrets to me, well, that was an entirely different matter.

“You could have just said you would escort me to her,” I answered, the pain in my arm still smarting. I was going to have to put some sort of aloe gel on it the second I had the chance or it was going to leave a pretty nasty scar.

The demon smiled, a white, toothy grin that sent a shiver racing down my spine. Its mouth was filled with a combination of jagged fangs that resembled broken glass, and long needle like spines.

I’d seen what a demon bite could do to something human and I pitied anyone who ended up on the wrong end of its jaws. An image of my father trying desperately to fight off a demon digging around in his guts filled my head.

I could still hear his terrified screaming….

“Are you all right?” The stranger’s voice cut through my thoughts and I snapped my attention away from the demon and its weaponised mouth.

“I’m fine, I’ll be happier when I get away from this thing,” I said. My tone was judgmental, but I couldn’t help it. I didn’t just hate the demon because one of its kind had killed my father, I hated it because it was my job to hate creatures like it.

Vampires, werewolves, and the Fae might have had a citizen pass, but demons, pure breeds and hell spawn, did not. They were considered abominations capable of only one thing: death and destruction. Well, fine, that was two things, but as far as I was concerned they meant the same thing.

“Through there,” the beast said, pointing beyond my shoulder.

Turning slightly, I noticed the edge of a shimmer, the universal telltale sign of magic.

“Don’t we need a key?” I asked, giving the demon my full attention once more.

It grinned at me again and my stomach flipped nervously; whatever it had planned, I really wasn’t going to like it.

“I am the key” it said, lashing out with one of its clawed hands.

The clawed hand collided with the centre of my chest, the impact driving the air from my lungs as the blow knocked me from my feet.

I fell backwards and straight through the shimmering magic that covered the wall. The mark of the beast across my chest tingled and burned as soon as I hit the magical barrier. Without the beast’s mark, I would have been toast. The magic used to ward Madeline’s private quarters was obviously extremely powerful; whatever she was hiding she didn’t want just any Tom, Dick, or Harry wandering through.

Hitting the ground on the other side of the magical door, I curled my body in on itself, allowing myself to roll forward and come up on my feet.

Staying low, I peered around at my surroundings, but in the gloom there wasn’t much to pick out.

“Finally, we get to meet.” A female voice rang out on the air but I couldn’t tell from which direction it came.

In the cavernous dark, it seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere all at once.

“I didn’t realise you were waiting to meet me; in fact, I didn’t even know you wanted to meet me.”

“Of course I wanted to meet you, do you take me for a fool?”

Her words baffled me; I had no idea what she was talking about but I had no intention of letting her know that.

“Everything I know about you, everything I’ve been told, tells me I shouldn’t be here, that I should stay away from someone like you. And now that I’ve seen the inside of Sanctuary, I know why.”

“And yet, here you are. Do you like it, by the way, what I’ve done with the place, I mean?”

“I’d like to know where the hell we are.”

“Well, I can tell you it’s not Hell, it’s not Heaven either, and it certainly isn’t Faerie.” There was a bitterness to her voice that tainted the air, turning it sour.

“So where is it then?”

She laughed, a high-pitched tinkling sound that could have caused glass to shatter if there were any nearby, but in the darkness there was just nothing. Peering into the darkness, I caught sight of something as it moved.

I couldn’t even describe it as movement, not really; it was more a ruffling of the darkness, but I tensed up nonetheless. The darkness shifted again and something moved closer, coming into focus with each step it took.

Madeline paused ahead of me, the dark swirling around her as though it was drawn to her body, as though she had control over its very existence and it knew this. It swirled around her the same way a playful kitten might dance around the ankles of its owner.

“I thought you were Fae,” I said, catching a glimpse of her eyes.

Faeries had a very distinctive appearance; their eyes were one of two colours, blue or violet. The closer they were to the royal line, the brighter the violet colour, and then of course there was the little matter of their wings.

They could, of course, glamour them, concealing them from human eyes but all the accounts I’d ever heard, it was more than a little difficult to keep up the glamour. It was one of the reasons the Fae weren’t much of an issue to the Elite; they tended to stay behind their veil in Faerie and we were more than happy for them to keep it that way.

Madeline was like no Fae I had ever seen. Her eyes were red, purple lines running through the ruined iris, and as she stepped out of the darkness closer to me, I took a trembling step back.

It was a sign of weakness, a mistake; I knew I’d made it the second I saw the smile curl on her lips, but I didn’t care. Everything I’d ever heard about her had been a lie. Christ, moving away from her wasn’t a mistake, it was a natural instinct.

Madeline’s wings unfurled from behind her, their leathery appearance sending a thrill of revulsion through me. There was nothing beautiful about her; every account I’d ever read about her discussed her beauty, how she was one of the most radiant of all the Fae at the royal court.

What stood before me now was nothing like the woman I’d read about.

“What are you?” I asked, staring at her, my expression of shock and disgust refusing to cooperate with my brain’s commands.

If I pissed her off….

What was she capable of? I had no idea what she could do; if the records were this out of date, then I could only imagine everything they’d written about her abilities were also behind the times.

“I’m still Fae, if that’s what you mean. But this is what happens when you’re exiled, this is what you become when you’re forced to live in a place where you don’t belong. I’ve adapted to my surroundings—don’t you approve?” There was humour in her voice but I couldn’t see the joke.

“But how?”

“They did this to me, the Royal Court, said I wasn’t fit to be like them, that I was the one who wasn’t truly Fae. They said I was dark….” She cut off, her blood red eyes slightly unfocused as though she was watching something unfold before her.

“I’m sorry,” I said quietly.

“What for? You didn’t do this. You might have power, Amber Morgan, but even this is beyond your abilities.”

I didn’t say anything to her. What was the point? Correcting the only Dark Fae in the room seemed like a suicide mission and that wasn’t what I was here for.

“I need answers, and you’re the only one I could think to come to. My mother said if I ever needed guidance then….” It was my turn to trail off.

I wasn’t being strictly honest; my mother hadn’t exactly told me to go to someone like Madeline if I needed help. In fact, if I was recalling the conversation correctly, it was completely the opposite. Under no circumstances was I to involve myself or the Coven with an abomination like Madeline….

“You’re a terrible liar, Amber, the same as your mother. How is she, by the way? Still practicing white magic?”

“She’s none of your concern—will you help me or not?”

Madeline laughed, the sound echoing off the invisible walls and bouncing back, magnified. The sound cut at my ears and it took all of my strength to stand my ground and not flinch.

“You can have your answers, if I possess them, but I require something in return from you.”

The thought of making a bargain with whatever in Hell she was left a foul taste in my mouth. It was a mistake, if I agreed she could ask me for anything … anything at all. What choice did I have?

“Fine, what do you want?”

“Just a favour, something I can call upon from you any time I please.” There was an eagerness to her voice that caused uneasiness to coil in my gut.

“Just a favour?”

“A tiny one, you’ll barely know I asked … simple and straightforward.”

“Is anything ever straightforward with your kind?”

“Stop being tricky, Amber. You want to ask me your little questions and I want a favour, do we have a deal or not?”

It was strange she’d accused me of being tricky when she was the one being evasive. The fact that she wouldn’t tell me what the favour was before I agreed to it worried me even more. Whatever it was, it would be bad news….

“We have a deal,” I said, swallowing back my unease.

There was nothing I could do about it. I needed somewhere to start and if anything was going to have the answers, it would be Madeline.

“Come here then, let’s seal it with a kiss.”

I grimaced and shook my head. “No offence, but you’re not really my type….”

She took a step towards me and something reptilian slithered across the floor.

Great, she’s got a bloody tail too! What the hell is she?

Madeline moved out of the darkness and crossed the small gap between us, giving me a clear view of all the changes that had happened to her since she’d been exiled.

The black leather dress she wore did little to conceal her body, not that it really mattered; all the important parts of her body were covered in snake-like scales, their shimmering black colour picking up what little light there was in the room and reflecting it back like a prism. Her black hair was streaked with red and piled high on her head, exposing the scales that climbed the side of her neck.

Her face was untouched; the skin glowed with an inner alabaster light that hurt my eyes if I stared at her for too long. But her eyes, well, they were even more terrible up close. The red that I had thought was just her iris had bled out into the white of her eye, and the violent purple veins that criss-crossed through the red seemed to spark and flare with their own light.

Was that the part of her that was still Fae? Purple and violet were practically the same colour….

“You don’t have a choice, Amber; seal it or there is no deal.”

“Can’t I just sign a contract or something?”

“I am the contract,” she smiled, a curling of her blood red lips that revealed glimpses of her rows of razor sharp teeth.

She leaned in closer and I could pick out the trace scents of sulphur and smoke. If this wasn’t Hell, then why was she starting to seem more and more like the Queen of Hell?

She lifted one hand—the black scales had crept down and covered some of her fingers, whilst leaving others untouched. Her fingers brushed against my cheek, a feather-light touch.

“Just one kiss,” she said, leaning closer.

It wasn’t something I was going to get out of and a kiss was just a kiss.

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”

“Yes.” That one word slithered across my skin as her tail wrapped itself around my booted ankle. It climbed my leg, winding in ever tightening circles before pausing as it reached the top of my thigh.

Her hand slid down to my neck, gripping me tight enough to make breathing a little harder. I didn’t move as her lips brushed mine, keeping my mouth closed and my eyes open. The kiss was a chaste one until I felt something tug at my core.

I tried to jerk out of her grip but she had a hold of me and I couldn’t shake her loose.

She bit down on my lip, drawing blood, and I opened my mouth to protest. Magic coiled up from within, magic I had never felt before, never even knew I possessed. It curled up through my body, heat flowing through my chest as I felt it spill up my throat.

BOOK: A Grave Magic: The Shadow Sorceress Book One
9.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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