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Authors: Livia Blackburne

Daughter of Dusk

BOOK: Daughter of Dusk
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Also by Livia Blackburne

Midnight Thief

Copyright © 2015 by Livia Blackburne
Cover design by Tanya Ross-Hughes
Cover photo illustration by Sammy Yuen
Cover photographs, paw, texture, and smoke copyright © 2015 by Thinkstock

All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Hyperion, 125 West End
Avenue, New York, New York 10023.

ISBN 978-1-4847-2253-4


  1. Contents
  2. Title Page
  3. Also by Livia Blackburne
  4. Copyright
  5. Dedication
  6. One
  7. Two
  8. Three
  9. Four
  10. Five
  11. Six
  12. Seven
  13. Eight
  14. Nine
  15. Ten
  16. Eleven
  17. Twelve
  18. Thirteen
  19. Fourteen
  20. Fifteen
  21. Sixteen
  22. Seventeen
  23. Eighteen
  24. Nineteen
  25. Twenty
  26. Twenty-one
  27. Twenty-two
  28. Twenty-three
  29. Twenty-four
  30. Twenty-five
  31. Twenty-six
  32. Twenty-seven
  33. Twenty-eight
  34. Twenty-nine
  35. Thirty
  36. Epilogue
  37. Acknowledgments
  38. About the Author

To my favorite astronomer and literary snob


he snow was a problem, the way it crunched beneath Kyra’s shoes and bore marks of her passing. Though her Makvani blood made her
light-footed, it wasn’t enough to keep her from leaving a trail of footprints between the trees. The previous four times Kyra had come into the forest, she’d told herself it would be
her last. If she were wise, she’d stay away. But apparently, she wasn’t wise, not where her past was concerned.

The moon was almost full tonight. Its light passed through the leafless canopy, making the ground shine silver. Though the snow muffled the forest’s sounds, there was still plenty to be
heard. Wind blew through the trees. Occasionally an owl hooted. A shadow moved nearby, and Kyra trained her eyes on it, focusing on the shades of darkness that teased themselves apart if she looked
hard enough. She sampled the odors of bark, new snow, and frozen leaves, and she listened. There was the snuffling of a raccoon, a scratching of tiny paws. Her Makvani blood sharpened her senses,
and her brief time with the clan had taught her to use them to their fullest. It had been exhilarating to see the world like this, and Kyra had reveled in these new discoveries.

But they were no longer enough.

Even now, as she stood awash in the forest’s sights, sounds, and smells, Kyra was thinking about something else.
A crisp fall morning. A circle of witnesses. Her life hanging in the
She’d been a captive of the Makvani, fighting the assassin James in Challenge, and he’d beaten her. He’d had her at his mercy, and she’d been sure she was
going to die.

But then she’d changed. Kyra could feel it still, the warmth that started in her core and expanded out until her body melted and her bones stretched into the frame of a giant wildcat. The
world had come to her in stark clarity—sights, sounds, and smells overwhelming her with their strength.

And with it had come the bloodlust. Kyra shrank back from that detail, but it was there, as clear in her mind as the taste of the forest on her tongue. She’d wanted nothing more than to
tear James limb from limb, to savage his body beyond recognition. Though Kyra had resisted the urge, the memory stayed with her, as did her horror at what she might have done. She’d sworn she
would never take her cat form again.

And yet, here she was, back in the forest. Still in her skin but teetering on the edge, far too tempted for her own good.

Kyra placed her hand on a nearby tree. Its rough bark felt solid enough to keep her from being swept away. Kyra closed her eyes and sent her senses inward, daring herself to find the spark that
would bring out her other form. But what would happen afterward? How long would she remain in her fur? What atrocities would she commit before she turned back?

She opened her eyes and stopped reaching. Maybe someday she would go through with it, but not tonight. Kyra glanced up at the constellations and noted the time, a habit formed years ago from her
early days as a thief. She suspected she’d be checking the sky for the rest of her life.

That was when she heard something move, something that didn’t have the small scurrying steps of prey. Though the footsteps weren’t loud, she could sense a bulk to them—a
difference in the feel of the ground and the way the air moved. A bear would have that kind of weight, but it would be louder. That left one other possibility.…

Kyra backed against a tree, her heartbeat suddenly twice as fast as before. If it really was a demon cat coming toward her, climbing the tree would do her no good. She balanced her weight on the
balls of her feet, muscles taut, as the beast came into view. Sleek muscle, long tail, pointed ears—a wildcat the size of a horse. Kyra didn’t recognize this particular demon cat. Its
eyes fixed on her, and its tail swished dangerously. There was no friendliness in its gaze. Kyra hadn’t exactly left the Makvani on good terms.

“I mean no harm,” Kyra said. “I don’t come on Palace business.” Her voice quavered. As if the beast would believe her. As if the beast would care.

It continued advancing, and though it would do no good, Kyra turned to run. The forest had gone silent around her, and all she could hear were her own quick breaths and the crunch of snow
underfoot. She managed a few steps before powerful paws knocked her down. Kyra skidded along the ground. Icy snow spilled into her sleeves and melted against her skin. Kyra rolled onto her side and
scrambled for the knife in her boot, only to drop it as the beast knocked her again to the ground. Hot breath bore down on her, and Kyra crossed her arms in front of her face to ward off teeth and
claws. Could she change now? The beast gave her no quarter, not even a chance to breathe.

There was a roar. A creature—another demon cat—collided with the beast on top of her. The two cats tumbled along the ground, growling and snapping, a blur that was impossible to
follow. Kyra had only just made sense of the scene when the two cats broke apart and faced each other. The second cat let out a low growl. After a long moment, the first beast turned and retreated
into the forest, leaving Kyra alone with her rescuer.

Kyra’s heart still beat wildly in her chest, and she couldn’t quite believe that the threat was gone. She didn’t recognize this new beast. She’d hoped it was Pashla, the
clanswoman who had been her advocate during her time with the Makvani, but this tawny-yellow creature was much bigger, with muscular shoulders and haunches that were formidable even for a demon
cat. As Kyra climbed to her feet, the beast’s shape began to blur. A moment later, Leyus stood before her. Leyus, the leader of the Makvani, who had only grudgingly spared her life the last
time she’d seen him. In his human form, Leyus was tall with long hair that matched the tawny yellow of his fur, and the same muscular shoulders he carried as a beast. Kyra kept her eyes on
his face because, like all Makvani who had just changed into his skin, he was naked.

“You tread a dangerous line, coming back to this forest,” said Leyus. He turned to leave without waiting for a response.

Kyra stood dumbfounded. “Thank you,” she called.

Leyus looked over his shoulder. “You have chosen your loyalties,” he said without stopping. “Do not expect to be safe out here. If you come into our territory, you alone bear
the risks and the consequences.”

And then he was gone.


yra’s younger friends Idalee and Lettie were sound asleep by the time she returned to the small room the three of them rented from a wealthy
jeweler’s widow. The two sisters lay curled together on the straw pallet they all shared. Idalee’s dark hair was spread wild around her on the pillow, while Lettie had burrowed
completely under the covers and was only visible as a small mound at her sister’s back. They didn’t stir when Kyra climbed in next to them.

Though the bedding was blissfully warm compared to the icy forest, Kyra stayed awake long after she lay down, staring into the darkness as the attack and rescue played in her mind. It was a
foolish thing, going back into the forest time after time with no reason. The Demon Riders had made it very clear that she was no longer welcome in their midst, and Leyus could very well have let
her die. Kyra didn’t know if it was residual gratitude for saving his clan, a desire to avoid trouble with the Palace, or Kyra’s own mixed blood that had led Leyus to intervene, but she
wasn’t naïve enough to expect her good fortune to hold if she continued going. Trouble was, she couldn’t seem to stay away. She’d spent her entire life wondering who her
parents were and where she’d come from. Just as she’d learned more about her history, however horrifying it was, it had been taken away from her. The draw of her past was strong, as was
that tantalizing memory of those few moments she’d had in her second form.

But maybe there was a better way to go after her past—one that wouldn’t get her killed. Pashla had once mentioned that Far Ranger trade caravans had long memories and might be able
to give Kyra clues about her origins. Perhaps it was time to seek them out.

She was running through the forest on four legs, dodging trees and leaping over rocks. It was a joy to use her limbs this way, to stretch her back legs behind her and reach
with her front paws for the next push. The trees were a blur around her, and she ran until she arrived, breathless, in front of Forge’s walls. Kyra sat back on her haunches, tongue lolling,
but something wasn’t right. The walls were lined with Red Shields, and even as she climbed back to her feet, they streamed down from the walls and surrounded her. The last man to close the
circle was Malikel, stern in his official’s robes and looking much taller than Kyra remembered.

BOOK: Daughter of Dusk
7.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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