This test of loyalty could break even the hardest stone.
Somehow Morgan and Gage survived the collision of Gage’s past with the present, but not without drawing accusations of treason from the Kin’s highest authority, the High Council. With no time to catch her breath or figure out how she feels about Gage and what she’s learned about him, the team is forced to prove their loyalty and go undercover to apprehend a black market magic dealer.
Morgan glanced at Rika, Clayton, Lachlin, and Hannah, standing on the doorstep of Gage’s house. Lachlin’s expression was a mask of indifference, but tension tightened his body, giving away how upset he was.
Rika had her phone out, but there wasn’t anyone she could call. Morgan was being taken away by the highest law in the Kin world. The only person who could help would be Gage, and he was already inside the white van.
Clayton stood beside Rika, his dark gaze taking in every detail. He saw things others didn’t and remembered them. What would he remember about this? Perhaps later, if Morgan and Gage survived whatever this was, Clayton would be able to reveal clues that would give this arrest more meaning.
Except she knew why they were being taken to see the High Council. They’d just battled — and she’d just killed — an agent of the Council. Gage was friends with members of the Shadow House, an unsanctioned Kin house, and when Korus, the High Council’s man, had attacked, Gage had done what he did best, protected the innocents.
Now they were paying for that choice.
And if forced to choose again, she’d do everything the same, including letting her powers blast into Korus — a man who’d set a house on fire knowing there were children inside — and kill him.
She climbed inside the windowless van that reminded her too much of a prisoner transport vehicle. Her powers sizzled over her eyes and pain burned through her, but she managed to focus on staying calm and not destroying anything or killing anyone — bonus points for the gorgon.
She sat on a metal bench along the side, across from the enormous albino man who’d hauled Gage inside, and beside Gage, who pressed his face to the cool side of the van, his chest still heaving with pained, rapid breaths.
The Sibyl slid into the bench opposite her, hands held loosely between jean-clad knees. He wasn’t at all what she’d imagined a sibyl would be. Historically the Sibyls of Delphi were women, but not all details of the Kin aligned with the myths and fairy tales around them. The Sibyl shook thick, sandy blond hair from his face and stared at her with warm brown eyes.
A shiver slid over her despite herself, igniting burning pain through her body and a tickling flicker of her powers across her cheeks and forehead. She tried to relax and ignore the pain. She was still injured from her fight two nights ago with Naomi and the goblins, and even more hurt from last night’s fight with Korus and his claw devils. Yesterday she’d learned that pain did nasty things to her ability to keep at bay her deadly power to turn someone to stone.
Somehow she managed to keep it together, but she wasn’t sure how. She was too sore and suddenly too cold to be dragged off somewhere. Except the shiver didn’t come from exhaustion or a chill. It came from the Sibyl’s look.
Which was ridiculous. There was nothing scary about this man. In fact, his gaze was one of the gentlest she’d experienced in a while. And still it felt alien and cold. She didn’t want this man looking at her for a long time. Hell, she didn’t want this man looking at her at all.
She forced herself to meet his eyes. No abyss there like with Gage’s gaze. Just plain, gentle, freezing, and weird. It wasn’t a sense that he could see her soul. Maybe it was the knowledge that he could see her future.
Another shiver slid through her, drawing a gasp of pain.
The Sibyl raised an eyebrow and handed Morgan a pair of sunglasses. “Interesting.”
“What?” the albino asked in a soft voice.
“I don’t know.” The Sibyl turned a hard stare on Gage. “What the hell have you gotten yourself into now?”
The van’s driver pulled out of Gage’s driveway and onto the empty early morning streets. Morgan slid on the glasses. They weren’t her preferred style — the lenses were too small — but they were better than nothing at helping keep her powers under control.
“The usual.” Gage shrugged and gasped. “You know. Although did you have to use the ring to bring me to my knees, Blake? I’m not in fighting form at the moment.”
The Sibyl, Blake — now even more incongruent with what Morgan imagined, because he had a normal name to go with his normal appearance — sighed. “Sorry. I have appearances to maintain and I figured the Council would come at you hard.”
“A little too hard,” Gage said.
“I didn’t realize how rough you were until after. Is that Korus’s work?”
“Korus didn’t manage to touch me much.” Gage pressed a hand to his side, where Korus’s fire bolt had skimmed him. “Most of the damage is claw devil.”
“Jeez. They sent claw devils after the Shadow House?” Blake’s eyes grew milky, a white film glossing over his brown irises, but he blinked and it was gone.
“Last report said there were a number of small children in the Shadow House,” the albino said.
“Over a dozen.” Morgan fought the urge to spit it at Blake. He worked for the High Council and they had just proven they didn’t care about the lives of innocents, but his reaction to Gage wasn’t what she’d expected. He and Gage obviously had some kind of positive relationship, Morgan just wasn’t sure how positive it really was. “There were four infants inside when they set the house on fire, along with all the other kids.”
The albino’s frown deepened. “This isn’t good.”
“You think?” Morgan said, unable to keep the sarcasm from her tone.
“How much does the Council know of my involvement?” Gage’s gaze flashed to Morgan. “And of Morgan’s?”
“Korus mentioned something to his secretary, which is why the Council wanted you picked up, but he hasn’t filed an official report.” The milky haze slid over Blake’s eyes again. “And I have a feeling he won’t be filing that report.”
“Yeah, he had an accident,” Gage said.
“I was wondering when that would come to pass.” A hint of a smile pulled at Blake’s lips. “He should have known better than to piss off a seriously injured gorgon.”
Gage stiffened. “Did you tell the High Council about that?”
“Why? I thought it was a false future when Chava died. No more gorgons, no more stony end for Korus,” Blake said.
The albino gave a soft, dark chuckle. “Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.”
Morgan glanced from him, to Blake, to Gage and back again, unable to make her mind work around the nature of Gage’s friendship with these guys. With a sigh, she gave up trying to figure it out all by herself. “I’m so confused.”
“Sorry,” Gage said. “Morgan Jacobs, meet Blake Vogler, Lord Sibyl of the High Council, and Loric Shep, his bodyguard.”
“Not really what I was confused about.” Perhaps it was the pain, or the exhaustion, or not having eaten in over a day. “You’re all so… friendly. After Korus, I figured everyone involved with the Council would be… I don’t know… mean.” She was too tired to figure out a good word.
“Gage and I have a unique relationship.” Blake met Morgan’s gaze again, drawing another shudder at the alienness there. “We both belong to the High Council.”
“At least you can call some of the shots,” Gage said.
“Influence.” Blake sighed. “I influence. I don’t call anything, and it’s going to be tough to save you from this. Even the mention that you might have helped the Master of the Shadow House get away has enraged most of the Council members.”
“So they sent you specifically to pick me up?” Gage asked.
“No. I said I needed to come. That I’d foreseen, for the sake of the gorgon, that Loric and I needed to pick you up. Really, I wanted to talk to you before they did.” Blake shifted, the movement of a man with something difficult to say. “I can get you out of this, but you and your team need to take whatever job they assign you.”
Gage’s eyes narrowed. “I’m not going to give them the location of the forsaken.”
“Because you don’t know where they are,” Blake said.
“I won’t go after innocents,” Gage growled.
Blake pursed his lips. “They don’t like you and they’re not happy with you. If you don’t want to be sent to purgatory, you need to convince them they can still control you.”
Gage swore. “What’s this job?”
“They haven’t told me, but I foresee three options and none of them are pleasant. I’ll try to steer them to the least unpleasant one.” Blake turned his unsettling attention on Morgan. “Regardless, they all involve Ms. Jacobs.”
“Wonderful. Do I get to wait until I can draw breath without feeling pain?” she asked.