Lark snorted. “You can’t be this big of a dumbass.”
I was confused on a number of things. I was half-crazy. But these two had a lot of nerve giving me flack about this. “Of the last four Arcana who have abducted me, each one gave me a reason for his actions. Arthur wanted to experiment on me. Guthrie tried to turn me into a cannibal. Vincent planned to sever parts of my body and watch them grow back. Death wanted to cut off my head for vengeance, threatening the ‘creature’ every day that he would do so.”
Aric’s brow furrowed.
I gazed from him to Lark. “When I asked Sol why he was hurting me, do you know what he said? ‘Already in an alliance.’” I rubbed my temples. My head was now pounding. “For no other reason, we should keep him alive because he juiced my abilities like nothing before.”
In a measured tone, Aric said, “That is something to consider.”
“Yeah. Sure, Eves.”
I hadn’t changed their minds whatsoever. So I changed the subject. “How did Sol and Zara live through that crash anyway?”
Aric rose, heading to his bar service for a bottle of vodka and a shot glass. “Fortune possesses the divine power of luck.” He poured a shot, then decided to bring it and the bottle back to his desk. “When fully empowered, she can overcome insurmountable odds.”
He didn’t offer me a glass? We’d also shot vodka in this study, talking into the night.
Lark said, “Like she’ll always get a lucky bounce?”
He took his seat again. “In that crash, any number of scenarios might have played out. She could’ve been thrown from the helicopter, landing perfectly on the remains of a tree, cradled between two limbs. Or she could’ve plummeted into a pond deep enough to break her fall. All I know is that she walked out of that canyon, likely unscathed.”
Lark frowned. “I thought she was associated with fate. Her Arcana name’s Our Lady of Fate.”
“As she desired it to be,” he said. “But it’s a very liberal translation.”
I’d thought these Arcana things were set in stone. Now the goalposts were moving.
He downed that shot, then poured another. “She appears to control fate, but she doesn’t have any influence over what happens to her. Her power is passive. She doesn’t read the future and consciously affect it—not like the Fool does.” Aric’s gaze grew distant. “Ages ago, Fortune was known more accurately as Lady Luck. The Fool was known as the Hand of Fate. She despised him for that and envied his power.”
I’d once called Matthew the hand of fate. He could see a thousand years into the future, but he’d also been able to guide me through a hail of bullets. “But how would Sol have survived?”
“Fortune’s allies often benefit from her luck—unless she takes it from them. She’s also a luck thief. That’s her active power.”
I murmured, “She can steal it through touch.” As Death stole life. She’d been about to touch me before she’d been interrupted. “When Matthew said fate had marked me, he meant destiny in general? Not Zara?”
“I would believe so.”
Adjusting the creature around her nape, Lark tugged a folded-up piece of paper out of her jeans pocket. “I’ll update my new list of Arcana.” She stood, then flattened the page on Aric’s desk.
I crossed my legs, leaning down to massage one aching calf. “I thought you kept a laminated one on the fridge.”
She snagged one of Aric’s pens, making some notes. “I don’t flaunt the list anymore. Not after a decent Arcana died. I might not have gelled with Selena, but I respected her.”
Selena and I had just gotten to be good friends. I recalled the Moon raising her beautiful face to the drizzle as she’d talked about my ceasefire plan for the game: “Jesus, Evie, what if it catches on? What if we could all live in peace? Use these powers for good?”
What if fate had marked me because I’d been trying to foil the game? Had I lost Jack as punishment?
Matthew had once told me: Fate demands her due. In other words, the game demanded blood. . . .
Lark made a last note. “Think I’ve got it. You two wanna look over?”
Shaking myself from my thoughts, I rose and hopped up on the edge of Aric’s desk, daring him to say something. The three of us began to read the list:
The Cursed Twenty-Two
0. The Fool, Gamekeeper of Old (Matthew)
I. The Magician, Master of Illusions (Finneas)
II. The High Priestess, Ruler of the Deep (Circe)
Aric tapped the page beside Circe’s name. “Just the Priestess. Also known as the Water Witch.”
Lark wrote “Hand of Fate” next to Matthew’s, then edited Circe’s. “Considering Poseida of the deep, or whatever, has been parked outside the castle for weeks, I think we should discuss this witch. What’re her weaknesses, boss?”
I added, “If she remains in the abyss, how could she ever be defeated?”
Aric looked amused. “Give up my ally’s vulnerabilities?”
My? I drew my head back. So did Lark.
I said, “If we are your allies and she’s one too, doesn’t that make all of us allies?”
His tone was flat as he answered, “No, it does not.”
I parted my lips to argue, but I didn’t trust my muddled mind yet. I bit my tongue, and we read on.
III. The Empress, Our Lady of Thorns (Evie)
IV. The Emperor, Stone Overlord (Richter)
“How did you defeat the Emperor two games ago?” I asked Aric.