Once they'd reached the prison ward's main entrance, another long corridor branched off, this one filled with offices and labs. Without a word, Fegley hauled her into the last room, what looked like a modernist den. No lab? No electrodes or bone saws?

A plain-Jane brunette sat behind an executive desk. She sported an I'm a bitch, so deal look behind unstylish glasses. Must be Dr. Dixon.

Behind her, a towering dark-haired male stood at the window. He gazed out into the turbulent night, revealing only a shadowy profile.

Carrow peered outside to get an idea of their location, but rain pelted the window. According to inmate whispers, this facility was on a giant island, thousands of miles from land in any direction. Natch.

"Free her hands," the tall man said without turning. Though he'd spoken only three words, Carrow recognized Declan Chase's voice - that low, hateful tone with the faintest hint of an Irish accent.

Fegley unlocked her cuffs the same way he'd locked them - with his thumbprint - then he exited through a concealed panel door in a side wall.

Everything in this place, including her tor"ue, was locked with a person's right hand thumb. Which meant Carrow needed to cut off Fegley's. Beauty. Something to look forward to. "I remember you, Blademan," she told Chase. "Yeah, from when you and your men electrocuted me."

Those bastards had posted bail for Carrow's latest disorderly conduct charge - proudly earned! - and then lain in wait outside the Orleans Parish Correctional. As she headed home, they'd blown her down a city block with charge throwers, gagged her, and forced a black bag over her head. "Was the hood supposed to instill dread in me or something?"

'Cause it'd worked.

Without deigning to reply, Chase faced her briefly, yet he didn't look at her, more like through her. His pitch-black hair was straight, longish. Several hanks hung over one side of his face, and she thought she saw scars jagging beneath them. His eyes, at least the one she could see, were gray.

He was dressed in somber hues from head to toe, concealing any exposed skin on his body with the help of his leather gloves and high-collared jacket. By all outward appearances, he seemed cold as ice, even as his aura screamed I'm unbalanced!


This was the man who took Carrow's friend Regin the Radiant out of her cell, time and again, to be tortured. Whenever he hurt Regin, her Valkyrie lightning struck outside and the compound's lights surged from her radiant energy.

He hurt her a lot.

"So, Chase, you get off torturing women?" It made a kind of sick sense that a man so cold would fixate on the normally joyful Regin, with her glowing beauty and lust for life.

Carrow thought she saw his lips curl, as if this statement held particular significance to him. "Women? I only torture one woman at a time."

"And you've decided to go steady with Regin the Radiant for now?" Out of the corner of her eye, Carrow saw Dixon frowning at Chase, as if she suspected some untoward interest as well. Ah, so that was the way of it - Dixon carried a torch for the Blademan.

Carrow supposed some might consider his features attractive, for a sadistic human, but his half-hidden countenance resembled a pale, deadened mask.

All the best with that, you crazy kids. Tommy-used-to-work-on-the-docks and mazel tov.

Chase merely shrugged, turning back to the window. But the tension in his shoulders was so marked, she wondered how he remained upright.

"You've got stones to nab a Valkyrie, I'll give you that," Carrow said. "But her sisters will come for her. For that matter, you really shouldn't have pissed off the House of Witches. The covens will find your little jail. They'll descend on this place." Though she sounded confident, she'd begun to suspect that the island was cloaked somehow. By now, Mariketa would know she'd been abducted, and if her powerful friend hadn't yet scried her location - or gotten a soothsayer to uncover it - then it couldn't be found.

"Will they, indeed?" His tone was smug, too smug. "Then I'll add to my collection."


Dixon hastily said, "Magister Chase is only doing what must be done. We all are. Whenever immortals begin to plot, we sentinels rise up, as we have for centuries."


Dixon nodded. "You're planning to annihilate mankind and take over the earth."

Carrow's lips parted in disbelief. "That's what this is all about? My gods, it's too ridiculous! You wanna know a secret? There's no plan to kill you all, because you're beneath our notice!"

Ugh - fanatical humans! Sometimes she hated them so much.

"We know that a war between us is coming," Dixon insisted. "If your kind isn't contained, you'll destroy us all."

Carrow s"uinted at her. "I'm warming to the idea. Especially with mortals like you. Don't you get it? Human fanatics are more monster than any of the Lore."

"More than the Libitinae?"

The Libitinae often forced men to self-castrate or die - for fun.

"Or maybe the Neoptera?" Dixon continued.

Insectlike humanoids, the stuff of nightmares. At the mention of the latter, Chase tensed even more, the muscle in his jaw bulging. Interesting.

Watching for any reaction, Carrow slowly said, "No, I'll grant you that the Neoptera are depraved. They don't kill their "uarry; they keep it, tormenting it hour after hour."

Had sweat beaded on Chase's upper lip? If those creatures had gotten hold of this man ... Well, Carrow knew what they did for shits and giggles, what they did to their victim's skin, and it made her stomach turn.

Was that why Chase had covered as much of his body as possible? How was he still sane? Was he?

The inmates gossiped about this man constantly; apparently, he hated to be touched, had once clocked an orderly who'd made the mistake of tapping his shoulder.

That would explain the gloves.

She almost felt a shred of pity for him, until he grated, "And the witch believes she's better than they are."

And the witch is talking to a madman. "Okay, clearly you two are beyond rational debate, so let's just get to it. Why did you take me?"

Dixon answered, "Our aim is not only to study you, but to conceal your existence. Most immortals fly under the radar. You flaunt your powers in front of humans."

Carrow had been repeatedly chastised by her coven for this. But, as she'd often argued, she never used her powers around sober humans. "So why'd you bring me here tonight?"

"You're going to help us capture a vampiric demon, a male named Malkom Slaine."

Heh. Twenty large says I'm not. "A vemon? You really think they exist?" she asked innocently. Vemons had been thought an impossibility, a "true myth" -  oxymoron, hello? - until one had been unleashed on New Orleans last year.

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