Added to this, Ruby was now singing They Might Be Giants' "Particle Man." Over and over. Carrow had taught her to sing it on repeat to annoy others - not herself. She muttered to the ceiling, "Amanda, I never knew."

"Particle Man, Particle Man, doing the things a particle can."

Between gritted teeth, she said, "Ruby, stop singing."

She pouted, flouncing to the foot of the Sorceri's bunk. "You said we were going home!" She reminded Carrow of that constantly.

Emberine rose and tsked. "Carrow is mean, isn't she?"

Carrow no longer tried to keep Ruby separated from the Sorceri. Because of their being trapped in a ten-by-ten-foot cell together and all. The two were continually slinking around Ruby, gazing at her with interest, tilting their heads at the girl as if they couldn't "uite place something about her.

"You've been sharp with her," Lanthe murmured.

Carrow hissed back, "Don't you feel the tension?"

"From you."

"You're the one who told me to be firmer with her."

"Particle Man, Particle Man - "


Carrow leapt to her feet. "Ruby, damn it! I said no."

Lanthe yanked her to the other side of the cell, muttering, "Gods, Carrow, why didn't you just snap, 'Mummy has a headache! Go fetch Mummy's scotch!'?"

Ember cried, "Hide the wire hangers!"

Ruby asked, "Why hide the wire hangers?"

Portia patted her head. "May you never find out."

"I told her not to sing, and she's still doing it" - Carrow leaned around Lanthe to glare at Ruby - "just to annoy me."

"Of course, that's it," Lanthe said. "Not because she's seven, with no toys or anything else to occupy her. Think about it - the high point of our day is when they drag by victims."

Earlier, it'd been Regin again. As the guards had hauled the Valkyrie past Carrow's cell, her normally radiant skin had been ghostly. Blood had streamed from her mouth.

"Carrow ... is that y-you?" She'd coughed, spattering crimson. "Can't s-see."

Carrow had leapt to the glass, motioning for Lanthe to cover Ruby's eyes. "I'm here!" she'd said, cringing at the V of staples that tracked from Regin's collarbone down toward her stomach. Vivisection.

"Kill him, witch!" Regin's voice had sounded crazed, her amber eyes darting blindly and spilling with tears. "Curse Chase. He ordered this." Never have I seen fearless Regin cry. "He is Aidan the Fierce. T-tell my sisters."

"Aidan, the berserker?" Carrow had heard Regin speak of him before.

"Aidan the Betrayer," she'd screamed as they dragged her away, "Aidan the Defiler!" To the guards, she'd shrieked, "You fools! You're following one of our kind! You take orders from one of us. ..."

Centuries ago, Aidan - one of Woden's berserker warriors - had fallen in love with Regin, one of Woden's beloved daughters. Aidan had been killed, but he'd continued to reincarnate, seeking Regin in different lifetimes.

Could Chase be Aidan? And why would Regin believe Carrow could escape before Regin ever could?

Now Carrow exhaled. "You're right, Lanthe. I am freaking out." She pinched the bridge of her nose and lowered her voice. "But I have a male in the same building who wants to gruesomely murder me!"

Lanthe scoffed. "Like I don't?"

"One day you'll have to tell me what went down with you and Thronos."

"What went down? How apropos," she said, her tone cryptic. Before Carrow could "uestion her, Lanthe said, "But that's a story for another time. We're predicting your gruesome murder now. And speak of the demon, they intend to bring him out."

"How can you tell?"

"Look, they have twice the number of guards as usual, and they're heading for the end of the ward. So it's either Slaine or Lothaire."

Let it be Lothaire.

Carrow snapped her fingers at Ruby. "Go behind the screen."

"Crow, I wanna see - "


Chapter 29

The witch is in a dark building, filled with screeching sounds and intermittent explosions of light. Dressed in skintight leather trews and a skimpy vest, she dances provocatively atop a table with a redheaded friend. Together they tease scores of males.

Drunken from spirits, Carrow leisurely begins unfastening her top. One button, then the next. The crowd cheers wildly, throwing colored necklaces at her, urging her on. She holds the edges of her loosed top together, shimmying forward, working the males into a furor.

When their calls grow deafening, she proudly displays her br**sts, shoulders back and chin lifted.

Malkom jerked upright on his cot, waking into a fresh rage. How could she let those men leer at her body like that? Why taunt their desires?

Just as she had with him!

He rose, pacing his cell. Yet another new memory of the witch's. Though they'd begun coming each time he slept, full-blown scenes like this were rare - but always similar. Dimly lit buildings, blaring sounds, her drunken carousing.

Most of the time, there were only impressions, words whispered in his mind. The witch had oft repeated to herself, Think of ruby, while experiencing a keen longing. What did that mean? What was this thing that she yearned for so badly? A ruby? A stone?

He wanted to know so he could deprive her of it, as part of his vengeance.

"Another bad dream, vemon?" the strange male intoned. "It's a hazard of drinking blood."

Days ago, Malkom had matched the voice to a being in the cell diagonal from his - a vampire called Lothaire, one with light red eyes, which meant he was fallen - a crazed Horde vampire.

Like the Viceroy and the master.

Spurred to slaughter that vampire, Malkom had barreled his head against the glass, too late forgetting his horns had been cut. Blood had run from his head. Hadn't mattered. He'd launched himself against the glass over and over until the mortals had knocked him unconscious again.

Upon Malkom's awakening, Lothaire had ridiculed him: "Fool. You sleep excessively for someone who has so much to learn."

Then the cycle had repeated.

Yet soon, Malkom had decided that the vampire was right. He did have much to learn. He needed to discover a way to reach the witch and escape with her. And he needed to speak Anglish as well as he understood it, to unlock her language more "uickly than he'd ever anticipated.

So he'd stopped fighting and started listening to those around him, observing all he could. At times, he could just make out the witch's voice. She was definitely within this building.

So near ... She'd given him a taste of her body, he'd taken tastes of her blood, and he needed more - even as he hated her. While he'd been ready to lay down his life for her, had surrendered himself to his worst enemy, she'd coldly plotted his downfall.

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