Black Wings

Chapter 70

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Nathaniel opened a portal in the kitchen. Mist swirled inside.

“Take him directly to my father,” I said.

“As you wish, Madeline. For now,” he said, and stepped inside.

The portal closed behind them, and I was alone in Greenwitch’s kitchen, my hands soaked in Gabriel’s blood.

20

FOR THE SECOND TIME IN TWO DAYS I BROKE DOWN. I fell to my knees and covered my eyes with my bloody hands and sobbed until there were no more tears. Then I crawled out of the kitchen. The floor was coated in Gabriel’s blood as well as bits of Antares’s skin and muscle, and it smelled like a slaughterhouse. My knees left dragging tracks in the mess.

I hauled myself to my feet, using the doorway as a support. I’d forgotten about my nose and ribs in all the excitement. The pain now returned to pummel me into submission. My head felt like it had been cracked open with a nut hammer and the throbbing in my ribs made every breath a punishment.

I leaned in the doorway and took a quick assessment of my situation. I was severely injured. My most trusted ally was mortally wounded. My enemy had managed to escape yet again, which meant he would be back at the most inconvenient time possible to try to kill me. Not that there was ever a convenient time for my murder, really.

I still had to track Ramuell or Evangeline’s captor or both, and I had basically zero control over my magic. It was miraculous that I had managed to blast Antares with something magically useful, like electricity. I could have just as easily launched feathers in his face.

Without Gabriel, without control over my powers and without a clue how to magically track anyone, I felt pretty hopeless about my cause.

“I don’t know what to do. Help me. Help me. I’m all alone,” I whispered. I didn’t even know who I was asking for help. I just knew that I couldn’t do this by myself.

You are not alone.

I stood upright and stared around the room wildly. I knew that voice.

“Where are you?” I said. “Show yourself.”

Evangeline appeared before me, small and thin with a long tumble of dark hair. She wore a simple white robe that made her look very sweet and very young. She shimmered as she hung in the air, an idea without corporeal presence.

I looked like her. Not in an obvious way, but it was clear there was a family resemblance in the eyes and the mouth and the shape of the face.

“Are you a ghost?” I said. She didn’t really look like a ghost. More like a TV signal that kept flickering on and off.

No, she said. I am a memory that has been locked in the blood of my descendants for many generations.

Her mouth didn’t move but her voice filled the room. It was fairly creepy.

“So why have you been unlocked now?” I asked.

To help you, my granddaughter. To find the nephilim that kills the children of my children.

I narrowed my eyes at her. “Not to find the angel who held you captive? The one that got away?”

Something flickered across her face but I couldn’t read the emotion.

The nephilim’s master and my captor are one and the same.

I pumped my fist in the air. “I knew it! I told Beezle and Gabriel.”

We must leave. The nephilim cannot show his face in daylight . . .

“Ha! Knew that, too. Why is that, anyway?”

Evangeline looked impatient. Because, as you suspected, the light of the Morningstar has been twisted inside Ramuell. Sunlight will destroy him utterly. This was hidden by Lucifer. All the nephilim were bound deep underground in the Valley of Sorrows to protect his son’s secret.

But we must hurry now. It will not be long before the nephilim’s master realizes that your bodyguard has been mortally injured. She will send others after you.

“How come you waited until now to appear to me and give me all this useful information?” I said suspiciously. “What’s your angle?”

Only to help you, my granddaughter, she repeated. I was unable to assist you directly before because you did not call for aid.

She looked innocent and full of grace, but I wasn’t so certain that her motives were pure. I strongly suspected that some of my freakier powers had manifested as a result of her influence. And it seemed that she had waited until pretty late in the day to get around to helping me.

There is no time, she insisted, holding out her ghostly hand to me. We must go now.

I’d wanted help, and here it was. If I took Evangeline’s hand, I could find Ramuell and his master. I didn’t know if I would be able to capture or injure them on my own, but since she was so hot to get me to them I assumed there would be some assistance on that front.

I just wasn’t so sure that my darling great-grandmother wouldn’t sacrifice me to reach her own ends. Everyone I had encountered over the last few days had an agenda of their own, and that agenda never seemed to include my well-being at the top of the list.

I could choose to trust Evangeline. Or I could choose to trust that I’d have the wit to keep myself alive. I wasn’t so sure about the second choice. It seemed that thus far I’d skated by on a combination of luck and Gabriel’s healing ability. But this might be my only chance. If I didn’t go after Ramuell now, Antares might come back and kill me. Or a horde of demons might come flying out of the oven. Really, with the week I’d had, anything was possible.

I took Evangeline’s hand. It wasn’t like grasping the hand of a corporeal being. There was no feeling of firmness, of solid flesh beneath my fingers. But there was a definite feeling of pressure, almost like the air had been molded. I was certain once I touched her that I would not be able to loose myself unless she allowed it.


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