“Right.” Cosette’s audience of wolves was finally dispersing and none of us would be allowed out here after nightfall. I brushed off my skirt as I stood. “Thank you for being as honest as you could be.” And at least she didn’t intend for any of us to die. It was a small comfort, but it was better than nothing.
“Please stop thanking me.” She let out a sad sigh. “I don’t deserve it and the habit’s going to get you in trouble if you keep looking for help from the fey.”
“What if I asked your queen for help?” I didn’t know which court Cosette was aligned with, but surely if I went to the top of the hierarchy, I could get what we needed. None of us would be able to stay neutral once Luciana started pulling demons into the world. It had to benefit the fey to help our cause.
“Don’t even suggest that.” Cosette snuck a last glance at something in the air and then grabbed my arm to hustle us both off the quad. “She might take you up on the offer, and she’d require much more than a blood oath in exchange.”
Cosette’s shudder passed through my arm and that response struck a cord. If I added up what she’d said and hadn’t said, and combined it with her aura, then I had one more question to ask and no reason not to finally let it out. “How closely are you related to your queen?”
Her long strides faltered, and that alone was enough of an answer: close enough that I wasn’t going to get a straight response out of her.
“No one ever thinks to ask me that,” Cosette said. “What makes you ask?” She slowed to a stop as we entered the courtyard.
“Mostly your aura.”
“You don’t give yourself enough credit, Claudia.” She tilted her head to the side. “I truly believe you’ll figure this out.”
We’d see how much credit I deserved. Maybe I was overreaching by asking for help from the fey when I hadn’t explored all the options closer to home.
It was time to talk to Muraco about Peru.
I sat curled up on the couch in St. Ailbe’s library into the wee hours. Muraco had gone on a hunt. Apparently he didn’t like sticking close to one place. He’d become a bit of a loner in the past century, as Mr. Dawson had put it.
Century. I laughed as I picked up the next book. Sometimes I wonder how much weirder life can get, and then it just gets weirder.
I’d taken to studying all the books on witchcraft that St. Ailbe’s had on hand. Luciana had kept us all ignorant of some things. She didn’t want us gaining too much power and fighting her. Now that I intended to fight her, I had to make up for lost time. Reading kept me busy and awake when all I wanted to do was sleep. Plus, the library had a fancy coffee machine. Caffeine was essential to my don’t-fall-asleep plan.
I stood up, stretching my tired muscles. Everyone else had gone to bed hours ago, but that was to be expected. I checked my watch. Three a.m. Only a few more hours until daylight. For some reason, it was easier to stay awake when it was light out.
I walked over to the shelves and scanned for anything that seemed interesting. My vision was getting blurry from lack of sleep, and I was starting to feel more than a little loopy. After so many hours awake, it was almost like I was living in a dream. I jumped up and down, trying to gain some energy. Maybe another cup of coffee would help, too.
I headed toward the machine, grabbed a fresh mug, and started pouring the thick brew.
A siren went off and I jumped, spilling some coffee on my hand.
I froze. For a second, I thought I’d fallen asleep, but the burn on my hand meant that I was awake.
No. I didn’t smell any smoke.
Then panic gripped my chest. Luciana?
Oh, no. Not yet. It was too soon. We weren’t nearly ready.
I dashed to the door. The halls of the academic building were quiet, but the siren kept going. As soon as I stepped outside, the stench hit me.
It was an attack.
And all my potion vials were in my room where they did me absolutely no good.
The alarm shut off, leaving only the snarls and shrieks and chaos of the fight.
Wolves fought together, pressing back a swarm of vampires. Thirty or forty of them swarmed across the campus, attacking from every direction I could see, and their rotting meat stench made me clap a hand to my nose.
The wolves were winning. Killing them off one by one. Without any of my potions, I wasn’t much help against them, so I stayed back. I drew a few knots in the air. Spells of protection and stealth and agility. I pushed the magic out to cover the wolves as I watched, waiting for an opportunity to jump in where I wouldn’t be in the way.