Home > Shades of Wicked (Night Rebel #1)(12)

Shades of Wicked (Night Rebel #1)(12)
Author: Jeaniene Frost

“This way,” I said.

Ian sprang up and followed me through the new door. “What would happen if anyone tried to go through without this mark?”

“If they didn’t have the other magical pass code, the wall would rematerialize and bash them in the face.”

He let out a snort. “Effective.”

It was, which is what had made this place a favorite sort of speakeasy for the magically inclined. Having to access it by going over the falls was inconvenient, but there were other ways to get in. If I had bothered to keep in touch with my old friends from this place, we could have found out those ways and climbed down the cliffs to this entrance without needing to go over the falls and get soaked.

I began to strip off my hood, rubber boots and the rest of my wet suit as we walked deeper into the narrow passageway. Beneath it, I wore a form-fitting black velvet dress that redirected Ian’s attention in a flash when he saw it.

“We’ll start off by looking for Rufus,” I said as I shook my hair out from its bun. “He’s an old friend of mine . . .”

My voice trailed off as the passageway ended in a large, open space. The last time I’d been here, countless orbs had floated around the room, illuminating everything with their beautiful, silvery glow. It had also been filled with people, music, laughter and magic. Now, it was as silent and empty as an abandoned tomb. I walked further into the room, the remnants of old magic touching me like cobwebs. That was all that remained of the place I’d known. Everything else was gone.

“I don’t understand,” I whispered.

Ian looked around, then inhaled deeply. “Barely a hint of scent anywhere. This place hasn’t seen action in a decade, at least. How long did you say it’s been since you were here?”

“Not that long,” I began, then paused. Uh, I guess it had been a while.

“Ten years ago? Twenty?” When I stayed silent, his stare grew pointed. “More?”

“A little over ninety years,” I said, feeling sheepishness wash over me.

“Ninety?” he repeated in disbelief. “Why in blazes did you pick this place, then?”

“It was the most recent magic club I’d been to,” I admitted.

His brows nearly flew into his hairline. “Ninety years? Blimey, no wonder you’re so uptight! Every senior citizen in the world has cut loose more recently than you.”

I stiffened. “I don’t appreciate the sarcasm—”

“And I don’t appreciate my balls freezing to my bishop,” he interrupted. “Yet here we are, and since we’re being honest, you’ve got something stuck in your teeth.”

“What?” I didn’t remember eating any real food . . .

“Right between the two front ones,” he said, pulling out a compact cosmetic mirror from his pocket. He must be more vain than I’d realized, bringing that with him. I’d brought weapons.

“See for yourself,” he said, holding the compact open.

I glanced at the mirror—and the dark cavern vanished while an endless array of mirrors shot up to surround me. I tried to run and more popped up, blocking my path. Incensed, I punched the nearest one. The shiny, reflective surface didn’t even crack. Instead, more mirrors appeared, until I began to feel dizzy from the endless copies of myself.

“Damn you, Ian!” I shouted, punching another mirror. Once again, it did nothing except make my fist sore.

I couldn’t see him, but the laughter that rumbled into my ears was unmistakably his. “I can’t believe you fell for ‘you have something in your teeth.’ Really, little Guardian, that has to be as old as you are.”

I stopped my attempts to beat my way out of this. They only served to increase the mirrors and my own sense of disorientation. “Impressive spell,” I said in a tone that belied the rage coursing through me. “Where did you learn it?”

Another laugh, sounding closer this time. “From a witch who caught me and several other vampires in it. None of us could get free until the spell expired. Necromancers couldn’t break it when we used it on them later. Even Mencheres hadn’t heard of it. That’s how I reckoned it should work against you.”

He’d actually shown me a spell I’d never seen before. I’d be impressed if I wasn’t so furious. “Don’t congratulate yourself yet. I’m not done trying to get out of this.”

It sounded as if he’d settled himself into a more comfortable position. “By all means, do your best, but the spell expires in three hours. If you can’t find a way out by then, I win.”

I could buy more time by using my abilities to freeze it, but I wouldn’t use that power unless I had to. Until then, I had other tricks to try.

By the end of the first hour, I was cursing Ian in every language I knew, although I made sure to do it in my head since vocalizing the curses only amused him. When I was well into the second hour, I’d stopped being angry. Instead, I was testing the limits of the spell with a growing sense of excitement.

So far, I’d been unable to beat it. Blasting all my supernatural power at the mirrors did nothing to break them. I finally resorted to freezing time in an attempt to move around the mirrors while everything was still. It didn’t work. Punching and kicking the mirrors only served to multiply them. So did stabbing them with one of the silver knives I’d hidden in my boots. In fact, the mirrors were so impervious to harm, I finally came to the conclusion that they couldn’t be real.

If they were, I should have been able to at least cause a hairline crack in one. The fact that I hadn’t meant I probably wasn’t doing any of the things I thought I was doing. For all I knew, I was still standing in the same spot I’d been when I first looked into the mirror Ian had spelled to become a trap.

If so, I shouldn’t be focused on trying to destroy the mirrors or get away from them. I shouldn’t pay attention to them at all. Instead, I needed to focus on myself. I closed my eyes, taking in deep breaths in an attempt to center myself.

It sounded like Ian shifted from his seated position. “Breathing? Think you can meditate your way out of this?”

I ignored the amusement in his tone to focus on the more important issue: He’d noticed what I was doing. He hadn’t commented on any specifics of my actions before. That only strengthened my suspicion that I hadn’t been doing any of it. Ian would have been unable to resist mocking me for trying to beat my way through the mirrors, let alone my other efforts.

I continued to focus on my breathing, until through force of will, I couldn’t hear Ian anymore despite the fact that he was still talking. After several minutes, I became aware of something I’d been oblivious to since this ordeal had started.

The feel of cold, hard stone beneath me.

I must be on the ground. Sprawled out, judging from the chilliness against my arms, legs, and torso. I must have been like this the whole time, considering how cold my limbs felt. Oh, what a clever spell! If I could, I’d congratulate the person who’d created it. Like quicksand, the more I’d struggled to escape it, the deeper I’d sunk into it. This spell could be useful in my attempt to bring Dagon down while trying to ensure that both Ian and I survived.

And if I could breathe, then I could move. If I could move, I could reach my silver knife for real this time. No matter how ancient or powerful, all spells ceased in one of three ways: when they were finished, when they were beaten, or when the bespelled person died.

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