Adam’s eyes were saucer huge. “How did she just do that?”

Giguhl didn’t answer. He just glared at the spot where she’d stood moments before. A muscle worked in his jaw.

I approached slowly, unsure how any show of comfort might be received. “G?” I whispered. “Are you okay?”

As if he’d forgotten our presence altogether, his head snapped up. His eyes had a wild look I’d only seen in the fighting ring. I held up my hands. “Hey, it’s just me.”

He shook himself, like a dog after a particularly objectionable bath. “Hey.” He sounded disoriented, as if waking from a long nap. “What’s up?”


I glanced from the corner of my eye at Adam. He just shrugged.

“Are you going to be okay?” I asked.

“What? Valva?” He waved a claw through the air. “Sure. No big deal.”

I frowned at him. “Are you sure? She was kind of harsh.”

“Sabina, I’m fine. She obviously wasn’t the demon I thought she was. I’m better off without her.”

“Okay,” I said slowly. “Well, if you need to talk or whatever, I’m here.” I said this clumsily, totally out of my depth when it came to offering emotional support to the brokenhearted.

“Yep, thanks.” With that, he turned and walked over to a boulder perched on the hill. He lifted the huge thing like a mortal might have lifted a heavy crate. Raising it over his head, his muscles strained for a moment. Then he launched the rock like a shot put.

The boulder flew so far, my eyes lost sight of it in the inky night sky. Several seconds later, a muted crash rose from deep in the canyon below. A dog’s bark echoed through the night, followed by a single pinpoint of light igniting in a distant window.

“Whoops,” Giguhl said.

The corner of my mouth twitched. “Feel better?”

He sucked in a lungful of air that expanded his chest. On the exhale, he roared so loud I had to check and see if my ear was bleeding. When the primal scream finally cut off, Giguhl smiled. “Now I feel better.”

Adam removed his hands from his ears. “Um, maybe this isn’t the best time to ask this question, but does anyone know how in the hell Valva managed to flash out of here like that?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “I was kind of hoping you’d know.” I turned to Giguhl. “I thought only the mage who controlled the demon could send them back to Irkalla.”

Adam nodded. “Right.”

“It’s because she’s not a normal demon.” Bitterness dripped from Giguhl’s voice.

I frowned, trying to decide if he was serious or if it was the heartbreak talking. “What do you mean?”

He shrugged. “That rule only applies to your average Shedim demon.”

Adam seemed to be following Giguhl’s cryptic remarks better than me. His eyes widened. “Wait, she’s a Lilitu?”

Giguhl nodded solemnly. “Yep.”

“Wait,” I said. “Can someone fill me in please?”

Giguhl offered the explanation. “There’s two types of demons. Those that existed before time—the Shedim. No one really knows where we came from, but we know we’ve existed before Lilith fled the Garden of Eden and shacked up with Asmodeus.”

I nodded. I’d never heard the word Shedim, but I knew enough of the origin stories to follow along. “Okay.”

“The Lilitu are the demons who are direct descendants of Lilith and Asmodeus,” Adam said.

“A bigger bunch of snooty demons you’ll never meet,” Giguhl added. “They think because they’re royalty and shit that they’re special, even though the Shedim have been around eons longer.”

I processed all this. “So what you’re saying is that the Lilitu can move between the realms and the Shedim can’t—without magical aid that is.”

“Exactly,” Giguhl said. “They usually don’t come here, though. They’re so privileged in Irkalla, they don’t usually bother with mortal concerns.”

I raised a hand. “Does it bother anyone else that Valva is Lilith’s daughter and we didn’t know it?”

“I knew it,” Giguhl said. “I just didn’t think it mattered.”

I raised my hands in frustration. “Of course it matters.” Some people believed I was some sort of chosen one, prophesied by Lilith to unite all the dark races. So the fact Valva might have been sent by the dark goddess to spy on me or whatever was information I could have used.

“Actually,” Adam jumped in, “it may not. Lilith and Asmodeus have been popping out demons for millennia. Right, Giguhl?”

The demon nodded. “I’d guess they have about one hundred billion kids, give or take.”

“And think about it,” Adam said. “Lenny summoned Valva to fight Giguhl. Damara orchestrated all that by herself as far as we know.”

He was right. Damara had been working for the Caste of Nod, who wanted me dead. She’d tried to get me killed, but when that didn’t work, she blackmailed Lenny to have one of his demons kill Giguhl.

“It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Lilith orchestrated it,” I said.

“I don’t know,” Adam said. “It’s kind of a stretch. Besides, she might have been a bitch, but she wasn’t exactly a mastermind.” He cringed and shot Giguhl an apologetic look. “Sorry, G.”

Giguhl waved a claw. “Don’t worry about it. Her lack of depth was one of the things I liked best about her.” His shoulders slumped.

Time to change the subject before he demanded ice cream and a chick flick marathon. “Okay, now that we’ve figured that minor mystery out, we’ve got a bigger issue.”

“Right,” Adam said. “The Dominae.”

I took a deep breath and thought about our options. My instinct was to go underground for a few days until the heat died down, but frankly I was tired of the Dominae having the upper hand. If we wanted to succeed, we’d need to do something unexpected. Something bold.

“Before we move on to that,” Giguhl said, “I have something to say.”

Adam and I both looked up from our musings.

“If I hadn’t forced her on you guys, none of this would have happened. I’m sorry my selfishness put us in this position.”

I frowned. I so wasn’t used to Giguhl going all sincere on me. “It’s not your fault. She had us all fooled.” I patted him on the arm. “But it’s in the past now. We need to get our heads back in the game and figure out what our next move is now that the Dominae know we’re here.”

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