“I am going in,” Lucivar said.
“Youcan’t .” He called in the paper that had the spooky house rules and waved it at his brother. “Damn you, Lucivar, according to the rules of this place—”
“Since when do we play by anyone else’s rules?”
The words felt like a bucket of ice water thrown in his face.
Lucivar moved closer, until there was no distance between them. “Tell me, Bastard. Since when dowe play by anyone else’s rules?”
He floundered. Felt like he’d lost his footing, but he couldn’t quite figure out why.
“This place was built as a trap to kill the three of us,” he said, sure of at least that much. “You, me, and Surreal.”
“Understood. What else?”
“We’ve figured out—or are almost certain, anyway—that Jarvis Jenkell is behind the creation of this place. He’s recently discovered that he’s Blood, and it seems he wants to test his newfound skills against the SaDiablo family.”
“Which only proves he’s a clever idiot. What else?”
Daemon held out the paper. “Read this.”
Lucivar glanced at the paper, then looked at the house. “You read it.”
Daemon took a breath, ready to argue that Lucivar was perfectly capable of reading the rules by himself. Then he paused. Considered. This wasn’t about Lucivar’s resistance to anything “bookish.” This was about what he absorbed from words when he heard them.
THERE ARE THIRTY EXITS FROM THESPOOKYHOUSE, BUT YOU WILL NEED TO LOOK CAREFULLY TO FIND THEM, FOR THEY ARE WRAPPED IN DANGER.EVERY TIMECRAFT IS USED, AN EXIT IS SEALED, AND THAT WAY OUT IS LOST.WHEN THE LAST EXIT IS SEALED, YOU WILL BECOME PART OF THE HOUSE—AND STAY WITH US FOREVER.
Lucivar looked at the house, at the land, at the sky.
“Again,” Lucivar said.
Daemon read it again—and watched his brother. That look. That stance. What was Lucivar looking at when he considered that house as a battleground? More to the point, what was Lucivarseeing ?
Lucivar took a couple of steps away from him. “Read it again.”
He read it a third time, then waited.
Lucivar took a deep breath and let it out in a gusty, annoyed sigh. Frustration filled his eyes, and Daemon recognized the feeling washing the air between them—their mutual desire to grab each other and shake some understanding into the other one’s head.
“He hamstrung you, Bastard,” Lucivar said. “He used words instead of a blade, but he hamstrung you. He counted on you doing exactly what you did—play by his rules. Surreal and Rainier, too, since they’re still in there.”
Jaenelle joined them. “There are three Black Widows who spun the illusions around this place. Every time Craft is used, the people in the house become more ensnared in the webs. And there are death spells tangled in with the rest. If you take a step over the boundary, you’ll be caught in the spells.”
“If you play by the rules,” Lucivar said. “The sun’s going to shine in Hell before I play by someone else’s rules—especially some landen prick who wants one of us to help him commit suicide.”
“He’s Blood, not landen,” Daemon said. “I don’t think he expected anyone to know he was behind this game, so I doubt he anticipated experiencing a slow execution firsthand as fodder for one of his stories.”
Lucivar stared at him as if half his brains had just fallen out of his ears.
“Even someone as strong as you can get caught by webs like this,” Jaenelle said. “Have you forgotten when we got caught in the Jhinka attack a few years ago? Those weren’t the same kind of webs, but close enough.”
“No, I haven’t forgotten,” Lucivar replied. “I’ve learned a few things since then.” He looked at Daemon. “That’s why I know you can’t go into that house—and I can.”
“What makes you think—?” Daemon began.
Lucivar swung his arm out, shoulder high, his hand in a tight fist.
Daemon felt the punch of Ebon-gray power as it hit the tangled webs that surrounded the house.
The house shook. It felt like a violent gust of wind—or a fist—had slammed into the house, trying to knock it off its foundation.
“Hell’s fire,” Rainier said. “What was that?”
Daemon had been able to feel the webs around the spooky house. Now he saw them. Lucivar’s power lit them up—and revealed some of the things they hid. Just for a moment. Just long enough.
“No wonder the house didn’t look balanced on the land,” Jaenelle said. “There’s actually three attached houses here, and two of them were sight shielded.”
Lucivar nodded. “Spells wrapped around places of transition—like a staircase or door—can be used to move people without their being aware of it. The illusion spell preys on their sense of where they are and how long they’ve been doing something simple. They think they’re going up a regular flight of stairs or going through a door, but they’re really being herded down a corridor that leads somewhere else. Surreal and Rainier are probably in the second or third house by now.”
“I’ve never heard of illusion spells that could do this,” Daemon said, glancing at Jaenelle. “Have you?”
“No,” she replied, sounding as puzzled and intrigued as he felt.
Lucivar looked at both of them and shrugged. “I guess it’s not part of the Hourglass’s standard training.”
“So where did you learn about this?” Daemon asked.
“I beg your pardon?”
“I learned about trap spells and transition illusions from Tersa.”
“Tersa walks in the Twisted Kingdom,” Jaenelle said. “You know that.”
Lucivar shrugged again. “Most people think in straight lines; Tersa thinks in squiggles. Just means it takes a little longer to get an answer when you ask her a question.”
Daemon rubbed his forehead, trying to dispel the headache that was brewing. “You talk to Tersa?”
“I visit her a couple times a month. I’ve done that for a few years now. We sit in the kitchen and drink ale and eat nutcakes.”
He saw Jaenelle shudder at that combination of tastes. The combination didn’t appeal to him either, but it brought up other questions. “Why don’t you have to drink milk in order to get nutcakes?”