“What about you?” Daemon asked. “What are you going to do?”
“Based on those rules, this place was made to hobble the Blood from using Craft in order to fight whatever is in the house, so everything will be designed to push the Blood into using Craft. But it doesn’t take into account what happens to the game when you throw a trained warrior into the mix. This place was designed to hamstring your way of fighting, not mine.”
“Wait here,” Jaenelle said. She ran back to the Coach.
“She’s getting stronger,” Lucivar said quietly as they both watched her enter the Coach. “Moving better. You must be letting her ride you half the time. Gives her leg muscles a good workout.”
Daemon choked back a laugh. Then the humor faded. “What are you going to do?”
Lucivar tipped his head, as if he was conversing with someone. Then he looked at the house. “You said this place was built to kill us—you and me—so no matter what Surreal and Rainier have done to protect themselves and the people with them, not everyone has survived through the night. Anyone who was Blood probably made the transition to demon-dead and is now an enemy, and there must have been predators in the house in the first place. Surreal and Rainier are going to be moving, trying to find the way out. Whoever is alive is with them. So I’m going through the door, and I’m going to find Surreal—and I’m going to kill everything in between.”
Daemon looked at his brother, armed for the killing field. “Are you sure you can avoid those ensnaring spells?”
“Don’t worry, Bastard. I won’t leave you to raise the little beast,” Lucivar replied with a grin.
“I don’t care about that,” Daemon snapped. “I care about losing my brother.”
The grin changed to a warm smile. “You won’t lose me.”
Jaenelle hurried back to them. She handed Lucivar a pack. “There’s water, a couple of sandwiches, some fruit and cheese. Just in case it takes you a while to find them.”
Daemon felt his gut clench when he saw the ball of clay she held out next. The last time he’d seen one of those, Jaenelle had prepared the balls of clay for the game he had played in Hayll to buy her the three days she needed to make a full descent into the abyss while keeping Marian, Daemonar, Lucivar, and Saetan from being killed by Dorothea and Hekatah. “What is that?”
“I asked Jaenelle to make a rough version of an air slide,” Lucivar said.
Daemon looked at Jaenelle and raised an eyebrow in question.
“The coven and I used to use Craft to shape air into a slide,” she said. “We’d add color so the formation would be easy to see, and we had spirals and loops and all kinds of things. This one is a straight slide that’s already primed. Once it’s triggered, people sit at the top, push off, and slide to the end.”
“And the end will be on the other side of the fence,” Lucivar said as he used Craft to set the pack on air before he slipped the ball of clay into the pouch attached to his belt. “I’m not going to look for one of the exits; I’m going to make one. Side wall of the third house is closest to the fence. I’ll blow out the wall on the second floor and open the spell for the slide. You two will take care of whoever has survived once they’re over the fence. Is that clear?”
Jaenelle stepped back. No embrace. No distraction. Not when a Warlord Prince was about to walk into a fight. “We’ll be waiting for you, Prince.”
Lucivar waited until she walked back to the Coach. "If I’m not out by sundown, you destroy this place completely. Take it down, Daemon. Don’t leave one stone standing on another. Isthat clear?"
"If I have to make that choice, I will find whatever is left of you and haul your sorry ass up to the Keep becauseyou’re going to have to explain this to our father."
A quick grin was Lucivar’s only answer.
Daemon pushed the gate open. Lucivar grabbed the pack in his left hand. With his right hand, he raised the war blade in a salute.
“Take care, Prick,” Daemon said softly.
“My kind of fight, Bastard. I’ll get Surreal and Rainier out of that house. You find Jenkell and take care of the debt on behalf of the family. You make sure the little son of a whoring bitch pays every drop of blood that is owed.”
As he watched Lucivar walk up the path and open the front door, he felt Jaenelle come up beside him and slip her arm through his.
“Do you know the most annoying thing about him at times like this?” Daemon asked.
“That he doesn’t gloat when he’s right?”
He sighed. “Yeah. That’s it exactly.”
Thunder rolled through the house, a messenger of fury. It shook pictures and mirrors off the walls, rattled windows, even knocked over curio tables filled with insipid porcelain figurines.
Surreal looked at Rainier and knew that he, too, recognized the dark-Jeweled power that had come to play.
“Oh, shit,” she said. “It’s Lucivar.”
Lucivar? Had the uneducated Eyrien finally found someone to read the invitation to him? Or—and this was an even better thought—had he come to try to rescue the Surreal bitch and her companion?
Oh, this was excellent. Excellent! They were so unnerved by Lucivar being in the house! Maybe he wouldfinally get some decent material to use for his book. Surreal and the limp Warlord Prince had made hardly any effort to find the exits. But the Eyrien was a warrior—and areal member of the SaDiablo family.
He had to hurry. Yes, he did. He didn’t want to miss a moment of Lucivar trying to pit himself against the surprises in the house.
Lucivar set the pack down next to the wall. He’d issued the challenge. Now he’d wait a few minutes to see if anyone accepted the invitation.
Odd that he hadn’t risen to the killing edge when he entered the house. He danced a heartbeat away from it, but he didn’t have the cold purity he usually had when he stepped onto a killing field.
Which meant this place didn’t offer a true killing field. It was a battleground, certainly, but it wasn’t the kind of field Warlord Princes were born to stand on.
He wasn’t sensing enough danger here. There wasn’t enough threat to sustain that state of mind. At least, not for someone like him.
Which meant just being pissed off about someone setting a trap for his family would keep his temper sharp enough. At least for now.
He took another step into the front hallway.
Doorway on his left, with the door halfway open. Closed door on his right. A coat-tree next to the stairs leading to the second floor. A mirror on the wall opposite the stairs.