“Why do you bring your evil stink into my forest, witch?” The power that rolled off of him and through his words told Mona that what she really had hoped was indeed the case. This was a royal warlock.
Not just royal, no, Mona thought to her pleasure. This was Cypher, the King of the warlocks.
Mona laughed, a sound that came out as an evil hiss. “The evil that permeates these woods is not disturbed by me, Warlock King. My evil simply adds to the allure, don’t you think?”
Cypher took a step closer to Mona, not to threaten, but more as a warning. “Since when is there a witch left in this realm? Did not the Fae take care of your kind?”
“I am the last of my kind. I am not so easily destroyed.” Mona lifted her chin and arched a brow. “To business then, I do not come to bring you problems, I come seeking information and perhaps a trade of some sort.”
Cypher scoffed. “What could you possibly possess that I would want to trade for?”
“Tsk, tsk, great King. Do not so quickly dismiss me. Will you not at least hear my proposition?”
Cypher stood silently. His eyes narrowed as he considered her request.
“Fine. I will hear you and then you will leave.”
“If I recall correctly,” she began slowly, “there was a time when the warlocks were very interested in the stones of the Fae. In fact, I think your kind was seeking them rather fervently.” Mona watched as the warlock King straightened at her words.
“The Fae have been absent from this realm for quite some time. I have come to tell you that I have seen the stones.”
Cypher took several menacing steps toward her. “Why should I believe you? The Fae would never be so reckless with such powerful objects.”
Mona laughed. “Oh, they would if they were threatened by an extremely powerful witch out to destroy the Canis lupis and steal two gypsy healers.”
“What!” Cypher was taken aback by her words. “The wolves have healers? How long has it been since a healer has been a part of a pack?”
“Too long,” she replied.
“Even if you have seen these stones, how could you possibly get close enough to steal them? What is it that you want so badly that you are willing to take such a risk?”
"I have my reasons. Now is neither the time nor place to discuss them," said Mona sharply.
"Damn your reasons," Cypher spat. “Get out of my realm, witch."
“Have you taken a mate, great King?” Mona asked quickly, before the King could get away.
Cypher turned, slowly freezing her with his narrow, eerie, glowing eyes. “What would know of warlocks and their mates?” His words were a growl and the threat in them was not lost on Mona.
“I know that the females of your race are dying out. I know that your own magic has waned ever since the Fae left this realm and took so much of the power with them. I know that you, like the wolves, are much more powerful when mated.” Mona began to walk in a slow circle, taking measured steps as she reeled the warlock King in with her promises. “What if I told you that I can get you a mate? You can begin to rebuild your race and, with the stones, you can ensure that you get your magic back.”
She could tell immediately that Cypher was intrigued. His lips tightened as he considered.
Finally he spoke. “I need to consider your offer and discuss it with my clan.”
“Surely you, as their King, do not need their permission.” Mona sneered.
Cyper growled and was in her face in the blink of an eye. “Watch yourself, witch. Appearances are not always what they seem. Speak to me with such disrespect again and you will discover firsthand whether or not we have lost as much magic as you assume.”
Mona raised her hands in surrender and took a slow step back. “I meant no disrespect, King. I will be close, so simply speak my name on the wind and I will hear you.” She backed away, careful to continue facing the King, and climbed onto Octavian.
“One more thing,” she said as she turned to go. “Consider this – are your people moving forward or backward? Can you survive the future in your current state? Where do you see your clan in a decade, or a century?” With that, she turned her steed and took off at a run.
Cypher watched as the witch took her leave. He realized that she knew she was pushing her limits with his patience. He had to admit that her offer was very tempting. But he was a realistic being; he knew it would not be as simple as she made out.
“Desdemona,” he thought to himself. He knew of her, knew of the evil that had taken root deep inside her. If she had come to the point of doing something as desperate as trying to steal the stones of the Fae, then there was no hope left for her, regardless of what she had planned.
He also knew of the darkness inside his own spirit. Over the centuries, Cypher’s clan had slowly been forced into extinction because of the Fae’s selfishness and disregard for the other supernaturals in this realm. He had willingly turned to dark magic in an attempt to save the females of his race. What he did not know was that once the evil was allowed through even the smallest opening, even with the best of intentions, it could not be controlled. It had a will of its own, creeping into the dark places of a being’s heart and feeding said being’s thoughts and desires.
One day he had woken up and realized that the help had only been an illusion, a lie so carefully crafted into such an appealing idea that he hadn’t even realized it had slowly ensnared him and his clan. He believed that he had reached the point of no return. He was convinced that his heart was so dark that any amount of light that attempted to pierce the darkness would be immediately extinguished. If this was the case, then aiding Desdemona wouldn’t be adding to the darkness inside him. But, if by some small miracle there was a chance for him, then helping the witch might seal his fate, and he would be controlled forever by the evil that he'd naively welcomed with open arms.
Peri sat with Adam and Elle in the library of the Serbian pack mansion. She had summoned them after leaving the council of the Fae and asked them to help her gather information through their underground connections in the supernatural realm to see if there was any word of Mona or her workings. Peri had talked to a warlock that confessed to speaking with Mona, but he would not discuss what they had talked about. Adam and Elle had been able to follow a faint trail of magic from the In Between Veil through the Carpathian Mountains. Based upon the direction Desdemona was heading, Peri believed that she was heading into the Bulgarian Mountains. That couldn’t be a good thing, considering that according to the last rumor Peri had heard, there was a warlock King and his clan residing there.