Black Heart Page 13

Batarian followed my gaze to the arrow wound. “You need a poultice for that. Litarian.”

The third man placed my sword next to Batarian and went out of the room. I wondered vaguely why all their names ended in “-rian.” I looked at my sword, just sitting there, leaning against the chair.

I could grab it right then and hold it to Batarian’s throat, force them to release my wings. Except that I still had not eaten. I was starting to feel like Beezle. I didn’t really care what happened next so long as someone gave me a meal.

“What are you called?” Batarian asked.

“Maddy,” I said. “Maddy Black.”

No one called me Madeline except fallen angels. They liked the formality of it, I supposed.

“Maddy Black,” Batarian said, rolling my name around in his mouth like an exotic food. “And what is it you are doing here, Maddy Black?”

“Trying to get home,” I said honestly. “I’ve got no interest in staying here.”

“But how is it that you have come to our land in the first place? We have had no visitors for thousands of years. This world was closed off in honor of the accord between our people and Lucifer.”

“I kind of ended up here by accident,” I said. No need to go into the whole business with the Retrievers. “But I want to leave, believe me. And the longer you hold me prisoner, the longer it’s going to take me to get out of here.”

“But we cannot trust that you are simply an accidental traveler and that you mean us no harm,” Batarian said. “We have only your word of this.”

“Well, it’s not like I can prove it,” I said. “I’m a stranger here. No one is going to vouch for me.”

“Yes, you are a stranger. A very strange stranger, I might add,” Batarian said. “One with wings.”

“You’ve got pointy ears and a bow,” I said. “In my town that would be considered strange in itself, pal.”

“You will not speak so disrespectfully to Lord Batarian,” Sakarian said.

Ah. Here was familiar ground. “I speak disrespectfully to everyone. You’d better get used to it.”

“Everyone?” Batarian raised an eyebrow. “Including Lucifer?”

“Especially him,” I said without thinking.

Sakarian pounced. “So you are an associate of Lucifer’s, then.”

“‘Associate’ is too strong a term,” I said, trying to backpedal. Damn me and my stupid mouth.

“Father, Lucifer has broken the ancient accord,” Sakarian said. “He sent this spy upon us. We should execute her immediately and assemble an army against him.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” I said, holding my hands up in front of me in a “calm down” gesture. “Way to jump to conclusions.”

“I do not know why you speak of jumping, spy,” Sakarian said.

So they spoke English but their dialect wasn’t up-to-date. Interesting.

“I mean you’ve made a decision without knowing all the facts,” I said. “I’m not a spy for Lucifer.”

“Then why do you have his mark upon your palm?” Sakarian challenged.

I wondered why Batarian seemed content to sit back and let his hotheaded kid take the reins of the conversation. Was it because he wanted to observe my responses? Whatever the reason, now was not the time for telling the truth. If I said I was Lucifer’s descendant, they would definitely think the worst.

“It was kind of an accident,” I said. This was true. I’d used Lucifer’s sword in the Maze and against Baraqiel. Somewhere along the way it had marked me.

“You certainly seem to have a great number of accidents,” Sakarian sneered.

“Hang around me long enough and you’ll see that’s true,” I said. “How is it that you know of Lucifer, anyway?”

“We will ask the questions,” Batarian said.

Just then Litarian reentered the room carrying a small woven bag. Behind him were several other faerie. The first two held a table between them, which they set before me. The other faerie silently placed dishes of food on the table.

There were several plates of vegetables, one with some kind of meat and one that appeared to be roasted insects in sauce. I was not so hungry that I was going to eat bugs, especially if other options were available.

I glanced at Batarian to make sure it was okay for me to eat before I dove in. He nodded, and I grabbed a plate of something that looked like a salad. There were no utensils so I used my fingers to pick up bits of some peppery greens. There were also berries, round and red like cranberries, but when I bit into one, it had none of the tartness of a cranberry. The sweet juice burst over my tongue. It tasted so delicious it was hard for me to hold back.

My stomach twisted as the food hit it, reminding me to take it slow. If I gobbled down too much at once, I was just going to make myself sick.

Litarian silently handed me the bag he was holding. It was filled with bitter-smelling herbs.

“Place it on your wound,” Batarian said.

I put the bag through the hole in my jeans and onto the swollen wound beneath. I doubted very much that this little sack of smelly stuff was going to help me, but holding the poultice against my leg allowed me to send a healing spell through it without being noticed by the others. I hoped.

I shoveled food into my mouth with one hand and pressed the poultice against my wound with the other. I could feel the three faerie watching me like I was an alien from another planet. Which I was. I certainly was not on the Earth I knew anymore.

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