Black Heart Page 49

I remembered going to the YMCA once. I’d had to collect a soul there. I’d also made a grand pronouncement about losing thirty pounds and a noisy commitment to regular exercise. That hadn’t happened. The only regular exercise I got was swinging my sword arm.

“Yes, Bendith was particularly close to Oberon,” Beezle said, drawing me back to the conversation. “So when he found out that his mother had betrayed his father by sleeping with Puck, he got pretty upset. I guess he wanted to bring Oberon with him when he departed the court but Titania forbade it.”

“But she couldn’t stop him from leaving,” I said.

“No, she couldn’t. It was probably better for her, in any case. He’d been stirring up the courtiers, speaking out against her.”

“And there’s already a segment of the court that doesn’t fully support her, right?” I said, recalling something Beezle had told me long ago, before my first visit to Titania’s realm.

Beezle nodded. “So while Bendith’s departure was a blow to her authority, it probably was better than the alternative.”

“Having her son lead a rebellion against her?” I guessed.

“Exactly.”

“And she’d like to lay all of this at my door,” I said. “Why do I get blamed for everything?”

“It’s so much easier to blame you than it is for Titania to admit that perhaps she shouldn’t have made her husband a cuckold,” Beezle said. “Look, there’s Dinkel’s.”

“You just had deep-dish pizza. You’re not getting a pastry on top of it.”

“You have change in your pocket. I know you do,” Beezle said.

“So Titania will probably try to kill me again soon—that’s what you’re saying?” I asked, trying to steer the conversation back on track.

Beezle stared longingly across the street at the piles of sweets in the bakery window as we passed.

“No,” I repeated.

“You’re no fun anymore,” Beezle said.

“Do you know where Bendith went after he left Titania?” I asked.

“Nope,” Beezle said. “It’s like he disappeared into the ether.”

“Do you think she might have had him killed?” I asked, alarmed. I didn’t want one of Puck’s children murdered. I would probably get blamed somehow. Plus, Nathaniel seemed attached to Bendith. They were half brothers, after all.

“Nah, he’s her only son,” Beezle said.

“My father tried to kill me,” I reminded him.

“Titania only has the one child, and it’s difficult for the fae to breed. Presumably she would cherish him more, even when he was being disobedient. Your father had other children, so it wasn’t such a big deal to him to get rid of one,” Beezle said.

“Another child,” I said.

“Other children,” Beezle repeated.

I stopped in the middle of the street again and glared at Beezle. “Really? Really? You’re dropping this on me now?”

“What?” Beezle asked. “I always thought you would assume that Azazel had other kids. The fallen boink pretty much anyone willing that they can find. And as you discovered, all they have to do is look at a woman suggestively and she gets pregnant.”

I gritted my teeth and summoned up all of my patience. I had considered the possibility that Azazel might have other kids. But it was one thing to have a suspicion and another to have that suspicion confirmed by someone who should have informed me sooner. “Do you know the identity of any of these children?”

“No, not offhand,” Beezle said. “But they’re sure to be out there, lurking. Some of them may even be angry with you for killing your father.”

“That’s just great,” I said. “Another nebulous threat that will manifest at the least opportune moment.”

“Yup, when you least expect it,” Beezle said cheerfully.

“Do you care at all about the possibility that I have siblings who might show up to kill me sometime in the near future?”

Beezle waved a little clawed hand in dismissal. “Nah. I’m sure you could take them.”

“I’m not sure if I should be touched by your confidence or worried about your cavalier attitude toward my health and well-being,” I said.

“Look, you killed Ramuell. After coming back from the dead, no less,” Beezle said, ticking points off on his fingers. “You defeated Baraqiel. You survived the Maze and the Grimm. You found out who was stealing memories and you massacred a whole bunch of demons and giant spiders along the way. You beat Amarantha and Violet in a fight to the death. You killed the Hob, Antares and Azazel, who was not the least of the fallen. You wiped out an entire population of vampires, for crying out loud. You unlocked your magical legacy from Lucifer and now there isn’t a whole lot out there that’s stronger than you. I’m absolutely certain that if some mysterious brother or sister showed up, you could take them down without blinking.”

It was fairly horrible to hear a list of creatures that I had killed recited like Beezle was naming a few of his favorite things. In every case I’d either been protecting the greater population of humanity from a dire threat or just trying not to get slaughtered myself. But when all the incidents were listed out like that, one thing became pretty apparent.

I was a killer. No matter how you prettied it up, no matter how much I tried to justify it, I was a killer. And with that much blood on my hands, how could I not go dark side?

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