Home > Dark Harmony (The Bargainer #3)(8)

Dark Harmony (The Bargainer #3)(8)
Author: Laura Thalassa

In the last cell, a single soldier is housed.

She stands inert in the middle of the chamber, her flame red hair falling in spirals down her back.

Des, our escorts, and I all pause in front of the cell, taking in the fairy. She’s oblivious to our attention.

The Bargainer’s hand falls to the back of my neck. His face is impassive, but I can tell he’s not thrilled with this little plan of mine. He doesn’t, however, try to talk me out of it.

“Open the door,” Des commands the guards, not looking away from me.

The iron bars screech as the door opens. The red haired soldier doesn’t so much as glance at the door before I slip inside.

I stare at her for a long moment before I let my siren surface.

“I release you from my glamour.”

I expect the soldier to attack me, but she doesn’t. For several long seconds nothing happens.

Then the redhead’s eyes slide to me.

My muscles tense; I’m waiting for her to strike. Instead, she begins to pace, back and forth, back and forth, her gaze growing distant.

“What is your name?” I ask, my voice melodic.

“I don’t have a name,” she responds.

“Everyone has a name,” I insist.

“I don’t. Not anymore.”

Losing a name is such a tiny injustice compared to everything the Thief has done, and yet, it’s what gave her an identity, and he took that from her.

“What did it used to be?” I ask.

She pauses for so long, I’m sure she’ll never speak.

“Mirielle,” she finally says, the magic coaxing the answer out of her.

“And do you know who I am?”

Mirielle pauses, then slowly nods. “You’re the enchantress. We are allowed to hurt you, but we are not to kill you. Not yet. He wants you alive.”

My claws sharpen at that. They weren’t allowed to kill me? I remember how hard I fought and how vicious my assailants were. None of them seemed like they were holding back.

“Who wants me alive?” I ask, even though I damn well know.

“My master.”

Fucking Thief.

The cell darkens. Apparently the King of the Night is not too happy about that either.

“And is … your master … the one who woke you from your sleep?”

“He called and we answered,” she says, continuing to pace back and forth, back and forth.

“Why did you attack your comrades, Mirielle?” I ask, my voice lilting.

She frowns when she hears her name on my lips.

“I don’t know.” She keeps pacing.

“What do you mean you don’t know?” I get that this woman’s mind has been fucked three ways to Wednesday, but surely she has a better explanation for all this carnage than I don’t know.

“We do our master’s bidding,” she says. “Nothing more.”

“And what does your master want?” I probe.

“I don’t know,” she says distractedly.

Getting nowhere …

“Who kidnapped you?” I start again.

Can she remember that far back? Some of these women have been sleeping for years.

“My older brother,” she replies coolly, still walking back and forth, back and forth.

Her brother?

I don’t think I heard that one correctly.

“He’s been dead for well over a century,” Des says from the other side of the cell.

My eyebrows rise and I spare my mate a glance. He knew this woman’s brother?

The soldier’s eyes wander to the Bargainer, and there they rest. Slowly, she tilts her head, like recognition is upwelling from the depths of her memory.

“You,” she breathes. “You held me once … long ago.”

Come again?

My skin flares with agitation. I glance between the two of them. Is this broad seriously admitting to what I think she is?

“You made love to me then, under the stars …”

My claws elongate.

She is.

Let’s eviscerate her slowly, my siren says. It will be fun.

It’s a strange feeling, to be jealous of a woman who, in all probability, slept with your mate centuries before you existed. A woman who’s now nothing more than a shell of herself, her mind and body commandeered by the Thief of Souls.

And yet, I still feel the hot burn of it.

Des folds his arms, looking unamused. He doesn’t try to explain himself to me, which is probably a good thing—doing so would make him look guilty as fuck, and it wasn’t like he cheated on me—but damnit, I want a little groveling. Is that wrong?

He will grovel, the siren insists.

Alright, if she thinks groveling is kosher, it’s probably wrong. But that doesn’t mean I disagree with her.

I force myself to refocus on the task at hand.

Des had mentioned that Mirielle’s brother died a little over a hundred years ago. It takes me a moment to do the math (not my strong suit), but once I do, I realize that the timeline doesn’t work. Female soldiers started disappearing a decade ago, not a century.

“How could your brother have kidnapped you if he was dead?”

Janus had a twin, a twin who died, the Thief had told me in the Flora Queen’s woods. The first time you met him, you were really meeting me.

Mirielle’s vacant eyes focus on the ground. “I don’t know.”

This vexing answer again.

“I had hoped …” Mirielle begins, then she falls to silence.

“Speak to me freely,” I command her.

Slowly, her eerie gaze shifts to meet mine. “It’s dark here. Very dark.”

The back of my neck pricks. “Are you in the Night Kingdom?” I ask.

“Yes and no.”

I wait for her to say more, but she doesn’t.

“What do you mean by that?”

“It is very dark here,” she repeats. “I want to rest. Why can’t I rest?”

“Do you know where the Thief is?” I press.

“You’ll never find him.”

So everyone keeps saying.

“Is there anything else you can tell me?” I ask.

“Secrets are meant for one soul to keep.”

I sense rather than see Des stiffen at her words.

The corner of Mirielle’s mouth curves up. “He’s watching you, enchantress, always watching you. My master has developed a taste for slaves.”

My siren pushes through. “You can tell your master I’ve developed a taste for evil fuckers,” I breathe, the words harmonic as they roll off my tongue. “Have him come find me. I’m eager to see him again. I’ll teach him then what it means to be my bitc—”

I wrangle my siren into submission and regain control of myself. I walk a fine line, using my glamour and trying to keep her worst tendencies at bay.

The cell darkens again, and suddenly, Des is in the cell with us. “Interrogation is over,” he says.

Before I can protest, the iron door swings open, and I’m whisked out. I swivel back to face Mirielle just as it clangs shut.

One final question. “If I let you out now, what will you do?”

Her eyes fall on me. “Conquer.”

Chapter 7

Des broods next to me, the hallway we walk down darkening with his presence.

“You could’ve let me finish the interrogation,” I finally say. I mean, he’s not the only one who’s in a ripe mood. I have blood caked in my hair, I’m running on half a night’s worth of sleep, my bones want to give out from post-battle exhaustion, and I needed coffee hours ago.

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