Deliverance Page 90

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I’m a liar. I don’t want to be buried beside Dad. I don’t want to be buried at all. Not yet. I want to get out of this cell. Stop the Commander, James Rowan, and Ian. Kiss Logan for a hundred years. And live out my days knowing that even though I was broken, I chose not to be lost.

“Will you ask him to come see me before I’m too far gone to remember what I want to say?” I ask in a quiet, pleading voice that does nothing to soften the butler’s reply.

“We’ll see.”

It’s better than a no. I wait until he finishes his tasks while in the cell beside me, Marcus hums his strange little melody and mutters to himself about wave function and thermodynamics. Once the door slams at the top of the stairs, leaving Marcus and me alone again, I lower myself to the stone floor and crawl slowly toward the crack in the wall between my cell and Marcus’s. My head feels too heavy, and sparks dance at the edge of my vision as my stomach cramps in a miserable plea for food.

Laying my cheek against the floor beside the crack, I whisper, “Marcus, I’m going to die.”

His muttering stops abruptly.

“Rachel? Jared Adams’s Rachel?”

“Yes. I’m Jared Adams’s Rachel.” The words, following so closely on the heels of the memory of my father’s grave, are bittersweet.

“Dying? No . . . no.”

“Logan is in danger. I’m the only one left who can help him. I haven’t had anything to eat in days. They’re refusing to feed me. I can help Logan, but not if I starve to death first.”

“Don’t. Don’t die. Don’t. Logan? Ian? My sons?”

“Listen to me, Marcus. You and Ian invented tech that can call the Cursed . . . the tanniyn, remember?”

“Gave it to Jared. James knows. He knows.” His voice cracks.

“It’s okay. I don’t mean the device you gave to Jared. I mean the tech you and Ian built that can call an entire army of the monsters. Do you know what I’m talking about?”

He’s silent for a long moment, and I bite my lip as I pray that somewhere in the damaged morass of his mind, he can still grasp enough reality to help me. Then he says, “Summoners? Call them all. Summoners?”

A chill slides over me at the name. Summoners. “Yes. The summoners. James Rowan knows about Logan. He’s going to kill Logan using the summoners unless I can stop it.”

An eerie wail tears its way out of Marcus’s throat and bounces off the walls of the cell. It’s the sound of a wounded animal backed into a corner. If Logan dies, everything Marcus sacrificed, every loss he suffered, will be for nothing. I know the feeling.

“Wait! Marcus!” My voice snaps out with more strength than I realized I had left. “I can stop it. Do you hear me? I can save Logan. But I need your help. Okay? I just need your help, and we can save Logan.”

The wail tapers off, and I hear the swish-slide of Marcus scrambling across the floor seconds before his bright-blue eye blinks at me through the crack in the wall.

“Ian too? Save him? Save both?”

I open my mouth, but nothing will come out. How can I promise to save Ian when I’m the one who wants him dead? But if I don’t promise, will Marcus still help me? Maybe I can convince him that Logan is the only one who needs my help.

“Ian doesn’t need to be saved. James Rowan is happy with him.” All it took was the destruction of my city and the murder of my friends.

Marcus blinks rapidly. “My sons. Never safe with James. Not anymore. Save Ian, too? Promise?”

I clench my jaw tight. Save the boy who took almost everything from me? I’d rather swallow nails.

But Ian had dreams once. And none of them included ripping his father’s life away from him or being forced to cover his hands in the blood of those who’d never wronged him. And if I don’t promise to help Ian, I’ll lose Logan, too.

The words taste like ashes in my mouth as I say, “Yes. I’ll do my best to save Ian, too. I promise.”

He pulls away from the crack, babbling softly to himself, and then he returns and shoves something through the sliver of space. I stare at it for a moment, and then reach out slowly to pick it up.

It’s a pecan, broken in half so that it can fit through the crack between our cells. Another half follows and then four more. I grab all of them and shove them into my mouth. Their buttery flavor explodes across my tongue, and I nearly choke as I swallow too fast.

Marcus’s blue eye returns to the crack as he shoves another few nuts through. “Don’t die. Jared’s Rachel. Don’t die.”

I scoop up the rest of the nuts. “I won’t. And neither will your sons. Now, tell me how to find and disable the summoners, and then I’ll tell you how you can help me get out of this dungeon.”

CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

LOGAN

We’ve been on the water for three days now. Four, if you count the day it took us to sail on a small boat from Chelmingford to the drop-off closest to Lankenshire, where we rejoined the Commander’s troops, met the soldiers from Hodenswald and Lankenshire, and received the disheartening news that Brooksworth had refused to commit to our cause. The Commander wasted no time marching his army west to the river where the armada waited for us. I pushed hard for us to march faster, go farther, and the Commander didn’t argue. He didn’t want to lose the element of surprise.

I don’t want to lose Rachel.

Our army is stuffed into fifteen silver-gray ships. The Commander and his ranking officers are aboard the armada’s flagship vessel, along with my own people and the ranking officers from Chelmingford. I’ve done my best to avoid the Commander at any cost. Partially because I wanted to finish transforming Melkin’s staff into a weapon that will make the device the Commander holds look like a toy, and partially because my usefulness to the Commander is finished, and I don’t have time to deal with a double cross. I have a promise to keep.

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