"You've done nothing to help anyone but yourself," Ana hissed at me, eyes narrowed to slits. I could feel her anger, seeping from her body, filling up the air. "God, you're so self absorbed."
I stared at her for a long time, paralyzed by the harshness of her words, the pure venom in her tone. Adder was motionless at my side, close enough to be touching without ever brushing my skin. None of us dared move, or breathe.
Ana turned away and disappeared out the door, closing it behind her with a slam. It was then the tears broke free. I turned into Adder's chest, hiding from the leering eyes of the others. Adder held me to his chest and murmured sweet words into my ear.
"She's right, isnt she?" I choked through tears, looking up at him. Barely caring that Lukah and Rueben were still in the room. "I was pulled into this and I've done nothing at all to help. God, I dont even know where Demrin is, and he might be the-"
I managed to stop myself, seeing the flare of pain in Adder's bloodred eyes. So much as Everette's had been, as I'd watched him watching me. Begging for answers why. But I'd said nothing, just let him die there. And left.
I tore my gaze from him and spun around. "We need a plan," I said at last, gaze flickering between Lukah and Rueben. If anyone could straighten this mess out, it had to be them. They seemed closer to the problem than any of us might ever be.
"Like what?" Lukah said, a hint of bitter sarcasm in his voice. "We've tried to rescue Jester. Now Ana is a complete and utter mess. Demrin has gone off and left us. You're pregnant. We dont exactly stand a chance against the Evil."
I sighed. Partly because I knew he was right. Mostly because I so desperately wanted him to be wrong.
"I dont know," I admitted, the painful words falling from my lips. I glanced back at Adder over my shoulder. He cocked his head and tried to muster half a smile.
"There is a...last resort," he muttered finally. "But I dont like it."
I saw the way both the boys eyes lit up. A glimmer of hope, perhaps.
Adder let out a deep breath in the most dramatic of ways. "The Blood Council." Lukah and Rueben exchanged a gaze, as I stood there in oblivion.
"What's the Blood Council?" I asked at last, because it was clear no one was planning on explaining anything.
Adder looked over at me, his expression a mixture of love and sorrow. "The Blood Council was one of the few things Everette told me about," he said. "It's a league of vampires who have been entrusted with the task of guarding lost souls. They are the overseers of the undead spirits, the ones trapped between our world and the next."
I frowned. Everette had never spoken of such a thing to me, not unless I simply couldnt remember. Adder must have been able to read the pure confusion in my face. "You're wondering why he knew of such a thing." It was a question. "Why, Everette was one of them."
I shook my head a little; this was all too much for me to take in. Everette had been a member, and in all the time we spent together, I'd never known. I knew such thoughts should no longer have stirred me so. And yet I couldnt deny the trembling in the pit of my stomach.
Lukah was skeptical, of course. "And they would help us? Why?"
Adder met his gaze steadily. "Because they do not wish for the dead souls the Evil would unleash. Because they too merely want to protect the balance of the world."
Lukah nodded, like some part of him understood. Maybe that was what united us all, kept such an unlikely alliance going. The fact that even when we didnt get along, in the end we were all seeking the same things. Peace and safe place to rest our heads. For me, a place to bring my baby into the world.
"So, how do we reach them?" Rueben asked eagerly.
But Adder never got the chance to answer, for at that moment the door opened hard, slamming into the wall. And Demrin stepped inside.