Demon Gates (Helena Hawthorn Series #2)

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Staatsoper pt. 2

Helena awoke in a cosy bedroom. She covered her face with her arm and sat up. Scanning the room, she found a camera on the ceiling, pointed at her.

Goosebumps covered her arms from the chilly air. She rubbed them away and closed her eyes to concentrate on the link with Lucious. Every time she tried to send a message to him, it seemed to be blocked by a wall of some kind that was beyond this room.

A female voice, full of static, broke through the speaker under the camera. “Good morning. It is good to see no lasting damage was done after Nico took care of you. I’m sorry about that. I have not mastered lasting mind control yet. It takes time. Papa told me to master it, but when I get emotional, I—” She paused and talked to someone in German before returning to English. “My apologies. Take the door on your left. I will meet with you in the tea room. It’s straight down the hall.”

Helena rose from the bed. As she made her way across the room, she thought back to the events at the opera house. She had lost her weapon there, rendering her defenceless against the siren and her men. Her heart quickened its pitter-patter. She opened the door and followed a deep-green corridor to a white door. Next to it, a broad-shouldered, tall man stood with his face covered in tribal tattoos.

He glared at her, and Helena balled her hands at her sides, trying her best to keep her composure as he opened the door for her.

Taking that as an invitation, she marched past him into the candlelit room. Helena was certain the siren said it was morning, yet the view stayed dark beyond the windowpanes.

The girl from earlier sat at a round table with a cup of steaming tea in her hand. To her right, a large male doll in a tuxedo was placed in a chair with a cup prepared for it, too.

“Tea?” the girl asked in an overly excited voice.

Helena shook her head and scanned the room for a way out.

“You can’t escape.” The girl sipped her drink. “Nico will hurt you if you try anything.”

Cautiously, Helena stole a glance at Nico. He seemed to be in his thirties. Why does he serve some teenager?

Nico closed the door and stood behind Helena. His hot breath against her skin brought out a shudder from her.

“Join me,” the girl said. “You too, Nico.”

“Nora, it’s not the time to be having a tea party. Your father—”

“Papa is right here. Do not talk about him as if he is not!” Nora shouted, slamming her teacup down and making the amber liquid splash the pearlescent table cloth.

Nico sighed and pushed Helena into a seat across from Nora. He poured himself a drink by the window and joined them at the table.

Helena studied the girl warily. It was hard to tell what was going on inside her head. At the Staatsoper, she seemed like a doll. Here, she was throwing around orders as if she was Reaver.

It can’t be… “You’re Reaver, aren’t you?”

Nora’s expression fell. “Papa had an accident while searching for Arthemis. Since then, I had to bind Papa’s soul to a soul-crystal and keep him with me.” She looked lovingly at the doll sitting next to her.

“You keep your father’s soul trapped in that doll? Is that what he would have wanted?” Helena asked, appalled.

Nora sat back in her seat and dipped her finger into the puddle of spilt tea, drawing patterns on the table. “Papa said he wanted us to always be together. I did what he asked, and I will continue to do what he did. Once I find the pretty relics this world has and stock our vault with them, Papa will know I did well. Right, Nico?”

Nico scratched his trimmed beard. “When do you wish to initiate the spell, Nora?”

“What spell?” Helena asked, her voice shaking with uncertainty.

“I didn’t get a chance to read your mind fully when we were at the Staatsoper, therefore, I will do it here. It is laborious on the mind. Try to relax.”

Helena jumped out of her seat and backed away from them. “No! I’m not going through that again.”

Nora sighed. “Nico, bind her.”

“As you wish,” Nico replied and chanted a melodious rhyme.

Helena closed her ears, but the strange energy orbited her, prickling her skin and, soon, she was unable to move her limbs. She glared at the man who nonchalantly mumbled the spell. When he was finished, he reclined in his seat with a cup of tea.

Nora almost skipped to where Helena stood. The siren placed her hands on Helena’s temples and smirked. “Don’t look so frightened. It will be over soon.”

Before Helena could muster a reply, a shiver ran through her and pain exploded in her head once images of the past flooded her psyche. She helplessly watched her life fleeting by like a movie on fast-forward.

The further Nora took her, the stronger the headache became until Helena felt something running along her lips and neck.

“You must rest her. She won’t last,” Nico’s voice broke through the quiet.

“But it’s so interesting,” Nora whined.

Helena heard a chair screeching against the parquet. “She will die.”

“Alright, take her to her room,” Nora said, her voice dripping with disappointment. “I already know where the saint is and why they needed the blade so desperately.”

Nico muttered something in German, and Helena collapsed.

Sluggishly, she pushed her body into a sitting position and wiped at the tickling sensation under her nose. When she finished, her hand came away stained with blood. “Why are you doing this?”

Nora raised a brow. “I thought I made that clear. Somewhere out there is a way to bring Papa back. A saint may know of a way, if not, I will keep looking. But you, you are not as human as you think. A human-turned-witch that doesn’t know what sleeps within. Everyone tells you what you are, and you are too blind to see it.” She rubbed her hands together in delight. “Don’t worry. I won’t kill you. You will simply become a part of our collection until I find a use for you.” Nora burst into laughter. “I bet this is what they call destiny.”

Nico lifted Helena off the parquet and carried her out of the tea room and back to her windowless prison.

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