Demon Gates (Helena Hawthorn Series #2)

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Staatsoper pt. 3

In the barren wasteland, stormy swirling clouds clustered above her head. She had been here before, and she shivered but not from the cold. There was no wind in this world for it was devoid of Human Realm’s beauty and vitality.

In a distance, a figure ran towards her at full speed.

Helena squinted, trying to make out who it was, and was surprised to find barefoot and battered Nadine closing in.

A minute passed, and Nadine stopped in front of her. When she looked at Helena, her eyes were blazing with blame.

“You did this to me. You betrayed my trust,” Nadine hissed.

“I had no choice. A siren read my mind.”

“What do you see my life as? Isn’t it as important as your own? I thought we could be friends when you told me the truth, but I was mistaken. You should be swallowed up by the demon spawn.”

Helena reached out, and Nadine backed away.

“Nadine, please,” Helena said, uncertain of what she could add to make the situation better.

“Do not touch me with your filthy hands.”

Helena looked at her hands. They were stained crimson. Blood dripped onto the dirt with soft plops, and she gasped. The lives she had taken. Is Maya alive? She had been so preoccupied with the situation she was in, she had forgotten about hurting the hunter.

Her hands wrapped around something and her fingers dug into soft flesh. She blinked a few times, confused by the sensation. A second later, she was squeezing Nadine’s slender neck.

Nadine gasped for air. Her face changed to an unnatural shade of red. Blood vessels burst in her eyes, painting the whites scarlet. Helena kept squeezing, taking pleasure in the process.

“This is not who you are,” the doppelgangers voice rang in her mind, breaking Helena out of the strange control she was under.

She let go of Nadine and stumbled backwards, tripping over her feet and landing on the dry dirt. “I’m so sorry…”

Nadine coughed and grinned with a sharp-toothed smile. “No need to apologise. I was only showing you the real you. The ‘you’ who pretends to care and be nice when, in reality, you want to kill.”

“No! That’s not what I want.” Her eyes narrowed on Nadine. “Lazarus…

“I am pleased you’ve remembered me, my flower. Don’t forget that I am always with you.” He pointed to her shoulder. “I know what you’re trying to do. The dagger won’t work, but you will try anyway, won’t you? Killing is in your nature.”

Lazarus shed Nadine’s form and morphed back to his original shape. He bent down, securing her face between his sharp black claws. “We will see each other again. For now, you have to rid yourself of the siren or she will claim your life before me.”

Helena jerked into a sitting position. Her heart hammered against her chest, and she wrapped her arms around her middle. The wet material of her dress clung to her skin. Slowly, she lifted the hand with the bracelets. They were black, and she had nothing to purify the stones with.

A flutter of wings drew her attention to a tiny creature hovering above her. Elongated limbs protruded from beneath a tiny grey dress. The purple-skinned creature studied her through two sets of black eyes and spoke in a high-pitched tone, “I broughteth food.”

Helena rubbed her eyes. Has the nightmare Lazarus showed me affected my perception of reality? When the creature did not disappear, she scrambled to the edge of the bed to get away from it.

“What are you?”

“A pixie, Miss. I serveth the Reaver family,” the creature replied.

“Aren’t pixies supposed to look more human-like?”

The pixie tilted her head to one side. “We never lookedeth different, Miss, but I am merely three-hundred-and-fourteen.”

Helena’s brows jumped at the number. “Do you have a name?”

The pixie’s lips parted into a smile, revealing tiny, pointed teeth. “Kalirotheth.”

“Kaliro— Can I call you Kali?”

The pixie seemed thoughtful and smiled again. “Yes, Miss.”

Static spilt into the room through the speakers, and Nora’s voice ruined Helena’s moment of peace. “Kaliroth, you’re finished with your delivery. Return to your duties at the mansion. The barrier needs maintenance.”

Helena’s gaze flicked to the camera. Nora was still watching her. She must have seen her having a nightmare, too.

Kali flew out of the room and the door closed behind her, locking in place. Helena guessed it had an automatic mechanism since the pixie didn’t look strong enough to close the door.

She studied the sandwich resting on a paper plate and orange juice in a plastic cup. Did they not trust her with cutlery and ceramics? She sighed. Nora seemed to know more about her after watching her memories than Helena did, and with Lazarus able to find her anywhere, she was running out of time.

Closing her eyes, she concentrated on the link once more. It was steady. Not a single emotion or thought passed through. With another heavy sigh, she took a bite out of the crusty sandwich as she mulled over what to do next.

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