Totally not what I expected.
She swept a cool gaze over us and then settled on Roth. Her lips thinned. “I am not happy about this.”
He arched a dark brow. “I’d say I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t mean it.”
I opened my mouth to apologize, because that kind of attitude wasn’t going to get us anywhere, but the woman stepped aside nonetheless. “In the den,” she said, gesturing to her right.
Carrying the chicken in a plastic bag, Roth went down a narrow hall first. The house smelled nice, like roasted apple. Sounds of a video game radiated from the den, and as we stepped inside the large room, my gaze went straight to the TV.
Assassin’s Creed. Sam would dig this place.
“I appreciate the chicken, but it’s not quite what you’d bring a seer.”
My jaw hit the floor.
At first it was just a blur of pearly white goodness—a pure soul. Seeing a human with a pure soul was like winning the lottery; that was how rarely they were sighted outside the Warden race. My mouth dried and my throat constricted. A bone-deep yearning kicked me right in the stomach, one that didn’t go away when the soul faded, revealing the seer. Roth put his hand on the small of my back, and I hadn’t realized I’d stepped forward until then. The look on his face said, “don’t eat the soul of the seer,” but honestly, the only thing that eased the craving was the shock that rippled through me when I turned back to the seer.
Sitting cross-legged in front of the TV was a boy about nine or ten years old, game controller in hand. It couldn’t be...
Roth shifted his weight. “Sorry, but you’d be surprised how hard it is to get a live chicken on such short notice.”
The game on the TV paused, and the little boy turned toward us. Several golden curls tumbled onto his forehead. He had a cherub’s face. Dimple in the chin and all. “It’s a good thing I’m craving roast chicken anyway.”
“You’re the seer?” I asked, dumbfounded. “Why aren’t you in school?”
“I’m a seer. Do you think I actually need to go to school?”
“No,” I mumbled. “Guess not.”
“You seem shocked.” Bright blue eyes landed on me, and I took a step back, hitting the arm of the boxy, plaid couch. The center of his pupils were white. “You shouldn’t be, child of Lilith. If anything is truly shocking in this room, it’s the fact that you are here. With a demon.”
My mouth was gaping like a fish out of water. I had no idea what to say. The seer was a kid.
His mother cleared her throat as she stepped up behind us and took the chicken from Roth. “I’d offer drinks, but I don’t expect the two of you to be here long.” She paused. “Tony, what did I tell you about sitting so close to the screen? You’re going to ruin your eyes.”
I turned to Roth slowly, and his lips twitched.
Tony’s little face scrunched up. “My eyes will be fine. I’ve seen it.”
Well, that ended that part of the conversation. His mom left us alone with the seer, and when he stood, he only came up to Roth’s hip. This was beyond weird.
“I know why you’re here,” he said, crossing chubby arms. “You want to know who wants to raise the Lilin. That I don’t know. And if I did, I wouldn’t tell you. I’d like to make it to an age when I can grow facial hair.”
Roth’s eyes narrowed. “How is it that a seer doesn’t know who wants to raise the Lilin?”
“How is it that a demon of your stature doesn’t know? If you don’t know, why would you expect that I would? I look into things I want to look into and things that affect me. Like I knew you were coming here today with a Perdue chicken, so I told Mom not to bother laying anything out. I also know that if I took a peek at the demon behind this, my eyes would be sitting in a jar on someone’s mantel like a trophy. And I prefer to keep them intact.”
It was sort of disturbing to hear a child talk like that.
Tony cocked his head to the side as he eyed me. “And you should be really careful.”
Hair all over my body stood. “Why?”
“Besides the obvious?” he asked. “All the time you fight what you truly are. It must be exhausting. So much so that when it comes time to truly fight, you’ll be too worn down for much of anything.”
I sucked in a soft breath. “I—”
“Didn’t come here for my advice? I know. You want to know where The Lesser Key of Solomon is.” Tony gave a world-weary sigh that sounded way too strange coming from a kid. “Did you know that a Warden and a demon hid the Key? It’s the only time the two have ever worked together. The two races will be working together in the future again.”
Impatience radiated from Roth and it gave his voice a steel edge. “Do you know where the Key is, seer?”
Tony’s pupils flared. “Let me ask you a question. Who do you think stands to gain from raising the Lilin?”
I glanced at Roth and said, “I don’t see how anyone has anything to gain. The Lilin can’t be controlled.”
“Not exactly true,” the seer responded. “The Lilin can be controlled by Lilith, but that’s neither here nor there. If the Lilin are set loose, no one will stop them. And you’re right. No one will be able to stop them once unleashed.”
“So?” Roth folded his arms. “You already know the answer to that question. Why ask?”
The boy smiled, flashing small, straight teeth. “Because I posed the question to get you to think, but apparently trying to get a demon to think is asking too much.”
Roth’s eyes narrowed and he took a step forward. I knew he wasn’t above picking up a pint-sized seer and throwing him across the room. I jumped in. “Why do you think a demon is trying to do this?”
The seer didn’t take his eyes off Roth. “Only one thing can result from this, and that’s the start of the apocalypse.” He sounded as if he was discussing a cartoon. No big deal. “If the Lilin walk the Earth again, the Alphas will step in. They will try to take out every demon topside, which will start a war. And a war between the Alphas and demons sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Armageddon ain’t scheduled to kick off for another couple hundred years, but the Lilin will fast-track that little party with the Four Horsemen.”
My stomach dropped. “The demon wants to start the apocalypse?”
“That is what I just said.” The kid turned his back and picked up the game controller. “Sorry, buds, but demons don’t run things topside, and the only way they can is by kicking off the apocalypse and hoping to win. It’s a risky gamble to take, but...” He looked over his shoulder at Roth. “You know how bad Hell sucks. Demons want out. And some are willing to destroy the whole world to get out. You can’t tell me you haven’t thought about what it would be like to be able to come topside whenever you want and not have to worry about the Wardens hunting you down. Freedom—that’s all any living creature wants.”
The knots in my stomach tripled, magnified by the fact that Roth didn’t deny what the seer said. Would he really risk the world? Who was I kidding? Roth would, because he was a demon and demons operated on a self-serving sort of basis. But Hell did have to suck on a massive level, so who was I to judge?