- Dragon Wytch
- Night Huntress
- Demon Mistress
- Bone Magic
- Harvest Hunting
- Blood Wyne
- Courting Darkness
- Shaded Vision
- Shadow Rising
- Haunted Moon
- Autumn Whispers
- Crimson Veil
- Priestess Dreaming
- Panther Prowling
- Darkness Raging
- Moon Shimmers
- Harvest Song
- Blood Bonds
- The Shadow of Mist
- Never After
- Tales from Otherworld: C1
- Men of Otherworld: C1
- Men of Otherworld: C2
- Inked Anthology
- Etched in Silver
- Ice Shards
- Moon Swept
- Flight From Hell
- Otherworld Tales, Volume One
- Knight Magic
Autumn Whispers by Yasmine Galenorn (book 14 of the New York Times Bestselling Otherworld Series)
Berkley (Mass Market); September 24, 2013
We're the D'Artigo sisters: savvy half-human, half-Fae ex-operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. My sister Camille is a wicked-good witch with three sexy husbands. My sister Menolly is a vampire married to a wildly hot werepuma. And me? I'm Delilah, a two-faced werecat and Death Maiden. The Supe Community is in danger and now it's up to us to unravel a mystery to which we may not want the answers...
When two vampiric software engineers approach us about a missing colleague, we don't expect to find much. But then Grandmother Coyote steps in and our simple missing persons case rapidly devolves into a nightmare of debauchery, slavery, and corporate greed. Now, we must infiltrate and destroy an underground organization of influential men, led by the mysterious Lowestar Radcliff, before they discover we're on to them. But one misstep puts our whole operation and our lives in peril, and I must unleash my powers as a Death Maiden, even if it means destroying someone I love.
I stood at the top of the ravine overlooking the waterfront below. Nestled on the front of Lake Sammamish, my destination was a sprawling behemoth of a house-like many in the greater Seattle metropolitan area-jokingly referred to as McMansions. Cookie-cutter design like its neighbors, the monster was a tribute to the high wages and high cost of living that came with this area.
Only tonight, all the money and success in the world wouldn't help the owner of the palatial estate. Tonight, the man who owned this house was going to die-and he was going to die the final death.
Behind me, in a sheer flowing robe that mirrored the twilight sky, stood Greta, my mentor, the leader of the Death Maidens. Petite, with hair the color of burnished copper, Greta and I bore the same tattoos; only hers were far older and more brilliant.READ MORE
Emblazoned on our foreheads were onyx crescents, hers burning with a vivid flame. Mine sparkled a glistening black most of the time. An intricate lacework of black and orange leaves wound up our forearms. Hers were vivid. Mine had started as a pale shadow but now were nearing a similar intensity.
Patiently standing a few steps behind me, Greta waited as I contemplated the house. I was dressed in a flowing robe similar to hers, though mine wasn't sheer. I absently toyed with the tasseled belt girding my waist as I gauged the timing. This would be my fifth kill in the past month- or oblition, as it was called in Haseofon-and this time, I was on my own. Greta was merely supervising.
I'd been on a fast track the past eight weeks, spending a lot of time in Haseofon, the temple of the Death Maidens, learning to fight on the astral where we worked. And I'd been taking a high dose of the panteris phir, or Panther's Fang, to gain better control over my shifting into the black panther side of myself.
I was surprised the latter had been working so well, considering how little control I still had over shifting into my Tabby self. Greta told me that since Panther was a gift from the Autumn Lord rather than something I was born with, my half-human heritage wasn't a stumbling block to controlling the ability.
Now, I closed my eyes, listening for that internal sensor that would tell me the exact moment in which to move in. A pause . . . I lowered myself below my conscious thoughts, deep into my subconscious. And then I heard it.
Five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . one . . . There it was, echoing in the corner of my mind. The gentle chiming of a clock as it counted down the last moments of Gerald Hanson's life. The clock-or sensor-was my guide, urging me on, directing me when to move in, at what precise moment to grapple with Gerald's soul and send it spinning into oblivion.
The only thing I knew about Gerald at this moment was that he was a lawyer, and his life was forfeit to keep the balance. Grandmother Coyote had called in a favor from the Autumn Lord, and Hi'ran had specifically directed that I be the one to take care of this. For whatever reason, I was to be the Death Maiden who attended his departure.
I glanced back at Greta. She remained impassive, waiting for my move, so I set out for the ravine and she followed me. We raced through the etheric winds as if we were meteors, shooting through the sky.
Movement on the astral still confused me, although I'd been here a number of times, but I was slowly getting used to it. And here it was that the Death Maidens paid their victims their last visits-on a tiny sliver of one of the astral planes reserved for our work and our work alone.
We were the last people our victims would ever see, the last faces they would know. Some, we escorted to glory and to great rewards for their courage and bravery. For others, we were the harbingers of doom, the final hand of judgment. And we could not be denied. We sent the latter into the churning pool of primal force, where their souls were cleansed, purged, and reborn as pure energy ready for use.
Gerald Hanson would be among the latter.
As the clock ticked down the last minutes of Gerald's life, I walked through the walls of his house, followed by Greta, until I was standing beside him. He wouldn't see me until it was too late.
Technically, I wasn't the one who would kill him. Oh, to the outer world, it would appear that Gerald Hanson had died of a sudden, massive stroke. In reality, the Hags of Fate would cut his cord that they had spun since his birth and that severing blow would trigger the stroke. Whatever sins Gerald had committed, they were great enough to earn him a one-way ticket into oblivion. His soul was so tainted that it could not be allowed to continue on the eternal cycle.
I stood beside him, waiting. There was no one else in the house except a little dog who was asleep on the sofa. The beagle would be well-cared for. I'd call Chase after I finished to make certain. This case-along with whatever notifications were necessary-would fall under the jurisdiction of the Faerie-Human Crime Scene Investigation (FH-CSI) unit. The FH-CSI would be involved because Gerald Hanson wasn't human. He was part werewolf-a fourth, if you wanted to quibble, but still enough to earn him a spot on the rolls of the Supe Community registers.
As the final seconds ticked down, I stepped forward, standing in front of him. A pause, then three . . . two . . . one . . . and Gerald clutched his chest, looking confused. I waited until he spasmed again, then went limp. As his body slumped on the sofa, his spirit rose to stand in front of me. At first, he looked confused, but then he saw me and jumped back.
"Where . . . who are you? What . . .?" He glanced back at his body and a slow look of understanding crossed his face. As he turned back to me, I moved in.
I grabbed his arm, and we vanished into a place where there existed only the swirl of mist and fog, as a thin silver crescent hung high overhead against the backdrop of stars. There was nothing familiar here, at least not to Gerald. There was nothing to comfort, nor to soothe fear or offer hope. Here, there was merely the whisper of vapor that flowed around us, and the cold shimmer of the stars. We stood there, between the worlds, and before he could speak I clutched both of his shoulders. His memories began to flow into my own, and I saw through his eyes.
Flash . . . A long hall stretched out in front of Gerald. On either side, stood rows of cells. Cages with iron bars. The hallway was dimly lit and smelled like urine and feces. The faint sound of whimpering echoed through the air, but the smile on Gerald's face belied the blackness in his heart. As he started down the passage, a lovely Fae woman knelt in the center of one of the cells, her hands pressed over her face. As she heard Gerald's footsteps, she looked up, a plea filling her luminous eyes, but he snorted, and moved on. The woman would fetch a pretty penny, and there were plenty more like her out there. And plenty of men waiting to buy them . . .
Flash . . . Gerald sat behind a desk-a large oak affair that dripped with money and prestige. He was fiddling with a brief, but as he looked out the window, his cell phone rang. A man's voice on the other end of the line erupted in rough laughter.
"Number sixty-five needs a replacement. He broke his toy, again, and is willing to pay an extra fifty grand to find one who can take the wear and tear. You have one week."
As Gerald pressed the End Call button, he stared out the window, a faint smile crossing his lips . . . he loved his work. He truly loved his work.
Flash . . . Two men climbed into the limo, taking the seat opposite Gerald. One of them looked sullen, the other, afraid. Gerald rolled up the privacy window, cutting off the driver, then offered them a drink. As the men accepted the glasses and sipped, he leaned forward, waiting.
After a moment, he spoke. "I told you to handle the entire family. You didn't handle the entire family and now you've compromised our work." His voice was steely.
The taller of the pair shifted uncomfortably. "We don't do kids. I told you that in the beginning."
"And I told you what was at stake. I had to send in someone to correct your mistake. That wasn't a good way to conclude our business deal."
The smaller man began to shake and dropped his drinks he collapsed. The other man looked at Gerald, frantically clutching his throat, but within seconds, he followed suit.
The limo stopped, and Gerald opened the window again to speak to the driver. "Take us to the Cove. We've got a delivery to make." And with that, he settled back, opened a new bottle of bourbon, and carefully poured himself a glass as the car silently glided through the night.
I pulled myself out of his mind. The images were confusing, but the feeling behind them was a darkness driven by avarice. The desire for money, the desire for power. And the willingness to do anything to get it.
Repelled, I gazed into Gerald's eyes. He was scum, worse than scum, and I'd seen enough to know he'd buy and sell people without a second thought.
Nervous, he looked over his shoulder. "Where am I? How do I wake up?"
Ah . . . so he still didn't realize he was actually dead.
"You're on a one-way trip, Gerald. Time to let it go, dude. Just consider me your angel of death." Before he could do more than whimper, I laid my hands on him- holding him so firmly that he couldn't get away.
He struggled, pleading, but his words fell useless. This was my mission, and whatever mercy or empathy I might possess vanished as my training kicked in. His spirit was no match for my strength.
"Fires of the void, come forth to do my bidding. Cleanse this soul and pass it through your center." The rite was second nature now-the ritual engrained in the core of my being. Greta had taken me through the rites again and again, and this time, I was doing it on my own, without any help from her.
Gerald let out a sharp scream. "Please, don't-I don't understand."
I let out a sigh. This was the part that confounded me. They never understood-the ones who had been horrendous and brutal. They never understood the nature of cause and effect-that actions brought consequences. How they couldn't see this escaped me, but then again, if I had no conscience, perhaps I wouldn't understand it either.
"Gerald Hanson, you sealed your destiny by your actions. The Hags of Fate have made their decree. The Harvestmen have agreed. Prepare to face the darkness of the abyss."
I closed my eyes, summoning the karmic fire. A purple flame washed over us, raging through his soul, crackling through the mist and fog to electrify his energy. A wisp of ash flew up from his aura, and then another, and then- with a loud chatter of static, the flames raced through his spirit, reducing it to harmless dust. Another moment, and Gerald Hanson ceased to exist, forever obliterated. His soul had been consigned to the final death. Only a fine layer of ash remained poised for a second, then it, too, blew away into the night.
I watched the astral wind sweep away the remnants of everything Gerald had ever been, throughout all of his lives, all of his cycles. The only thing left was a harmless, benign energy. No trace remained of the person he'd been, no sign of the lives he'd lived. And then, with a final, silent whoosh, the lingering energy spiraled up and then returned to the central pool from which all things sprang.
As always, I felt oddly hollow, like a reed in the wind, bending but not breaking. Mournful, plaintive, but accepting of my place in this world.
I closed my eyes, willing Gerald's memories to fade, although I knew I would never be able to forget them. Death Maidens never forgot any of their kills, Greta told me, even when they numbered into the thousands. Everyone we took out remained as part of our own memories. We were historians, f a sort.
While his thoughts didn't make much sense to me at this point, I knew there was some reason the Autumn Lord had commanded me to be Gerald's doom. I wasn't sure what it was yet, but I had the uneasy feeling that, soon enough, I'd find out.
For now, I was stick-a-fork-in-me done. Turning my back on the ever-present mist and fog of this realm, I leaped back to where Greta waited. I hoped to hell we were done for the night.
Greta slipped her arm through mine as we journeyed back to Haseofon, the abode of the Death Maidens. She was so much shorter than me that it gave us a Mutt-and-Jeff look, but there, any resemblance ceased.
"You did very well. You've adapted quickly." She smiled up at me and I felt a tinge of pride. "Next time, I won't need to go with you. You're graduating, Delilah, although I'll always be here if you need me."
"I've tried." I pressed my lips together.
"You've done better than I hoped you would, and you've learned quickly. I'm proud of you."
At first, I'd freaked out when I realized that I'd been conscripted into the Autumn Lord's rule as one of his Death Maidens. But over the past couple of years my naveté had slipped away little by little. Oh, I'd stubbornly clung to my eternal optimism, to the little girl/kitty cat who didn't want to grow up. But when Shade, my fiancé, had come into the picture, things began to shift. Half shadow dragon, half Stradolan-shadow walker-Shade existed in the realms of spirits and ghosts. Through being with him, I'd finally grown used to the energy.
And over the past few months, I'd decided to embrace the woman I was becoming, rather than long for the woman I'd been.
Truth was: I felt proud to be pledged to the Autumn Lord. I was his only living Death Maiden, and I was destined to bear his child one day, through Shade as the proxy father. I could never again be the Delilah who first came over from Otherworld. And that was okay. I didn't have to give up believing in people, I didn't have to give up simple joys and happiness or Cheetos or my undying fan-girl love of Jerry Springer.
Instead, I fell into a comfortable balance.
"Are we done for the night?" I glanced at the cityscape that unfolded in front of us. Though we were traveling on the astral, we were close to my own world-the streets of Seattle. Both realms were superimposed on one another. I'd gotten used to that, too, and could see them both when I didn't get too caught up in trying to figure out the logic of it.
Greta nodded. "Did you want to come back to Haseofon to visit Arial?"
I thought about it. It would be good to see my sister- my twin who had died at birth-but then I thought about Camille and Menolly. They were waiting for me to return. And the promise of a mug of hot milk and some chocolate chip cookies was enough to make my decision for me.
"Not tonight, but tell her I love her and I'll see her soon." I paused. "Greta, do you know why the Autumn Lord asked for me specifically? To annihilate Gerald?"
She shook her head. "No, I truly don't. But he was very insistent. He said it had to be you, and he said that Grandmother Coyote had come to him personally to request it. The Harvestmen, they bow to the whims of the Hags of Fate. As does every creature."
Pulling away, she reached up and stroked my face. "Your crescent-it burns with the fires of Haseofon tonight. You made your first totally assigned kill without any assistance. And so your crescent has shifted and now the Autumn Lord's fires will forever burn brightly within it."
I reached up to finger the tattoo. I couldn't feel much change, but then again, I was used to wearing Hi'ran's sigil on my forehead. But once again, a fierce sense of pride swept through me.
"Thank you, Greta. For your help and your friendship."
She laughed, sounding like a schoolgirl rather than the ancient and fiercesome force that she was. And then, without another word, she vanished, and I willed myself home, and opened my eyes to find myself curled in my cat bed.
Blinking, I realized that I'd gone out of body while still in my tabby form. I yawned, arching my back up into Halloweencat pose. I was in my favorite bed. Shaped like a tiger, with a striped tiger face and tail, the cushion was soft and warm. Iris had bought it for me.
From my vantage on the living room floor, I could see her sitting in the rocking chair, looking like an angry beached whale. Iris was two weeks overdue, pregnant with twins, and we were all tiptoeing around her. Roz was sitting next to her, trying to make her smile.
Camille was curled up on the sofa, next to Trillian, her alpha husband, and behind them, Smoky-yet another husband (out of three) leaned over their shoulders. They were poring intently through the pages of one of those huge coffee- table books, arousing my curiosity. But in cat form, I couldn't read the title.
Vanzir was huddled over the controls to the Xbox, and other than that, the room was empty. Menolly was off at work, I knew that much, but didn't have a clue as to where Morio, Hanna, Nerissa, Bruce, or my fiancé Shade was.
I crept out of my bed, stretched again, and flipped my tail high into the air. I loved the luxuriousness of being cat. My fur was long and silky, golden with faint stripes running through it, and when I shifted form, my clothes transformed into the blue collar around my neck. Iris had hung a bell on it, which annoyed the hell out of me and put an end to my bird chasing. Well, bird catching. I still chased. I couldn't help it, it was my nature.
I stopped in front of the fire to lick one of my paws, then shook my head and stepped delicately away from the nearest chair, giving myself room to transform. As I shifted, paws lengthening into arms, back arching, shifting, changing, transforming back to my two-legged state, I became aware of an ache in my lower back where I'd been training hard during the week. And the bruises throbbed where I'd tripped over a log in the forest while out on a run with Shade. I took my natural form, slowly rising to my feet.
"Welcome back, Delilah." Iris gave me a weary smile.
"Did you have a good nap, Kitten?" Camille asked, setting the book aside. Now I could see that it was a compendium of photographs from Finland, one that Iris had received as a wedding present back in February.
I yawned, then sat on one of the ottomans, pulling my legs up to wrap my arms around my shins. Leaning my chin on my knees, I frowned. "I didn't exactly nap. Greta came for me."
"That's right-you mentioned she might be summoning you again." Camille perked up. "That's five times in the past two weeks. Did you get to see Arial?"
I shook my head. "No, I decided to come back here instead. Tonight, I was assigned a target on my own. Greta supervised, but this time it was all up to me."
I glanced at her. If anybody understood, it would be Camille. She'd been through hell over the past year, and she'd been delving deeply into Death Magic with her other husband, Morio. She'd been playing in the dark a lot lately.
"On your own? How did it go?" Her violet eyes were flecked with silver and I realized they'd been that way a lot lately, the farther she dipped into the magic, and into her training as a priestess of the Moon Mother.
"I did what I needed to. But there was something odd. I don't understand yet, but I think you guys should know." And so I told them how I'd been specifically assigned Gerald's kill, and what I had seen when I looked into his mind.
"That's disturbing, but I don't see how it affects us, to be honest. We don't know where all of this happened, or who the woman is, or even what the hell is going on." She paused. "File it away for future reference. Meanwhile, Father called us through the Whispering Mirror. We've been summoned back to Otherworld tomorrow night for a war meeting. We leave here as soon as Menolly wakes up. And we're to bring Chase with us. And Sharah."
I frowned. "Why can't they just tell us what they need to through the Whispering Mirror?"
"Because something's up. I can always tell. Father gets those little pursed lines around his lips. No, we have to go and they want all five of us there. Shade said he'd come, and Trillian. The others will stay here to guard the house." Camille frowned.
"We really have to do something about the security situation here." It had become problematic, especially as our enemies grew more powerful.
"I agree. It's fine to leave some of the guys at home but we need to be able to head out in full force, especially now that Iris is about ready to pop." Even though Camille said it affectionately, Iris flashed her an irritated look.
"Girl, if I don't give birth to this pair soon, I'll be ballistic enough to rain terror over the entire city. I swear, these children are already plaguing me, still in the womb." Iris rubbed her stomach, letting out an exasperated sigh. "I'm two weeks overdue and these young ones are kicking up a storm. If they don't birth themselves soon, I'm going to forcibly evict them."
I stifled a laugh. During Iris's pregnancy, she had become a volatile bundle of hormones. Everybody was crossing fingers it would be over and done with soon, but I suspected Bruce suffered the most.
Their house was snug as a bug, a two-story, four-bedroom cottage with plenty of room for the children- and others-when they started to grow. The guys had put the finishing touches on during the late summer months, and it was a hop and a skip away from ours. Iris and Bruce were firmly ensconced within it, but several times a week, they-or sometimes just Iris when Bruce was preparing for a lecture the next day-would join us for the evening.
I kissed her on the forehead. "It won't be much longer."
"And just what do you know about babies? How many have you had?"
Oh, she was grumpy, all right. I backtracked, fast. "You're right. I just hope for all our sakes that they make an appearance soon."
That brought a smile to her lips, and she ducked her head.
"Bruce has taken to hiding in the study after dinner, so I know he's feeling my temper, too." She let out a long sigh. "It will be over soon. Then I'll have two babies to raise and I'll get irate about other things." With a rueful smile, she leaned back in the rocker and closed her eyes.
I reached out and brushed the hair from her face. "Would you like me to brush your hair?" When I was in tabby form, I loved having my fur brushed. It was relaxing and I had the feeling, with the amount of hair our sprite had, she might just like it, too.
Iris gave me a quizzical look, then nodded. "Thank you. I'd like that."
Camille fished through her purse and handed me a brush as I gently removed the numerous pins and clips holding Iris's ankle-length golden hair in the coils that wrapped around her head.
"Sit, little mama." I pointed to the ottoman. She settled herself, with a little help from Camille, and I sat in the chair behind her and softly began to brush the long strands. After a moment, Iris let out a long, slow breath and her shoulders slumped gratefully. I took my time, sleeking over the glimmering tresses, thinking about my own hair. It had been long once, down to the middle of my back.
Should I grow it out again? But I'd changed so much, and my new style-short and spiky-fit the new me. No, long hair would be reserved for when I was in tabby form, and my tail plumed out in a delightful puff. Content, I returned my focus to Iris, and gave her a little scalp and shoulder massage in addition to the brushing. After about fifteen minutes, I gathered her hair back in a ponytail, looping it up so that it wouldn't trip her when she walked. She sighed, leaning back with a grateful smile and I hugged her.
"That felt marvelous. Thank you, Kitten. I really appreciate it."
I took a moment to put in a quick call to Chase about Gerald's dog. He wasn't there, so I left a message. As I hung up, the doorbell rang.
Camille answered. When she returned, she had a strange look on her face. Behind her followed a cowled woman in a long gray cloak. My blood chilled. Grandmother Coyote. And this time, she had come to us.
The Hags of Fate wove destiny, and they unraveled it. They measured out the cords and they cut them. They balanced good with evil, evil with good, order with chaos, and chaos with order. And, along with the Elemental Lords and the Harvestmen, they were the only true Immortals. They had existed long before the world had begun, and they would exist long after it ended.
That she appeared elderly was an understatement. Grandmother Coyote was both ancient and timeless. Her face mirrored a topography of ridges and lines, wrinkles on wrinkles, and yet she was beyond the scope of time, emerging from the very void to which the Death Maidens sent souls to be renewed and reused. Age was a misnomer, having no bearing on Grandmother Coyote because she was one of the few true Immortals. Though she looked like an old woman, she was so far from human that there was no comparison.
Iris paused, a hint of fear in her eyes. "Grandmother Coyote-what brings you here?" The fear was palpable in her voice.
Grandmother Coyote knelt down to gaze into Iris's eyes. "Be not afraid, young Talon-haltija. I am not here on your account. You have nothing to fear from me. Run now, to your home, and rest. The destinies of those who lie within your womb are only beginning, and you must have the strength and energy to run after them as they grow. There is greatness within you, and you, yourself, are as yet unrealized as to your place in the world. Be at peace."
A look of relief washed over Iris's face and she curtseyed, then glanced at Camille and mouthed "Later" before waddling out of the living room.
Camille motioned to a chair. "Won't you sit down?"
Grandmother Coyote lowered herself into the chair, leaning her walking stick against the arm. "I will not bother myself with chatter." A crinkle in her face substituted for a smile. "But I will accept a cup of tea. Camille, fetch me one."
Camille curtseyed, then hurried to the kitchen. I heard her fumbling around with the china and realized she was as nervous as I was. Grandmother Coyote never paid social calls, so whatever brought her to us had to be serious.
"Where is my grandson-so to speak?"
"Morio's off training," Smoky said.
I remained silent. The Hags of Fate spoke on their own time, according to their own agendas. It would do us no good to ask why she was here and I knew it. Like all cats, I could be patient when needed.
Smoky also seemed alert, on his guard. Trillian stood near the door, waiting for instructions. Vanzir put down the game controller and pushed himself off the floor, dusting his hands on his pants as he leaned against the arm of the sofa and nodded to Grandmother Coyote.
As Camille brought the tea in, Trillian took the tray from her and set it on the coffee table. He poured, as we gathered around. Grandmother Coyote accepted the cup and sipped the steaming liquid. Then, with a deep breath, she inhaled the fragrance. Finally, she set the tea cup on a coaster on the table next to the chair and looked around the room, her gaze falling on Camille.
"You cannot get rid of Rodney, my girl, as much as you want to. He's important. I know how much you hate him, but you have no choice. Unleash him at the right moment and he may save your life."
Camille gulped. I knew how much she hated the freakazoid bone golem that thought of himself as the love child between Rodney Dangerfield and Howard Stern-we all did-but she said nothing, merely nodding.
Another moment, and Grandmother Coyote cocked her head, turning slowly to look at the others. "Clear out. I need to talk to Camille and Delilah. Alone."
Oh joy. Just what we wanted to hear. "Are you sure they can't stay? You know they'll just find out later anyway."
"Of course they will, and you will be the ones to tell them. But for now, men, retire to the kitchen and do not return till you are summoned. And do not answer the door. I need to talk to Delilah, especially."
"Me?" Oh, lovely. Usually, when Grandmother Coyote had something to say, it was to Camille, but apparently she'd said all she had to say to my sister with the warning about Rodney. At least for the night.
"Yes, you." She waited while the guys silently cleared out of the room. They knew better than to argue with one of the Hags of Fate.
When they were gone, she continued. "While this matter will concern all of you, Delilah, you are the one who stands at the fulcrum this time-you will be the key to unraveling what you need to know when it is time. A balance has been upset and must be righted."
As she paused, a scratching sounded at the front door.
"What the fuck-" Camille moved toward the foyer but Grandmother Coyote stopped her.
"Halt. I brought visitors. They are here on my summons. You will meet them in a few moments." She paused again, then yawned. Her teeth were steely, cold and metallic, sharp as blades, looking like they could gnash bone into shrapnel. And I had no doubt they could-and perhaps they had.
A chill ran down my spine. I had the feeling that my work with Greta tonight had something to do with what Grandmother Coyote was talking about.
"What do you need me for?"
Grandmother Coyote touched her nose. "This cannot be discussed without me introducing my comrades. But you are correct in your silent surmise. This matter relates to your training as a Death Maiden-I cannot tell you how, yet, but know that it does. Secondly, this matter involves daemonic energies in the city not connected with Shadow Wing." At that, she nodded to the hallway. "Go now, let in my pets."
Daemonic . . . that wasn't good. But at least, daemons and demons didn't get along so well and were rarely on the same side. Which meant this might not have to do with Shadow Wing, the Demon Lord we were fighting.
I moved to the door, wondering who was waiting utside. It could be a troll or a goblin or a centaur or-just about anything. Knowing Grandmother Coyote, anybody could be on the other side. My stomach lurching, I yanked open the door.
There, on the porch, like stone statues come to life, stood two gargoyles. And they didn't look happy.COLLAPSE
A.J. Roach: Devil May Dance
Adele: Rumour Has It
Air: Napalm Love, Playground Love
Al Stewart: Life in Dark Water
Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare
Android Lust: Saint Over, God in the Hole, In the Arms of the Heretic,
Asteroids Galaxy Tour: Lady Jesus, The Sun Ain't Shining No More, Sunshine Coolin'
Beck: Que Onda Guero, Hell Yes, Black Tambourine, Elevator Music
Black Mountain: Angels
Blue Oyster Cult: The Reaper
Bravery, The: Believe
Broken Bells: The High Road, Your Head Is On Fire, The Ghost Inside, October
Cream: Sunshine of Your Love
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Run Through the Jungle
David Bowie: Golden Years, I'm Afraid of Americans, Without You
Dizzi: Dizzi Jig
Don Henley: Dirty Laundry
Dragon Ritual Drummers: The Fall
Eels: Souljacker Part 1
Everlast: Black Jesus, Ends, What It's Like
Foster the People: Pumped Up Kicks
Gary Numan: Petals, Sleep By Windows, Hunger, I Can't Stop, My Dying Machine
Gorillaz: Kids With Guns, Clint Eastwood, Feel Good, Inc, Stylo
Gotye: Somebody That I Used To Know
Hanni El Khatib: Come Alive
Heart: Magic Man
Julian Cope: Charlotte Anne
Lady Gaga: Paparazzi, Born This Way, Teeth
Ladytron: Black Cat, Predict the Day,
Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man
Lindstøm and Christabelle: Lovesick
Lou Reed: Walk On The Wild Side
Mark Lanegan: Bleeding Muddy Water, Riot In My House, Phantasmagoria Blues, Wedding Dress, Methamphetamine Blues, Like Little Willie John, Riding the Nightingale, Miracle
Neil Young: Cinnamon Girl
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Red Right Hand
Nirvana: Come As You Are, Lake of Fire
Offspring: Come Out and Play
Pearl Jam: Jeremy
Screaming Trees: All I Know, Dime Western
Suzanne Vega: 99.9F, Blood Makes Noise, In My Movie, Solitude Standing, Straight Lines
Talking Heads: Burning Down the House, Life During Wartime, Take Me to the River, Girlfriend is Better
U2: Elevation, Vertigo
Zero 7: In the Waiting Line