This time there was no one standing watch over the archway. I made my way back inside. I had no plan of action. I wasn't thinking now, only reacting. My heart pounded in my chest; I could hear it roaring in my ears. An image of the dagger flashed before my eyes. If I could get my hands on the dagger, I could stop Macaven from creating the demon. I'd freed Thomas, hadn't I? I could find a way to use my new abilities to free my father. Kill the mage and the banshees go free. If I could kill Macaven, my brother's spirit would be released. I might be able to get my hands on the dagger and thrust it through Macaven's heart.

If only I could create some kind of distraction and get close enough to the altar. I could wait until they weren't paying attention to make a grab for the knife. If I could get near him, I might just be able to pull it off.

And once I did? How would I get away? How could I possibly escape? I pushed those thoughts aside and kept moving.

I went through one room and into the hallway. I was jogging now, trying to get back to the convocation before they moved on to human sacrifices. I didn't know what time it was, but, come midnight, Luke said they would move from killing livestock to killing people. They would start murdering the hostages held down below. Once I killed Macaven, I'd try to find a way to help the others escape.

No more innocent people would die, not if I could help it.

I came up to the door into the main room. I could hear people cheering on the other side. An image of Luke flashed through my mind and my fingers hesitated on the doorknob. There was a good chance I wouldn't make it out of this alive, and there were things left unsaid between us. I'd never told Luke how sorry I was about the stupid fight we'd had. How, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I did want to stay with him after this was all over. If his guild wouldn't accept me, maybe the two of us could go off together on our own. Luke said he wanted to be with me. If he cared about me, he might be willing to leave his guild to be with me.

I shook my head. If I did this—if I went through the door—I was risking everything to try and save the innocent lives of the people Macaven held hostage. But more importantly, I was getting vengeance for my family's death. My brother and father were dead, but Macaven still held their spirits. I had to try and release them from the dark mage's hold

A sob escaped my mouth, and my hands trembled. I had to do it. I would fight this time, I would save what I could of my family.

I had to try.

I took a deep breath and let the anger run through me like a fire. It was what I needed now—the anger, the violence—that made death dealers so effective. I might not have spells, but Luke was wrong. I did have some magic.

I could raise the dead.

So what if I couldn't bring forth banshees? All I needed was a dead body or two, and I could create the distraction I needed. My mind didn't even shy away at the thought of killing someone. I was no longer the weak, helpless healer who'd stumbled into the magic shop. I'd been through the rituals and survived them. I watched my family be slaughtered, and I was still functioning. I'd been tested by fire and come out stronger. The fire turned me to steel.

I pushed open the door and walked into the room. Macaven was still by the altar, but this time instead of a ram lying across it, there was a teenage boy. The boy's hands were tied to either side of the stone surface as Macaven stood over him.

Everyone in the room except Macaven was swaying back and forth. As I passed a group of people, I realized no one in the crowd seemed aware I was there. They all were in some kind of trance. Macaven held a black book in one hand and the dagger in the other. He was reading words from the book in Latin with such intensity that he didn't notice when I entered.

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