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Verweald glittered like a dragon's hoarded trove, incandescent in the fading afternoon with the I-5 freeway as its tail, slicing through the accumulated mounds, scales flashing red, white, and neon. The lights blurred and conflated into tapered streamers as my car chased along the dragon's spine, and my thumbs idly tapped the steering wheel.

Are dragons real? I wondered to myself. I couldn't imagine so—and yet, I couldn't have imagined demons being real either.

My eyes flicked to the side.

The oncoming headlights oscillated, illuminating the Sin in the passenger's seat in brief, yellow bursts. The wayfarers lay discarded in the empty cup holder where they'd been tossed as soon as Darius entered my car, and so the headlights bled and gleamed against his revealed eyes, hollowing the plains of his stoic face, glancing against his proud, patrician features like flats stones off a glassy lake. He sat recumbent in the seat with his knees spread, arm propped against the window, and he stared into the distant taillights we chased across the city.

Darius hadn't said much at all once we left Imor's lobby and returned to the parking structure and my waiting sedan. He sniped half-heard directions leading us from the city's main heart toward the west, toward the coastline, and I followed his instructions despite riled misgivings because his manner of delivery didn't matter so long as the Sin delivered.

Voices crackled on the radio, then faded into static.

"Danyel has finished preparing arrangements for your sister," he said without prompting, not turning from the road. "He used...e-mail to lay a false trail, indicating Tara Gaspard was recruited into one of those...doctors over borders programs with little prior notice. She sent notices to her friends, your family, and yourself—all written in her usual verbiage—stating she would be leaving the country, and pointed out a backlogged missive that was not previously there at her place of employment to show she gave prior warning."

I swallowed the grief his mention of Tara elicited. "I don't people will believe that. My parents especially. Tara was always a planner, not one to make last-minute changes."

"You'd be surprised what humans are willing to believe."

With that snide comment, silence fell again like a physical thing, and I kept driving. We passed from the industrial dregs fringing Verweald's main artery into the darker and more utilitarian Warehouse District, replacing fashion outlets with squat, unlabeled facilities and gated manufacturers, skinny stacks highlighted against a smoggy sky, belching long lines of steam and smoke that rose until they caught the wind and dispersed.

"I wanted to ask you a question," I said slowly, unsure of the Sin's mood. "About him."

"About whom?"

"About him. Balth—."

He waved a hand, sneering. "What?" he snapped. "Ask your questions, get on with it."

Very encouraging, wonderful. "Before, you said...you mentioned you'd tried to kill him in the past?"

"If you must speak of that foul bastard, call him Envy. I can stomach only so much of your rambling and I refuse to let you deify the monster in your prevaricating by stuttering 'He' and 'Him' every few seconds."

"Envy, then," I said, frustration strengthening my voice. "You tried to kill Envy before."

"It isn't a topic open for discussion. Turn on this off-ramp."

Gritting my teeth, I cut across two lanes of traffic to do as he bid and almost rear-ended a swerving minivan. "I get it, okay? I'm not a simpering moron, despite what you think. You hate me, whatever. You hate Envy, whatever—but I meant what I said at the house. He's just as responsible as any of those cloaked people, and I want him dead like the others. He took everything from me."

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