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Amoroth's apartment was the penthouse of a shining complex nestled on the concrete bank of the aqueduct. As Darius and I strolled through the polished lobby and out the revolving door, I took a moment to glance behind me. The building we left was suave and modern, its frame woven with steel that gleamed in the late afternoon sun. The avenue was freshly paved and the planters burst with bunches of heather and lilac. There were only a handful of cars parked alongside the curb, and they were all obscenely expensive in make and model.

Darius and I walked, and the cityscape morphed and changed around us. The expensive high-rises gave way to shorter, blockier structures as we roamed southward toward the lingering vision of Klau Tower. The trendy apartments dwindled into commercial lots as the skyline began to rise again. The street congestion increased and the perfumed planters were replaced by billboards, benches, and traffic lights. The commercial buildings became less flashy and more streamlined as we neared Verweald's industrial heart.

Darius stopped and I collided with his solid back. "There." He jabbed a thumb across the avenue. I followed the gesture, spotting a dumpy brick structure slid between two metal and glass compounds. The front of it was heavily cracked and the stones beneath the windows were streaked by rust and grime. The flat sign above the double doors read "G&R Supplies and Distribution."

"How—how did you know that was here?" I sputtered as Darius turned to observe the buildings behind us. Whatever he was looking for he found, as the Sin soon bobbed his head and grabbed my wrist.

"Here." He tugged me around the corner into a slender passageway allowing access to an office building's side entrance. "Wait here, out of sight."


"I remembered it," the Sin said, cutting my question short. He released my arm and ran the pad of his thumb across his fingertips as if to dispel the lingering pressure of my touch. "While searching for the den, I canvased this area of the city. My memory is...exceptional. I recalled seeing the building when you mentioned the name."

That Darius could remember such a meaningless detail boggled my mind. It was yet another peculiar intricacy, a facet of information that meant so much more than I could perceive. The Sin had lived thousands of lifetimes—had witnessed a million dreams, nightmares, wars, and resolutions. To be able to remember it all with such exacting detail....

Darius left without another word. He crossed the road without bothering to check the flowing traffic. A Buick swerved to avoid him, horn blaring as the Sin ignored the irate driver and disappeared into G&R's ugly doors.

Exhaling in defeat, I sat in the shadow of a covered dumpster and leaned upon the office building's plaster wall. Heat radiated upward from the dark concrete, soaking into my sore muscles and the thick material of my Klau uniform. "Stupid demon," I grumbled, prodding a piece of crumpled newspaper away from me. "'Stay here, do this, do that.' I'm not a dog."

I loathed to admit it, but Darius had a point. Misfortune hounded me like a spurned suitor. I found myself in far too much trouble for being such an ordinary human woman. Perhaps, for now, it was a good idea for me to make myself scarce.

The dumpster exuded a noxious smell in the summer heat, and I cringed as I covered my mouth and nose with my sleeve, hunkering down into my hiding spot. I lamented the deplorable turn my life had taken as I shut my eyes. Forced to hide behind dumpsters from murderous cultists. What's next? Swimming through the sewers to escape mages? Honestly, I'd better take that thought back before it becomes reality.

I waited for Darius to return, praying the building wouldn't suddenly erupt in a pillar of flame. As the minutes ticked by and I became increasingly more impatient, an unsettling chill began to creep along my spine. Considering it was well over ninety degrees in the shade, it was preposterous for me to feel cold—but the prickling numbness continued to grow more prevalent. It was...familiar, and yet...and yet....

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