14 | The Keeper of Secrets

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Elliot Mirza had no idea whether it was day or night. He'd spent the better part of a week holed-up in his room at Mirza Manor, relentlessly hunting through the companion journal. Word by word, page by page.

He was determined to find out everything he could about the mysterious contents of Konstantin's diaries. Determined to rescue Lu.

He sat at his desk, chewing on the end of his pen. The Romanian in this book was even older than Prime Minister Rostova. And translating it was a nightmare.

"Has anyone ever told you that you sit in very odd positions?" said Jade.

He looked at his computer screen. Since she'd returned to Konstantin Academy, they'd resorted to video-chat and text message to communicate with one another.

Frowning, Elliot assessed himself. He had one leg draped over the arm of his swiveling chair, the other placed against his desk. He hadn't even realized he'd been spinning...

Yanking the pen out of his mouth, he said, "It's comfortable."

Jade shook her head and laughed. "You're a real dork, Mirza." She checked her wristwatch. "Alright, make this quick. My free period ends in ten minutes."

Free period... It was night, then. Elliot didn't even know when he'd last checked the time.

He sat upright in the chair like a proper boy. "I haven't found much. Between the language, Konstantin's terrible handwriting, and the general disorganization, this journal has been a pain in the ass."

He rifled through the messy pile of notes on his desk.

"There was a list of confessions Konstantin made, probably in preparation for his death. One caught my eye." He dragged his finger down the list. "The secrets I buried in the New World."

Jade cocked an eyebrow. "That's it?"

If Elliot didn't know any better, he'd think she was annoyed by him.

"No. Right next to it, Konstantin wrote a series of numbers."

"Let me see them."

He held the book in front of the video camera, blocking his face. "Obviously, they can't be a phone number, or an address, or a P.O. box, since none of those things existed six hundred years ago. So I was thinking it could be some type of code—"

"They're coordinates."

Elliot glanced at the page.

Coordinates. How come I didn't think of that?

"Let me see where they lead to," Jade said.

She promptly got up from her seat, leaving Elliot to stare at the background of her dorm room.

Moments later, she popped back onto his computer screen like a wraith from the mist. He gave a jolt at her sudden appearance, but then went stone-still and waited for an explanation. She merely stared at something in front of her, frowning in concentration.

"What is it?" he pressed.

She uncapped a red marker and scribbled something, then held up what looked to be a map. Elliot leaned closer and studied it.

"Isn't that—"

"Three kilometers from the cemetery where Miles was buried."

Jade pulled the map away, and they stared at each other, wide-eyed. Eager.

"But it's in the middle of nowhere," Elliot said. "Just forest and mountains."

"That's what makes it a damn good place to bury your secrets. Konstantin must have thought the same."

Elliot chewed his lip. "It's so close to the school. That can't be a coincidence. What if Konstantin's skeletons have something to do with the Volkari? What if the wolves dug up whatever he buried in that location? What if they took Lu—"

"Calm down, kiddo," Jade said, her voice as patronizing as he'd ever heard one before.

Except by Lu, who had a tendency to mother everyone she met, and honestly...he missed it. When she fixed his hair and scolded him about his disheveled clothes.

"Don't jump to conclusions," Jade continued. "It might not lead to anything."

Elliot gazed down at the journal and his translations. He hoped she was wrong.

"What else did you find?"

He scoured through the notes until he located the desired papers. "Konstantin kept bringing up this blight on a European Volkari pack during his time, and it seems to be heavily connected to magic. So...I was thinking the word for blight could also be translated as curse."

Jade sighed. "Elliot, none of that is going to help Lu. Magic has dwindled a lot during the past six hundred years. It's irrelevant now."

"I thought the same, until I read that a Serafi accidentally created the blight and worked for years trying to break it. This witch—it was Lu's ancestor. A Lazarov."

Jade pursed her lips in thought. "Keep talking."

"I know it seems crazy, but what if magic is the reason the wolves kidnapped Lu? It's the only common denominator between her, the journal, and Volkari.

"Konstantin says that the Lazarov witch used two magical stones to create and break the curse. One stone is called Hekatolith—the moonstone—and the other is Kresolith—the bloodstone."

Jade scribbled something down on a notepad.

"Hekatolith is a rare kind of moonstone which is believed to hold magical properties," he read from an old Mirza family grimoire—which he'd secretly borrowed from his father. "It is of a pale blue color, and can be used to channel the energy of the moon. It may also represent the Volkari race."

"What about Kresolith?" Jade asked.

"Same thing, pretty much. But it's a bright red color and is used to represent the Serafi race in magic rituals."

Jade finished whatever she was writing, then gave him a dubious look. "None of this is going to lead anywhere. The connection is too weak."

"There has to be something in this journal that tells us what the Volkari want with Lu."

Her features softened, and she seemed like she was about to say something, but the school bell blared in the background.

"I have to go. I'll research the location of the coordinates and the magical stones, but it might take a day or two. And you realize that you'll have to give this information to Nika, right?"

Elliot winced. "I'm really not comfortable being alone in a room with her."

"Not sure if she's the one you have to worry about."

He suddenly felt sick to his stomach. "I hope you don't mean that terrifying keeper who dragged her out of the base."

Jade nodded—that was exactly who she meant.

"Look on the bright side," she said before logging off, "they can't kill you twice." 

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