29.2 | Damsel in a Wolf Den

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The sun had fully crested over the horizon by the time Ren sought out Elliot. His mind was racing, but at least his focus was clear. Elliot's, however, was not.

Immediately upon sneaking into the boy's ground-floor window at Mirza Manor, Ren was bombarded with whispered words—most of which were poorly enunciated and lacked important context.

This behavior was nothing out of the ordinary. Even so, Ren wasn't particularly fond of being hounded by a boy whose physique resembled a toothpick. So he ushered Elliot into a swiveling desk chair and slapped a hand over his mouth.

As Elliot blinked, clutching Konstantin's journal and a mess of loose papers to his chest, Ren took in his appearance. Though the disheveled curls indicated restless slumber, the circles beneath his eyes told otherwise. He looked like a madman, but Ren knew his fidgeting impatience was a result of important findings.

So he slowly removed his hand from Elliot's face and said, "We have ten minutes before someone realizes I knocked out one of your keepers. So make it quick."

"Why'd you do that?"

"I couldn't exactly walk through the front door when I've been branded with conspiracy in your father's eyes."

"My whole family is at Laguna's funeral."

Ren frowned. "Why didn't you go?"

Elliot hung his head. "Because I can't stand getting condolences from strangers when the only person I want to talk to about it is Lu."

It was an effort for Ren to restrain his wince. He'd never been good at comforting people, had never been able to identify the appropriate words and tone of voice. So he merely crossed the room, which was littered with dirty laundry, broken pencils, wads of half-used paper, and stacks of books. After easing down on Elliot's unmade bed, he cleared his throat.

"Nika sent me for a report."

"Right." Elliot picked up a notepad, scouring it. "It took forty hours without any sleep, but I think I found a few things..."

In the back of Ren's mind, he wondered how Elliot had managed to even keep the journal. Though Nika had demanded it as part of her deal with Rostova, it had seemed almost certain that Minister Mirza would take it away from his son. But perhaps the man cared more about what his son wanted than what the Prime Minister did.

"The Volkari pack during Konstantin's time suffered from a curse that's exactly the same as the one today," Elliot was saying, "which means it must have been replicated."

"By Mizelle Mitra's grandmother."

A nod. "According to the journal, the Romanian wolf curse was created by channeling the power of a lunar eclipse."

"How was it reversed?"

"All it says is that the witch channeled another eclipse. But I have a theory." Elliot got to his feet, that spark of enthusiasm flaring again. "You see, in nature, there's always a balance. Night and day, hot and cold, sea and earth. Opposites are necessary, and it's the same for magic. So if the moon curse was created during a lunar eclipse, then maybe it was broken during a solar eclipse."

Ren opened his mouth to ask a question, but Elliot raised a hand to stop him.

"It just so happens that there's a solar eclipse in North America today. And there is only one Daemonstri institution under its path of totality."

Ren slowly stood, and the thrumming of his heart grew to a gallop.

Kovachev is convinced that the Volkari have returned to Konstantin.

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