Chapter 22

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Adora

I really should have come up with a better way of telling them of my suspicions, but it just came out that way. I blamed the pregnancy brain. I made a face. It was almost terrifying how much I could legitimately blame on being preggers.

"I'll send a message to my mother straightaway," Kieran said.

Fenrir leaned forward, eyes intent. "Kieran's mother is Desekthryn and she might be able to help. Records show that the Desekthroi may consume their magic through song. Adora, you've sang magic before — could you try singing magic from us?"

Ice rushed through my veins. My mouth went dry.

"That's different. Singing magic from gold is one of the first things we learn as hatchlings."

His gaze flickered before returning to mine. "Not quite the way you do it. I've never seen anyone sing magic from gold the way you do. You called almost all of the magic into a tiny fraction of the original mass. That is unheard of from anyone who isn't a master enchanter. That's reason to think that perhaps you could sing magic from flesh."

It was one thing to think about harnessing the Desekthroi's abilities. It was another thing to think of actually doing it myself. It was taboo, after all, and the Desekthroi were the lowest of the low. In a world where magic was dying and our race needed magic to survive, it took a particular brand of cruelty to kill members of a dying race just so they could bear their twisted children.

"How would I transfer the magic if I could sing it forth? Big if, by the way."

"The mating bond," Jace said. "You could pull it through the mating bond."

I fell back against the couch. "The mating bond," I repeated.

"The Desekthryn draw on the bond to remain sane. It's why only the unmated become Deskethroi," Kieran said.

My head snapped back in revulsion. "All unmated Desekthryn become Desekthroi?" Surely not. The Universe could be unfair, but that seemed even beyond the normal order of lunacy.

"No," Kieran shook his head. "It is, ultimately, a choice that each Desekthryn makes. Even if one doesn't find a mate, they can always form a sister or brother bond with another dragon, much as I have. Those who choose to fall to temptation do so because they give into their thirst, they allow their need to warp them and turn them bitter."

"Oh." I bit my lip. Even so. Could I really do it, draw magic from my mates to consume?

Fenrir knelt in front of me. "I offer, of my own free will. It is not the same. If the Desekthryn use the bond this way, then there can be no evil in it if I give consent."

"Blame not the sword for who it kills; fault the one who wields it," Lucas said.

Easy to say, but.

"What if I go overboard and end up being a menace?"

"My mother told me once that so long as you bore affection for your mate, you would never be in danger of turning Desekthroi." His lips pressed together. "The first step, after all, is sacrificing your anchor."

Jace stirred. "Anchor?"

"Every Desekthryn has a prime, the bond that supports them. A mother is usually the prime for a child, sometimes the father. As a child grows, then they may form bonds with others that supersede the parental bond. Likely to, actually, in the case of Desekthryn, as the parent usually becomes incapable of being prime to the growing child. When a Desekthryn allows their thirst — their greed, rather, to get the better of them, they will turn on their anchor and bleed them dry. When they do so, then they become Desekthroi."

I frowned. "But what if they kill someone other than their anchor?"

Kieran shrugged one shoulder. "For whatever reason, those who go rogue kill their anchors first. Always."

A shiver crept down my spine. "That's terrible. I can't imagine — to love someone and then to have them turn upon you like that."

Jace nodded. "It is terrible, and why the Desekthroi are almost universally reviled."

But wait.

"The children. What about the children?"

Kieran looked away. "Any children of the Desekthroi are lost to us."

Us?

"Why?" I demanded.

"Babies born of addicts are usually addicts themselves, with greater harm being done to them," Fenrir said.

"That doesn't mean they're irredeemable," I protested.

Or were they? Images of vampiric babies flooded through my mind and I shuddered. There was little creepier than blood-sucking babies, except maybe magic-eating babies.

Kieran straightened, a martial glint lighting his eyes. "Yes, but who is going to battle a nest of Desekthroi to save any potential offspring they have? And who is going to be able to keep the babies alive while they're still addicted to the heightened levels of magic in their mothers' blood? Past that, there is no safe place to keep the babies even if we were to be able to save them. No unmated Desekthryn is allowed on the medusae, much less an un-anchored Desekthroi."

"But..."

"You can't make any arguments that we haven't made already, Adora," Kieran growled. "Do you think that we are content with allowing innocents to remain with monsters who will raise them to be more monsters? However, what other option do we have? An un-fettered Desekthroi could cut a swathe through the population of a medusa in days."

"What if they were brought to Earth?"

Lucas gave me an incredulous look. "And then what? Don't forget, beloved, we're having a difficult time keeping you and our children alive as it is. We are in no position to go on this particular crusade at this time."

I had nothing to say to that. Except.

"At this time?"

Kieran let loose a low laugh. "Believe me, I am in no way averse to trying to solve this problem once we've dealt with our own. But first, Seraphina, can you sing for us?"

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