Chapter One

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"Fucking shaman," the queen of the shifters swore.

"Which one?" Nikos Stavros, leader of the daemon asked. His tone indicated he was curious about Breqlynn Darkin's answer.

Fi, properly Ophelia Espinosa, fought not to roll her eyes. The leader of her kind had formed a bond with the witch. She didn't think Breqlynn or her destined, Wolfrick Jaeger knew of the link. But all the daemon under Nikos did.

They were on top of a hill. To the south and west were sandstone cliffs. A shaman that Wolf - the shifter king - knew from a former life had shown up a few hours ago. The man's council had sent him to find out what they could tell him about a member who'd disappeared. Billings, Montana was the missing man's last known location.

"All the fucking shaman," Breqlynn snarled as she dug into the frozen ground with her elemental magic. Plumes of earth exploded from the hole and settled on its sides.

Wolfrick stayed home to "blow smoke up the shaman's ass," as Breqlynn put it so eloquently. The pregnant queen excused herself from the meeting saying she wasn't feeling well according to the call Nikos received. Then, warning given to her daemon ally, the witch changed into her bird form and flew to this spot.

Fi's eyes found the shaman. Even though the wolf king knew where the man was, he was playing dumb. Jaeger was new to the position and knew there'd be a diplomatic nightmare on his hands if the shaman council learned where their missing member was.

Sightless, clouded eyes that had once been a vibrant blue stared back at Fi. The cold of winter had preserved the body, but it hadn't stopped carrion-eating animals from having their fill. The remains were a grisly sight.

To be fair, they hadn't known this shaman was a chancellor when they'd killed him. Not that it would have mattered if they did know. The outcome would've been the same, regardless. The demon riding the dead man would have murdered them all.

"We'd better hurry," the raven-haired shifter queen said as she lifted the lifeless shaman's body with the element of air. "Wolfrick says this asshat Owen Walker is insisting on exploring his chancellor's last known location." Her bond with the king gave them the ability to communicate telepathically. Some thought it odd, but Fi and Nikos were accustomed to mental magic. It was what daemon and their evil brethren – vampires - were strongest in using.

Warning issued, Breqlynn engaged another element, that of fire. The shaman's corpse glowed red, then blue, then white. Fi had to look away. The bright light hurt her eyes. Although daemon weren't vampires – not unless they tasted another's blood – they weren't fully human either. They had no problem with sunlight, unlike their demonic brothers and sisters. But bright light did temporarily blind them. Their eyes were most comfortable in the darkest of nights.

Once the shaman was nothing but ash, Breqlynn used air to gather even the tiniest of specs. The grey ball was then placed into the bottom of the deep hole. Next, the piled dirt surrounding the witch-made pit was lifted and placed over the ball. This last process went slow because Breq was carefully working backward. They didn't want to leave any trace – no evidence to tie this spot as the demon-possessed man's final resting place.

"There," Breqlynn announced a few minutes later. Squinting at where the hole had once been, she stated, "I don't see anything that looks out of place. What about you, Nikos?"

The Greek daemon leader took in a deep breath through his nose. "It looks and smells as it did before," he replied on the exhale. "Well done, Breq," he praised.

Fi stared hard at the ground so as not to roll her eyes. Nikos had it bad. If the shifter king or his queen found out about the bond, their new alliance would come to an end. Their fledgling daemon society would crumble. They'd be hunted once more and have to take to the shadows.

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