The Stone Demon - By Karen Mahoney

For Mum, who was there at the very beginning

and couldn’t wait to see how the story ends.

Donna Underwood’s Final Journal Entry:

They say that the truth sets you free.

Whoever “they” are, they have no idea how far off base that is. Free? I don’t think so.

Now that I know the truth—some of it—my life is more restricted than ever. I want out. Out of the Order of the Dragon. Out of the Order of the Crow. Out of this crazy world of alchemists hidden in the shadows. I feel as though I’m living in a MMORPG, only my character is running low on food, weapons, and life force all at the same time. She’s crashing and burning, and I’m not sure I can save her. Save ME.

Seems like the more I thrash around trying to find some kind of escape from the alchemists, the tighter the threads bind me. I’m stuck in the middle of a web of lies, just waiting for Simon Gaunt, the Magus, to scuttle over and deliver a poisonous bite. He’s the spider at the center of all this crap, but unlike Anansi he is way more than a trickster and teller of tales. He’s dangerous.

I thought I’d stopped believing in “good” and “evil” a long time ago—it’s so reductive and small. But Simon’s immortality has come at a terrible price. Not so much a price exacted on himself, as far as I can figure it, but on way too many other people. Possibly even on Quentin.

And then there’s Demian.

He may be a demon—the king of the demons—but at least he’s true to his nature. There are no secrets. He simply is what he is. A force of nature. A vengeful god that I’m responsible for unleashing on the world. Aliette is cunning, but I can’t really blame her for setting me up—I can only blame myself for being stupid enough to trust her. The Wood Queen and I have tangled too many times, now, and somehow she doesn’t scare me. At least, not as much as she used to. But she did trick me into releasing the demons on our world.

Demons … it’s a whole new ball game, one I’m not sure that any of us are ready for. I wish I knew the rules, but every time it feels like I’m finding my footing, somebody pulls the rug out from under me and I have to learn how to stand all over again.

All this, and my dreams are getting more vivid with each night that I spend in London. The pain in my arms from the iron tattoos that used to bind my power grows worse. Some mornings I wake up screaming, and I remember that the Demon King is gathering his army and the whole world is in danger … and I just want to run away and hide. Miranda speaks of the reaper storm of demons as though it’s something that we all face together, even though I know I have to take responsibility for opening the door to Hell. I set things in motion—doesn’t that mean that I should be the one to fix it?

The only problem is, I’m not even sure I know where to begin …

From: Donna Underwood

To: Navin Sharma

Subject: Use The Force


I was being serious in that last email. Stop trying to cheer me up with Star Wars quotes.

I wish you would come visit. Didn’t you say your dad was into the idea of you spending some time in London? I’d love to see you. I know it’s a lot to ask, but I don’t have any friends here and I just don’t feel like I fit in—I know it’s only been three weeks, but still. And anyway, I thought you’d want an excuse to skip school! :-)

Everybody in the Order of the Crow is so English. (Yeah, I know, I’m stating the obvious.) I feel like I’m living in a real-life version of Mary Poppins. Only without the singing and dancing. You know, the cool stuff.

Miranda’s nice, don’t get me wrong, but she’s very efficient. Since her promotion she’s pretty senior in the ranks—not quite on the same level as Quentin, but she’s quickly approaching that. I thought I’d have gotten to know her better by now, but she’s only really focused on the task of training me to be an alchemist. Honestly? So far, that mostly involves spending way too much time reading dusty old books. Being stuck in this house is starting to drive me crazy, too,