Cloak of Night (Circle of Shadows #2) - Evelyn Skye Page 0,1
fists as she rode away in her bubble. As Virtuoso, Emperor Gin’s second-in-command, she was supposed to want to snap the former empress’s neck in the grotto. But there was a part of Hana that was relieved she wasn’t allowed to kill Princess Aki. Prisoner or not, she was still royalty.
Unfortunately, it was that kind of wishy-washy commitment that had made Hana weak before. She’d fallen for her sister’s attempt to reconcile, letting Sora go instead of turning her in. If I had revealed Sora as a mole in our ranks, the Society of Taigas wouldn’t have been warned of the impending attack, and the ryuu could have taken the Imperial City without as much ryuu bloodshed. They also could have avoided killing some taigas who would have been valuable once they were brainwashed and turned into ryuu.
That had all been because Hana had wavered in her allegiance.
I won’t make that mistake again, she thought. From now on, whatever Emperor Gin wanted, she would be single-mindedly dedicated to him and his pursuit of the Evermore.
“Nothing will sway me,” Hana said aloud, as if doing so would further bind her to the pledge. “Nothing.”
It’s a strange thing, Sora thought, when a boy you’ve known your entire life is suddenly an enormous electric wolf. It was stranger still to ride on his back as he flew through the night, sparks flickering off his blue fur. She, Fairy, and Broomstick clung to Daemon, bracing themselves against the biting chill.
They’d fled Kichona, beaten and terrified, after Prince Gin—the Dragon Prince—seized the throne. But now, just hours later, the decision nipped at the edges of Sora’s mind.
They were supposed to be the protectors of the kingdom. Was it irresponsible to abandon their people?
But the rest of the Society of Taigas had been beaten, and if Sora and her friends had stayed, Prince Gin might have captured and hypnotized them, too. And then Kichona would have no one left to save them.
Still, it felt wrong to run away.
“Turn around,” she said to Daemon.
“Turn around. We need to go back.”
“Are you out of your mind?” Daemon said, his voice half growl. “Prince Gin just took over the minds of every warrior we know, and we only barely escaped.”
“Which means that the prince won’t expect us yet,” Sora said. “He probably thinks we’ll disappear for a while to lick our wounds. No one would guess we’d turn around after losing a battle and fly straight back.”
With a reluctant sigh, Daemon changed directions and headed back to Kichona.
Eventually, a crescent-shaped island came into view. Isle of the Moon had been the retreat of the Society of Taigas’ council, before the ryuu destroyed it. Even from this height, Sora could see the red bridges smashed into ponds and the toppled Constellation Temple.
But its devastation also made Isle of the Moon the perfect place to regroup before they returned across the channel to Kichona’s main island. No one would expect them to choose this as a hideout.
“Try touching down on that strip,” Sora said, pointing to a narrow clearing.
“I hardly know how to fly, let alone land,” Daemon said. “I might dash us all to pieces.”
“You can do it,” she said, even though they’d only discovered his magic hours ago. She tapped into the mental bond she shared with Daemon and sent him a ribbon of reassurance. It coursed through their connection like the scent of salt water and sunshine on a summer day, and she could immediately feel the muscles in his shoulders release some of their tension.
She looked down again at the island. The destruction was even more stark as they got closer. Gardens were flooded. Beams from broken buildings littered the ground. Rainbow koi swam in puddles on top of broken rooftops instead of in the carefully tended ponds they’d once called home.
“I’m going to aim for that meadow at the edge of the woods,” Daemon said. “There’s slightly more space there. Everyone, hold on.”
Sora leaned into the fur on the back of his neck and hugged him, feeling his lupine strength beneath her, and for just a moment, she let the wonder of Daemon’s transformation sweep over her. Even though he was a wolf, he smelled like cypress trees and sky, like a boy born of the forest and the stars. Every nerve in her body tingled, awake in a way she’d never before experienced.
Fairy tightened her grip around Sora’s waist, bringing Sora out of her thoughts. Broomstick stretched from behind Fairy and wrapped his arms