Crescent City Refresher | Part II | The Trench
Woah. Part I was a doozy, wasn't it. This is my second read through. I know what happens, but still - Woah. Emotional isn't the half of it. But we got through it. Now we jump 22 months later, and we are at Part II of House of Earth and Blood. Need to go over more glossary terms, or haven't seen Part I's refresher yet? Click below to get yourself updated.
Crescent City Ultimate Guide - What you need to know
PART I - The Hollow Chapter Breakdown
PART II - The Trench Chapter Breakdown
PART III - The Canyon Chapter Breakdown
PART IV - The Ravine & epilogue Chapter Breakdown
OBVIOUSLY THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW. DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU HAVE READ HOUSE OF EARTH AND BLOOD.
Seriously. Don't blame me past this point.
CHAPTER 8 *Bryce*
It's 22 months since the murders. Bryce is still working as Jesiba's assistant, and heads to The White Raven to meet one of her clients - Maximus Tertian - to finish out a sale. As she waits for Maximus, she ends up hooking up with a Lion Shifter in the bathroom. When she tries to blow him off afterward because she has a meeting, he assumes she is a prostitute, and says he doesn't have enough marks to pay. She just laughs it off and tells him it was on the house. She finds the music enticing, but refuses to dance - not since the murders. She has also abstained from alcohol and drugs since. During the meeting with Maximus, the complete the exchange. When Bryce goes to leave, Maximum makes it clear that with the amount of money he just spent, he expected her to put out. She notices Ruhn sitting at the bar, watching the situation, which angers her. When Maximus finds out Ruhn is her "cousin" he backs off his advances. Bryce is annoyed because she could have handled him on her own.
Ruhn tells her he was sent to give her a message from The Autumn King - to lay low and don't get into any trouble before the Summit. Bryce is pissed, but she agrees, and walks home. She is aware that Ruhn follows her home, and if she doesn't turn on the light in her apartment, he will probably storm in. So she turns on the light to her penthouse - a penthouse she ended up with because Danika left it to her in her will. She snuggles up with Syrinx.
CHAPTER 9 *Hunt*
The chapter begins with Hunt, dressed as his Umbra Mortis persona, is brutally killing Micah's latest targets. When he is done, he goes to the Barracks, where he lives with the rest of the 33rd, ignores his friends questions, and walks to the shared bathroom to shower off the blood. He turns the water to scalding hot, and as he is in the shower burning, he thinks of the Angel Rebellion, The Fall, his years as a slave, and his price to be freed - a life for a life. 2217 beings died at the battle at Mount Hermon, so 2217 beings Hunt will need to kill for Micah before he is set free. He hates himself for what he has to do, and continues to burn in the shower.
CHAPTER 10 *Bryce*
Bryce is at work at Griffin Antiquities. The door buzzer rings, and she sees two of the 33rd through the video camera - Isaiah and Hunt. She tells them they need to make an appointment, which would make her free weeks from now. Hunt tells her that there has been a murder, similar to Danika and the packs murder, and Bryce let's them in. Isaiah and Hunt tell her that Maximus Tertian was just found on the border of the Meat Market ; his remains were bloody pulp, like Danka and the pack. As Bryce is one of the last to have seen him alive, they questioned her, and her story lines up with the video evidence they have, as well as testimony. Bryce puts it together that the 33rd has come to the conclusion that Philip Briggs was not the one responsible for Danika and the packs deaths. She is then informed that Micah is on his way to meet with both her and Jesiba. The angels go outside to let Bryce prepare and get Jesiba on the phone.
CHAPTER 11 *Bryce*
Bryce - after making sure everything illegal is hidden - invites Micah, Hunt and Isaiah into Griffin Antiquities. Bryce is immediately taken in my how attractive Micah is, and the aura of power, but when she see's Hunt's halo, it reminds her what Micah stands for, and it immediately breaks the spell for her. After talking for a little bit, Bryce calls Jesiba, and Micah reveals that he would like Bryce to help find the murderer.
CHAPTER 12 *Hunt*
Micah explains his reasoning. The Summit is fast approaching, and Micah needs these murders "cleaned up" before his hold on the city is questioned. The 33rd is out of resources, and Bryce was the closest person to Danika, and is the only connection between Danika, the Pack of Devil and Maximus. He believes Bryce is the key to solving the mystery. He assigns Isaiah to report details to him, and Hunt as Bryce's protection.
CHAPTER 13 *Hunt & Bryce*
Micah, Hunt and Isaiah are standing on the roof, looking down at Crescent City. Micah offers Hunt a deal ; if Bryce and him find the murderer before the Summit, he will reduce the amount of lives Hunt has to take from 2217 to 10, and he will be freed.
Bryce talks to Jesiba for a bit. After the call, she thinks about the murders, and what she knows. She opens up her phone, and read Connors last texts to her before he died.
Art by Salome Totladze @morgana0anagrom
Honestly one of my favorites. Check out her work!
CHAPTER 14 *Ruhn*
Ruhn meets with his father - The Autumn King. Ruhn tells him that Maximus was murdered the night before, in the same fashion as Danika and the pack. The Autumn King already knew this, and it annoys Ruhn that he didn't feel the need to tell him. The King asks is Isaiah said anything else of importance in their meeting, and Ruhn tells him that Maximus was murdered a few hours after a business meeting with Bryce, which angers the King, since he told Ruhn to tell her to stay out of trouble. Ruhn explains to him that the meeting happened before he talked to her, but the Governor doesn't suspect her of any wrongdoing, as Isaiah revealed that Bryce is currently being protected by the 33rd. The King, who is tinkering with his science experiments, asks Ruhn to supply his starlight for a moment. Afterwards, The King tells Ruhn it is time for him to marry. Ruhn refuses. The King tells him that with the possibility of the war coming to their shores, he wants to strengthen their ties to the witches, and wants Ruhn to marry newly crowned Queen Hypaxia. Then he orders Ruhn to look for Luna's Horn. The Fae's power has been dwindling, and he see's it as unacceptable that a Fae relic has gone missing, and could be useful in the war.
As Ruhn leaves, he thinks about what the Oracle told him when he was thirteen - that he would be the end of his royal bloodline. He lied to his father though, and told him that the Oracle said he would be a fair and just King.
Art by Anabel Kay
You can purchase this print, and others, at her shop
CHAPTER 15 *Bryce and Hunt*
Bryce is scolding Syrinx for scratching and pawing at the glass, but she knows why he is doing it; he see's Hunt on the roof of the apartment across the way. Bryce, who is annoyed because she suspects Micah thinks she is responsible for the murders, gives Hunt a big smile before shutting her curtains. A moment later, Hunt calls her cell. Hunt tells her to open her curtains, because he wants to watch the show. They argue a bit about why he is there, and despite knowing that he has to be there, she is still annoyed. She ends up opening the curtains. Hunt questions her on what Syrinx is. Hunt told her that is she needs anything, now that she has his cell, she can call him. When she asks "Pizza?", he gives her the finger. He tells her to keep her curtains open. She hangs up and closes the curtains. When Hunt and her argue a bit over text, she tells him to "Kindly fly the fuck off." He flies over and hits her window. She runs over, opens the curtain, and opens the window, and asks him what he wants. He makes it clear that he gets she doesn't like being watched, but neither of them have any say in the matter. That he will do what it takes to get the case solved, even if he has to force her to cooperate.
The next day, Hunt is annoyed, and wondering how much trouble he would get into if he threw Bryce into the Istros. After a difficult morning, punishment by Micah or being turned into a pig by Jesiba seemed worth it. He calls Isaiah to rant about Bryce's chimera - who has the gift of teleportation between one room to another, picking locks, and open doors - who felt like Hunt was being too lax about his guard duties when he almost fell asleep during watch, teleported to the roof, and bit Hunt on the ass, then teleported back into the apartment before Bryce saw what he had done. Bryce did catch Hunt grabbing his own ass though, and when he flew over to explain, she blasted her music and ignored him "like a fucking brat". He glowered at her through the window, but quickly returned to the roof when Bryce left her bedroom in only a sports bra and thong. She then went for a run, and flipped him off as she left. Now he was standing on Samson Street, gazing through the window of a nail salon, where Bryce was currently getting a manicure. Isaiah finds it all very amusing, and hangs up on him. When Bryce is finally done with her nails, she comes out, and Hunt lets her know how irritated he is.
Bryce is thinking about how much the nail salon trip was worth it for many reasons, but best of all, because it pissed off Hunt. Lehabah, an enslaved fire sprite who guards the books at Griffin's Antiquities, is complaining to Bryce because she won't invite Hunt inside. She tells Bryce that she should buy her freedom so she can live with Bryce, and keep her baths and food warm. Syrinx tells her Bryce is lonely, and she can help with that too. Bryce tells her it isn't that easy, and that Jesiba might sell Lehabah off just for Bryce asking. Jesiba calls Bryce and lets her know a client is coming for 2, and to be ready. Bryce doesn't think about paperwork or the client though - she thinks about what she is planning for that night, and how pissed Hunt will be when he finds out.
Art by Madison Schofield
Check out her instagram here!
Chapter 16 *Ruhn*
Ruhn is laying in bed, after smoking mirthroot, and going into a heavy relaxation. Ruhn smells lilac and nutmeg, female and fae enters the room, and he is wondering if one of the females from the party downstairs snuck up to have sex with him. But then the smell hit him, and he realized it was Bryce. When he sits up and opens his eyes, she is standing at the foot of his bed. He thinks he is hallucinating when he sees a halo of starlight around her head, and when he blinks, its gone. Bryce is annoyed when she realized he is high, and she stomps off downstairs to get him water. He follows her through the living room, where they find Triston and Declan, some other Aux members and females partying.
After Bryce got him some water, she tells Ruhn she needs to talk to him. After some teasing between Bryce, Flynn and Dec, he reminds her that she is in a rougher neighborhood, and was told to lie low. Bryce mentions her Imperial escort outside will keep her safe. She hints that she wants to speak to Ruhn alone, and the boys leave. Bryce asks Ruhn about what the Viper Queen was up to. When Ruhn puts two and two together, he tells her to leave the case to the Governor. She tells him the Governor passed the case to her. He tells her he knows the Viper Queen pulled her people from the streets that night, but that's all. He will call the Governor and tell him that Bryce is done working for him. Bryce makes it clear she wants to be the one to find the murderer, and not to get involved.
Bryce leaves, and Ruhn goes to follow her outside, along with his friends, when he sees her walking towards Hunt. Ruhn is pissed that Hunt is the one guarding Bryce, as Hunt and him have bad blood between them. After Hunt and him argue for a bit, Hunt goes to follow Bryce. Ruhn tells him not to let her go to the Viper Queen. Hunt pauses, and its obvious he didn't know Bryce's plans. He goes to follow her. Ruhn was entertained by how Bryce and Hunt kept changing their walking patterns to annoy each other.
Art by Anabel Kay
You can purchase this print, and others, at her shop
and I know I used this picture already, but I love it lol
Chapter 17 *Bryce*
Bryce had just succeeded in nudging Hunt into oncoming traffic when he asks for a reason as to why he has had to follow her around like a dog all night. She hands him a piece of paper, saying its her list of suspects, and snatches it back after he takes a glance at the names. When he asks when she made the list, she says the night before. He wants to know when she was going to tell him, and she says after he spent a whole day thinking she was a "dumb, vapid female more interested in get my nails done than solving this case." When he brings up she did get her nails done, she shows them off, while explaining that she did some research on Maximus, and found his dating profile, which listed him in a relationship - and his girlfriend is none other than the nail technician who did her nails. Hunt is incredibly annoyed with Bryce's taunting. Bryce reveals that one of her suspects is The Viper Queen. Hunt says that in order to contact the Viper Queen, they need to follow the rules and go through the proper channels. Bryce agrees with him. They continue to argue until they reach Bryce's building, where they separate without saying bye to one another. After 30 minutes, Bryce sneaks out the back door of her building, gets on her scooter, and drives to The Meat District. Bryce checks the time on her scooter's dash clock, and leans against the seat. Hunt slams into the pavement in front of her, cracking the concrete in a circle. He mad.
Art by Salome Totladze
Again, check out her art! I love it!
Chapter 18 *Hunt*
Bryce accuses him of being two minutes late. He is pissed. When Bryce goes to walk away, he tells her her scooter will be gone if she leaves it there. She tells him no one will take it since he was spotted with its owner. Hunt reminds her that there are protocols to contact The Viper Queen, and she tells him she isn't trying to contact her. She then apologies to him for his ego not being able t o handle the fact that she knows what she is going. They walk into the market, where Hunt notes the giant mosaic, depicting a cloaked and hooded skeleton holding a scythe and hourglass, and above it says Memento Mori (Remember that you will die). Bryce seems to know some of the vendors. She tells him that one of them is a metalworker, who can tell her if an artifact is real or fake. The fruit lady gets shipments of durian in the spring and fall, which is Syrinx's favorite food.
Bryce leads him to a run down building, and walks in. The inside is even more disgusting, but has a lot of varieties of salt. Bryce tells the satyr she wants obsidian salt. He says he doesn't sell that as its illegal. When she continues to prod at him, he refuses to sell it because its too dangerous. Bryce brings up that he didn't tell Philip Briggs that when he sold him obsidian salt. They haggle over price. When he refuses to sell it for ten thousand gold marks, Bryce holds up her phone and says she is expected to call Jesiba in 5 minutes to tell her she has the salt, and if she doesn't, Jesiba will send someone there to get it. The satyr tries to get Hunt to help him, but he plays along with Bryce. At ninety seconds he tries to haggle with her again, but ends up giving up and selling at 10. She calls Jesiba and tells her to call off her dogs, and she plays along as well. The satyr brought out a chunk of obsidian, and Bryce makes him put it in a bag before she takes it. She transfers the money to the satyr, and leaves the house. Hunt is about to question her on what the hell she is doing when she stops. The Viper Queen is standing there.
Art by Caity J
Check out her instagram here
Chapter 19 *Bryce and Hunt*
Bryce compliments The Viper Queen's outfit. She compliments Bryce's bodyguard. The VP brings up the fact that B+H have been seen together around the city a lot, and Bryce's shopping. Bryce says the market to the best place to bargain hunt, and goes to leave. When blocked by one of the VP's guard, The VP says she wants to talk in her office. Hunt automatically says no, by Bryce tells her to lead the way. Hunt mutters to Bryce that this is a bad idea, and Bryce brings up that this morning he was bitching about her lack of progress, and now he is bitching because she is doing something. Hunt realizes she bought the salt knowing it would get the VP's attention. Hunt says he will ask the questions, to which she says no. They glare at each other.
Once they get settled, the VP tells them she knows they are there to ask about Danika. The VP admits that Danika was a threat to her in many ways, but Danika was smart, and their relationship was a working one. And as for Maximus, she wouldn't want the headache from his father. She pulled her people that night because as a serpent, she can taste when shit is about to go down in the air. She takes a flash drive out of her desk and tosses it on her desk. It's her alibi for the night Danika and the pack was killed (she was at a three day long orgy), and she was at the spa the night of Maximus's death. She tells her guards to lead them out. Before they leave, the VP warns Bryce not to use the obsidian salt, as it can bring over the very worst of Hel.
Hunt isn't sure how they managed it, but they left the Viper Queen's office alive. He believes that she doesn't have anything to do with the murders, and is frustrated that they are back to square one. Bryce said she doesn't think they are, and is going to think on some things tomorrow at work. Hunt asks Bryce what she is going to use the obsidian salt for. Bryce tells him to season her burgers. He then asks where she got the money for it. She tells him from Jesiba's account. He then tells her its dumb to drive a scooter before making the Drop, and she laughs as she drives off.
Art by Micheline Ryckman
Check out her beautiful art here
Chapter 20 *Bryce*
Bryce is at work, and starting the most painful part of the investigation - diving into her memories to paint a picture of Danika's last couple of weeks alive. Lehabah suggests she lets Hunt in, and Bryce teases her about her little crush, and reminds her that their size differences would make sex impossible (and talk of sex makes Lehabah blush). Eventually, Bryce calls Hunt to invite him in to help her. As Hunt and Bryce talk in the showroom, Lehabah knocks on the door, and guilts Bryce into coming downstairs. After making Hunt sweat he will never tell anyone what he see's downstairs, she brings him down to meet Lehabah.
Lehabah is immediately taken in by Hunt, and Hunt calls her beautiful, and asks her to perch on his fingers. Lehabah says she doesn't know why Bryce complains about him so much, since he is so nice. Lehabah starts to tell Hunt about some of the books in the place, but Bryce stops her. Lehabah explains that BB is just cranky because she is having trouble with her list. Lehabah tells Hunt about how Bryce saved Syrinx from being sold to a terrible warlord, and bought his freedom. Lehabah asks Hunt how much he was sold for (which Bryce finds rude, but Lehabah brings up that she, herself, is a slave, they are both part of the same house, and her great-grandmother fought in his 18th Legion. She was sold for 90,000 Gold marks. Hunt was sold to Micah for 85 million gold marks. Syrinx costs 233,000 gold marks. Hunt is surprised that Bryce paid that for his freedom. She shrugs it off, saying she got a 15% discount, and made an arrangement with Jesiba. Lehabah tells Hunt Bryce will be paying off her debt to Jesiba till she's 300. Hunt, who thought Bryce was rich to this point, asks how she can afford her penthouse if she isn't rich, and Bryce tells him it was Danika's. And she was alone, and Jesiba was going to sell Syrinx to be turned into a fighting beast, and she couldn't lose another friend.
Bryce noticed that Lehabah's tablet is playing, and a vampire and werewolf are having sex. She laughs and asks Lehabah why she stopped watching this to bother Bryce. When Hunt questioned if she was watching "Fangs and Bangs", Lehabah gets upset and embarrassed, because Bryce calls the show that as well. She declares she is going to take a nap with Syrinx. When a thump sound has Hunt reaching for a weapon, Lehabah hissed at the books not to interrupt her nap, and told Hunt not to let the books sweettalk him into taking on of them home with him.
Hunt asks Bryce about the animals in the tanks, and Bryce assumes they are Jesiba's enemies and ex lovers, turned to animals. Then Bryce asks Hunt to ask her questions, to help her focus on dredging up memories of Danika's last week alive. Instead he asks her how she started working for Jesiba. She was having trouble getting a job after college because of being a half breed. Fury mentioned Bryce to Jesiba when they were were working together on something in Pangera, and Jesiba hired her as her assistant. He asks if Danika being connected to Fury could have led to her murder, in which Bryce says no. He asks if Bryce has ever killed anyone, and she says yes, but refuses to give details, despite Lehabah's pestering. Hunt asks her for one happy memory of Danika and her in her last week, and Bryce brings up when Danika got her drunk, and they went and got matching tattoos. In some ancient script that Bryce doesn't know, along her spine, says "Through love, all is possible." Hunt asks her what Danika did the day before the tattoo, and Bryce writes down the answer, and a little more, before stopping for the day because it is too hard. Ruhn calls before Hunt can talk her into adding more to the list, and wants Bryce to meet him at Luna's temple. Bryce asks Hunt if she should give Ruhn a warning that Hunt is coming with her, and, who loves the idea of pissing off Ruhn, says Hel no. Bryce grins back.
Chapter 21 *Ruhn and Hunt*
Ruhn is hiding amongst his shadows and the temples shadows, waiting for Bryce. When he spots Bryce and Hunt, he is annoyed that Hunt is with her. He tells her he wanted to talk to her alone, but she joins arms with Hunt and says that they are joined at the hip now, and best friends. Ruhn tells her that The Autumn King wants him to find Luna's Horn. While Hunt asks questions about the horn, Ruhn admits he doesn't know how the horn worked, but his ancestors were able to use it, and it was enough of a nuisance that the demon princes wanted it. During his research into the horn, he found information about a demon that was made in the Pit made specifically to hunt the horn. When he shows a picture he took on his phone, its the same demon that Bryce saw the night of the murders - called the Kristallos demon. He learned that his ancestor, Prince Pelias and The Prince of the Pit fought for three days, when the Prince of the Pit wounded Pelias mortally. Pelias used the rest of his strength, called on the full power of the horn, and opened a portal that brought the demon princes, and their armies back to Hel. The horn cracked in two, and he died. Bryce wants to know why The Autumn King wants the horn. Ruhn tells her pride more than anything. Ruhn then explains that this book at the Archives jumped out at him. He thinks his Starborn blood makes it easier to find information, and hopefully, the horn.
Hunt goes outside to call Justinian, who teases him about babysitting. Hunt asks him to research the Kristallos demon. Justinian teases him about Bryce being easy of the eyes, and tries to tell him he needs to move on from Shahar. He hangs up and plans to call Isaiah and Micah about the Horn's possible involvement in the murders.
Chapter 22 *Bryce*
Ruhn and Bryce are continuing their discussion at the temple. Bryce asks Ruhn is The Autumn King is being the murders. Ruhn says he is a monster in so many ways, but he didn't kill Danika. She doesn't understand his sudden interest in the horn, and Ruhn insists its about Fae pride. Bryce asks him if The Autumn King knows Ruhn is meeting with her, which he doesn't. Bryce asks him why he bothers, and he tells her because he wants to help, and this murderer puts everyone at risk. Bryce tells him that this doesn't change anything with them, and brings up something he said to her when they fought years ago (he called her a half-breed slut). She leaves and reunites with Hunt before leaving the temple. Bryce returns to work, and after finding no more information on the horn, she knows she will have to wait for Ruhn to find something in his own research. By the end of the day, she walks Syrinx home, and then is in bed by 8, exhausted.
Chapter 23 *Bryce*
The next morning, Bryce is at work, looking at her list, when Jesiba calls to get Bryce to forward her a file. Bryce asks Jesiba if she has heard anything about the horn. She asks Bryce if this has to do with the investigation. When she said it was, Jesiba says she hasn't heard anything and hangs up. Hunt calls Bryce to tell her there has been another murder, and they need to go. Bryce doesn't want to see anything that will remind her of the murders, so she says no, but Hunt doesn't give her a choice.
As they walk to the murder scene, she tries every technique she knows to calm herself down, and try not to get lost in the memories, but it doesn't work. When they get there, and she see's some "red pulp", she spirals into her memories of the night she found Danika and the pack. Ruhn grabs her hand, and brings her a distance away. Once she is in open hair, and away from the body, she snaps out of it, and pushes away. Ruhn tells Hunt it was a bad idea to bring her, and Hunt admits he didn't realize it would be such a mess, but he did warn her on the walk over. Bryce starts to walk away. Hunt catches up and walks beside her. His scent reminds her of that night, and he brings up that he was there that night - and he asks her how she survived the Kristallos demon. She tells him she didn't - it got away. Hunt then accidently reveals that the Kristallos took down Micah, and almost killed him until Bryce got there and ran it off. Bryce is shocked to learn that the angel in the alley that night was Micah.
Chapter 24 *Bryce*
Bryce is pissed. She made so many phone calls, and looked for the angel she saved that night. Hunt knew she tried to find out, but it was decided to keep it quiet. He tries to apologize, but she is angry. She said knowing he survived would have reminded her that something good happened that night. He admits that he suspected Bryce up to the point where he saw her reaction to the murder. She storms off. She does what she usually does when she is spiraling emotionally: reading over Danika and Connors text messages from that night. She then walks into The White Raven.
Chapter 25 *Hunt*
Hunt knows he fucked up by bringing Bryce to the murder scene. And by revealing that it was Micah Bryce saved that night. He followed Bryce through the city as she ran. Justinian called while he was flying, and gave him no new information on the Kristallos demon, but confirmed that the murder victim was a missing acolyte from Luna's temple. He has a whole speech planned out to apologize to Bryce, when he hears her phone go off. He follows her to the White Raven. When he tries to enter, the bouncer tries to block his entry, but Riso allows him in. He finds Bryce sitting in a booth, drinking something clear. He sits down with her. Then Juniper arrives. After introductions, Juniper asks if they want food. Bryce says she is having a liquid dinner, and Hunt says yes. They order - and Hunt orders for Bryce, which pisses her off. When Bryce gets snippy with Hunt, Juniper asks if s he had a long day at work. Before Bryce could take another sip, Hunt takes her glass and tells her not to be a cliché when having a rough day, drowning herself in ... he sniffs and is shocked its water. This is when Bryce tells him she doesn't drink. When he asks her why, she tells him to figure it out. She goes to the bathroom and Juniper goes to check on her.
As Hunt waits for Juniper and Bryce to return, Ruhn turns up. Hunt asks him if he has any new information, which he doesn't. Riso called Ruhn to tell him Bryce was at the club, and Ruhn was concerned after Bryce's reaction at the murder scene to check up on her. Hunt and Ruhn see Bryce and Juniper standing still in the middle of the dance floor, talking. Ruhn tells Hunt that Bryce used to dance, that she would have gone into the ballet if she were able. Hunt asks why she stopped, and Ruhn told him he would have to ask her, but she stopped dancing entirely after Danika died. Hunt then realizes that Bryce isn't a party girl at all - is just content letting the world think the worst of her. When Bryce see's Ruhn at the booth, she gives him a frosty look. Juniper tracked her gaze, and Bryce took one stop towards them before the club exploded.
Chapter 26 *Bryce, Hunt and Ruhn*
One minute Bryce is on her way to give Ruhn and Hunt a piece of her mind, the next, the ground ripped from beneath her, the roof was coming down, and she was lunging for Juniper. Her ears were ringing, and her mouth had blood in it. Hunt was there, telling her to get up, and Ruhn was helping Juniper up. Bryce looked over Juniper, to make sure she was safe. Juniper screams at Bryce for protecting her. She slaps Bryce across the face, and screams that she has made the drop. Bryce hasn't. Hunt tells her to give it a rest, Bryce is shell shocked, but Juniper tells him to stay out of it. Ruhn gives Hunt an address to go to to wait for him there. He carries her down the street to Ruhn's house, which is a dump. He puts her on the couch, and gets an ice pack, cloth and water for Bryce. As she keeps staring at nothing, he cleans out her bloody ears. As he started cleaning her scuffed knees, Bryce tells him Juniper is up for a promotion, and the summer season is starting soon. She is an understudy for two main roles, and this season is crucial. If she got injured, it would interfere. Hunt tells her she made the drop and would have healed quickly. He pries out some metal that is imbedded in her knees. He disinfects the wounds. That is when he notices the thick, angry looking scar on her thigh. That she had never gotten healed. He bends down to get a closer look, and Bryce tells him usually when a man is between her legs, they are not usually grimacing. That is when he realizes he is in fact, kneeling between her legs, and pulls back, embarrassed.
They discuss who could have done the bombing, and they wonder if it was humans part of the rebellion. Ruhn confirms this when he arrives, but mentions there was a small image of Luna's horn on the crate as well as the symbol for the human rebellion. Hunt decides they need to interview Phillip Briggs, and makes a call to have him transferred from the prison he is at to CC so they can talk to him.
Ruhn tells Bryce that the Autumn King now knows he has involved Bryce in looking for the horn. He says the King is mad, and because Ruhn has involved Bryce in something dangerous, she needs a live in guard, and Ruhn says he will do it. Bryce refuses, and says she already has Hunt - she will have him move into the guest room.
Ruhn notices Hunt looking between Bryce and Ruhn slowly, and he worries that he may have figured out Bryce and him are actually siblings and not cousins. Ruhn asks if he can have access to the library at her work to see if he can find more information on the horn. Her and Hunt play dumb, but eventually Bryce relents. Ruhn asks Bryce if he can fill Declan and Flynn in, and enlist their help, and Bryce agrees, but she wants Declan's help piecing together Danika's whereabouts her last week alive. He agrees. After they leave, The Autumn King calls, and tells him to keep an eye on Bryce, and to make sure if the horn is found, to not to let the angels have it. Ruhn is snarky, and The AK tells him that he should be punished for involving Bryce into a confidential matter, but unfortunately it would make it hard for him to look at the horn.
We learn that Ruhn is glad that Bryce is not legitimate, not because he is protective of his status, but because of the Oracle foreseeing that the royal line ends with him. If Bryce was a legitimate heir, it could mean an untimely death for her.
Art by Beth Gilbert
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Chapter 27 *Hunt*
Hunt and Bryce arrive at her building. Bryce is so tired she can barely remain standing, so when she realizes her keys must be at the club still, Hunt goes down to get the extra key from the doorman to get them inside. She explains while putting her palm on the bespelled finger pad that she didn't make the drop, because she was waiting to do it with Danika when they were 27. Hunt figured as much, and see's Danika's death as the reason Bryce has stopped living her life. As Hunt looks around the apartment, and Bryce releases Syrinx from his crate, she further explains that Connor and Thorne were going to be their anchors. Hunt, who has never seen a friend mourn a friend the way Bryce does, asks Bryce if her and Danika were lovers. She tells him no. Connor and her ... it was complicated. But when they died, a light went out in her. While Hunt was debating telling her he understood her feelings because of his own past, the house phone rings, saying its "home" calling. Bryce answers the phone, and her mother, who heard about the bombing at the club, asks her if she is okay. Bryce insists she is okay, and tells her she can't talk because she has a guest over. Her mother obviously questions her about who it is, and Bryce laughs and tells her not to get her hopes up, and she will call tomorrow.
Bryce tells Hunt she needs to find the killer, or its going to eat her alive. Hunt tells her about the deal Micah made him regarding this case and his freedom. While he waited for her to judge him, she just tilted her head and understood why he has been such a pain in the ass about the case. As she walks to her room, he checks out her curves. He then apologizes for thinking she was a suspect, and for being an asshole. She tells him she has dealt with a lot of assholes, and he isn't one of them. He offers to pick up food, and she looks like she is about to say no, when she relents and agrees. After they eat, they head to their respective bedrooms to get cleaned up and go to bed. Hunt looks at the pictures on the dresser, and there is one of Bryce and Danika in the desert, both looking banged up, but content, and her family. This is where he learns her stepfather is Randall Silago, legendary war hero and sharpshooter. He showers, and goes to bed.
Chapter 28 *Hunt*
Hunt wakes up to Syrinx in his face. He gets up to check on Bryce, who is still sleeping. She is barely dressed, and he gets a look at the tattoo along her spine. As he heads to the kitchen, Juniper walks in with a bag of pastries, but stops in shock when she see's a half naked Hunt in the kitchen. She walks to Bryce's room, sees Bryce's state of undress and she looks at Hunt, who tells her it isn't what it looks like. Juniper wakes up Bryce, and asks for privacy. Hunt makes coffee, but can hear their conversation. Juniper apologizes to Bryce for what happened at the club. Then asks about what's going on with the gorgeous angel, which makes Hunt smile, because he can't remember the last time someone thought that about the Umbra Mortis. Bryce tells her nothing, but tell Juniper that Hunt can hear this whole conversation, and his feathers are probably so puffed up he won't be able to fit through the door. She comes out, still barely dressed, and starts chowing down on the croissants. Juniper leaves because she has work. Bryce mentions needing to make a new set of keys and returning the doorman's copies. Hunt tells her to make a set for him as well. When she says no, he explains it will be easier to protect her if he has access to her apartment. She calls him an alphahole, and when he asks what that means, she explains it to him. He steals the croissants she is about to eat, and turns her explanation around, showing that out of the two of them, she is the alphahole.
Chapter 29 *Hunt, Ruhn & Bryce*
Bryce and Hunt are walking to her work. Hunt asks Bryce what the deal is between her and Ruhn. She tells him about the fight they have when she was 16. But as angry as she is with Ruhn, she hates The Autumn King the most ... with exception to maybe Sabine. She asks Hunt who is #1 on his shit list, and he tells her Sandriel. Bryce tells him if he ever wants to talk to her about anything, she is there to listen. He lets her know the same. When they reach Old Square, Bryce asks Hunt if he has ever pressed the disc and made a wish, which he says he hasn't. Hunt asks Bryce what she wished for the first time she did it. She was 13, and she wished for bigger boobs. Hunt tells her it paid off. She asks him what he would wish for. In his head, he says it would be for all the Asteri and Archangels to die. Instead, he tells her he is perfectly happy with his assets, so he would wish she wasn't such a pain in the ass.
Bryce, Hunt and Ruhn are all in the library under Griffin Antiquities. Hunt is researching the Kristallos, and Ruhn is looking for information on the horn. Lehabah asks Ruhn what it is like being a prince. When Bryce and Hunt tease him about his status, Ruhn calls out Hunt. Bryce asks what the deal is between him and Hunt, and Hunt tells her one night Ruhn and him got into a fist fight. Ruhn is looking through the books and is amazed. He asks why the books move. Lehabah gets as far as telling him the books are special, when Bryce stops her, and tells him not to touch anything without permission. A green tome calls to him from a top shelf. When he gets to it, he sees it is called Great Romance of t he Fae. Bryce and Hunt again tease him about his book choice. Before he can start reading, Dec sends him a message with the intel Bryce wanted, and he forwards it to Bryce and Hunt. This is when Bryce discovers Danika was at the temple the night the horn was stolen. She insists that if Danika saw anything relating to the horn, she would have reported it though.
While looking through Danika's location pings, Bryce notices one of the locations recorded was the night Danika and the pack went to Phillip Briggs bomb lab and busted him. She remembers Danika and Connor arriving home, and Bryce saw Connor all cut up. She sat him down at the kitchen table, cleaned up his cuts and patched him up. She saw how he kept looking at her lips, and how lit up his eyes were. How he was allowing her to take care of him. She knew right then that it was time to stop running from her feelings and take the next step with Connor.
When Bryce and Hunt gets Ruhns attention, he tells them the story of Prince Pelias, and his wife, Lady Helena. They learn that at one time, there were more than one Starborn fae, and they would have all been able to use the horn. That only the starborn fae CAN use it. But after Prince Pelias used its power to close the Northern Rift, it broke, and can only be fixed with "light that is not light, magic that is not magic".
Bryce and Ruhn talk about the Autumn King, and why he wants the horn. Ruhn admits that The Autumn King hates that Ruhn's starborn power is just a kernel of light - a party trick. Bryce tells Hunt that her own father has no interest in her because of her power levels. Hunt suggests they go to the Oracle to ask about the horn. Bryce and Ruhn refuse, both citing bad experiences with her. Hunt tells him he will go himself. Hunt goes outside to answer a phone call. Ruhn takes the opportunity to tell Bryce he never cares about her power levels, and she tells him she knows. Ruhn leaves for a meeting. Hunt texts Bryce that they need to leave to head to the Comitium in 5 minutes. While Bryce is getting ready to leave, Lehabah tells Bryce her cousin is dreamy, and that it was nice having company down there, which hurts Bryce's heart.
Chapter 30 *Hunt*
As they walk towards the elevator in the lobby of the Comitium, Hunt notices a legionary checking out Bryce. Before they get on the elevator, Bryce looks over her shoulder and sends him a flirty look. While in the elevator, Hunt is thinking about what they did before arriving at the Comitium, which was picking up Bryce a new phone. While waiting for the saleman to bring it out, Bryce played around on Hunt's phone, and was horrified that he only had 36 pictures on a phone he has had for 4 years, and they are all crime scene murder pictures. To rectify this, she takes a selfie of herself. In the elevator, Bryce casually asks about the legionary downstairs. Hunt doesn't know him, but tells Bryce she should set her sights higher than some guy who checks out her ass before getting to know her. As Hunt leads Bryce to his room in the barracks, Bryce asks Hunt if he has a girlfriend or boyfriend. He doesn't, and tells her that being born to a single mother, and a maid, his status didn't give him very many prospects. He was once with someone who didn't care about status, but it didn't end well. Bryce asks how old he was when he made the Drop. He was 28, it was a few days after his mother died, and he had a public anchor do it. As for his power level and unique infinity for lightning, it didn't matter. Five years after completing the drop, the Halo tattoo was put on him, leaving him with the tiniest fraction of power. As Bryce watches Hunt pack in clothes and weapons, she asks if he regrets taking part of the rebellion. He says he doesn't know. She then asks why he hasn't decorated his room, and he explains that he didn't want to put down roots anywhere when he could be sold at anytime. She asks why, with his lightning and power levels, he wasn't the Commander of the 33rd. Hunt tells her its because he pisses people off, and he doesn't care.
On the elevator ride back down the lobby, Bryce decides Hunt isn't a bad guy. Easy on the eyes. She remembers Danika and her discovering they could watch the legionary's working out on a nearby rooftop, and would watch them every lunch hour - until the janitor caught them, and kept the door locked after that. In the lobby, Bryce realizes the lobby is full of malakim. Hunt goes rigid next to her. She looks to the other side of the lobby, where Micah has just enter with Sandriel. All the angels in the room kneel and bow their heads.
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Chapter 31 *Bryce and Hunt*
Bryce hears Isaiah whispering to Hunt to bow, but Hunt doesn't. He tells Hunt that Pollox isn't with her, and while some tension leaves Hunt, he still doesn't bow. He seems trapped in memories that fill him with rage and terror. She steps up beside him, brings out her phone, and starts snapping photos of Micah and Sandriel, and even a selfie, as they head towards them. She thanks Hunt for bringing her to see them, and hooks his arm with her's, and leads him to the elevator. Hoping to leave before Micah and Sandriel catch up with them, she presses the button calling the elevator, but its too late. Micah comes up, and asks for them to explain themselves. Hunt tells him they were there to get supplies, and he had clearance to bring Bryce with him. Isaiah confirms. Micah looks Bryce up and down, checking her out, and asks her to dinner. She gets in the elevator and says she isn't interested.
Hunt was trapped in terrible memories before Bryce whipped out her phone, and pretended to be the vapid party girl everyone thought she was, giving him an out. He kept replaying her words to Micah "Not interested". Hunt tells her they will have to leave by the rooftop doors, and he will hold her. Bryce balks at the height. When he picks her up and flies, Bryce digs her face into his neck, and refuses to look. He asks Bryce why she chose to live in Old Square, and she tells him its one of the only safe areas for a half breed. Hunt then asks if she meant what she said to Micah. She insists she meant it. Why would she want to date someone like him? He then asks her if she will go with him to the Oracle the next day, and she says no.
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Chapter 32 *Hunt*
Hunt drops Bryce off at work, and decides to continue his research on the rooftop. Before sundown, Bryce and Syrinx leave the office, and Hunt and her report to each other that neither of them came up with anything in their research. Hunt asks if she would be okay if he watched a big Sunball game that evening. She teases him, because he is such a "guy". His phone rings, and he knows before he looks it's Micah and he has a job for him. As punishment for not bowing, and Bryce refusing his offer of a date. He drops Bryce off at home.
Quick scene where a cougar shifter is begging Hunt to spare him. He doesn't.
Hunt goes to the barracks to shower and burn his guilt and shame away. He leaves earlier than usual, because he told Bryce he wouldn't be late. He makes some phone calls and stops, before getting back to Bryce's right before 11pm. As he is heading to his room, Bryce opens her bedroom door, and tells him she recorded the game for him. He feels something uncomfortable in his chest, says "Night" and closes the door.
Chapter 33 *Hunt*
Hunt goes to the Oracle. He knows she has been asked who has stolen the horn before, and she says its veiled. So he asks her WHY someone would want to steal the horn. She tells him to open the doorway between worlds. To reopen the Northern Rift. Hunt asks how that is possible, since the Horn is broken. She tells him the horn can be healed, but how it can be healed is veiled to her. Frustrated, Hunt asks her who would want to open the rift. She says it is veiled to her. When he makes his frustration known, she refers to him as the "Lord of Lightning", and that he should be thankful the Gods give the answers they do. The Oracle offers to give him a look into his future, and he refuses. She seems offended at first, but then offers to tell him what happened when Bryce came to see her years ago. He tells her that is Bryce's business, and when she pushes, Hunt continues to refuse. The Oracle says he reminds her of which was lost long ago, and she never thought it might appear again. The Oracle than warns Hunt to stay clear of Bryce Quinlan.
Chapter 34 *Bryce*
Hunt comes out of the Oracle, and tells Bryce and Ruhn what the Oracle said about the horn. The only motive for the murders they can come up with, it that these people found out who or why the horn was stolen. Bryce and Hunt think if the Human rebellion is involved, they would need a powerful vanir on their side to summon the demon. Ruhn, thinking on his research of the Horn being sentient, has a hypothesis that the horn may be able to be "healed". While Bryce and Hunt think its a dead end, Ruhn decides to talk to a few med-witches and see what their thoughts are.
Back in the library, Bryce catches Hunt staring at her again. She asks him why. He asks her why the Oracle warned him away from her. Bryce admits the Oracle has reason to be angry with her. She tells Hunt that when she was 13, her mother went through a sort of crisis in conscience, and she felt that she was keeping Bryce from learning about her Fae heritage. She contacted Bryce's biological father, and two weeks later, papers came declaring Bryce a full civitas, with the stipulation that she would have to pledge herself to the House of Sky and Breath. Bryce refused, but her mother told her it would grant her more options, and so after a couple of weeks, she relented. And decided to meet her father. The first few days it was fine. She liked what she saw, and her father wasn't a bad guy. She liked Ruhn. The other Fae children teased her about being a half-breed, but she didn't care, because she wasn't ashamed of her human herita