Chapter no 28 – Evie

Assistant to the Villain

Sir—” But the word came out on a strangled gasp as she fell to her knees in all-consuming, burning pain.

It wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Before Evie had said a word, her boss was spinning toward the blacksmith and gripping his wrist in his hand. Otto screamed, dropping the dagger to the ground near The Villain’s boot, and her boss kicked it clear across the room.

“Please, my lord, my sincerest apologies. My temper, you see—I have trouble managing it. It’s like a beast overtakes me.”

Evie stayed on her knees, as if watching The Villain about to mutilate this man was a holy scene she was worshipping.

“Do you know what I find humorous, Mr. Warsen?” There was nothing jovial in his tone at all. The storm had arrived. “That you treat your actions and choices like they are not your own.”

She watched, with no small amount of glee, as the bones in the blacksmith’s wrist shattered under The Villain’s grip. Warsen let out an anguished cry. “Please, my lord! My livelihood is my hands. I’m nothing without them!”

“See, Mr. Warsen,” The Villain said darkly, hypnotizing. “This…this you can blame on me, that I just broke your wrist. I am responsible for that.” Another squeeze.

Otto began to sob as his knees gave out and he fell to the ground. “I beg you.”

There was a blackness surrounding The Villain now, that flare of inhumanity in his dark eyes as he looked upon the sobbing man.

For the first time since entering this space, Evie was not at all afraid.

“Blame is an interesting thing.” The Villain’s voice was level, calm, like he was talking about the weather. “Most people shirk blame, as though our flaws make us weaker.”

“You’re right, my lord!” Otto sounded desperate. “I am weak. Very weak!”

“They avoid facing their demons like they’re something to fear, to be ashamed of.” The Villain squeezed Otto’s wrist once more, pushing him against the ground now. “And they are cowards for it.”

Otto sobbed harder, his cheek pressed against the wood of the floor.

“That is the difference between you and me, Mr. Warsen.” Her boss bent his knees, going closer to the mess of a man before him. Evie searched for any amount of horror at the sight she was beholding, but all she could summon was a mixture of satisfaction and relief.

And it was utterly mesmerizing.

“I don’t run from my demons. I welcome them. I let them envelop me until I grow stronger.” The Villain released Otto’s wrist, leaving him sprawled out and shaking, and turned to walk toward the dagger that had been kicked to the other side of the room. He slowly bent to pick it up, then faced her finally.

He knew.

“A weak man pushes blame away from himself like a disease, to poison and spread over the rest of the unsuspecting world.”

Evie tried to remain steady as she brought herself to stand. “Be careful— that blade has magic embedded in the steel,” she warned, taking a subtle step backward.

But it was too late for pretenses, because the moment he held the blade up just a few inches higher, sharp pain, like fire, electrified her nerve endings. “Agh!” Her free hand clutched the back of her shoulder as she felt the room begin to spin.

She watched her boss chuck the dagger to the farthest wall, the blade burying to the hilt. Evie gasped as the pain left her in an instant, and she wobbled for a moment before her forearms were gripped in his hands.

“Why?” he demanded low, but there was a light softening the corners of his eyes.

He wanted to know what her past was here, but she couldn’t admit her shame. Not to him. So instead, she did what she did best: deflect.

“Well, when you squeeze someone’s wrist like you’re trying to make juice out of it, their bones tend to break,” Evie said, stiffening slightly at the new sensation she felt as his thumb stroked just below her elbow.


She sighed and pulled away, moving over to Otto Warsen’s sobbing form, growing quite overcome with the desire to press her boot against his injured

wrist. But the closer she got, the more she realized there didn’t seem to be a point.

He had passed out, and if Evie were to ever inflict pain purposefully on another human being, she wanted them to be fully conscious for it.

“Sage,” he called again. “Why did you really leave this position?”

“Are you asking because my shoulder pain tolerance is coincidentally linked to the proximity of that dagger?” she joked weakly.

“You have a death blow in your shoulder,” he said. “Do you understand what that means?”


“It means that if I hit that scar at just the right angle with my magic, you die.” His tone was growing harsher; he was angry.

But Evie didn’t care, as there were more pressing issues now. “I would be willing to bet a lot that whoever came in here placing the order is the inside man at Massacre Manor. Our focus right now should be finding that person and then using them for intel on King Benedict, making them our mole.”

She could see a war behind his eyes, but it was impossible to tell what sides were fighting and which was winning.

“We know we’re most likely looking at a man, based off the information Malcolm and Mr. Warsen gave us.” Evie began to pace farther away from the wall with the dagger, just for safety. “But we won’t completely rule out other possibilities.”

“You mean Rebecka Erring?” The Villain said, seeming to give up pursuing his other question for the moment.

“It’s possible.”

A soft groan came from the large man still lying in a sad heap on the floor, shattering the illusion of calm that was just beginning to surround them.

“We’re trying to talk—quiet down there.” Evie sighed, seating herself once more on the rickety stool. “What are we going to do about him?” Her whole body was starting to feel fatigued, like she’d run a hundred miles, which was unlikely—running and her went together like lightning and a metal rod.

Only run if someone is chasing you.

“Kill him?”

“Is that your solution to every problem?” she asked, exasperated. “No, it’s just the most effective.”

“Not in this case.” Wrapping her hands about her waist, she sighed. “If we kill him, the entire village will know in a matter of hours. And if anybody saw us come in here, I would be in trouble.”

“Very well. Then he will leave town.”

“How are we going to get him to do that?”

“Kill him and make everyone think he left town.” The mischief in Trystan’s eyes caused her to chuckle to herself and shake her head as he continued. “I will have my guards come and clean up the little mess we made.”

“We?” She raised a brow.

He walked over to the blacksmith and nudged him with his boot. “They will convince this wretch, in the politest manner possible, to leave this town and his forge behind and start new somewhere else.”

Then he slammed his fist down hard to the right of the man’s head. Evie gasped. “Why did you do that?”

“That will keep him down until they get here. Is there a way to lock the door?” He turned to her, all business, much to Evie’s relief.

“Yes, and there’s a sign as well.” She jogged to the front, opening the door just a crack to turn the wooden sign hanging from OPEN to CLOSED, before slamming it hard and turning the lock.

When she came back, her boss was propping the man up, gagging him, and using one of the chains from the wall to pin him there. “We can leave out the side, and I’ll send the guards back within the hour. And before you ask, I assure you, they will be discreet.”

“How will they know where to come?” She just wanted to go to sleep; her shoulder was aching, and the dagger on the other side of the room was making her feel more confined than any cage ever could.

The Villain pulled a small slab of crystal from his pocket.

“You’re going to call them here with a crystal?” she said with blunt skepticism.

Trystan arched a brow. “It’s a caller’s crystal, Sage.”

Evie grinned. “How’d you get one of those?” She barreled toward him, gripping her hand under his to get a look. Caller’s crystals were hard to find. The jagged and colorful objects were magically made, usually one at a time but eventually resulting in a full set. Each crystal of the set was made from a piece of the largest of them, like a beacon. Evie had heard a story of them once when she was six years old and used to pick up every shining

gem in her mother’s jewelry box, hoping if she dreamed hard enough, someone would come find her.

“I have friends in high places,” Trystan said, pulling the gem back and closing his eyes. It glowed for a moment, and Evie’s brows shot up when a low-pitched melody called back. “The guards will be here shortly.”

She nodded, walking toward the dagger once more and letting herself feel the sharp edge of pain.

“Is there a way to get rid of the link between the dagger and the closed wound on my shoulder?” she asked, feeling dizzy.

He was suddenly very close, lightly pulling her shoulder back and away from it. “We’ll talk to Tatianna, see what she can do.”

“It doesn’t usually hurt like this. I didn’t even know that being near the blade would cause that sort of reaction. I’m sorr—”

“I certainly hope you are not about to apologize for someone hurting you.”

She smiled, sheepish and a little flattered that he cared. “You’re not all bad, are you?”

He looked offended. “How dare you.”

“I know killing him would have satisfied you, for Mr. Warsen’s part in aiding the person trying to take you down.” She nodded, knowing full well everything The Villain did worked off an angle. “But I still appreciate you caring, even if it’s only a very little, as his death might cause me to be the one to suffer.”

He didn’t move or say anything, so she shrugged and walked to the back corner of the room. She reached along the wall and said, “There’s a false panel here that will lead us out the back. Very close to Hickory Forest.”

She enjoyed a quiet victory when the wall gave in just one spot, letting through a crack of sunlight. “I think I’ll return home for the day. If there’s nothing else, sir.”

Following her out, ensuring the door panel was set in place behind them, he tucked the magic dagger that he’d pulled from the wall into his belt, taking a step back when he saw her wince at the closeness of it.

“Yes, of course. I’ll see what Tatianna can do about this.” His dark eyes found hers and she felt pinned, but not from his power, the way she’d felt before. It was a look of knowledge, a look of understanding, and it made her feel as if every cold, painful feeling seeped out of her to make room for the warmth.

“Thank you, sir.” Evie headed down the path that led to her home, shocked that the sun was still shining with so much chaos happening below it.

“Whatever he did, whatever happened that you ended up harmed, you are under no obligation to share it with me,” he called out, and when she turned around, he looked uncomfortable, like his clothes were too tight. “But if there is ever a time when you decide you do not want him existing in the same world as you are, I hope you know, I will enjoy destroying him.”

“Maybe I will,” she said lightly. “Tell you what happened sometime.” She winked at him before beginning once more down the path to her home and tossing over one shoulder, “Over a disgustingly sweet cup of cauldron brew.”

The echo of his laughter carried her home, made her feel safe in a way she hadn’t in a very long time.

Until her shoulder began to sting again and her reality came crashing back in.

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