The Shadow Prince Page 99

“I’m not missing this, either,” Tobin says. “This Oracle lady had better have some answers about my sister.” He reaches out and rings the bell a second time.

“I wouldn’t mind staying in the car,” Garrick says.

“Not you.” Haden snags him by the back of his collar. “I’m not letting you out of my sight again.” He had caught him trying to use the hotel room’s phone while the rest of us were getting ready to leave. “You might be here unwillingly, but I have a feeling Simon isn’t going to care about that if he finds us,” he had said to Garrick, and ripped the phone out of the wall. Which meant we’d had to go to the hotel buffet for lunch instead of ordering room service. “He’s going to be in an ‘order you to walk off a bridge, ask questions later’ kind of mood, don’t you think?”

“What are you even going to say to get in to see this lady?” Lexie asks. “I doubt they’re going to let a bunch of teenagers stroll into this place.”

“Maybe we can pretend to be a traveling choir or something?” Tobin says. “We sing to the sick.”

Lexie snorts.

There’s a rustle behind the door and it opens. A short, gray-haired woman dressed in scrubs is there.

I fumble to find something to say and almost go with the traveling choir idea, but the woman claps her hands together excitedly. “Oh, you must be Haden and Daphne and the others!” she says. “Sarah has been waiting for you.”

Chapter fifty-three

HADEN

“Did you tell them we were coming?” Daphne whispers as we follow the woman through the building. The floor is made out of a hard substance I believe is called linoleum, which tries to stick to my shoes with every step.

“No. I didn’t tell them anything.”

“Here we go,” the woman says, ushering us into what must be some kind of common room. It is a warm room, even though it has several barred windows along the walls. It is filled with plush chairs, small tables, and a large green table in the center, with a small net stretched across the middle. Two men are using paddles to smack a small white ball back and forth across it. An older woman with stringy white hair sits in the corner, glaring at the wall. It sounds like she’s having an argument with it. Others seem to be wandering almost aimlessly about the room. “Sarah will be so pleased you’re here. She’s been talking about you all week.” She points us in the direction of a young woman who appears to be painting … with her fingers … at an easel at the far end of the room.

I take a step back. “That can’t be her.”

My memory jogs to my encounter with the Oracle of Elysium. Her skin was blue and glittery, and her veils swirled about her as if blown by an invisible wind. She emitted the power and majesty of the divine. But this young woman, this supposed Oracle in front of me, looks all too … human. Her skin is pale and peachy, and her hair is unkempt and matted in places. She licks the paint from one of her fingers and then looks up from her artwork as if she can feel my gaze on her.

“Haden!” She smiles and waves with a familiarity that makes it seem as though we are old friends. But I don’t know how she sees me—her eyes are milky and clouded over with blindness. “You came!”

She wipes her hands on her robe and bounds over to us. She clasps my hands before I can pull them away and then grabs Daphne in an embrace. “And you brought her! I knew you would.”

“Is this some big joke?” Lexie asks. “Are you guys pranking me?”

Sarah takes Daphne and me by the hands and pulls us toward a table near her easel. Lexie, Tobin, and Garrick follow tentatively behind. I notice then how quiet the room has become, and glance around. The gray-haired woman who brought us here and all the other patients have disappeared without my noticing. “You have many questions, I know, but we don’t have much time. Come sit. Please.”

I am hesitant to take the seat she offers.

“You are flummoxed by my appearance, Haden. I know. You also wonder what I am doing in this mortal vessel, allowing myself to be kept in an asylum. This is not my true appearance.” She taps her finger against her nose. “I am in hiding. Witness protection, you might say.”

“What did you witness?” Daphne asks.

“Everything,” Sarah says with a coy smile. “I see all the paths. All the possibilities. Not just the ones the gods want me to see.”

“So there is another way?” Daphne asks, leaning closer to this Oracle. “I have other options? I don’t have to be a Boon or a Cypher or whatever?”

“You were never meant to be a Boon.”

Daphne gives me a satisfied look. “You hear that?”

“But you are the Cypher. Your role in this is much greater than you can imagine, Daphne, Daughter of the Music.” Sarah reaches her bony hand across the table and places it over Daphne’s. “Being the Cypher is your destiny, no matter what path you take.”

“Ha,” Lexie says. “Your destiny is to be a zero. That’s hilarious.”

That satisfied expression slips right off Daphne’s face.

“I do not mean cipher as in the absence of value. Quite the contrary. You are the Cypher. You are the key to all of this.”

“What do you mean?” I ask, confused. “Do you mean that Daphne is the Key of Hades?”

“No. Daphne is the Cypher. She is the key to finding the Key.”

I nod, realizing that Dax’s theory had been correct all along. “But how? And why her?”

The Oracle cocks her head and seems to stare at me with her unseeing eyes. She plays with the mats in her hair. “Oh, I see now. My sister from Elysium told you very little of your and Daphne’s destinies.”

“Excuse me,” Daphne says, pushing up from her chair. “Can you please stop talking about me in the third person? I am right here. And I don’t like being referred to as an object. I am not a key or a Cypher. I am just a normal human girl.”

“No, you’re not. And you never were,” Tobin says from behind her—but his voice echoes out of him and I know it’s Sarah, the Oracle, speaking through him. Her milky eyes have rolled up into the back of her head. Lexie gives a little shriek and backs away from Tobin. “You have many names, Daphne Raines. You are the Cypher. The Anoichtiri. The Daughter of the Music. The Descendant of the Great Musician. The Vessel of His Voice. You are the Keeper of Orpheus’s Heart and Soul.”

Prev Next
Free Novels Read Online | Read Wuxia Novel | Read Xianxia Novel