Assassin of Truths

By: Brenda Drake

Chapter One

There were moments when I wanted to scream. When I just wanted the world to fall away and leave me behind in the quiet rolling hills of my new home.

Home? Right. It was nothing like Boston.

If a person had to hide out somewhere, I couldn’t think of a better place than Ireland. I adjusted on the rock wall that’d become my escape from everyone in the large farmhouse just down the hill. Vines crawled over the two-story building and many of the retaining walls cutting through the green hills that surrounded it. The wall I sat on had a smooth top and a rock that stuck out just at the right height for a footrest.

Even though it was barely autumn, I couldn’t seem to get warm. The ground was always wet and muddy, and the scent of manure hung in the chilly air. The view was beautiful, though. The Irish hills were dressed in shades of green mixed with shocks of purple flowers. Afton would love to paint a landscape like this. My heart sank at the thought of my best friend. Leaving her, plus Pop, Nana, and Uncle Philip, had been like tearing away a piece of me. It was as if I’d left half my heart behind.

I wasn’t me anymore, just some ghost walking among the living, trying to remember who I used to be. Gia Kearns—even the name sounded foreign to me. Somewhere along the way, I’d become Gianna Bianchi McCabe, Sentinel—a magical knight protecting the libraries and the human race from dangerous creatures. Bianchi was my mom’s last name, and McCabe belonged to my birth father, Carrig.

Separated from Pop, I was more afraid of being alone than wielding a sword. Though he was my stepfather, he was the only parent I’d ever known. And he was a damn good one, at that.

We’d been in hiding for nearly two months already, and I was getting anxious. My days were filled doing battle drills and chores with the other Sentinels. During my downtime, I’d think about my best friend and cousin, Nick. It was the first time he hadn’t celebrated my birthday with me. Seventeen years. We’d known each other since birth. Things felt off without him around.

Then the dark thoughts would come. Was Conemar torturing Nick? What evil plan did Nick’s biological father—the most dangerous wizard of the Mystik world—have for him?

Momo raced in and out of cracks in the wall, her furry body squeezing into the tiniest of places. I never thought I’d love a ferret so much. She’d been my alarm while trapped in the wastelands of the Somnium, alerting me when one of the frightening beasts was around. I couldn’t leave her behind in that magical void.

Normally, her playfulness would be a distraction for me, but my mind kept replaying Nick’s kidnapping. Conemar’s Sentinels shoving him into the back seat of Miss Bagley’s Subaru. The look of despair on Nick’s face as the vehicle disappeared around a corner.

I’m sorry, he had mouthed.

He was sorry, when I was the one who had failed him. I shouldn’t have hesitated. There was so much going on in the battle around me that I’d lost focus. Pop would’ve been killed if Faith hadn’t rushed in front of him and taken the dagger meant for him. But I had hesitated, not knowing what to do. Everyone I loved had been in that fight.

I swore never to falter again, but it was too late for Faith and Nick.

And for Kale and Gian. Both had died that day with Faith.

I’d let all my friends down.

Faith. I touched her gothic-style pendant with thorny, silver-stemmed roses encircling a bloodred crystal. She’d become a good friend and protector, and missing her hurt so badly that sometimes thinking of her made it hard to breathe.

Flipping through Gian’s leather-bound journal, I inhaled the scent of aged pages. My great-grandfather wrote this for me to find. He was a powerful wizard, and Gian had given up his life to save mine. I knew there was something important in the pages but couldn’t figure out what. He’d also left a poem containing clues to finding the Chiavi—seven keys hidden as objects within the libraries. Each one held a special power. In their original forms, the keys would unlock a prison containing an apocalyptic beast called the Tetrad. Whoever released the creature could control it and bring both the Mystik and human worlds to their knees.

I tapped against my lips the laminated prayer card he’d used as a bookmark in the journal and reread the poem titled Libero il Tesoro, which meant “Free the Treasure.” It was a spell to release a Chiave from its hiding place. The poem was a list and held clues to artifacts in the libraries where Gian had hidden the keys.

A religious man’s charm hangs from his vest. The first line. It was a necklace with a cross pendant Gian had found in the Vatican Library.

A school of putti, one of which sees farther than the rest. A telescope Nick and I had recovered in the Abbey Library of Saint Gall.