At least we now have a time line for this book. As Zoey mentioned the upcoming ritual, I have to figure there will be at least two more chapters for day two. The rest will be day three except maybe the last one, which might be a day four wrap up if PCK feels like spending another day. They might not because they only have a couple years of high school left and they don’t want to run out of time line before they exhaust their audience’s wallet.
We rejoin Zoey, walking along the sidewalk. She says that she’s too wound up to talk to Sheky about her grandma. Yes, Zoey, you can’t let your emotions show. Not that you have any emotions to show off, being a sociopath. She takes a few “cleansing breaths”, as opposed to the usual poisoning breaths she normally takes, and continues on. She also passes a bunch of kids and PCK reminds us that Zoey is the center of the universe when random students salute her.
Does PCK have no idea how much distance this puts between Zoey and the audience? The constant worship might be nice to fantasize about but it makes a character unrelatable and it makes no sense. What in the hell has Zoey done that earns her respect of all these students?
Well, she has all five elements which makes for an average Captain Planet fan fiction but not worth a salute. She took over as class president, which will look great on her resume but the only people that respect that are the other go getting students who want to grow up to be a senator. She helped Stevie regain her humanity, I guess, but that’s still a secret. The best argument PCK could argue is that Zoey banished those spirits way back in book one which is still not admirable.
I know I’ve mentioned that nothing can happen because Zoey does anything before. Keeping true to form, PCK has Nala appear and hop into Zoey’s arms. This causes her to notice the cawing of crows because it’s been a couple of chapters since PCK remembered fiction is supposed to have tension of some sort.
And I heard it. A single croaking raven that sounded like it was so close that I should be able to see it within the night-sleeping shadows of the nearest tree. His cry was taken up by first one, and then another and then another. That simple sound was indescribably terrifying. I understood why they were called mockers of ravens because, even though you could easily mistake them for regular birds, if you listened just a little more carefully, you heard in their suspiciously mundane call the echo of death and fear and madness. The breeze that had been warm and sweet-smelling was replaced by an icy nothingness, like I’d just entered a mausoleum. My blood went cold.
Oh look, it’s our old friend indescribable. Hi indescribable, how have you been? I see PCK is keeping you busy. When you’re a paid author, you’d better damn well have a good reason to trot that old chestnut out. People are paying you to describe the “indescribable”, PCK. They’re not giving you money because they want to hear Zoey’s friends comment on cute guys. What does the echo of death and fear sound like? Screw it, it’s indescribable.
The birds squawk and screech at Zoey and she’s scared. Also, they smell like rotting meat because evil things always smell bad. Zoey wonders how spirits can smell and then if they’re not spirits what are they. They’re whatever PCK wants them to be, Zoey. But basically they’re American Dementors that won’t incur the wrath of Rowling’s lawyers. Zoey finally sees one, it looks stupid as hell, and tells it to go away. Unlike the weak sauce spirits from book one, these ones don’t take off at a request. Zoey turns away to run and it grabs her.
I was absolutely frozen with fear. I knew it was going to slice open my throat. Aphrodite’s vision was coming true, only it was a demon who was going to kill me and not Neferet! No! O Goddess, no! My mind shrieked. Spirit! Find someone to help me!
Wait, why does Zoey need someone’s help? She has all five elements at her command. Last time she wanted to get rid of them, Zoey blasted fire at them. Why doesn’t she just do that again? And if she sends “spirit” to go find someone for her, do they have the free will to ignore it? Does “spirit” know to only look for one of her servants or will it bother everyone in the near vicinity? Damien magically appears, Zoey manages a “whisper” asking him to save her and a blast of air knocks the spirit away.
With Zoey freed, she can turn her far superior power of air at the evil spirits. She blasts the rest of them away. It turns out that Damien didn’t actually appear, she just heard his voice. He caught her mental instant message and sent wind to her. How far away can they reach with their powers anyway? Can Zoey light people on fire half a world away? Let’s hope she never finds out.
But before wind left me, it found my face, caressed it briefly, and then it was filled with more than Damien’s presence. Within the lingering breeze there was suddenly a distinct warmth that reminded me of Shaunee with its hint of spice and sizzle, as well as the scent of a life-affirming spring shower, which I knew had been sent by Erin. The three elements of my friends joined together, and the wind became a healing breeze that circled around my neck like a silk scarf, soothing the stinging wound left by the Raven Mocker. When the pain around my throat had faded completely, the wind gently blew itself away, taking with it the warmth of fire and the healing touch of water, leaving only the peace of the night and silence.
Aw, poor Zoey almost had a wound around her neck…that would have gone away in a few minutes. Lucky her servants were ready to send her a little healing. Zoey decides to sent a prayer of thanks to Nyx for her friends. While we’re thanking people that had nothing to do with it, Zoey, you might as well thank everyone in southern California.
Zoey then grabs her stupid cat and runs inside. Her “instincts” tell her she shouldn’t be seen so she engages her stolen Predator cloak. Zoey keeps saying that, though Neferet hadn’t been holding a knife to her neck, it was surely her fault. She says she’s scared, because Zoey does not have feelings she merely tells us, but otherwise she’s okay. So she decides to ignore it the possible threat and sneak her way up to Sheky’s office.
Hmm, what happened last time Zoey snuck up to someone’s room? She overheard conversation that conveniently advances the plot. But PCK wouldn’t use that same device two books in a row, would they? Of course they would because their bag of literary tools only contains retconcrete and duct tape.
“Yes, Neferet. I readily admit to sensing there was something wrong about the school, but if you’ll recall, I was firmly against buying this campus from the Cascia Hall monks five years ago.”
It turns out Sheky and Neferet are having a discussion about the school. Neferet says that they needed a school in this part of the country. Probably because flights to other parts of the country were getting a bit expensive. The vampire vault was running low and someone bold needed to implement cost saving measures. Sheky agrees, saying that’s why they made the deal. They talk about feeling an evil presence but Sheky says that it’s shrouded. Neferet says she suspects that it’s coming from a “child”. Sheky asks if Neferet is saying that one of the fledglings is evil.
“I don’t want to say it, but I’m coming to believe it.” Neferet’s voice was filled with sadness, like what she was saying was so difficult to admit, she was almost on the brink of tears.
I knew it was absolutely, utterly, an act.
Does it really matter at this point, PCK? Do you really have to tell us that it’s all an act? And what if it really isn’t? What if Neferet is genuinely sad but for different reasons. Like, she could be upset that Zoey isn’t going to come to her side. Or maybe she’s sad that she had to kill Loren to hide her secret and he was the only decent lay she’s had in the last decade. Bad guys can have genuine emotions, PCK, even if they’re not for the same reasons.
Sheky asks what Neferet’s talking about and Neferet says that she thinks Zoey’s hiding a terrible secret. Which is weak beyond compare. Hiding a terrible secret? Neferet doesn’t have the guts to just say Zoey’s evil, she just says Zoey’s got a secret. Sheky, of course, doesn’t believe that and for stupid reasons.
“Zoey! But she is the most gifted fledgling in history. Not only has no other fledging ever wielded the power of all five elements, but no other fledgling has ever been surrounded by so many gifted peers. Each of her closest friends can manifest one of the elements. How could she possibly be so gifted and be hiding evil?” Shekinah said.
‘How could she be hiding evil? She has loads of powers and powerful friends loyal only to her. People like that just don’t abuse power.’ Sheky asks what kind of things and Neferet tries to implicate Zoey in thevil spirits from book one and the murders from book two. Also, she’s pretty sure Zoey slept with Loren and was friends with Nolan before she died.
“But Neferet, if a fledgling gets involved with a professor, it is the High Priestess’s duty to put a stop to it, and to report it to the Council.”
To stop it and report it but not to do anything else like report it to the police. Do they threaten the victims with excommunication if they want to file formal charges? At least they don’t approve of teachers boning students. It’s better that the attitude of Zoey’s friends. Sheky asks if Neferet’s looked into Zoey’s mind to confirm this and Neferet says she can’t read her mind. And here I was worried that Zoey was just like all the regular kids.
Sheky says that they’ll just watch her then and Neferet warns her to be wary of any favors she asks. Sheky also suggests that, because Neferet slept with Loren, that may be clouding her judgment. There’s a noise off in the distance which sends Darius into the room. Her reports that there’s a “commotion” and Neferet and Sheky come rushing out. None of them notice Zoey through her invisibility cloak as they run out and Zoey praises the diversion before ending the chapter.