Home > The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4)(17)

The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4)(17)
Author: Richelle Mead

I chose my next words very carefully as I touched my cheek. “This tattoo is infused with elements made by vampire magic. If the two magics conflict, what would happen if elements derived from human magic were also put into this tattoo? Which magic would dominate?”

That clearly wasn’t the question either of them had expected. Inez frowned. “In you? The human magic, for sure. Like speaks to like, at least in this case. Your own humanness would strengthen what was there.”

“So . . . whatever charms or spells were worked into the ink with vampire magic would be undone by new ink powered with human magic.”


The world was moving again, but I was barely aware of it. I was on the edge of something so, so big. I could tell. I just needed to grasp it. My fingertips could practically feel it.

“To hold Moroi magic in the body, you need a physical component,” I began. “In this case, ink made from their blood. To hold human magic in the body, you’d need a physical ink too . . . would that require human blood?”

“No,” said Inez swiftly. Her wrinkled brow frowned. “Blood is a good medium for a charm made of theirs because their magic is so tied to their bodies. Since we have to take our magic from the world around us, you’d be better off stabilizing it with some sort of physical compound. Something from nature.”

“Like what?”

She looked over at Ms. Terwilliger in what I suspected was a rare show of deference. “It’s hard to say. Something plant derived?”

Ms. Terwilliger pursed her lips as she mulled it over. “I’d say rock or mineral based.”

My heart raced. “A blue one?”

“I don’t think that the color matters so much in this case,” she said. “Certain substances hold certain kinds of magic better than others. Honestly? You’d have to get into the nitty-gritty of geology. Look at crystalline structure, and see what types would form the best charm with what you’re wanting to do. It’s dull and dreary work. You’d probably love it.”

“Where would I find this out?” I exclaimed.

“There are books and books on it,” said Inez, in a voice that suggested I should’ve already known that. She took a deep breath, and for the first time in our meeting, she looked uncertain. Finally, resolve filled her face. “If you can be trusted not to do something stupid with them, I might lend you some of my books.”

I clasped my hands together. “That would be . . . wow. Thank you. Thank you so much.”

“Stop babbling,” she snapped. “I said ‘might.’ I haven’t given them to you yet. These are quality books, passed down through my family. I’m not some upstart witch. My magical lineage goes back generations.”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said.

She hesitated a few moments more. “If you can get them, you can borrow them. They’re in the attic.” She jerked her head toward a ceiling trapdoor on the far side of the room.

I immediately stood up, and Adrian started to join me.

“Not you, pretty boy,” she warned. “I want her to do this on her own. They’re in a box labeled ‘Charm Mechanics.’”

He gave me a sympathetic look, but I shook my head. “No problem.” I’d at least only worn half-heeled shoes. Surely I could maneuver in an attic.

And I did . . . but not easily. The place was filled with dust and insulation, and the “Charm Mechanics” box was underneath five other heavy boxes. When I finally hauled my treasure down the attic ladder a half hour later, Adrian’s and Ms. Terwilliger’s amused expressions told me exactly how I must look. Inez nodded in approval.

“I think I like you,” she said thoughtfully. “You should visit again. You’re interesting.”

Later, when we were on the highway to Palm Springs, Ms. Terwilliger was full of mirth and incredulity. “Do you realize what you accomplished here? You not only got her to lend your books—which she never gives out, by the way—you also got the closest to a personal invitation I’ve ever heard her give.” She shook her head and laughed. “You never cease to amaze me, Sydney. Do you want to store the books at my house?” That was where most of my growing collection of magical supplies were. They couldn’t be trusted to my dorm room anymore, not with Zoe around.

“I’ll keep them at Adrian’s,” I said automatically. She didn’t comment, and I wondered if I’d made a mistake. Ms. Terwilliger asked few questions about my personal life, romantic or Alchemist, but she was neither stupid nor oblivious. Maybe witches took vampires in stride, but I wondered if she suspected—and judged—the full extent of my relationship with Adrian.

Adrian leaned forward from the backseat. “That was a lot of work you did for some books. I assume you have some genius plan?”

I dragged my attention from my disheveled skirt and allowed myself to rekindle the excitement I’d felt earlier when Inez’s words had set off a lightbulb in my head. “I’m not sure if it’s genius or not,” I said. “But I think . . . well, I think I can replicate Marcus’s ink.”

Chapter 5


SYDNEY SPENT A LOT OF TIME ON MY BED THESE DAYS. Unfortunately, it wasn’t with me.

I didn’t entirely follow how all that back-and-forthing with Inez had given Sydney the idea to make anti-Alchemist ink, but I’d never claimed I could keep up with her mind. Once she took up the quest, make-out hour had become research hour. She couldn’t work on it around Zoe, and although Jackie pretty much let Sydney do whatever she wanted, their time was limited too. And so, our romantic interludes were reallocated.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the old system, but I wanted her to pursue the ink. As much as I’d disliked Marcus Finch, I had supported his goals to thwart the Alchemists’ influence and attempts at mind control. Sydney had chosen not to go with him to finish the process because she wasn’t ready to embrace his drifter way of life; plus she believed she could accomplish more by staying connected to the Alchemists. Those were noble reasons, but I knew full well that another one—perhaps the greatest—was that she hadn’t wanted to leave me.

And who was I kidding? I didn’t want her to leave me either. At the same time, there’d always been a pang of guilt that I was responsible for leaving her vulnerable to being re-inked. I also knew every stolen moment we had together put her at a terrible risk to face the Alchemists’ wrath. Even though Inez had claimed that Sydney was already immune to future tattooing because of her magic use, both of us wanted that golden lily sealed, just in case the worst happened. But it wasn’t just about herself. She knew that if she could discover an easily reproducible ink capable of negating the Alchemist tattoos, she’d hold a lot of power in her hands.

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