Home > Day Zero (The Arcana Chronicles #3.5)(14)

Day Zero (The Arcana Chronicles #3.5)(14)
Author: Kresley Cole

I gazed up with a frown when a hot breeze blew in through the open windows, rustling the curtains. Nights were usually cool here this time of year.

Issa said, “So warm?”

Shouts sounded outside. I rose and crossed to the balcony to investigate. The sky grew brighter before my eyes. Fantastical lights began to gleam on the horizon.

What wonder was this? “Issa, come. You must see.” I stared up in awe.

She joined me at the balcony rail, and we watched the spectacle together. She whispered, “Ajabu.” Amazing.

Through sheer will, I forced my gaze away from the sky. Though I longed to look at those lights, my wife was the wonder of my life. I would much rather look at her, and I might be on borrowed time with her.

A thunderous sound rolled in the night. When it increased in intensity, my blood grew cold. “Did you hear that?” I didn’t know what was creating that sound, but I understood the message.

“Hmm?” Issa murmured without a care as the lights danced in her eyes.

The sound was the warning roar—of every lion that had ever lived. . . .

Strength (VIII)

Lark Inukai, Mistress of Fauna

“Red of tooth and claw!”

A.k.a.: Fortitude

Powers: Animal manipulation (can control all creatures). Animal scrying (can borrow the senses of animals). Animal generation (her blood affects the physiology of creatures and can make them into her familiars). Enhanced senses, night vision.

Special Skills: Healing and training animals.

Weapons: Beastly predators.

Tableau: A delicate girl in a white robe controlling the gaping jaws of a lion.

Icon: Paw print.

Unique Arcana Characteristics: Has claws and fangs. Her eyes turn red when she mingles her senses with a creature’s.

Before Flash: High school student and animal trainer, living in the compound of an eccentric billionaire.

Crazycakes’ Crib

Day 0

“I’m dead meat,” I muttered when I smelled blood in the boss’s menagerie. “Just kill me now.” The animals were going nuts!

They’d been acting weird for days, but now they chewed at their enclosures, head-butted the walls of their pens, and dug in a frenzy. Even passive animals fought.

Rabbits in a death match. What the hell?

If they kept this up, we were going to lose stock . Probably had already. The smell of blood made me light-headed.

I yanked my phone out of my jeans pocket and called my dad. His line rang. And rang. Voice mail.

I frowned. He always picked up, because he knew how freaked out I would get if he didn’t.

Four years ago, Mom had deserted us. My first clue? She hadn’t answered when I’d called for a ride home from school. She’d never answered.

I left a message for my dad: “The animals are freaking out for some reason. We’ve got mass injuries, and I need your help. Please come home. Love you.” I texted: HELP! Animals injured. Where r u?

The menagerie was as big as an arena, housing hundreds of creatures. How to calm them all down? I spun in circles. I needed one-on-one time to work my magic. Not one-on-hundreds!

I could medicate some, hose others, but I’d never get to the majority in time.

More blood, more growls, more damage. I spun faster, yelling, “EVERYBODY CHILL THE HELL OUT!”

Quiet. I stilled, gazing around. Animals stared at me from all sides with wide eyes, motionless.

Damn, I was good.

Time to triage this crisis. I popped a crick in my neck on the way to the nearest line of pens. I did spot assessments, but found injuries everywhere.

Maybe the boss wouldn’t notice we were light a few dozen animals. As I combed through the enclosures along the north side, I swallowed with fear at the thought of explaining this to Mr. Deth. He wasn’t cruel or anything, just really intimidating.

Partly because he was rich as all get out (like, Richie Rich), even though he was only in his early twenties.

Partly because he was drop-dead gorgeous. I mean, absolutely to-die-for with his light blond hair, tanned face, and vivid amber eyes.

And partly because he was crazy. . . .

No fatal wounds on the north side! I hurried down the west one. We’d lost one of three bandicoots, and a roo had a broken tail—

I stopped dead in my tracks. The cougars had chewed their cage open! Those four were like freaking velociraptors! Only not as friendly.

So where were they?

I heard a snarl on the south wall of pens and ran like a bat out of hell. “Shit, shit!” I skidded to a halt in front of the wolf habitat.

The two adults had been shredded, their bodies lifeless in the sawdust. They’d died to protect their pups.

The cougars had cornered the three. The pups cowered, whimpering, blood all over them. Ah, God, the little runt was missing an eye.

One cougar had its paw raised for a killing blow.

I didn’t think; I ran into the middle of the clash. The cougar swiped my leg, snarling its fury.

“Oh, you dick! Get out!”

The four swished their tails. They clearly had no intention of giving up their prey. I swallowed with fear.

Then I remembered: I was Lark Inukai. I defanged killers. I found their weaknesses and exploited them ruthlessly.

I focused on the sole female, staring her down. To the males, it’d look like I’d singled her out for attack. I drew my lips back from my teeth, and growled at her.

The three males blinked, tails going still. They wouldn’t want to lose their only babe.


They jolted, spinning in midair to beeline back to their cage. “That’s right, assholes!”

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