Home > Day Zero (The Arcana Chronicles #3.5)(16)

Day Zero (The Arcana Chronicles #3.5)(16)
Author: Kresley Cole

They were massive, bigger than any wolf I’d ever seen. “I-I think I’m going crazy!”

“Fauna, stay calm,” Boss said. “This is to be expected.”

I blinked. Hard. And again. As quickly as my vision had gone wonky, it was restored. I stared at Mr. Deth. “Who the hell is Fauna?”

“You melded your senses with one of your creatures. You saw through the eyes of an animal.”

“A) What are you talking about? And, B) What I saw can’t be happening.”

“What did you see?”

“The wolf pups were growing. They were . . . huge.”

He glanced down at my injured leg. “Did they happen to taste your blood?”

I nodded.

He raised a brow. “That was unexpected. Yes, the trio will become quite large.”

“Why? What does this have to do with my blood?”

“Come with me,” he said, heading to the security room. I hesitantly followed. “Sit.” He pointed to a chair in front of the camera feeds from around the castle.

I perched on the edge of the seat. “You’ve gotta tell me what’s going on ’cause I’m about to freak out.”

With his gaze on the screens, he said, “The trump cards of a Tarot deck—the Major Arcana—are real. You are Strength. Also known as Fauna.”

Why did that sound so . . . right?

“I am the Death Card.”

“Like y-your last name? Deth?”

He shook his head. “Like the Grim Reaper.”

A low roar buzzed in my ears. He sounded so far away as he continued his wackadoodle explanation:

“. . . twenty-two players in a lethal game . . . reincarnated every few centuries . . . special powers individual to each card . . . out to smite one another . . . deadly killers with but one aim.”

He must be mad as a March hare, with bats in the belfry. Yet I felt as if puzzle pieces were clicking into place.

“ . . . give me loyalty, and I will teach you much about the game, as if your own family had chronicled. And I will let you live longer than the others.”

“Whoa.” Let me live? “Are you saying . . . does that mean you’re gonna kill me?” What a stupid question; how many murderers would ever admit that?

In his deep, accented voice, he told me, “Yes, Fauna. In time, I will take your life.” He was calmly telling me he’d gank me. “You might have a couple of years left before then. Perhaps you’ll make it out of your teens. I haven’t decided yet.”

He sounded so confident that I nearly puked with fear.

The roar grew louder. Not just in my ears?

Death fell silent, cocking his head. “It begins at the end. The reckoning comes.”

“My dad is out there!”


An explosion of brightness lit up the screens; the castle rocked. The cameras cut out, leaving only static.


I was curled up and crying in my bed, terrified for Dad—and for myself. Some catastrophe was happening out there, which meant Death had been right all along about the Big One.

I believed him about the game. I believed he would kill other kids one by one until he finally got to me.

I believed I might never see my dad’s patient smile again. Had I lost both of my parents? Though I hated my mom, I didn’t want her to die. In these terrifying hours, I’d even tried her old number. Not that any of my calls had connected.

Dad, please be safe. Please come back. Some crazy dude wants to murder me.

How could this be happening? What if Dad made it back, but Death had already ganked me? I buried my face in my pillow to muffle my scream. Then I remembered something.

I was Lark freaking Inukai. I sat up, swiping my tears away. I defanged killers. I defused their aggression. I found out their weaknesses and exploited them ruthlessly.

You don’t know me, Death.

Every dangerous creature had a weakness. I would find his. If we were supposed to play to win, I would dominate.

You don’t know me at all. . . .

The Hermit (IX)

Arthur, Master of Alchemy

“A wise man in the guise of a boy.”

A.k.a.: The Alchemist

Powers: Hyperintelligence, hypercognition, chemistry savant, guile. Potioner and elixirs master.

Special Skills: Acting normal.

Weapons: Pain potions, acid grenades, scalpel.

Tableau: An aged, cloaked man holding a lantern in the dark.

Icon: A glowing lantern.

Unique Arcana Characteristics: Appears elderly when using his powers.

Before Flash: Escalating kidnapper and serial killer.

Fortune (X)

Azara “Zara” Bonifácio Félix, Our Lady of Chance

“Where she stops, nobody knows.”

A.k.a.: Lady Luck, the Luck Thief, Fluke

Powers: Luck absorption. Can impart misfortune (increasing her own luck) and steal luck through touch.

Special Skills: Expert pilot, trained combat fighter, markswoman.

Weapons: Helicopters. Firearms used in aerial assaults.

Tableau: A girl standing in the center of a huge spinning wheel. A sphinx runs on top of it and a dragon clings to the bottom while ancient clay dice rain down from a night sky.

Icon: Wheel.

Unique Arcana Characteristics: Eyes and veins turn purple when she establishes a luck conduit.

Before Flash: Brazilian heiress to Dragão Novo, the largest turbine helicopter manufacturer in São Paulo State (the civilian helicopter capital of the world).

São Paulo, Brazil

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