Bloodlines: Silver Shadows (book 5)

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9780141350189: Bloodlines: Silver Shadows (book 5)

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive. 

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .

Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.

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About the Author:

Richelle Mead is the author of the international #1 bestselling Vampire Academy series, its spinoff series, Bloodlines, and the Age of X series. A lifelong reader, Richelle has always had a particular fascination with mythology and folklore. When she can actually tear herself away from books (either reading or writing them), she enjoys bad reality TV, traveling, trying interesting cocktails, and shopping for dresses to wear on tour. She is a self-professed coffee addict, works in her pajamas, and has a passion for all things wacky and humorous. Originally from Michigan, Richelle now lives in Seattle, Washington, where she is hard at work on her next Bloodlines novel. Visit www.RichelleMead.com to find out more.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

SYDNEY

I WOKE TO DARKNESS.

This was nothing new, as I’d been waking to darkness for the last . . . well, I didn’t know how many days. It could’ve been weeks or even months. I’d lost track of time in this small, cold cell, with only a rough stone floor for a bed. My captors kept me awake or asleep, at their discretion, with the help of some drug that made it impossible to count the days. For a while, I’d been certain they were slipping it to me in my food or water, so I’d gone on a hunger strike. The only thing that had accomplished was a forced feeding—something I never, ever wanted to experience again—and no escape from the drug. I’d finally realized they were piping it in through the ventilation system, and unlike with food, I couldn’t go on an air strike.

For a while, I’d had the fanciful idea that I’d track time with my menstrual cycle, the way that women in primitive societies synced themselves up to the moon. My captors, proponents of cleanliness and efficiency, had even provided feminine hygiene products for when the time came. That plan failed as well, though. Being abruptly cut off from birth control pills at the time of my capture reset all my hormones and spun my body into irregular cycles that made it impossible to measure anything, especially when combined with my wacky sleep schedule. The only thing I could be certain of was that I wasn’t pregnant, which was a huge relief. If I’d had Adrian’s child to worry about, the Alchemists would’ve had unlimited power over me. But it was just me in this body, and I could take whatever they threw at me. Hunger, cold. It didn’t matter. I refused to let them break me.

“Have you thought about your sins, Sydney?”

The metallic, female voice reverberated around the small cell, seeming to come from every direction at once. I pulled myself up into a sitting position, tugging my rough shift down over my knees. It was more out of habit than anything else. The sleeveless garment was so paper thin that it offered no warmth whatsoever. The only thing it provided was a psychological sense of modesty. They’d given it to me partway through my captivity, claiming it was a token of goodwill. In reality, I think the Alchemists just couldn’t handle keeping me there naked, especially when they saw it wasn’t getting to me the way they’d hoped.

“I slept,” I said, stifling a yawn. “No time to think.” The drug in the air seemed to keep me perpetually sleepy, but they were also sending in some stimulant that made sure I stayed awake when they wanted, no matter how exhausted I might be. The result was that I never felt fully rested—as was their intent. Psychological warfare worked best when the mind was weary.

“Did you dream?” the voice asked. “Did you dream of redemption? Did you dream of what it might be like to see the light again?”

“You know I didn’t.” I was being uncharacteristically talkative today. They asked me these questions all the time, and sometimes I just stayed silent. “But if you want to stop feeding me that sedative for a while, maybe I’ll get some real sleep and have some dreams that we can chat about.”

More importantly, getting real sleep that was free of these drugs meant that Adrian would be able to locate me in my dreams and help me find a way out of this hellhole.

Adrian.

His name alone had gotten me through many long, dark hours. Thoughts of him, of our past and of our future, were what had helped me survive my present. I often lost myself in daydreams, thinking back to the handful of months we’d had together. Had it really been so short? Nothing else in my nineteen years seemed as vivid or meaningful as the time I’d spent with him. My days were consumed with thoughts of him. I would replay each precious memory, the joyous and the heartbreaking, and when I’d exhausted them, I’d fantasize about the future. I’d live out all the possible scenarios we’d imagined for ourselves, all our silly “escape plans.”

Adrian.

He was the reason I was able to survive in this prison.

And he was also the reason I was here in the first place.

“You don’t need your subconscious to tell you what your conscious already knows,” the voice told me. “You are tainted and impure. Your soul is shrouded in darkness, and you have sinned against your own kind.”

I sighed at this old rhetoric and shifted, trying to make myself more comfortable, though it was a losing battle. My muscles had been in a perpetual state of stiffness for ages now. There was no comfort to be found in these conditions.

“It must make you sad,” the voice continued, “to know that you’ve broken your father’s heart.”

That was a new approach, one that caught me off guard enough that I spoke without thinking: “My father doesn’t have a heart.”

“He does, Sydney. He does.” Unless I was mistaken, the voice sounded a bit pleased at having drawn me out. “He greatly regrets the fall you’ve taken. Especially when you showed such promise to us and our fight against evil.”

I scooted over so that I could lean against the rough-cut wall. “Well, he’s got another daughter who’s much more promising now, so I’m sure he’ll get over it.”

“You broke her heart too. Both of them are more grieved than you could ever know. Wouldn’t it be nice to reconcile with them?”

“Are you offering me that chance?” I asked cautiously.

“We’ve been offering you that chance from the beginning, Sydney. Just say the words, and we will gladly begin your path to redemption.”

“You’re saying this hasn’t been part of it?”

“This has been part of the effort to help you cleanse your soul.”

“Right,” I said. “Helping me through starvation and humiliation.”

“Do you want to see your family or not? Wouldn’t it be nice to sit down and talk to them?”

I made no answer and instead tried to puzzle out what game was afoot. The voice had offered me many things in captivity, most of them creature comforts—warmth, a soft bed, real clothes. I’d been offered other rewards too, like the cross necklace Adrian had made for me and food far more substantial and appetizing than the gruel they currently kept me alive on. They’d even tried to tempt with that last one by piping in the aroma of coffee. Someone—possibly that family that cared so much about me—had tipped them off to my preferences.

But this . . . the chance to see and talk to people was a whole new thing altogether. Admittedly, Zoe and my dad weren’t exactly at the top of the list of whom I’d want to see right now, but it was the larger scope of what the Alchemists were offering that interested me: a life outside of this cell.

“What would I have to do?” I asked.

“What you’ve always known you had to do,” responded the voice. “Admit your guilt. Confess your sins, and say you’re ready to redeem yourself.”

I nearly said, I have nothing to confess. It was what I’d told them a hundred times before this. Maybe even a thousand times. But I was still intrigued. Meeting with other people meant that surely they’d have to turn off that poison in the air . . . right? And if I could escape that, I could dream. . . .

“I just say those words, and I get to see my family?”

The voice was irritatingly condescending. “Not right away, of course. It has to be earned. But you would be able to move on to the next stage of your healing.”

“Re-education,” I said.

“Your tone makes it sound like a bad thing,” said the voice. “We do it to help you.”

“No thanks,” I said. “I’m getting used to this place. Shame to leave it.”

That, and I knew re-education was where the real torture would begin. Sure, it might not be as physically challenging as this, but that was where they really honed in on the mind control. These harsh conditions were a setup, to make me feel weak and helpless so that I’d be susceptible to when they tried to alter my mind in re-education. So that I’d be grateful and thank them for it.

And yet, I couldn’t shake that thought again, that if I did leave here, I might be in a position to sleep and dream normally again. If I could make that contact with Adrian, everything might change. At the very least, I would know he was okay . . . if I survived re-education itself. I could make guesses at the kind of psychological manipulation they’d try on me but didn’t know for sure. Would I endure it? Could I keep my mind intact, or would they turn me against all my principles and loved ones? That was the risk of leaving this cell. I knew also that the Alchemists had drugs and tricks to make their commands “stick,” so to speak, and although I was probably protected against them, thanks to regular magic use before I’d been imprisoned, the fear that I might still be vulnerable nagged at me. The only certain way I knew to protect against their compulsion was through a potion I’d once made and successfully used on a friend—but not on myself.

Further ruminations were put on hold as I felt fatigue wash over me. Apparently, this conversation was over. I knew enough now not to fight and stretched out on the floor, letting thick, dreamless sleep wash over me, burying thoughts of freedom. But before the drug took me down, I said his name in my mind, using it as a touchstone to keep me strong.

Adrian . . .

· · ·

I woke at an unspecified time later and found food in my cell. It was the usual gruel, some kind of boxed hot cereal that was probably fortified with vitamins and minerals to keep my health up, such as it was. Calling it “hot cereal” might have been generous, however. “Lukewarm” was more adequate. They had to make it as unappetizing as possible. Tasteless or not, I ate automatically, knowing I needed to keep my strength up for when I got out of here.

If I get out of here.

The traitorous thought reared up before I could stop it. It was a longtime fear that had nagged at my edges, the terrifying possibility that they might keep me here forever, that I would never see any of the people I loved again—not Adrian, not Eddie, not Jill, not any of them. I would never practice magic again. I would never read a book again. That last thought hit me particularly hard today because as much as daydreaming about Adrian carried me through these dark hours, I would’ve killed to have something as mundane as a trashy novel to read. I would’ve settled for a magazine or pamphlet. Anything that wasn’t darkness and that voice.

Be strong, I told myself. Be strong for yourself. Be strong for Adrian. Would he do any less for you?

No, he wouldn’t. Wherever he was, whether he was still in Palm Springs or had moved on, I knew Adrian would never give up on me, and I had to match that. I had to be ready for when we were together. I had to be ready for when we were reunited.

Centrum permanebit. The Latin words played through my mind, strengthening me. Translated, they meant “The center will hold” and were a play off a poem Adrian and I had read. We are the center now, I thought. And he and I will hold, no matter what.

I finished my meager meal and then attempted a cursory washing at the small sink in the cell’s corner, feeling my way in the dark to where it sat by a small toilet. A real bath or shower was out of the question (though they’d used that as bait before, too), and I had to clean myself daily (or what I thought was daily) with a rough washcloth and cold water that smelled of rust. It was humiliating, knowing they were watching with their night vision cameras, but it was still more dignified than staying dirty. I wouldn’t give them that satisfaction. I would stay human, even if that was the very charge they were questioning me on.

When I was clean enough, I curled back up against the wall, my teeth chattering as my wet skin shivered in the cold air. Would I ever be warm again?

“We spoke to your father and sister, Sydney,” said the voice. “They were so sad to hear that you didn’t want to see them. Zoe cried.”

Internally, I winced, regretting that I played along last time. The voice now thought this family tactic had some leverage over me. How could they think I’d want to bond with the people who’d locked me up here? The only family I might have wanted to see—my mom and my older sister—probably weren’t on the visitor list, especially if my dad had gotten his way in their divorce proceedings. Thatoutcome actually was something I would’ve liked to hear about, but no way would I let on to that.

“Don’t you regret the pain you’ve caused them?” asked the voice.

“I think Zoe and Dad should regret the pain they caused me,” I snapped back.

“They didn’t want to cause you pain.” The voice was trying to be soothing, but mostly I wanted to punch whoever was behind it—and I wasn’t the kind of person usually given to violence. “They did what they did to help you. That’s all we’re trying to do. They’d love the chance to talk to you and explain themselves.”

“I’m sure they would,” I muttered. “If you even talked to them.” I hated myself for engaging with my captors. This was the most I’d spoken to them in a while. They had to be loving it.

“Zoe asked us if it would be okay if she brought you a skinny vanilla latte when she visits. We told her it would. We’re all for a civilized visit, for you to sit down and truly talk, so that your family and especially your soul can heal.”

My heart beat rapidly, and it had nothing to do with the lure of coffee. The voice was confirming again what had been suggested before. A real visit, sitting down, drinking coffee . . . that had to take place out of this cell. If any of this fantasy were even true, there was no way they’d bring my dad and Zoe here—not that seeing them was my goal. Getting out of here was. I still maintained that I could stay here forever, that I could take whatever they threw at me. And I could. But what was I accomplishing? All I proved was my own toughness and defiance, and while I was proud of those things, they weren’t getting me any closer to Adrian. To get to Adrian, to get the rest of my friends . . . I needed to dream. To dream, I needed to get away from this drugged existence.

And not just that. If I were somewhere that wasn’t a small, dark cell, I might be able to work magic again. I might have a clue about where in the world they’d taken me. I might be able to free myself.

But first I had to leave this cell. I’d thought I was brave staying here, but suddenly, I wondered if getting out was what would truly test my courage.

“Would you like that, Sydney?” Unless I was mistaken, there was an edge of excitement in the voice—almost an eagerness—that contrasted with the lofty and imperious tone I’d grown used to. They’d never sparked this much interest from me. “Would you like to begin the first steps toward purging your soul—and seeing your family?”

How long had I languished in this cell, moving in and out of agitated consciousness? When I felt my torso and arms, I could tell I’d lost a considerable amount of weight, the kind of weight loss that took weeks. Weeks, months . . . I had no idea. And while I was here, the world was going on without me—a world full of people who needed me.

“Sydney?”

Not wanting to sound too eager, I tried to stall. “How do I know I can trust you? That you’ll let me see my family if I . . . begin this journey?”

“Evil and deception are not our ways,” the voice said. “We relish in light and honesty.”

Liars, liars, I thought. They’d lied to me for years, telling me good people were monsters and trying to dictate the way I lived my life. But it didn’t matter. They could keep their word or not about my family.

“Will I have . . . a real bed?” I managed to make my voice choke a little. The Alchemists had taught me to be an excellent actress, and n...

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Descripción Puffin, 2014. Estado de conservación: New. Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives. In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists. Series: Bloodlines. Num Pages: 400 pages. BIC Classification: YFH. Category: (J) Children / Juvenile. Dimension: 197 x 131 x 25. Weight in Grams: 284. . 2014. 0th Edition. Paperback. . . . . . Nº de ref. de la librería V9780141350189

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Descripción Puffin. Estado de conservación: New. Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives. In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists. Series: Bloodlines. Num Pages: 400 pages. BIC Classification: YFH. Category: (J) Children / Juvenile. Dimension: 197 x 131 x 25. Weight in Grams: 284. . 2014. 0th Edition. Paperback. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Nº de ref. de la librería V9780141350189

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