Ash Princess (The Deviant Future #6) - Eve Langlais Page 0,1

sounding.

He’d end up agreeing to an impossible quest and—

I’d get out of here. Suddenly, that sounded like the best idea in the world.

Cam pivoted and eyed the speaker, who turned out to be a crone, sitting behind a table in the marketplace. Unlike some of the stalls scattered throughout the space, she had no sign. No flashy wares. Just her, the simple wooden table, and the oddly shaped stones spread out before her.

“How do you know my name?” Because Cam didn’t recall meeting her before, and rarely used his full name. Not to mention, he did not think she could actually see him. The orbs of her eyes shone milky white in a wrinkled face framed by the frizziest of gray hair.

“The bones tell me many things.” The old woman waved her hands over the bits, and they rattled even though she never touched them. “They told me you are the son born of no woman, a boy with no father, an exile from his homeland, the brother of a queen.”

He snorted. “You obviously know who I am.” Meaning she wasn’t actually blind. She’d probably seen him before at some stupid court function his sister made him attend and now thought him an easy mark to ply her tricks on.

“I know you, Camden the Lonely. I’ve seen you in the bones. The child who used to hold in his cries of pain when they tortured him. The boy who suffered alone when he allowed himself to be hurt to spare his sister. The man who drifts aimlessly because he doesn’t belong anywhere.”

How did she know?

Intrigued despite himself, Cam sat on the stool in front of the fortune teller. “What else do you see?”

The opaque gaze fixed in his direction, as if staring at him and elsewhere at the same time. The wrinkled hand waved over the bones. The yellowed pieces rattled and shifted, some rolling, others twisting. The use of power brought an acrid chill to the air. He could see his breath puffing as he waited for an answer.

“You are adrift now that your womb mate has found the other half to her soul. You are unsatisfied. You seek fulfillment.”

Uncanny how she pinpointed his discontent.

The crone continued. “You crave a real adventure. A purpose. Are desperate for love. A family. Children…”

The very suggestion he was desperate peeved him. “Like fuck I am.” He snorted as he rose. He shouldn’t have wasted time with the charlatan who did petty magic tricks to try and seem real.

“You can’t lie to the bones,” the fortune teller replied.

Cam wanted to refute her accusation. How dare she accuse him of not telling the truth?

Except he did lie and had been for a while. On the surface, what did he have to complain about? He’d gone from being one of the Emerald Kingdom’s most wanted to advisor to a king, living in a palace with delicious meals any time of day and a bed with the softest of sheets. He had a purpose as the lead hunter, keeping the city of Eden safe from the shit that liked to crawl out of the swamp. With everything he’d ever wanted now in his grasp, why did he feel incomplete?

“What else is there for me? I’m needed here.” Another lie. He was easily replaced.

“You are needed more urgently elsewhere.”

“Elsewhere?” He frowned. “You mean leave Eden?” Definitely doable. The Marshlands were extensive. And he’d been pondering leaving for a while. He needed a change.

“You will travel farther than you’ve ever travelled before, to the northwest reaches and the lands that have been forgotten.”

“Hold up.” He shook his head. “You’re talking about the Diamond Kingdom. Even I’m not stupid enough to agree to go there. It’s a death sentence.” People who entered the Diamond Kingdom didn’t return. Some claimed the very air was poisoned. Others that there were monsters. Either way, it was not a place anyone chose to visit, and no one had exited it in a long, long time.

“Let’s not be melodramatic. We both know it might cause death to most, but you are not like most people, Camden.”

There she went again, using a name he never heard anymore. A name she shouldn’t have known. He’d left it behind when he and his sister, Casey, escaped the Enclave’s grip.

“I can’t leave. I have responsibilities here. My sister needs me.” Another lie. He was on a roll today. Casey didn’t need him anymore. Not now that she had her king. Even in his head that sounded whiny and

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