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Darkness Falling: The Darkworld Series Book 5 (Ebook)

Darkness Falling: The Darkworld Series Book 5 (Ebook)

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Book 5 of 5: The Darkworld Series


The Darkworld is open, and nothing will ever be the same.

Reeling from recent events, Ash and her friends are forced to flee Blackstone. With their former allies dead or missing, their only hope lies with another group of sorcerers who've risked their lives to learn the truth about the Darkworld. But the group have an agenda of their own, and with no Barrier left to contain the demons, nobody is safe from corruption.

Ash must unravel one final mystery if she is to defeat Lucifer and Mephistopheles for good. But the truth lies within the Darkworld itself, and even if she survives the journey, there may not be anything left to return to…

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I leaned against the wall of my bedroom, eyes closed, like I could stop the world spinning just by ignoring it.

But the world wouldn’t stop. Time ticked away by the minute, and every second that passed might bring the return of our enemy. Leo sat beside me on my bed, not speaking. Not asking what the human-demon girl had just said to me.

Lucifer wasn’t dead.

I couldn’t process it. In the past few days, I’d been attacked at my aunt’s old house, spurned by the Inner Circle, witnessed a prison outbreak, been cornered by Leo’s father, who was now possessed by a higher demon, arrested for outing myself as a human-demon, and escaped. Just tonight, I’d witnessed the sorcerer Lucifer break into the human world; watched my mother, the fortune teller, face Lucifer down and destroy him at the cost of her own life, and narrowly escaped a collapsing tunnel. 

We had to leave campus as soon as possible, in case the surviving members of the Venantium decided that I was dangerous and locked me up again–God knew where, seeing as their headquarters were now buried under the rubble. I couldn’t deny it kind of served them right for building it underground in the first place. But nobody deserved to be buried alive in those tunnels.

Not even… her.

My eyes burned, and I became aware of Leo’s hand in mine, gripping me tightly as though he was afraid I would disappear, just like the half-demon girl had. My other hand gripped the demon heart around my neck–the amethyst crystal that was the store of my demon side’s magical energy. As if it heard my thoughts, felt my mental and physical exhaustion, the demon heart vibrated against my chest and new energy flooded me, making me feel less like collapsing from exhaustion. I opened my eyes, drawing in a breath, and met Leo’s concerned gaze.

“What did she say?” His voice was hoarse, probably from tiredness and the desperation of our flight through a collapsing tunnel.

I shut out the memory—or tried to. 

“Lucifer’s not dead,” I said tremulously. “You were right. Part of him’s still in the Darkworld. He’s tied to it. He can’t die.”

“Shit.” Leo let out a breath. “Should have guessed the bastard had a backup plan.”

“Yeah. And… and Mephistopheles’s heart is missing, too.”

There was more than that, more I didn’t want to think about right now. But there could be no more secrets between us. I had to tell Leo everything.

“The others want me to help them,” I said. “The other half-demons. I spoke to one of them. She… she was like me.”

Leo didn’t say anything, but let go of my hand, as though he’d forgotten he was still holding it. My heart spasmed painfully. Please look at me. Though he’d told me he regretted what had happened, I still could never forget what he’d said to me. I don’t want to look you in the eyes.

“They say I can set them free,” I said. “They’re trapped in the Darkworld, in a kind of half-life, but they think I can help them.”

“How?” he said, his voice hushed. “What you’re saying is impossible–the Darkworld is just there. Without the Barrier, it’d be different. But the cost of that…”

Without the Barrier, all demons would be free. There didn’t seem to be a way out of this that didn’t involve sacrificing human lives to the demons.

We’d lost too many people already. And in the end, even the fortune-teller’s sacrifice hadn’t finished Lucifer off. 

“I know,” I said heavily. “Maybe it’s something they want me to figure out. I’m too tired to think about it right now.” 

“Yeah,” said Leo. “They’re not going to give a straight answer, are they? That’s not how demons operate.”

No. They crept up on you and insidiously ruined your life from the inside. 

“Maybe they can’t say anything. I’ve been thinking… can Lucifer read minds? He’s not a true demon, but he’s in the Darkworld.”

“You’re asking me? I haven’t a clue. If the Darkworld gives them that power, then maybe, yeah. There’s no way for humans to know without going there themselves.”

“Never mind, I was just thinking aloud.” Even voicing my fears didn’t make them go away. For all I knew, Lucifer was eavesdropping on us right now. The Darkworld was everywhere—everywhere in the world. No escaping it. And I’d not only escaped from right in front of him, I’d frozen the supposed king of all demons into an ice statue. I might as well have signed my own death warrant.

“Sorry,” he said. “It’s so… I just can’t believe they’re gone. I mean, we’ve been talking about how useless the Venantium are for years, but I think deep down I thought they had a handle on things. And now…”

“They’re dead.” I shook my head. I could hardly believe it either. “There are only two members of the Inner Circle left–well, that’s if they survive going back underground.” I didn’t envy them that.

“I don’t think Lucifer will come back underground,” said Leo. “He’d need to find another demon heart, for one. Was the one he used hidden with the Venantium?”

“I have no idea,” I said. “I never had a chance to ask.”

Something else I couldn’t ask the person who had all the answers. The fortune-teller was dead. Even though she’d revealed her true identity—Melivia Blackstone, my mother—over six months ago, I still had a hard time thinking of her as any relation of mine. She’d been the enigmatic fortune-teller for so long, and that was the way I would remember her–defiant even in death, singing an agonised song as she burned alive.

Melivia had escaped death by fire once before, as a young woman living in the mid-nineteenth century after she’d been seduced by Lucifer. He’d tricked her into summoning a demon, triggering the last demon wars. By that point, he and Melivia had disappeared into the Darkworld and hadn’t returned until nearly a hundred and fifty years later—time had no meaning in the Darkworld, which was locked in a perpetual present. In order to return to life, they had to take possession of another body, one with a beating heart—in Melivia’s case, a comatose young woman. Melivia was shocked to learn that the world had changed beyond recognition, and that Lucifer had lied to her. It was in that fragile state that the higher demon, Lucifer, had found her.

I had no idea how events had played out from there, only that she’d ended up pregnant by the higher demon, seen the human Lucifer’s true colours and realised the danger he posed to her unborn child. She’d concocted an elaborate plan to hide the baby—me—by altering the memories of a family who’d recently lost their new born, and posing as my aunt. Influence and memory alteration were highly restricted branches of magic, but the fortune-teller had used them with impunity, taking on the identity of “Aunt Eve” for the first thirteen years of my life. By then, Lucifer had been defeated and a second demon war averted.

After “Aunt Eve” had moved away from her cottage in the Lake District, she’d slipped off the radar until I received a package from her for my eighteenth birthday, containing some money and an amethyst pendant, and a cryptic note telling me to “guard my heart well.” I had thought this a little strange, but given that I’d started seeing invisible demons at the time, it hadn’t exactly been the focus of my attention. But when my flatmate, Terrence, had taken the pendant and summoned a demon, I’d learned the truth about my identity as a human-demon, and that my power was contained in the crystal—which was actually my demon heart. He’d almost killed me, but I’d discovered that I was immune to demonic possession since I’m part demon myself, and I killed the demon inside him.

As for the demon inside me… she was a part of me. My real father was a higher demon, Lucifer. I’d met one of them—Belphegor—when the spirit of another half-demon had tried to get me framed for crimes I’d never committed. Five of the Inner Circle were now under the control of the higher demons Asmodeus, Beezlebub, Satan, Mammon, and Leviathan. I had no idea how long they’d been around for; the higher demons didn’t seem to obey the usual rules of the Darkworld, and appeared whenever they liked. It was unusual for them to accept the authority of a human, but Lucifer could offer them what no one else could: access to our world.

That was, ultimately, what demons wanted. They might live in the Darkworld, but they wanted access to the human world. The false Lucifer had offered them the ultimate bargain. In exchange for their help, they’d have the world. Only Melivia’s sacrifice had stopped him breaking the Barrier.

And now she was dead. My mother, the reluctant defender of humanity. Dead.

I’d hated her for most of the time I’d known her. I’d been enraged when the truth had come out about her identity, that she’d lied to me, manipulated me into living a life that wasn’t mine. Until less than a year ago, I’d had a family. In one day, she’d destroyed the foundation of my life. When the Venantium had taken her prisoner and done something to her magic, it had broken the subliminal spell that made my “parents” believe I was their daughter. The awful part was how long it had taken me to realize something was wrong, but I’d been under a spell, too. It came out when Mephistopheles had tried to burn down my house to lure me into a multi-layered trap that nearly killed both Leo and me. Leo had been possessed by the demon, and the demon inside me had fought for control, nearly resulting in both our deaths.

Another debt I owed to the fortune-teller, for saving us.

That was the last time I’d seen Leo until now, and I still couldn’t get used to his presence, let alone the fact that he was in my room. He’d taken off as soon as possible after the events of last March without even talking it through, with the argument that the demon inside me would never leave us in peace, and that we were a danger to each other. The memory still should have filled me with a searing rage, but I’d already lost my home and my family. I had no energy left to waste on petty arguments. Not when we had to run for our lives. Tonight.

I dug out my rucksack and started throwing clothes into it. What would I need? It was almost winter. Warm clothes were a must, but I could only fit so many in my rucksack. My television and laptop would have to stay behind. My iPod could come, but I wished I hadn’t lost my phone. If the others and I were separated, I’d have no way of contacting them.

“I’ve a spare phone you can borrow,” said Leo, as though he’d read my thoughts. “It’s shit, but it works, and that’s all that matters, right?”

I didn’t say anything. Silence had grown between us, fuelled by absence. It felt stifling just being in the same room as him. I couldn’t afford to think of what once we’d had, before we’d been set against each other. I wasn’t the same person as before.

When I’d filled my bag to capacity, shoving in some photos of my friends and me at the last minute just in case I didn’t have the chance to retrieve them later, I zipped the rucksack shut, and stood.

Tears pricked my eyes. I’d thought I had a future here. I’d thought this would be my new home, however temporary. I was still paying rent on that shitty old flat I’d rented in Manchester—I’d spent the summer there, since I’d been unable to go back to living with my once-parents. But Blackstone had always been different. It had been a haven, the only place I couldn’t see demons, due to the strength of the Venantium’s barriers. Now, however…

“Come on.” I still couldn’t quite look Leo in the eye. “Let’s go.”

The flat remained quiet; no one was in. My friends had probably gone to the student union bar, like any ordinary night. I’d lived two lives side by side for so long that the thought of leaving this one—my safe, normal life with friends who knew nothing about the Darkworld, nothing about demons or Lucifer or the Venantium—didn’t bear thinking about. But now I had to leave, before Lucifer came back. He wanted me, the only human-demon, as his own, and as long as he existed, the only life I could have was that of a fugitive.

My normal human friends had no place in that life. I wouldn’t do anything that might put them in danger, too.

Berenice’s voice floated up from the ground floor as we walked downstairs. “They’re obviously boning, we’ll be waiting forever. I say we get the hell out of here.”

“Berenice!” said Claudia.

“What? It’s true. He wanted to rip her clothes off soon as he set eyes on her…”

She trailed off as she saw us approaching. “There they are,” she said, unconvincingly.

Claudia had a rucksack, too; she’d obviously dashed back to her own flat to pack. 

“Everyone got everything they need?” said Cyrus. “We can do a quick stop at your place on the way,” he added, as Howard made to speak.

“We left our stuff there,” Leo said to me. “There wasn’t enough time to go home.”

Cyrus and Leo had been travelling for the past few months, and had only flown back to England earlier that day. So much had changed in the last twenty-four hours. Yesterday and today were worlds apart.

“We’re going back to Blackstone?” said Claudia.

“Quickest way to London is to get the train from Redthorne, through Manchester,” said Cyrus bracingly. “We’ll avoid the Venantium; just get the bus from near Howard’s.” His casual tone fooled none of us.

Manchester. I felt another pang. Cara, my best friend, wouldn’t be at home, she’d be at university in Edinburgh. I supposed at least she was safe there. But it would have been nice to have time for one last Skype before we left. Just to warn her to stay as far away from me as humanly possible.

“Does your spare phone have credit?” I asked Leo. 

“Yeah, I topped it up. Glad I hung onto it after I got my contract.”

“I’m glad I made a note of people’s numbers on paper,” I said. I didn’t know Cara’s number by heart, but at some point I’d had the presence of mind to write it in a notebook, which I retrieved from my bag now.

The others looked at me. 

“You’re going to make a call now?” said Claudia.

I hesitated, then put the notebook away and slipped the phone back into my pocket. “Might wait till we’re in London, actually. I just wanted to make sure she was safe. Cara,” I added, in response to Leo’s puzzled look.

“What about your other friends?” said Leo. “Your flatmates? They weren’t in the flat?”

“I think they’ll be in the union bar.” I glanced in that direction, from which a steadily growing volume of noise was issuing.

“Down it! Down it!” roared a chorus of voices.

“Time for one last drink?” said Leo.

“You’re joking, right?” I looked at him incredulously.

“Maybe. Do you want to say goodbye?”

“Might be a better idea to just go. No awkward questions.” I sighed. My chest tightened at the thought of leaving Alex and Sarah without as much as a note. Or a warning. “Are there any buses running?”

“Not on a Sunday. We’ll have to walk…” Cyrus trailed off as a louder noise ripped through the night.


It wasn’t a squeal of delight or drunken celebration, but a cry of pure terror. My heart plummeted.

For an instant, the six of us looked at each other. I could almost see the same thoughts cross the others’ minds. No. They’ve come here.

Leo was the first to move. “Come on,” he said, and ran toward the bar.

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