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“At first, Morevna had volunteers. People who wanted to protect their own as she did. She taught them, and they fought beside her to extract humans from the control of demons. And then—she began to make deals. She acquired a great deal of power over the years, a great deal of magic, and she would offer services or gifts in exchange for servitude. Some wanted power, some were afraid of death, some wanted loved ones protected.”

“Is it how she got you? Was there someone you needed to protect?” Her dark eyes were guileless, still wide, and saw far too much.

“Yes. There was—someone I cared for, someone I knew would die without otherworldly intervention. I prayed to God, but it was Morevna who answered. Mikhail Sergeivich Koltov, born in St. Petersburg 1879. Died in a snowy ditch 1918. I was the last Deathless she created. She’s gone now—leaving only to keep the rules she set.”

She made a small, distressed sound at the back of her throat. Her thumb swept over the curve of his bone, as if to soothe away an old ache he didn’t feel anymore. His fingers tightened over her wrist, and he was nearly surprised by his own reluctancy to release her.

the deathless, a novel in progress by llavelan