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Blood Promise

Check out our episode here! Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

Rose Hathaway, having left St. Vladimir's at the end of Shadow Kiss to track and kill Strigoi Dimitri, has made it to Russia. She's been spending her evenings at a club called The Nightingale that is frequented by Moroi and Dhampirs in hopes of finding someone who can tell her how to get to the small Dhampir town in Siberia where Dimitri grew up and had, according to Ghost Mason, returned to. She's also been killing random Strigoi left and right. She approaches a Dhampir woman at the bar who is definitely a blood whore, asking if she knows of this village. Clearly she does, but she won't tell Rose about it, thinking she's keeping her from a life terrible like hers. Rose leaves for the night and realizes she's being followed. Probably the guardians of some Moroi inside, thinking she's up to no good. But no. It's not a dhampir, Moroi or even a Strigoi. It's a human. She introduces herself as Sydney and tells Rose she can't go around leaving Strigoi bodies everywhere. It's her job as an Alchemist to clean up Strigoi kills. What? What even is that? No time to explain. Sydney's going to have another body to dispose of. Strigoi attack!

Rose easily dispatches the Strigoi and starts to leave, but Sydney freaks out, asking if she's just going to leave this body too. Uh, yeah? She could probably drag it to some trash cans or something and let it burn up when the sun rises, that's what she normally does anyway, but Sydney rolls her eyes and pulls a small vial from her purse. She pours whatever is inside on the Strigoi and it is soon enveloped in colorful smoke and then turned to an innocuous pile of ash. Whoa. Okay. That's cool. Sydney starts to leave then, asking Rose to please call her next time she leaves a body, but Rose doesn't understand. She has no idea who or what Sydney is. Sydney takes Rose to a restaurant to explain about Alchemy. When a dhampir graduates, they are taught about the Alchemists, humans who know about the world Rose grew up in and who are trained in the art of alchemy to get rid of Strigoi corpses in order to keep that world hidden from humans. As payment, they are given small golden tattoos on their faces that are imbued with water and earth magic to give them long life and health, and some compulsion to keep them from saying anything they're not supposed to about what they do. She also explains that once they turn eighteen, Alchemists are sent out on an internship to learn their jobs and have lots of connections with important people to help cover up attacks. Rose gets an idea then. Surely, being so important with lots of connections, Sydney will know about Dimitri's village. She does. And she's going to take Rose there.

Rose isn't too pleased about being escorted to this village, but Sydney's superiors insist on it. It turns out Alchemists don't really like vampires, living or dead, or dhampirs very much. They are all apparently evil creatures of the night. Whatever. Rose will probably skip out on Sydney as soon as she knows where Dimitri's village is. They plan to leave the next day, so while she has nothing else to do, Rose slips inside Lissa's head. Lissa is sad about Rose being gone. She's also become the Queen's new favorite. Queen Tatiana has her meeting and greeting all sorts of Royals, and now, she's been summoned to Headmistress Kirova's office at the Queen's behest. Kirova is stepping down as Headmistress, no doubt having something to do with the attack that crippled the academy. Queen Tatiana has replaced her with a royal from the Lazar family, and this guy and his daughter and son are now at St. Vladimir’s. Lissa has to show the new headmaster’s daughter, Avery, around campus. And Avery will gladly do the same thing when they're back at Court. Great. Just great. As Rose goes back to her own head, she's pleased to know that Lissa isn't happy about her new role and isn't looking to replace Rose as her best friend.

Sydney and Rose take train rides across Russia. During their first night, Adrian visits Rose in her dream. He looks in on her dreams at least once a week, flirtily checking that she's still alive. She asks if he knows about the Alchemists and yes, of course he does, and he warns Rose not to be converted to their zealously religious ways. Not likely! The dream dissipates and Rose wakes to find Sydney gone. She can't sleep well with Rose around. She makes her uneasy. When they arrive near the small village, they expect they'll be able to get a ride with a Moroi passing through, but no one will take them. Strigoi like to hunt in the area. Hopefully Dimitri is one of those Strigoi, but... what if he's not? What if he's nowhere near here? What will Rose do then? They end up buying a car, a Citron, which Sydney is obsessed with. Her father is an Alchemist and now she is, too, because it's a family thing, but her mother is a mechanic, so naturally she loves cars. On their long drive, Rose thinks about loving Dimitri and then she drifts back into Lissa's mind.

Lissa's worried about Rose and talking to Adrian about how she wishes she could dream walk, and he assures her she'll get it eventually. She's great at seeing auras now, which she wasn't able to do before. He's learning to heal better, too, which is something Lissa excels at. Adrian says that Rose is doing something she has to do and hopefully, if she makes it back to them, she'll be herself when she does. Wow. He truly understands that she *has* to kill Dimitri. As difficult as it must be for him since he really legitimately likes Rose, it makes her happy that he gets it. Rose is jarred out of Lissa's head when Sydney says they have to stop for the night. They get settled into a room offered to them by a couple of humans and Rose expects to be greeted by Adrian as soon as she falls asleep, but instead, she's greeted with the nauseating feeling in her stomach that tells her a Strigoi is nearby. Rose tracks the Strigoi. There are two outside the house. She tries to kill them but struggles. Then, when it seems like she's going to lose this fight, ghosts and spirits appear and attack, or at least distract, the Strigoi enough for Rose to stake them both. Sydney comes out, asking if Rose is okay. No. She's not. And then she passes out.

While she's passed out, Rose sees Dimitri and thinks about times that she's taken care of him or he's taken care of her, then his face shifts to a man she doesn't recognize wearing gold jewelry, then it shifts again to a woman. This woman is helping Rose. Rose wakes and asks where she is and the woman tells her Baia. That's the name of Dimitri's village. And this woman? Her name is Olena Belikova, Dimitri's mother. Not knowing what to do after Rose passed out, Sydney called an important Moroi she knows who is always nearby Baia and that Moroi brought them here. His name is Abe Mazur and he wants to talk to Rose eventually, but first, Viktoria, one of Dimitri's sisters, shows her around the small town. They talk about school and about how Rose is unpromised, meaning she's killed Strigoi but doesn't have her promise mark, which is weird. Talk then shifts to Dimitri, and Rose decides she needs to tell his family what happened to him. They go back home and the family gathers around. Rose struggles to tell them what happened, but when Dimitri's grandmother looks at her, she knows she has to tell them that he fought bravely, but that he is now a Strigoi.

They plan a memorial for Dimitri even though he's not dead because, Sydney explains, to them, he is. She also talks about Abe and how everyone calls him Zmey which means Snake. He's a powerful non-royal Moroi who has his hands in a lot of things, legal and not, including the Alchemists' tattoos. Word is, he was sent to look for Rose from someone back in the United States. Uh oh. That can't be good. Rose then, to checks out what Lissa is up to. She's at lunch with Avery, Christian and Adrian. When the bell rings and the boys depart, Avery asks if Lissa is really dating Christian or if she's involved with Adrian. The Queen says so. No. She's not involved with Adrian, except for their Spirit studies, and it's the Written trying to force them together that she's probably referring to. She gets aggravated then, angry even, about the Queen, but tries to let her anger go so Avery doesn't think she's crazy. Lissa assures Avery that Adrian is completely unattached, which makes her happy. The memorial service is in Russian, but is emotional and Rose can't handle it very well, so she goes for a stroll and ends up meeting Abe.

She doesn't get much out of meeting Abe, other than the fact that someone sent him to find her and that he's like the Moroi Godfather. He seems to like Rose and her bristly attitude though, but he won't tell her who sent him, because she won't tell him the real reason why she came to Russia. Viktoria calls for her then, bringing her back to the memorial. Everyone at the memorial has been telling stories about Dimitri and they now want to hear her stories from his last days. She talks of the Strigoi attack at St. Vladimir's and how when it started, he made her run for help while fighting alone. Then she tells about the cave and how Dimitri probably would have stayed there by himself killing all the Strigoi, but that he was bitten and taken instead. Everyone then asks about their relationship because they figured out that they must have loved each other, so she tells them, now fueled by Funeral Vodka. When she's done, she sees Abe giving her a knowing look and then Sydney helps her to bed. Before falling asleep though... she checks in on Lissa.

Lissa is in class, but a fire alarm goes off, sending everyone out onto the quad. Lissa and Christian are soon met by Avery, who is responsible for the alarms. She was bored and wanted to drink. That seems to be all she ever does. They go to Adrian's room and she pulls out a bottle of brandy to drink with her coffee. everyone else seems put off by this, not no one stops her. Rose drifts off to sleep, but wakes up when her bed starts rattling. Yeva, Dimitri's grandmother is shaking her bed to wake her up. She takes Rose on a trip across town, making her carry a bunch of pots and pans and food and bricks to a couple that lives on the edge of town. A Moroi and a dhampir who are a married couple. As strange as that is, the woman, Oksana, is a spirit user who can read minds, and her husband Mark is shadow kissed. She feels a weird tingle in her head, but it goes away quickly. It was Oksana, seeing if she could read Rose’s mind, but leaving quickly because that’s rude. Mark takes Rose into the garden and they talk about being shadow kissed and about spirit users and the darkness that creeps in around Rose making her status as an unpromised dangerous. She's reckless because of it. She says there's nothing she can do about that, but then he asks... Why doesn't your bondmate just heal you?

Mark explains that once Rose takes Lissa's darkness into herself, Lissa can heal it just like any other sickness, but it can be taxing and it took him and Oksana a long time to master it without her getting too overwhelmed or weak. Oksana also started charming silver rings for him to wear that act as a temporary healing element to ease the strain on her. He gives Rose one of these rings and instructs her to wear it only when she's feeling really down because the charm won't last long. She and Yeva leave then and, back in her room at Dimitri's house, she finds a note from Sydney who has left, back to her Alchemist duties. She tells Rose that Abe seems to be genuinely interested in her and not because she's unpromised, but she doesn't know why. Rose then puts her silver ring on and slips into Lissa's head.

Lissa and Adrian are training. Lissa wants to learn how to dream walk, so Adrian tries to reach Rose which definitely won't work because she's awake. Then Christian arrives with Jill, the ninth grade Rose and Christian superfan. She's been training with Christian to learn how to use her water magic for good instead of evil, aka, she's learning how to fight with it. Then Avery shows up and asks Lissa to go to court with her for the Easter holiday. She doesn't really want to go and neither does Christian, but Avery insists. Christian suggests that Lissa ask Jill (who Adrian and Avery have started lovingly calling Jailbait) to go with her instead, one, so he doesn't have to go and two, so she can meet Mia Rinalde, who is also a fighting water user.

Back in Russia, Rose is fitting in nicely with the Belikovs but doesn't know what she should do with herself. Viktoria invites her to stay with them since she feels so much like a part of their family. She could attend school with Viktoria and finish out her last year of training, but she just doesn't know. She runs into Mark again who also suggests she stay with the Belikovs, and they end up talking about the night of the Strigoi attack and how the ghosts helped her. Mark says she should never ask them to help again, even though she didn't ask that time, but still, they are walking so close to the live between the living and the dead that it's dangerous. She also runs into Abe, who, unlike Rose's other encounters that day, tells her to leave Baia and Russia. He knows she is lying about why she's there and she needs to leave. She goes back to her room at the Belikov's and falls into an Adrian dream. He asks about her silver spirit ring and she mentions that she's net another shadow kissed pair, but instead of telling him anything about what she's learned which is really important to both Adrian and Lissa, she ends up being a total brat with him about how much they all love Avery and he tells her he'll never visit her dreams again.

The next day is Easter and Rose goes to church with the Belikovs. She notices that Abe is not in church, but several other Moroi are, but then Viktoria explains that Abe is Muslim, so he wouldn't attend a Catholic Easter service. Viktoria tells Rose she doesn't think Abe would hurt her, but asks if there some reason why he would be so interested in her and she vaguely explains that perks in the US might be looking for her, which makes sense. The sermon begins and since it's all in Russian and Rose doesn't understand, she daydreams about a time when she and Dimitri made snow angels on a trip shortly after the Strigoi kidnapping and Mason's death. It's a cute story, but then church is over. Rose and Viktoria are met by a group of dhampirs who are rogue and who are planning to go to a big city the next day to hunt Strigoi and they want Rose to go with them. She says she won't. She thinks they're reckless, but... wait... hasn't she been feeling the same way since Dimitri was turned?

Rose goes out with Viktoria on her last night before returning to school and doesn't like what she sees. Viktoria dresses provocatively and takes Rose to meet this guy that she likes... at a blood whore den. While Viktoria chats with another friend, the guy Viktoria is head over heels for hits on Rose. No no no. Rose can't convince Viktoria to leave, so she heads back toward the Belikov house, only to bump into Abe. Again. Clearly he's following her. This time, he makes her a deal. If she will leave Russia, he'll get that guy to leave Viktoria alone. The guy who is obviously terrible, who also got one of the other Belikov girls pregnant and sees Viktoria as some kind of twisted conquest. Rose agrees. In almost no time at all, Viktoria comes out, angry at Rose, sure the guy abandoning her is all Rose's fault. She tells Rose that she's not a part of their family, that she doesn't understand love and that she needs to leave, so she goes back to the house and packs her things.

She checks in on Lissa and finds her at court, talking to Mia about teaching Jill and about where Rose is. Mia is shocked that Lissa didn't leave with Rose. They're best friends, why wouldn't Lissa go with Rose and help her with this task that she has to do? Lissa gets upset. Rose left her, she's selfish! Sure Lissa. It occurs to her then that when Rose told her she needed to leave, she didn't even halfway think about going with her. It didn't even occur to her at all. She visits with the Queen then who tells her that she's got new guardians lined up for her since Dimitri died. Lissa says that Janine Hathaway offered after Rose left, but the Queen isn't interested in anyone she doesn't personally appoint. Ugh. Back in her own head, Rose is met by Yeva who tells her she's got to leave. Great, clearly no one wants her there anymore. Yeva days she came to do a job, she came to kill Strigoi Dimitri, she saw it in a vision, but all she's doing is moping, so she needs to leave. This finally spurs her on. She's finally ready to get back on track. No one wants her here, no one wants her at home, so she's going to meet up with those Strigoi hunters and go to the city of Novosibirsk, to continue tracking Dimitri.

Rose and the unpromised Strigoi Hunters drive to the city. They dress as humans and go out clubbing. The first club they visit has no Strigoi lurking around, but at the second, Rose gets her queasy feeling and spots a Strigoi dragging a girl out a back exit and into the alley. The Hunters split up and surround the Strigoi, eventually subduing it enough so Rose can interrogate him about Dimitri. He doesn't know Dimitri, so they kill him. The Hunters struggle at first with not just killing immediately, but they go along with it. Several kills later, they find another Strigoi who does know Dimitri. Rose tells him to tell Dimitri that she's coming for him and then they let him go. The group definitely struggle with this, but they all look up to Rose and trust her. Several days and kills later, they get into a rhythm. Rose always calls Sydney to send clean up crews and everything is going well. Rose checks in on Lissa. She's still at Court, but she's getting really drunk at a party with Avery and Adrian. Jill, or Jailbait if you prefer, is also there and Avery’s brother Reed. Jill's just been dropped off by Mia and is definitely not drinking. Lissa starts dancing on a table but falls, only to be caught by ex boyfriend Aaron who asks for a kiss in return for him being so valiant. Lissa kisses him for longer than anyone would consider to be a friendly kiss and, while Avery and Adrian kind of brush it off, Jill gets pissed. She cheated on Christian!! Then Reed kind of attacks her and it’s weird. Rose doesn't feel good about any of this. It seems that Lissa is really struggling with her depression again, and also guilt about not leaving with Rose and, you know, everything else that's going on in her life. This probably is not going to be good.

More time passes with Rose and the unpromised killing Strigoi and then, one day when she's outside by herself helping a homeless woman on the street, Rose gets her queasy feeling. She turns and sees a tall, pale, handsome, red-eyed Strigoi with long brown hair wearing a cowboy duster. It's Strigoi Dimitri. Rose is shocked. She tries to attack, but he calls her Roza and she holds back just looking enough for him to tell her she forgot his first lesson, don't hesitate, and he knocks her out. She comes to in a really nice studio apartment full of books and an expensive TV and a luxurious bathroom, but it's clearly been reinforced for a Strigoi. The windows are practically black and nothing can be turned into a weapon. Rose tries to escape by bashing a chair against the window to no avail, but then Strigoi Dimitri arrives. She charges him with the chair, but he easily tosses it aside. She's no match for him, especially when he seems allllllmmmmoooooossssst normal, and when he tells her he's not going to hurt her.

Strigoi Dimitri stays true to his word. They stop fighting, or Rose gives up because really... she's got zero chance of killing him. She asks why he hasn't killed her yet and it's because he wants to awaken her. He tells her that yes, before he said he didn't want to live like this, but now, he really is a god. So strong, so powerful, immortal. He tells her that she's beautiful and they can be together forever, but she says no. She refuses to eat and asks him to just kill her and get it over with. Then another Strigoi and a human servant come in. The Strigoi is the one that ran off after Lissa during the St. Vladimir attack. His name is Nathan and he's disgusted that Dimitri has a plaything that he won't share, especially this one who could lead them to Lissa. He says he's going to talk to Galina about it. Galina was Dimitri's teacher who turned and became a leader among the local Strigoi. She's the reason why Dimitri came back home. Well, her and so he could get away from Rose. He's keeping Rose now, though, and protecting her from the others. This doesn't seem very Strigoi like at all.

Some time passes and Dimitri visits off and on, and things get hot and heavy… and bloody... between them. Rose desperately wants Dimitri and desperately doesn’t want to become Strigoi. He’s really practically the same, minus the pale skin, fangs and bloodlust. He even still reads his cowboy novels. Why won’t she just give in? She really likes those bites… He showers her with gifts and kisses and dresses, but still doesn’t turn her. He really wants it to be her decision. He takes her outside one night, which is frowned upon by all the other Strigoi in the house, but seriously, even though they’re older, they’re no match for Dimitri. As they lay looking at the stars, Rose’s queasiness comes in in full force. Galina has joined them. She doesn’t look very pleased with the fact that Dimitri has taken Rose outside and that he hasn’t killed or turned her yet. They chat and she leaves, then Dimitri starts to take Rose back inside. She asks why he hasn’t killed her. It’s because he wants to turn her so together, they can kill Galina.

More time passes and finally, even though he said he wouldn’t, Adrian visits Rose in her dreams. He wants her to come home to take care of Lissa, who seems to be annoying him with her recklessness, but Rose doesn’t want to, of course, because she’s bloodwhored out of her mind. At first, Adrian doesn’t realize what’s going on but before he can get into what’s going on with Lissa, he notices Rose’s aura… and her neck. She forces him out of her mind. She’s angry, but then goes into the bathroom to see what Adrian saw and, yikes. Her neck is bruised and disgusting. Just then, Nathan and the human servant come in. Nathan has come to kill her. Rose grabs for the servant, threatening to kill her, but Nathan doesn’t care about her and tells Rose to go ahead and kill her if she wants. Then Dimitri comes in. Nathan says that he’s going to tattle to Galina. He’s really pathetic. He and the servant leave and Rose starts crying. She is also pathetic. Dimitri is angry and tells Rose she has two days left to decide her fate. Galina is getting impatient. He’s going to turn her, not kill her, but it would be better if she chose the change. He kisses her, gives her more jewelry, and leaves her alone.

After seeing her neck, Rose started coming back to herself but she had to pretend to still be weak. She decides that she needs to get rid of the endorphins and break her addiction to Dimitri’s bites. To distract herself, she checks on Lissa. Lissa is still feeling extremely guilty over everything and also still drinking quite a bit. On the plane back to St. Vladimir’s, Lissa talks to Jill and apologizes for the other night when she kissed Aaron. Jill is kind about it, but says that Christian is probably going to be upset. Lissa says she’s not even going to tell him because it was a stupid mistake and that Jill doesn’t understand because she’s so young and hasn’t been in a relationship before. Back at the academy, Christian greets Lissa with kisses, making her feel even worse on the inside. Later, after a training session with Jill, Christian storms up to Lissa. Jill told him what happened. Lissa tries to play it off like no big deal, and he says it wouldn’t have been if she had been the one to tell him. Uh oh… Lissa goes to Avery, upset, and Avery gives her more alcohol. This is not good. Then, all of a sudden, Rose gets pushed out of Lissa’s mind. That’s never happened before… but it felt familiar.

Dimitri comes back again, toying with Rose’s pile of jewelry that he’s given her, and her nazar from her mother and the silver ring Mark gave her. Rose bombards him with questions about becoming Strigoi and talk of his sisters, his mother and his grandmother to distract him from drinking from her. It’s a good plan, and it works really well. She feigns sleepiness and he leaves her alone. When he leaves, Rose thinks about the ring Mark gave her. The spirit ring! Maybe it will help heal her of her addiction! She visits Lissa again, who’s pretty devastated because Christian just broke up with her. She talks to Avery and Adrian and then Avery looks right into her eyes. Rose’s eyes, not Lissa’s, says, “Oh jeez! Not you again,” and boosts her from Lissa’s mind. WHAT? AVERY IS A SPIRIT USER? SHIT. Rose is determined to get out of this Strigoi stronghold as herself, so she gets back to her escape plan. She notices that chair she tried breaking out with earlier, the same one she attacked Dimitri with and the same one he threw across the room. It’s legs aren’t as strong as they were when she was bashing it against the window, so she bashes it some more and a leg breaks off. Perfect for a stake. It won’t kill anyone, but it will hurt.

The human servant comes in and Rose attacks her and demands she tell her the numerical codes that keep the doors locked and, after some threatening, she does. Rose knocks her out and hides her in the bathroom. Good thing. Dimitri comes in then. She runs up to kiss him, pretending she’s happy to see him and asks more about becoming Strigoi. He’s catching on though. She’s stalling. Of course she is! She doesn’t want to die, jeez! It’s a tough decision for a girl to make! Same old stubborn Rose… He humors her, but then, bam! Stake to the heart! She steals his keys and rushes from the room using the code that the servant girl gave her. At the next door, she stalls for a bit. She can’t quite remember the code, but finally, she’s through. She incapacitates several Strigoi along the way and is about to attack another, but he’s just a human. She remembers something about Dimitri saying her stake was put in a vault when he first brought her here, so she demands this guy take her there. He does and she uses Dimitri’s keys to open it and retrieve a stake. There are some other things in there, too, other things charmed to hurt Strigoi, but she can’t worry about those things now. Off she goes, trying to find a way out, but then, she runs into Galina. Then, uh oh, Dimitri is also there. But… Dimitri grabs Galina and tells Rose to stake her. She does. Then the others she incapacitated show up and begin fighting with Dimitri. Rose remembers the very first thing Dimitri ever taught her. RUN!

She jumps from a second story window and takes off, into a hedge maze. Unfortunately, Dimitri is not far behind. Godlike as always, he took down all the Strigoi that were attacking him inside the house. He chases after Rose and he knows the way through the labyrinth, so he’ll catch up to her soon. She manages to find a way out and runs toward distant city lights. He’s still back there, though, but farther now. Rose climbs a tree and hopes to hide well enough for a surprise attack. Nope, doesn’t work. They grapple and he tells her he’s going to turn her, but she gets away and runs toward a bridge over a river. She threatens to jump and Dimitri sounds heart wrenchingly like his old self when he tells her not to jump. She asks why she shouldn’t. She’s not going to let him turn her and he refuses to kill her. She’s going to do it herself. His response is that he wants her. Not he wants to be with her. Not he loves her. He wants her. That’s not the right answer. He struggles to pull her back up on the bridge, but… she’s just tricking him. She tells him she’ll always love him and plunges her stake into his heart. He says, “That’s what I was supposed to say…” and he topples off the bridge and into the river below.

Rose shambles off down the road, not knowing how long it will take her to make it to any sort of civilization, but then, she’s picked up by a kind old couple. She struggles with Russian and asks if the city they are nearby is Novosibirsk and if they have a phone she can use. Yes and yes. She calls Sydney for help. Rose wakes up later in a room and it feels like all those times she used to wake up in the infirmary at St. Vladimir’s, but instead of Dimitri and Alberta, Oksana, Mark and Abe are there. Rose immediately checks in on Lissa. She’s standing on a ledge, drunk, Avery egging her on. Rose snaps back to herself and asks Oksana for help. If Oksana can get into her mind, maybe she can go with Rose into Lissa’s and convince her to get off the roof. They try, and it works, sort of. Lissa is able to hear and feel Rose inside her head. Rose tells her to get off the roof, that Avery is trying to kill her, but then Avery notices Rose is there again and pushes a weird future into Rose’s head. She’s living happily ever after in a little house with Dimitri, who is not a Strigoi. No! No! That’s not real! Through excruciating effort, she forces herself out of this future, the best future she could imagine and back to Lissa. Realizing she can’t compete with whatever Rose is doing, Avery calls Reed who comes up to push Lissa off the edge. No way Rose is going to let that happen. Lissa doesn't know how to fight, but Rose is going to teach her. Right now.

LissaRose fights Reed and then Avery’s guardian who also comes to join the fray. Avery is glazed over in the corner, clearly focusing hard on compelling both fighters. Then Adrian shows up and compels the guardian away from the fight. LissaRose knocks Reed out and the guardian comes again. Adrian tries to compel him to sleep at the same time Lissa compels him to stay still AND Oksana through Rose compels him to run. The tidal wave of spirit knocked him unconscious, but when it rebounded back from him and into Avery, she started screaming and screaming, then she just went blank. Completely spirit fried. How could the magic rebound into her? She and her guardian are bonded. And she is also bonded to her brother. Rose could see it in their auras. Rose leaves Lissa’s mind then, telling her to tell Adrian she’s proud of him.

When she’s back in her own head, she thanks Oksana and gives her her spirit ring back in the hopes of it healing her. Whatever just happened in Rose’s head really took a lot out of her, but she declines and says she’ll be fine soon enough. Rose then asks Oksana about the ring. She realized that earlier, when Dimitri was holding it, he really seemed more himself, and now she realizes it’s like the spirit magic was healing the Strigoi away. Do they know anything about that? Well, what they know is just a fairy tale. Turns out, they know another spirit user Robert Doru, who, long ago, claimed to restore a Strigoi, but now his mind is broken and he’s disappeared. Only one person would probably know where he is if he’s still alive, his half-brother. Abe seems very interested in all this, almost like he knows who these men are. Oh he does, at least the half-brother… Victor Dashkov.

Abe sends Rose back to the United States, back to St. Vladimir’s, wrapped up in one of his guardian’s coats and his very own gaudy scarf. When she finally arrives 30 hours later, Adrian is waiting for her at the airport. The school isn’t responsible for her anymore and he’s the only one that could leave campus to pick her up, so he did. And she’s so happy to see him. He was very impressive in the spirit battle. Adrian tells her that Avery, her brother and her guardian’s minds are all broken, they’re insane now, which is terrifying. Back at the academy, Rose runs to find Lissa. They talk for hours, Rose telling Lissa everything that happened in Russia, meeting Oksana and Mark and Abe and Sydney and all of Dimitri’s family, fighting and interrogating Strigoi with the unpromised, being captured by Dimitri and prepped for the change, and finally, killing him. When her story is over, there’s a knock at Lissa’s door. It’s almost curfew, so it’s probably someone coming to take her back to guest housing, but no, it’s a guardian with a message from Alberta, the head guardian, requesting a meeting with her immediately if not sooner. Before she leaves, Lissa makes Rose promise that the next time she has to go off somewhere, they have to go together. She never wants to be apart from her again, but you know, in a less creepy way.

Alberta’s meeting was an invitation for Rose to come back to school. Since the new headmaster’s daughter, you know, was one of the villains of this story, he’s not headmaster anymore. She says it’ll just be a bit of paperwork, especially since she got a message from Rose’s benefactor who would withhold money from the school if Rose wasn’t allowed back. Rose bet that that benefactor was wearing lots of gold jewelry and a colorful scarf. Later, Rose runs into Christian, who is pleased that she’s back and well, but doesn’t want to talk about Lissa right now. He knows she was being compelled to do everything she did, but he’s still hurt, which is understandable. Later though. She’d fix that later. Finally, she heads to dinner with Lissa and Adrian, but runs into her mom on the way and is so happy to see her. They talk about how much they missed each other and then Janine realizes something. That beautifully colorful cashmere scarf Rose is wearing belonged to Ibrahim, her father. Ibrahim? Abe? Oh no, Rose is a baby Zmey! No wonder he wrapped her up in a coat and a scarf and came to her rescue so many times in Russia. Lissa comes to find them and they all go up to dinner together.

Over Chinese food bought by Adrian, Rose tells them all that Alberta offered to let her come back to school and she’s going to do it. She’s going to graduate and be the best that she can be. Lissa and Janine talk after dinner and Adrian approaches Rose. They talk about what she said when she left after taking all his money at the end of Shadow Kiss, that she’d give him a chance if she made it back from Russia. Well, she did. She tells him to write up a proposal and she’ll consider it. He actually takes this seriously it seems. He has something for her though, a note from some foreign guy who called him and asked him to deliver a message. It’s from Abe of course, who tells Rose that he contacted Robert’s brother who refused to tell him anything about what he might know. So Victor is being a dick again. No one is surprised. As everything is wrapping up, Rose gets a package sent overnight express from Russia. Who could this be from? She and Lissa look at the package. Could it be from Abe? Mark? Sydney? The Belikovs? Well… one Belikov… Rose opens the package to find the stake she killed Dimitri with, or thought she killed him with. There’s a note, too, that says she failed another of his lessons, to make sure the Strigoi you stake is actually dead, and now, he’s coming for her. Soon. So she didn’t kill the man she loves after all. But wait. She thinks about everything she’s learned… about the fairy tale of bringing a Strigoi back to life... and the one person who might know anything about it. Victor Dashkov. She’s going to break him out of prison.

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