Neverseen (Keeper of the Lost Cities, #4)

Written By: Shannon Messenger

Neverseen (Keeper of the Lost Cities, #4) by Shannon Messenger





For my readers.

I love you more than Silveny loves Keefe.

*mallowmelt and custard bursts for everyone!*





PREFACE


SOPHIE STUMBLED BACKWARD, scrambling closer to her friends as a cage of neon yellow flames erupted all around them.

Heat licked across her skin and smoke choked her lungs while the Neverseen moved forward, their black cloaks gone, disguises abandoned.

There would be no more hiding.

The Neverseen shouted insults and warnings that Sophie tried to focus on, but her mind was too fixated on other words.

Trick.

Trap.

Traitor.

The last word made it impossible to look one of the figures in the eye.

Another betrayal.

Another lie.

Sophie was done with all of it.

She reached for her pendant—the sign of the swan carved into cold black metal curled around a piece of smooth glass. She still didn’t fully understand the reason the Black Swan had given it to her. But she knew enough of its power to realize it was their best chance.

She held the glass into the fading rays of sunset, letting the searing beam of white light refract toward the flames of Everblaze.

It was time to fight fire with fire.





ONE


WE HAVE TO go,” Fitz said, bursting through the doors of Everglen’s upstairs guest room.

He found Sophie sitting alone on the edge of the giant canopy bed, already dressed in some of her old human clothes.

“I thought we were waiting another hour?” she asked, glancing out the window at the endless black sky.

“We can’t. The Council is already convening to vote on our punishments.”

Sophie took a slow breath, letting the words pulse through her veins, steeling her nerves as she reached for her purple backpack. It was the same bag she’d used when she’d left her human life nearly a year earlier. And now she would use it again to leave the Lost Cities.

“Is everyone ready?” she asked, proud of her voice for not shaking. She also resisted the urge to tug out an itchy eyelash.

This was not a time for nervous habits.

It was time to be brave.

The Council had vowed to punish anyone associated with the Black Swan—the mysterious organization responsible for Sophie’s existence. But Sophie and her friends knew the real villains were a group called the Neverseen. Fitz, Keefe, and Biana had even tried to help the Black Swan catch the rebels on Mount Everest. But the Neverseen guessed their plan and turned the mission into an ambush. Sophie had discovered the trap in time to warn her friends, and they’d escaped with their lives—and managed to capture one prisoner. But they’d each broken numerous laws in the process.

Their safest option now was to flee to the Black Swan and go into hiding. But Sophie had mixed feelings about getting up close and personal with her creators. The Black Swan had tweaked her genes to enhance her abilities as part of their Project Moonlark—but they’d never given her any clue as to why. They’d also never told her who her genetic parents were, and Sophie had no idea if she’d finally have to meet them.

“?’Bout time you got here,” Keefe said as Sophie followed Fitz down the twisting silver staircase. He stood next to Dex in Everglen’s glittering round foyer, both of them looking very human in hoodies and dark jeans.

Keefe flashed his famous smirk and patted his carefully mussed blond hair, but Sophie could see the sadness clouding his sky blue eyes. During their confrontation with the Neverseen, Keefe had discovered that his mother was one of their leaders. She’d even attacked her own son, before fleeing to the ogre capital and abandoning her family.

“Hey, no worrying about me, Foster,” Keefe said, fanning the space between them. He was one of the few Empaths who could feel Sophie’s emotions rippling through the air.

“I’m worried about all of you,” she told him. “You’re all risking your lives because of me.”

“Eh, what else is new?” Dex asked, flashing his dimpled grin. “And will you relax? We’ve got this! Though I’m not sure about my shoes.” He pointed to his soft brown boots, which were a typical elvin style. “All the human ones Fitz had were too big for my feet.”

“I doubt anyone will notice,” Sophie told him. “But I guess it depends on how long we’ll be around humans. How far away is the hideout after we get to Florence?”

Fitz smiled his movie-ready smile. “You’ll see.”

The Black Swan had taught Fitz how to sneak past Sophie’s mental blocking and view the secret information hidden in her brain. But for some reason he wouldn’t share what he’d learned. All Sophie knew was that they were headed to a round window somewhere in the famous Italian city.

“Hey,” Fitz said, leaning closer. “You trust me, don’t you?”

Sophie’s traitorous heart still fluttered, despite her current annoyance. She did trust Fitz. Probably more than anyone. But having him keep secrets from her was seriously annoying. She was tempted to use her telepathy to steal the information straight from his head. But she’d broken that rule enough times to know the consequences definitely weren’t worth it.

“What is with these clothes?” Biana interrupted, appearing out of thin air next to Keefe.