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  • Home > Christine Feehan > Dark Series > Dark Blood (Chapter 31)     
    Dark Blood(Dark #26) by Christine Feehan
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    Someone needs to get to them. I am fighting the Sange rau. He didn’t trust that Lyall wasn’t murdering the entire council right at that moment.

    Fredec feinted an attack, going for Zev’s left side, his wounded side, but at the last second whirling around, slashing with the blade of his knife toward Zev’s belly. Zev leapt back just barely out of reach, slamming his fist down on the wrist coming at him and then turning his fist so that his own blade made a clean, deep slice down Fredec’s arm. It was an old trick learned many years earlier and Zev was grateful he had it in his arsenal.

    Somehow he had to find a way to kill Fredec and help the council members. It was ingrained in him to protect them. Fen and Dimitri were occupied with the other Sange rau. Those fighting the rogues had run into the same thing he had, a thin plate of armor that seemed to be under the skin.

    I’m making my way through the cave.

    His heart nearly stopped. Of course Branislava would sense his anxiety. She would come. She was his lifemate, a true warrior who believed her place was fighting beside him.

    He couldn’t detect her presence. He was very sensitive to energy and if he couldn’t feel her close to them, perhaps Fredec couldn’t as well.

    He’s dangerous, he warned, suddenly shifting onto the balls of his feet and moving toward Fredec in a kind of dance, one moment here, the next over there, making it impossible for Fredec to touch him, yet constantly keeping the Sange rau on the defensive.

    So am I, Branislava answered. Keep him moving toward the entrance.

    She was made of fire. Flames burned through her veins and he heard her quiet determination. He didn’t know what she planned, but he believed in her. He ducked Fredec’s knife and avoided the raking claw hissing across his belly while he continued the offensive, pushing the Sange rau back toward the entrance.

    Keep your grip on your knife high and be ready to plunge it into his heart. I’ll do the same from the back.

    Again he didn’t question her, but kept up his flowing dance, flicking the knife at the Sange rau, small little hits, and then once more dancing out of reach. Fredec was a strong brute and was used to using his size and strength to his advantage. Fighting someone like Zev who had been in hundreds of battles and was very experienced with a knife, smooth, fast and deadly, had thrown Fredec off his game.

    Each time Zev danced closer and flicked his knife at Fredec, he left behind evidence of his superior ability. There were dozens of small cuts all over Fredec’s arms. Zev hadn’t gone for the kill, but rather was wearing his opponent down with smaller slices that kept the Sange rau continually bleeding.

    The blade of his knife began to glow, first a soft yellow orange and then a darker red. Heat traveled up the grip. He didn’t let the change distract him, but kept moving, his feet following that pattern so familiar to him. He flicked Fredec’s rib cage and heard his opponent gasp with shock. It was a shallow cut, but the blade of his knife was now glowing bright red, and from the amount of heat pouring into the grip, he knew that burn had gone far deeper than the actual cut.

    Now, Branislava ordered.

    Without hesitation, Zev moved inside those hamlike fists, and sank his knife deep into Fredec’s chest. The hot blade seemed to stop for one moment, but then it drove through the thin plate of armor, melting it like butter. Behind Fredec, Branislava had done the same, plunging her knife deep into Fredec’s back, her blade just as hot, melting everything in its way to the heart.

    Fredec went down hard, his eyes wide with shock. Branislava stepped back. There wasn’t much room in the narrow hallway leading to the chamber much deeper in the cavern for Zev to wield his sword, separating the head from the body, but he managed. She stepped over the downed Sange rau and they both ran for the chamber holding the council members.

    Use extreme heat to get through the armor, Zev advised as he ran, sending out the advice on the common Carpathian path.

    That red-headed woman of yours comes up with some good ideas, Fen stated, laughter in his voice. That wasn’t your idea.

    Fen signaled to Dimitri and his younger brother crept closer to the Sange rau hiding in the rocks. The “bait” hadn’t moved an inch, remaining absolutely still. Too still. The wolves on Dimitri’s body shifted, lifted their heads sensing an enemy, and were ready to leap off to defend him.

    No, stay, Dimitri commanded and swung around, just barely avoiding a stake through his heart. The dagger went deep through the right side of his chest, the terrible burn of silver more of a shock than the actual hole in his chest. He went down hard, his legs going out from under him, blood pouring down his chest.

    The Sange rau stepped close, maneuvering his footwork on the uneven rocks. Dimitri didn’t try to move out of his way, but he used his knife, slashing open both of his opponent’s thighs, going for arteries to slow him down. The man roared with anger and pain. The silver had burned him just as badly as it had Dimitri and blood spewed from both legs.

    Fen leapt from a rock above them, landing on the Sange rau’s back, driving him to the ground and away from Dimitri. They rolled in a tangle of arms and legs, grunting as their backs hit the hard and sometimes jagged rocks.

    Dimitri remembered the patch included in their arsenal of weapons—the one Gary had insisted each of them take with them into battle. He pulled it out of the leather bag hanging at his belt and slapped it over the wound in his chest. Instantly he felt the heat, a burn that seemed to cauterize and then begin the healing process. He sent up a silent prayer to remember to thank the man for his continual efforts to provide the Carpathian species with aid. The patch amazed him, giving him a boost of energy he needed after such a blood loss.

    Pushing himself to his feet, he staggered after the two combatants rolling around in a tangle of arms and legs, the occasional knife flashing for a moment. Grunts, snarls and curses added to the chaos of dust rising. The Sange rau left a trail of blood behind him, testifying to the knife wounds Dimitri had managed to inflict as he went down.

    His wolves again tried to defend him, squirming in eagerness to be released. Dimitri had to warn them again to stay put. He didn’t want the animals anywhere near the mixed blood with his incredible speed.

    Fen grappled with the assassin, holding firmly to his wrists to prevent those talons from ripping open his belly or slashing across his eyes to blind him. Dimitri called on the heat of the fiery volcano, bringing it down the blade of his knife. He thrust it into the Sange rau’s back, feeling the tip strike a barrier and then begin to slide through muscle.

    The Sange rau roared with rage, whipping around, claws extended, seeking Dimitri’s belly. Dimitri used his mixed blood speed to leap backward as the wolf/vampire leapt forward, the maneuver astonishing. He went from a prone position to midair in one move, rushing toward Dimitri so fast he appeared blurred.

    Fen mirrored his opponent’s action, coming up behind him, using his legs as a springboard to leap after the Sange rau. Before those claws could reach Dimitri, Fen slammed his fist hard into the hilt of Dimitri’s knife with his enormous strength, driving it deep through the assassin’s back to pierce the heart.

    The Sange rau shrieked and thrashed, lunging forward toward Dimitri, slamming both claws into his chest, digging through flesh to try to get at the heart. The long muzzle gaped open and clamped teeth around Dimitri’s shoulder and arm.

    Dimitri, as he had when he made the first leap away from the Sange rau, had drawn his sword. He swung low, cutting through both legs even as he threw himself back and away from the pain-maddened creature. As he did so, he tossed the sword to his brother. Fen swung the silver sword in a glittering arc, severing the head of the Sange rau from the neck.

    “How bad are you hurt?” Fen asked grimly as he threw his brother the patch he carried and then sank a silver stake through the assassin’s heart.

    “What does it look like?” Dimitri demanded a little sarcastically.

    Fen glanced over his shoulder at the woman striding toward them. Wolves surrounded her. “She looks royally pissed, Dimitri, and I can’t say that I blame her. You set yourself up for this piece of garbage to use as a pincushion to give me a shot at killing him.”

    “We had to take him down fast and that seemed the quickest solution. You were a little slower than I’d hoped.”

    “I’m resisting the urge to kick your ass,” Fen said, “but only because your woman has a thirst for revenge.”

    “Get out of here, go help Zev,” Dimitri ordered his brother. “I’ll be fine.”

    “If you don’t bleed to death,” Fen snapped, and stepped up to Dimitri, his teeth tearing at his own wrist. “Just hurry.”

    Dimitri had no real choice but to accept what his brother offered. Not offered. More like forced. There was no way to ever stop Fen from taking the role of the eldest brother, no matter how savvy or experienced Dimitri was in battle.

    Skyler rushed up to her lifemate, her eyes dark with concern. The wolves pushed close to him as she inspected the damage. “Ivory and Razvan are working with Daciana and the others to hunt down the remaining rogues. There’re only a couple of them left alive. Once we knew how to kill them, they weren’t nearly as tough as we thought they’d be.”

    Dimitri closed the wound on his brother’s wrist. “They weren’t hunting in pack formation as they should have been,” he explained to her. “The orders must have been to rush the cave. They were pawns to be sacrificed.”

    Skyler ran her fingers through his hair, pushing the damp strands from his forehead. “Don’t sound so sad, Dimitri. These were rogues, Lycans who deliberately turned to killing for the pleasure of it.”

    She crouched down beside him, peeling back the patch Gary had given to all of them, her palms resting over the wound in his chest. He felt the heat of her touch burning through his body, but it was soothing, rather than painful. She mixed rich soil and healing saliva and pressed it into the stab wound before moving to the wound on his thigh.

    “You’re a mess, you know that?” she asked.

    “Yes. You didn’t tell me how the wolves did.” He meant how she did. Practicing combat was entirely different than actually having to kill another living creature.

    Skyler pressed her lips together and shook her head. He didn’t ask again, but ran his hand up her leg to her thigh, keeping the contact while she worked on him.

    “Is he going to live?” Fen asked.

    “Yes,” she said. “Don’t worry, I’ve got this.”

    Fen nodded and left them, moving fast, rushing for the entrance to the cave. Behind him, he could smell fire, as the bodies of the rogues were gathered and burned. Just down from the entrance lay a dead Sange rau, his head macabrely lying against the wall, eyes wide and staring. Fen ignored him, leapt over the body and rushed toward the cavern where the Lycan council members had been secreted.

    He entered quickly and ran into Zev, just stopping his forward momentum before they collided hard. As it was, he bumped him enough to drive him forward a couple of steps. Lyall sat on the floor of the cavern, his fingers locked behind the nape of his neck. He looked furious.

    Randall glared at Lyall, his eyes red, his body more wolf than man. He looked frightening, a great bear of a wolf ready to slash and kill. Rolf looked saddened, shaking his head, one hand pressed to his eyes. Arno was the only council member not seated. He paced back and forth as if all the restless energy he had would erupt any moment into violence.

    Mikhail was a good distance from any of the Lycans. Tomas, Lojos, Mataias and Andre formed a barrier between Mikhail and the others in the room. Clearly Andre had been in a skirmish. As always, his eyes were flat and cold. No one moved. No one spoke.

    Fen nudged Zev. Did I interrupt something? I came a little late to the party.

    Lyall tried to kill Mikhail and the other council members. He rigged an explosive device, but your man Andre there caught him. Then Lyall apparently tried to turn a gun on the prince.

    Shocking that he’s still alive. Gregori will have a few things to say to Andre about that, Fen said, meaning it. He believes if anyone tries to harm the prince, death is the only answer and I have to agree with him.

    Apparently Mikhail and the council members asked Andre not to kill him. He wants answers. Zev looked down at the floor. This was the part he detested the most about his job. A clean kill was one thing, extracting information was something altogether different.

    If he wasn’t Lycan, Fen said regretfully, we could just go in and get the information, but Lycans have a natural barrier against mind probes—unless you cut off their head. We could talk to Gregori and maybe he could persuade the prince.

    Zev could tell he was half serious, and he was touched that Fen would try to think of ways to keep him from having to interrogate Lyall. Thanks, but it’s my job. The council will expect me to question him and get results.

    Branislava slipped her hand in the crook of Zev’s arm. Why don’t you let me do it? I can ask him questions and I’m fairly certain he’ll answer.

    Zev frowned down at her. Her green eyes had gone multifaceted, much like a dragon’s, but then changed color. Her hair banded with a deeper, almost wine red running through the lighter red gold. Her smile took his breath away.

    My father was the High Mage and he frequently interrogated people without ever laying a finger on them. It mattered little which species, not when he used a truth spell. It isn’t that difficult and no one has to hurt anyone. Branislava leaned into him. I can really be quite useful.

    Zev found himself smiling. His eyes met Mikhail’s. “The council has asked me to interrogate Lyall to find out why he’s committed such a betrayal of not only his lifelong friends, but all Lycans as well.”

    Mikhail inclined his head slowly. “I am not a man who believes in torture.”

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