|Home > Jacquelyn Frank > Nightwalkers > Adam (Page 20)|
|Adam(Nightwalkers #6) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“Either way you will help me, darling,” she sang out as she rifled through page after ancient page. “But I much prefer you alive and at full strength. And since they think you are dead, that will give us all the advantage.”
She slowed as a seeping anger threatened to creep through her. She was really quite blinded by the rages that touched her, so she tried to fight it off. Yes, she thought, they had taken everything from her. The high-and-mighty Noah and his fretting little Demons. And all the while they had each taken on an extra burden, some creature to catch at their hearts and make them a thousand times more vulnerable. She knew that this was where she had to strike if she was going to rid herself of her enemies once and for all. She and Nico had been trying to get to Isabella and her brat this evening, knowing that to rip them away from Jacob would utterly destroy him. Well, that and the added benefit of having Nico feast on their precious precocious child of Time. True, she was far too young yet, but there was a danger in waiting. What if she developed the ability to jump into the past? Noah could pick his time to attack Ruth, a time she least expected it, and destroy her.
That simply would not do. Ruth wouldn’t allow it.
And she had come so close. Adam had spoiled her plans. Adam. A perfect example of the power Leah would wield in the future. She remembered the great disappearance of the former Enforcer, how they had turned the world upside down in search of him. Only to have him turn up here, hundreds of years in the future, and murder Ruth’s greatest power resource ... and her mate. She and Nico had completed the Exchange together, bonding to each other. He had fed on her and gained her ability to teleport. She had drunk of his blood and gained the ability to fly. It had taken her some time to realize that, then to master the ability. It was a delight to be able to travel long distances without being limited to jumps of teleportation that required great concentration and heavily drained her energy.
But power wasn’t all they had shared. True, that had been her motive in the beginning, but more than just power had come with the Exchange. It was something she’d never known before. Something quite connective. Nothing like the Imprinting, to be sure. A Vampire could never feel something as powerful as an Imprinting.
And a good thing, too. The Imprinting made a Demon weak. All of them, Noah, Elijah, and Jacob, all of them were weak. Ruth knew the best place to strike the Demons was through their weaker mates. Or even better, their would-be mates. All of those Demons who had yet to meet their simpering little Druids. All those vulnerable humans with no power yet ... until that fateful touch. One little touch and power would be born.
So many things to do, she thought with a sigh.
“And it would be better if you were here to do them, dearest,” she murmured in her dead lover’s ear. “It is already begun. Isabella lies blackly poisoned and in a coma, struggling to survive. They cannot watch over her every moment. And while I am waiting to take care of her, your little friends can begin elsewhere.”
She moved off the bed, her fingers drifting across one of her older spell compendiums.
“Let us see ... perhaps something complex for Noah’s new Queen. We will strike at the serpent’s head. If we destroy Kestra, Noah will die of a broken heart within a year. You see how Imprinting weakens them? He is the center of what holds the Demons together. I would never battle him head-on; after all, he is the most powerful Fire Demon ever to live. Or so they say. Ideally I would have liked for you to feed from him, obtaining an aspect of him. Can you imagine what you could do with the power of Fire? Or manipulating energy? Even a single aspect of a Demon like Noah could make you unbelievably powerful, dearest.”
She sighed as she thumbed slowly through her spells. She had wanted to attack the Demons through their Druid mates for some time, but Nico had forced her to focus on the children of Time and Space. They had determined it was impossible to get to the child of Space, what with the entire Lycanthrope populace, his Mind Demon mother, and the Ancient Gideon, his father, near him at all times. Besides, the brat was powerless at present, having shown no signs of ability as yet. But Leah ...
“Damn the little bitch. I must remember to destroy her as soon as possible. She has already used her power to defeat us. I will not let her reach an age where she can do it again.”
Ruth turned the page, and the colorful imagery of the spell caught her attention even before the hieroglyphs were interpreted in her mind. She was no scholar, the grasp of various languages not her best suit, but she knew enough to muddle through and had attachés who were flawless interpreters. But the beauty of hieroglyphs was that they told a vivid story that even a child could get the gist of.
“Mmm, now, is this not precious?” she whispered eagerly. “If this does what I think it does, it might be very appropriate for our needs. And this reminds me, I ought to look in the Egyptian tomes for a resurrection spell, dearest. They did so have a way with the dead.”
She smiled, unable to help herself, and hurried to her door, rushing out of her loft workroom and leaning over the rail. Below her, lazing over the furniture, was her own little nest of corrupted Vampires. There were ten of them visually present. Beneath the loft in another room would be the Demons she had lured her way, who were fast becoming the most powerful collection of necromancers she had ever gathered. She had made errors in the past, using human spell-casters and hunters, but they had proved weak and useless. It wasn’t until she had connected with Damien’s enemy, Nicodemous, that she had come to understand the most powerful necromancer would be a Nightwalker necromancer. Now she was the most powerful living Nightwalker necromancer on earth. She had had high hopes that Nicodemous would be her second, but he didn’t have a head for spellcasting as she did. He preferred to steal his power through blood and learn how to use that instead. Just the same, when they finally defeated Noah and his center circle of Demons, they would be unstoppable.
“Oh, children,” she cooed down to the Vampires below. “Mother has a game for you to play!”
Beneath her they began to stir. They were easily bored and could be contentious, but really all they required was constant entertainment and sources of continuing power. Some of them had taken to spellcasting; others, like Nico, preferred to hunt for blood and power. Nico’s endgame had always been to dethrone Damien. He really was quite obsessed. And that was fine with Ruth. He could rule the Vampires and she the Demons. Together they would be quite a force to contend with, and they could easily bring the other Nightwalkers to heel.
“What is it?” Isis asked eagerly, her fangs protruding in long, curving readiness. “I want to play!”
“Yes. What game have you for us tonight?”
“And where is Nico?” Benjamin queried. The Vampires were always best handled by Nicodemous, respecting his power more often than they would hers. But then again, they had yet to push her into proving just how deadly she could be.
“He is resting. He will be about later. But for now, there is to be a hunt.”
She turned to grab hold of a sheet of silk that had been thrown over the loft railing for color, and then she shook it out over the rail and the expanse of the room below. As it billowed and curved, an image formed in its center. The image of a woman.
“This, my darlings, is a Druid. They come in all flavors, all kinds of powers. She will make a tasty treat for you, and will give you new and delightful abilities. The only thing you need to do is get past this Demon.” The image changed to reveal the dark-haired male Demon in question.
“And what is his power?”
“Do not worry,” she assured them. “I am starting you off easy. Kane is a Mind Demon, but he is young and weak. The most he can do is teleport away from you. But keep him separated at all times from his mate and he will not be able to take her with him. At his age, he must be in physical contact to do so.”
“And what is her power that we should waste our time on her?” Darren yawned from his position on one of the couches. He was lanky and muscular, half naked as well. He was beautiful and he knew it. If he had his way, he would replace Nico in Ruth’s affections and position of power.
“She has the ability to seek out other Druids. Can you not see? We could find them all before their Demon mates do.” She laughed loudly into the room below. “I do not know why I did not think of it sooner! If we destroy her and take her ability for ourselves, well, the Demons will have to bow to our will or there will be no more Druids.”
“Clever,” Darren said.
A perfect new thread in her tapestry of vengeance and power, Ruth thought. Every Demon deserved to suffer for the things she had lost. And it would only begin with Corrine.
“I will also require some complex components for a spell I plan to work.” She shook the sheet again and the image changed to show a pretty little mourning dove changing shape to become a beautiful young woman with soft, feathery brown hair and deeply wise eyes.
“Bring me this Siren. Not any Siren will do. I must have this one. She is the eldest of her kind and considered one of the leaders of her people. She should be easy enough to trap. The Mistrals are xenophobic and live cut off from other people, even their own. Choose the strongest and eldest telepaths among you. You will be best able to overcome the enchantment of her song. Be careful and do not underestimate her.”
“We won’t,” Darren assured her. “So long as we get a taste of her when you are done.”
“Of course.” Ruth chuckled. “I would never deprive you of such a tasty and powerful tidbit.”
Adam had never felt so exhausted in his life. The toll of all that had happened that day was weighing on him hard. Yet sleep was the furthest thing from his mind. How could he possibly sleep, knowing all that he knew and facing such an uncertain future? So he was glad when Jasmine wanted to waste no time tracking Ruth down.
“But first,” she said with an amused smile twitching at her lips, “first we need to bring you into this century.” She gave him one of those thorough perusals that so unnerved him, the feel of her eyes on his body like a physical stroke he couldn’t avoid. He resisted the urge to growl at her in threat ... or for any other reason. What was it about this woman, he wondered heatedly, that threw him into a tailspin?
“What is that supposed to mean?” he demanded.
“It means we are going to find you some clothes. Unfortunately you’re bigger than everyone else around here, so we’re going to have to go shopping.”
“Shopping?” He frowned. “Have you no tailor here?”
“Not here. But at a decent men’s store there is. Follow me.”
He didn’t seem to have a choice in the matter. He followed her outside of Noah’s residence and then watched as she levitated into the air. Bursting into a superfine mist, he trailed after her. She seemed to know that his speed was limited, because she took her time. He knew she was as capable as any Vampire and that they could fly very fast when they were in open air. The only way he would be able to keep up with her at her top speed would be if he created a hurricane and rode those winds to tail her. But that, of course, would have an adverse effect on the innocent humans below them.
They reached London in a short amount of time. Adam would never have recognized it. Things had changed so much, he wondered how he was ever expected to get his bearings. He didn’t want to be in this future, this strange era when his brother was so different and his family was altogether unrecognizable. He grieved for the loss of his mother. She had always been the strong, equalizing center of their family, a touchstone he and Jacob had always come back to. Now she was gone ...
His thoughts had him feeling low and melancholy as they touched down just outside the city.
“How much farther?” he asked irritably.
“Just a cab ride away.”
She lifted a hand and pointed to the great moving metal beast pulling over to the side of the road.
“I am not getting inside that thing,” he declared when she opened the door and entered.
“Yes, you are. Think of it as a very efficient carriage. Trust me. There’s a lot to love about this century.”
Feeling like an ass standing there, he gave in and wedged his big body into the rather small vehicle. It was a poor substitute for a fine horse, in his opinion, but he had to admit these contraptions moved very swiftly and with very little jostling. Before long they had pulled up to the curb again, only now they were in the heart of the city. Buildings with great glass fronts lined the walkway, names painted on the glass declaring the place as having “fine men’s clothing.” He thought that was actually very convenient. No guesswork involved. Everything from the clothiers to the cafés was very clearly marked.
Jasmine took him by the hand and led him forward into the store. The first thing he noticed was the fake men with no heads that displayed the clothing to all who entered. The thing that truly fascinated him was the incredibly fine stitching in the clothing. The fabrics were fascinating in their variety, but it was good to see that some things had not changed. Silks were still considered the finest thing to wear, and combined with the extraordinary fit of the shirt he tried on, he rather liked the clothing of this century. The undergarments were strange but comfortable, the “boxers” also made of silk. Jasmine took obvious pleasure in dressing him, and about halfway through the process he got a sense of intimacy from the experience. She had very exacting tastes, but she kept remarking on the temperature of the clothing, and rather inaccurately at that.
“That’s hot,” she said, admiring the sophisticated combination of shirt and slacks.
“Why do you keep saying that? The clothes are cool and comfortable. Certainly not hot.”