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|Gideon(Nightwalkers #2) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“Who else would know about the emergence of Druids and their role in our future?” Jacob asked.
Gideon’s blank expression might not have aroused the suspicions of anyone at the Council table, but Legna was concentrating so completely on his thoughts that there was no way she could have missed the wash of dread that slipped through him, accompanied by the ghost of guilt that followed.
You know something, she whispered.
Not now, Legna.
Legna understood. There were powerful male Mind Demons in the room who were capable of penetrating even Gideon’s formidable defenses should their suspicions be aroused. She silenced herself immediately, filling his mind with images of comfort and cotton-candy thoughts that would cause a significant haze over any curious Demons trying to pull information from her mate.
“This connotes Nightwalker. Rumor spreads quickly in our world, and it would not surprise me if a species has heard about the Druids and felt threatened by their perpetuation among us.”
“That leads us to how to eliminate or confirm each species of Nightwalker,” Elijah remarked. Other Nightwalker races were his forte, so the Wind Demon was in his element, so to speak. As head of the warriors, Elijah had the duty to see to the resolution of altercations between Demons and other races. “Let’s start with the Shadowdwellers.”
“The attack took place at sunset,” Noah said.
“Exactly,” Elijah confirmed. “Shadowdwellers cannot bear even the slightest amount of sunlight. Their sensitivity is worse even than that of the Vampires. As we know, some members of the Vampire race can tolerate some sun the older and the stronger they become. But that is absolutely impossible for Shadowdwellers.”
“The Mistrals are notoriously nonaggressive. I cannot imagine them going to this trouble to commit such a violent act,” Jacob added.
“But I can easily believe it of the Lycanthropes,” Elijah rejoined. “Though we have held a tenuous truce with them these past thirteen years, there are still those who resent the Demons enough to cross the lines of peace.”
“To what end? To destroy a pregnant female? It does not make sense,” Noah argued. “Lycanthropes are not known for that measure of focus and specificity.”
“I tend to agree,” Gideon spoke up. “Lycanthropes would turn to their instincts in the heat of such an attack. They would not have been able to resist the urge to mark Isabella, tainting her with their blood in the process. There was no hint of claw wounds or animal bites, not to mention the fact that her blood was free of the taint of Lycanthropy.”
“And yet, what better way to hide that the attack was theirs than to resist the impulse? They were in human form, if it was them. Bella was attacked by bipeds.”
“All criteria make it possible except for motive and technology. Of course, it would be no trick for a Vampire to charm a human into using such a weapon.”
“Motive is my concern,” Gideon said quickly. “Lack of one, that is. There is no cause for it.”
“Yet they cannot be ruled out,” Elijah countered. “There could be something we are missing.”
“I will rule them out,” Gideon said succinctly.
Noah turned his head, cocking a brow.
“You will go to Damien with an accusation like this?” he asked, knowing full well that there had always been something between the two Ancients.
“But I was planning on sending him to Siena,” Elijah complained. Gideon felt Legna’s reaction sharply, the emotion of shock and fear almost blocking out Elijah’s explanation. “You know her best, Gideon. I realize your innate Demon abilities will not be able to affect her much, but you will be able to see enough of her body chemistry and functions to know if she is lying to you or concealing anything. I trust you feel capable of sufficient hand-to-hand combat if it should come to that?”
“Of course,” Gideon said with the simplicity of perfect confidence. “And I do not see why I cannot do both tasks. I am the wisest choice in either direction.”
“He has a point,” Noah agreed.
Gideon felt Legna’s instant disconcertment at her brother’s eagerness to send him into volatile duty. If she could have controlled his body, she would have made the Ancient slap the Demon King.
“Very well. While you are doing that, I plan to move in the circles of the humans who take delight in stalking Nightwalkers,” Elijah said. “The sanctums of those self-proclaimed hunters are easy to penetrate, especially for those with clear physical and battle prowess.”
“The remaining issue: necromancers. They will be what is left through process of elimination,” Jacob said quietly. “It is very likely that the obvious may end up the right answer. But we cannot rest on that without safely eliminating the rest.”
“We will reconvene when Elijah returns from his reconnaissance. I trust that will give you time to complete your tasks, Gideon?”
“Ample time, Noah, I assure you.”
“Very well. I will see you all then. Council is adjourned.” Noah rose to his feet, pausing in the act of straightening to touch Councillor Ruth’s hand, whispering a single-word command to her under his breath.
The Council dispersed with the exception of Gideon and Jacob, both of whom remained in their seats until the room had cleared entirely. When the door had shut, Jacob turned to the medic.
“If you require someone to watch your back, I will be glad to accompany you.”
“No, thank you, Jacob. I think this is a task best completed by an individual. If two of the most powerful Demons in our society were to appear on foreign doorsteps, it would put the receptions completely on the defensive, perhaps even provoking an undesirable altercation.”
“I see your point. However, if you should encounter trouble, you merely have to instruct Legna to come to me and I will assist you to the best of my ability.”
“I do not think it will come to that. Damien has been peaceable for centuries, and Siena is no fool. She knows I would not enter her territory without being monitored.”
“Are you going now?”
“Yes. I see no reason to delay the action. I am already prepared.”
“I noticed,” Jacob remarked. “I have not seen you armed in some time. I figured Elijah must have given you some forewarning of possible events.”
“He merely told me to come prepared for all possibilities of combat.”
“He would put it that way,” Jacob chuckled. “The man is a warrior through and through, for all his clowning around.”
“True. Shall I stop in to check on Bella before I go?”
“Not dressed like that. You would give her palpitations if she knew you were going into danger for her benefit.”
“Luckily, I am mostly immune to Bella’s powers and could cure such palpitations with a thought,” Gideon mused.
Jacob raised a brow, taking the medic’s measure. He could not recall the last time he had heard the Ancient crack wise about anything. It was not a wholly unpleasant experience, and it amused the Enforcer.
“I… am aware of what is occurring between you and Legna, as you know,” Jacob mentioned with casual quiet. “I am only recently Imprinted myself, but should you require—” He broke off, suddenly uncomfortable. “Of course, you probably know far more about Imprinting than I ever will.”
He is reaching out to you.
Legna’s soft encouragement made Gideon suddenly aware of that fact. It was one of those nuances he would have missed completely, rusty as he was with matters of friendship and how to relate better to others.
“I am glad for the offer of any help you can provide,” Gideon said quickly. “In fact, I had wanted to ask you… something… ”
What did I want to ask him? he asked Legna urgently.
I do not know! I did not tell you to engage him, just to graciously accept his offer.
Oh. My apologies. Still, you are clever enough to think of something, are you not?
Legna knew he was baiting her, so she laughed.
Ask him why it is you seem to constantly irritate me.
I will ask him no such thing, Magdelegna.
Well then, you had better come up with an alternative, because that is the only suggestion I have.
“Yes?” Jacob was encouraging neutrally, trying to be patient as the medic seemed to gather his thoughts.
“Do you find that your mate tends to lecture you incessantly?” he asked finally.
Jacob laughed out loud.
“You know something, I can actually advise you about that, Gideon.”
“Can you?” The medic actually sounded hopeful.
“Give up. Now. While you still have your sanity. Arguing with her will get you nowhere. And, also, never ever ask questions that refer to the whys and wherefores of women, females, or any other feminine-based criticism. Otherwise you will only earn an argument at a higher decibel level. Oh, and one other thing.”
Gideon cocked a brow in question.
“All the rules I just gave you, as well as all the ones she lays down during the course of your relationship, can and will change at whim. So, as I see it, you can consider yourself just as lost as every other man on the planet. Good luck with it.”
“That is not a very heartening thought,” Gideon said wryly, ignoring Legna’s giggle in his background thoughts.
Jacob rose from his chair, pushing it in as he stretched out muscles stiffened from sitting too long.
“I will see you soon, Gideon.”
The Enforcer twisted into the form of a dust spiral and exited up out of a window.
How are you feeling? Up to teleporting me to a place I send to your mind?
I believe so.
So he did just that.
Gideon materialized on a vacant street corner beneath a broken street lamp. He looked around carefully, taking a step backward until he was against the brick of the corner of a building and settled deeply in the shadows. He manipulated his eyesight until he could not only see clearly in the darkness, but could see at any distance he wished. He was aware of how impressed Legna was by the new way he was looking at things.
It was actually her first real situation where she would experience the use of his powers from a behind-his-eyes perspective. Gideon found himself hoping that she would not witness too much more than tricks of his eyesight and other simple biochemical alterations.
Stop fretting about me and what I will see. That will be just as bad as you worrying about my physical presence.
You are correct. Thank you.
You are welcome.
Gideon continued to scan his surroundings, using a clever alteration of body chemistry to extend an attractively scented trail as bait for the creatures he was looking for.
It wasn’t long before a dark figure appeared in the street some distance down. In a blink of an eye, he had skimmed the half-mile distance and stood even closer to Gideon’s position. The medic spiked his body chemistry with adrenaline. This served two purposes. One, it prepared him with heightened strength and reflexes in the event of an altercation; two, it called to his possible adversary like ambrosia.
The Ancient’s target moved faster than even Gideon’s improved eyesight could track, but the medic didn’t even bother to try. He felt a viselike hand close around his throat, slamming him against the wall until he felt brick digging into his scalp, the leather of his coat the only thing protecting him at other points of contact. Gideon felt Legna’s emotions jolt, but to her credit, she poured her faith into the reassuring whisper he sent to her. She remained ready for any consequence, though, and it pleased him.
Gideon watched calmly as the beast reared his head back, his mouth opening with a hiss and a display of long ivory fangs. The Vampire feinted for his neck but suddenly stopped, its dark eyes widening with surprise. Slowly the other Nightwalker eased back, his wide gaze moving slowly downward until they rested on the blade of the knife that had just pricked through his shirt and the skin over his heart. He finally took the time to meet his prey’s eyes and, with a sigh and a curse, he suddenly released Gideon.
Looking quite put out, the Vampire stepped back until Gideon finally turned the blade away and with a nimble flip, resheathed it as silently as he had drawn it.
“My apologies,” he said graciously, “for the trickery. But I needed to attract someone’s attention and it was the quickest method I could come up with since I was certain you were all out hunting by now.”
The Vampire grunted in reluctant agreement “What do you want, Demon?”
“I want Damien’s hunting grounds. Would you be privy to the information?”
“If I were, why would I give it to a Demon?” the other male queried.
“I do not intend to harm him, only speak with him.”
“My question has not changed.”
“Indeed,” Gideon agreed. “But you would know if I were lying, and you will have to be satisfied with that.”
The Vampire tilted his head to the side, his darkly handsome features a study in speculation.
“You have a point. Still, I will only tell you to concentrate your search in San Jose. Other than that… ”
The Vampire gave him a mock, open-armed bow before leaping into a flight that took him into the shadowed recesses of the taller buildings across from Gideon.
Do you need me to take you to San Jose? Legna asked him.
No. Rest. It is close enough. Save your strength for later. Do not worry. Damien and I are acquainted. I am in no danger from him.
But I can feel you aren’t as positive about that as you would like to be. Do you suspect him in this attack on Bella?
I will know the answer to that shortly.