Blood Feud Page 50

“How did you know it wasn’t real y me?”

“Are you kidding? Your eyebal s could be on fire and you wouldn’t bat your lashes at me like that.”



We reached the ledge when the barking started.

At first it sounded like it was coming from far away, echoing down the stone passageways. Once it reached the main cavern the other dogs joined the chorus, barking, growling, howling.

The hairs on my arms stood up. The Hounds went on high alert instantly, reaching for weapons. I strained to hear beyond the dogs’ frantic singing. Kala clapped her hands and spoke a one-word command, sharp as broken glass. I’d have shut up too if I were a dog. Hel , I’d have shut up anyway.

Isabeau tilted her head. I heard a faint thump, three long, one short, as if something was hitting a pipe. It clanged toward us, so shril I thought the water of the lake might have rippled slightly.

“Attack,” Isabeau said, mostly for my benefit. I expected everyone else there knew exactly what those series of sounds had meant. Al I wanted was to get out and warn my family about Montmartre’s attack. “A warning for battle and—” She stopped, clearly stunned to hear two more short clangs. “And to hide,” she elaborated final y, as if such a thing had never occurred to any of them before.

I hated to think what could make the entire pack of Hounds, on their own territory and with their war dogs, blanch.

I wasn’t eager to hang around and find out.

Discretion was definitely the better part of valor sometimes

—plus, someone had to save Isabeau from herself.

I knew for a fact that she would jump into the fray, regardless of the danger. I was frankly amazed she hadn’t gotten herself kil ed already.

Morgan was standing guard over Kala, ushering the shamanka toward a narrow crevice in one of the far wal s, hung with cobwebs. Most of the dogs went with them. Isabeau snapped her fingers and pointed for Charlemagne to join them.

A few of the more ferocious ones stayed behind with the Hounds. The efficient way they stepped into battle formation would have brought tears of joy to my mother’s eyes.

A shriek echoed toward us. I whipped one of my daggers into my hand. Isabeau lifted her sword grimly. I heard scuffling, grunting, and then a Hound trailing blood from a head wound stumbled onto the ledge. I nearly skewered him. The fact that he col apsed at my feet saved his life and the future of the al iance between our tribes.

“Hel-Blar, ” he gurgled, choking. “Dozens of them.”

“Shit,” I said as Isabeau and I stared at each other wide-eyed.

I went cold al over. “It’s misdirection.”

“What do you mean?” she asked as Hounds scrambled up to wait on either side of the tunnel. Someone dragged their wounded compatriot out of the way so he wouldn’t be trampled once the fighting began.

“It’s Montmartre,” I said. “It has to be. He wants to discredit our tribes to each other to make sure none of you come to our aid.” I went even colder, if that was possible. I wouldn’t have been entirely surprised if ice had formed in my mouth. “He’s going for the royal courts tonight,” I said. “Now. They’ve moved up the attack and this is how he’s going to keep the Hounds out of the way.”

Her hands curled into fists. “Greyhaven might have sensed me at Montmartre’s. He would know my spirit signature. He’d have reacted accordingly.”

“I have to get out. I have to get to my family.” She nodded. “I know.”

“Show me the nearest passageway.”

“This way.” She led me to the other side of the water and shimmied down a rope, swinging onto another ledge behind the curtain of white water. When the thick rope swung back, I grabbed it and fol owed her. The ledge was slippery and the thunder of the waterfal shook through my bones. Isabeau fumbled for a flashlight and switched it on, sending the beam bouncing down a tunnel that was real y no more than a crack in the rock.

“Parts of it are so dark not even we can see,” she explained, handing me another flashlight with a strap to fit it over my head.

She was fitting her own, like a headband. The light blinded me from seeing her expression. “You shouldn’t go alone,” she said.

The clash of swords floated down, barely audible.

I stared at her briefly. “You’re coming with me?” I hadn’t I stared at her briefly. “You’re coming with me?” I hadn’t expected that, wouldn’t have imagined for a single moment that she’d leave the Hounds to help me. She turned away to face the passageway, light swinging.

“I expect I’l do more good with you than I would here. Kala didn’t ask me to join her, which means she wants me to safeguard the al iance. Why else would she have insisted on your initiation so soon after meeting you?” I didn’t real y have time to talk her out of it. “Thank you,” I murmured as we wedged ourselves into the damp tunnel, rock scraping each of my shoulders. I turned sideways. There was stil barely room to maneuver. I real y hoped this crevice led in the right direction. They al looked the same from the outside. I real y didn’t relish the thought of getting stuck and starving to death inside a mountain. Hardly an effective way to stop Montmartre.

We crept along slowly, too slowly for both our tastes but there wasn’t anything we could do about it. There was no way to move faster since the tunnel seemed to be getting even more narrow instead of widening up to the sky.

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