Dark Wolf Page 15

Hunger reached a new high. He could count each individual beat of Zev’s steady, strong pulse. A strange roaring in his head consumed his mind with the urgency to feed. He saw red, the color banding in his vision.

“Maybe you should step back, put a safe distance between us,” Dimitri cautioned. His voice had become more of a growl than an actual vocalization.

Unafraid, Zev stepped closer, his own teeth tearing a hole in his wrist. He was careful to avoid the silver chains encompassing Dimitri’s body as he lifted his wrist, dripping with life-giving blood, to Dimitri’s mouth.

Blood surged to every starved cell, every withered organ, moved over the many burned paths the silver had taken, to revitalize and rejuvenate. Dimitri tried to be polite, tried to hold on to awareness. Zev risked his life by giving him blood. His pack could turn on him at any moment. Dimitri was certain Gunnolf had his own agenda. He wanted more power and Zev was standing in his way. This act of kindness could very well be Zev’s downfall.

Yet Dimitri couldn’t make himself stop. All he had to do was sweep his tongue across that wound in Zev’s wrist to close the gash, but hunger was so raw, so terrible, such a monster gaining control of him, that he couldn’t quite manage on his own.

You must stop me. He pushed the words out from his mind onto a path, any path, hoping Zev would pick it up. They’d used telepathic communication on a hunt of a rogue pack before, although the path had not been between them. Telepathic communication grew easier once it was established, but there was usually a blood path between a Carpathian and the one he reached out to. His heart sank. He’d never given Zev blood.

Zev pulled his wrist from Dimitri, wincing as those strong teeth jerked out of his skin. Dimitri closed his eyes, trying to breathe deep, desperate for more, but grateful for what had been given.

“I heard you. How is that possible?”

Dimitri shook his head. Even that slight movement sent his head spinning. He had grown dizzy with pain and lack of sustenance. “I have no idea. Maybe desperation on my part.”

Zev wrapped a strip of cloth around his wrist and knotted it tight. “Stay alive, at least until I hear personally from the council. Like I said before, none of this makes any sense, and the council is all about logic.” He glanced in the direction Gunnolf had gone. “I don’t like this set-up at all.”

Dimitri raised an eyebrow. Tiny beads of blood dotted his forehead as he worked at keeping very still. The grass continued to move up his thighs to his hips, curling around the hooks and dropping the small droplets of salve over the wounds there. Nevertheless, the silver in his body burned like a raging inferno ceaselessly until at times he forgot even the basic mechanics of breathing.

“There are too many of us here,” Zev said, his voice pitched very low. “This forest is an outpost, one reserved for the wolves in the wild and basically used for extremely sensitive meetings or private camping when one can’t take civilization one more moment. We don’t keep large packs here. There are no women or children. This is the base camp of an army.”

Dimitri went still inside. Skyler had no idea of the size of the camp or the trouble she would be walking into. He kept his features absolutely expressionless. It was imperative that no one know she was even in the forest. She might be a few hundred kilometers away, but for the Lycans, that would be considered too close.

He liked Zev. Even respected him. But he didn’t trust anyone with Skyler’s life. “Perhaps your council has decided on treachery and plans to attack the prince.”

“That would be suicide and you know it. They went to that meeting in good faith.”

Dimitri sighed. It was becoming difficult to talk. The sun was rising, filtering through the canopy. This time of day was manageable, but it signaled hell was coming.

“I suppose my sentence, after giving their word that they wouldn’t kill me, was also a sign of their good faith.”

Zev frowned. He rubbed the bridge of his nose and let out a soft sigh. “I think the entire world’s gone mad.”

“Just so you know, the only one likely to come after me is my brother. He will have his lifemate and some of his friends along, but he probably won’t have the prince’s approval.”

Zev stiffened. “Fen. Fenris Dalka is your brother. He’s Sange rau, too. He must have been Carpathian before he was Lycan.”

“An ancient warrior, and not Sange rau. He is Hän ku pesäk kaikak. His skills have always been the thing of legends.” Dimitri tried a faint smile but it came out more of a grimace. “You’ve seen him in action. He isn’t going to be happy about this.”

“He was badly injured,” Zev said. “I don’t want to take away your hope. Something has kept you alive this long, but when I left the Carpathian Mountains, your brother was nearly dead.” He shook his head. “I’m sorry, Dimitri, but there is little chance he lived through those injuries.”

Dimitri closed his eyes and allowed air to move through his lungs. It was so hard to keep his body still when the silver persisted in snaking its way up his legs, through his thighs, over his h*ps and into his abdomen, turning his gut into a fireball that ate him from the inside out.

“You met Tatijana.” He made it a statement.

“Of course. What does she have to do with it?”

This time Dimitri did manage a brief smile. He opened his eyes and looked directly at Zev. “Everything. He’s going to come. Not today. Not tonight, but sometime soon, and when he does, all these Lycans packed into this forest just waiting their opportunity aren’t going to be enough. I’m going to still be alive, no matter how badly Gunnolf wants me dead.”

Zev swore under his breath and turned away.

“And Zev,” Dimitri added, his voice hoarse and edged with pain. “He won’t come alone.” He put the idea in the elite hunter’s head deliberately. If it was too late to stop Skyler from carrying out the first part of her plan, he wanted Zev to be out in the forest, scouting for the enemy, and not for some other Lycan to find her.

Dimitri watched Zev walk away. He stayed very still, letting time pass, concentrating on the grass moving from his hip to spread across his burning belly. Skyler. He used his remaining strength to reach for her. The moment he felt her response, that instant pouring of love into his mind, filling every dark place that so many kills and so many empty centuries had left scarred, hope was renewed.

You’re such a miracle. How did you get Mother Earth to agree to aid me?

You are her son. She wanted to help. I just added a few touches to help her. I’m going to work on the threads reaching toward your heart from your hips. When I’ve rested enough, I’ll set out and hope to find a Lycan. Paul’s scouting for tracks. He’s very good at it. We’re leaving our tracks everywhere, following the wild wolf pack and recording every sound as well as putting up cameras. The cover is very solid.

Just the sound of her voice turned him inside out. She was indomitable. He knew her human frailties, yet she didn’t swerve from her intended path.

Skyler. Sívamet. I have learned from one of the better men here that this place is harboring an army of Lycans. He was obviously worried. I threw him off by telling him Fen would come. He knew Fen was wounded and thought he might even be dead, but he’ll go search for signs that a rescue party is coming for me. He won’t expect you.

Skyler searched his memories. She sent another wave of warmth into his mind. With it came strength. He gave you his blood.

Yes. I need far more to try to heal, and to be at full strength, but I can last until Fen comes. You should pack up and go. I think they’re preparing for war.

Skyler stretched across the telepathic path leading to him. He could feel the approach of her healing spirit. She was white light. Pure unconditional love. She moved inside him, entering easily, already knowing what she would find. She was stronger now. Josef had clearly given her blood again. He couldn’t find it in his heart to be jealous of another male helping her, he could only be grateful.

The moment she began to work, he felt the difference in her. She seemed powerful. Mage. She had come to terms with that part of her and she welcomed it now. Drew on her heritage, her bloodline, where before she had tried to forget she was related to Xavier, the hated and feared criminal who had nearly single-handedly brought down the Carpathian race.

I call upon my blood.

I am born of mage and dragon, no more shall I hide.

I call to you, Mother, bring forth to me the records of encoded light.

Show me the past, as I live in the present.

Let me view the future as you aid me in the now.

I know your words,

I hear your thoughts,

I feel your heart,

I know your intent.

You cannot hide.

I am both mage and Dragonseeker.

The silver obeyed her as it had done on two previous occasions, but this time much faster, as if now it recognized a master of elements and minerals. She finished with the silver tracers, driving them from his burning belly back to the hooks in his hips. She closed those off and moved downward, following the thin, deadly silver to his thighs, pushing it back so that he felt it burning through his pores, and down his leg as it rolled off of him to the ground below.

I call to you, Mother, absorb that which is deadly,

Aid me in this time of healing,

I call to comfrey, knitbone,

I use your power to sedate, to soothe, that which burns,

I call upon you, Mother, to assist in the healing of internal damage,

Seek out the path from which this poison has come,

Cauterize it and close it,

So that which is open and causing pain, cannot be open again.

Dimitri sensed she was tiring. There was still a great distance between them. She had used telepathy too many times not to feel the effects. You need to stop.

I’m almost done. I only have the hooks in your calves left. If I can manage to stop the flow of silver altogether, it will give you relief through the day. I’ll come for you at night.

She began the work of pushing back the last two snakelike threads of silver toward his calves. Not once did she falter, although Dimitri could feel that white light fading with the length of time and the drain on her energy. Again she made certain the tips of the hooks were closed so no new silver could enter his body.

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