Dark Wolf Page 22

I call upon you, powers of water, hold and align your healing waters.

I call upon you, powers of earth, sustain me by holding me close.

Air that is my breath,

Fire that is my heart’s blood,

Water that is the blood of my veins,

Earth that is my mother,

I call to thee,

I summon thee,

See my need, hear my voice, answer my call,

Guide me, protect me, and avail me of your powers.

Skyler took out a small dagger, one of her very few treasured possessions. It had been passed down through generations from mother to daughter. The dagger was intricately carved, etched with the tree of life on its hilt and with runic symbols running down its blade. Holding her hand sideways, she made a quick cut across her palm so that the blood dripped down onto the earth where she stood.

I call to my birthright

I am Dragonseeker,

Born of dragons,

Dracaena, Draco—dragon’s blood.

I am Mage,

Born of those who wield power—magic makers,

Time benders,

Portal makers.

I summon thee, earth,

Open your arms, create a space that is safe, protected.

I call on light to surround,

Let your bright protective light circle and protect.

I command thee, fire, wrap this place like a cocoon that cannot be penetrated.

Mother, allow this space only to us,

Allowing no other entry,

Water, supply us with your life-giving sustenance.

As above, so below,

So mote it be.

The ground below her rippled in response to her command. The air shimmered with fire, and then settled into a nearly transparent wall barely seen. Letting out her breath slowly, Skyler looked at Josef. “It’s done.”

Josef looked at her with awe. “I never actually thought you could do it.”

“You didn’t? Why did you agree to all of this if you didn’t think we’d have a fail-safe?” She punched his arm. “I thought I could do it because you thought I could.”

Paul laughed. “You ought to know Josef by now.” He put his arm around Skyler’s shoulders. “You’re awesome, you know that? I think you could do anything.”

“I hope you’re right,” she said. “I know I can get those hooks out of Dimitri’s body, but the chain has burned so deeply into his body that I’m not certain . . .”

“Don’t start doubting yourself at this late stage of the game,” Josef cautioned. “Now is when you need confidence. You just did what no one believed possible. Paul is right, you can do anything, including getting the chain off Dimitri. Once that’s done, I don’t care how bad a shape he’s in, he’ll get you out of there.”

“Have you considered that he won’t look the same?” Paul touched the small crescent-shaped scar on her temple. “He’ll have scars.”

“Carpathians don’t scar,” Josef said.

Paul shook his head. “That’s not true. I’ve seen plenty of them with scars. If the wound could be fatal and it’s there too long without care, they’ll scar.”

“Do you really think that would matter to me?” Skyler asked in a low tone. “I couldn’t care less what Dimitri looks like to other people. He’s beautiful to me. He always will be.”

Paul smiled down at her. “I knew you’d say that. The cool thing, Sky, is you mean it.”

“I’ll take Paul first, and get him in position to protect your retreat,” Josef said. “Will you be all right here by yourself until I come back for you?”

“Of course, but, Josef, the Lycans can sense your energy. Don’t get too close to that camp, or any of the guards.”

“I’ll be careful,” he promised.

Paul hugged her hard. “Good journey, little sister.”

“Good journey, my brother,” she murmured, holding him close for a moment. She closed her eyes briefly as she returned his hug. He had come there for her, and he very well could get killed if the Lycans discovered their prisoner gone before she managed to get them all to safety.

Reluctantly she dropped her arms, releasing him. Paul raised her chin, looking into her eyes. “Always remember I wanted to come. I chose to help my friends. Dimitri is a good man and I consider him family, just as you are to me. With or without you, I would have chosen to rescue him, or at least try.”

She felt the burn of tears, but she managed a smile, nodding her head. Intellectually, she knew Paul spoke the truth, but still, she felt responsible. If anything happened to him she would always carry that with her. She watched them go, Josef taking to the air with Paul, before she sat down right there in the vegetation, ignoring the drone of insects.

We’re ready, Dimitri. I will be coming for you. Can you look around? Can you see a likely route to get in and out without detection?

She didn’t want him balking at the last moment. This would be hardest on him. A Carpathian male did not ever want to feel helpless, especially when his lifemate was in danger. She knew he would want to fight his restraints, and now, more than ever, he had to be still and conserve his energy.

There is no one around me at the moment, but usually they stay a few meters away, hidden in the trees, watching me. I believe I am the entertainment for the bored. From my vantage point I can’t see much. Without these chains, I could . . . He broke off in frustration.

She sent him instant warmth, surrounded him with her confidence and her love. We have a great ally in Mother Earth. She’ll come to our aid when we have need, she promised. Give me a minute.

She plunged her hands deep into the soil and instantly felt the connection with earth itself. Her heart found that steady deep boom that came from below. Sounds of water, the wind, the sap ebbing and flowing in the trees all came to her as if they were part of her very life force.

I call upon thee, Mother,

Hear my voice.

Feel my need,

Send me the creatures that dwell within your darkness,

Cloak our energies so we are not seen, heard or felt.

The flow of information was strong, as if that connection with the earth was growing with each touch. Even the insects spoke to her. She was no longer bothered by them, but understood exactly why they were needed and what part in the ecological system they played.

Earth Mother,

I give thanks to you and your minions.

May there always be peace and harmony between us,

I release you now, go in peace.

She was grateful for the guidance and murmured her thanks.

Dimitri, I am certain of the way. Just hold on a little longer. As soon as I get the chains off, I’ll give you blood. Then it will be up to both of us to run like hell. She tried to push a little amusement into her voice, feeling his tension.

Dimitri was a man who rarely was tense. In the worst situations he was always calm and cool, but knowing she was putting herself in danger for him bothered him on an entirely new level. He probably had never known what the word tense actually meant until he found her.

She had to struggle to understand his nature. She saw his needs in his mind, but she hadn’t lived for centuries. She didn’t have his experiences. She wasn’t Carpathian and didn’t fully understand the driving need of the male to protect his lifemate.

I cannot aid you until these chains have been removed, he reiterated. I am weak, starved. I won’t be able to move fast.

Dimitri tried to make her understand his condition. He’d been mortally wounded numerous times over the centuries, but he’d never felt so helpless. The silver chains prevented the most basic of Carpathian abilities. He couldn’t reach out to his brother—something that he’d been doing all of his life. His brother couldn’t reach him. Josef was close, and he’d tried to touch him on the common Carpathian path, but that was closed to him—because of the terrible chains wrapped from his forehead to his ankles.

The burning in his skin was endless, but now his fear for Skyler’s safety even overrode that horrendous agony. He could only hang helplessly, terrified for her, waiting for the night’s work to play out.

We have to do this as silently and as stealthily as possible, Skyler reminded him. Lycans are sensitive to all energy used. We don’t want them to feel us.

Dimitri suppressed a groan of frustration. I am Sange rau. They cannot feel me, which is why they hate me. They fear me.

You are a Guardian of all, Dimitri, not the dreaded Sange rau. You will have to think of yourself as a Guardian always.

Clearly, Skyler didn’t understand his desire, his need to be Sange rau, even if just for a moment, to rip out the throats of his tormenters, the ones who came around when Zev wasn’t near. They kicked him, spit on him, and some even dared to get close enough to use their fists on him. They deliberately shook and jarred his body in the hopes that the hooks would tear at his flesh and the silver race for his heart.

Their hatred was tangible. Facing them, being in their midst, he knew Mikhail Dubrinsky, the prince of his people, could never change the minds of such fanatics. Their hatred ran deep, taught to them by generations of hatred. He had done nothing to them. In fact, he had come to the aid of their kind. Gunnolf and Convel, the two he had saved, were the worst of his tormenters and seemed to take it personally that he hadn’t died quickly.

Dimitri had never known such a thing as hatred. He hunted the vampire, but he was completely emotionless when he did so. It was a matter of honor, of duty, never personal. A vampire was evil and he murdered innocent men, women and children. He had to be brought to justice. There was no joy in the taking of a life, any life. This experience taught him what hatred was. Had it not been for Zev’s compassion, he might have decided the Lycan species was not worth saving and he would have been just as bad as they were.

Josef is back. He’ll bring me close to the camp and leave me to make my way. I have a path to take and I can sense the presence of the Lycans, Skyler informed him. And, my beloved, lest you think you really would form these narrow opinions, I can assure you, that is your pain and your fear for me talking to you, the lack of sustenance and your weakness. I see into your mind and there are no such true feelings. You can’t hold evil in your heart or mind, Dimitri, that is not who you are.

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