Dark Wolf Page 38

“Over the centuries, it is easy to suffer severe wounds and need blood. Those I hunted with often gave me what I needed—and I did the same with them.”

“That’s why you were able to kill the Sange rau. You’re more like they are.”

Fen nodded. “Dimitri helped me. He saved both Gunnolf and Convel, but in doing so, they realized he was of mixed blood and they took him. Whoever is behind the movement to go back to this sacred code is the one trying to start a war between the two species. I couldn’t stay in his mind long enough to get a name without risking infection.”

Zev ripped a strip of cloth from his shirt and began to wrap it around his arm. “I’ve lost a lot of blood,” he noted. “You may as well give me some. If I’m going to be strong enough in the future to hunt you down, I’ll need to live through this.”

“You risk becoming a mixed blood,” Fen pointed out. “That’s how Dimitri became a Guardian. There were times we hunted rogue packs and vampires together down through the ages. When wounded, we helped each other by giving blood.”

“I fear it’s a little too late to warn me,” Zev said. He pushed a hand through his hair. “I became aware some time ago that there was something different gaining strength in me. I believe I have inadvertently become—or am becoming—the very thing I hunted for centuries.”

Fen drew up his knees. The wound in Zev’s arm had bled far too much. “I think Gunnolf used an anticoagulant on the blade of his dagger.”

Zev nodded his agreement. “Lycans rejuvenate fast. At the very least, blood flow should have ceased. I’m bleeding out here.” He gave an involuntary shiver, his body already growing cold. “Are you going to help or just sit there?”

“I’m calculating the odds that you might use one of the hundreds of weapons you’ve got on you, that you didn’t use on Gunnolf, but should have.” Fen’s voice was thoughtful.

“I’m too damn tired to disarm myself so make up your mind,” Zev said and lay back in the grass.

“Just know that hell is coming this way,” Fen warned. “Your Lycans shot a young girl related to just about every powerful family that there is. Paul’s family is every vampire’s nightmare, and the boy was shot as well. Josef’s family has already arrived, and when Dimitri rises again, he’ll owe that boy. He’ll hunt down every single Lycan who fired a weapon at those they perceive as children.”

“I think you’ve more than conveyed the grave danger we’re all in,” Zev said dryly. He closed his eyes.

Fen sighed. “You know I’m mixed blood. I could call a Carpathian in to give you their blood. It might slow the process.”

“Just give me your damned blood before I pass out.”

“What a wuss,” Fen said, matching the drollness in Zev’s tone. He moved fast, though.

Zev was a man too valuable to be allowed to die. If he wasn’t worried about the mixed blood then Fen knew the elite hunter was really in trouble. It would make sense, even if Zev knew he was close to the transformation, he would do everything he could to slow it down until the council ruled on the subject of the Sange rau—bad blood, versus the Hän ku pesäk kaikak—Guardian of all.

Fen tore at his wrist and pressed it to Zev’s mouth. The danger in feeding a Lycan blood was they might become too fond of it. Lycans had forsaken the need for fresh blood and meat, embracing a civilized world, but it was impossible to tame a creature with a predatory nature. The savagery was there, lurking just beneath the surface, always threatening to overcome the hard-won shell of civilization.

Zev didn’t seem to have any problems taking blood in the Carpathian manner. Fen knew that Tatijana had given Zev blood as well when he was gravely injured. More than once the Carpathians had donated their blood to keep this Lycan alive, but it wouldn’t have been enough to cause the transformation. It was a slow process, happening over a long time of exposure, which meant more than once through the centuries, Zev had hunted with a Carpathian.

“You just want mixed blood because you took one look at a certain woman and all brain matter went dead,” Fen accused.

Zev didn’t open his eyes or stop feeding. She did make an impression.


The clash of swords rang throughout the room. Daciana and Makoce kept Rolf between them, while Lykaon and Arnau defended the other council members not—shockingly—from the Carpathians, but from other Lycans who suddenly turned on them.

They’re trying to assassinate the council, Mikhail warned his warriors. Choose your targets carefully.

“Loyal Lycans,” Rolf called out, “those loyal to the council, defend us, not from the Carpathians but from our kind.”

Lucian cut down Lowell, the wolf who had tried to murder Francesca and Gabriel with one slice of his sword. Another Lycan stabbed a silver stake through the assassin’s heart and sliced down with his sword to sever the head.

Gabriel thrust his lifemate to the back of the room, away from the skirmish. Zacarias leapt forward to close ranks, protecting the woman. He was everywhere, his expression never changing, reacting fast, so that it seemed each Lycan who cut down his own kind in an effort to get to a council member had to get through him or one of his brothers. Clearly, he directed his family, and they seemed to move together in a choreographed dance of death.

The Lycan faction that wanted the council dead were caught between their own kind and the Carpathians. Their bid to start a battle between species had failed when both sides kept a cool head and followed their leaders’ orders.

“Lay down your weapons,” Rolf commanded. “Your lives will be spared.”

Not a single one of the Lycans who stood with Lowell and Varg obeyed; even knowing they would be killed, they increased their determination to get to a council member. Daciana took a vicious swipe across her stomach with a silver knife from Varg as he tried to get past her to Rolf. The sharp blade cut her open and the silver had to burn like an inferno, but she didn’t flinch.

As the blade came at her a second time, she slammed her hand down on his wrist, sidestepping, trusting Makoce, her partner, to protect Rolf while she fought Varg. She knew him well, but he always had underestimated her. Lately, she’d noticed two of the elite hunters in their pack treating her just a little differently. Both Gunnolf and Convel had begun ignoring things she’d said, acting as if they hadn’t heard her. They often walked away when she approached them.

Varg had the same attitude as Lowell. She should have brought the matter to Zev’s attention, but she felt silly complaining. What had changed them? The differences had started long ago, but she hadn’t really noticed until they’d become disdainful. They hadn’t wanted her in their elite pack.

Using the Lycan’s own momentum, she cut back with his wrist over his own shoulder, flipping Varg onto his back. He landed on the table of food Francesca had laid out for them and with a roar of rage, leapt up, throwing himself at Daciana. She had expected the move, counting on his new disdain of women fighters. She allowed him to slam her to the floor, his muzzle, as he transformed to half man and half wolf, snapping around her shoulder viciously.

In her fist she clenched a silver stake, aiming it upward. Varg’s own body weight as well as the speed of his jump drove that spiraling stake straight through his heart. Her aim was perfect—as it always had been. She stared into his eyes, watching the life force fade. “That’s right, hotshot. A woman defeated you. Go to hell thinking about that.”

Zacarias pulled the body from her and extended his hand. She took it and leapt right back into the fray, leaving the Carpathian to slice off the head of the wolf.

The battle was over in a short space of time. A dozen Lycans lay dead on the floor. The Carpathian warriors stepped back, eyeing the remaining Lycans a little warily.

“I apologize for the behavior of my people,” Rolf said, giving a formal bow. “We appreciate your help in dealing with the assassins. If you would excuse us, we will return to the inn. Our wounded need to be attended to, and the council members would like to make a few phone calls to see if we can get to the bottom of this treachery.”

Mikhail swept his gaze over the remaining Lycans. If there was a faction of Lycans trying to start a war between the two species, he doubted if the twelve dead lying on the floor were all that remained.

This was a well-thought-out plot, Gregori, to make us look responsible.

I agree.

If the council members are assassinated on Carpathian soil there will be no explaining it to the remaining council members who elected to stay behind.

You and I both know the council is still not safe. Some of those conspiring against them are still alive. It would be ludicrous to believe all have been slain, Gregori pointed out.

“I mean no disrespect, Rolf,” Mikhail continued aloud, “but I would prefer to send some of my men with you to ensure your safety.”

Rolf gave a slight nod, indicating he wasn’t opposed to the idea. He, like Mikhail and Gregori, had to have known that there were probably more assassins lurking among his guards, just waiting for an opportunity to kill him and the others.

Mikhail. Zacarias sent him a call along the common Carpathian path, which allowed Gregori to hear as well. My family must set out now if we’re going to make it to Paul before dawn. As it is, it will be close. Andre, Mataias, Lojos and Tomas have returned.

Clearly, Zacarias was reminding him that there were others to take his family’s place. Mikhail had known they would go. Still, it was troublesome. Zacarias was unpredictable. He wasn’t a man to take prisoners or ask too many questions. If the Lycans provoked him, he would retaliate. There was no way to ask him to stay, not when Paul had been shot. Paul was his nephew, and no De La Cruz would leave a family member, especially a child, behind.

Mikhail had enough men to guard him and their women and children. He had no real excuse to keep the families of those that were in trouble in Russia with him. He knew Lucian and Gabriel Daratrazanoff would go as well. The combination of Zacarias, his brothers and the legendary twins was more than he would ever wish on his worst enemy.

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