Dark Wolf Page 40

Fen and Byron exchanged a small smile. It seemed it wasn’t only the Carpathians who had underestimated Skyler, Josef and Paul.

“I’m sorry she’s dead,” Zev said. “She flung herself in front of Dimitri just as a dozen Lycans fired. Most of the Lycans obeyed when I told them to stand down, but Gunnolf’s faction was determined to kill Dimitri. She just got in the way.”

“She’s not dead,” Byron said.

Zev frowned and looked around him. The shelter had transparent walls and ceiling, he could see the occupants easily. Tatijana and another man seemed to be working on a younger man’s wounds. He had spiked blue/black hair and was very pale. Paul lay on the ground close to him, looking back at him. But there were no others in the fortress besides Byron and Fen.

“Dimitri put her in the ground to heal,” Fen explained.

“I thought she was human,” Zev said, puzzled. “You are confusing me, and I’m already a little disoriented.”

“She will rise fully Carpathian,” Fen clarified. “Dimitri was able to save her.”

“After seeing her wounds, I don’t see how it was possible,” Zev said. “Even from a distance, she looked dead or dying.”

“Her father is Gabriel Daratrazanoff,” Fen said. “Her adopted father.”

Zev’s breath caught in his throat. If it was possible for him to go any paler, he managed it. “The legend? Gabriel and Lucian? The twins? Every Lycan young or old has heard of them. I don’t suppose there’s any hope that they aren’t heading this way, because where one is, so is the other.”

“None at all,” Fen said. “Gabriel and Lucian are hoping to make it before dawn.”

Zev closed his eyes. “This is getting worse by the minute.”

“I haven’t told you the worst,” Fen cautioned.

Zev groaned softly. “Just get it over with, Fen. What else?”

“Have you heard of a Carpathian by the name of Zacarias?”

Zev’s eyes flew open. He even sat up again. “Are you kidding me? No Lycan goes near South America if they can help it. It’s been done, but rarely. No one wants any part of him or his brothers. Of course we’ve heard of him. He’s the boogeyman we scare our children with.”

Fen indicated Paul with his thumb. “That’s his nephew.”

“Fen.” Zev brushed his hand over his face. “How are we going to prevent a war? You know not every Lycan here at this camp is guilty. You know that. All of them, me included, were duped into thinking the council had sentenced Dimitri to death by silver. In a way it made sense, they could deny they had killed him because he would move continually until the silver reached his heart. Technically, they could claim he killed himself.”

“That’s bull,” Fen snapped, his eyes beginning to glow. He even felt his teeth lengthen just a little.

Zev frowned at him. “Don’t go vampire on me. I’m just explaining how it appeared from a Lycan point of view. I tried calling the council members but none of the phones worked. Looking back, Gunnolf and his followers must have been jamming the cell phones.”

“You would have let him die,” Fen accused. “My brother.”

Zev nodded. “I thought about killing him myself, to stop his suffering,” he admitted. “I have a sworn duty to uphold the rulings of the council whether I agree or not.” He drummed his fingers on his leg. “Truthfully, I considered, for the first time in my very long existence, going against them. Not only was the ruling unjust, but it seemed suicidal. Council members were negotiating with Mikhail for an alliance—and they wanted it. They were in favor of it. Or most of them.”

“Most?” Fen echoed.

“Majority rules on the council, and all Lycans abide by the laws. The alpha enforces the laws within individual packs, but no pack would ever go against a council ruling.”

“I guess I should be glad you didn’t kill him,” Fen said.

“I would have asked him first. He lasted too long, so I figured he had a powerful reason for staying alive, one that transcended that kind of pain. He worked at remaining still, which meant he didn’t want to die. I found traces of silver on the ground below him and realized he had to be pushing the silver out through his pores. He was completely wrapped in silver chain from head to toe, so that made no sense.”

“Skyler,” Fen said. “That girl—woman,” he corrected.

“Who would have thought that innocent-looking child could possibly wreak such havoc and completely disrupt a takeover by some fanatical group within the Lycans?” Zev said.

“You do realize,” Fen pointed out, “Gunnolf and Convel had to be working with someone else for a long time to put a takeover in place and when we stumbled across the same rogue pack heading for the Carpathian Mountains, we actually walked right into their opening move.”

Zev nodded. He smiled up at Tatijana as she came to his side. “It’s good to see you,” he greeted her. “Thanks for saving us out there.”

She smiled back at him and sank down into the grass, taking his arm to inspect the damage. “It’s getting to be a habit. We can’t have anyone killing you, Zev. My sister wouldn’t be too pleased. She’s hoping to get another dance with you sometime.”

“She probably doesn’t remember my name,” Zev said. “But it’s kind of you to say so.”

Tatijana laughed. “Silly man. Your name is probably the only one she does remember. She’s not very social.”

Fen gave a small derisive snort. “The lengths you go to, getting yourself hurt just for a little female sympathy. You know, Tatijana, he really is far faster than he lets on and he could have prevented the knife from slicing him open. He was just hoping your sister would show up and kiss it all better.”

Zev sent him a warning glare. “I’m still armed to the teeth, you bastard.”

Tatijana shook her head, amusement in her eyes. “You two are awful.” The smile suddenly faded from her eyes leaving her, serious-looking—and a little worried. “Zev, this cut is all the way to the bone. There is some kind of poison at work here I can barely detect. I can check it out if you allow me to, but I’ll have to do so the Carpathian way.”

Zev shrugged. “Apparently, I’m nearly half Carpathian already. I may as well learn how to do the healing the way you do. And it isn’t like you haven’t done it before.”

Tatijana didn’t wait, but shed her body, her spirit becoming white energy, moving into Zev to try to find the poisonous compound spreading through his system. A scratch along the bone from elbow to wrist showed where the slice had been. The tip of the blade had cut into the bone and she could see tiny, minute blisters, like little droplets all along the scratch. The globules clung to the bone, but spread along the scratch and beyond. The deadly beads crept their way up his arm, following the bone.

She had to eradicate every single tiny trace of that poison. More, throughout the tissue and muscles of his arm, she could see evidence of a blood thinner and anticoagulant. Gunnolf had been prepared to challenge Zev to a fight for pack leader and he’d come ready to murder him. As long as the thinner and anticoagulant saturated his arm, there would never be healing. They could give him blood over and over and it wouldn’t matter.

She moved back into her own body, her eyes meeting her lifemate’s, her expression grave. “Gunnolf planned to murder you, Zev. There are at least three compounds left behind in your system to kill you. Your Lycan blood is trying to regenerate tissue and muscle and your Carpathian blood is trying to remove the intruders, but you won’t be able to do so on your own.”

Fen reached out and took her hand, threading his fingers through hers. “We knew it was bad,” he told her gently. “Nothing has stopped the bleeding. Can you get it out of him? I have some skills as well. Between the two of us, we should be able to clean him up.”

“Vlad can give him blood,” Byron said. “Once you stop the bleeding.”

“I can, too,” Paul volunteered.

“If he gives me blood, would I be considered part of Zacarias’s family?” Zev asked. “That might be safer.”

“I think Gabriel is going to be one who comes in like the avenger,” Byron said. “I’m getting a few rumblings. Razvan, Skyler’s birth father, is on his way with Ivory, his lifemate. They just reached out to me. None of them are happy about any of this. Razvan informed me that there was an assassination attempt on the members of the council.”

Zev swore under his breath. “This is far worse than I thought. This isn’t just happening here then. I was afraid of that. There are council members in a safe location as well. It’s a precaution taken when there is danger to any of them. That way there is stability should any one of them die. There is always a continuity, older members with any necessary new members. Were any of them killed or injured? I sent my best people with them.”

“Fortunately, cool heads prevailed,” Byron informed him. “Razvan wasn’t there when the assassins struck. Apparently, they tried to kill Gabriel and Francesca as they turned away. Zacarias stopped them, and both Mikhail and a senior member of the council persuaded the others to stand down after a brief but apparently ferocious battle. Twelve Lycans were killed, but they appeared to be for the other side, whatever that is.”

Zev swore again. “I need to get there. If a single council member is murdered in the Carpathian Mountains, whoever is behind this has won.” He half sat up as if he might go right then.

Fen held up a restraining hand. “Did you forget the poison? The anticoagulant? Were you planning on taking a body along with you to supply you with blood?”

Zev looked pained, rolling his eyes, shaking his head. “When did he get to be such a comedian, Tatijana?”

Tatijana pinned Fen with a glare, although amusement lurked in her eyes. “I have no idea, but you really are in trouble here. Sober up, wolf men, both of you, we have to get this arm taken care of.” She looked over her shoulder. “Vlad, I’m going to need you. He’s still losing too much blood.”

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