Dark Wolf Page 48

“Fen’s right,” Zacarias agreed. His tone brooked no argument, and no one made one.

“Let’s get it done then,” Dimitri said. “We’ve got most of the night left.”

“We can form the shield to allow the escape out of here”—Zacarias volunteered his brothers—“but we will retaliate if fired upon.”

Zev shook his head. “I could try talking to them.”

“At this point,” Fen said, “most of the Lycans believe you are a traitor or have become the Sange rau and we’re protecting you. Your council members, or most of them, are in the Carpathian Mountains. So is your pack. You’ll do more good there. If we can get to the bottom of what’s going on, we’ll have a better chance to stop it.”

Gabriel and Lucian looked at one another and gave a slow nod in perfect unison, as if they had one mind. They’d been battling together for centuries. Strategy was a way of life. Although retreating was abhorrent, sometimes they knew it was necessary.

“Lucian and I will lead us out,” Gabriel said. “Razvan and Ivory can take up the rear. If Zacarias and his brothers shield us, that gives us Tatijana, Fen, Byron and Vlad to carry the wounded. We’ll need one more carrier.”

“I can fly myself out of here,” Dimitri said. “I might be weak, but I’m not dead.”

Gabriel shook his head. “I’m not willing to risk you, Dimitri. You’ve got my daughter’s life in your hands. You’ve been tortured beyond all reason and shot as well. Your body needs recovery time.”

“I can fly,” Josef volunteered. “I brought Paul and Skyler here.”

Zacarias swung around, his dark eyes steely and cold. “Riordan will take you. We will not risk you either.”

Josef let out his breath and ducked his head. He hadn’t expected Zacarias to take an interest in him, to even be on his radar. He was used to arguing with his adopted father and uncle, but Zacarias was on an entirely new level.

Man, how do you live with that? Josef asked Paul, but he was secretly pleased that Zacarias had even noticed him, let alone decreed one of the De La Cruz brothers would actually look after him.

He’s cool, isn’t he? Paul said.

Cool like a caged tiger, Josef replied. He’s a little bit terrifying.

I know. But then you see him with Marguarita and he’s all gooey and mushy with her.

“It’s settled then,” Gabriel continued as if he hadn’t been interrupted. “Tatijana, you take Skyler and follow me out. Fen can take Dimitri. Riordan has Josef. Vlad will have Paul. Byron, will you take Zev?”

“Of course.” He gave his nephew a warning glare. Don’t do anything crazy around the De La Cruz brothers.

They know me through Paul, Josef assured, recognizing his uncle’s gruff caution was more fear for him than embarrassment over something he might do. But I want to get home as fast as possible. Skyler needs to heal and be safe. His uncle knew he loved Skyler and that reassurance was the best that he could give.

“Zev will experience trouble getting through the wall,” Fen cautioned. “It’s difficult for me. I imagine it is for Dimitri as well. The more Lycan blood we have, the harder it is to get through.”

Skyler nodded. “I designed it that way, so no Lycan could follow us inside. I counted on Dimitri’s Carpathian blood to get him through, although I’ll admit I was worried.”

“Do you have any idea how extraordinary this is?” Gabriel asked, genuine admiration in his tone. “I’m so proud of you.”

“I’m a little in awe of my sister-kin,” Tatijana admitted.

“I can make it out,” Zev assured. “I got in.”

“But it hurts like hell,” Fen pointed out. “And you’re not anywhere near one hundred percent.”

“I don’t have to be one hundred percent to cling to a dragon’s back,” Zev pointed out with a wry grin.

“What about you, Dimitri?” Fen asked. “Do you think you can get through?”

“The wall is collapsing. I doubt if it’s nearly as strong as it was. I’ll get through. Like Zev, I don’t think hanging onto a dragon is going to be harder than forcing myself through it like I had to earlier.”

Gabriel turned to Vlad. “That leaves you with Paul. He has multiple wounds as you know and is still weak, although he refuses to admit it. One arm is nearly useless. I’ve given him blood along with both of you and Josef, but we didn’t catch the fact that he had internal bleeding until this morning.”

“That was my fault,” Josef said. “I told Tatijana I’d healed his wounds from the inside. She was busy with Dimitri for the most part.”

“It was a stupid nick,” Paul said. “No big deal, and you were bleeding like from fifty places yourself, Josef.”

The walls rippled again and this time part of the ceiling folded over. Along the western wall, the corner sagged.

“We’re definitely running out of time,” Lucian said. “We need to go now before the Lycans notice and get fired up.”

Zacarias signaled to three of his brothers. Rafael nodded and chose the western wall, the fastest collapsing. He walked toward it casually, as if he didn’t have a care in the world, or know that the Lycans stared back at him from the safety of the forest—or that the structure might fall in on itself and trap him. Nicolas took the eastern wall, striding toward it confidently. Manolito chose the north, leaving the southern entrance to Zacarias.

The brothers moved in perfect synchronization, slipping through the collapsing wall fast, hands up weaving a pattern in the air.

Gabriel didn’t hesitate. He followed Zacarias out, his every sense on alert to the danger of the carriers flying the wounded back to the Carpathian Mountains. Tatijana shifted fast, extending her wing to Skyler. Dimitri helped his lifemate climb onto the blue dragon’s back. Skyler took one last look at Dimitri and nodded her head.

Be right behind me. I have to be able to see you, she pleaded, suddenly afraid. She didn’t want to be separated from him, not after all they’d gone through.

Fen will stay close to Tatijana to protect her, Dimitri assured. I would never be far from you. Should something happen, I am quite capable of slipping off his back, shifting myself and coming for you. Have no fears. We’ll travel far this night and rest at dawn.

Tatijana rose fast, rushing the wall to break through. Skyler leaned low on the blue-spiked neck, looking back, her heart in her throat, watching for Dimitri. Fen was already in the air, crowding his lifemate with his dragon. Dimitri sat upright, no hands, a weapon at the ready.

To Skyler’s horror, she saw a line of Lycans rushing from the forest straight at them as the wings of the dragon beat ferociously in order to gain height. She felt the blue dragon gather itself to take another impressive leap into the sky just as two incredibly fast Lycans flung themselves at her. Claws hooked into scales on either side of the dragon, and two more managed to fasten their claws into the softer underbelly in an attempt to drag the dragon from the sky.


Shots rang out as the next dragon emerged from the collapsing shelter. Riordan De La Cruz burst through the shelter wall with Josef on his back. Bullets whined through the air, the sounds reverberating through the night, but Zacarias and his brothers had constructed a shield around the materializing dragons. The bullets couldn’t penetrate that safeguard. Unfortunately, the buffer was only so large, only keeping the dragons and their passengers safe as they left the collapsing shelter.

Vlad was next to appear, a great golden dragon winging its way clear of the disintegrating refuge with Paul on his back. Lycans poured into the clearing, realizing their long-range weapons did no good. Most were in Lycan form, half wolf, half man, taller and stronger and able to cover great distances in one leap.

The dragons necessarily had to come out low to the ground due to the structure falling in on itself. To gain altitude for such a large creature with the added weight of a passenger on its back, the dragon had to work immensely hard, wings straining to create enough lift for the jump.

Byron followed close behind Vlad, Zev on his back. The sight of the elite hunter with the Carpathians sent the Lycans into a frenzy of madness. Most left Vlad’s dragon alone to rush Byron, leaping at his sides, clawing and tearing, ripping at the wings in an effort to disable the creature so it couldn’t fly. Several below it tore at the soft underbelly, ripping out chunks to bleed the dragon dry.

Razvan and Ivory stormed out of the shelter, two riders in the sky, shooting arrows simultaneously, aiming for arms and legs, wounding as many as possible, every bit as fast as the Lycans.

Byron’s dragon faltered and went down, hitting with its nose first, skidding in the dirt and grass, leaving long, deep furrows behind.

Go, go. The rest of you, go, Zacarias ordered. We’ll get them free.

Fen, I can’t leave them, Dimitri said, putting his hand on the thick, spiked neck of Fen’s dragon in order to leap free.

Neither can I. We’re Hän ku pesäk kaikak. Let’s go guard Byron and Zev. Just don’t take any more hits. It really doesn’t matter if these wolves know what we are at this point. Use your speed, Fen agreed, more because Dimitri was going back than anything else.

There was no stopping his brother when his sense of justice was crossed. Zev had fought battles with him, given him blood, and in spite of recent events, Dimitri regarded him as a friend. Byron was Carpathian. No warrior would leave another down.

Fen spun his dragon around, feeling the fire roaring in his belly, a rage that went deep after what these creatures had done to his brother. He thought he was past it, but seeing them tearing at Byron when the Carpathian hadn’t even tried to defend himself, he found himself furious all over again, but in a cold rage, which didn’t bode well.

He swore when the Lycans surrounded Byron’s downed dragon, hooking their claws into him, preventing shifting. There were so many ripping and tearing at the body of the dragon, the arrows of the defenders seemed to make little difference. As fast as one fell, another took its place.

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