Dark Wolf Page 7

She chose the line closest to his heart. The silver seemed to be liquid, tiny beads of it stretching through his body. Very small, the threads appearing as veins. She experimented with bringing her spirit close to the end of it. The silver trail flinched back. She didn’t dare melt it because it could run through his body even faster. There were so many hooks. The problem seemed impossible.

She pushed aside anxiety and near panic as the emotions rose so sharp and ugly. She was thinking as a Carpathian, but what of that other side of her? Razvan was her father, and he had mage blood. His father was the most powerful mage ever known. Surely she had mage blood as well. That was the very reason her grandfather had rejected her and sold her to another man. He believed she didn’t have the Carpathian blood he needed to be immortal. It was possible she could use that other side, often ignored because she didn’t want to remember it was part of her heritage.

Tiny silver threads, so deadly and bright,

I call upon the earth to steal your might,

As you were created, I shall undo.

I call on your makers and take on your hue.

Skyler moved forward, closer to the silver threads, concentrating on the end as she stretched her spirit, extending her white light to touch the fine end.

That which was created shall now become mine,

Chlorine, sulfur, antimony and arsenic I bind.

Chlorine that holds the color of green and gold,

I take on your energy and now so do I hold.

She called on the things of the earth. She was a daughter of the earth, bound to its properties. Mother Earth had always come to her aid when she had need. She felt that connection now and drew on it.

Sulfur, oh brimstone with life-giving gifts,

I breathe in your essence and take of your gifts,

Antimony, sweet metal, I take on your shine,

And weave now a barrier that none may unbind,

She was the granddaughter of the most powerful mage the world had ever known, and his blood, whether she liked it or not, ran in her veins. Right now, in this moment of terrible crisis, she used whatever gifts had been given to her gratefully.

Arsenic sweet arsenic so lethal and gray,

I call on your power to shift poison away.

Silver I touch, silver I wind,

Silver I release back to your source.

To her utter astonishment the silver vein began to actually move backward.

It’s seeping out my pores. Dimitri gave a gasp, desperate to suppress the pain, to block it so Skyler couldn’t feel the burn as the silver seemed to eat through his entire body, flame through his very skin, to drop away onto the ground below him.

She followed that thin line of silver back to the source. The hooks the Lycans had placed in his body were actually tubes of silver beads. The tiny beads at the tip of the hook where it was inserted into the body eventually heated from body temperature, turning the bead to a liquid form. The bead dropped into the body and began to stretch out, reaching for the heart. It took thousands of those beads to form the network of deadly veins. It was an ugly way for anyone to die.

Skyler focused on the hook, searching her mind for a way to stop the flow of venomous silver into Dimitri’s body.

Hooks of silver, curved and sharp,

Inserted in flesh to poison the heart,

Iced brimstone and fire I call you now forth.

Come out and heat this evil source.

Skyler focused completely on the tips of the hooks, determined to close the hollowed, opened end so that there was no way for that terrible silver to continue poisoning Dimitri’s body.

Take what is open and seal it now closed,

So no more that is poison can seek what is exposed.

Take what is liquid and give it a form,

Sealing away all, so it no more can harm.

Skyler knew she couldn’t hold the bridge between them for long. There was no way to remove all the silver spreading through his body in the time she had before she collapsed. She had chosen the longest lines, the ones most threatening, and meticulously pushed them back to their source and then through Dimitri’s pores. One by one she removed those thin, deadly threads as fast as she could.

Skyler. Come back. You have to come back now! Dimitri, send her back to us now! She’s lost. She’s too far away and stretched too thin.

She heard the call as if from a great distance. Josef, she recognized, and his voice was filled with fear.

Sívamet.

Dimitri’s tone was tender, gentle. Filled with love. Surrounding her with warmth when she was so cold. Icy cold.

You must go back. Now, csitri, I cannot lose you. When you are strong enough, come back and finish what you’ve started.

She had removed a lot of the silver, at least half, but that didn’t lessen the agony he was in. The thought of abandoning him when he needed her was absolutely abhorrent. She told herself one more thread—just get one more out of him.

She felt Dimitri’s spirit brush up against hers and then he thrust her away. The momentum pushed her from his body, back onto that ice-cold psychic path. The path itself was so broken and torn she felt very confused. She looked around her somewhat helplessly, not understanding what was happening to her.

I swear if you don’t come back, Sky, I’m going to throttle you.

Josef sounded desperate. She felt lost and alone there in that cold stream. She reached for his familiar voice, using it as a guide.

She found herself back in her own body, so cold she couldn’t stop shaking. Josef bent over her, hissing his anger, pressing his wrist to her mouth, glaring at her. His skin was paler than ever, almost stark white. If she could have lifted her hand to his face she would have been able to trace each line of fear stamped into it. She tried to turn her head away from his wrist, but he clamped it over her mouth and stroked her throat, forcing her to swallow.

Paul brushed back her hair with gentle fingers. Her hair was damp, as if she’d just stepped out of the shower. She couldn’t stop shaking, although Paul’s coat lay over her. The Carpathian blood Josef pushed into her system was hot inside her, beginning to thaw out her body after that terrible cold. Josef closed the laceration on his wrist and flopped down beside her there in the grass. He slipped his arms around her, trying to heat her with his body.

Paul lay down beside her as well, using his body to help warm her. “Look at me, Skyler,” Paul instructed. There was fear in his voice as well. “Are you back with us?”

“He’s somewhere in Russia,” she managed. Her voice was hoarse and sounded far away. “In the forest. It’s worse than I ever imagined.”

3

Skyler woke in a panic, gasping for breath, her heart pounding, the echo of her nightmare filling her with dread. How could she have ever dreamt up such a brutal, ugly way to kill another being? What was wrong with her that she had such a vivid, disgusting imagination?

It took tremendous effort to sit up. Her head exploded with pain and she felt dizzy, so faint she was afraid she might collapse again. Drawing in a deep breath, she looked around her. She was in an unfamiliar room. It was very neat; traditional quilts lay across the bed, piled on her. Paul lay on the floor a few feet away, sleeping soundly. He looked exhausted.

She felt thin and stretched out, so utterly tired. She wanted to curl up in the fetal position under the warm covers and go back to sleep. But that nightmare . . . Dimitri. Silver threading through his body . . .

She couldn’t breathe. All the air was gone from the room. Dimitri. She hadn’t dreamt it. The Lycans were killing him slowly with silver. The hooks tearing through his body were bad enough, but the silver snaking its way through him was pure agony. She hadn’t stopped it. She’d failed him. Completely failed him. She covered her face with her hands, weeping.

“Skyler.” Paul leapt up instantly.

He wrapped his arm around her while she rocked back and forth, her face buried against his shoulder. “I didn’t stop it,” she sobbed. “I didn’t have enough time.”

Paul didn’t say a word, just held her, letting her cry while he rocked her, patted her back and stroked her hair.

Exhaustion more than anything else stopped the tears. She reached a point where she couldn’t cry anymore. She couldn’t do anything but cling to Paul.

“I just left him there,” she whispered, lifting her head to look at Paul while she made the confession. “He’s in so much pain, and I just left him there.”

Paul frowned. “Josef couldn’t say anything at all last night. I gave him blood and he immediately tried to bring you back. He didn’t say why, but I assumed you were still trying to heal Dimitri.”

“He’s being poisoned, and I couldn’t get it all.” She gasped and let out another little sob.

“You had no choice,” Paul assured her. “If you’d stayed any longer, we couldn’t have brought you back. You’d be dead, or wandering in the spirit world and then where would Dimitri be? No one else can find him. At least this way, when you’re strong enough, you can go back and help him.”

“In the meantime he’s suffering horribly. That pain is worse than anything you can imagine,” she said. “At least when I was there, he knew someone was looking for him, someone cared enough to come after him. But the pain . . .” She trailed off with another choking sob.

“During the day, he’ll be in a Carpathian sleep and won’t be able to feel anything,” Paul reminded.

She shook her head. “His Lycan blood will keep him awake most of the time. I doubt with that kind of pain he’ll be able to sleep at all.” Her head nearly exploded again and she pressed both hands to her temples. “Is Josef all right? Are you? You must have had to give him blood a couple of times.”

“He was in bad shape,” Paul admitted. “He couldn’t move a muscle. I think you used up every bit of energy both of you had, but I knew if I gave him blood it would help him.” He showed her his wrist where he’d slashed his vein open and pressed the wound to Josef’s mouth.

Paul was human and didn’t heal the way Carpathians did. The laceration looked ugly and raw. She took his hand gently and turned it over to examine the clean cut his knife had made.

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