Burning Skies Page 60

* * *

Marcus watched the pretty-boy’s dagger fly from his hand, through empty airspace, to embed in one of the palm trees not far from where Marcus stood. Holy shit. That blade had been aimed at Thorne, but Thorne had vanished a split second earlier.

He looked around. Havily was gone as well, and a tremor went through him. If he understood what had happened, Havily had just swept Thorne into the darkening, which meant she had just saved Thorne’s life. Holy shit!

Marcus focused his attention on the death vampire cloaked in mist and invisible from most of the eyes present. He folded directly behind the pretty-boy. “You looking for someone?” Marcus asked quietly.

The pretty-boy whipped around and met his gaze. His eyes flared as Marcus lifted his sword. With preternatural speed, before the death vamp could move, Marcus sliced in a strong swift arc at the bastard’s neck. He made quick work of it, which unfortunately sent a fine spray of blood in every direction. At least the vampire was no longer breathing when he fell headless to the white marble floor and his constructed mist disappeared. His head rolled, thankfully, away from the line of ambassadors.

A cry went up at the same time and the reception line fell back, forming a half circle around the bloody sight.

Endelle joined Marcus then glanced at Medichi, who drew up on Marcus’s other side. “What the hell happened here?” Endelle cried. She looked down at the death vampire. She peered around, hunting. “Where the fuck is Thorne?”

Marcus explained. Medichi added information that concerned Parisa and a sudden vision.

Endelle listened, her striated eyes widening, her cheeks turning a dark red, her lips thinning. She seemed to grow an entire foot, and electricity began to spray from her head, her arms, her shoulders in brilliant green and blue flashes. She turned in Greaves’s direction. The crowd parted.

She moved to stand once more in front of the Commander, the flashes turning red. “It would seem one of your own has made an attempt on the life of one of my Warriors of the Blood. So unless you wish to face me now, a challenge I would gladly accept, you had best get the hell out of here. Do you understand me, Commander?” The last word, spoken aloud and with unfathomable resonance, brought half the ambassadors to their knees along with most of Greaves’s war party.

Greaves, however, didn’t move; nor did he meet Endelle’s gaze. His attention was elsewhere. He even frowned as he glanced around. Marcus watched him closely.

When the Commander’s gaze landed on Medichi and Parisa his frown deepened. Medichi, however, stepped in front of Parisa, his sword drawn. He looked goddamn righteous in battle gear, his weapons harness strapped to his chest, over his black tee. His height was unmatched in the building by any other man present, the strength of his features enough to give even the most powerful death vampire pause.

And still Greaves didn’t seem to care. He kept searching the room.

Then it dawned on Marcus what he was looking for: Thorne and Havily. But the hell if he was allowing Havily to be called back while Greaves was in the goddamn building.

Time to end this.

Marcus crossed the room and drew close to Endelle. He cried out in his loudest, most commanding voice, also splitting resonance: “You’ve got your marching orders, asshole. Get lost! Now!”

More groans erupted from several quarters, but Greaves leveled his gaze on Marcus. He felt the punch inside his brain but Marcus pushed back with a powerful, effective shove. Greaves wasn’t getting anything out of this little show, not command of his mind, not clues to Havily’s whereabouts, and not the death of a Warrior of the Blood.

Hell. No.

Greaves backed down. He bowed to Endelle. “I shall see you tomorrow at the committee hearing.”

And that was that since Greaves lifted an arm, then he and his contingent, as one, disappeared.

Damn, that vampire had power. Bastard.

Endelle turned to Marcus then glanced at the body of the death vamp. She made a careful assessment. “So he was after Thorne.” Whatever her temper might be, her mind was quick.


“And Havily has him.”

Marcus nodded.

“Well, if he wanted to make a statement, taking out my second-in-command would have done it. Thank fuck he failed.”

“You noticed Greaves looking around?”

Endelle nodded. “I saw.”

“Do you think he meant anything more by it than wondering where Thorne and Havily were?”

She sighed and shook her head. “Greaves is no fool. We both know Havily’s powers are emerging. He must have information about her from the future streams.” A soft stream of obscenities left her mouth. “And now he sure as hell knows about her darkening abilities. Goddammit.”

“I think I should get her back to the villa.”

Endelle nodded but frowned. “What about all this?” She waved a hand toward the line of ambassadors. Everyone was staring at Endelle, waiting, distressed.

Marcus had already thought this through. “Havily trained her teams well, and you need to continue honoring those ambassadors who have had the courage to show up for this reception and for the Festival tomorrow night.”

He glanced around. “As for this mess, Jeannie can do cleanup. If she does it in small increments, the flashes won’t do any damage.”

“Get it done, Warrior,” Endelle said.

Marcus drew his phone from his pant pocket then touched the screen.

“Good evening, Warrior Marcus. How can I help?”

“Hey, Jeannie. We need cleanup at the Bredstone at my location. Small doses. Just give me a minute to get this organized.” He lowered his arm and called out, “Eyes closed.” He repeated the command and waited until all necessary translations had been made. He brought his phone back up to his ear and gave Jeannie the command.

“You got it.”

Marcus closed his eyes as well. A series of small flashes of light ensued. He opened his eyes and poof, death vampire and attending debris gone.

Endelle met his gaze. “Good job,” she said quietly.

Marcus felt his future crowding him. His warrior instincts were firing off one after the other. He still held his bloodied sword in hand.

Something needed to be done about how this war was being managed, but what?

* * *

So far, by making use of his most powerful mist, Crace had been able to disguise his presence from the august gathering. He knew he didn’t have much time to figure out what had happened. There were too many powerful entities present who would eventually see his mist for what it was: a projected image of a palm tree.

He’d been watching the show with great pleasure, right up until the moment that Parisa had shown up with Warrior Medichi in full guardian mode. From that split second forward, his plans fell to shit.

Before the assassin could complete his assignment, both Havily and Thorne had disappeared simultaneously; then Warrior Marcus, having caught the death vampire in the act, had struck him down. He didn’t give a toad’s ass about the death vamp, only that his plan had fucking failed … again.

But where had Havily gone? Where was Thorne?

Once again, Crace hunted for Havily’s trace as well as Thorne’s but found nothing, which meant Greaves was right, the bitch had the ability to go into the darkening. She also had the capacity to take others with her. In this case, she’d just saved the life of the fucking leader of the Warriors of the Blood.

His first instinct was to report to Greaves, to tell the Commander what he believed had happened, but he belayed that impulse. The Commander wasn’t high on his list of must-grovel-to right now. He was still pissed at having been humiliated in the peach orchard and he despised that Greaves actually favored Rith-the-weasel. So, the Commander could go fuck himself.

He was also intrigued that the mortal-with-wings had somehow learned of the impending attack and had informed Havily of it. So the women were working together? There was that convergence theory again.


He just couldn’t work up a fly’s armpit of interest in the mortal-with-wings. He wanted his blood donor and he wanted her now.

His pecs swelled and flexed in anticipation. Yep, Havily was what he needed, but shit, darkening capabilities.

In quick stages, he became aware that if he intended to hold his blood donor for any length of time he would have to deal with her ability to disappear into the darkening. He knew next to nothing about this power, since it was primarily a Third Earth ability, but if she could remain indefinitely in the darkening—or worse, leave from one location into nether-space then move to another—he would have to find some way to immobilize her.

The next step in the process led him to consider the use of drugs. The mind guided every power. If Havily’s brain were melted down into a useless soup, she’d stay put. Besides, he didn’t really need her thinking.

Already his mind whirred as a new plan began to form, one he could execute in tandem with his fireworks display at the Festival tomorrow night. He smiled. Damn, he loved it when a plan came together.

As for the botched assassination attempt, he knew Greaves would be disappointed but right now he didn’t give a fuck. He thought about returning to his forge and getting started on what he’d need in order to contain Havily but he really wanted to see his suspicions confirmed. He wanted to see her bring Thorne back from the darkening.

He settled in for the wait until he felt a sliver of energy pierce him, a little zing that burned like hell. His whole carefully constructed shield of mist started to disintegrate, and now he stood exposed in his leather kilt and battle sandals for all to see.

He turned and sought the author of his shield’s disintegration. Just in time, he caught Endelle’s hostile glare and her upraised hand, palm aimed at him.

Aw fuck, the bitch was about to throw a hand-blast.

He lifted his arm and got the hell out of there. However, when he arrived back in his forge, a portion of his side was burned all to hell. Shit, she’d hit him.

He started to shake. That was a close one. If he hadn’t escaped when he did, he would be a collection of charred carbon all over the wall of the Bredstone. Shit.

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