“Your mother?” Andrea pointed at the blond woman.

“This is the only picture I have of her. I found it among Greg’s things after his death. Roland loved my mother very much. You’d think after six millennia he’d lose all capacity for human emotion, but from what Voron said, Roland’s just as volatile as the rest of us. He fell in love with my mother. He wanted to make her happy, and she wanted a child, so despite swearing off siring any more monstrosities, he decided to try one more time.”

“What does he have against kids?” Andrea gently turned the photograph of my mother to the light.

“We all turn out like him.” My laugh dripped with bitterness. “Stubborn and violent. Picture a brood of people just like me, loaded with unimaginable power and a willingness to use it.”

Andrea’s face turned a shade paler.

“Sooner or later we all go to war with him,” I said. “And he has to kill us or we’ll tear the world apart. Some of the worst wars this planet has seen were started by my family. Roland gave up on his progeny. We’re too much trouble. That’s why, even though he made an exception in my mother’s case, he changed his mind before I was even born. She realized which way the wind was blowing and ran away with Voron. Very few people know about this and none of them are dumb enough to risk Roland’s attention by opening their mouths.”

Andrea looked at my mother. “She was beautiful.” “Thank you.”

“Do you think she loved Voron?”

“I don’t know. I don’t remember her. I used to hope I’d recall some details—a scent, a sound, anything—but no. I have nothing. No memories of her, no recollections of them being together. I think she must’ve cared for him, because the two of them had some time on the run, before Roland caught up with them, and it must’ve been bliss because when Voron spoke of it, everything about him changed. His voice, his face, the look in his eyes. It’s like he became a different person when he remembered her. He didn’t talk about her often.”

Maybe I was getting through to her.

“You have no idea how cool this is,” Andrea said. “It’s like having tea with Wyatt Earp and listening to him tell you about Dodge City and Doc. This stuff is legend.”

Nope, not even a little bit. “My mother let Roland find her to buy Voron time to escape with me. I don’t know what happened between my parents, but my mother stuck a dagger into Roland’s eye and he killed her. He murdered the only person he loved just so he could wring my neck. Killing me was more important. Eventually Roland will find me. This won’t be one of those ‘cry tears of joy’ moments. He will kill me, Andrea. He’ll rip the entire city down just so he can lock his hands on my throat and watch the light fade in my eyes. He’ll destroy all my friends, he’ll obliterate my allies, and he’ll kill anyone who dares to show a shred of kindness to me. Hell, he’ll probably salt the ground, so nothing would ever grow here. I’m not joking. This isn’t an exaggeration. It may be the stuff of legends, but these legends come to life in a really painful way.”

She gave me her own version of a hard stare. The funny blonde vanished and in her place sat a knight of the Order: hard, dangerous, and controlled. “That’s why you need me. You can’t do it alone.”

“Did you hear a word of what I said?”

“I heard you loud and clear. You don’t get to make my choices for me, Kate. Last time I checked, I was still in charge of my life.”

Fuck me. I raised my hands. “I give up.”

“Good,” she said. “Does this mean we can go back to Hugh?”

I sighed. “Fine. Tie your own noose.”

“What do you know about him?” Andrea pulled Hugh’s file toward her.

I passed her the notebook. “Everything there is to know up until the last twenty years. He was found by Voron when he was six. Roland saw potential in him. Voron was a genius swordsman, one in a million, and he was a decent commander, but Roland wanted a true Warlord.”

I tapped a piece of paper. “My father put me through a variety of trials. I fought in gladiator rings, I survived in the wilderness, I received training in a dozen martial arts. He did the same thing with Hugh. In a way, Hugh was a practice run for me.”

I refilled my cup.

“Voron trained me to be a lone wolf. I’m a self-reliant killer. I’m designed to cut through the ranks and kill my target. Hugh was groomed to lead armies. He fought in dozens of regiments in hundreds of conflicts, all across the world. Roland’s magic keeps him young. It makes him stronger than an ordinary human and harder to kill. Hugh is the ultimate warrior-general. He’s patient, cunning, and ruthless.”

“If you’re trying to scare me, it’s not working,” Andrea said.

“I’m trying to explain to you the kind of enemy Hugh is. Hugh won’t permit himself to be embarrassed. He’ll gather as much information as he can, so when he presents my existence to Roland, he’ll have a wall of facts to back it up. He won’t move until he has absolute proof of my ancestry. I’m guessing that right now he’s making circles around me, piecing my life together. He has patience and time. He can’t be bought off, intimidated, or convinced to let me alone. And I’m not sure I’m strong enough to kill him.”

Andrea’s face turned sour. “You don’t want to kill him. If you do that, Roland will flood the area with his people trying to figure out who nuked his Warlord.”

“Exactly.” I drank my now lukewarm tea. “My only option is to lay low and try not to draw any attention to myself. Voron has been dead for over a decade. Not that many people remember him. My track record is mediocre—I worked very hard to keep it that way. I shouldn’t be viewed as anything out of the ordinary.”

“That’s nice, but there is the matter of the sword,” Andrea said.

“Yeah.” There was the shattered sword. No matter what I told myself, I couldn’t dodge that bullet. There was a price for everything. The price for keeping my friends alive was being found and I paid it. At the time, I was sure I would die and risking discovery didn’t seem like a big deal.

“If the shit hits the fan, I can always disappear,” I said.

“What about Curran?” Andrea asked.

“What about him?”

“Fifteen hundred shapeshifters in a freaking castle will make anyone think twice about breaking in. Could you go to Curran? You guys are—”

Tags: Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Vampires
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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