Her fury saturated me. My father had taken the bones of my grandmother from her resting place in Iraq and brought them here. She hated it. Her magic, her anger, and her grief permeated every inch of Mishmar and twisted it into hell on earth.

Hot tears bathed my cheeks. I was weeping.

She recognized me. She knew who I was. It was as if I were the grandchild of a devastating hurricane or an insane monster that had crushed and destroyed for so long, it no longer remembered how to nurture its young, but it still recognized its own blood and it tried to be gentle and to keep its own wrath from destroying me.

The magic released me. I floated down to the floor, landing on my feet, the translucent image of Semiramis looming before me. A single bone blade slid off the skeleton and landed before my feet.

A gift.

Slayer clattered on the floor before me. The hilt fell apart, releasing the broken blade. I slid the new blade into it, and the hilt sealed itself, binding to the new sword as if forged together. I picked it up. It wasn’t Slayer. It was a quarter of an inch longer and slightly heavier, but it felt right. I knew exactly what I would call it.

I raised my head. My grandmother was gone, her magic withdrawn. It hadn’t disappeared. It had just pulled back, waiting. She would let our party pass as long as they didn’t disturb her.

I walked back to the doorway. A metal wheel thrust from the wall by the exit. I turned it and heard the clang of a metal bridge sliding into place. I stepped onto the breezeway and saw Curran running up the bridge. The rest of our people waited on the ledge, looking at us. “You okay?”

I swallowed and nodded. “Don’t go into the room. She’ll kill you. As long as nobody enters, we can pass to the other side.”

“She who? What the hell was in there?” Curran asked.

“The bones of my grandmother.”

Curran opened his mouth, closed it, and finally said, “Your grandmother is the magic of Mishmar?”

“She wants to go back to the Tigris. She hates it here.” I slid Sarrat a little out of its sheath. “Look, she gave me a new sword.”

Curran peered at it. “It looks like Slayer.”

“That’s because they’re both made of her bones.”

“Your sword is made out of your grandmother’s bones?”

“Okay, I see how it sounds weird when you say it in that tone of voice . . .”

Curran grabbed my hand. “I’m not even going to say anything else. Let’s just get out of here.”


I HAD STOOD in the doorway of my grandmother’s tomb, blocking access to the inside, until the last of our party made it across. She let us go. When I got to the other side, nobody spoke. They just looked at me, their faces freaked out.

“Keep moving,” Curran growled.

We ran through the twisted hallways of Mishmar. We’d been going for the better part of an hour now. I was so damn tired.

“Break,” Curran called.

I almost ran into him, but at the last moment, I twisted away and sagged against the wall. Kate Daniels, the picture of grace.

Ghastek paused in front of me, still in the arms of his vampire. “I demand an explanation.”

Bite me. How about that for an explanation?

“Let me know how that goes for you,” Robert told him. “I’ve been demanding explanations for the last two weeks.”

“You’re not in a position to demand anything,” Jim said.

“Me?” Robert turned to Jim.

“No, him.” Jim nodded at Ghastek.

“Clearly, I haven’t been made aware of certain things, and considering that I’m an innocent bystander to this entire sordid affair, I deserve to know what’s going on,” Ghastek said.

Curran turned. His voice dropped into the flat tone that usually meant he was half a second from erupting into violence. “You and your undead brood came to my house and threatened my people and my mate. I have a strong urge to crush your neck between my teeth. Now, so far I’ve been resisting this urge because Kate is fond of you—why, I can’t understand. But my patience is wearing thin.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Ghastek told him.

Curran glanced at Jim. “Would I dare?”

Jim chuckled. “You would. In fact, I can’t understand why you haven’t dared yet. Mulradin is already dead. If Ghastek doesn’t make it out, the People will experience a power vacuum. Either they’ll fight it out or they’ll get a new boss from above who doesn’t know anything about Atlanta. Either way it’s a win for us.”

“We don’t really have to kill you,” Thomas said. “It can be a happy accident. You could step into a dark hole and break your neck. Or you and Jim could linger behind for a moment or two, and then you’ll slip and fall.”

“On my claws,” Jim added. “Very unfortunate.”

“Or I could accidentally shoot you,” Andrea offered from behind. “It was dark, I saw something move. Everybody knows I’m a terrible shot.”

“Ha-ha,” I told her.

“We’d get back,” Robert said. “And the People would ask us ‘Where is Ghastek?’ and we’d say ‘Terribly sorry, couldn’t find him. Mishmar is a big place, you know.’”

“I feel like I’ve been captured by a horde of savages,” Ghastek said dryly.

“You are a man who pilots monsters,” Nasrin said. “We are monsters. We look after our own. You are not one of our own.”

“I would like to go on record now: we should kill him,” Jim said. “We’ll be kicking ourselves in the ass if we don’t.”

“Yes, Curran,” Andrea said. “After all, how mad would Kate really be? She loves you. She’ll kick you a couple of times and then she’ll forgive you.”

“You guys are a riot,” I said. I didn’t hold Ghastek’s head above the water for hours so they could bump him off. “I promised him he would get out of here. You’re not killing him.”

A flood of undead magic rushed at us, as hundreds of bloodsuckers surged toward us somewhere above. The vampires must have found a way around Semiramis’s chamber.

“Run!” Ghastek screamed.

We sprinted through the hallway. Turn, another turn . . . The hallway opened into what must’ve been at one point a lobby. Giant double doors blocked our way and in between the doors, a narrow, hair-thin gap glowed weakly. Sunlight. We’d found the exit. I almost couldn’t believe it.

Tags: Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Vampires
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
Articles you may like