I'd seen him fight before, but it never got old. He was captivating. He never stopped moving.

Every action was graceful and lethal. He was a dancer of death. Ignoring the guy he'd just thrown, Dimitri surged toward the others. He immediately went for the guy with the sword.

A swift kick from Dimitri sent the assailant flying backward. He dropped the sword and barely managed to catch hold of one of the churchyard trees.

Meanwhile, one of the men holding Sonya simply turned tail and ran back toward downtown.

Dimitri didn't pursue. His attention now was on the last guy, who was foolishly attempting to fight back. This freed Sonya, however, and she wasted no time getting to her feet and scurrying over to my side. I was rarely touchy-feely with anyone - certainly not Moroi - but I clung to her without even thinking twice. She did the same, and I could feel her trembling.

Once, as a Strigoi, she'd been a force to be reckoned with. As a Moroi, one who'd just had a sword at her throat, things were understandably different.

The guy facing down Dimitri actually managed a couple of good dodges. His mistake came when he attempted to hit Dimitri. It opened his guard, and like that, Dimitri punched him hard in the face. The tall guy who'd hit the tree earlier attempted an attack, but he was an idiot if he thought Dimitri was distracted. Dimitri dispatched him easily, and he landed near the guy Dimitri had just punched. The tall one struggled to his feet and looked like he wanted to attack again. His friend grabbed hold of him and tugged him away. After a moment's struggle between them, the two finally ran off. Dimitri didn't pursue. His attention was all on Sonya and me.

"Are you okay?" he asked, swiftly striding over to us.

I managed a weak nod, even though I was shaking uncontrollably.

"Let's get out of here," said Dimitri. He put a hand on each of our shoulders and began to steer us away.

"Wait," I said, moving toward the churchyard. "We should take the sword." I scanned in front of me, but it was even darker than before. Dimitri found the sword right away with his superior eyesight. He tucked it under his duster, and the three of us quickly got out of there. We walked to Adrian's apartment, since it was much closer than Clarence's property outside of town. Even so, the brief trip seemed to take forever. I kept feeling like we could be attacked again at any moment, but Dimitri continued giving us assurances, while still pushing us at a good pace.

Adrian was surprised to see us at his door. He also looked pretty drunk, but I didn't care.

All I wanted was the security of his four walls.

"What... what's going on?" he asked, as Dimitri urged Sonya and me inside. Adrian's eyes looked at each of us, resting longest on me. "Are you okay? What happened?" Dimitri gave Sonya and me a once-over, double-checking for injuries despite our protests.

He reached out and gently held my chin, turning my non-tattooed cheek toward him. "A little scraped," he said. "Not serious, but you should clean it." I touched the spot he'd indicated and was astonished to see blood on my fingers. I didn't even remember getting hurt but supposed it had come from the brick wall.

Sonya had no physical marks but admitted to having a pretty bad headache from where she'd hit the ground.

"What happened?" Adrian asked again.

Dimitri held up the sword he'd retrieved from the scene. "Something a little more serious than a mugging, I think."

"I'd say so," said Sonya, sitting on the couch. Her attitude was amazingly calm for what we'd just endured. She touched the back of her head and winced. "Particularly since they called me a creature of evil before you showed up."

Dimitri arched an eyebrow. "They did?"

I hadn't moved once I'd reached the living room. I simply stood there with my arms wrapped around myself, feeling numbed. Movement seemed too difficult. Thinking seemed too difficult. As Dimitri examined the sword, however, something caught my eye and made my sluggish brain slowly begin to function again.

Seeing my interest, he held the sword out to me. I took it, careful of the blade, and examined the hilt. It was covered with engravings.

"Do those mean something to you?" he asked.

My mind was still cloudy with fear and adrenaline, but I ignored it and tried to dredge up some facts. "These are old alchemy symbols," I said. "From the Middle Ages, back when our group was just a bunch of medieval scientists trying to turn lead into gold." That was all the history books knew about my society. That, and we'd eventually given up on gold. The organization had later found more sophisticated compounds, including vampire blood. Interacting with vampires had eventually evolved into our current cause, as ancient Alchemists realized the terrible and dark temptations vampires represented. Our cause became a holy one. The chemistry and formulas my society had once worked on for personal gain became the tools needed to hide the existence of vampires, tools we now supplemented with technology.

I tapped the largest symbol, a circle with a dot in the center. "This is actually the symbol for gold. This other one is silver. These four triangle things are the basic elements - earth, air, water, and fire. And these... Mars and Jupiter, which tie into iron and tin. Maybe the sword's composition?" I frowned and studied the rest of the metal. "No gold or silver actually in it, though. Their symbols can also refer to the sun and moon. Maybe these aren't physical at all.

I don't know."

I handed the sword back to Dimitri. Sonya took it from him, studying what I'd pointed out.

"So, are you saying this is an Alchemist weapon?"

I shook my head. "Alchemists would never use something like this. Guns are easier. And the symbols are archaic. We use the periodic table now. Easier to write 'Au' for gold instead of drawing that sun symbol."

"Is there any reason these would be on a weapon? Some greater symbolism or meaning?" Dimitri asked.

"Well, again, if you go back, the sun and gold were the most important to the ancient Alchemists.

They revolved around this whole idea of light and clarity." I touched my cheek.

"Those things are still important in some ways - it's why we use this gold ink. Aside from the benefits, the gold marks us as... pure. Sanctified. Part of a holy cause. But on a sword... I don't know. If whoever did this was going off the same symbolism, then maybe the sword is sanctified." I thought back to the attackers' words, about returning to Hell. I grimaced. "Or maybe its owners feel it's serving some kind of holy duty."

"Who were these guys anyway?" asked Adrian. "Do you think Jill's at risk?"

Tags: Richelle Mead Bloodlines Fantasy
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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