I took a quick glance around at the rest of the fight. More necro bodies littered the ground than not, but it still looked grim.
I looked west at the sound of approaching howls. Dom and crew were bearing down on us at full speed. I braced myself for the onslaught.
The rest of the circle’s necros perished with one viscous wave of fighting.
Cam reached his brother first, frantically feeling for the pulse in his neck. He was nude, obviously newly changed from beast form. I got way more of a show than I wanted as he sprinted to his fallen brother’s side.
“He lives,” Cam finally spoke. Dom loomed over his shoulder. Their eyes turned to me. “Why was he carving these symbols into his arms?” Cam asked me. His tone was cold. He didn’t seem to properly understand that I had just saved both his brother and his Arch.
“He,” I indicated the necro I spoke of by bouncing my heal on his neck, “was using him to cast some sort of death spell against your Arch. I’m not familiar with his magic. Don’t ask me to interpret those symbols.” My tone was just as cold. “They were practicing their magic within a very powerful circle. It was almost completely invisible. I wasn’t even aware that necros could do this kind of magic.”
Dom looked grim. “That’s because it’s druid magic. Apparently the necros have been learning a few things.”
I tapped the neck beneath my foot again. “Want this one for questioning? Or should I finish him?”
“We’ll take him.” At his words, the unconscious necro was bound, bagged, and dragged away. I tried to be subtle as I knelt down and quickly grabbed his fallen crown, clipping it to my belt. I had a slight problem with hoarding treasure. So what? Name me a dragon who didn’t.
I looked back at the two brothers, healers now descending on the unconscious one. Cam met my eyes. “How did you know about the circle if it wasn’t visible?” His voice held accusation.
I looked at him coldly. Leave it to Cam to turn it around on me. He’d always been an ass**le like that. “There was a voice calling for help, actually. It was loud enough that I caught the sound from across camp.”
“Collin’s voice?” Dom asked.
“Whose voice was it, then?” Cam asked, standing.
“I have no idea. It sounded like a child. A little boy, maybe.” My tone was flat.
Cam looked back at the soldiers who’d accompanied me. His gaze settled on Christian. “Did anyone else hear this voice?”
They all answered with a no. Christian glared at Cam. “So she has better hearing than the rest of us. What are you getting at?”
Cam looked at Dom, jaw clenched, eyes defiant. “I ask that she be taken in for questioning. You know how hard these circles are to detect. It makes no sense that she could find and break one. I charge that she was involved in this plot.”
Dom stared back at him for long moments. I saw that familiar tick in his jaw. “This woman just saved your brother and your Arch from possible death. You can guess very well what he was doing with those marks on Collin’s arms. Your reaction is to accuse her of a crime? Your hatred blinds you-”
“Your obsession blinds you!” Cam interrupted with a roar. Dom silenced his outburst with a look.
“Your request is denied. You have much to learn about showing gratitude.”
Cam sent me a murderous look. I mouthed, “you’re welcome,” at him. He visibly reigned himself in from reacting violently. I smirked at him, pretending to scratch my nose as I flipped him off. He had to turn away, shaking with rage.
“These things had help learning about our magic,” Cam was saying to his Arch again. He just wouldn’t quit. He paced back and forth in front of Dom as he set up his case. “No druid would betray such things. It’s unheard of. She was in close proximity to our kind for over thirteen years. She picked up enough information about our magic to detect a circle of power. It’s obvious she picked up more than that! You can’t think it’s a coincidence she shows up days before this fight, and everything goes to hell. Would you rather accuse one of our own of betrayal than see this whore for what she is?”
That was it, I was done. I braced myself to give the bastard the beating he deserved, but Dom beat me to it. His back was to me as he backhanded his cousin, hard. “I said enough. You do not question me in the midst of battle! I’ve heard your argument. We will settle this after the fight. The longer we stand here, the more of them we’re allowing to escape.”
Cam sent me a scathing look as he stood, touching his bloodied lip as though I’d done it. I only wished. “Asshole,” I mouthed at him. Both of his hands clenched. Yes, I kind of enjoyed baiting enraged bears. It was one of my hobbies, and clearly I excelled at it… Just ask anybody.
“Nice crown,” Christian said quietly as he came up beside me. “But why nab it? You have the urge to play dress up? You like to pretend to be Queen Jillian?”
I bit my lip, embarrassed. “It was shiny.” He stifled a loud laugh that got us some dirty looks. “It has rubies on it. It’s hard to pass up rubies.” He laughed harder and I elbowed him in the ribs.
Dom sent us a stormy look. “Back to battle!” he roared at any soldiers still milling.
“We’re running low on explosives,” Christian told me as we set off.
“I’m sure we’ll have no trouble improvising,” I told him with a grin.
Our ragtag crew was advancing carefully into the next bank of houses, when a voice from the back of the ranks spoke up. “Far be it from me to slow down two badass supermodels on a mission, but we have a problem,” a male voice said wryly.
I could see Christian out of the corner of my eye as we turned, his stance and movements almost synchronized to my own. We shared a look, our expressions almost identically similar, with arched brows and half-smiles. “What’s the problem?” I called out, scanning the faces to see who had spoken.
“You’re a badass supermodel,” Christian muttered under his breath at the same time, taking the mature approach, as usual.
A tall, thin man stepped forward. He wore a long, high-collared trench coat over the standard body armor. He looked more like a scholar than a fighter, with unkempt, long dark hair, and thick glasses, a keen intelligence clear in his eyes. His appearance was deceptive, though, as I saw that his hands on his impressively modified crossbow were steady and sure. In fact, just about everything about him that I could see was a contradiction. His shoulders were slumped, but his body was tensed and alert. His smile was sheepish, but his tone when he spoke was clearly wry and sarcastic, his look sardonic as he met my eyes steadily. “You’re really pretty and all-”