“Who is holding Torst for you?” Caleb asked.
I flinched. I was embarrassed. I couldn’t help it. I’d done a bad, bad, thing. “No one is. I put it in storage.”
His eyes in the rearview mirror were cold with disapproval. “How? Why?”
I sighed. “It’s not good. I just couldn’t see another way. It won’t be happy.”
“What kind of blood did you use?” Professional curiosity colored his tone. I was surprised, though I shouldn’t have been, that he’d guessed my method so quickly.
“Necro. I was in a pinch at the time, and more than a little pissed at that stupid axe. I swear it was provoking me on purpose. Maybe it wanted to rot in storage.” I grimaced.
“So defensive,” Caleb said flatly. “It must be bad.”
Christian whistled. “It’s gonna be pissed.”
“So it’s an axe?” Sloan was asking the car at large.
I nodded. “I’m just hoping that the promise of dragonsblood will calm it down…”
“Your blood, perhaps,” Caleb suggested.
I grimaced again. “That’s hardly what I had in mind. It never drinks as much as you want it to.”
“So it’s an axe that drinks blood?” Sloan sounded dubious.
“Oh, yes,” Caleb said succinctly, and in such a way that I had the strong urge to deck him. He spoke about the axe far more passionately than I’d ever heard him refer to any woman. “So many would kill to have a relic like that, and she puts it in storage. You’re lucky I didn’t know where it was all this time.”
I rolled my eyes at him. “Why do you think I didn’t tell anyone?”
“It’s not going back in there at the end of this,” Caleb said, his tone very final.
I glared at him. “We can cross that bridge when we get to it. We certainly don’t have time to fight about it now.”
Caleb just nodded. “As long as you realize that it will be a fight, if you try stash that thing away again.”
It was a threat, and I wanted to take exception to it, but now was not the time. “Your opinion on the matter has been noted,” I said neutrally. I wasn’t neutral about it, though. Not by a long shot. Torst was a killing machine, only good for mass carnage. I sure as hell didn’t intend to keep it handy when there wasn’t any killing to be done. It’s thirst knew no bounds. I would fight Caleb over it if it came to that, but I would curse the gods all the while for giving me shit for options once again.
“It’s that storage facility up ahead, the big one on the right,” I said, as we approached the spot.
I was getting out of the car right as it stopped, running before anyone else had gotten out of the car. I wanted to get the whole mess over with.
It was no coincidence that the storage unit’s eighteen digit password ended in 666. I felt a punch of rage and hunger as I stepped into the small, climate-controlled space.
The axe was in my head, insinuating itself into my thoughts, before I’d even opened the giant, airtight, steel container where it resided. That was bad.
I dropped to the floor as I opened the lid and the thing came flying at me. The man-sized receptacle was bone dry. No surprise there. It had probably finished off that blood within a week, even though it had feasted right before I’d locked it in there.
The axe embedded itself into the wall before pulling out and taking another long swing at me. I rolled out of the way, catching it by the handle from where it had embedded itself into the ground. It was obviously too angry to fight well.
“Dragonsblood!” I shouted at Torst. “All that you can drink, in just a few minutes! All you have to do is calm the f**k down and wait ten minutes!”
Yes, blood. Yes, dragonsblood. Your blood. All of it. I thirst.
Like that was news. Torst always thirsted. Always. “I have three with me. You can’t take us all. But we’re going to kill a dragon, and if you just come with me peaceably, you can have all of it’s blood that you want.”
I’ll have all of your blood that I want. And all of your three as well. I thirst.
Torst had a bit of an ego. There was basically no fight that he didn’t think he could win, just by being thirsty enough. “Remember what’s it’s like to fight with me? I captured you. You were never able to take my blood by force, but I know you remember that when I go into battle, I get you all of the blood you can drink. You said no one before had ever quenched your thirst so well.”
When you fight, I drink, yes. But you rarely fight, and then you locked me away. It was a horrible thirst in that metal box. Never have I known a thirst so terrible.
I sighed. Torst wouldn’t be getting over that for a long while, I knew. “You tried to slaughter innocents after a battle. I warned you. I had to show you that I meant my threats. You do not feed on innocents. Not ever.”
I thirst. Necro blood is vile and rotten. Human blood is young and fresh. I thirst for human blood.
I shook the infuriating axe. “Never happening. Get the idea out of your head. But I have something better. I’ve given you small tastes of my blood. Imagine getting enough dragonsblood to quench your terrible thirst.”
Yes. Even human blood cannot compare to dragonsblood. Even druid blood cannot compare to a dragon’s.
I gave Torst another little shake. “Don’t go around talking about druid blood. They avenge their own. Always.”
It was a long time ago that I drank my fill of druid blood.
“Lalala, I didn’t hear that. How about this? You keep quiet, and I will take you to a bloody battle. We will bathe in it.”
Yes, my warrior is back. Into battle, dragon warrior. I thirst.
“Yes, you thirst. I think I got that one. Shhh.” I was more than a little surprised when the axe went still in my hands and actually stayed silent.
No one had followed me into the storage unit, but they all hovered near the open door, giving me strange looks.
“I missed this. Jillian talking to herself again feels like old times,” Christian said, a way too happy expression on his face.
I glared at him as I passed by, Torst clutched tightly in both hands. I didn’t trust the thing not to turn on me. That had been way easier than I had expected, which made me tense as I waited for the other shoe to drop.
You People and Your Special Weapons
I stood poised at the opposite end of the stadium from the creature, axe balanced on my shoulder. Caleb and Christian flanked me, posed identically, long swords held chest level, pointed at the enemy. You knew things had gotten serious when Caleb traded in his guns for a good old-fashioned sword. Sloan had shifted into bear form, and it was eery how quiet and still she stood behind us in her massive shape.