Relentless, p.26Part #1 of Relentless series by Karen Lynch
“WHERE IS HE?” I cried as I raced through the main foyer of the house, skirting around fallen bodies of men and vampires without sparing them a glance. I burst through the front doors to find two men I did not know standing guard on the steps, their warrior garb identifying them as Mohiri. They stared at me curiously and one of them who looked Indian said, “Who?”
“My friend, Roland. Nikolas said he was shot.”
“Oh, the werewolf,” his Korean companion replied dismissively. “He took a round of silver to the chest. His pack came and took him away a little while ago. Didn’t look good.”
His words, spoken with such indifference, were like a knife in my heart. “No!” I darted past them down the steps to the driveway. My breath came in short gasps, and it felt like my chest was in a vise. I couldn’t lose Roland. I turned back toward the house as Nikolas came through the door. “I have to go to him. Please. He needs me.”
He came down the steps, sympathy written on his face. “Roland is with his people. If anyone can help him, they can.” He stopped in front of me. “The men had silver ammo, most likely to protect themselves from the vampires they were working with.”
I shook my head and backed away. “No, no, you don’t understand. I can help him.”
Nikolas put his hands on my shoulders. “He took a direct hit in the chest, Sara. The pack will do what they can for him, but this type of injury is almost always fatal to werewolves. I’m sorry.”
“No! I won’t let that happen!” I pulled away from him and swiped at the tears running unchecked down my cheeks. I raised my eyes to his. I would beg him if I had to. I would do anything to reach Roland. “I know I’ve been nothing but trouble to you and you have no reason to do this for me, but I have no one else. Please help me, Nikolas.”
Nikolas turned away, and I closed my eyes as my heart broke.
“Erik, I need your bike.”
My eyes flew open as the Korean man who had so casually written Roland off as dead tossed a set of keys. Nikolas caught them and led me to two black motorcycles, handing me a helmet before he started one of the bikes. I jumped on behind him, and we took off. He slowed down at the gate, and I saw a tangle of bodies lying on the cobbled driveway. So much death. I closed my eyes and pressed my helmet against Nikolas’s back to block out the sight. I would not let my best friend become another casualty of this bloodshed. Please, God… let us get there in time.
Nikolas did not try to talk to me as we sped back to New Hastings. I wrapped my arms around his body and clung to him as I tortured myself with images of Roland dying before I reached him. My visor was wet with tears by the time we hit the Knolls.
Brendan’s farm had always been the hub of activity for the family, so I knew that was where we would find Roland. The house was lit up and the driveway packed with vehicles when we got there. What if we were too late?
Nikolas drove the motorcycle along the edge of the driveway, taking me right to the front door where a dozen or so people milled around the step. Roland’s cousin Francis was there along with the two men who had shown up after the crocotta attack. I leapt off the bike and tossed the helmet aside as I ran up to them.
“Haven’t you done enough?” Francis demanded angrily, blocking my way to the door. “You are not welcome here.”
I had no defense because he was right. This was my fault. But Roland was my best friend and I would be damned if I’d let anyone keep me from him, especially now.
“I have to see him.” I started to push my way through, but one of the other men held me back with one hand. I twisted, trying to break his grip. “Let me go!”
“Take your hand off her,” said a voice so frigid that the air around us seemed to drop several degrees. Nikolas walked up behind me, and the man’s hand fell from my arm but he did not move out of my way. The tension on the porch was palpable as the werewolves faced the Mohiri warrior.
The door opened and Brendan appeared holding a tobacco pipe. “What’s going on here?” he growled, and everyone on the porch fell silent.
“Brendan.” I used the distraction to slip between Francis and the man who had stopped me. “Please, I need to see Roland!”
He laid a large hand gently on my shoulder and shook his head. “I know how much you care about him, but you can’t go in there right now. It’s not safe.”
“The silver went in too deep. It’s too close to his heart, and we can’t get to it. He’s half mad with the pain, and he doesn’t know anyone right now. He’d tear you apart.”
At that moment, an agonized howl split the air, and I gasped at the pain I heard in it.
“He can’t heal,” Brendan explained gruffly. He coughed, and his eyes glistened. “A couple of hours at the most.”
“No!” I pushed past him, and he did not try to stop me. “Roland is not going to die!”
The house was full of people, most of whom I recognized from my time spent out in the Knolls with Roland and Peter. Some looked at me in confusion as I barreled past them, and others sent me openly hostile stares. I ignored them all and shoved my way through them until I saw Judith step out of a room at the end of the hall. She carried herself with strength, but her face was lined with grief.
I went to her, expecting her to throw me out of the house. Not that I wouldn’t deserve it. But I was willing to risk her rejection if there was the smallest chance I could help Roland.
“Sara, you shouldn’t be here,” she said in a choked voice. “Roland wouldn’t want you to see him like this.”
“I have to see him, Judith. I can help him.”
“Oh, honey.” She pulled me into a tight hug and I let her, sensing that she needed it. “I know it’s hard to accept, but there’s nothing we can do for him now.”
“But I can. I really can. Just let me try,” I begged.
“This is no place for you, Sara,” Maxwell said from behind me, and I could hear censure mingled with sorrow in his voice. “There is nothing you can do in there but cause yourself more grief. You should leave.”
I spun to face him. “No, goddamnit!” My voice rose above the din and people started to turn our way. It was the first time I’d ever raised my voice to Maxwell, but right now I didn’t care if he was the damn alpha of a werewolf pack. “I’m not going anywhere until I see Roland!”
I grabbed Judith’s hand and stared into her reddened eyes, willing her to believe me. “We can’t give up on him without doing everything we can. I can help him.”
“Sara – ”
From inside the room a werewolf let out a long painful cry. I laid my hand on the door and felt the agonizing waves of pain on the other side. “Please,” I begged Judith.
Judith looked at Maxwell then nodded at me. I reached for the doorknob.
“What’s going on?” someone asked behind us. “What is she doing?”
I opened the door. “Whatever it takes.”
I walked into the room and let out a strangled cry when I saw the creature foaming at the mouth and thrashing wildly in the corner. The room had been hastily stripped of its bed, and there was only a mattress on the floor. Thick chains ran from loops embedded in the floor to manacles on the werewolf’s wrists and ankles. I shuddered to think that they had a room already set up to deal with something like this.
The wolf’s fur was matted in places and still wet with blood, and there was blood on the walls, mattress, and floor. It was impossible to believe that this savage creature was my best friend.
“Roland?” I called softly, and the wolf began to snarl and strain at the chains. Someone yanked me out of the room, and I turned to see Nikolas.
I held up my hand. “It’s alright. I just tamed two hellhounds, remember?”
Whispers started in the crowd behind us. Nikolas reluctantly let me go, and I went into the room again. I sat on the floor like I had in the cellar earlier tonight and opened myself to let the warm energy fill the room. I forced myself to relax, and t
“Roland, do you know who I am?”
The werewolf bared his impressive fangs and answered me with a low threatening growl.
“I see. Well, that won’t do at all. I know you’re in a lot of pain, and we’re going to deal with that soon, but first I think we need to have a talk. Or I’ll talk and you can listen. How does that sound?”
Another growl filled the room.
“I know I said that Remy was my first friend here, but you were always my best friend. The best times of my life have been with you and Peter. Remember when we used to have slumber parties and Brendan let us camp out in the hayloft that one time? We told ghost stories until we were all too scared to sleep, and we ended up sneaking back into the house after everyone else went to bed. Or the time you nipped some of Brendan’s whiskey, and we got drunk for the first time. I never touched that stuff again.”
I talked for half an hour, reliving the happiest memories I had of him and reminding him of the things we hadn’t done yet, the plans we’d made. My power filled the small room, and slowly the wolf eased its thrashing and stared at me with tortured eyes. I stopped talking and noticed the silence in the room. It took me a few seconds to realize that the whole house was quiet; everyone was listening to me.
The wolf let out a short mournful whine, his yellow eyes never leaving mine.
“You were pretty shocked to learn about Remy, weren’t you? But he’s not my only secret. Remember the other day after the marina when I said there were things I had to tell you about me? Do you want to know what it is – what I can do?”
He blinked and made a small whimpering sound.
I got to my knees and began to inch slowly toward him until Nikolas grabbed my arm to hold me back. “What are you doing? That’s an injured werewolf. He’ll rip you apart.”
“No, he won’t,” I said without taking my eyes off the wolf. “You always ask me to trust you. Now it’s time for you to trust me.”
He held on for a long moment before he slowly released me. I continued toward Roland, stopping at the edge of the mattress to let a stronger wave of power flow over him. “I know it hurts a lot, but I’m going to make the pain go away now. You know I would never hurt you, don’t you?”
The werewolf eyed me warily as I reached out one hand. It felt like the entire house held its breath as my hand touched a hairy paw. As soon as I made contact I sent the power pooled in my hand pouring into him. The effect was slower than I was used to, but none of my other patients had been a four hundred pound werewolf.
“There you are,” I said when the yellow eyes finally softened in recognition. “You had me worried there.”
The wolf opened his jaws and made an inhuman sound like he was trying to talk to me before he sagged against the mattress and let out a shuddering sigh. My heart broke at seeing my friend in so much pain.
“Shhh,” I whispered to him, laying my other hand on his chest so my power could search for his injuries. It did not take long to find the source of his pain, a silver pellet embedded in one of the muscles around his heart. I needed to remove it if he was going to live. I had never used my power to remove a foreign object, but I imagined it wasn’t that different from forcing an infection from the body. I hoped that was the case, because Roland’s life depended on it.
I laid both hands over his heart and focused my healing on the piece of silver, trying to shrink it like I would an infection. I felt it twitch, but it refused to be removed from the muscle.
The wolf looked up at me with trusting eyes, and I gave him a reassuring smile. “I think this is going to require a bit more contact.”
I lowered my body to the mattress amid gasps from the people crowding the doorway, and wrapped my arms around the huge furry body. He did not resist when I pulled him to me and released a torrent of energy into him, directing it to the piece of silver that was slowly killing him. I held on tight as the heat built up in my chest where it touched him, and my hands began to glow like pieces of iron in a forge. The werewolf twitched violently when the fire surrounded the silver pellet, slowly melting it and incinerating it into oblivion. The healing fire receded enough to fix the damaged tissue and smother the deadly fever that had started to spread through his body. When I could feel no more injury or sickness, I pulled the power back inside me.
My arms loosened their hold, and I sagged against the wolf, more drained than I had ever been after a healing. “Now you know my secret,” I mumbled happily.
After several minutes, I felt the body next to me begin to shrink and lose hair. From somewhere close by I heard shouts and Brendan’s booming voice say, “Holy Mary, Mother of God!”
Arms lifted me and held me against a warm hard chest. “I think she’s just exhausted,” Nikolas said, his voice a mixture of worry and reverence. “Hopefully, all she needs is some sleep.”
So I slept.
Relentless by Karen Lynch / Fantasy have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on20 votes