Home > Dark Legacy (Dark #27)(7)

Dark Legacy (Dark #27)(7)
Author: Christine Feehan

Close to the surface, his skin prickled in alarm. The older he’d gotten and the more kills he’d made, the less he could tolerate the sunlight. He rarely rose right at sunset, knowing just being touched by the rays of the sun, as weak as they might be at that time, was painful and he’d carry burns for several risings after. He had no choice; the moment he could, he would have to rise to counteract whatever plan Vadim had. He was certain the master vampire had been scheming for just such an event, working to make it happen, and that meant Vadim was well prepared.

He waited just inches from the surface, moving his fingers and then his wrists. Moving his toes and then his feet, all the while cognizant of countering the activity so the evil spreading so maliciously through the ground wouldn’t detect his movement. He was part of the earth itself and the soil would never betray him. When a strand of the evil got too close to him, the dirt shifted just enough to carry it away.

He didn’t know impatience, just the fierce need to go into combat. He began mapping out the surface in his head, finding each person above the ground, needing to know where they were. Five children. Two adult females. All were human with the exception of one child. The children were laughing, unaware of the danger to them. One female was sleeping deeply, put under by the corruption of the child’s sleeping spell. It wouldn’t be so easy to wake her now. The other female…

She was aware of the danger and struggling to wake. She had to be unbelievably strong to fight that spell. She was the target – Emeline. Of course. When Vadim had taken her captive, he’d taken her blood, and now he whispered to her day and night, trying to wear her down and force her to come to him, or at least that was what she had told Blaze. Why would Vadim want this particular psychic woman? What made her different?

Dragomir should have thrown out his rule of not getting close to humans rather than just making an exception for the security team. If he had, he could have solved the puzzle by simply taking the information from her head. Tariq, Maksim and the others had become too soft with the humans, inadvertently giving vampires the advantage. They didn’t make decisions based on safety, but rather what the humans would accept in their new, modern world. That made no sense to him, and it never would. One used any and all means possible to defeat evil. There wasn’t worry about sensibilities or wording a request correctly so it didn’t come out like an order. He sighed. He didn’t fit and never would. He defeated evil, and new rules of etiquette be damned.

He sent Emeline a little “push” to counteract the spell. Feeding her a small boost of power had to be done with a delicate touch. He couldn’t make it a command because just as he could read Vadim’s signature, Vadim would be able to read his. He wasn’t certain what was important about the woman, but merely the fact that she had resisted that dark spell enough to try to fight it, that she recognized the darkness woven into the child’s spell, meant she was incredibly strong psychically.

Few fought Vadim and won. Emeline’s battle with him was ongoing, which meant she’d been strong enough to resist him this long. In his opinion, Tariq and the others should have taken the memories from her, given her blood to reinforce her strength and power. It didn’t matter that she’d chosen not to allow them to give her aid. They should have healed her. She endangered the entire community. In the end, if Dragomir didn’t stop him, the vampire would reacquire the woman and perhaps destroy everyone else in the compound.

He waited just beneath the surface, rich loam covering his body, sending him signals that told him he wasn’t the only one on the move. Evil was also waiting for the sun to set. Even before the last rays had faded, he heard the opening attack. The laughter of children turned to screams. The sound of explosions was loud as fireballs hit the ground all around the play yard. He couldn’t wait. The sounds of children crying and screaming in alarm drove him from the safety of the earth. He couldn’t leave them to their fate.

Matt, do not give your position away, but get your men in position to aid those in the play yard. I’ll tell you when I want you to open up.

Copy that. Matt’s voice was devoid of emotion, but firm, indicating a man ready to go into battle.

Dragomir’s skin smoked and blistered as he rushed toward the sky and the two injured dragons tumbling toward the ground. How the boy and girl hung on, he didn’t know. The dragons, one orange and one brown, were large and they fell end over end, and then rolled like barrels, leaving a trail of blood in the sky. He saw everything on a dull grayish canvas, so that the various colors were identified only from the way he’d marked the variety of gray over the centuries.

On the Carpathian telepathic pathway, he sent out the distress call. Rise. The battle is on us. Come to us now.

The clouds flickered dark and then flashed, illuminating with a yellowish-orange glow as lightning forked through them. The glow grew brighter, turned a fiery red, and a mass of whirling hot magma streaked through the sky, raining down on the play yard. One mass barely missed the brown dragon as Dragomir yanked the beast out of the way and floated it gently toward the ground. He caught the orange dragon, removing the girl from it with one arm while he directed the creature to the ground beside the brown dragon. He threw a shield over the boy and girl and their beasts.

“Don’t put your dragons away until I give the command.” He forestalled all arguments with a glare. “Get to the sleeping woman. You and your brother. Drag her if you have to, but get her under cover.” He caught the girl by her hair and forced her to look him in the eye. “Do you understand? Wait until I give the command to remove the dragons.”

She nodded. She looked terrified, her face white. Her gaze left his face and went to the children above them, small children, not more than two or three.

“I’ll get them,” he promised.

“Please,” she whispered.

For some odd reason that little breathless plea affected him. Nothing usually did. He didn’t feel emotion. He didn’t even hear the whispers of temptation to kill for the rush, but that soft entreaty stirred something foreign in him, something he didn’t recognize, nor did he have time to analyze it, although it was alarming. Chaos reigned all around him. Children screaming, dragons taking them higher toward the dangerous clouds, below him, Emeline running, calling out over and over, her voice penetrating right to his soul.

All around him the fiery streaks fell, seeking targets. He dodged one and realized by the trajectories that they were aimed specifically at the children. Vadim was attempting to kill five human children. Dragomir gave a small push to the teenage girl so that she stumbled toward her brother. He indicated the sleeping woman and turned just as Vadim burst through the ground almost at the feet of Emeline. Vadim was so focused on her that he didn’t appear to know Dragomir was anywhere close. Either that or it didn’t matter to him, in which case, the entire lot of them were in deep trouble.

Emeline froze, staring in horror at the vampire. He appeared to be perfect by human standards, lean and fit, with flawless pale skin and white teeth. His hair was cropped short and he wore the modern clothes that befitted the time. The expensive suit hung on him as if made for him – and of course it had been.

“At last, my dear. You should have come to me when I called you. Now you’ve left me no choice but to punish you.”

The smile was gone and he took one step and caught her by the hair, bunching the long tangles in his fist and jerking her head close to his. “You will pay for your disobedience. Every one of those children will die.”

Emeline’s terrified gaze found Dragomir, and then went back to Vadim’s face. “I’ll go with you. Just don’t hurt them.”

At the sound of her voice, Dragomir found his eyes watering, burning fiercely as a kaleidoscope of colors burst in front of him, exploding into a whirling wheel of vivid brightness that nearly blinded him. Instantly he was sick and disoriented, his balance off. For a moment he thought it a new weapon Vadim had thought out, and he stopped in midstride, unable to function.

“It’s too late to bargain now. Had you come to me any of the thousands of times I commanded you, I would have spared them. Not now. Now you need a lesson.”

She kicked the vampire hard, driving her heel into his shin and following it with an elbow to his ribs. It had to hurt. Vadim held her by her hair, but she didn’t stop. “I won’t let you,” she bit out, still fighting.

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