High Voltage

Page 62

“That’s going to save so much—”

“Which means more time to fuck,” he purred, pushing up from the chair.

“Are you going to start finishing all—”

“Good chance of it. Soon you’ll stop talking.”

Holy hell, I don’t need to anymore!

You and me, peas in that kaleidoscopic, crazy-ass Mega-pod of yours. He flashed me one of those rare full-on smiles, blazing with joy.

It took my breath away. Maybe this beast/dragon thing could actually work.

Never doubt it, he said in my mind as we headed out to see Roisin.

* * *


I was pleased to hear the sound of multiple dead bolts sliding when I texted Roisin to let her know we were standing outside her flat, that I’d brought company with me and to brace herself: I looked a bit different.

Still, I suppose no warning could have prepared her for the sight of me. I’d gotten my fill of shocked, startled, and frightened looks on the way over. And notched my chin higher, put a little swagger into my step. I wasn’t scary looking as far as I was concerned; Hunter-raven and obsidian flames looked good on me. I thought I looked downright dangerous and oddly hot.

Soft laughter in my mind. That you do, Ryodan agreed.

I sent him a wordless smile in response.

Sexy in any form, Dani. Woman or dragon.

Back atcha, badass dude.

More laughter, husky with a blatantly sexual undertone. I shivered. Couldn’t wait to get my illusory hands on him again.

During the walk over I’d become aware that something deep at my core was changing, transforming, caterpillar to a leathery-winged black butterfly. I could sense subtle differences in my brain I couldn’t quite grasp but it felt as if inert areas of gray matter were waking up, firing with new neurons. I could feel more raw energy pooling inside me than ever before. I loathed that the changes were taking me away from my friends, but given what Ryodan and I could do with our bond, and the power I would soon have, my inevitable transformation was more bittersweet than bitter. He loved me. He would love me no matter what I was. I loved him the same way. Love doesn’t always come in tidy packages.

“What in the world happened to you?” Roisin gasped, peering intently at me.

“Hazards of the trade,” I told her as we stepped inside the flat, unable to keep a note of irritation from my voice. There were no rules in our world, hadn’t been for years. Who knew killing a Hunter meant you would become one? Who could even guess at that kind of twist? It had been somewhere between seven and nine years since I’d stabbed it. What kind of transformation took that long? I said, “How’s your back?”

“Healing. The bastards dragged us down the street,” she said tightly.

I blinked. “To a mirror?”

It was her turn to blink. “Yes. How did you know that?”

Balor took her? Ryodan said in my mind. And she got away?

Sounds like. How had this petite woman with no apparent magic managed it? To Roisin, I said, “Tell me everything.”

* * *


Roisin, her father, and brother had been abducted by four men nearly a week ago. They’d broken into their home, shot them with paralytic darts, dragged them down the street, tossed them into a pile with other bodies near a mirror, then gone back out into the streets to collect more.

But her abduction had taken a darker turn than mine. The men who’d collected them had been sadists, raping and torturing their captives. They’d broken her father’s legs and badly beaten her brother while she lay helplessly by, being raped again and again.

I will fucking kill every last bloody one of them, Ryodan snarled in my mind.

You and me both, I returned grimly.

Eventually, they’d transported them through the mirror and added their bodies to a growing mound of paralyzed, tortured humans.

“It was like something out of a horror movie,” she said hoarsely. “I couldn’t move. I hurt everywhere and could only see what I was pointed at. I couldn’t even shift my eyes in my head. I could hear people talking.” She shuddered. “The things they were saying were horrible. They hate humans and plan to eradicate us from the face of the earth. And they’re not Fae.”

“Why did you ask if my last name was O’Malley?” I said.

“Because the one behind it all—they called him Balor—wanted you. That was what I heard right before I crawled back through the mirror. He sent a hideous little monster that could split itself up into roaches out to find you. Balor said he was going to collect you personally.”

“Papa Roach!” I exclaimed.

“The bastard keeps switching sides,” Ryodan said, cursing. “I’m going to kill that fuck once and for all.”

“I saw a roach in my shower a few nights ago,” I told him.

“And you’re just now telling me that?”

I shrugged. “I’m never certain if they’re just roaches. They can’t all be Papa Roach.”

“They are,” he growled.

I frowned at him. “You mean every roach in the whole world—”

“Yes. And he’s dying the next time I see one.”

Roison stared between us. “You guys already know about all of this?”

“Not all of it,” I said. “How did you escape?”

“Because of Gustaine—that’s what Balor called the roach monster. Balor had just removed the paralysis spell from a group of us when Gustaine interrupted and distracted him.” Her eyes filled with tears. “I could move but my father and brother were too badly injured to escape.” The tears began to run down her cheeks and she wiped angrily at them. “They kept jerking their heads toward the mirror, telling me to leave.”

Oh, God, how do you leave the people you love like that; yet how do you stay? There’s no point in staying. Either one of you lives or you all die. It’s a horrific choice with painful repercussions either way. “I’m so sorry.”

“I had to go. It was the only chance they had. I had to get back and figure out how to save them. But when I got back, I couldn’t…I just couldn’t function and you found me and brought me here and I slept for days.”

“You were in shock,” I told her. “Your eyes were glazed. You’d been through hell and it takes time to pull it together. I think you did it in record time.”

“It’s been six days!” Roisin cried. “Who knows what’s happened to them in that time!”

“You did the best you could,” I said quietly. “I saw how broken you were. We’re here now and we’ll get the bastard that did this. I promise you that.”

“Describe for us where he was,” Ryodan ordered. “Omit no detail.”

She began to shiver as she spoke, rubbing her arms as if to ward off a bone deep chill. “We were in some kind of huge cavern. There were…I don’t know, thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people, but they weren’t…right. They were blank, looked nearly starved, like puppets being controlled, moving jerkily, and they chanted nonstop, saying Balor’s name over and over. He was building an army of humans, controlling them somehow.”

“He takes their souls,” I told her grimly. “He tried to take mine.”

“He already came after you?” she exclaimed.

I nodded.

“How did you escape?”

I smiled faintly. “I have a few unique talents. Back to the cavern, tell us more.”

She sighed. “It was like those caves beneath the Burren, but I could see tunnels shooting off in all directions. I got the impression we were deep below the earth.” She shook her head, “No, that’s not quite right, they looked more like…corridors that had been carved out a long time ago. Tall, made of stone blocks, with high rounded arches. There were fires in the main cavern and hundreds of ancient-looking torches bolted into the walls everywhere, vanishing down the corridors.”

“Metal sconces?” I said, using my gloved hands to sketch an image in the air. “With three stems going up into cups the size of my fist that had flames in them?”

“Yes, how did you know that?”

“And did those three stems shape a sort of clover?” I demanded.

“With a bent leaf,” she said, nodding.

Was she fucking kidding me? “Did it feel like you were in an underground city more than a cave?” I said tightly.

She nodded again. “Yes. That’s what I was trying to say. It didn’t seem like a natural cave, but something that was deliberately planned—”

“Bloody fucking hell, that bastard is beneath the abbey!” Ryodan exploded.

“What abbey?” Roison said.

I shot him a dark look. “When Balor woke up, he never left. He stayed put in the one place he knew the Fae would never come, building his army, absorbing power, right beneath our bloody feet. That’s how he got our sidhe-seers. They weren’t abducted at Elyreum. He either took them on their way back in late at night or simply came up and grabbed them while they slept. That son of a bitch planned to get strong enough to destroy us all, while being protected by us, then kill us and go after the Fae!”

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