Dark Skye Read online

Page 10

Chapter 9

  Captive of the Sorceri. This would have galled Thronos had he not been confident of his impending freedom. He’d seize it soon enough. No, he was more enraged that Melanthe had fled him—though he hadn’t expected anything different. Long ago, when he’d seen her turn away and run, he’d thought his world had ended. He’d thought he had no reason to live. Now? He lived for vengeance. He would attack these foes—punishing whoever had battered her face—then recapture his mate. He swung his gaze around toward the sorcerer, adding another target for punishment: Felix, the male who’d spoken to Melanthe. An ex-lover, no doubt. How many of them populated this island? The blond male wasn’t nearly as tall or muscular as Thronos and wore ostentatious gold armor. His manners were practiced, his skin unscarred. So that was the type of male his mate preferred. The opposite of me. At the thought, fury surged through Thronos. He shoved against the slabs holding him, but there was no budging them. Portia, that sorceress of stone, was too powerful, and he was weakened from regeneration. His bones had mended, but he’d only reformed the barest covering across his right wing. He’d been no match for the twenty fire demons who’d descended upon him. Once healed, he’d strike. For now, he kept his mouth shut and listened, trying to glean information—such as why Melanthe would have ensorcelled Omort. Probably a rank power grab. Sometimes, Omort, Sorceri paranoia is warranted. “If you can’t trust me,” Melanthe told Portia, “then what do you propose?” The sorceress of fire, Emberine, tittered. “We’ve been deprived of color for so long—let’s do something bright. ” What did that mean? “Be done with this, ladies,” Felix said. When a fleeting ray of sunlight reflected off his gilded armor, every Sorceri gaze was magnetically drawn to it, including Melanthe’s. Most Vrekeners believed the Sorceri’s claims of gold worship were just a disguise for rampant greed—as if the Sorceri would care how others viewed them. But Thronos knew they genuinely revered all metals, especially gold. The element was talismanic to them. Even at nine, Melanthe had been obsessed with it. Her mother as well . . . Portia said, “You rush our fun, Felix?” “I’m keen to renew my attentions to the Queen of Persuasion. ” The hell that would be happening. Surprisingly, Melanthe’s expression matched Thronos’s thoughts. Emberine gave an exaggerated frown. “I’m afraid our friend Lanthe is already smitten—with the demon angel. ” Smitten? Melanthe’s blackened eyes widened. “He and his knights have hunted my sister and me, killing Sabine over and over, forcing me to burn through my persuasion to save her life. ” Again, she repeated her claims? Though he’d told her about his knights’ vows? Emberine tsked at Thronos. “Naughty knights oughtn’t to have brained Sabine in front of young Lanthe. ” Melanthe turned to him, her face tight with rage. “Yet that one doesn’t believe me!” This one . . . is starting to. At least about attacks actually happening. Maybe some kind of offshoot group had targeted the sisters. In a contemplative tone, Portia asked, “Do you think it’s possible that our handsome prince doesn’t know what his kinsmen do to our kind when they’re drunken and frustrated?” Vrekeners never imbibe, he thought automatically, though he knew that wasn’t true. He had but once in his life, yet his brother secretly carried a golden flask, one stolen from a sorcerer he’d defeated. Aristo loved few things better than warring with Sorceri. Just as their father had. It was a source of contention between the brothers. Portia faced Melanthe once more. “Such an infamously hostile past between you and the Vrekener. Your sister beheaded his father, and you personally crippled him, even though you’re his mate. ” How indifferently the sorceress spoke of tragedies! “Then Vrekeners hunted you. Which was why your reactions over the last week perplexed us. ” Melanthe’s head swung up, confusion in her eyes. Instead of demanding to know what that sorceress was talking about, she snapped, “Let’s just get to this—” “Shall we tell you, Felix?” Emberine asked coyly. “Every time the Vrekener was even mentioned, Lanthe’s cheeks would heat, her eyes turning metallic. ” Thronos stilled. Could it be true? “That emotion was hate,” Melanthe spat, but he got the impression that her feelings were far more complicated than that. He had no delusions about his own feelings. Like a stream carving a groove through rock, her actions had forever transformed him. He would always despise her. Portia said, “Then you won’t mind if we skin him? Crush him under the weight of a mountain?” Melanthe gave a snort of disbelief. “Be—my—guest. And do save me a seat. ” Or perhaps she hated as deeply as he did. Emberine stroked the backs of her metal claws across Portia’s bared thigh as she addressed Melanthe: “You gave him his wounds before he could regenerate. Did he find you as a boy then?” Of not even twelve. “It’s known that a Vrekener will never stray from a mate. ” Emberine laughed as she said, “Tell us, Lanthe, is the mighty warlord a virgin? Is the angel pure as driven snow? Or was the demon in him an early starter?” Thronos set his jaw. Not—a—demon. Melanthe didn’t answer. At least she refused to join in their ridicule. Emberine’s gaze roved over him, desire plain on her face. “I must initiate him!” He could remain silent no longer. “Try it, slattern. Free me, and try it. ” They tittered at that. “Oh, Portia, I know I could get him to stray!” Best of luck. You think I haven’t endeavored to? He glanced in Melanthe’s direction. How would she feel about him being with another? Though her face was blank, her eyes shimmered. “We can’t waste time on that, Ember. ” Portia seemed . . . jealous? “We move on with our plans. ” With another laugh, Emberine sprinted to Melanthe, faster than Thronos’s eyes could follow. In a heartbeat’s time, she’d crossed the clearing, stopping behind Melanthe to position a blade at her slender throat, hovering above that collar. “No!” Thronos bellowed, his instinct screaming for him to protect his mate. The metal was simmering red from Emberine’s hold. It would slice through Melanthe’s flesh. She swallowed, wincing from the heat. Portia rose, riding a cloud of pebbles toward the two females, readying a severed hand for the torque removal. Felix—the as-good-as-dead sorcerer—followed, seeming amused by the proceedings. Emberine told Melanthe, “You’re about to do precisely as we say, or you’ll die. But before Portia releases your powers, we’re going to ensure that you can’t call out any persuasive commands. ” She gripped Melanthe’s cheeks. “Now, stick out your tongue like a good little queen. ”