Dark Skye Read online

Page 12

Chapter 11

  Thronos struggled to get his bearings—while biting back his rage over what he’d just seen. His female, maimed. By her own kind. He wished he’d had time to liberate all of their heads from their bodies. Focus, Talos. He scented the air, surveying his new surroundings. They were on a small island of rock encircled by water that looked like mercury. Mist cloaked the night. Some kind of preternatural swamp? Though he’d traveled to foreign planes in pursuit of his mate, he didn’t recognize this one. She could’ve taken them anywhere. Thronos despised her portals; every time he’d seen one in the past had meant he was about to lose her yet again. A massive red sea serpent crested above the water to their right, a razor-sharp fin slicing through waves. “Yes. We’ve gone to hell,” he said, just as a green serpent surfaced to the left. Melanthe would be creating another portal directly. But not to the Skye—he would never give her the directions to his hidden home, in case she somehow escaped him and decided to portal an enemy army there. “Make another threshold back to the mortal realm,” he ordered her. “Somewhere in Europe. ” He knew she couldn’t talk—blood still spilled from her lips. Yet all she had to do was nod, then get to work. Once they were away from here, he would question her. How did you make the Pravus sleep, and why not me? For what purpose would you ensorcel Omort? Do you grieve that sorcerer I beheaded? “Be about it,” he snapped, unused to repeating his orders. When Thronos led troops of his knights on Pravus raids, no one dared disobey him. She shook her head, her braids bouncing over her slim shoulders. Denying him? He crouched in front of her, baring his fangs. “Do—it—now. ” —It’ll take me five or six days to renew my threshold ability. I’m in a lag till then. — He jerked away, grimacing from the feel of her words laid directly into his mind. So that was how she’d commanded them to sleep! Telepathy. Now that he thought back, he could tell she’d had to feign hesitation under the threat of that blade. She’d had a plan, and she’d been desperate to get that torque removed. He hated telepathy—a glaring reminder of what she was. But at least she could communicate with him until she regenerated. He knew he could reply the same way, thinking his words rather than uttering them, and she could pick them up with her mind-reading ability. But he refused to allow her entry into his thoughts, had developed mental shields specifically to block her. “How many other abilities do you possess?” —Alas, only three. — Was she lying? “If you have power enough for telepathy, then why can’t you open a portal?” —Just because I’ve walked for miles doesn’t mean one of my eyelids is fatigued. — “Your powers empty and regenerate independently?” She shrugged. —Telepathy is second nature. Cutting a rift into reality . . . not so much. — She’d said nothing about her most devastating ability. “And your persuasion?” Could she use it only every few days as well? Once she was strong enough for a threshold, she might be able to command him. A double-edged sword. He was in the same position as those Sorceri, could trust her just as little. The loss of her collar was a grave one. —Persuasion is unpredictable. — In the rain, she rubbed her chin over one pale shoulder, smearing blood there. Crimson ran down her arm, dripping from her elbow into a rivulet of runoff. —It tends to come online when I’m in jeopardy, so you probably shouldn’t frighten me again. — He shuddered to think of all the things she could persuade him to do. Could she truly make him forget her? Even as his rational mind thought, Maybe that’s exactly what should happen, his instincts rebelled. His body rebelled. Would it remember that Thronos was never to take another? “There must be some way for you to shave days off your . . . lag. ” They couldn’t be trapped here. Something about this realm put him even more on edge. Of course he perceived danger all around, yet his main sense was of expectancy. Because he was with her? —I have to wait several days, for me to create myself a threshold for me to use. You’re s. o. l. — So, unless they could find another portal or a Lorean who could teleport, they were stranded. “Where are we?” —I don’t know. — When the rain intensified, she started shaking even harder. With the amount of blood she’d lost she must be freezing in this weather. And regeneration was punishing on the body. The wind picked up, bringing traces of scents. His muscles tensed when he smelled lava, corpse rot, and Lorean blood. Copious amounts of it. “Of all the realms, why did you pick this accursed land?” She slitted her eyes at him, her own blood streaming from the corner of her lips. —No one forced you to come with me! And hitchhikers don’t get to complain about the destination!— “Answer me!” —Sometimes I can’t control what door I open! Especially not under pressure. — He exhaled a breath. He’d best figure out how to keep them alive in this place. He squinted through the mist, spying what might be a pair of mountains in the far distance. He thought a high plateau stretched between them. There were two other small islands between here and that coast, but each one was miles away, too far for even an immortal to leap. Without both of his wings, he had scant hope of crossing that span. Another serpent swam by. Were they getting more numerous? This one flicked its forked tongue in the air directly beside their island. The tongue was as long as Thronos’s leg. Rows of razor-sharp teeth glinted in the night. When the skies opened up and rain thundered down, Melanthe shuddered beside him. The paler her skin grew, the more those bruises on her finely-boned face stood out. Without thought, he started moving his good wing over her—but stopped himself, stifling any unwanted sympathy for her. “It seems you would want to work together with me, sorceress. You can’t fly, so how will you escape this predicament? Or were you planning to remain here with the serpents for the better part of a week?” She gave a marked glare at his injured wing. “It will heal in hours. ” And then he’d find a secure shelter for them. —You’re acting like we’re in a partnership, like I’m not your prisoner. We are NOT a team. I hate you! I plan to ESCAPE you, dumbass. — “I expect nothing less. But until your next futile attempt, you’re going to answer some questions for me. Who was that sorcerer to you?” —An ex. Congratulations, you decapitated an old ex. — “Do you grieve him?” She rolled her eyes. —I grieve that you didn’t snatch his gold armor on the way out. He was no friend or ally of mine. — “Then why would you have slept with him?” Her sexual habits confounded him! —Why not?— Lose control, lose your mate. Biting back fury, he said, “Why did you ensorcel Omort?” She jutted her chin mulishly. “Answer or swim. ” Her eyes darted as a purple fin sliced the water nearby. —I commanded him to use no sorcery in the fight with Rydstrom. — Everyone in the Lore knew that Rydstrom the Good had slain Omort the Deathless, reclaiming his kingdom of Rothkalina; but Thronos had wondered how the rage demon king had circumvented Omort’s vast powers. “Why would you favor Rydstrom, betraying your own brother and . . . lover?” he grated, scarcely able to utter the word. Her face screwed up with revulsion. —Lover??? He was everything vile! Not to mention that he was my BROTHER. Oh, that’s just not— The thought ended abruptly; she turned to throw up again, heaving, but only blood came out. —I’d rather die!— Did he dare to believe her? Surely disgust that violent couldn’t be contrived. She swung a glare at Thronos, eyes sparking with rage. —I will kill you in your sleep for saying things like that to me!— “Why should I, or anyone else, believe you weren’t his concubine? It’s common knowledge that Omort liked to mate his sisters, and you lived under his protection for centuries!” —You want to know the truth about what life was like under his protection? Horrifying. We lived with his insanity, saw it made manifest every day! He routinely threatened to kill me, came close so many times. — “Again, you lie. If you hated what was happening, then why wouldn’t you abandon him? I know that you and Sabine were free to come and go. And why would he want his own sister dead?” She turned away, her gauntlets balled into fists. —Go to hell. — “You’ve already taken me here. Now answer me!” Silence. He grabbed her shoulders. “Feel the serpent’s breath?” She struggled in his arms, weak as a babe. —He poisoned Sabine and me with t