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she would be dead. Fiach wrapped her in a bone-crushing embrace.
 Firebird, he whispered against her hair.  Please be more careful. We ve just found
one another, don t take this time away from me.
Her throat constricted.  I ll be careful, Fiach. Kathel is the best guard cat I could ask
Kathel winced at the almost canine comparison, but a quick scratch behind his ears
restored his spirits. Death magic rolled off his silky midnight coat. Small touches were
safe enough, but prolonged contact made her body lock and drag down the black spiral of
infinity. It was worth the risk to see such a silly grin on the face of something so fierce.
Apparently no one with immunity to his curse took into consideration that Kathel, like his
housecat cousins, liked a good scratch behind the ears and a long stroke down his satiny
Fiach covered his mouth and shook with silent laughter at Kathel s expense.
 Were you taking a stroll or did you find anything of use? Kathel asked acerbically.
Fiach pointed to the grass a dozen yards away.  If you look closely, you ll see the
grass isn t moving.
 Aye, I see it now.
Cilia squinted, her vision the weakest of the three.  What does it mean?
 It means that someone has gone through a lot of trouble to make a complex glamour
but forgotten or skipped the steps to give the illusion movement.
Kathel pondered that.  It would make sense. None born of the fae would forget
something so rudimentary. A demon though, with no proper training and no small gift,
could do this. He lifted his nose to scent the air.  I smell nothing but us three.
Cilia had wondered about that as well. The only smell she d encountered thus far had
been the illusionary effects of the poisonous flower.  That means the glamour is blocking
out the scent. Whoever constructed it isn t skilled enough to differentiate, so they chose
to block out all the scents instead of risking the wrong one being revealed.
Fiach squeezed her shoulder and dropped a kiss to her cheek. Kathel chortled.
 You ve a sharp mind, lass. Glad I am that you re on my side this day.
 So how do we do this? she asked.
Fiach flicked a wrist in the direction of the illusion and whispered beautiful melodic
words in time with the motion. The lush, primitive landscape fell away to reveal a large
gray fortress constructed of coarsely hewn stones. Though several hundred yards away,
Cilia could make out small black-skinned creatures guarding a deep indention nestled in
the side of the high walls.
 Darkies. Kathel grunted.  I ll take them. Fiach, you get your woman inside safely
and I ll join with you there.
Before Cilia could offer words of luck or safekeeping, the massive cat was gone. She
watched his graceful leonine lope as he neared the ominous stronghold. The Darkies
offered no resistance when they saw the cat approach. Kathel batted one to the ground
with his large paw then turned to rip the throat out of the second. As Kathel s lungs
labored under the strain of rising bloodlust, the first rose up and lunged forward. A loud
crunch carried to where Cilia and Fiach lay hidden and she knew that the death cat had
broken the other creature s neck.
She couldn t stop a tear from rolling down her cheek. Fiach wiped the moisture away
with the pad of his thumb.
 There s no cause to cry for them. They were under Arvel s influence. They chose
the monster they served and have paid the debt owed for it.
Cilia caught his hand.  The tears are for Kathel. He deserves better than this.
 He does, Fiach agreed.  But for now, he s risking himself to keep our route open.
We have to move.
He gathered Cilia to his side and they sprinted towards the stone encampment.
Before they reached the safety of the walls, arrows began to rain down around them.
Arvel must have posted reinforcements hidden under the canopy of trees just beyond the
field. Fiach cursed and pressed Cilia tighter until she was almost running underneath him.
Another step closer and he grunted, his steps faltering. He swung an arm behind his back
and when he brought it around, he held an angry looking arrow coated in his blood.
Without a word, his large black wings unfurled. He cinched an arm snugly around
Cilia s waist as he flexed downward and soared into the sky. The arrows still volleyed
around them, but in the air, Fiach s speed gave them an advantage even with her added
weight slowing him down.
Within seconds they were at the entrance. Fiach dipped down and stretched his great
black wings across the darkening sky to catch the wind and slow their descent. The
landing was still rough, much worse than their first one had been. He fell from the sky the
last couple of feet and ran with her tucked tightly against his chest.
Kathel was still hunched over the bloodied bodies of the butchered Darkie guards.
Cilia called out to him, but when his eyes lifted they were red rimmed and unseeing. It
was like she had waved a steak at a starved lion. The fact Fiach was running triggered
Kathel s urge to hunt prey and bear it to the ground. He tensed, his muscles rippling, as
he prepared to attack them.
 Fiach! she screamed.
 Almost there, he panted.
He leveraged his shoulder against the heavy door on impact and forced it open as he
towed her inside and slammed a heavy metal bar into place. Cilia leaned against Fiach as
his back rested on the heavy iron barrier. They heard Kathel s crazed snarls and scratches
as he flung himself against the door, lost to his rabid pursuit of prey.
Uncertain of what lay ahead, Fiach shoved away from the door and tucked Cilia
behind him. When she stepped around to his back, she couldn t stop the muffled cry that
left her throat. His back was burned, badly, the feathers singed away, revealing exposed
bone and ripped flesh.
 Fiach, your back! [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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