Blood Vow (Blood Moon Rising) (3 page)

Not understanding the power of the ring any more than he did after Gilda’s ambiguous explanation, but knowing it was his for the using, Rafe focused on the Slayers who stared mesmerized by the flaring stone on Rafe’s left hand. Only Corbet and Corvus were unaffected and unafraid of its power.

Corbet extended his hand to Rafael. “The Eye of Fenrir belongs to me.”

“You’ll have to kill me to get it,” Rafe threw back at him.

Corbet smiled, the gesture malevolent to its core. “That can easily be arranged.”

Lucien raised his sword. “Try and take it then.”

Corbet’s smiled waned. “Unfortunately, I need both of you alive at the moment. But trust me when I say, once your usefulness has expired, I will have the ring, and both of your heads on each of my swords.”

“I have come all this way for these two, Thomas, they are mine!” Corvus insisted, turning on his cousin.

As if he were schooling a child, the master Slayer looked dismissively down at Corvus. “I am the elder of the paternal line, the world leader of all clans. I decide what will be done with the twin alphas.”

“Allow them to live so that they can slaughter more of our clan tomorrow?” Corvus spit.

Corbet’s blue eyes morphed into deep shiny onyx, the ultimate Slayer tell, as he turned his full attention back to Rafe and Lucien. “So long as I live and they live, I have the power to resurrect every Slayer that has fallen beneath a Lycan bite since the first rising.”

Foreboding riveted through Rafael. If Corbet was able to raise his dead, the nation was doomed.

Corbet threw his head back and laughed at his cousin’s shocked expression. “Kill you today, Corvus? I will raise you from the dead on the eve of the Blood Moon rising!”

“Impossible!” Corvus challenged.

Corbet smiled tolerantly. “Cousin, you really must trust me on this.” He speared Lucien and Rafe with a deadly glare. Raising his hand above his head, Corbet whirled his fist as if he held the end of a lasso. In the air a heavy silver chain materialized, lengthening with each rotation of his hand.

As he reared his hand back to cast it around Rafe and Lucien, Rafael leapt high into the air to the right. Lucien jumped high to the left.

The chain caught Lucien’s ankle. Corbet laughed and yanked hard, pulling Lucien roughly from the air, sending him sprawling to the concrete deck.

“Come now, Lucien,” Corbet purred, pulling Lucien toward him. “Let’s see what you’re made of.”

Rafael dove into the frigid water of the bay below.

Three

FALON WAS FREE-FALLING. Her arms and legs spread, the heat of the air currents buoying her body from a dead drop. Loud whooshes of air tugged at her hair. Hundreds of deep whispers reverberated around her. She struggled to open her eyes. But each time she opened them, an intense burning blazed through her.

Luca! Rafa!

Falon!
they shouted back to her, their voices desperate and far away.

It felt as if an eternity had come and gone. Where was she?

Her descent quickened, the air cooling. Her teeth chattered and her limbs trembled.

“Help me!” she cried.

Answering whispers swirled around her.

Familiar—the aimless gray souls that followed her in all of her conscious states.

Tell me what to do!
Falon screamed as she continued to plummet.

“Return our lives,” they cried.

How?


Spill the two bloods.”

What?

Did they mean she must kill Lucien and Rafael? It was an impossible request, for she would
never
sacrifice them.

“Spill the two bloods beneath the Blood Moon rising.”

Where?
she cried as hopelessness swept through her soul.

“Where it all began.”

Where what began?
What did they mean?

“The Lycan nation.”

Falon screamed as her body was snatched out of the air by the jaws of the biggest, baddest wolf of them all.

Fenrir.

* * *

“RUMORS ABOUND, RAFAEL. And if they are true, I don’t blame you for abandoning your brother,” Corbet taunted from the dock above him. “With a lie, your brother stole your chosen one. He beguiled her, then marked her as his own.” Corbet threw his head back and laughed uproariously.

Rafe swam to the piling beneath where Corbet stood. He inclined his head to his men, indicating they should all grab ahold of it. “Rumor has it she’s pregnant with his child.” Corbet laughed again. “Is it true?”

Rafe snarled, his beast jealously gnashed at his belly.

Go after Falon, Rafe,
Lucien pleaded.
Hurry, before it’s too late.

Rafe hesitated. If he went after Falon, Lucien would surely die—and if he were dead . . . The ring flared—in protest or agreement, he wasn’t sure.

“I’m going to skin your brother alive strip by strip, just like I did your mother.” Corbet chuckled. “Do you remember, Rafe, how she begged me to stop? How your father, the proud arrogant Arnou begged and pleaded that I spare the beautiful Tamaska’s life?” Corbet’s voice tightened.

Rafe’s beast snarled viciously.

“Let’s see if the imperious Mondragon begs for his life.”

Though Lucien had not uttered a sound, the copper scent of his brother’s blood wafted down to Rafe. He steeled himself as he felt the intense burn of Lucien’s agony. The ring flared painfully on his hand. In contrast, the beast within Rafe quieted. It was always its most quiet when it was most deadly.

Go, Rafe! Go while this bastard is preoccupied!
Lucien called to him.

Rafael’s vision blurred momentarily before clearing to precise clarity. There was no question in Rafe’s heart what he would do. He had always looked out for his younger brother. Just as he would now.

“Argh!” Lucien roared in pain.

“Oh, that was a long one,” Corbet chuckled. “Let’s make it a set.”

Lucien roared again in pain. And something in Rafael snapped.

Lucien watched with macabre satisfaction from where he laid crucified to the dock, impaled by half a dozen silver Slayer swords. Corbet held up a long strip of flesh from his belly, blood dripping from the raw strip of exposed flesh he just tore it from.

Falon!
he called.
Rafe is coming for you!

Corbet tore another strip of skin from him. Lucien bit back a groan, praying Rafe had left, praying— “Argh!” he screamed as Corbet slowly pulled yet another strip.

Tensing for another excruciating cut and tear, Lucien started. Like a lightning bolt, Rafe struck Corbet, sending the bastard tumbling backward against one of the wooden crates containing the poison Slayer swords, the impact cracking open the thick wooden slats. Swords spewed onto the concert deck. Rafe grabbed the swords impaling Lucien’s forearms and thighs and yanked them out. He turned, hurling them at the encroaching Slayers hitting his mark both times. Grabbing two poison swords, he tossed one to Lucien. Grabbing several more he distributed them to his men, then grabbed Lucien by the arm and leapt back into the bay with him. The cold water felt good on his wounds.

As they surfaced moments later, Anja’s blood curdling scream tore through the night.

Fuck!
Rafe cursed. Corbet had her. Why hadn’t she jumped into the water with them?

“Would you like me to do you a favor Vulkasin?” Corbet taunted. “I understand you have marked one Lycan too many.” He laughed. “If I eliminate the lovely Anja, then your archaic honor will not have to be tested and your precious Falon will indeed be yours.” He laughed again. “What will poor Lucien do then?”

Anja screamed again.

“Makes you wish you hadn’t rescued brother dear, now doesn’t it?”

I’m going to tear that bastard apart one piece at a time,
Lucien hissed.

“You have to the count of ten, Vulkasin, to offer up yourself or your brother in exchange for this lovely Lycan bitch.”

Lucien looked at his brother.
You can’t exchange yourself for her.

“Ten.”

I can’t allow her to be tortured by Corbet, either.

“Nine.”

The ring flared.
Corbet will not be able to kill me, not with the power of the ring.

“Eight.”

What if he takes it from you?

“Seven.”

I would have to give it to him; he cannot take it.

“Six.”

Damn it, Rafa!

I’ll make the exchange. I owe it to her. You take the packs and go after Falon. I’ll catch up.

“Five.”

I’m not leaving you here. He’ll kill you.

“Four.”

Go damn it!

“Three.”

Rafe!

“Two.”

Tell Falon I loved her!

“One!”

“I’ll make the exchange, Corbet!” Rafael said, leaping onto the deck.

Damn you, Rafe!

Go, Lucien. Now, before it’s too late!

Ignoring his brother’s command, Lucien swam deeper beneath the dock. The packs followed.

“Rafael Vulkasin, the mighty alpha whose honor has kept him from true greatness!” Corbet bellowed, his voice reverberating beneath the pilings. “Do you know why you will lose the battle of evermore?”

Silence.

Lucien moved farther away from the dock, giving the impression they were leaving.

“You will lose because you allow your honor to get in the way of what needs to be done.” He laughed. “Take this little Lycan here. Did you really think I would release her?”

“You
have
no honor, Corbet,” Rafe snarled.

“Precisely. It is why I have the power and you and your chosen one are bound in silver chains like hogs going to market.”

Lucien crawled up a piling fifty yards down from where the Slayers held Rafe and Anja hostage. As the packs gathered around him, he gave them instructions, and they quickly got to work.

Shifting to wolves, with their jaws, they picked up the poisoned swords they had brought with them by the hilts. And like shadows, Lucien followed by the two sergeants at arms went one way, and the poison-sword-bearing packs back to where they had just came from.

Stealthily, Lucien made his way to the dockmaster’s shack, rendered the guard unconscious, and snatched the keys for the giant crane midway down the pier and the two semis parked beneath the guard shack.

Before he slipped from the guard shack, Lucien shifted to human, disarmed the alarms, and tossed keys to Joachim and Anton.

“Drive the semis full throttle down the pier straight into those bastards,” he whispered.

As the diesels roared to life, Lucien leapt the entire thirty-yard distance to the large crane operator’s deck. In seconds it roared to life.

That ring had better have enough power to save your ass, brother, because I’m going to level that deck and everything on it,
Lucien warned.

Manuvering the controls, he unlocked the heavy chain with a one-ton metal hook hanging from the end. In a deadly swath he whipped the heavy hook around, and as it swung dangerously across the deck, crashing into and toppling several containers, the semis barreled directly at the Slayers.

The bastards scattered as the Mack trucks headed straight toward Rafe and Anja, who were tied together and hanging like a smoked ham from the smaller crane near the metal sword container. As the heavy chain and hook came lumbering around toward them, Lucien roared and leapt from the operator’s seat to the lumberous hook as it wobbled wildly out of control. Grasping the chain for balance, he hunched down as it swung directly toward his brother who struggled to get out of the silver lasso cocooning him and Anja. Just as Lucien reached down to grab him, Rafael burst out of the chains. Grabbing Anja, Rafe leapt high into the air and grabbed the chain above Lucien as it swung backward, then slid down onto the hook beside him.

Once Rafe was safely out of harm’s way, the remaining pack rose from the darkness and hurled the poison swords at the Slayers as they reestablished their dominance on deck. Within minutes dozens dropped to the concrete, immobile. The packs swarmed on Corvus and his remaining men.

In a tidal wave of furnace-grade wind, the Slayers rose up into the night and disappeared.

Dumbfounded, Lucien and Rafael stood silent on the swaying hook, staring at each other.

“Holy fuck,” Anton, Rafe’s sergeant, whispered.

“I can’t believe they just disappeared like that,” Rafe said. He jumped down from the hook where it hung several feet above the concrete dock. Extending a hand to Anja, he helped her down.

“Are you okay?” Rafe asked her.

“I’m fine,” she answered obviously more than a little shaken.

Lucien hopped off the hook landing beside his brother.

“What just happened?” Anja asked, shaking the cobwebs from her head.

“Thomas Corbet rose from the dead and is talking about raising more dead,” Lucien said. “He must be stopped.”

“Ghost walkers,” Rafe whispered. “There are hundreds if not a thousand slain Slayers.”

Fuck.

“Falon! She has seen them in her dreams!” Lucien exclaimed.

“What are you talking about?” Rafe asked skeptically.

“Not Slayer souls but Lycan souls slain by Slayers. They speak to her. I know it sounds crazy, but she told me they come to her, begging her for something. It’s
resurrection
they want.”

Lucien paced excitedly back and forth. “It makes sense that if there are Slayer ghost walkers there are Lycan.”

Rafe’s heart thudded violently in his throat. In that instant he knew if Falon were capable of resurrecting the ghost walkers, those souls that had been slain by a Corbet, that meant . . .

“Mother and father,” Lucien whispered, stopping in his tracks staring at Rafe.

Afraid to believe, Rafe closed his eyes and heard his mother’s voice begging for her life as Thomas Corbet skinned her alive. It had been the most disastrous day for Vulkasin, the imprint of the horror forever seared into his soul. His vengeance against all things Corbet exploded that day, mushrooming out of control. Like Lucien, Rafael would not rest until the entire bloodline was exterminated.

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