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Authors: Lindsey Piper

Tags: #Dragon Kings#0.5

Silent Warrior (9 page)

BOOK: Silent Warrior
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9

A
lthough she wanted to reach out to her lover, Silence carefully avoided Hark’s thoughts. He was alive and he was still fighting. That’s all she needed to know. Instead she kept her mind fused with that of Jawahar, despite her disgusting task. She caught glimpses of the moment when he’d pushed Shiro Kawashima into a closet and pressed his big body against the young man. Maybe thirteen? She was revolted by Jawahar’s excitement, then and now, as they remembered it in tandem. His raging hard-on. His mounting anticipation at the pitiful sound of the boy’s whimpers. His thrill when yanking down one zipper, then another.

He forced Shiro to face the wall.

Silence clenched her eyes and hurled her pain.

Across the narrow space dividing them, Jawahar grunted. She kept her attention focused there. The throb burning around her upper thigh became a bludgeon. She pummeled him with fire and agony. His resistance crumbled, until she caught sight of what had happened after he’d stripped Shiro from the waist down. Men had come for Jawahar. Men with cattle prods and whips, followed by a father with the fury of a thousand stars going supernova.

Jawahar was the one whimpering now.

There were no words to describe his torture. Only Kawashima’s knowledge that the monster might be of value had kept him from exacting the ultimate vengeance.

Silence used those resources against him. She was more determined. But she was running out of strength. It was seeping out her thigh and felt as though it was draining out her ears. This Indranan had killed his twin. She saw it as clearly as she’d witnessed Jawahar’s assault on Shiro Kawashima. Thirteen years old . . . a sword across his twin brother’s windpipe . . . death, followed by a surge of power that made Silence jerk from head to heel. To have one’s gift doubled with the single cut of a blade—unimaginable. Jawahar showed her exactly how that victory had crammed his mind with an insane amount of power and the eternal shrieks of his dead twin. Still a child but already insane.

She would’ve taken more precautions had she known more about the beast she’d been dealing with.

A little help.

Hark’s voice in her mind was a ray of light. He hated the dark, and she wanted to know why. She wanted to know why he prattled on like a chickadee on speed. That meant getting him back to her whole and safe.

All the baddies are toasted. I can’t see a Dragon-damned thing. I’m a rat in a maze here, blondie.

She sank back against the floor, her hands still tight on the tourniquet, and found where Hark waded through the warren’s tight tunnels, cramped spaces, and almost imperceptible passages. She guided him back. Down the stairs. Into the basement. Only when she heard his breathing—heard it with her own ears rather than with her addled mind—did she open her eyes.

The battle was done.

He was standing over her.

With both hands he held a napalm pistol. The barrel was aimed directly between her eyes.

“Hark?”

He looked pained, but his mind was closed off.

Jawahar laughed. “There’s a cost for thieving. Thought there wouldn’t be consequences? Shoot her, you Sath piece of shit.”

Hark’s arms trembled. Sweat beaded along his temples. A deep frown crumpled his brow. It looked wrong on his face. She wanted that maniacal, infuriating smile back. She wanted his Dragon-damned chatter, if that’s what it meant to have him free of Jawahar’s control.

“She won’t die,” Hark gritted out.

“No.” Another disgusting laugh. Silence knew that laugh from the foulest of Jawahar’s memories. “But I can’t imagine her being worth much with a napalm crater burning her skull from the inside out. The people here are starving. They won’t care whether they eat rats or a bitch of a Dragon King.”

The grip Hark kept on the pistol’s handle was that of a man gripping a rope that dangled over a hundred-foot drop. He was holding on for dear life—for
her
life. “You’re dead next.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Silence caught the captive’s shrug. “Don’t care,” Jawahar said. “She’ll be dead. I’ll be dead. And you’ll regret one a helluva lot more than the other. I wonder if a cold-ass bastard like you could walk away from that.”

Rivulets of sweat rolled down Hark’s temples and curled the blond hair at his nape. His whole body shook. He wouldn’t miss at that distance, even though his arms trembled. “Get out of here,” he told her, his voice desperate.

Yet until her body began to repair itself, she was hobbled by a bloody wound. She tried weaving through the telepathic hold Jawahar had on Hark, but it was like plunging her mind into guts and glue and garbage. The Indranan wasn’t refusing her access. He was just making it so repulsive that she couldn’t move forward. She hadn’t been raised from birth knowing how to control such a gift. Her gift was to know what to steal, when, and for how long.

This wasn’t the right time. She’d get sucked into mire, and Hark would shoot her in the face with a napalm slug.

She had nothing left except defending herself with what scant history they shared. And words. Real, spoken words.

“Hark? What’s my name?”

He blinked.

“I gave it to you, remember? I trusted you with it. What’s my name?”

The gun wavered. Blue eyes made murky by shadows blinked again.

“I can’t understand why I told you. Maybe because I finally wanted someone else to know. To know I existed. The real me. Do you hear me talking to you? I’ve never said so many words to anyone except you, and I don’t know why.” She swallowed a ragged cry. “Don’t end my life now. I have more to say. I promise. Just . . . Hark, tell me my name.”

“Can’t.” He shuddered. He seemed to shove his shoulders against a brick wall, although there was no wall and he didn’t move. “He’ll hear.”

“Then put that Dragon-damned thing down and come tell me.”

He flipped on the safety and dropped the pistol. A heartbeat later, he enveloped her in his arms. They shook. Shook together. Hark nestled his roughened lips against the dip behind her earlobe. “Orla of Sath.”

“Yes, you maddening son of a bitch.”

“Sweet talker,” he said, smiling against her skin. “Now I get to kill him.”

Silence grabbed his wrist as he stood. “No, you can’t. He was my mission in coming here. I’ll be punished if he dies.”

Jawahar laughed again, but with less arrogance. His golden skin had taken on a sickly sheen.

Hark lifted his brows at Silence. He’d nearly returned to his joker self. She wanted more and more—anything but the pulsing ice-fear of staring Hark’s shadow self in the face. “What about maiming? My
nighnor
’s around here somewhere. Out of the question, too?”

“He was bought and paid for because of his skill in the Cages.”

Rather than hurt the Indranan beast, Hark thrust a boot against the man’s collarbone and bent him toward the ground. The chain binding one wrist pulled taut. “What’s the code? I don’t want him in my head anymore. He’s one sick fucker.”

Silence recited the combination for reactivating Jawahar’s temporary collar. She sagged back against the concrete. The whoosh of losing another Dragon King’s gift was disorienting. She always experienced moments of suffering when she relinquished what was briefly hers.

With Jawahar contained, Hark returned to her side. He took her head in his lap. “You seriously need a shower.”

Said the pot to the kettle.

“Say that again.”

You heard me.

“Yeah, but how?”

“I don’t know,” she whispered. “This hasn’t happened to me before. Connection severed. Powers gone. That’s the way of it.”

Something about sharing with each other?

She gripped his hands, both of them sticky and smelling of copper. “I don’t care the reasons. You’ve seen why I run. Your turn. Show me the darkness. You’ll never need to say it aloud if you show me.”

Hark closed his eyes. The jester was replaced by what appeared to be a man half his age. She couldn’t tell if her eyes were playing tricks or if it was the fading telepathy.

My brother. Rian. He’d stolen from the wrong people. Again. Dragon Kings, this time. Somewhere in Budapest. Damn us Sath and our obsession with trinkets. He had a useless sack of them. Kept adding to it. Three Pendray wanted them back.

He threw me the sack, hid me in a half-dug grave. Told me to stay still and quiet.

“How old were you?”

Ten. He was twice my age. My only family. He was a powerful Sath, but he couldn’t fend off all three when they went full berserker. I hid in that shallow pit. Wanted to be small. Eyes closed. Buried in the black. I swallowed mud rather than scream. How many days do you stay still before you know they’re gone for good? In the dark. Stay quiet. In the dark . . .

“Hark. Hark, come back. Don’t stay there. Show me somewhere else.”

They were touching. Past or present or future. They didn’t have much of a past—just that fuck against the wall of a hotel in barely better condition than the warren. The present was a living nightmare.

The future . . .

There was tenderness and roughness, surrounded by whispers. Teasing. Companionship. Sex. She would suck him. He would take her. They would collapse in sweat and sighs. No one could touch them. Side-by-side in battle. Side-by-side when curled in sleep.

You’re showing me darkness, Hark. And quiet.

Not the same. Together. Ritual of Thorns.

Insanity. We’re strangers. We’ll regret it.

Never. I want you.

Wait, don’t go—

What they’d borrowed of Jawahar’s telepathy dispersed like fog at dawn, until the connection was severed. Silence forced herself up and off Hark’s lap. They stared at each other through the gloom.

“I know I’m going to find this really ironic,” he said, touching her lips, “but don’t say a word. I want out of this shithole. You’ve fed your pet doggy. Time for the grown-ups to hit the town.”

He helped her stand. Silence leaned against the wall while Hark collected their weapons, including the napalm pistol. She nodded to it. “Leave that.”

His brow wrinkled, mouth downturned. “You know I didn’t . . . I didn’t mean—”

“Hark.” She shoved away from the wall and looped an arm around his shoulders, bracing her weight. “You were stronger than him.”

“Nah, I just like saying your name.”

She let his self-deprecating statement go unanswered as he chucked the pistol down what looked and smelled like a sewer drain. Between Silence’s injury and the labyrinthine journey, it was dawn by the time they crawled out of the warren, as cautious as rabbits sniffing the air for predators.

“Will you have to go back?” he asked. “To retrieve that jackass?”

Silence shook her head. “I’ll give the information to Asters’ men and they’ll take care of it. I wasn’t supposed to see him again. Just leave enough food and water.”

“When did you capture him?”

“Nineteen days ago.”

“So you’ve been . . . ?”

“Seeing the sights,” she said softly. “Picking up random strangers.”

“I knew you were my kind of girl.”

She caught his gaze, where the sun lit his brilliant blue eyes—the cool heart of a flame. Only a single flame was needed to start an inferno to lay waste to cities. Hark of Sath was capable of that. He’d shown her his violence, but also something beautifully seductive.

She couldn’t trust it. She’d be a
fool
to trust it.

He’d shown her a future. With him.

“How many more debts do you owe?” she asked.

Together they limped away from the warren and toward a row of youth hostels and restaurants just opening for the morning. Steam seeped up from grates under the sidewalks. It was best to ignore what had collected in the gutters overnight.

“Too many, and I don’t have too much left to sell.”

“Sell?”

Hark patted his satchel. “Not just for the
nighnor
. Random bits and pieces, some left over from my brother’s collection.” His voice caught on that word.
Brother
. “I’ve lived off it by small measures for years, filling the gaps when assholes didn’t hold up their ends of solid bargains. You’d think they could at least pretend to come up to my exalted level.”

“No one can reach.”

With a wry shake of his head, he took more of her weight across his shoulders and kissed her temple. “Do you
think
all this lippy bullshit when you’re in full-on Silence mode?”

“Yes.”

“Noted.”

They came to a hostel that accepted the last wads of cash they’d won in the brawl. Less than twelve hours ago. Jawahar’s telepathy made it feel as if months had passed.

“I have my doubts about satin sheets,” she said with a slight smile. “This place doesn’t look the type.”

“Does that mean no naked?”

“As if either of us has the strength to move.”

“I’d manage. And I’d make sure you did, too.”

“Manage?” She shook her head. “Disappointing.”

He helped her down the hall to their first-floor room. “At least we didn’t die down there.”

BOOK: Silent Warrior
5.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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