Home > Dark Song (Dark #30)(16)

Dark Song (Dark #30)(16)
Author: Christine Feehan

Elisabeta wasn’t sure she wanted to share that private name. “My little songbird” felt intimate to her. Theirs alone. She knew any Carpathian who heard him call her that would know what it meant, and Julija was her friend, but that name represented far more to Elisabeta than she’d realized. No one had ever been kind to her, or made her feel special. No matter how she acted, terrified or not, Ferro accepted her.

It is a sweet name he calls me sometimes, she managed. I am very fond of it.

I do know the Carpathian language, but that is very ancient, isn’t it?

Elisabeta nodded. What is the healer saying about the vampire now? She wanted to change the subject until she understood her emotions better.

The rising had already been too overwhelming for her and she didn’t want to add anything else to it that she didn’t have to try to cope with if she didn’t have to. Both women immediately turned their attention to the conversation between the healer, Tariq and the others.

“We have no option but to once again examine those in the compound who have been near the healing grounds,” Maksim said, sounding weary.

Tariq sighed. “The children have been put to the test repeatedly. I am not certain how much more they can take. Certainly Charlotte will be very distressed by the idea of having to examine them again, but we cannot risk everyone here.”

Sívamet, there is another answer, one that will be difficult for you to put to the test, but these are children who you saw the vampire torturing. Do you remember?

Yes. How could she forget? Julija had allowed herself to be taken prisoner in the hopes of rescuing her. There were children down in the tunnels, and they were used cruelly by Sergey and his brother. Elisabeta had been in a tiny cage, hidden in the room, unable to do anything but watch the horror unfolding before her eyes.

You would have to be very brave and trust me. I know it would be difficult for you, but if I am right, it would spare these children more pain and Tariq would not have to tell his lifemate he has no choice but to once more subject their children to examination.

Aloud, Ferro interrupted the discussion. “Before you call the meeting, Tariq, and put the plan into action, I have one more idea, but I need my lifemate’s permission. I am discussing it with her now. It will be very frightening for her and she will have to be extremely brave to cooperate, but if I am right, we can spare the children this examination.”

Tariq had begun to rise but at Ferro’s statement he dropped into the chair and nodded, steepled his fingers and waited. He glanced at Maksim and then Gary. Both men shook their heads. Neither had any idea of what Ferro might be thinking.

Tell me what you would have me do. Already Elisabeta was trembling. She despised herself for being such a coward when she caught so many glimpses of him acting with such courage, facing master vampires and defeating them in terrible battles.

Ferro’s hand was very gentle, stroking her hair. Julija is in the room with you. She is in your mind. My brethren are here. All are ancient hunters. They will weave safeguards. Look around you at those in the room. These are all powerful Carpathian hunters, each with their own gifts. I will have them weave the strongest safeguards over and under and around this room with you in it. Sandu, Andor and Gary, those I call ekä, my brother, will be in your mind, secreted there waiting quietly to see if the vampire creeps in.

Elisabeta gasped and pulled into an upright sitting position, facing him, shaking her head, uncaring that the others would see her visceral reaction. She already knew what he was going to do. Leave her. He was leaving her. Panic set in and she couldn’t catch her breath. The moment she knew he was going to abandon her, she felt the vampire pressing close. She felt his glee. He was there, just waiting for his moment.

“You promised me,” she whispered. “You promised me.”

“Yes, Elisabeta, and I always keep my promises,” Ferro agreed. “I am not abandoning you. You are mine. I protect you first above all others. This is only to see if I am right, and if I am, it will keep the children safe and from having once more to suffer through examination. It is up to you. I will abide by your decision.”

Elisabeta rocked herself back and forth, trying to self-soothe. Nothing helped. He caught her chin and forced it up, forced her eyes to meet his. He had the strangest-colored eyes. This time they seemed to be more silvery-blue with that strange rusty stain, like a lightning bolt arrowing through them. His gaze was steady on hers.

I am asking for your trust, Elisabeta. I will never abandon you. Never. This will only take minutes. I know it will feel like hours, but I swear it will be minutes and I will be close.

There was such a force in him. She couldn’t see or hear a lie in him, but he was her courage. He was the reason she was able to be aboveground and she was still terrified, even with his physical presence. She couldn’t do what he was asking of her—but there were those innocent children. Was she going to be so selfish that she would let fear conquer her and allow the children to suffer because she couldn’t overcome her terror?

I cannot make decisions, Ferro. You know that. You have to decide for me. You have to choose what is right.

You know what the right thing to do is. He never looked away from her, his eyes on hers the entire time.

Her heart dropped. She knew he was going to choose the honorable path. He had always chosen honor. He had secreted himself in the monastery because he was honorable. Honor was inked on his back. She wanted to live up to that for him.

What are you going to do?

I will explain to everyone. If you have an objection, state it to me alone on our path, but know I will be leaving your mind and physical presence for a few moments only to leave the way open for the vampire so he can be traced.

Again, he did not look away from her. She heard a moan escape and she quickly cut it off, pressing her forehead into his chest, unable to continue looking into his eyes. He couldn’t possibly understand the terror sweeping through her.

Elisabeta? he prompted.

She couldn’t say the words. She wanted to, but she couldn’t get them out.

Make the decision for me, Ferro. If you decree it, I will follow your lead. She wanted to curl up into the fetal position and just disappear.

“I would ask that Andor, Gary and Sandu once again silently observe by joining with Elisabeta.” You will allow my brethren to merge with you in my place.

They cannot protect me from him. They couldn’t. She didn’t care how powerful he thought his ancient brethren were, they couldn’t stop the master vampire, not when he was coming for her. Only Ferro could do that.

Nevertheless. Ferro made it a decree. “Before they do, every ancient in this room, with the exception of me, together must weave the strongest safeguards to keep Sergey out. Do not leave a single loophole. Once that is done, the three of you who are bound with me, so I know that you will guard my lifemate, will merge with her. I will leave until summoned to return. In the time I am gone, we will see if Sergey manages to find his way to terrorize my lifemate.”

They cannot stop him from getting to me. Only you can do that. You have to stay with me. If you are not with me, he will come. She couldn’t help pleading with him.

Elisabeta found her fingers were twisted into two fists in his shirt and she was astonished at her audacity. She would never have thought she could possibly have taken such liberties, but Ferro didn’t seem to mind. If anything, he seemed proud of her. When she tried to pry her fingers loose, he brought up his hands to cover hers. As always, he was exquisitely gentle.

Then we will know how he comes and we will be able to stop him, Ferro stated calmly. You will do this, lifemate, because I have asked it of you.

The rules. The guidelines she understood. That discipline she’d had for hundreds of years. She closed her eyes. She could do this if she had to. She could endure as she had for centuries.

“That makes no sense,” Maksim said. “How could he possibly get in if we all weave such strong safeguards?”

“We have woven them around the compound,” Tariq pointed out.

“I see where you’re going with this, Ferro,” Gary said. “It makes perfect sense.” He stood and nodded to the others. “Before it is too much for Elisabeta, let’s hurry.”

Elisabeta wanted to tell him she was already at her limit; still, she gathered her courage. This wasn’t for herself. Ferro, you said I could ask anything of you.

Yes, piŋe sarnanak.

Please have Julija leave. I do not want her here. That is the one thing I ask of you. With you gone, I fear Sergey will come and he will strike at me through her. She carries a child, and he will harm that child.

Ferro leaned over her and pressed a kiss on top of her head. “It is Elisabeta’s wish, Isai, that you remove your lifemate for her safety while we conduct this experiment. I would ask that you honor her wish.”

Isai rose immediately and held out his hand to Julija, who stood reluctantly. “Are you certain, Elisabeta? I would help you through this.”

“She is certain,” Ferro said. “This is difficult for her,” he added when Julija continued to hesitate. “I ask that you go.”

Julija nodded and went with Isai from the house. Elisabeta didn’t look at her. She couldn’t. She already felt abandoned by her lifemate. The moment Julija and Isai were gone, the remaining Carpathian males immediately began weaving safeguards.

Ferro continued to hold Elisabeta while her mind went crazy with all sorts of possibilities that this was the moment when the axe was going to fall and she would see what was really in store for her. Was it possible that this was one of Sergey’s many cruel tricks? He’d played so many over the centuries he’d held her. Was Ferro an equally vicious master and now was the moment when he would reveal his true character? She couldn’t stop the thousands of likelihoods from pushing forward.

Very slowly Elisabeta uncurled her fists from Ferro’s shirt and forced herself to sit up on her own. She could only try to prepare herself against the pain that was going to come. It was already creeping into her mind and heart, stealing in like a thief. She was familiar with the feeling. So many times, over hundreds of years, she had tried to make herself numb, to not feel anything at all, but for some reason, that wouldn’t work for her.

   
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