Home > Evermore (Darkyn #5)(2)

Evermore (Darkyn #5)(2)
Author: Lynn Viehl

The kid extended his arm, and the black chopstick shot out on both ends, making itself into a pole. "No."

Dex came up behind the kid, his arms open and ready to take hold of him. Only when Dex grabbed, he got nothing but an armful of air, and skidded on his heels.

The kid disappeared into a streak of dark air.

"Where'd he…" Something made Dex's face blur behind a bronze streak.

Metal whip-whistled, water hissed, and what sounded like high-pitched thunder snarled. Dex flew straight up into the air, soaring four feet off the ground before curling over and dropping to the ground with a loud grunt. He tried to push himself up, groaned, and collapsed so hard his clothes farted air and rainwater.

Grunge swore as he ran toward Travis, snatching at the blur of bronze darting between them. Travis blinked, heard the whip of metal again, and thought he saw the kid's long stick slash down. Then Grunge did a perfect backflip into a delivery door, cracking wood as he hit it and slid down into an oil-stained puddle. Wart shrieked and tried to scramble out of the way, his worn sneakers splashing.

The bronze streak solidified into the kid and looked at Travis. "Go home, now."

"Jayr," a deep, pissed-off voice called out.

Travis glanced back, squinting against the rain to see the nance and the hulk cutting him off. He aimed at the ground in front of them and squeezed off two rounds, taking pleasure in the sharp echoes of the shots. "Get the f**k out."

The hulk started forward, but his nance buddy put a hand on his shoulder, as if to hold him back.

"Go on, get." Travis held the gun on them until the nance practically dragged the hulk around the corner. Confident they wouldn't be back, he swung his arm around and aimed at the kid standing between him and Wart. "Drop the rod, faggot."

The kid flipped the stick over the back of his hand, snapping it until, presto-changeo, it shrank back to chopstick length.

"If you shoot at me," he said as he tucked it back into his jacket, "you will only harm your friend."

Travis ran a sleeve across his wet face to clear his eyes before he laughed. "Right." He adjusted his aim for the boy's arm and squeezed the trigger.

A white-and-bronze flash cut the air in front of Travis's face; then what felt like a two-by-four slammed into his gun, knocking it out of his hand. The .38 discharged into the front of the med building, shattering and collapsing a six-by-six-foot glass panel before the gun landed on Grunge's chest.

A tripped security alarm siren began to wail, high and strident against the bass tremors of thunder.

Travis shoved his hand into the blur and caught the kid's jacket, jerking him to a stop. Steam rose from the bronze jacket, and his hold tore open the boy's wet shirt. That was when he saw something that shouldn't have been there. "Shit. You're a—"

Wart came up from behind and pinned the kid between the two of them.

That should have been it, game over, only his feet weren't touching the ground and he was flipping, head over heels. He saw Wart beside him, wheeling his arms and legs, and then the ground rushed up at his face.

They slid together across the storm-soaked ground for what seemed like a mile or better. Travis spit out a mouthful of blood and dirty rainwater, and lifted his head to see two pairs of wet boots stop in front of his nose.

"Young jackals," the nance said in James Bond's voice. "Are there no constables in this city?"

The hulk answered, sounding exactly like that Scottish dude from Highlander. "Aye, and they'll be coming."

Pain and fear and movie-star voices couldn't dent Travis's amazement. Not after that kid.

"Ain't right," he told the boots. No one had ever busted him up like this, and surely not… "This ain't right."

"The way is clear now, my lord," the kid who wasn't a swish at all said somewhere above him. "We should hurry."

One of the boots drew back, making Travis peer up at the hulk, whose hoodie had fallen back over long blood red hair and a face full of savage, dark blue tats. "She your bitch, man?"

"Aye." The boot came rushing forward, as unstoppable as the rain. "She's mine."

As Aedan mac Byrne and Robin of Locksley sat in the back of the limousine and discussed the business of suzerains, Byrne's seneschal, Jayr, surreptitiously checked her damp garments for damage. The human had torn the front of her shirt, but her leathers appeared intact. The rain had been a minor godsend.

It had been a ridiculous encounter. She had not anticipated the attack by the four human males outside the nightclub, and as a result had reacted with more speed and force than had been strictly necessary. Still, she had disabled the four and protected her lord and his guest.

The latter, as always, remained her primary duty as Aedan mac Byrne's seneschal.

"Four to one, Jayr. You should have summoned me." Her second, Harlech, tapped the wireless phone headset he wore clipped to his belt. His talent, a form of acute hearing, allowed him to pick up sounds beyond the range of most Kyn and all humans. "Is that not why I wear this contraption when I drive the limousine?"

Since Jayr preferred to keep their human staff to a minimum, she had persuaded Harlech to serve as Byrne's driver. He had no difficulty operating a modern vehicle, but more important, he possessed more battle experience than most of the warriors in the jardin. His cool head under pressure and ability to flawlessly assess any threat had proven valuable to Jayr more than once.

She also liked his scent, like that of white carnations, which tinged the air inside the limo without being overpowering.

"It happened too fast." Jayr ran a hand through her wet hair. "They were but children. I should have smelled their approach."

"After a night breathing in this city's stink, and all that rain on top of it?" Harlech sniffed. "I can hardly smell myself."

Jayr had advised against this trip into the city; there remained so much yet to be done in preparation for the annual tournament that she could hardly spare the time. Byrne had been determined to escape the Realm, however, and for her to refuse to go or send another in her place was unthinkable. She trusted no one to guard Byrne except herself.

Her conscience sullenly corrected her. More that you would not risk being usurped from your place at his side.

Jayr checked the rearview mirror again, this time for her own gratification, To look upon Byrne strengthened her resolve; she had done her best to serve him well these past six centuries. Had he wished to discard her in favor of another, he would have done so long before this night. That she could hold fast to. That sustained her when nothing else would.

Serving him was all she could have.

As for her feelings, she had fought discontent and longing until both subsided into a nameless thing that plagued her only when she was alone. It made her write pages upon pages of ridiculous poetry that she ended up consigning to the fireplace. She should have done the same with her sketches, but they were harder to destroy.

Burning them would be like burning him.

Fortunately she spent most of her hours with or near her master. Fear of failure refused to abandon her, but it had become a second master, driving her daily to perform her duties as flawlessly as possible. Perhaps in another seven hundred years she would at last relax and accept that no one could care for the master of Knight's Realm as well as she.

Perhaps by then her passion for him would age into something safer and more manageable.

In the mirror Jayr saw her master finish his conversation and turn to stare at the paling horizon. He did not appear unhappy or angered by the events of the night, but Byrne rarely put his emotions on display. Were he displeased, he would not admonish her in front of the men, but would wait until they were alone to take her to task.

Locksley caught her watching and winked.

Jayr smiled. She liked Robin of Locksley. The suzerain of the Atlanta jardin, he made frequent visits to the Realm that were enjoyed by everyone, Kyn or mortal. Byrne often grumbled that there was no tangle that Rob's talent couldn't un-knot for him, but Jayr knew better. Locksley's good humor and sense of fun made him legendary; it was said that even when he was human, the man could coax laughter out of a stone.

When that stone was Jayr's master, all the better. Byrne's melancholy had been particularly noticeable of late. It plagued her that she, who knew all of his dark moods and how best to assuage them, could not fathom the cause.

"If you mean to sit and brood in silence all night, I'll switch on the radio," Harlech warned. "I'm developing an abiding fondness for countrified music."

"Country music," Jayr corrected. "I cannot tolerate it. The bards all sound as if they are drowning in their cups. Or drowning their lovers in their tears."

"That," Harlech told her, "is the best part. You should listen to Faith Hill." He sighed. "I vow, for a human female she looks like a goddess, and sings as an angel fallen to earth would."

"Indeed." Jayr eyed him. "I will have to ask Viviana her opinion."

Her invocation of his wife's name made Harlech shudder. "Well, perhaps not quite so divine. In fact, now that I think on it, she has an odd-shaped nose."

She nodded. "Keep thinking that, my friend. Are the men ready for the tournament?"

"Most are," Harlech replied. "Kirel wishes to challenge Silesia over rights to hunting territory. It seems they cannot amicably share the parcel you allocated to them."

"I should make them live on bagged blood for the rest of the winter; that would settle the matter." They would have to during the tournament, as no humans would be permitted inside the Realm. She thought for a minute. "I will speak to Kirel on the morrow."

The warrior nodded. "You might also wish to look in on Rainer. He has been conspicuous in his absence from the lists. I think that arm of his that Beaumaris broke during their last skirmish did not heal soundly."

Jayr often tended to the men's minor injuries, but Rainer hadn't come to her recently for any sort of hurt. "If the bone has mended crooked, his arm will never work properly. Why did Beaumaris break it?"

   
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