The Warlord Wants Forever (Immortals After Dark 1) - Page 3

"You think to bargain for your freedom? If you do happen to have information, I can get it from you."

"Torture?" she asked with a laugh. "My first piece of information I'll divulge to you? I wouldn't recommend trying to torture me. I dislike it and grow sulky under pincers. It's a fault."

The things in the cells, many of which he'd never even heard of, never could have envisioned, howled and grunted at that.

"Now let's not quarrel, vampire. Free me, and we'll go to your room and talk." She offered her fragile-looking hand out to him. A smudge of ash was stark against her alabaster skin.

"I don't think so."

"You'll call for me. You'll be lonely in your new quarters and will feel out of sorts. I could let you pet my hair until you fell asleep."

He drew in closer and lowered his voice to ask in all seriousness, "You're mad, aren't you?"

"As - a - hatter," she whispered back conspiratorially.

He felt a hint of sympathy for the creature. "How long have you been in here?"

"For four long...interminable...days."

He glowered at her.

"Which is why I want you to take me with you. I don't eat much."

The dungeon erupted with laughter again.

"Don't hold your breath."

"Certainly not like you, Forbearer."

"How do you know what I am?"

"I know everything."

Then, if true, she had a wealth they didn't.

"Leave her," Murdoch called at the gateway of the dungeon. His brows were drawn, no doubt puzzled by his brother's interest. Wroth had never pursued women. As a human, they'd either come to him or he'd gone without. He'd had no time in wartime. As a vampire he had no such need. Not until he could find his Bride.

He shook his head at the insane, fey creature, then forced himself to walk on, though he thought he heard her whisper, "Call for me, General," making the hair on the back of his neck stand up.

He followed his brother to Kristoff's new antechamber and found their king gazing out into the clear night from a generous window - that would be shuttered in the few hours till dawn. When he turned to them, his gaunt face looked weary.

Wroth suspected it had been difficult killing other natural born vampires, his own kindred, no matter how crazed they'd become, and no matter that they followed his uncle Demestriu, who'd stolen his crown centuries ago. Wroth had no such compunctions. He was weary but only from injury and his sword arm being overworked as he hacked through them.

"Were any of the records salvageable?" Wroth asked with little hope. If the vampires of this castle had spent as much energy fighting as burning, they might have kept Oblak. To his disgust, they'd fled. He didn't understand it. When defending your home, you defend to the death.

He had.

Kristoff answered, "None."

Without the records, their own ignorance would kill them. Kristoff, the rightful king, had been raised by humans far from Demestriu's reach. For centuries, he had lived among them, hiding his true nature yet learning little of the Lore. His army consisted of human warriors he'd turned as they died on the battlefield, so they knew nothing. Before Wroth had seen Kristoff standing over him like an angel of death, offering eternal life for eternal fealty, Wroth had thought vampires were mere myths.

The rules of this new world were complex and often counterintuitive, and their order knew little more than conjecture and what had been learned by painful trial over centuries. They were trapped in a kind of twilight - not human and yet universally shunned by all the factions of the Lore. Those beings hid in the shadows, fleeing from whatever land Kristoff's army occupied, working together to always be one step ahead. Wroth's human experience said they should have been able to get information by now, but the reality was that this was a different plane altogether. The same effort that went into hiding the Lore from humans for ages went into keeping Kristoff's soldiers in the dark as well.

"Any sign of Conrad or Sebastian?" Kristoff asked.

Wroth shook his head. He hadn't seen his brothers since shortly after they'd been turned, but he'd heard they'd been in a skirmish with natural born vampires. Though he and Murdoch hadn't expected to find their brothers here, they had hoped the two might be in the dungeons of the castle they'd strategically needed to take.

"Perhaps the next Horde stronghold."

Wroth nodded, though he doubted it. He sensed his youngest brother Bastian was dead and suspected the mind of the next oldest, Conrad, was unreachable even if he could be found. The two had not appreciated the eternal life their older brothers had forced on them.

Murdoch examined a gouge in his arm, seeming unconcerned with this blow, but then he generally seemed unconcerned about everything. Though they shared similar looks, he and Wroth couldn't be more different in personality. Wroth believed in Kristoff's cause, seeing many parallels to his own past, and wanted to continue to fight. Murdoch didn't particularly care. Wroth suspected his brother fought only as a favor to him - or because they had nothing else now.

"Wroth found a being in the dungeon," Murdoch said. "She seems to have extensive knowledge of the Lore."

"What kind of being?"

Wroth answered, "I have no idea. She appears fey, delicate, with sharply pointed ears. But she has these small fangs and her fingernails were more like...claws. She's not vampire."

Kristoff frowned at that. "Perhaps she's born of more than one species?"

"Perhaps." More speculation. Wroth was sick of it. He wanted to know the rules of the game so he could dominate it.

"Find out everything you can from her."

Tags: Kresley Cole Immortals After Dark Vampires
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