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.Shelly sat silently on the edge of the bed.The index finger of her left hand kept tracing an infinity sign on the comforter.We were all lost to our own dark thoughts in these final hours.An unexpected knock at the door caused me to jump.I hadn’t been watching for anyone to approach.It was a good thing I wasn’t holding a sword.I would have probably lost a finger.I nodded to Danaus and he rose from where he was seated on the edge of the bed to open the door.Stefan stepped into the room as I fiddled with the Browning, his gaze carefully skipping over Danaus as he glided in.The handsome nightwalker wore a pair of jeans and black turtleneck against the cold wind, as if it could bother him.“I see you’ve finally pulled your people together,” he sneered.“We’re ready to leave now.”I turned my eyes to Danaus, who was glaring at Stefan’s back.“How many naturi?” I asked.I could vaguely sense them but had yet to hone that skill Danaus had obviously worked into a fine art.Stefan finally turned and looked at the hunter, waiting for his reply.Danaus continued to glare at the vampire, but I could feel his powers sweeping out of the room, shoving aside Stefan’s own powers as if they were an unwelcome guest.Stefan never moved, didn’t even flinch.Was I truly the only nightwalker that could feel Danaus’s powers? I didn’t want to know exactly how deep this connection between us ran, but I knew no good would ever come of it.“Almost fifty,” he replied, his voice distant.“Not bad,” Stefan said, unmoved by the number.“That’s not counting the two dozen lycans they’ve summoned to the mountain,” I added, dropping into one of the two high-back chairs.“You’re concerned about werewolves?” The laughter danced among his words as he arched one dark brow at me.“In London they sent both wind and earth clan naturi,” I said.“They will be prepared when we begin to climb the mountain to the ruins.Sending the lycans in is for their amusement, forcing us to kill our own allies.”“What are we facing now?” Stefan asked.I looked over at Danaus, but he shook his head.“I can’t tell which clan.It’s just a band of naturi gathered on the mountain.”With my eyes locked on the faded burgundy carpet, I frantically searched my memory.I’d spent centuries studying folklore and myth that had been handed down, looking for some kernel of truth to all the nonsense.The valuable information I had found within the journals kept by Jabari and a few of the other Ancients contained not only tales provided by the few nightwalkers that encountered the naturi and survived, but also information provided by the naturi themselves.Apparently, we had once been allies with the earth creatures.“I don’t know what we’ll see,” I said.“From what I’ve been able to gather, Aurora is a member of the light clan, while her consort Rowe is a member of the wind clan.So, I would assume most of the naturi on the mountain will be of the wind and light clans.”Turning, I looked down at Cynnia, who continued to stare off into empty space, oblivious to anyone in the room.I knelt down in front of her and grabbed her left shoulder, giving her a hard shake.“Cynnia!” I snapped.“What’s waiting for us on the mountain?” I demanded.Her unfocused gaze finally moved to my face, her eyes slipping over my features for a moment before she finally recognized me.Her upper lip curled at me in disgust and she jerked her shoulder out from my grip.“Why should I help you? You killed them.You killed my people.”“What choice did I have?” I growled.“They were going to come during the daylight hours and slaughter every last one of us.It was the only way to protect us, to protect you.Weren’t you the one telling me they thought you were a traitor and that they planned to kill you? Didn’t I save your life?”“But why did so many have to die?” she demanded, tears slipping down her face.“Couldn’t you have done this some other way? Could you have at least warned them?”“What? The blue-flame perimeter wasn’t enough of a warning that I wanted them to stay out of the lodge? Yes, Cynnia, I set a deadly trap to save our lives.But Rowe is the one that sent one naturi after another into the trap.He is the one that kept sending them even when it became obvious that the trap couldn’t be beaten.And when he was done, he decided to kill seven helpless tourists because he could.He killed the humans to get even with us!”“But—”“No!” I shouted at her.I leaned both my hands against the wall on either side of her head so she couldn’t escape me.“There are no buts.’ Yes, I am a killer of naturi.I’ll kill however many naturi I have to, to protect what is mine, but what happened during the day— that was Rowe’s choice.Blame him for sacrificing the lives of your people.”Shelly shifted nervously, drawing my attention away from the shivering naturi in front of me.“Why would he sacrifice that many?” she asked.A smile drifted across my lips and I ran my tongue over my fangs as I looked over at Danaus and Stefan.“Because he’s desperate,” I said, slowly pushing to my feet again.Stefan nodded, shoving his hands into the front pockets of his pants.“We need to get moving.They may have begun already.”“Agreed,” I said, nodding.“Do you remember how to find the other entrance to the Incan Trail?”“Yes.”“Take half of the nightwalkers and humans up the Incan Trail.”“And where will you be?” he demanded, taking a step closer to me.“Danaus and I will take the other half up through the tourist entrance,” I replied.“My task is to protect you.That is all.” Stefan stood a little straighter as he spoke, looking down his nose at me.If he thought trying to increase his physical presence would cow me, he was sorely mistaken.“We have to attack them on two sides,” I countered.“Their goal will be to delay us until they can open the door and allow reinforcements through.You will take your group up the Incan Trail to the Main Gate.From there, head east and we will meet outside of the Temple of the Condor.Human sacrifices used to be conducted there [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]