Blood Trinity (Page 37)

Blood Trinity (Belador #1)(37)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

“Let me take a look.” Adrianna stepped out of a black shadow where she’d been standing in a corner. Apart from the team.

Evalle spoke to Tzader mind-to-mind. I don’t want her touching me.

I don’t either, but we’re out of choices unless you have an idea.

I haven’t had a reaction yet. We could wait.

But what if you do have a reaction and start changing? I couldn’t stop Trey or anyone else from contacting Sen at that point.

Fear over being touched by a Sterling witch caused Evalle to drop her vigilance against the change that still clawed the inside of her body. Her arms rippled with energy.

Rowan hadn’t noticed when she’d stood up and backed out of the way, but Adrianna paused, eyeing the skin that moved along Evalle’s arms beneath the ragged sleeves. The witch’s gaze lifted to meet Evalle’s, waiting for her to decide what she wanted to do.

Evalle licked her dry lips and came to a decision. “Fine. Take a look.”

A shapely eyebrow swooped up on Adrianna’s smooth forehead, but she didn’t respond to the biting voice. “Stand up.”

Tzader helped Evalle to her feet.

“Move over here,” Adrianna said, directing Evalle away from the swing to the center of the porch, where everyone backed up to make a circle around her. “Face away from me.”

Taking a moment to accept what she couldn’t change, Evalle inched around on her leg, which felt twice its size even though she knew it hadn’t actually swollen.

Adrianna dropped down behind her.

The back of Evalle’s jeans ripped open. She didn’t think Adrianna had touched the material or used a sharp object to rip the material. Only majik.

Adrianna’s fingers spread across the back of Evalle’s calf, and she started chanting, “Queen of dark and queen of hell, hearken to this witch’s spell …”

The burning sensation tripled. Evalle’s breaths were coming in fast pants. Her lungs were closing up.

Dots swam through her gaze.

When she looked for help in the crowd, everyone’s eyes were on Adrianna but Storm’s.

He vibrated with the effort it took him to stand in place.

Pain burst through Evalle’s body. Her arms ruptured with cartilage exploding and changing into beast form. She couldn’t stop it.

Tzader moved toward her, but Storm said, “I got her.”

He stepped in front of Evalle and placed his hands on each side of her face. “Focus on me. You will not change. Breathe slowly.”

His words mingled with Adrianna’s chanting until the sound was one constant mantra that stood as a wall against the monster stomping inside her, waiting to break free.

Energy ripped through her, jarring her teeth when she shook. She lost contact with everything. Colors showered behind her eyes. Purple. Red. Orange. Green.

Had she shifted and insanity taken over?

The colors subsided until white blanketed her mind. Warm fingers touched her skin, sending gentle waves of white to wash away the heat and pain.

When she regained consciousness, Evalle was clutching someone’s shirt. His arms were around her, supporting her weight against weak knees. She inhaled, trying to calm the trembling in her body.

Storm had her. She knew his scent. Warm, natural, earthy.

She opened her eyes and looked up at him.

He dropped his chin. “Okay now?”

“Did I change?”

His lack of quick answer and swallow told her she’d done something. “Why don’t you sit down?”

She let him lower her to the swing. Her leg didn’t throb anymore. Adrianna stood to the side, hands clasped in front of her. Tzader and Quinn exchanged worried expressions that made Evalle think they’d also spoken telepathically. But not to her.

“What happened?” Evalle had learned at an early age that avoiding the truth only delayed the consequences.

Rowan spoke up. “Adrianna drew the Noirre venom out of you.”

Evalle didn’t want to owe anyone for anything, especially a Sterling witch, but she had to give the woman her due for what she’d done. “Thank you.”

Adrianna merely gave a little dip of her head.

“What else?” Evalle asked, directing her question to Tzader.

He heaved a long sigh and looked around at the team when he answered her. “The venom caused you to change into battle form. Nothing else.”

Why had he hesitated? If anyone told a different story, Evalle would be out of time with the Tribunal and Tzader would have to stand trial right behind her for trying to suppress evidence against an Alterant.

Evalle’s pulse thumped a rapid beat. She took in each expression on the porch, every calm and understanding demeanor matching the compassion she felt coming toward her in waves, until she faced Adrianna, who merely lifted a single taunting eyebrow.

Adrianna was the one person who would not sugarcoat the truth.

TWENTY-EIGHT

Evalle would not ask anyone to support her, but she didn’t want Tzader to go under the bus for defending her.

Storm spoke up. “That’s what I saw—Evalle in battle form.”

She swung around, lost for what to say. Storm had just backed Tzader’s claim that she hadn’t shifted into her Alterant beast state.

Storm gave her a look that asked, Surprised? then passed a challenging glance at the rest of the team.

Quinn shrugged. “It was never in question.”

Evalle smiled at him, letting Quinn know that she knew how he’d vote regardless.

“Looked like battle form to me,” Trey concurred.

Lucien shifted his attention to the Sterling witch. “We’re all in agreement, right, Adrianna?”

For the second time tonight, Evalle’s fate rested with the same witch whose cherry red lips curled in a smile of mock innocence. “I’m not familiar with battle form.”

There was a collective tensing.

Adrianna moved a dainty shoulder in a sexy shrug. “I only saw a reaction to the Noirre majik venom and Evalle is now healed. I see no threat. So let it be said, so let it be known.”

Adrianna’s smirk would normally have set Evalle off, but she couldn’t take exception when the woman had just healed her leg and given her safe passage out of this situation.

One thing Evalle had heard about a Sterling witch was that once she said, “So let it be said, so let it be known,” Adrianna could not recant or deny her words.

Honor among black majik witches? But this one had shown a side of consideration Evalle hadn’t expected.

“Thank you,” Evalle told her again and this time with true sincerity. Not enjoying being the center of attention, she changed the topic. “Let’s talk about the Ngak Stone.”

Trey spoke up. “I had a call from Sen. He said Shiva told him the stone had been located and would bind with its new master by Wednesday morning when sunlight strikes the spot where she found it. But Shiva still didn’t say who the woman was.”

Evalle stood and moved over to lean against the banister so that she wasn’t lower than everyone on the porch. Her jeans flopped where Adrianna had torn the material, but other than feeling bruised, her leg was much better. “I don’t know exactly where the stone is at this moment, but I think it’s still in this area. I found the woman who has it. She was in the park with the stone, and that Kujoo Vyan showed up.”

Quinn asked, “Who was the woman?”

Evalle heaved a tired sigh. “I don’t know and doubt anyone else here will know her, because she’s … human.”

“What?” The single word rang out around the veranda.

Evalle shook her head. “I have no idea why she has it, but she is human.”

“Was Vyan alone?” Lucien asked.

“No, but he was acting on his own. He stepped between the woman and another guy to protect her.”

“So he wasn’t trying to take the stone for himself?” Trey frowned, probably remembering the lonely warrior who had traveled forward eight hundred years to seek vengeance. Because of Trey’s compassion for what the guy had lost, he’d allowed Vyan to walk away free.

“Not right then,” Evalle clarified. “Vyan told her to drop the rock and run while he faced off with the other guy.”

“Who was the other guy?”

Answering that was going to be tricky. “Someone Vyan knew, but no one I’ve met before.”

Storm had been leaning against a wood support column for the porch, arms crossed, staring at the floor. His head lifted just enough to draw Evalle’s attention, and his eyes told her he knew she’d just colored the truth.

“Was the other guy after the rock?” Trey asked.

“Yes.” Evalle welcomed the question to avoid Storm’s silent censure. “But he wasn’t Kujoo.”

“What kind of power did he have?”

“Different than anything I’ve faced before.” If she told the Beladors on the porch about Tristan they would call up a league of Beladors to go after him, which was exactly what she believed the Medb wanted, especially if it included Tzader and Brina. Brina could find Tristan immediately.

Or so Tristan had said.

Evalle couldn’t risk any of them walking into a trap. If she told Brina that Tristan was an Alterant who had escaped his cage and that Brina should stay away from him, Brina would think Evalle was protecting an Alterant. She didn’t know if anyone could really kill Brina, but she wasn’t risking the future of the Beladors to find out.

If she told Tzader and Quinn that Tristan wanted to keep her, they wouldn’t let her near Tristan.

But Tristan had given Evalle a chance to protect her tribe, and if that was her last option, she’d trade her life if that was the only way to save Tzader and Quinn. She would not, however, give Tristan the rock under any circumstances.

The team did need to know about the ghouls being altered.

“I think the guy I met in the park is changing Nightstalkers into crazed half-zombie-like things,” Evalle told the group. “They can’t hold their shape and they’re aggressive. That’s what stabbed me in the leg with a long fingernail. This strange guy has kinetics and can throw energy spikes like lightning bolts. Then he disappeared as though he teleported.”

“He wields Noirre majik?” Adrianna asked. “Was he a witch?”

Evalle thought back on what had happened. “Not a witch, and I don’t think he controls the majik. I had the feeling he was infected with the Noirre majik and passed that infection along to the Nightstalkers when he shook with them.”

Tzader raked his hand over his head and walked around a minute. “A human female got the rock. How could that have happened?”

“I don’t know, but I don’t think she realized what she had,” Evalle told the group. “When the other guy attacked Vyan, I stepped in as Vyan went down. I put up a shield for the woman and told her to drop the rock and run. She was rattled to the point I don’t think she knew what she was doing and said she just wanted to go home. Poof. She disappeared with Vyan.”

In his usual precise manner, Quinn summed up everything. “A human has the Ngak Stone, there’s an unknown player in the mix and the Kujoo warrior Vyan is with the woman who has the stone. I suppose it could be worse, but I don’t know how.”

Evalle really hated to be the bearer of sucky news. “Here’s how. My Nightstalker told me there’s an ancient synergy in the city, and during our brief conversation I confirmed the strange guy I fought in the park is working with the Kujoo. Someone has brought more Kujoo warriors forward in time. Vyan isn’t working alone, but I had the feeling he was in conflict with his warlord.”

“We’ll be ready for them this time,” Trey said.

Evalle raised her hand. “Wait. This guy was arrogant and bragging about how the Medb had a plan for taking down the Beladors. From what I could figure out, the Medb are setting a trap and not preparing for a battle. If what he said was true, they’re planning genocide of Beladors. We have to find out first what they’re up to so Beladors don’t rush into a slaughter.”

“That makes sense,” Quinn said. “Looks like we’re still back to finding that rock, which might answer those questions. Shiva will give advice when he deems it necessary, but we can’t call him or Macha into this until the Kujoo instigate a conflict.”

“The strange guy said the Kujoo would not instigate a conflict,” Evalle followed up. “I don’t know what they have in mind, but this guy was confident about whatever the Medb were cooking up to use against the Beladors. They want us to show up en masse.”

Storm watched her every time she spoke, and his eyes narrowed when she stepped all over the truth. Too bad. She had the Beladors’ safety at heart.

Tzader swung around and addressed everyone. “Lucien and Adrianna—search for whoever is opening that portal for Kujoo. Storm and Evalle will start shaking down Nightstalkers to see if any of them have a lead on a human female with a sentient power source. Also, you two find out how many Nightstalkers are missing that might have been changed by the Kujoo or this guy Evalle fought. If the Nightstalkers are being changed, the ones still here might lead us to this guy and the Kujoo.”