Dream Warrior (Page 17)

Dream Warrior (Dark-Hunter #17)(17)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

She narrowed her eyes. "Your funeral."

Tory smiled good-naturedly. "It’s always so good to see you, too. You’re just such a ray of happy sunshine, I so look forward to all our interactions."

Medea sneered at her. "You should be glad you helped save my life. It’s the only reason you’re alive right now."

Tory snorted. "And my living has nothing to do with the fact that you’d be toast if you touched me. right?"

The glare Medea cast at her should have been lethal.

Jericho didn’t speak as they followed Medea into an empty office. Decorated in dark golds and burgundy, it was obviously designed to intimidate. Not that it worked on him. There wasn’t much that intimidated him.

Or more to the point, there was nothing that intimidated him.

Medea paused in the doorway. "Wait here. I’ll get her." She shut the door and locked it, which seemed ridiculous given the fact that they could pop out of here at any minute. But far be it from him to point out the obvious.

As soon as they were alone, he faced Tory. "I take it Zephyra is her mother?"

She nodded.

"You think we stand a chance with this?"

Tory shrugged as she looked around. "We won’t know until we talk to her. I think she might, and I use that word with all applicable optimism, help us."

"Help you do what?"

Tory snapped around to see Zephyra, who had flashed herself into the room behind Stryker’s desk. Tory frowned intently at the demonness. "You’re looking rather tan for a nocturnal creature."

Zephyra ignored her.

Almost identical in looks to Medea, she was unbelievably beautiful with lush curves that were heightened by her tight black dress. "Have you a point to this visit? Or should I just kill you now and start a war?" She looked past Tory to Jericho. "And I really resent your bringing a god into my domain."

Jericho winked at her, which only seemed to make her angrier.

Unable to see his gesture, Tory smiled. "You know I wouldn’t do it without a really good reason."

"And that is?"

"We need Jared."

Zephyra laughed incredulously, then sobered so fast he wondered if he hadn’t hallucinated the laugh. "You’re wasting my time. Get out."

Damn, she was a surly bitch. It made him wonder how Stryker tolerated her.

"Oh, come on," Tory said, "it’s not like you’re using him for anything. Really, what is he doing right now?"

"One thing he’s not doing is pissing me off, which is more than I can say for you."

"Children," Jericho said, stepping forward. "Let’s try this again. We have a gallu problem. Led by Noir and Azura, they are planning to convert Oneroi and Skoti into gallu so they can attack unfettered in our dreams. When that happens, no one is going to be safe. No one," he reiterated coldly. "And by that I mean you. Since the gallu are just as likely to eat a Daimon as they are a human, you might want to think about it."

Zephyra narrowed her gaze threateningly. "And people in hell want ice water. Something they’re a lot more likely to get than you are my Jared."

Jericho clenched his teeth to control the urge he had to shake the stubborn woman. "We’re up against Noir and Azura. Have you any idea how bloody this is going to get?"

Zephyra didn’t speak.

"What do you want in exchange for him?" Tory tried.

"There’s nothing you have."

Suddenly a loud crash sounded from outside the room. Zephyra went rushing past them to throw open the door that was opposite of the one they’d come in through.

Jericho’s eyes widened as he saw a Daimon in the center of a large hall. Only he wasn’t a Daimon any longer. He had the milky eyes and skin tone of an infected gallu victim. The other Daimons were backing off, giving him space. He would lunge, and they would run. That was the beauty of the gallu-not only could they turn people into zombies, their zombies could make more zombies.

If they were ever loose, they could kill everyone in no time.

Jericho looked at Zephyra. "You were saying?"

She exposed her fangs at him and hissed. "You brought him here?"

"Hell. no. From what I understand, the gallu have a score to settle with you guys on their own."

"You have no idea." She grabbed a sword from the wall and headed after the Daimon.

Jericho was extremely impressed as she rushed into the fray. The Daimon-gallu went for her. She ducked his arms, spun and in one clean stroke severed his head from his body. Without stopping her flow, she held the sword out to another Daimon. "Clean that up, Davyn, and tell Stryker we have a problem."

"I noticed."

Jericho’s attention went to the extremely tall, dark-haired man who joined them. From the commanding air and deadly aura, he would guess him to be Stryker.

Stryker looked down at the corpse on the floor and sighed angrily. "What are the damn gallu doing now?"

Jericho answered before Zephyra had a chance. "They’re uniting with the Oneroi and Skoti to attack us in our sleep."

Stryker cursed foully. "I should have killed the gallu when I had the chance."

Zephyra gave him a knowing smile. "Oh, baby, think of the mistake that would have been."

"What mistake?" Tory asked.

Zephyra crossed her arms over her chest. "I think we need to corral the gallu. What exactly did you have in mind with Jared?"

Tory moved forward. "Is he immune to them?"

"He’s immune to most everything."

Jericho was glad to hear that. "Good. Our plan is to liberate the Oneroi and Skoti from Noir."

"What if they’re already infected?" Stryker asked.

Jericho didn’t hesitate. "We kill them."

Stryker smiled. "I could almost like you." He stroked his chin thoughtfully as he moved closer. "The only problem is the gallu can still infiltrate the dreams of anyone they’ve met."

"But our sleep is protected," Zephyra said. "With the abilities we possess, we can fight them in that realm."

"Even so, they’re not as powerful in dreams as the Oneroi," Jericho added, "The combination of the two, disastrous. Even for you. One infected Oneroi or Skoti, and we’re toast."

The look on Zephyra’s face said that she was adamantly opposed to handing Jared over to them.

And Jericho had had enough of her indecisiveness. "Look, I’m through playing with you. We need someone who has actually fought and won against Noir. While I can fight him on my own, I want someone who knows the bastard’s weakness. That would be Jared. Now hand him over."

Zephyra arched a taunting brow. "Or what?"

Jericho shot his hands out and released two god bolts that went skittering past her.

To her credit, she didn’t flinch or even blink.

Jericho put his hands down. "Trust me, you don’t want to find out."

Stryker curled his lip. "Those tactics don’t work here. Fear is not a big motivator for us. You would do well to remember that I, too, am the son of a god and can hurl those bolts right back…. However, there is something I want."

"And that is?"

"A green amulet Jaden took from an old woman in New Orleans. I’m sure he still has it. We give you Jared, and you will bring us that amulet."

Every suspicion in Jericho’s body hit overdrive. "What does this amulet do?"

"It’s protection."

Now why didn’t he believe it? Maybe because Stryker didn’t seem like the kind of Daimon who needed protection from some piece of ancient hokum. Not that it mattered.

Promises today.

Lies tomorrow.

If Jericho didn’t like what the amulet did, he wouldn’t have to bring it here. Nothing said he had to fulfill his part of the bargain. The last time he’d kept his word, he’d paid dearly for it. Things were different now. He was different now. The most important thing was to get Jared.

"Done."

Stryker narrowed his gaze. "Don’t fail me."

"You don’t fail me," Jericho shot back. Tory shook her head. "So do we let you two lock horns and butt each other off the mountaintop

now?"

Stryker gave her a hard stare. "I have no idea what Acheron sees in you." He looked over at his wife. "Let them have Jared."

Zephyra made a loud noise of disagreement. "Not have, my love. Borrow. Jared is only on loan."

"Fine," Jericho said. "We’ll return him as soon as we finish with him."

"You’d better. Otherwise Stryker and I will feast on your innards, bathe in your blood and I will use your eyes as earrings."

Jericho snorted. "You know, with imagery like that, you should write for Hallmark."

Ash had just returned to his house when he felt something strange in the air. An instant later, Phobos reappeared.

Alone.

His bad feeling intensified when Delphine didn’t return with him. "What happened?"

Phobos let out a tired sigh. "We were attacked by Zelos as we gathered the Oneroi."

Ash felt ill at the news. Jericho would have a stroke when he found out his brother had taken the Oneroi. "What?"

Phobos raked his hand through his hair. "He was looking for Jericho and instead found us rounding up the others. He took both Delphine and Nike. Apparently Zelos has defected to the dark side. Noir has lost his mind."

"No. It’s strategic planning on his part. He’s wiping out the pantheon by using its own members. It’s what makes him so insidious. With Nike and Delphine, he thinks he’s castrated Jericho."

"Yeah, well, either way, we’re screwed."

"How so?"

Ash stepped back as Jericho, Tory and Jared appeared. Tory, he pulled toward him just to feel her there and know that she was safe. Especially given everything that was happening. If anything ever happened to her…

He’d make Azura and Noir look like teddy bears.

Jericho frowned as he scanned the room and didn’t find what he was looking for. "Where’s Delphine?"

Phobos answered before Ash could tell him to soften the blow. "Your brother took her and Nike."

Ash winced at the god’s bluntness, which he could tell by Jericho’s expression went through him like an acid enema.

Jericho froze in place as a rage so potent he could taste it built inside him. Never in his existence had he been angrier. "What?"

Phobos had the good sense to look sheepish. "We were blitzed. Zelos came in and grabbed her before anyone even knew he was there."

Unable to bear it, Jericho used his powers to cover his hand in metallic claws. He grabbed Phobos by the shirt and shoved him into the wall so hard, he broke the sheetrock. "You bastard! How could you let him take her? I’ll f**king kill you!"

Ash caught him and pulled him back before he could do more damage to Phobos. "Calm down."

"They have Delphine!" It took every ounce of willpower he possessed not to attack Acheron. Somehow even now his self-preservation knew attacking the Atlantean god would be a serious mistake.

"I heard that," Ash said calmly. "English may not be my native tongue, but I’m pretty good at understanding it." He released him.

Jared stepped forward. Dressed in a long black leather coat, his red hair was pulled back into a sleek ponytail. The most surprising thing was that his skin wasn’t pale or freckled. Rather he was tanned with strong features.

Though he was nowhere near as tall as Ash or Jericho, his powerful aura was enough to make even the baddest of asses stand down. His eyes were hidden behind a pair of opaque sunglasses, but even so they seemed to glow. "Give us the sword Noir gave to you."

That succeeded in making Jericho pause. "How do you know about the sword?"

"It belongs to me. I hear her calling and I want her back."

Using his powers, Jericho released Phobos, who came off of the wall with a fierce growl. When Phobos took a step toward him, Ash stopped him by putting one hand on his chest.

"Let it go, Phobos. You got off easy in my book. Had that been Tory they’d taken, you’d be in pieces."

Ignoring them, Jericho summoned the sword.

The moment it appeared, Jared’s entire demeanor changed. Instead of being stern and ready to battle, he was reverent and humble. Kneeling on the floor, Jared took the sword from his hand and placed it blade-down to stand before him.

He whispered in a language Jericho didn’t know, which he would have thought impossible. One of the benefits of being a god was the ability to understand all languages. But this…

It was completely foreign to him.

The sword began to spin on the floor by itself. Faster and faster. A bright light emanated from the hilt, blinding them. Then it began to bend until it formed a tiny, beautiful woman, who stood no more than three feet tall. Her skin and eyes shimmered gold while black hair cascaded over her shoulders to her hips. Dressed in a flowing black gown, she had the long ears of an elf and her eyes slanted like a cat’s. A small gold crown held her hair off her face in an intricate twining gold. Diamonds and rubies dangled from the crown around the shape of her face. She was exquisite.

No wonder the sword had seemed alive. It was.

"Mistress," Jared said, taking her hand. "Forgive me.