Jethro pressed himself to the wall of the carrier as a barrage of bullets and magic rained on the metal exterior. A few bolts of deadly red magic and silver bullets flew in through the open doors and burned holes into the wall opposite.

“Brynn!” shrieked Gwendolyn as something thudded heavily onto the floor of the carrier.

Jethro sprung forward, horrified, as Brynn clawed her way into the carrier, covered in blood. He heaved her onto a large crate, pushing her hair out of her face.

Brynn grunted, curling into a fetal position. Blood seeped into her clothes, stemming from numerous wounds across her torso.

“Blast it, Brynn, how many times did they shoot you?” he growled.

“Eleven.” Brynn wheezed.

“I didn’t actually expect you to answer that.”

Gwendolyn glided over, her eyes wide. “Will you be alright, Brynn?” she whispered, wiping some blood off Brynn’s cheek.

Brynn’s breathing began to ease. “I’ll be a bit sore in the morning.” she waved one hand in a dismissive gesture. Already the blood had stopped and colour crept back into her cheeks as her halfblood werewolf body initiated the healing process.

Jethro’s relief was swept away as a chilling scream echoed through the air. His blood slowed in his veins. It came from the Citadel, now engulfed in flames.

Valentina.

“Jethro, no!” Gwendolyn gripped his arm as he made for the carrier door.

“My sister’s still in there!” fear made him savage, and he jerked his arm away sharply. Then he saw the same fear, fear of loss, glittering in Gwendolyn’s pure black eyes. Jethro softened. He touched his fingertips to her cheek and kissed her gently. “I’ll be back.”

He leaped from the carrier. Cold air slapped his face for several seconds. Then searing fire engulfed his surroundings as he landed on the roof of the Citadel’s main tower. The billows of smoke made his eyes water. Coughing violently, he made his way quickly down the pointed roof and swung into the tower itself.

“Valentina!” he shouted. More smoke found its way into his lungs. Covering his mouth and nose with his arm, he advanced into the hellish blaze.

Another scream guided him into the charging tower, a room constructed almost entirely of glass for the sole purpose of charging crystals in the moonlight. Glass crashed as the building’s frame fell to the ravenous flames.

Jethro slowed, hearing something other than the crackling of burning things. Voices, footsteps and a feline hiss.

“We found one!” a triumphant voice yelled.

“The Countess or her brat?” another sounded from further away. Rubble shifted and heavy boots tread the floor of the charging tower. “Well, well, well,” drawled the voice in nauseating tones. “Miss Valentina. Descriptions of your loveliness are truly inadequate. Do you know who I am, m’lady?”

“Keep away from me!” screamed Valentina’s voice.

The feline hiss sounded again, more ferocious this time. There was a gasp and a series of yowls and Valentina shrieked, “Kavalan, no!”

Jethro shouldered his way past the burning rubble blocking the doorway, his sword unsheathed. Two armed men were approaching Valentina, their firearms at the ready. A third man struggled furiously as Kavalan’s lithe white-and-fawn body weaved up his arms. Claw marks gleamed scarlet on his face already.

The two thugs advancing on Valentina turned at Jethro’s intrusion. Before either of them could act, Jethro decapitated one and sunk the hefty blade of his sword into the other’s stomach.

Kavalan screeched as his small body was thrown onto the glass-strewn floor. His emerald eyes glittering, he found his feet and marched over to stand protectively by Valentina’s feet. His pretty pelt was sprayed with blood.

The third man whirled to face Jethro, seething as his eyes passed over the bodies of his comrades. Blood trickled down his cheeks where Kavalan had slashed him. “Atanasov!” he spat, recognition sparkling in his horrifying white eyes. Eyes which had neither pupils nor irises.

Feeling his stomach clenching under that milky, hateful gaze, Jethro pointed his sword at the man’s throat. “Who are you?” he demanded. He reached for Valentina and pulled her behind him.

The man smiled an unnatural smile that contained no goodwill. He possessed such inhumane monstrosity that Jethro wanted nothing more than to grab Valentina and get away from him and his bright white eyes. But a sickening, time-halting sensation made him stay, waiting for an answer he did not want to hear.

“I am Amias. Don’t you remember me?” the man said softly. Beneath the menacing ambiance evoked by his eyes, he seemed somewhat youthful.

Jethro’s blue eyes turned black as a memory flashed into his mind. A memory, once so pleasant, bathed in the bloody light of a nightmare.

Amias, smiling and laughing. His skin tanned, and the blue sky reflected in his hazel-green eyes. His hazel-green eyes.

No.

§

From Untitled upcoming novel by Helen Cryestira Viorel

Proofread and edited by the pudgemuffin kittypet prince baby Francois Chalon, who is also the base character for Kavalan.

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