"Come, sweet," Elianna said, reaching for her.
Ruby's face had gone red, her chest heaving, eyes shimmering. She was about to pass out again. "I want him back NOW!" Her shriek was earsplitting. "Now, now, now!"
"There, child," Elianna murmured, laying her hand on Ruby's forehead. At once, the girl fell unconscious, and the old witch swooped her up into her arms. "A little mystical Benadryl never hurt anyone," she said, heading upstairs. Over her shoulder, she added, "Ruby will wake in a couple of hours. I suggest you retrieve whoever it is that she wants by then."
Carrow surveyed the faces in the room, seeing more witches, nymphs, some of the noble fey, Valkyrie, Lykae, and more. Then she spotted King Rydstrom and his fellow demons. He could trace! "Rydstrom, I need you to trace me back to the island. Right back to where I was!"
Mari said, "Carrow, I can only direct Rydstrom to the island - and that's if he can follow some really vague directions. I can't get him exactly back to your location. Apparently, it took Conrad more than three hours to reach you from where I'd sent him."
Even with Carrow's limited knowledge of the island, she couldn't outpace a tracing vampire. More than three hours to get to Malkom...
Have to get started now! "Mari, pull up the directions - Rydstrom is tracing me. And get this thing off my neck!"
Rydstrom's sorceress "ueen, Sabine, demanded, "Is Lanthe there?"
"Yes!" Carrow answered. "Somewhere." At Rydstrom's "uizzical look, she hastily explained, "We got separated. I'm sure we can find her within a day or so. If we leave right now!" Turning to Mariketa, she snapped, "Mari, my collar - I need it gone. It's binding my powers."
"I'm on it!" Mari said, rubbing her thumb over a pocket mirror while studiously gazing away. "Damn, Carrow, that is some serious mojo."
Rydstrom crossed his brawny arms over his chest. "So if you weren't just with Lanthe, then you can't say for certain that she's even still on this island."
No time to convince him, to explain Thronos ... Carrow couldn't catch her breath, feeling as if she were about to hyperventilate like Ruby.
"We'll go in when Mariketa scries for her specifically," Rydstrom decided. "It will ultimately save us time."
Typical logical Rydstrom. "No, damn you! Now!" If anything happened to Malkom ... She clutched at her chest, thinking about Malkom in the midst of all those creatures. "We're leaving this f**king minute!"
Sabine shot to her feet, her anger making the room appear to rock. "You didn't just talk to my husband like that."
"I did. And you'll get him to cooperate if you ever want to see your sister again!"
"Now you're threatening me?" Sabine narrowed her eyes behind her mask. "I'll turn your mind inside out." She held up her glowing palms, poised to strike.
"You think Mari didn't bind any mystical offensives within our coven?" A "uick glance at Mari. "You did, right, Glitch?"
Wide-eyed, Mari nodded. "Between that and your new collar, the best you two can do is catfight."
In his arrogance, Malkom had thought he could protect them from anything.
Now a vampire, one of Malkom's most reviled enemies, had stolen his family right in front of his eyes.
You will always lose.
No, he couldn't. Not this time.
Concentrate. He closed his eyes, dragging up memories from his dreams. He didn't want to go to the pulsing, screeching tavern. He needed to reach Andoain to alert her coven, to get their help in locating the vampire he'd soon rip limb from limb.
Focus, Slaine. ... Malkom felt himself tracing once more. Having no idea where he would end up, he let himself go.
He appeared in a new land - at night. 'Twas warm here, even though the moon was high.
Before him stood a sprawling home with a shimmering blue pool and a grove of trees. He shook his head hard, astonished his tracing had worked. Could this be Andoain?
His brows drew together. This home was unoccupied. No lights burned. No food scents or movements came from within. It didn't look like the Andoain of Carrow's memories.
How to find her?
Emptiness. Wind blew through those trees, bringing a hint of rain. Lightning struck in the distance, nearing swiftly -
A woman's yell sounded. Carrow's!
He traced through the grove in that direction, disappearing and reappearing. Each time, he materialized ever closer to her. Soon he'd located the house she was in.
Every time the lightning blazed, he saw a different facet of the home. In the dark lulls, he perceived an imposing building surrounded by a black fence. During the strikes, he saw a timeworn structure with animals teeming around it. Snakes slithered in the yard. Insects and other reptiles abounded.
Malkom stalked closer. Small black animals - cats - swarmed outside, wrapping around his legs.
He could scent Carrow and the little one inside, among dozens of other beings. He didn't smell that vampire from before, but other immortals were within.
Carrow's voice was distinct now. She didn't sound afraid; the witch sounded furious, railing at others. Was there no threat?
He traced inside, about to take her and Ruby from this place when he heard, "... you want your wife unharmed, then get me back to the island!"
When silence fell over the crowd, Carrow glanced up from her grappling - powers bound - catfight with Sabine. Immortals were backing away from her in a wave.
That's right, I'm bringing the rain! "Rydstrom, damn you, just trace me to the island!"
"Rydstrom, stay out of this," Sabine snapped, taking a cheap shot to Carrow's kidney. Even with her exceptional powers bound, Sabine was still a fierce scrapper. But Carrow was fighting for the man she loved.
Another tag to Carrow's kidney. "Bitch," she hissed, driving her elbow into Sabine's torso. Lucky break - Carrow had nailed her solar plexus!
Sabine gasped, robbed of breath. Carrow took the opportunity to dive for her sword and spring up behind her, placing it at her neck. "The blood of a Wendigo coats this sword."
Rydstrom's lips parted, his eyes sharply turning black. "Just ... just calm yourself, witch." He held up his hands as he eased closer. "Think about what you're doing. You'd sacrifice our alliance?"
"Don't you people get it? I'll sacrifice anything!" Carrow cried. "Rydstrom, what wouldn't you do for this woman right now?"
"There is nothing," he rasped, "nothing I wouldn't do to get her back. I will trace you."
In a weird tone, Mari said, "So this Malkom guy - is he really big?"