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A vampires embrace, p.22
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       A Vampire's Embrace, p.22

         Part #2 of Blood Rose Time Travel series by Caris Roane
 
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  He recalled the auction cavern, the glittering wealthy, the smell of perversion.

  His daughter had been in one of the glass enclosures, a caged animal.

  The thought of it sent an even louder roar into the heavens.

  “You about done?”

  He turned around. “Oregis? What are you doing here?”

  “Davido dropped me off. He said you needed a voice of reason. I’m here to see you don’t stroke out. Sweet Goddess, I’ve never seen your face so red and the veins in your neck are bulging. Wait, is that a love-bite on your neck?” He gasped as he drew close. “Does your woman have fangs? You lucky son-of-a-bitch!”

  Rez lifted both hands in strange response to the disruption of his rage-state. “You’d better get out of here.”

  “Not a chance. You’re being a dick and not seeing any of the important things you need to see right now.”

  “Like what?”

  “I saw Isobel, too.”

  Nothing Oregis could have said would have stopped Rez in his tracks except these words. The top levels of his fury evaporated. “You saw my daughter? But you said nothing?”

  Oregis nodded. He sighed heavily. “You would have lost it, boss, and the three of us would have died then and there. You know we would have.”

  “Have you talked to Holly?”

  “No.”

  “Did Vojalie or Davido tell you she was there?”

  “How could they have known?”

  “I don’t know. Vojalie sees the futures.”

  “The woman doesn’t know everything. She said nothing about Isobel. But Davido said she knew something bad would happen if you didn’t keep your head together right now. Okay, maybe that wasn’t how Davido expressed it, either. But you have to remember. I’ve known you a long time.

  “You’ve got a short fuse like Mastyr Stone. I admire the hell out of you both, but, brother, you’ve got to rein it in and start thinking straight.” He frowned and squinted his eyes. “There was something else I was supposed to tell you. Right. Okay. Listen up. Davido said if you weren’t careful right now, and ordered your steps properly, you’d lose Holly forever. Those were his exact words. He seemed to stress the bit about ordering your steps.”

  For whatever reason, Rez looked down at his feet.

  When did anything good ever come from acting out of rage? He recalled Holly’s shoes and her resolve.

  Through a sheer force of will, he let his anger drain out of his mind and out of his body. It leaked from his boots into the grass, twigs and acorns beneath the ancient oak. He was sure the earth below fissured from the strength of his rage.

  Air flowed into his lungs from the first deep breath he took, then another and another. His mind loosened and new thoughts emerged.

  What had Holly said? He needed to figure out where the cavern was then he needed to contact Stone and get his combined forces over there.

  As reason returned, he grew very still.

  Both Holly and Oregis, perhaps even his mother’s spirit, had been right. He could not have handled seeing his daughter trapped like an animal behind a glass wall.

  He would have lost it.

  All three of them would have died in the process and Isobel would have remained a slave forever.

  He valued who he was as a warrior. But this recent outburst was the flip side. The same powerful battle energy he could focus during an encounter with the Invictus could also become a mindless beast of fury. No proper, reasonable direction could be set in such a state. Chaos and death would ensue.

  He chose to heed Holly’s words and focused instead on figuring out the location of Cruce’s cavern-based camp.

  Chapter Thirteen

  Still beneath the oak tree, Rez met Oregis’s gaze. The gremlin floated in the air three feet away.

  Rez closed the distance. “Thank you.”

  “You’re welcome.” Oregis nodded solemnly. For a sexed-up bastard, he could be wise.

  “Think about the cavern. Did you notice anything unexpected about the geology, any striations we might have seen in the past, any unusual layers of different kinds of rock? Anything?”

  Oregis looked away, his brow pinched. His eyes shifted back and forth rapidly as though reading line after line of material.

  Rez knew what he was doing. He was sifting through every cave he’d ever been in. Oregis had a gift for finding precious gems of all kinds. He’d once located a deposit of sapphires in a cavern system Rez couldn’t have entered without blasting out several yards of rock. Being gremlin-sized had worked for Oregis.

  Time pressed on Rez. Maybe it was having taken Holly’s blood, but right now every second mattered.

  Oregis turned back to him. “During the miles we traveled, we climbed pretty high in that tunnel.”

  “I would agree.”

  “I keep thinking about the view from Holly’s house, up there on the mountain.”

  “The snow-covered peaks. Holly and I saw something similar from Cruce’s bedroom. The same view could be seen from the Invictus camp.”

  “Right.” Oregis ran his thumb and forefinger the length of his tall right ear. “I remember a similar range that ran across the northern part of the realm and had a view of snowcapped peaks. But the view was from the north as opposed to the south, like Holly’s view. It was a few years back. But what it had in abundance was crystal, all colors.”

  “You mean like the kind in the auction cavern. The distance feels right, too. We need Stone. Now.” He opened his pathing frequency and tapped on Stone’s receptor.

  “I’ve been waiting for your call. I’ve got a foot-dancing troll over here, very ancient.”

  “I think I know where Cruce’s camp is and it’s in the mountains. Feel like doing some teleporting?”

  Stone didn’t answer. Instead, he showed up ten feet away, hands raised in surrender.

  “That was fast.” Oregis moved to perch on Rez’s shoulder once more.

  Stone wore the Guardsman uniform, his eyes glittered and his chin was down. Rez recognized all the signs. The man was ready for war.

  The ruling Mastyr of Tannisford drew close. “I need you to create a picture in your head, but put us high in the air where we won’t be seen.”

  Rez focused on the opposing mountain range with the tall peaks. He recalled the most direct view and made that the destination. “We’re headed to a point across from the most central peak.”

  “Let’s go.”

  Teleporting with Stone took only a few seconds until they hovered in the air five hundred yards away from the nearest mountain.

  He pivoted one-eighty to look at the opposing range, then directed Stone to follow him. He could recall the unusual shape of the opposite peak since it had a dip on the western face.

  It didn’t take him long to find it.

  Rez turned as did Stone to face the next part of the suspect range. In the distance were a dozen campfires lighting up the mountainside.

  “Sweet Goddess,” Stone said. “That’s the Tannisford Overlook. But why didn’t my troops ever see this before? I have patrols out here all the time.”

  Oregis elbowed the side of Rez’s head. “I’m not seeing anything, just mountain and forest. Where am I supposed to look?”

  Rez craned to glance at Oregis then met Stone’s gaze. Each said, ‘Mist’ at the same moment.

  Stone began moving forward. “I want to get a closer look without being seen, then it’s time to bring the Guard and the Brigades in, all three together. I want this rat’s nest purged.”

  ~ ~ ~

  When Holly left Rez, she returned to her mountain home to stare out at the peaks that had given her so much pleasure over the years. She knew her life had changed completely and she was waiting now only for the clock to complete it’s one hour cycle. Soon, she would return to Cruce and Lanarae’s lair and rescue Isobel.

  She had no idea how she would do what needed to be done. But she couldn’t ask Rez for help. She knew this was her mission to manage apart from him
.

  Still, she trembled where she stood. She held her arms crossed over her chest to try to still the heavy beating of her heart. She’d never been more frightened.

  Yet, her fears didn’t matter, not even a little.

  She was Isobel’s only hope for survival.

  She only had a few minutes left to wait.

  She opened her fae frequency, the element in her life that connected her to the entire Tannisford fae community. At first, it was chaos, but gradually as she focused on Isobel, one fae came forward, a fellow time-pather she’d come to know through Vojalie’s training sessions. Emily. Now a blood rose recently bonded to Mastyr Devyn.

  Instinctively, she knew she would need both Emily and Devyn to complete her mission. She took her cell from her pants pocket and tapped Emily’s contact number.

  To her surprise, Emily answered immediately. “Holly I’m so glad you’ve reached out to me. I’ve been pacing the floor, waiting for your call.”

  “Why? Did Vojalie tell you what was going on?”

  “Yes, but only because I contacted her about a half hour ago. My fae instincts have been lit up for hours. Are you okay?” Emily, more than anyone, would understand what she’d been going through.

  The question of concern made Holly’s eyes sting once more. She took a deep breath as she chose to stay focused on Isobel. “I’m fine, but later, when the current crisis is resolved, I could use some girlfriend time.”

  “You’ve got it. Now, how can I help?”

  Holly finely released her stranglehold on her chest and let her arms dangle at her sides. She would need to be relaxed and open for what was about to come. But hearing someone ask how they could help eased her more than anything else could have in this situation.

  She explained about the captives and about Rez’s daughter. She mentioned a few of her experiences, but kept her descriptions to a minimum. “My fae instincts tell me I’ll need both you and Devyn to help me rescue Isobel.”

  “And Rez?”

  “It’s imperative that he not see his daughter in her current state. She’s been starved and tortured.”

  “You’re protecting him.”

  “Not just that. If he lost it, and I’m sure he would, he’d jeopardize the rescue. I need detached teammates.”

  “Devyn’s with me now. We’re ready. Just tell us where you want us to be.”

  “Come to my mountain home.”

  “On our way.”

  The couple arrived a few seconds later. Devyn had his arm around Emily’s waist.

  Holly gasped. She hadn’t seen Emily for a few weeks but the woman glowed with happiness and something more. It was her blood rose bond with Devyn. The couple radiated power.

  For a split second, a dart of envy pierced Holly’s chest. Emily had what Holly longed for with Rez but was unlikely to have.

  Emily was Holly’s height, not quite six-foot, with brown hair and large green eyes. Devyn had Guardsman-length blond hair, warm brown eyes and was built along Rez’s lines.

  Emily immediately stepped forward and embraced her. Holly hugged her back, grateful for the sisterly contact.

  “Thank you both for coming.” She sketched out the details of what she and Rez had first seen of Lanarae and Cruce’s haunt. “I’m just not sure what we’ll find when I time-path to Isobel’s location. I don’t know where she’ll be or who will be holding her captive. All I know is that I can’t do it alone. My faeness will not rest on that point.”

  “We’re here for you,” Devyn said. “I’ve known Isobel for years. Rez is a friend of mine and a good neighbor in Boylbury.”

  There it was again, Rez’s fine reputation among those who knew him best.

  “You don’t have to do this.” She needed to make the offer. “Because who knows what we’ll find.”

  Devyn took hold of her arm and dipped his chin. “Let’s do this thing.”

  He reminded her so much of Rez in this moment, her throat tightened. “Good.”

  She felt in her faeness the hour had come. “If you’re ready, I’ll take us to Isobel.”

  When two heads bobbed, she forced herself to grow very calm. She focused on Isobel, the lovely young woman who’d been through hell for two years at the hands of Lanarae.

  She moved all three of them seamlessly into the time-path. She went back a few minutes in time and a split second later, a blurred stone cell came into view. Isobel was on a dirty mattress on the floor. She wore a thin woven shift that couldn’t have offered much protection against the cold.

  “This looks like an ancient place of torture, doesn’t it?” Emily held two fingers to her lips. “And she’s so thin. Holly, I can feel she’s near death.”

  “Yes, she is.”

  Rez’s wife and his mother, together, tended the teenage female vampire. They hovered over Isobel, petting the air above her, offering what reassurance a spirit could give. “Do you see them?”

  “What do you mean?” Emily asked. “I only see Isobel.”

  “There are two ghosts with her.”

  Emily was quiet for a moment. “I don’t see them but I can sense them. Rez’s mother and wife?”

  “Yes.”

  Devyn addressed the more critical issue. “Those shackles have a spell on them, don’t they?”

  He glanced at Holly who in turn nodded. Devyn then continued, “Emily and I can tackle that part of the process. Ready to go in?” For a warrior of his size and caliber to ask rather than issue an order, indicated he lived with a powerful fae woman.

  “Wait just for minute. Something else needs to happen first.”

  As if on cue, Lanarae opened the cell door and levitated inside. She was as beautiful as before, but her lips were set in a grim line. “Your friend should be here by now, Isobel. Maybe she needs a little motivation.”

  Holly understood. Lanarae knew Holly was coming. Great.

  The ghosts huddled in the corner and it seemed to Holly they were praying.

  Lanarae approached the thin mattress on the floor and held out her hand. Red Invictus energy pulsed from her fingers and landed on its object.

  Isobel’s body arched then lifted three feet into the air. She uttered an anguished cry. “Stop.” The word was little more than a whisper.

  “As you wish.” Lanarae ended the battle blast and Isobel’s body landed in a thump on the mattress. She moaned, but didn’t move a muscle. Holly knew she couldn’t.

  Lanarae glanced around then left the cell.

  Holly had to force herself to count to twenty very slowly. She heard Devyn growling. But she didn’t act until she could hear Lanarae’s footsteps disappear.

  Okay, we’re ready. When we go in, use telepathy.

  Got it. Devyn’s voice, like Rez’s, was deep and masculine within her mind.

  I’ll work on healing her. Emily and Devyn, do what you can to break the power of the shackles. Then we’ll get her home.

  She moved the time-path forward to the present and released her frequency. All three of them moved quickly to take care of Isobel.

  The thought that she’d be bringing Rez’s daughter home, made Holly tear up once more. She placed her hands above Isobel’s head and ignited her healing frequency. She let the warmth flow and heard Isobel moan in response.

  “We’re here,” she whispered. “We’re going to take you home, Isobel.”

  She heard Isobel mumble something, but she couldn’t make out the words. One of them might have been ‘trap’, but she wasn’t sure.

  She sensed Emily and Devyn ramp up their shared power and it felt like waves of heat pouring off them. She kept speaking softly to Isobel and hoped the efforts to break the spell weren’t hurting her.

  A sudden jolt of power and the shackles around her ankles flew apart. Emily and Devyn moved to the shackles on her wrists and began the same process. Instinctively, Holly shielded Isobel’s face. The same series of waves ensued.

  Holly could hear movement and shouting outside the cell. “Hurry.”

  The powe
r increased and another jolt freed Isobel. Devyn picked her up in his arms just as the cell door banged open. “Get her out of here,” Holly shouted.

  Devyn and Emily disappeared.

  Holly started to ignite her own time-pathing frequency but it faded away. She couldn’t make it work.

  She turned around and Lanarae offered a vicious smile. “You’re not going anywhere, Holly McCrae. My plan worked perfectly and now you’re here. Welcome to hell.”

  ~ ~ ~

  After Rez explained the layout of the camp and the cavern, he remained in the air opposite Cruce’s army.

  Stone had already contacted his Vampire Guard, and Shifter and Troll Brigades. Each was prepared for battle.

  Now that Stone had provided the coordinates, his forces were in the air. The portion of the Troll Brigade that didn’t fly was headed to the Overlook in military grade vehicles.

  “The first of my forces will be here in five. They’ll gather out of visual range three miles to the west. Will you be joining the battle?”

  Rez shifted to stare at Stone. Of course, he was, but why did Stone ask? “You have some other purpose for your question? Because you already know my answer.”

  Stone’s jaw worked. “Where’s Holly? Why isn’t she with you?”

  It was the last thing Rez expected Stone to say, but then he’d been in Rez’s boots.

  Stone turned to face him and planted a hand on his shoulder. Rez compensated for the in-air jolt and maintained his levitating balance. “This is not the time to be separated from your blood-rose, not at this stage. Even I can feel something isn’t right.”

  “Listen to him,” Oregis said, giving Rez another head thump.

  Rez was concerned as well. He explained the situation. “I’ve tried pathing with her several times, but she’s not responding. She seemed adamant she had something she needed to do on her own.”

  With his gaze fixed in the direction of the Overlook, Stone said, “All I can say is be open and make sure she’s safe.”

  “I will.” He meant what he said, yet now he felt uneasy. He recalled what she’d been like before she left, how deeply resolved she was, but to do what?

  He tried pathing with her, but again, she’d shut down her communication with him.

 
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