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       Slumber, p.10

         Part #1 of The Fade series by Samantha Young
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  The gypsy behind me answered, so I assumed he was Vrik, “Yes. Selena wants to see them.” She nodded without question and then turned back to undressing Wolfe with her eyes. My heart picked up pace as I watched Wolfe stare back at her, expressionless. “Can I have this one, Vrik, when ye’re done with him?”

  He snorted. “Scarla, we haven’t even sent the message off to Javinia that we have them. A little patience, please.” She flashed her black, cat-shaped eyes at him. “But I want him!”

  “I’m sure the lad wil be more than happy to see to ye when we reach an agreement with Markiza Raven. But until then he’s a prisoner, alright.” Scarla pouted and reached out to trail a hand down Wolfe’s chest. Wolfe flinched. “I’m not happy about this, Vrik. Perhaps I should speak with papa?”

  “Papa wil tel ye the same thing. Now leave, Scarla.”

  It was obvious these two il-mannered being were siblings. Scarla huffed a little more and then went up onto her tiptoes to whisper in Wolfe’s ear. I don’t know what she said but I don’t think I had ever seen Wolfe blush before. My heart thumped and my own cheeks flushed. I looked away quickly, gritting my teeth.

  When Scarla left, Vrik grabbed my arm tight and thrust me into the tent, the other men and Wolfe at our backs. Immediately my eyes adjusted to the dimness of the tiny tent. I stopped, startled by the sight of the older woman in front of me. Inside was bare; grass beneath my feet, no furniture, except to my complete bemusement a gorgeous old library desk that would have looked more at home in a study at the Palace. The old woman sat patiently behind it.

  “Here ye are, Selena. Our prisoners.” Vrik pushed me towards her and I caught myself on the desk. “Let us know if ye see anything that’l tel us about any future land agreements that we may come to with that damn Rada.”

  Selena looked at him blankly, as if he were below her interest. “Take the girl back outside. I wish to speak with the boy first.” As I was dragged back outside, past Wolfe, I threw him a questioning look. But he was staring avidly at Selena. Who an earth was this woman? What was going on?

  Finding myself at the mercy of other gypsies’ curiosities, I turned so my back was facing camp. Vrik just stared at me, his arms crossed over his chest.

  “What’s going on?” I asked, more than a little impatient now.

  “Be quiet.”

  “Who is Selena?”

  “I said be quiet.”

  “You know you’re realy rather rude.”

  The beast actualy bared his teeth and growled at me. “And ye are getting on my last nerve, Princezna.” Trying to pretend that his animal behaviour didn’t bother me, I sniffed. “I’m not a princezna.” He made a face. “Ye look it and act it.”

  I did not, I huffed. I think al and al I had been taking my kidnap extremely wel. Especialy considering the terrible memories it brought back of being carted off by Wolfe’s father. I hardened in remembrance and growled back at him. “You haven’t seen anything yet.” Vrik raised an eyebrow, looking me over. And then he had the audacity to grin. “Ye might be fun after al, Princezna.” Before I could offer a disgusted retort, Wolfe was pushed out of the tent with the two gypsies at his back.

  “What happened?” I asked quickly, moving towards him. Vrik instantly gripped my arm and wrenched me back.

  Wolfe snarled at him and then turned back to me, his lip stil curled disdainfuly. “Nothing. The old woman’s useless.” One gypsy waloped Wolfe across the back of the head.

  “Hey!” I yeled at the offending gypsy, and was rewarded with a bewildered look from Wolfe as I was shoved past him and back into the tent.

  “Anything?” Vrik asked Selena without any niceties as I was forced to stand before her.

  Selena’s narrowed eyes found Vrik and she shook her head. “He was blocking me somehow.”

  “Blocking ye?” Vrik asked, stunned. My head swiveled between them, completely at a loss as to what they were discussing.

  “Hmm,” she answered. “Keep a careful eye on him.”

  My patience snapped. “What is going on?” I demanded, my eyes burning into the old woman.

  She arched an eyebrow at me and then smirked at Vrik. “We’ve got a live one here.”

  Vrik chuckled, a dark, sinister kind of chuckle that sent shivers slithering down my spine. “Seems so.” Selena smiled at me and I got the strangest feeling she liked what she saw. “Give me your hands.” I tucked my hands behind my back. “Why?”

  She winked. “I’m not going to hurt you. Just give me your hands… or I’l make Vrik hold you while we do this.” I snapped my hands out so fast she cackled. “Don’t think she likes you too much, Vrik, so I wouldn’t be getting any ideas.” Vrik grunted behind me.

  Selena snatched my hands in her extremely cold ones, and I felt every wrinkle and crevice of that sandpapery touch shoot through me.

  She was a mage.

  Seeing the question in my eye, Selena nodded. “I’m one of the Glava, little Azyl.”

  Dear haven, they had one of the Glava and a Dravilec among them. I immediately wondered if they had been colected as Syracen had done with me, Valena and Kir. “Your specialty?” I asked softly.

  “I’m a reader.”

  “You read people’s minds?”

  “No. Just their future.”

  I gulped and shook my head, trying to withdraw my hands. “I don’t want to know my future.” She cocked her head curiously, her eyes washing over me as she gripped them tighter. “What happened to you, girl, to make you so afraid of the future?”

  “Wel for a start I was kidnapped by the Iavi.”

  Vrik smothered a chuckle behind me as Selena glared.

  “We won’t hurt you, girl. No. You fear something else.”

  “You said you can’t read minds.”

  She laughed softly, condescendingly, like I was a smal child before a teacher. “I don’t need to read minds to know that a young, inteligent, pretty girl with her whole life ahead of her should be excited at the prospect of the future. You clearly aren’t. So why are you frightened instead?”

  “I’m not frightened by it. I’d rather live it when it comes, than know about it now. A piece of information can change a person. I’d hate to change the way I’m supposed to live my future.”

  Her whole face lit up into a wide grin and she nodded, pleased. “What a wise thing to say.” I exhaled heavily, acting the spoiled brat in the hopes it would get me out of there. “Can I go now?”

  “No.” She tugged harder on my hands and I lurched forward. A sick feeling swirled in my stomach as Selena closed her eyes. She was stil for so long, my heartbeat getting louder and louder, I was sure they must hear it in this tiny, sparse tent. Finaly, Selena grinned. Her eyes popped open. “Nothing to fear,” she assured me.

  “You’l marry one of the Glava and be very happy about it.”

  I scoffed and puled my hands free. “Doubtful, madam, as I have no intentions of marrying anyone. Ever,” I emphasised. I began to feel better. Perhaps she wasn’t realy one of the Glava after al.

  Selena shrugged. “I’m never wrong.”

  Wolfe was right. This was nonsense. I roled my eyes and puled away from her. “Can I go now?” Seeming to laugh at me, which irked and unsettled me, Selena nodded and Vrik strode forward frowning. He grabbed my arm and I winced. I was going to be covered in bruises from where he kept gripping me.

  “That’s it?” he hissed at Selena. “Nothing about an agreement? About land?”

  She shook her head, holding her hands up. “You know I only get what’s most important to them.”

  “And you determined marriage?” I snorted and turned to Vrik. “You might want to purchase yourself a new reader, because this one is definitely broken.” Growling at me again, Vrik forced me forward and out of the tent. Wolfe was nowhere to be seen. My heart stopped and panic seized my chest. “Where’s Wolfe?” I asked and received no answer. Vrik tried to pul me back towards the house but I wouldn’t let him, digging my feet into the ground. “Where’s W

  “He’s fine,” Vrik snarled and used both hands to pick me up and put me down in front of him. He pressed his hands into my back and pushed me forward. I struggled al the way.

  “Damn it, tel me where he is?!”

  “He’s fine,” he reiterated, “Now get yer ass in this house before I do good on my earlier promise to shut ye up in a way that I’l definitely enjoy, but ye won’t.” A flood of rage took over that I should be so vulnerable to this man, and I elbowed him deliberately as he pushed me forward. “Just tel me where he is?”

  “Having a better time than me probably.”

  I stiled, my heart now thumping so hard it made me il. Was Wolfe off with the gypsy girl whilst I was being mauled? Irritated beyond rationality I kicked back and caught Vrik in the thigh. He yeled and yanked my head back by my hair as he forced me - kicking and shoving me - into the house and down the celar stairs.

  “Where’s Wolfe?!” I screamed for the milionth time and was again ignored as I was thrown into the celar.

  I landed with a painful grunt, my ribs holering in my pain as they impacted with the stone floor.

  I heard a curse and then Wolfe’s face hovered over mine. “Rogan, are you alright?”

  He was here? In the celar? I groaned and relaxed, thumping my head against the hard ground. “Ouch.” I was such an idiot. They’d brought him back to the celar to wait on me. Wow. I was terrible at this ‘being kidnapped’ situation.

  “Rogan?” I felt his fingers on my face and my heart stopped. My eyes flashed open and my heart lodged somewhere in my throat at his close proximity. I could see the hints of gold striations in his blue eyes, his dark lashes enviably long. Suddenly I felt a strange queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach and squirmed at the concern in his face. Distrusting it, I puled back with a flinch and watched the concern melt to his usual blank arrogance. “I take it you’re fine.” He sighed and moved away from me.

  “Yes, I’m fine.” I struggled to a sitting position, wiling my heart to slow. I pushed my skirts back down into some semblance of modesty. Not that it mattered. I was torn, smely and unwashed. Feeling Wolfe’s unwavering gaze I stopped fussing and glared at him. “What?”

  “Nothing.” He shrugged. “I’ve just never heard you say my name before.”


  “You were yeling ‘where’s Wolfe?’ over and over again.”

  I flushed, not wanting him to misunderstand. “I thought they were separating us and we have a better chance of escape if we’re kept together. And you’ve heard me say your name before.”

  Wolfe shook his head, smiling wryly. “No. It’s always Captain or Stovia or Captain Stovia. Then there’s Vikomt – you usualy spit that one at me.” Uncomfortable for reasons unknown and not wishing to have anything that could qualify as an actual conversation with him, I decided to ignore his questioning.

  “Wel, Vikomt, how do you suggest we get out of this?” I gestured around the celar. “Now that we know they have a Glava and a Dravilec in their hands.” Something flickered in Wolfe’s eyes at my question, something akin to disappointment, and then he looked away. I watched him pul himself together and then he cleared his throat, “I’m wondering how many more of the mage they have here. I’m hoping they’ve not been…” he threw me a mystifying look before he continued quietly, “Colecting them.”

  My throat worked at the memories but I refused to drop my gaze. I knew my eyes hardened, however. I saw it in the way Wolfe’s eyes blazed back at me. I didn’t know what his look meant, but I guessed it could only be anger at his own memories of his own destroyed family.

  “So what do we do?” I murmured, wearily wondering when this truce between us was going to end and Wolfe was going to take his vengeance.

  “The only thing we can. I heard the other two guards talking about the festivities this evening. Apparently, you and I are attending. When we’re there I’l create a distraction. You have to keep your wits about you, Lady Rogan. Watch me al the time. When I make my move, you make it with me and we run.” I blinked owlishly, hoping I’d heard wrong. “That’s your big plan? A distraction?”

  He smiled cheekily at me. “Yes. It’s good, right?”

  “You’re going to get us kiled.”

  “Wel, since you got us kidnapped in the first place, I think it’s only fair.”

  Chapter Thirteen

  I kept my expression blank as I was looked over by this man, this older version of Vrik, who stood by the campfire, shadows and light flickering across his dark skin, pin pricks of light reflecting in the blackness of his gaze. I tried not to shiver.

  Around us the hubbub of noise was now a hushed tide, rising and faling with little bursts of laughter and conversation, as the gypsies enjoyed ale and food around the fire. Wolfe stood beside me in the darkness. We were guarded by Vrik and three other men, but not tied up, not held tight. It was as if for now they wanted us to feel less like prisoners and more like guests. At the sound of a whimper, my eyes flickered over to a girl sitting on a log, squashed in the middle of two rough looking women. Her head was held back by her thick locks, tears streaming down her face as one of the woman held the dagger she’d been using to cut her apple up to the girls eyes. My face tightened in anger at their bulying and the man before me frowned, turning around to folow my gaze. He seemed amused by my reaction and turned back with a lazy shrug. “She’s one of the Caels. Her brother was particularly annoying in handing over some land, so we took her as punishment.” My blood ran cold, crystalizing to ice until I felt frozen solid in my anger. “And what of her brother, her family?” I asked through clenched teeth.

  He shrugged again. “Dead.”

  Waves of nausea crashed over me. The man seemed to flicker before me, his features merging with the man who had destroyed my life. They even had those same black eyes. “You son-of-a-bitch,” I spat and was immediately wrenched back into Vrik’s tight hold. I felt Wolfe stiffen beside me but I couldn’t look at him. Not with the memories. Not now.

  Not caring if my outburst would provoke a lash of anger, I waited sulenly for a reaction. To my surprise the man burst into laughter, his eyes flickering past me to his son. “Ye were right, Vrik. She’s feisty. She’l do wel here.”

  Determined not to show fear, I lowered my eyes to regain composure, and then lifted them when I was able to project boredom. “What do you mean?” The man waved the question away as if batting away an annoying pest. “First, introductions. My name is Tiger. I am leader of the Iavi.”

  “What do you want from us?” Wolfe growled impatiently.

  Tiger seared him with a look and then smirked at him. “I only want ransom from ye. Ye,” he shook his head chuckling humourlessly, “The famed Captain of the Royal Guard. I was expecting… more.”

  “Realy?” Wolfe shrugged. “Funny, you’re just what I expected. You’re just a fucking leech, sucking land that’s not yours and growing fat on it. Like a buly,” he nodded at the girl who was being tormented, his eyes blazing in indignation, “In the schoolyard, taking what doesn’t belong to him and having the audacity to cal himself Kral.”

  My heart thudded at Wolfe’s impassioned speech, my eyes savouring this image of him. An unexpected feeling of warmth for him seized me by surprise. He looked at me when he was finished and I dropped my gaze, glad for the shadows of the night that would hide my blushing cheeks. I frowned, confused.

  “Yes,” Tiger growled. “That’s what a pampered prince who’s lived in luxury and peace his entire life would think. We’ve traveled for too long in Alvernia, across Daeronia. We like Javinia, it’s warm. It’s home. Gypsies no more, we want land. But ye wouldn’t understand that. Ye haven’t had to suffer the harsh lands of the mountains and deal with uncivilised folks like us. Uncivilised breeds uncivilised.”

  “No.” Wolfe shook his head. “You chose to act this way, be this way. Dyzvati magic stifles emotions and actions that can lead to unrest and chaos. Not having that magic doesn’t turn people into automatic anima
ls. It just makes sure those that would act that way can’t. Don’t blame this on magic or lack thereof.”

  “Shut him up,” Tiger spat at the man beside Wolfe, but I lunged between them before he could hit him.

  “No!” I cried, putting my hands up to stop the blow. The man looked to Tiger who frowned but shook his head. The gypsy lowered his hand and I turned to find Wolfe glaring at me. Ignoring him I addressed Tiger, “What do you want?”

  Tiger sighed. “Tomorrow morning I send a message to Novia for Markiza Raven. In it, she wil be told I hold ye both ransom, yer lives for land. Then we’l have to wait whilst she informs the Rada and the Princezna. When we get the land we’l keep our promise not to kil ye. He,” he stabbed a finger at Wolfe, “Wil be kept a prisoner until such time as I see fit to release him.”

  “And Lady Rogan?” Wolfe growled.

  Tiger smiled, his eyes running the length of me in a way that caused my stomach to flip. I almost gripped Wolfe’s arm I was so discomfited by that look. “Lady Rogan is something ye’re not, Captain.” He strode towards me, his eyes seeming mesmerised. I flinched as he reached up and gripped my chin lightly. “She is one of the Azyl… and I find that I am in need of an Azyl.”

  “You’re a colector.” I glowered at him disdainfuly.

  He didn’t seem to care. “Yes. But ye’re different. I’ve heard good things about ye. When Selena is impressed, I’m impressed.” Abruptly he let me go and turned to gesture behind him. “Bird!” he caled. Almost instantly the tal, skinny boy who had served us our food earlier, the one who had stared at me so detachedly, appeared before us. Tiger put his arm around the boy affectionately and grinned at me. “This is my adopted son, Bird. Say helo, son.” Bird smirked at me. “Helo son.”

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