Magick Marked (The DarqRealm Series), page 19
Several tense moments passed before Jess spoke again. “That’s the last of it.” She set the tweezers on the tile floor and extended a hand. “Arnica.”
He handed her the jar. Jess twisted the cap open and scooped the yellow paste with her fingertips. With the precision of a skilled surgeon, she coated the wound. Rho hadn’t so much as blinked. And he had no backup plan.
Maybe he was soul struck. Maybe he just cared about her. Vampire, fighter, whatever she was. The thought of losing her left him hollow.
“Yarrow,” Jess ordered.
He transferred the tiny cream-colored flowers and fern stems into his sister’s open palm. She blew away a fallen strand of hair from her face and turned back to Rho, sprinkling the dried mixture onto the wound.
His heart sank as he waited for some sign of life. Jess was a brilliant healer. She truly was. Her talent was incredible, her thoroughness unrivaled. She grew her own herbs for spell consistency. But this could be beyond even her skill set.
He racked his brain for other options. Human healers were out of the question. They’d call code on Rho before she got into the hospital. Outside of the state, he couldn’t think of anyone more skilled than his baby sister. People came to her, not the other way around.
Jess rested her elbows on the tub and bowed her head. “This isn’t working.”
“You’re better than that, Jess. Don’t give up on me.”
She glanced up at him. “It’s not you I’m giving up on.”
“Might as well be.”
Her eyes narrowed. “What’s with you and her?” She pointed between the two of them. “What is this?”
He had no clue, and even less time. “Not important. What else can we do?”
She rose up to snatch her kit from the counter. “I extracted the silver from her wound, but she’s been poisoned. It’s in her blood. We’re going to have to perform a translocation.”
Eldon rubbed his eyes with his palms. Transferring injuries was tricky and dangerous. Actually pulling an injury out of one person and putting it somewhere else took incredible skill and concentration. Jess wouldn’t risk it unless he asked her to.
“Who’s the target?” he asked.
She shuffled through the line of bottles. “No target. She’s too far gone.”
He frowned. “Translocation spells require a source and destination.”
“I know that.”
“Spell it out for me, then.”
Jess pulled two vials and clutched one in each hand. “You need to discharge to the ley lines.”
Impossible. “I can’t do that. Injuries must discharge to a person.”
“That’s what I thought, too, until I did a little reading in Mom’s library.” She set the vials on the floor near the tub. “Adelle has been having visions since the day you left. Lots of them. And some about your teammates getting hurt. I wanted to be prepared.” She crouched by the tub and opened the lid on each bottle. “Turns out you can discharge into the lines, as long as it’s not a transfer of magick. I can’t transfer a spell into the lines, because it could get picked up by someone else. But silver is a metal, not magick. Just channel it out in a slow, steady stream. No big buckets.”
He ran a hand through his hair. “I’ve never done that before. What if it goes wrong?”
“What other choice do we have? Her injuries are too severe to transfer them to you or me. She’s barely alive and she has the reconstructive cells of a vampire. We’d die before the transfer ever finished.”
He glanced at the tub. Rho’s body lay lifeless in the shallow water. “Do it.”
Permission granted, Jess turned the vials in her hand over, dumping their contents in the water.
Eldon fell to his knees beside the tub. “Rho, are you awake?”
She didn’t move, the fog in her mind still thick.
Maybe she couldn’t speak aloud. Are you awake?
No response. He reached into the water to take her hand. I’m right here. You’re going to be okay. Her hand was limp and so small compared to his.
Jess pulled an unlit blue candle and a small iron candleholder from her bag. “You need to leave us now.”
He scowled. “I’m staying here.”
“I’ll call you in when it’s time to transfer.”
“Not a chance.”
Brushing a hand over the candle, the wick burst into a tiny flame. “It would be better—”
Jess clenched her jaw. “Whatever. But it’s not going to be pretty, and you can’t stop me once I start.”
He nodded. “Deal.”
“No matter what.”
“I said deal.”
She raised a brow. “Fine. Then get out of my way.”
He followed the order.
Jess went to work with the candle, circling it over Rho’s head. “Sana. Centrum. Tueri.”
Eldon plopped onto the tile floor and let his head fall back against the cabinet. A migraine stirred at the base of his neck.
The pressure in his skull intensified. He clutched his head in his hands. “Jess, got anything in that kit for a headache?”
Her focus didn’t waver. “I told you to leave.”
“And I told you no.”
“Then you can deal with your little headache.”
Rubbing his temples, he squeezed his eyes shut. “I think it’s our connection.”
Jess froze. “What?”
He cleared his throat. “Apparently Rho and I have some… telepathic link to each other.”
If looks could kill, the one his sister shot him could have put a bullet in his chest while running him over with a car full of dynamite.
Her eyes went wide. “You were soul struck?”
“We don’t know—”
“You were soul struck and you didn’t tell me!”
“How do you know what that means?”
“You’re on a team with strangers! Adelle and I aren’t stupid. I told you we did research.”
“I was going to tell you. Now just wasn’t the time.”
She blinked hard. “Eldon, I can’t undo this spell!”
His brow wrinkled in confusion. “Why would you need to?”
She glanced at the tub then back at him. “I don’t know what’ll happen. It’s one thing if she’s feeling pain. She’s a vamp. But if you feel everything she feels, I’d be torturing you.”
He glanced over at Rho’s lifeless body. “My pain is irrelevant.”
“Just finish what you started.”
Jess opened her mouth in protest but closed it again. He folded his arms across his chest, shutting himself down completely. There was absolutely no way she was winning this argument.
“This is going to hurt,” she warned.
He leaned against the cabinet again. “Do it. I’ll turn off the light and you can pretend I’m not here.” This spell required focus, and Jess couldn’t afford to be distracted.
She nodded. Reaching out with his mind, he flipped the light switch on the wall. Candlelight danced across the darkness.
Continuing where she left off, Jess began moving the candle over Rho’s forehead. Her third eye. God, she’d only cleansed one chakra and the headache was already at a dull roar.
“Sana. Centrum. Tueri,” Jess whispered.
The pain at the base of his skull intensified, a thousand needles pricking into his forehead and wrapping around his neck. He gritted his teeth. Nothing he couldn’t handle.
Jess moved to Rho’s throat, moving the candle in steady circles. “Sana. Centrum. Tueri.”
His sister shot him a worried glance but kept going. “Sana. Centrum. Tueri.” This time over the heart. Nearly there.
It would be worth it. Every scrap of pain was welcome into him, so long as Rho got out of this alive. He’d be okay if she was okay.
“Sana. Centrum. Tueri.”
Cold sweat beaded up along his forehead as he fought to hold back a groan. He slammed a fist against the tile floor, the urge to run from the room so strong he could barely breathe. Jess took a step toward him.
He blew out a jagged breath. “Don’t you dare.”
“It’s killing you, Eldon.” Her voice shook.
“Just hurry up.” Squeezing his eyes shut, it was all he could do not to tell her to stop.
“Sana. Centrum. Tueri,” Jess said.
Eldon’s eyes flashed open and he bolted upright despite the pain. Rho’s spine was arched out of the water, as if an invisible string pulled her sternum toward the sky. His chest pounded, his sweat trickling down to land on the tile.
“What’s going on?” he ground out.
The candle flickered before erupting in a blue flame.
“It’s time.” Jess made a motion for him to stand.
Could he even get up? Rho’s body was expelling the silver, his own body mimicking the action and the sting of every movement. One more. Just one more pass left and this would be over.
He heaved a deep breath, pushing himself up with tired arms. Closing his eyes, he reached out with his mind and called the ley line fire to his shaking hands.
“Slow and steady, like a tap,” Jess instructed quietly. “Pull from her and push into the lines. Dissipate everything.”
Rho thrashed, creating tidal waves in the tub. Every inch of him wanted to run to her and hold her, soothe her, but it wouldn’t help. Translocation was the only way. His mind focused and his vision narrowed. This was his part. Time for a silver exorcism.
Eldon splayed his fingers, calling forward a steady stream of ley line energy. “Go.”
Jess began moving the candle through the air. She needed to finish this right. Strong. Powerful. She’d have to match his strength with her words, or it wouldn’t work.
“Sana,” Jess whispered.
Turning his hands with delicate precision, he focused on pulling the silver from Rho’s body. Strands of silver began to expel from her like taffy through her pores, horrifying and fascinating at the same time.
The sensation of his skin lighting on fire rocketed through his fingers and into his wrists, traveling through his arms and toward his heart. Everything he’d ever felt before was child’s play. Rho was in total agony.
But stopping would mean killing her. So he turned his hands some more.
“Centrum,” Jess said more forcefully.
His breath caught in his throat. The burning had filled him completely, the pressure of the sensation expanding and overflowing as he moved. He had to push it out of himself. Blue energy twisted around him, wrapping his body in the fire as he fought to free himself from its hold.
Water sloshed from the tub and onto his foot. Rho was out of control, out of her mind.
“Tueri!” Jess shouted.
He cast every ounce of line energy away from himself in a violent rush. With a vortex of energy and color, the ley line disappeared into the floor. Rho’s body collapsed back into the water. The room fell into total darkness as the candle extinguished itself.
His sister was panting along the far wall, her breathing loud. “Eldon?”
He stood in the obscurity of the darkness, unable to respond. Rho still wasn’t moving.
“Eldon, are you okay?”
A bottle from the counter clanked against the tile floor as he listened to his sister fumble for the light switch. He could help her. He chose not to. Everything in his world had been swallowed by the darkness of this room.
Rho was gone. Had to be.
Another bottle crashed to the ground.
“You think you could help me out here?” Jess asked.
The pain he’d felt before was beyond anything he’d ever experienced. But somehow this was worse. His chest contorted in agony as the weight of total loss centered on his heart.
Wham. His body slammed into the cabinets on the wall with the force of an explosion. He fought for air, flailing his arms blindly. Something seized his biceps, the force so strong he swore he heard his bones creak.
Something sharp latched onto his neck. The bathroom lights flashed on.
Jess screamed. “Eldon!”
Rho squeezed the pillow in her arms, snuggling her face closer to the silky soft sheets. Man, it had been so long since she’d slept in her own bed. Being home again felt wonderful.
A smile touched her lips as she breathed deeply, the faint aroma of coffee beans riding in the air. She hadn’t experienced the best part of waking up since she’d been sent off on that stupid mission.
Wait, her job. The assignment far away. She was still on a mission. Costel would kill her if she came back without the Kamens. How did she get home? Why was she here?
Rho blinked furiously, forcing the stark white ceiling into focus. Where was she? This wasn’t home, but it wasn’t the warehouse, either. This was—somewhere else entirely.
She brushed a strand of hair from her eyes. Pain shot through her shoulder, traveling from her arm to her fingertips.
Damn, even her fingers hurt.
Falling back into the pillow, she settled onto the blanket and tried to remember how she’d gotten here. There was the fight with those two fae, but they’d killed them, right? Well, she didn’t kill them herself but—a blazing pain shot through her arm as she adjusted the comforter. Oh, God, that burning.
She’d been hit by silver.
Straining every muscle, she sat up in the unfamiliar bed. Soreness ricocheted as she threw the comforter off her body, revealing a set of hot pink pajamas, complete with smiling cartoon monkeys.
Sweet Jesus. These weren’t even her clothes.
Then again, after a run-in with a silver knife, she’d probably been a mess. Whoever had helped her probably had no choice but to redress her. Although pink monkey pants were so not the fashion statement she wanted to make. She’d bet her favorite shirt was ruined, too.
She ran a hand across her chest, grateful to feel the outline of a sports bra. At least she hadn’t lost everything. A tingle rippled along her side.
With careful fingers, she undid each button on her god-awful pajama top. Her tender joints screamed as she unfastened the last one and spread the two pieces open.
And there it was.
A fresh scar marked her right ribcage, nearly four inches long and half an inch wide. Someone did some damage. Serious, serious damage. But she was still alive.
She surveyed the room, trying to piece together what happened. For the life of her, she couldn’t remember a damn thing from last night. The pale gray walls were accented by ivory curtains, the bedspread a lovely pattern of baroque swirls to match.
The room was decidedly empty, no personal effects lying around anywhere. No papers or books. No shoes on the floor. The four-poster bed of carved redwood took up most of the room, and—
He was sprawled out on the overstuffed chair across the room, head resting on one arm and his feet dangling off the other. Eyes closed and mouth opened slightly, his breathing was steady and deep.
How long had he been sleeping there? And why was he here, anyway? Maybe if she got up and found the others, she could get some answers. And a new change of clothes.
She turned her body to swing her feet off the bed
“Rho!” Eldon jolted from the chair and crossed the room in two strides to kneel beside her. “What are you doing? You should have asked for help.”
“I’m cool, I’ve got this.” She shoved his arms aside and pushed herself off the floor, only to wobble and land on her ass again. Damn it.
A smile touched his eyes. “Really? Is that why you’re hanging out down here?”
The smartass had a point. Her gaze darted around the room. “What happened? Where am I? Where is everyone else?”
He shook his head. “Let’s get you back in bed.”
“Tell me what’s going on.”
Ignoring her, he leaned forward. God, he smelled divine, like soap and dark spices. His biceps curled around her body and he scooped her from the floor.
Like a freaking damsel in distress. “You don’t have to do this. I can try to walk.”
“Mmm-hmm,” he murmured as he carried her over to the bed and set her gently on the mattress.
Her body ached. She wanted to tell him she didn’t need him, but the truth of the matter was she did. If her earlier floor flop was any indication of strength, she had none. Which would make getting around this place a total bitch.
He yanked the comforter up, settling it over her monkey-clad pants. “You’re at my family’s safe house.”
“How’d we get here?”
He settled in at the foot of the bed. “We jumped the lines.”
“We did that?” She remembered he’d mentioned the possibility, but for the life of her she couldn’t recall the actual experience.
“It was the only way I could get you to Jess fast enough.”
He raised a brow. “You almost died. We cut it close.” Pausing a moment, he dropped his head. “Too close.”