Home > Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Immortals After Dark #11)(6)

Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Immortals After Dark #11)(6)
Author: Kresley Cole

She had to be Nix the Ever-Knowing, a powerful soothsayer. Though she looked to be in her mid-twenties, she was one of the oldest-and most crazed-immortals on record.

She wore a long, flowing skirt, cowboy boots, and a T-shirt that read VALKYRIE in big block letters with an arrow pointing up at her face.

Flaunting themselves. The arrogance. Christ, how he hated them.

She too proffered a braid to the wraiths- a toll of some sort? -then joined Regin in the car, blowing a kiss to the witches. The two Valkyrie pulled out, some asinine song blaring from the car stereo-the only lyrics were "Da-da-da." They bobbed their heads in unison to the music.

As they passed, he drew back into the brush, his heart thundering. But the dark-haired one turned, looking directly at him with eerie golden eyes.

Just as the hair on the back of his neck stood up, the soothsayer mouthed, You're late.

Regin the Radiant sensed some enemy was hot on her ass as she sped down dark country roads.

But she simply didn't have time for a fight to the death just now. Regin had to reach Lucia before it was too late.

She adjusted the rearview mirror. "Are we being fol owed?"

Nix nodded happily. "Usual y." She tapped her chin with her free hand. "You know, you think you don't like it, but actual y You'll miss it when it's gone."

Regin scowled at her sister, doing her damnedest to ignore Bertil-the bat Nix carried. It'd been a gift from a secret admirer. "Seeing as we're on our way to the Loreport, you probably should tell me where I'm flying out to tonight." Nix's last report on Lucia had her in the Amazon, of all places.

"Hmm. Should I remember?"

"Me. Meeting up with Lucia. Who's gearing up to slay Cruach, her worst nightmare." Crom Cruach was the ancient horned god of human sacrifices and cannibalism-and the monster who'd tricked Lucia into leaving Valhal a. Every five hundred years, he tried to escape his prison. For the last two times, Lucia- with Regin as her trusty wingman-had forcibly denied his parole. "Any of this ringing a bel , Nix?"

Blankness.

"Gods, I don't have time for this!" Lucia was out there alone; Cruach was rising nowish. And Nix was spacing?

"Don't shriek," Nix chided. "You'll hurt Bertil's ears, and he needs them for echolocation." As she stroked her new pet in a love-him-and-pet-him-and-cal -him-George kind of way, her eyes were even more vacant than usual. Her visions of the future had been hitting her rapid-fire lately, and they were taking a tol .

Assholes were laying odds in the Lore betting book that Nucking Futs Nix wouldn't make it through this Accession with any remaining sanity intact. And there wasn't a whole lot remaining.

"Don't fret, love," Nix said reassuringly.

"How can I not fret ..." Regin trailed off. "You're talking to the freaking bat!"

She tickled its bel y with a claw. "Coochy-coo." Regin swore the bat smacked its lips with contentment, snuggling into her arm.

Had Nix been feeding that little winged rat her blood? "Don't you know that those things spread Cujos?

Damn, Nixie, you're getting worse. Even more cray-cray than usual."

She briefly glanced up. "That's fair."

"Uh-huh." Regin downshifted, tires squealing as she swerved to dodge a roadkil -bound possum.

"But what about your own cray-crayness, Regin? You've been behaving very badly of late. Getting high on intoxispel s and picking fights. You are acting out, and it simply must stop unless you invite me to join in."

Also fair. But what else was Regin supposed to do? A year ago, she and Lucia had undertaken a badass mission to discover a way to defeat the unkil able Cruach forever. Instead of merely imprisoning him. They'd traveled all over the world together, risking their lives.

In other words, good times. But then Prince Garreth MacRieve, Lucia's werewolf admirer, had started fol owing her everywhere, sticking his nose where it didn't belong. Regin's solution? Euthanasia.

Lucia's solution to Regin's solution? Leave her behind when she was nursing a hangover.

Abandoned me like last year's wardrobe. Regin's claws dug into the steering wheel. After a mil ennium of never leaving each other's side. But last year's wardrobe is determined to make a comeback.

"Nix, you promised you'd tell me where Luce is if I did everything you asked me. I cleaned your room. I took your Bentley to the shop after you went off-roading again. And I put in hours at the Lore foundling house with those little punks." Regin had begun to cal it the Lorphanage and predicted it'd stick. "I need to keep moving anyway. You know he's returning soon."

Aidan. With his heart-stopping smile and big, possessive hands. Though she longed to see her Viking in any reincarnation, she'd decided that he might actual y live a ful life if he never found her.

Nix sighed. "Have you truly given up all hope of finding a way to be with him?"

Regin glanced over at her, trying not to feel even a sliver of hope. "Any reason not to give up?"

"I believe my advice to you was 'Go find and bang your berserker.'"

"Huh. well , see, I tried that, and it didn't quite work out for me." The last four times! "I just can't ... I'm not doing it again." The guilt got worse with each reincarnation. She was his doom, might as well deal the deathblow herself.

Aidan had been sword-struck in his first life, poisoned in his second, crushed during a shipwreck in his third. In his fourth, he'd been shot. all directly after she and his reincarnation had made love for the first time.

"Unless you can tell me things might be different this time?" Regin added. Damn, could she sound more desperate? But Nix helped other immortals with things like this. Why not me?

"What would you do to be with him, hmm? What would you sacrifice?"

"To break this curse, I would do just about any-thing."

"Just about?" After long, tense moments, Nix said, "I have no resolution to tell you." She couldn't foresee everything, wasn't all-knowing. Instead, she'd been dubbed the Ever-Knowing, because her visions had appeared without fail for three mil ennia.

"No resolution?" She hadn't expected Nix to pony up the answer to a thousand-year-old curse before Regin ran her next red light, but a crumb of hope would've been nice.

"No matter," Nix said. "You must find something to occupy yourself. There's more to life than destroying vampires."

"Right. Like destroying evil cannibal gods with Lucia," Regin said, proud of her segue.

"Always back to Lucia. You're exceedingly loyal to all your friends-even to your own detriment."

"Whatever. Loyalty's not a bad thing."

"It is when you leave heaven for it. It is when you have nothing to show for it. For instance, your some-some meter is reading empty. What about that nice leopard-shifter pack that wanted to date you? The benefits of a variety pack of males cannot be overstated."

If the rest of her sisters-or, gods forbid, her witch buddies-found out Regin hadn't been laid in nearly two hundred years, she'd never live it down. But like some stupid, sappy tool, she stayed faithful to Aidan and his reincarnates.

"Are you happy, Regin?"

She gave Nix the look her question deserved. "I'm the prankster, remember? The happy-go-lucky one.

Ask anyone-they'l tell you I'm the cheeriest Valkyrie." She studied Nix's expression, this time noticing the shadows under her sister's eyes. "Why? Are you happy? You seem tired all the time." She didn't mention Nix's shrieking fits or disappearances, the bizarre eccentricities that only grew worse.

"I'm actively involved in steering the lives of thousands of beings. Which directly affects hundreds of thousands, which indirectly affects mil ions, with a ripple effect reaching bil ions. If someone said, 'It ain't easy being Nixie,' I wouldn't cal him a liar."

Regin never real y thought about the pressure Nix might be under. If the bat made her happy and calmed her, then ... Welcome to the family, Bertil.

In a prickly tone, Nix said, "And yet all anyone talks about is how the Enemy of Old is making power plays in the Lore. His power plays are child's play compared to mine."

Like Nix, Lothaire the Enemy of Old was one of the oldest and most powerful beings in the Lore. But the vampire was pure evil.

Nix sniffed, "Lothaire's no saner than I am."

As Regin opened her mouth to correct her, Nix amended, "Not much saner."

"There, now." Regin reached over to pat Nix's shoulder, but that bat hissed at her. "Why don't you hook up with someone, cozy away with a male for a few weeks? Weren't you seeing Mike Rowe?"

"I do miss that baritone-voiced rapscal ion." Nix sighed. "But above all else, I'm a career woman. I've no time to dal y."

"You could take just a short vacay, you know? See some sights." This might be one of the most lucid conversations I've ever had with Nix.

"I'm three thousand and three years old." Nix turned her vacant gaze out the window. "I've seen everything-" She sat up, eyes wild. "Squirrel!"

Strike lucid. "Hey, I know, you could come with me to find Lucia!"

"Maybe she doesn't want to be found just yet. You know she'l cal you before the final showcase showdown with Cruach. For now, I've told you she's with MacRieve."

"With with? 'Cause I refuse to believe that yet another Valkyrie is making time with a werewolf." Much less the prim and proper Lucia.

The earthy Lykae revered sex and matehood; Lucia's magical skil with a bow was celibacy-based. If she got horizontal with a guy, she'd get kicked out of the Skathians, losing her archery forever. Which she needed to fight Cruach.

Hence the fleeing from MacRieve and all .

"Refuse or accept, I cal 'em like I see 'em," Nix said. "Now, I have just one final task for you in the Quarter. I need you to go take out some adversaries. Make it an example killing."

"Example kil ing? Must be Tuesday. And you're not going to get in on the action?"

Nix blinked at her, aghast. "Who will sit Bertil?"

Regin groaned.

"Besides, I'm going to visit Loa's voodoo shop. She's having an Accession sale. Everything must go." She snickered.

"If I do this, will you finally tell me how to find Lucia?"

Another pet of the bat. "Don't worry, dearling. You'll fly out tonight. I promise."

"Are you talking to me or Bertil? Oh, me? Then, fine." She gunned the car even faster, speeding toward the Quarter. Lucia, I'm on my way ... just hold tight. "Tel me where my victims are."

Chapter TWO

Late for what? What the hel had the soothsayer meant? Declan was half-tempted to confront Nix, but she was not to be engaged, by his commander's order.

So for now he bided his time, pursuing the pair of Valkyrie. Since his Humvee stood no chance of keeping up with Regin's sports car and maniacal driving, he'd tracked her vehicle while he listened to their conversation-or what he could make out over the static. It was as if an electrical field had interrupted the relay.

What he'd heard had made little sense to Declan-talk of berserkers and cannibals and some absent sister. all he knew for certain was that Regin had been dispatched to kill.

Not who, not where, only why.

An example killing.

Historical y her enemies were the vampires and certain species of demons. She might lead him to an entire nest of their kinds.

Once he'd reached the Quarter, he quickly spotted Regin's car, parked half on the street, half on the curb. A three-hundred-thousand-dol ar car treated like junk. He'd throttle her just for abusing a car that fine.

He parked a couple of blocks away, then hurried into the crowd, searching for the two. Though he was several minutes behind, he swiftly reencountered Regin sauntering down Bourbon Street alone.

Easy enough to track her. She left a trail of slack-jawed men in her wake.

And they reacted not only to her glowing skin. The Valkyrie walked with an otherworldly sensuality, her h*ps swishing in those low-cut jeans, her plump arse attracting male gazes like moths to a flame. Some men adjusted obvious erections or rubbed cheeks recently slapped by outraged girlfriends.

As Declan trailed her, even he felt his shaft twitch, as if trying to stir for her-though his "medicine" would make that impossible.

To be aroused by a revolting detrus? When nothing else could tempt his deadened, scarred body?

While others in the Order cal ed the immortals miscreats, short for miscreations, Declan often used the term detrus, the coarsest word they had for them.

It meant "vilest abomination."

That was how he saw them. How he'd always seen them, ever since he'd learned of their existence twenty years ago. ...

As the Valkyrie covered blocks, several beings approached her. More witches tried to coax her to go out with them. Two pointed-eared females-likely more Valkyrie-twirled swords, looking like they were primed for a battle and inviting Regin to come along.

She turned them all down with a grin, which promptly faded as she moved on.

Even more beings avoided her. Declan noticed several large males striding in the opposite direction when she came into sight; all wore hats of some type. No doubt behorned demons.

The field notes in her dossier reported that she was notoriously hard on demons. Whereas she simply ended vampires.

When she paused to text something on her cel phone, he drew back behind the cover of a nearby building. Then she gazed up with a peculiar look of sadness. That expression didn't fit her glowing, animated face, seeming as foreign as joy on a dying man's visage.

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