Home > Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10)(16)

Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10)(16)
Author: Patricia Briggs

“She is kind,” murmured Wulfe. He smiled a hard, cruel smile directed at her. “But the reality is that she doesn’t know whom I serve, her or my scion who re-created me as he pleased for his own purposes before he sent me with her. To bring me under such a circumstance would be stupid.”

“Even so,” she said evenly. “My seethe is stronger than it has been in years. We have had some new-made vampires and some who have come here, drawn by your declaration. It is not only the fae who are tired of fighting. But there are only three Master Vampires—those of us who do not need to obey our maker or the Mistress of the seethe. I am the first. Stefan is the second. And Wulfe is third. I know Iacopo.”

“Jacob,” murmured Wulfe. “He goes mostly by Jacob now.”

“Jacob,” she said. “I don’t know why he took Mercy, or where he took her. But he will send us another e-mail or have a minion call and issue an invitation to come fetch our missing one. My strength is all in numbers right now, and he will not allow me to use that. I will need you and your wolves.”

“To get Mercy back,” Adam said.

“To keep Bonarata from coming here,” she said, “and taking over my people and yours. Do not doubt that he could. He stole the mate of an old and dominant werewolf and made her his mindless slave. When her mate tried to save her, he destroyed the whole pack except for the Alpha. I have heard that Iacopo keeps that one alive still.”

“Jacob,” said Wulfe. “You keep forgetting. And the old Alpha is dead. Jacob lost his witch and doesn’t know where to find her. Without her, he couldn’t keep the old wolf around, so he killed him. It. Actually. I think the wolf was an it when it died.”

Adam ignored Wulfe. Instead, he looked at Stefan. “You think Bonarata will call us to come to him?”

Mercy’s vampire nodded. “It fits Bonarata’s pattern. He will call us to come and make nice. He’ll explain this all as a misunderstanding, and if he is satisfied with what we are—neither too strong to challenge him nor so weak that we are easy prey—he is likely to return Mercy with no more than a demand for some concessions that will be within our power.” Stefan shrugged.

Marsilia smiled wearily. “It is his weakness, you see,” she told Adam. “He loves adulation, to be admired. He is man enough to understand that if that sentiment is only the result of his magic, it means less.”

“Assuming that you are right in your assumptions about why he took Mercy,” Adam growled.

“Assuming that,” she agreed. “And assuming anything about Iacopo Bonarata is dangerous. Even so, if we go meet his strength with strength, be charming and be charmed—it will not be difficult to be charmed. It is strongly possible that we will return with Mercy and a reasonable assurance that the Lord of Night will stay safely on the other side of the ocean and leave us be until we attract his attention again.”

“Go where?” asked Darryl.

“Wherever he took Mercy, I imagine,” she said. “I’ll let you know when he contacts me.”

3

Mercy

And here I am, standing naked before the unlocked freezer door.

TO GIVE MYSELF ANOTHER CHANCE TO THINK, I FOLDED the nasty rags that a day ago had been comfortable schlepping-around-in-the-house-and-playing-pirate clothes. Now they could have been costuming for a zombie movie—or, I supposed, a particularly bloody pirate adventure. I tucked my underwear inside the shirt.

I took another look at my ribs, but there wasn’t so much as a scar left behind. That was some healer Bonarata had. He’d used her on me when he’d thought I was powerful, that he might turn me into an ally. I wouldn’t let his earlier care delude me into believing that he didn’t, now, think that it would be more convenient to have me dead.

I was achy and sore but nothing too bad. My wrist, where the cuff, the witch’s bracelet, had poked little holes in my skin, was itchy, but the dots were smaller than they had been. When I touched my toes, when I jogged in place, nothing hurt enough to interfere with my movement. Even the shaky, light-headed feeling had mostly subsided. Maybe it had been the lingering effects from being unconscious for so long, or maybe it was a side effect of the cuff’s magic. I was good to go.

Part of me wanted to wait. I knew what I faced, more or less. In many ways, my whole childhood and adolescence had consisted of pitting my wits and thirty-five-pound coyote self against werewolves, some of which weighed north of three hundred pounds. All that experience told me that my chances were pretty much even against Bonarata’s werewolf. Even odds weren’t really very good odds against death-by-werewolf.

But most of one summer, the Marrok’s terrifying son Charles had taken me on as a student, though I hadn’t realized that was what he’d done until many years later. At the time, I’d thought it was a punishment for wrapping the Marrok’s new car around a tree.

Right now, Charles’s voice rang in my ears, as if it had curled up into some corner of my mind until I needed it.

“If you are taken by your enemies,” he said, “don’t wait to escape. The hour you are taken is when you will be at your strongest. Time gives them the opportunity to starve you, to torture you, to break you and make you weak. You have to escape as soon as you can.”

Pretty intense stuff to say to a teenager you were teaching to do oil changes and rotate tires, but Charles was like that. It was part of what made him so scary.

Standing in front of the metallic door, I wondered if he’d had some prescience, some vision of me in my present circumstance—or if he’d just been passing on advice because everyone should know what to do if they were kidnapped. With Charles, it was hard to tell. His advice was good; now was the time to attempt to escape.

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