Home > Bad Lands (Savage Lands #4)(5)

Bad Lands (Savage Lands #4)(5)
Author: Stacey Marie Brown

“Scorpion?” I tried to connect to him, but I got nothing. Not even a hum, which usually told me if he was alive or not.


Oh gods… was he dead?

“Noooo.” A deep bellow rang from my chest. I couldn’t think; my need to get back dominated everything.

Nothing else mattered.


Again, nothing.

“Andris?” I wasn’t sure if I had any connection to him, but I felt nothing.

Panic sizzled and cracked my legs, directing me back to the river, to our home.

“Brexley?” Lukas yelled as I darted past, but my singular thought was getting back to my family and friends. I no longer cared about anything else.

Boots pounded the earth behind me, and I hoped they were all following me back, because I wouldn’t wait. Not even for Warwick.

Kek helped me shove the boat off the bank, and I leaped in, starting the engine. The boat lurched, the motor churning the water as Ash, Lukas, and Kek jumped in.

Warwick wasn’t with them.

I searched for him, finding only the absence of the energy that thrummed through our connection instead of the buzz I always felt and had grown accustomed to.

Dread plunged my stomach into the waves, the boat moving farther and farther away from shore, but my determination was set. Getting back to those who might need us, who may be already dead, was the priority.

I pushed the throttle, the boat picking up power and gliding us through the water. When we cleared the embankment where we had docked, my eyes snapped back, hoping to see him standing there.

It was empty.

Hurt knotted in my gut, though I understood why he chose the nectar instead. It represented freedom for his family.

Hitting the accelerator again, I felt desperate and terrified of what horror lay miles away.

My body stumbled as the boat tipped to the side. Then, like a creature crawling out of the depths of the swamp, a massive form heaved himself into the boat.

Soaking wet, pissed off, and sexy as hell, Warwick rose to his feet, his gaze set on me with intense fury. His boots and pants sloshed as he stomped in my direction. Water from his hair dripped on my cheeks as he loomed over me, the icy wind curling between us.

His lids narrowed, and something flickered across his face, but I couldn’t read it before he was gone, stomping down the steps into the small cabin below.

I blinked as a gasp stuck in my throat.

Terror gripped my lungs because I knew Scorpion wasn’t the only one I couldn’t feel.

The link between Warwick and me…

Was as silent as the dead.



“A manóba!” Into the goblin! Kek hissed, her nose wrinkling while Ash wrapped up the deep cut across her bicep.

“Hold still,” Ash demanded.

Kek hissed at him again. “That little Wiccan fucker was faster than I thought he’d be.”

“Maybe you need to start working out,” Lukas retorted.

“Fuck off,” she sniped. “Unless you want to work out with me? How about all three of us?”

Ash snorted, working on her arm, but his eyes slid to Lukas, then back to her.

They continued to chatter, their murmurs carrying over the wind.

I stood at the front of the boat like some carved figurehead at the bow; my nerves wound tighter as every minute passed, and I felt no closer to our destination. The scenery went by at a glacial pace. It seemed like forever until we hit the outskirts of the city.

After coming up from the cabin with a towel, trying to dry himself off, Warwick took over steering the boat. I hadn’t been able to look at him, not ready to confront the truth, another thing that had gone wrong tonight.

When the ghosts back at Povstat sucked out my energy, I still felt Scorpion and Warwick. Like a fly landing on one spider web, vibrating through the others, telling you it was somewhere there.

Now… nothing.

Checking my bag, I found it empty, like it had been the first several times I looked. Hopefully Opie and Bitzy were safe, probably ripping up someone’s curtain somewhere, parading around in leather chaps.

“Holy shit! Look!” Lukas yelled, his hand pointing. My head snapped up, the bag in my hands dropping to the floor, a cry catching in my throat.

My brain expected to see fire billowing from the Savage Lands, the base near the old market a war zone. I even half expected to see HDF bombed out, but my old home shone brightly in her full glory as we sailed by.

Lukas pointed to the opposite side of the river. To the fae palace.

“Oh, my gods…” My hands went to my mouth, my gaze taking in the scene, my heart screaming.

The grand palace, the symbol of the fae dominance, sitting high on the hill, was aflame. Smoke mushroomed from the debris on one side. The left wing was in ruins, fire stretching up to the dome like it was trying to grow as tall. I had stayed in one of those rooms, now destroyed. It was the side of his personal quarters.


A sickness knotted my gut. Was this my uncle’s doing? He told me they wanted to let Killian and Istvan know they were here and getting stronger. This seemed extreme for him, though he was the one who blew up Halálház. He had the resources, army, and ability to do it.

Why Killian and not HDF?

“Fuck!” Warwick bellowed, snapping the wheel toward the destruction. The realization it wasn’t just Killian in there hit me hard.

Eliza and Simon.

The boat rammed into the dock in front of the castle. The heat reached us far below the wreckage, the flames kissing my frozen skin. Warwick leaped out, his feet already pounding up the jetty to the street.

Without a word, I tore after him, doubling my speed to catch up. His head darted briefly to the side, seeing me next to him, but he paid no other notice to me as he sprinted for the stairs leading us up the hill.

With a sick déjà vú, I realized it was the exact path we took when he broke me out of here a few months ago. Now we were running straight back in.

My legs burned and my lungs ached, my body still weak from what happened earlier, but we didn’t stop. Pure adrenaline spurred us on.

The heat grew intense when we reached the palace grounds, pooling sweat on my lower back. Screams blended with the lash of the flames. Figures who worked there ran by, heading for safety. They gave us peculiar looks as we ran straight into the destruction.

The moment we entered, smoke swarmed my lungs, the taste of ash coating my tongue, making me cough.

Warwick and I pulled our shirts over our noses and darted through the wreckage of the first story, my eyes watering from the thick plumes.

“Eliza! Simon?” Warwick bellowed out their names, only for his cries to get swallowed up by the chaos.

“How do you get down to the prisoner cells?” His look was wild, his muscles tight with fear… and I couldn’t feel one ounce of it.

Swallowing back more of my panic, I searched the place for stairs. I knew very little of the actual palace, spending all my time either in the labs, cells, or for one day, the luxurious bedroom upstairs. Bile burned the back of my throat.

“Oh, no.” Frantically, I turned toward the grand staircase, panic rushing me up the steps.

“Kovacs!” Warwick yelled. “Where are you going?”

I didn’t open my mouth to respond, pushing my legs quicker to my destination.

For once, I wanted my instincts to be wrong about Killian, though I knew they weren’t. As much as everyone painted him a monster, he wasn’t. They were leverage, not prisoners. He would have given Eliza and her son a bedroom. A guarded one, granted, but he wouldn’t put them in a cell.

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