Home > Bad Lands (Savage Lands #4)(8)

Bad Lands (Savage Lands #4)(8)
Author: Stacey Marie Brown

Strange both the base and palace were bombed tonight.

The same way…

Something connected in my brain as my eyes roamed over the devastation, spotting my uncle in the distance, giving orders and trying to help his people.

I couldn’t even enjoy the relief at seeing him alive and well before I spotted a massive form striding up to Andris, a large hand wrapping around his throat.

“Warwick!” I screamed, clambering over blocks and cement, trying to reach them. “No!”

My palms scraped over the wreckage, my pants shredding at the knees as I rushed to them.

“Warwick, Stop!” I scrambled up, grabbing Warwick’s arm. “Let him go!”

“No.” He drew my uncle’s face to his, baring his teeth. “You killed my family.”

Andris’s mouth opened and closed, but nothing could come out, his skin turning a deep red as he struggled to get away.

“No, he didn’t!” I yanked and tugged at his massive bicep. I tried to push deep, see if I could use his energy against him. But there was nothing there. “Warwick, please!” I begged, my nails digging into his hand. “Let him go! He didn’t do it!”

Warwick’s gaze darted briefly to me, then back to my uncle, squeezing tighter.

“He ordered the attack on the palace.”

“Let him go.” Scorpion stepped up to us, yanking out his pistol and shoving it into Warwick’s face. “Now!”

Warwick grabbed the gun with his free hand, flipping it and pointing it at Scorpion, ready to pull the trigger.

“No!” I bellowed, shoving myself in front of Scorpion, the barrel of the gun hitting the middle of my chest.

“Get the fuck out of the way, Kovacs.”

“No.” I snarled, my chin high, pushing my ribs against the barrel. “You want to kill someone here? You have to go through me first.”

Warwick hesitated, an emotion I couldn’t decipher fluttering through his eyes.

“My uncle didn’t kill your family. Nor were they the ones who set those bombs.” I reached out, my fingers pulling on the ones still wrapped around Andris’s throat. “Think about it. This place was bombed before the palace, and HDF is left alone? That’s not a coincidence. Plus, to do so much damage, they would have to get close. It had to be an inside job.”

“Exactly. Zander,” Warwick growled.

“And Zander’s plan was to die with them?” The simmering grief over his death, over Killian’s, drifted closer to the surface. I had no time to really mourn or accept either one.

“Zan—Zan—dead?” My uncle’s voice was strangled. He jerked his head as he took in the news, shock and sorrow filling his eyes.

“Warwick, it wasn’t Andris.” I gently touched his arm.

Warwick growled, his hand squeezing tighter, fury riding his shoulders. My uncle’s eyes started to pop, breaking blood vessels staining them red.

“Stop!” I could feel he needed someone to blame, something to hurt before his grief destroyed him. “Let. Him. Go,” I demanded, moving more in front of Andris. “I will fight you, Farkas. And you will have to kill me too.”

Warwick’s gaze jerked to mine, his chest heaving, a noise working up his throat. It was a full fifteen seconds before he dipped his head, sucking in air, then dropped his hands and stepped back.

Andris bent over, coughing and gulping for air. Ling rushed to his side, trying to soothe him. I hadn’t noticed the group that had circled around us, many with guns pointed at Warwick, ready to shoot him if I hadn’t interceded.

Spitting on the ground, Andris slowly stood, still struggling to breathe, his hand on his throat. His voice came out low and harsh. “I didn’t order the bombing at the palace.”

“You had something planned.” Warwick’s shoulders drew back again.

“We did, but we got attacked before the mission even left here. And it wasn’t at the palace.” He hacked, clearing his throat. “We were going to plant something back at the old prison. A reminder we had eyes on him. That we could get to him again if we wanted.”

Warwick’s brows furrowed, doubt creeping in.

“It wasn’t us,” Scorpion growled.

Oxygen huffed through the Wolf’s nose, his head turning away.

“Is Zander really dead?” Andris looked to me.

I nodded in affirmation.

Andris’s face crinkled with grief, his throat bobbing as he absorbed the news. He gave himself a moment, then he lifted his head, the commander of Sarkis army back in control. A leader had no time to mourn the dead. They had to lead the living.

“We heard the bomb go off across the river. I’m sorry for your loss.” Andris dropped his hand from his neck, peering around. “But right now, we have our own worries, our own bodies to bury. I don’t have the time to care about Killian’s troubles.”

“Killian’s dead,” Warwick replied, emotionless. He might as well have dropped another bomb. Hearing it out loud knifed my heart, the emotion I was still holding at bay creeping up higher.

“What?” Andris stilled, his pink face blanching, though I noticed how healed his wounds appeared, when only hours ago he had been dead and buried under wreckage too. “Killian is dead? Are you sure? How do you know?”

“We were there.” I bit down on my lip until I tasted blood, my mind still not allowing his death to sink in. “It was his private wing that was blown up.”

Killian seemed invincible. Impervious to death. He was the fae ruler. Beautiful in his cruelty. Sexy in his deceit. Powerful. Aloof, but under those formidable layers, he was also caring and, in his own odd way, kind of sweet.

“Az istenit!” God damn it! Andris ran his hand through his hair. Why did it look a lot less gray than I remembered? “How could this happen?” He started to pace frantically. “This is extremely bad.”

“I thought you’d want to get him out of the way,” I replied.

“No, I wanted to unite us.” Andris stopped right in front of me. “Killian was far more likely to change the status quo. With him gone, this country is even more unstable. Dangerous. Making it clear for—”

“For Istvan to come up and take hold of the power,” I finished for him.

“Yes,” he agreed. “With the fae side in disarray, trying to figure out who will lead, it opens up an opportunity for Istvan.”

“This was planned and coordinated to make sure it would take Killian down. Istvan wouldn’t leave it to chance. Which means—”

“Which means Zander wasn’t the only spy infiltrating Killian’s circle.” Andris pinched his nose.

Before the idea had fully developed in my head, my gaze was snapping over my shoulder, searching. “Where is he?”

“Who?” Andris asked.

My boots were already crunching over the debris, my head snapping around, spotting who I was looking for in the distance. He was tucked up against a bombed-out building, several guards surrounding him, his wrists cuffed.

“Did you know about this?” I seethed, rushing up to a person who held me so many nights growing up, who used to be my entire world.

Caden’s brown eyes tapered on me, his jaw clenching. He was covered in dirt, blood, and cuts. His eyes were puffy with exhaustion, but he pulled himself up when he saw me.

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