Home > Bad Lands (Savage Lands #4)(9)

Bad Lands (Savage Lands #4)(9)
Author: Stacey Marie Brown

“Did you?” I hollered, my hands slamming into his chest, cracking his head back against the wall. “Tell me!” My fingers rolled into his shirt, throttling him.

He only glared down at me with disgust.

“Did you know your father was going to bomb Killian and us?”

Again, Caden didn’t answer, his jaw grinding tighter, his glare going past me.

“Tell me!” I slammed him repeatedly against the wall.

“No, I didn’t know.” His lip curled. “But even if I did, I wouldn’t have told you. We now have fewer fae and human traitors in this world.”

Red bled into my vision, and something snapped inside me, my fist finding its target. The night’s events, my heartache, and my grief severed my control. Fury fired my anguish, and I released it on Caden, striking again and again.

So much had happened tonight, and not just the bombings and deaths. My mother was a necromancer and was now alive because of me. I brought her back, along with Andris. And I wasn’t just connected to this mythical nectar… I was it.

I had no clue exactly what I was, but the moment I felt myself discovering it, it had been ripped away. And now all those things which hummed in my veins and whispered in my ear, telling me I was different, were dead, floating down the river with the rest of the carcasses.

I never felt more human and lost. Angry and scared.

“Kovacs.” Warwick’s hands grabbed for me, but I couldn’t stop. Anguish flowed from me like lava, burning and blackening what was left inside. Hollowing me out. “Stop.”

He yanked me back, holding me tightly to his chest. Heaving, my blurry gaze cleared on Caden. His half-conscious body slid to the ground, blood gushing from his wounds, red liquid coating his teeth, his eye blooming with bruises. His face was a bloody pulp.

Shock and horror knocked me back into Warwick.

I had done that. Caden and I sparred all the time, but this was different. I had never attacked him. Never purposely hurt him, especially when he couldn’t fight back.

This was the me who survived Halálház, ruthless and callous. The one who killed Aron in cold blood.

I never thought I was capable of turning that monster on Caden.

My body went limp in Warwick’s arms. The walls protecting me from the impending emotion exploded. But instead of crying, I went numb.

Drowning in my grief.

People wondered why I didn’t like my birthday.

It meant death.

 

 

Chapter 4

 

 

The sun started to rise, the hazy November light barely brushing at the buildings as they appeared like a Monet painting, but underneath the strokes were more of a Picasso. Broken up and stitched together in pieces, colored with blood.

Bodies still lay underneath the remains, trapped in a tomb where they would stay. Life in the Savage Lands meant no time to mourn or bury the dead. You had to keep going to protect those who were still alive.

In the distance, hyenas sang their warrior cry, their howls a warning they would be coming to pick off the weak and claim our dead.

“Fuck,” Warwick grunted, his warning shooting to Andris. “We have to go.”

“Zuz, Maddox, Wesley?” Andris whistled, motioning for his men to start moving. “Head for the new base.”

“It’s not ready yet,” Zuz replied.

“Doesn’t matter. Get everyone going, quickly!” They reacted instantly to Andris’s order, helping those in need and rounding up what was left of the army.

“Scorpion. Birdie. You are in charge of them.” Andris motioned to Caden and a figure a few yards away, and I did a double-take. I hadn’t even seen Hanna there, but the way she watched me, I had no doubt she saw my assault on Caden, who was her friend and the boy I was supposed to love.

Covered in dust and wounds with her hands cuffed and her wavy blond hair matted in a ponytail, she glared at me with utter abhorrence, knotting my chest with shame. Scorpion pushed her to get moving, her feet tripping over each other, then she finally looked away from me, rolling her head high.

A young fae assisted Birdie, both helping Caden up and getting him moving inland.

“If Istvan is the culprit…” Andris turned my attention back to him, his feet retreating as Ling came up to him, his hand touching hers. “He’ll be sending out people soon to do a sweep, making sure the explosion did the job, and if it didn’t…”

“He’ll finish us off.” Warwick peered in the direction of HDF.

A sweep. Both Andris and I were familiar with those. In training, Bakos had us simulate doing sweeps for months. How to split up and come in from all sides, what to look for, what dangers and situations to expect. How to pick off the survivors.

We were sitting ducks here. Weak and vulnerable.

“Just imagine if he finds we have Caden,” Andris added before taking off after his army, heading for their new location.

Istvan would rain down unimaginable wrath on us if he discovered we were holding his only son hostage. Two reasons I knew Istvan didn’t know we had Caden: First, he would have never risked his son by bombing the building in the first place. Second, Istvan wouldn’t have waited this long to do a sweep. This would have been a recovery mission. They would have descended on us with a full sniper team coming in to take Caden back.

Howls of the hyenas grew louder, their bloodthirsty cries licking the air with their proximity.

“Guys?” Ash yelled, tugging his pack straps tighter, the fae book safety on his back. I could see him, Kek, and Lukas over Warwick’s shoulder, waiting on us. “Decide.”

Without a word, Warwick grabbed my arm, tugging me toward Ash, in the opposite way Sarkis’s army was traveling.

I yanked my arm free with a violent jerk, stopping him. His brow lowered as he peered back at me. He didn’t even bother asking what I wanted or where I felt I needed to be. I was not his chess piece to move around how he saw fit.

“What are you doing?” His nose flared, annoyance and rage shooting from his eyes.

I glared back, my stance burrowing into the ground. Defying the mighty Wolf.

The tension between us weaved and expanded. It was living and breathing, while the link between us was lifeless. Was it gone for good? Another victim, burned and buried with the other bodies we lost tonight?

“I’m going with my uncle. They need me.” Need us, but I didn’t say that. “You can go.” I laid the challenge down at his feet. “But I’m not leaving Andris or any of my family.”

Warwick’s expression turned to stone, but I could sense the fury under his skin. The way he breathed, how his hands curled and shoulders inched forward.

Lukas and Kek came to my side, their path with me, but my eyes stayed locked on the legend, neither one of us giving an inch.

“Come with me or don’t. You’re free to do what you want.” The jab hissed off my tongue. The truth feeling like a cut across my chest, making it hard to breathe, which caused my anger to swell.

There was a good chance the feelings he thought he felt for me were only from the connection. Now it was gone.

Before he could see my emotions, I turned away, jogging after my uncle, the demon and half-fae beside me. We turned the corner out of sight, and more of my heart shattered when he didn’t follow.

The touch of morning light drew deep-shaded curtains through the streets and alleys, presenting easy hiding places and blind spots. Half of what was once Sarkis’s army moved through the silent streets, the hour still too early for many to be up, and making us even more of a target.

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