Slumber Page 29

Bird smirked at me. “Hello son.”

I almost rolled my eyes at his rehearsed insolence.

“Bird,” Tiger continued, “Is one of the Glava.”

My jaw dropped. “Another mage?”

“Ye said it yerself, I’m a collector. I found Bird when he was five years old.”

I almost launched myself at him and was surprised to find Wolfe’s hand on my wrist, squeezing it in restraint. “You mean you took him!”

“Semantics.” Tiger waved me off. “Bird, show them what ye can do.”

His eyes laughing at me, Bird turned and looked at the Cael gypsy girl. She gave out a frightened yelp as we watched as her hair floated up into the air, strand by strand. She began to whimper and the two women beside her laughed and scooted away from her as first one arm popped up into the air and then the other. Finally her entire body rose from the log as if propped up by unseen arms. Panic suffused her and she began thrashing and screaming as she rose steadily higher, terrified tears streaking her cheeks. “Stop!” She shrieked. “Make it stop!”

None of the gypsies around me seemed too distressed by the sight, although I noticed a few on the other side of the campfire glare at Bird in disgust. I too was disgusted. I felt sick at the sight and was just about to reprimand them when Wolfe snarled, “You’ve had your fun. Let her go.”

Bird arched an eyebrow at Wolfe’s demand and then looked to his father. Tiger was smiling at Wolfe. “The boy thinks he’s a hero.”

“Please,” I added, pleading with my eyes. Tiger frowned and then nodded at his son who dropped the girl. She fell with a hard thump onto the log and let go a howl of pain. “You bastard!” I yelled, forgetting myself.

“Now, now,” Tiger admonished and seemed to share a look with Vrik. “Ye’re right, son, perhaps she would do better for ye. I’m not sure Bird can handle her spirit.”

“Then give her to me.” Vrik reached a hand out and wrenched me to him. I was completely taken aback by the claim as so far he’d been relatively unemotional, even when he was threatening me with disgusting acts.

“No!” Wolfe lunged for me, but was dragged back by the two gypsies. They held him fast and tight as he violently resisted their hold.

Bird shrugged. “She’s not much to look at papa. I don’t care if ye give her to Vrik.”

Vrik ran a hand down my cheek so softly I trembled, fighting the urge to be sick as these men decided casually which one would rape me. “I didn’t see the appeal at first either, but the more she snaps and snarls at ye, the prettier she seems to get.” He chuckled and then ran a hand down my waist and around my hip and down to squeeze my bottom painfully. “Plus she’s luscious enough to bear healthy children.” I winced at his manhandling, afraid to look at Wolfe who was struggling and cursing at them all.

“I’ve changed my mind.” Bird turned to his father like a petulant little boy who had just discovered the toy he had given away did something interesting he hadn’t known about. “I want her.”

“Very well,” Tiger agreed. “We’ll do the handfasting on the morrow.”

Marriage! I began to struggle in Vrik’s arms who growled, “Papa, she clearly doesn’t want him, give her to me.”

“I don’t want any of you!” I screamed, fighting against him, but he wouldn’t yield. “You can’t do this to me!”

Tiger strode forward and pulled his hand back. I braced myself. His palm cracked across my face with a slap hard enough to roll my eyes back in my head. Harsh heat shot up the left side of my face and my eyes watered at the sharp needles of pain. “You’ll be given to Bird; the Glava marries the Azyl.”

So that was Selena’s game, I slumped, telling me I would marry one of the Glava. Old, manipulative witch.

Suddenly a shriek echoed around the campfire and I opened my eyes to see the fire in the centre of camp roar high, high into the night as if it had been jerked awake from a deep sleep. The gypsies stumbled away from it, fleeing the site as the flames licked out at them like arms trying to snatch them back into the death of its embrace. Wide-eyed I looked to Wolfe and found his eyes narrowed in concentration. Bird screamed and Vrik let go of me as a wall of fire encircled his father and adopted brother. Slack-jawed, ignoring the blazing heat stroking my skin, I stared at Wolfe, feeling the crackling of his magic. His magic? His magic!

Wolfe was one of the Glava?!

He reached out, not even looking at me and pulled me to him, his arms encircling my waist as I was pulled back into him, his chest to my back. Another fire shot up around Vrik and his men, another around tents. Wolfe, still holding me, strode forward and grabbed the girl from the Caels who sat immobilised in shock on her log. He ripped her out of her seat and holding our hands he began running, a wall of fire blocking the men so we could escape. Wolfe headed towards the house where two horses grazed. The girl seemed to come out of her daze at the sight.

She ran towards the mare and jumped up into the saddle like an acrobat. She grabbed the reins expertly, turning the horse to the west. Her terrified eyes caught Wolfe’s and they swam with gratitude. “Thank you!” She yelled and then kicked her heels against the mare’s flanks and bolted out of there.

“Where is she going?” I yelled against the noise of the chaos behind us, still shocked numb and cold despite the heat of the fire at my back.

“Back to her clan,” Wolfe grunted. “Come on, Rogan, move.” He vaulted up on the stallion and then reached a hand down for me. I just stared at, still not believing what he had done, how powerful he was.

“Rogan!” He yelled and pulled at my arm. Shaking myself of my stupor I reached for him and let him pull me onto the horse. His arms came around me, squeezing me tight as he took hold of the reins and pushed the horse into a gallop, heading north east.

Chapter Fourteen

We rode in complete silence, pushing the horse to his limits to get as far away from the Iavii as we could. Wolfe had been right, we were very close to the border and soon, just as the stallion’s coat was beginning to sweat, we came to a stop on a hill and gazed down a valley into the distance where the glass factories of Vasterya shaded the border. It had grown much bigger since I was a child; lots of dark, crooked buildings surrounding the factories, like a small city. This was the rookery.

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