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Sunday Snippet #91

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Vengeance Born

Berkley Publishing Group
7 February 2012


He motioned to the animal. “What do you want done with it?”

She drew her pack closer and pulled out two objects: a wooden cup and a small knife. “Cut its throat. I’ll collect the blood as it drains.”

A chill rippled through Kalan, her request triggering the memory of watching Light Blades butchered and drained by the Na’Reish at the time of his capture.

“I’ve seen Na’Reish drink straight from the source.” Tension made his voice hoarse.

She stiffened, pausing in the act of passing the knife to him. “I’m not Na’Reish.” The reminder did little to banish the raw images in his head. “If you’d rather, I can do this by myself.”

His gaze locked with hers as he reached for the blade. Several long heartbeats passed before she relinquished the weapon.

“If you attack me, I’ll defend myself, Light Blade.” Her voice shook. The flecks in her eyes went from yellow to green and the familiar hum of her Gift teased his senses. “All I want to do is drink.”

Kalan tightened his grip on the hilt of the blade and sliced the throat of the tree-climber. The rich, metallic odor of blood filled his nostrils. Annika placed the cup under the dark liquid flowing from the wound. It filled quickly. Her hand shook as she lifted it to her lips. She hesitated. The sharp pinch of hunger was there in her face as her gaze met his over the rim of the cup. She drank.

Nausea curled in his stomach at the thought of what she was doing. He had to look away. The screams of his comrades in arms as they were murdered echoed in his mind. He could still hear the laughter and taunts of the Na’Reish guards and feel the painful grip as they’d restrained him from going to their aid. His warriors had died slowly. Cursing under his breath, he fought to hold the tree-climber steady.

“I take no satisfaction in this.” The bitterness in Annika’s voice made him look back at her. She was watching him as the cup filled again. “I do it to survive.

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