"Come down from there and show yourself." Deep voice. Russian accent, moneyed, aristocratic.
"Or what? You'll lock me away in a dungeon?"
"I might free you."
She was at the bars before he'd had time to lower his gaze from the window. Had his squared jaw slackened just the smallest bit? She listened for a quickening of his heart, but found none because there was no heartbeat whatsoever. So the vampire was single? His eyes were clear of the red haze that marked bloodlust, which meant he had never drunk a being to death. But then a Forbearer eschewed taking living blood through the flesh altogether.
When he saw her face up close, the key wasn't immediately in the lock as it usually would have been, but his lips parted, exposing his fangs for her to see. Of course his would be sexy - not too prominent or even much longer than a human's canines.
When she saw the short splendid scar that passed down both of his lips, lightning struck just outside, but he didn't flinch at the bolt or even glance up - he was too busy staring back at her.
Scars, any external evidence of pain, attracted Myst. Pain forged strength. Strength begat electricity. This one could give it to her.
It was possible he was even missing an eye under a thick hank of hair.
She stifled a throaty growl as her hand shot out to brush his hair back. But he was quick, catching her wrist. She curled one finger in a beckoning gesture, and after a moment he released her, allowing her to reach forward. She brushed his hair back, revealing a hard-planed, masculine face covered with grit and ash from the battle.
He was still in possession of both of his eyes and they were intense. Gun-metal gray.
When her hand dropped, his brows drew together, perhaps at her blatant interest, or perhaps at her fingers already stroking the bars in invitation as she stared at his mouth. She was surprised by how carnal she found it, especially since the vampire could use it to hurt her.
The smooth gold chain that she'd worn at her waist for millennia now felt heavy on her.
"What are you?" he asked in his pleasingly low voice. She realized then that his accent wasn't Russian, but from that of neighboring Eesti. The general was Estonian, which made him a kind of Nordic Russian, though she was sure he wouldn't appreciate that description.
She frowned at his question and pulled back her hair to show him her pointed ear. "Nothing?" She parted her lips and tapped her tongue against her smaller dormant fangs. No recognition.
Apparently, the rumors were true. Here was a leader in this army, a general most likely, and he hadn't a clue that she was his mortal enemy. He would think she was fey or a nymph. She'd prefer fey because she'd cringe to be confused with one of those little hookers -
She shook her head. As long as he didn't know she was Valkyrie it worked for her.
Killing the unwitting Forbearers would be easy for her and her sisters. Too easy. Almost like being your own secret Santa.
Myst had just confirmed rumors in the Lore that whispered of asses and elbows and this Horde's inability to differentiate between the two.
"What are you?" Nikolai Wroth demanded again, surprised his voice was steady.
When he'd seen her in the light, he'd felt like exhaling a stunned breath - if his kind respired - for she was strikingly lovely, with a beauty only hinted at from the distance of the battlefield. He'd been attracted to that face to his reckless peril.
Though she had expected him to recognize her kind, all he could determine was that she wasn't human and that he hadn't a clue what she might be. Her ears said fey, but she also had the smallest fangs.
"Free me," the creature said. Flawless skin, coral pink lips, flame red hair. The eyes that flickered over him appraisingly were an impossible green.
The way she held the bars was suggestive - everything about her was...suggestive.
"Swear fealty to my king, and I will free you."
"I can't do that, but you've no right to keep me here."
His brother Murdoch passed by then, raised his eyebrows at Wroth's discovery, and muttered in Estonian, "Sweet Christ." Then he walked on. Why was Wroth unable to do the same?
"What's your name?" He wasn't used to his questions going unanswered.
Another stroke of the bars. "What do you want it to be?"
He scowled. "Are you a vampire?"
"Not the last time I checked." Her voice was sensual. He couldn't place her accent, but it was drawling, honeyed.
"Are you innocent of malice against us?"
She waved a dismissing hand. "Oh, good God, no! I love, love, love to kill leeches."
"Then rot in here." As if she could kill a vampire. She was scarcely over five feet tall and delicately built - aside from her generous br**sts showcased in her tight shirt.
Just before he turned, he saw her eyes narrow. "I smell smoke," she called after him. "Ivo the Cruel burned his records before he fled, didn't he?"
Wroth stilled, clenching his fists because he'd have to return.
"He did," he grated at the cell once more.
"And this new king's army is full of Forbearers - turned humans? It matters little. I'm sure the king is very knowledgeable about the vampire Horde's extensive list of enemies within the Lore. He wouldn't need this castle's millennia's worth of records. In fact, I'm positive that that is not the reason you chose this stronghold over the four others, including the royal seat."
How did she know their agenda so well?
Wroth could plan battles and sieges - he'd earned his rank by this victory alone - but he knew nothing of this new world to advance the army. Unfortunately, he wasn't the only one.
The blind leading the blind. When they'd found the records reduced to a smoldering heap of ash, that's what Kristoff had muttered.