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* * * *
Darmyk lay moaning, clutching his side, tears running down his face. Merissa
had tears of her own, sitting on the bed beside him and rubbing his back.
Regina sat in a chair nearby. She had sensed from the first that Merissa
needed a friend. Emma joined them. They had formed their own little clique and
no longer went to Sorcha's Solar.
"They arrested Sheradyn. I don't know what I'm going to do. Not wanting to
frighten her sick child, Merissa struggled not to weep aloud her silent tears
were bad enough.
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"I would send you one of my healers, said Jenny leaning against the door
facing.  But they know nothing of either sa'necari nor treating children.
They're all battlefield medics and surgeons."
"What about Pandeena or Toniqua? Regina suggested.
"They frighten me. Merissa rubbed at her eyes.
"Mary Sinclair is a midwife and works with children. And she's close. We could
send for her."
The waiting for Mary to arrive grew tense. They could all see how terribly the
child hurt. Emma edged her chair closer to the bed and stroked Merissa's hair
comfortingly.  Is she a good midwife? I'm due soon."
Mary Sinclair arrived with a satchel hanging from her shoulder and a case in
her hand. Standing five ten, Mary was tall for a bitch. Her auburn hair was
pinned into an upswept style that lent an uncompromising turn to her face. She
dragged a small table close to the bed and chased the others into another
corner of the room. Then she settled into a chair, grasped Darmyk's wrist and
Read him. Married to Trevor Sinclair, Todd's eldest son, Mary had never
expected to be sent for by the manor; yet she kept her surprise schooled from
her features.  There's damage to his kidneys. I don't understand it at all.
Have you tried giving him blood?"
Mary prescribed limited doses of poppy milk, a gentle diuretic, and glasses of
fresh blood with every meal.
Malthus came in as Mary was sending the bitches from the room so the boy could
rest. She ignored him long enough to close the bedroom door, and faced him in
the antechamber with her hands on her hips.
His eyes glittered with rage.  There's nothing wrong with Darmyk. He's faking
Mary Sinclair stared unflinching at Malthus, her hackles up and hair beginning
to sprout along her arms.  I assure you, the cub is not faking it. I Read him.
Darmyk is dying."
Malthus glared and swallowed back an imprecation.  If you go to Merissa with
this, I'll have you thrown out."
"Malthus, I'm not afraid of you. There's nothing you can do to me. Todd and
StealsThunder will be all over you if you so much as grunt in my direction."
Malthus stiffened and said nothing. Instead, he consoled himself by imagining
Mary on his altar dying beneath him. With Kynyr crippled, that family would be
nothing without Todd. Once Clennan's myn had removed Todd from the equation,
Malthus would take Mary and rite her. The thanes would take care of the
problem of Stoneriver. Malthus would be back in power and he intended to see
that everyone in Red Wolf knew it.
"The only reason I'm not telling the rest of the household is because of
Merissa's fragile condition."
"Then what's wrong with him?"
"I have very little knowledge of the sa'necari. Darmyk is the first one I have
ever treated. However, I will make an educated guess. I think it is a
congenital deformity. His liver and kidneys are failing."
Malthus sighed and rubbed his hand over his face.  It will break Merissa's
heart when he dies."
"She loves him. Merissa is extremely sensitive and fragile. Losing her parents
has been very hard on her. That bloody purge you and Belgair committed has
gone hard on her also. To be honest, the odds of her carrying your twins to
term are not good."
Malthus dropped into a chair.  I had nothing to do with that."
"So you say. You're extremely strict with young Darmyk and very possessive and
controlling of his mother."
"I've made a mess of things. I'm too set in my ways, but I'll try to change.
I've never been married before, nor had so much as a long-term relationship. I
spent my entire life with the kandoyarin. A mercenary's life is hard and
disciplined. There was no room for me to learn the gentler arts. Perhaps I'm
too old for the role of husband and father."
Mary eyed him suspiciously, refusing to take his explanation at face value.  I
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think you're a despicable arse. However, I'm too professional to let that get
in my way while treating Merissa and Darmyk."
"Thank you, Mary. I know you have every reason to distrust me. But I want to
assure you that I love my wife and I'm fond of my stepson."
"I will try to keep Darmyk as comfortable and out of pain as I possibly can."
"And Merissa?"
"If her condition gets any worse, I'll simply order complete bed rest. That's
the best I can do at this point."
Malthus nodded wearily.  Thank you, Mary. I know you have all their best
interests at heart. I apologize for becoming upset with you. Is it all right
if I go and check on the boy?"
"Of course."
"How long do you think the boy has?"
"A month. Six weeks at the most. I'm sorry."
"My poor wife. She's already been through so much. And now to lose her child
too. Malthus rose to his feet.  I'm going to look in on the boy now. Perhaps
I can comfort him."
"You do that."
Malthus walked out of the room and as soon as he was out of Mary's sight, he
began to seethe again. He strode to Darmyk's door and slipped inside. The boy
was sleeping.
"Wake up, you stupid little bastard. He shook Darmyk.
Darmyk woke and stared at his stepfather with frightened eyes.  Have you come
to hurt me again?"
"Of course I have. I'm going to teach you to keep your mouth shut. You are not
to discuss your illness with anyone."
Malthus shoved his hand up Darmyk's shirt and threw a hard strike of death
magics through Darmyk's organs. The boy shuddered with a loud groan and began
"Look forward to your death, child. Because then I won't be hurting you any
Tears ran down Darmyk's face.  I won't tell anyone."
"I know you won't. Malthus pushed Darmyk's head to the side and sank his
fangs into the boy's neck.
* * * *
Luciano Albertus, owner of the Scarlet Angel Mage Shop, was generally regarded
as a funny little human and harmless by the lycan population of Wolffgard.
They had accorded him a measure of respect after he battered a local ruffian [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]