“Oslo,” Volund said, stroking the neck of the woman who lay naked across his lap. “The woman is in Oslo.”
“What woman?” the human asked, blinking sleepy eyes.
“Shut up.” Volund looked up at Brage. “She was spotted in Bergen by one of your brothers. Pure coincidence. Jaron had been concealing her there in one of the Irina communities.”
“The compound has been found. It’s empty now. They killed the soldiers I sent, but the Irin left anyway. They’re not unintelligent.”
“How do you know they’re in Oslo?”
The sound of the woman gasping was the only clue that Volund was angry. His grip had tightened on her throat and she kicked and flailed while Brage stood in silence, considering his mistake. He’d had too many questions swirling in his mind, and he’d made a foolish error. Volund wouldn’t send him there unless he was certain.
“Forgive me, Father.”
The angel released the hold on the woman’s neck, but she only lay there with tears running down her face. Volund tossed her to the side and stood, growing as he stepped closer to his child and his human mask fell away.
“Yes, Father.” Brage fought to control his physical response as the angel towered over him and the woman whimpered on the couch.
“Find her and kill the scribe. They are stronger together. But do not harm the woman. She is mine.”
Brage trembled before the Fallen.
“Do you have any messages for me?”
A trickle of urine ran down his leg as he remembered Svarog’s message.
“A message from Svarog, Father.”
“His words were ‘I know what he is doing, and I want no part of it. If he thinks I will roll over as Jaron did in Istanbul, he is mistaken.’”
Brage stood motionless before Volund, bracing for a reaction, though he could not predict what it would be. There was only the whimpering of the woman, the stink of his own urine, and the white tile that covered the floor as he kept his eyes trained down.
Finally, Volund threw his head back and laughed.
“Svarog…,” he muttered, stepping away from Brage and sinking back into his human facade.
Volund lifted the woman on the couch and passed a hand over her neck, healing the red marks before he gave her a smile and kissed her on the lips. His fingers brushed away the tears on her cheeks and he cupped her flushed cheek in his palm. “Look at you,” he said. “What a pretty one.”
Brage said nothing, waiting for his Father’s leave to speak. Volund never gave it, but he spoke to Brage over his shoulder.
“Go to the house in Oslo. I’ve already sent some of your brothers there. Kill the scribe. Capture the woman and bring her to me. No harm must come to her. Do not fail me this time.”
“Feed from one of the women in the house before you go.”
“And tell someone to clean up your piss. It stinks.”
Brage pinnedthe woman down with his body as she moaned in pleasure, keeping as much skin contact as possible between them. It was heady, the rush of energy that flowed from her limbs and into him. He drew from her as he thrust in and out. She gasped and moaned in pleasure, but he could feel her weakening under him. He needed more.
He needed everything.
He captured her lips, breathing in the rush of her soul’s life. It was the only magic he owned, this terrible hunger. The woman’s soul fed him, filled the hollow in his chest. He could almost picture it. A great black hole that lived where his heart should be.
Hungry. It was so hungry.
He came in a rush after the woman peaked, giving up her climax to the greed of his body. It was the final ecstasy for her, and the closest that Brage would ever feel to satisfaction in anything. For the seconds it lasted, he felt alive.
The woman was unconscious when Brage pulled out of her. He lay back on the bed and pulled her body over his, spreading her arms across his chest to maintain contact.
She would die. But then, she would have died anyway. Humans were fragile. One this beautiful should have been a delicacy to be savored. But he’d been hungry. He hadn’t fed since Budapest, and the visit with his father had drained him.
A soft sigh escaped her lips as he felt the last of her energy soak into him.
For a moment, he recalled the woman and the scribe. Remembered how he’d seen them in Istanbul, embracing. He’d held her against his body and, instead of fainting, she’d grown stronger. He fed her as she fed him.
“Find her and kill the scribe. They are stronger together.”
As the Irin always were with their Irina. It was the reason his father had led the attack that had almost eradicated the females of the race. They were stronger mated with their own kind. Mating was a privilege never given to the Grigori. They could only take and take and take until there was nothing left.
The woman’s heart stopped and Brage pushed her body to the floor, ignoring the bitter taste on his tongue.