Born of Night(3)

By: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Most of all they screamed for appeasement.

Nykyrian moved forward and placed a small silver disk on his desk. He pushed it toward Sheridan. “I’ve erased every trace of our friendship and every part of your past. You won’t see me again.” For your protection and for the protection of your family. Nykyrian didn’t have to say the words. Sheridan knew the unbreakable bond they shared.

Brothers to the end, even through the fires of hell and beyond.

Nykyrian took a step back toward the shadows.

“Wait.” Sheridan rose to his feet.

Nykyrian hesitated.

“If you need me, aridos,” he said, his voice tight with sincerity as he used the Ritadarion word for brother, “I will be there for you.”

Nykyrian’s tone was still deadpan and emotionless. “If I need you, aridos, I’ll be dead before I can make the call.”

And then he was gone like a ghostly whisper on a harried breeze.

Ill with what his friend had done, but understanding it completely, Sheridan sat down and pulled the disk to him. He cracked it open to find the small chip that all assassins had embedded in their bodies. It was what The League used to keep track of them. Nykyrian must have dug it out of his flesh and crushed it to keep them from finding him. The final act of severing himself from their ties.

An act that in and of itself was a death sentence.

He cringed in sympathetic pain, remembering the day when he’d dug a similar device out of his own young body. The blood, the pain . . . There were some memories that never faded over time. They were too brutal to be forgotten.

And what an eerie memento given the fact that this chip was what had led to their friendship . . . He would think his friend sentimental if it wasn’t for the laughableness of that.

Closing his eyes, he held the chip in his fist, wishing things had been different, that they had been different. That they had been born one of those normal people Sheridan treated in the hospital wings every day. People who had no idea of what horrors truly existed in this universe.

Yet he was proud that, given all Nykyrian had been through, he’d still retained his soul.

That through it all, the monsters had never taken his will or his decency. Everything else had been stripped out of him just as it had Sheridan.


And because of Nykyrian, he was living a life he’d only dreamed of having. He owed everything to that man.

A man who most likely wouldn’t live to see the coming dawn.

He released a long, disgusted breath. Life wasn’t fair. It was something he’d learned at the back of his father’s fist in early childhood. All he could hope was that Nykyrian would finally find the peace that had always eluded them both.

Even if he had to die to find it.


Nine years later

She’d been kidnapped!Kiara Zamir came awake with indignant anger riding her hard. Even now, she could feel the cold, rough grip on her arms and mouth, feel the bite of the injector as the drug sped through her bloodstream and quickly rendered her unconscious. Her abductors had moved so fast, she’d had no chance to call for help.

Or better yet, fight.

Crippin’ cowards! She hated people who attacked like that. At least be a man and face her. But no . . . they’d resorted to the lowest means of capture. Sneaking around in the dark to take her while she slept.

There was nothing in the world she hated more than those who hid in the shadows, waiting to prey on people. Assassins, kidnappers, muggers, rapists, etcetera, they were all worthless, soulless scum who deserved nothing but pain and death.

Now, her head ached terribly as the last remnants of the drug wore off. An acrid smell filled her senses, choking her with its stench. Her throat was so dry, she could barely swallow as she tried to lick her dry lips to keep them from cracking.

She tried not to breathe deeply as she opened her eyes to confront who or whatever held her prisoner.

To her relief, she was still dressed in her pink nightgown, lying face down on a rotting mattress.

Ew, nasty . . .

There was no one else in the room and no sound warning her there was anyone nearby. Thank God for small favors. It would give her time to plot an escape or at the very least a counterattack.

With a grimace of distaste, she pushed herself up and nearly fell as a wave of nausea and dizziness buzzed through her head. She caught herself against the wall next to her, a roughened spot of rust scraping the palm of her hand.

“Great,” she mumbled. “So much for equilibrium. Bloody bastards.” At least they hadn’t bothered to bind her hands or feet. No doubt they assumed she’d be like other women of her station, too terrified and docile to fight them.

But if they thought she was going to blithely wait around for them to return to kill her at their leisure, they were sorely mistaken. She may have been born a princess, but docility wasn’t in her blood and neither was patience. Not to mention, she’d learned many tricks over the years while living with her overprotective military father, including the ability to pick a good lock.

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