Bound by Flames

Page 68

I couldn’t help it—I laughed with demented amusement. After all the backfiring I’d experienced with my abilities, the necromancer’s spell biting him in the ass in such a stupendous way was the most hilarious thing I’d heard all month.

“You think that’s funny?” he said, his tone scathing. “Let’s see how amused you are when you have to beg your revenge-obsessed husband for my life. Do you think he loves you enough not to kill me? I don’t, so we both need to leave here, now.”

Then again, maybe it wasn’t so funny, I reflected, my laughter fading away. We’d counted on the necromancer’s death to break the spell over me, but if every wound on him was mirrored on me, then he was right. Killing him would mean my death, too. Frustration filled me. What were we supposed to do? Resign ourselves to battling my suicide attempts for the rest of my life? Tell the necromancer to take care of himself while escorting him safely out of the underground dungeon?

The walls suddenly shook with a violent tremor and the scent of smoke filled the antechamber. Bombs, I thought, the pitching ground and charred stench nauseatingly reminiscent of Szilagyi’s attack on the castle. Had they rigged the underground dungeon with the same kind of explosives, too?

The necromancer’s scowl vanished. “So Vlad has reached the section where Szilagyi is. If he blasts through it to get to him, he’ll find out how many other surprises we have in store.”

As if to punctuate that, a roar echoed through the dungeon, followed by the scald of agony and rage across my emotions. Vlad wasn’t close, but he was still down here, and whatever had caused the walls to shake had hurt him, too. More pain was coming, if the necromancer was correct, and Vlad had already suffered too much in this underground nightmare.

Vice versa, I reminded myself, my gaze glinting as I stared at the sorcerer. If I was forced to make sure that he stayed alive, he was forced to do the same with me, which meant that I had a large bargaining chip to use.

“You’re going to tell Vlad how to avoid your traps,” I told the necromancer.

He looked at me as if he couldn’t have heard me correctly, and then he laughed. “No, I’m not.”

“Yes, you are,” I said, coiling my electrical whip around my own throat. “Or I’m going to do something that will make you really, really sorry.”

Chapter 36

I followed the necromancer down the tunnel, holding the end of the whip in my left hand. My right hand was still resting on my collarbone, and the glowing whip circled my neck like a large dazzling piece of jewelry. The necromancer walked in front of me, the boomeranged effects from my whip showing in the red welts around his throat. My flesh might be immune to the effects of electricity, but his wasn’t. He kept tugging his shirt collar down, as if it that would alleviate the burning constriction around his throat.

“Stop this foolishness,” he said, speaking for the first time in several minutes. “You won’t kill yourself, Leila. You don’t want to die any more than I do.”

“Ready to bet your life on that?” I said evenly. “Then prepare to be amazed at what I’ll do to protect Vlad. Don’t worry, if you do what I told you to, you’ll be fine . . . unless the suicidal urge you embedded into this spell rears its head and causes me to do something unfortunate to both of us.”

“I already dulled that aspect of it days ago,” he snapped, then stopped as if realizing that he’d revealed too much.

Good to know, I thought coolly. “Well, we’ll just stick to the part where I’ll take myself out to kill you if one of your evil little booby traps ends up murdering my husband.”

Vlad was still alive at the moment. I knew it from the geysers of rage blasting across my subconscious, with worrying amounts of pain thrown in with increasing frequency. When an orange glow began to light the tunnel ahead of us and I could feel Vlad’s power spilling over my skin in invisible waves, I kicked the necromancer to get him to move him faster.

“Stop it,” he growled.

“Or what, you’ll kill me?” Impatience made me snippy. “Been there, tried that, remember?”

He muttered something in a language I didn’t understand. It could have been harmless comments about what a bitch I was, but I didn’t want to run the risk of it being a new spell.

“English only,” I said, tightening the whip around my neck in warning. A fresh red line appeared on his throat.

He turned around to glare at me. “Want it in English? Fine. You’re the bastard daughter of a diseased whore.”

I snorted. “Have to give it to you older vamps. Your insults are much more colorful than my generation’s variations on ‘fuck you, you fucking fuck.’”

“Oh, you like that?” he purred. “How about this? I laughed when I saw those videos of you being fucked and skinned. I only wondered why Mihaly didn’t have both happen at the same time.”

The horrifying thought almost made me miss a step. The necromancer whirled around and lunged at me, but I recovered and jumped backward, missing his swipe at my arms. Once out of his reach, I wound another length of whip around my throat, feeling vicious delight at seeing the new welt appear on him.

“Nice try,” I said evenly, “but fuck you, you fucking fuck.”

Might not be as colorful, but it was straight to the point. My generation got that right.

He gave me a look filled with hatred. “We’re almost there. How do you intend to fight off Szilagyi’s men, if you don’t remove that from your neck?”

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