Blood in Siberia
Chapter 28: Death-Talker
I shook my head.
I shook my head again. I was wheezing so loudly I almost couldn’t hear him.
Edward grabbed me by my shoulders, stood me up, and commanded me to, “Breathe.”
I took a deep breath. And then another. And another. I kept my eyes locked onto his, forcing air to move in and flow out of my lungs. I didn’t think about my world falling apart. I didn’t think about how unprepared I was for the truth. I didn’t think about how Wufei most likely knew what this meant, and yet kept it from me. I just focused on breathing.
When I was in some sort of control, I shook my head. “I can’t do this.”
I shook my head again. “I... I don’t know.”
“If you do not know, then you can not name your limitations,” he said gently. One of the zombie’s retrieved the book from where I had thrown it. He wrapped it in some sort of flannel material, and tied it closed with its fringe. He handed it to Edward, who rested it against my chest. I didn’t make any move to take it, and he didn’t make any move to release it. “Take it, study it.”
“Yes,” he said forcefully, leaning into me. “You are what you are, and you have been what you are. You were only not aware of it.” He grabbed my wrist, and moved my hand up to hold the book. He kept his hand over mine to ensure I didn’t throw it again. “You are a power, whether you want to be or not. Ignorance will only lead to you being abused.”
I started to shake my head again. “I...”
Edward grabbed my shoulders and guided me back into the chair. The other zombies quietly disappeared, leaving us alone. I sat there and stared into space, as Edward lit a candle in a glass vase and brought it over to the table.
Clairvoyance is the ability to speak to the dead.
That sentence played itself over and over in my mind. I didn’t even know what the next line said; that was as far as I got before I chucked the book and started hyperventilating. I could speak to the dead. I have spoken to the dead. I specifically asked Silver Water how I was doing this, but he didn’t know. I envied him that ignorance. I wanted mine back.
In that moment, I wanted to be normal like nothing else. I would’ve killed, cheated or stolen if that was what it would’ve taken to be an average person. Instead, I was in freezing Siberia in a necromancer’s library being guarded by his zombies because of the summons of a werewolf prince to find the wizard that had kidnapped his pregnant mate. If I told anyone at home this, I would’ve been thrown into the state hospital so fast my head would’ve spun the fuck off.
“I need a moment to myself,” I said flatly.
“As you wish,” Edward said, disappearing into the shadows in a way that only the Undead could.
I stared into the candle’s flame, knowing that I needed to accept this new turn, and knowing that I wouldn’t. Not yet. I wasn’t ready, and wouldn’t be for a while.
“God damnit Wufei,” I whispered as a tear rolled down my cheek. Despite how much I didn’t want to, my thoughts drifted to him in an effort to save my sanity. It was possible that Wufei didn’t know all that my gift entailed, but I had a terrible feeling he had a better idea than he led others to believe. Including me. The thought that he probably kept the truth from me not only hurt, it burned. If he kept secrets about me from me, what else was he hiding?
I dropped my head to the table with a light thud. I felt my lips pull back in a snarl as I quietly cried. I thought I knew myself, but this knowledge shattered that belief. I felt like a stranger in my own skin, and there was no where to hide from that.
I didn’t understand what I was feeling.
It felt very similar to what I felt when I was sharing Noin’s pain. Something had reached out, and I unconsciously grasped it. I felt the poor thing’s terror and confusion, and tried my best to soothed it. It worked. The being sort of... wrapped my presence around it, and I held on as tight as I could. After a short while the presence started to fade, and I got the impression it was falling asleep. I tried to wake it up and asked it its name, but it didn’t respond. So I tried to read its thoughts, and jerked awake in shock. The being didn’t have a conscious awareness of itself.
When my eyes focused, I saw Edward sitting on the floor next to me, watching me. I sat up, groaning as I felt the muscles in my neck and back pulling. Shit. I fell asleep with my head on the table. Why the hell didn’t I fold my arms and... Looking down I noticed that even in my sleep, my grip around the book remained tight. I didn’t want to analyze what that meant. “How long was I out for?” I asked instead.
“Not long,” he answered, but again that could mean anything. For immortals, or in this case, dead beings, not long could be a couple of years.
“Is it time for me to go?”
I waited outside as Edward locked up, and watched curiously as the two zombies accompanying us were loading and checking their weapons. It was odd to see zombies working with shotguns so... expertly. I kept waiting for them to stick their arms out in front and chase after me slowly, all the while moaning ‘brains.’ Instead, they slung their weapons over their shoulders and stood at attention, looking very militant in their dark gray fatigues.
Without a word Edward walked off, and I followed right behind him. The other two zombies (Logan and Chris) followed on either side of me. I watched as the sun slowly sank down the horizon, and let my thoughts wander as I mindlessly put one foot in front of the other. The evening chill bit at me, and I wrapped my arms tighter around myself. I felt the straps to my backpack bite into my shoulders, and smiled. Chris had found a small black backpack shoved under some bed-sized tomes, and had shyly given it to me to carry the book in. The smile he gave me when I thanked him was so happy, I couldn’t help reciprocating.
My smile slipped off my face. Chris, and Logan for that matter, couldn’t have been older than twenty-two when they died. I was twenty-three.
I wrapped my arms tighter around myself. There was no point in getting upset about what could not be changed.
The four of us stopped at the same time and faced north. Something was coming our way hard and fast, but the darkening sky made it difficult for me to see. We were on the path back to the castle, and there was nowhere for us to hide. The zombies encircled me, shotguns up and aimed. Logan pushed me down on the ground, standing over me to jump to my defense in an instant.
The pounding of hooves preceded our guests. They might’ve run right over us had my bodyguards not been ready to blow their brains out. As soon as they realized that, they came to a dirt-digging stop. The leader’s eyes were centimeters away from the barrel of Edward’s gun.
I jumped in surprise. As soon as I made eye contact with one of them, I knew what they were without even using my ability. These were shape-shifters! There were six of them, all shifted into reindeer and more frightening than the ones I had contact with yesterday. Despite the fact that they were shape-shifters, there was no way in hell they would’ve fooled any herder. They had a malevolence that seemed to ooze from their eyes, an aggression that true reindeer did not have. The expression on the leader’s face was one that was not possible on the animal, and their antlers appeared to be able to spear through a tree.
The reindeer were stomping and snuffing in agitation as the leader transformed into a nondescript young man. His nude body wasn’t attractive or unattractive, his physique just as plain as his face. His average brown eyes met mine, and a hatred I didn’t understand flared about him.
“He stinks of Shenlong!” he yelled, his voice as intimidating as his appearance.
“He is in the Prince’s possession,” Edward explained calmly. The look of shock on the leader’s face almost made me laugh. “Let us pass in peace. The Alphagué is expecting him.”
The shape-shifter snorted. “You fear some mangy mutt?”
“Yes,” he said without hesitation. “As do you.”
The Shifter didn’t deny that. “But he is of the Shenlong!” he repeated, as if that knowledge seemed to escape the zombies. I got the sense that he wanted to pull his hair in frustration. He instead turned to me. “We had to flee from our homes for our lives!” As he said that, the rest of the herd changed to their human form. They were just as plain as their leader. “That roaring, Arabic lunatic annihilated the bear-shifters! Traitor! We almost didn’t escape ourselves!”
I jerked back in shock into Logan’s leg. “Quatre?!”
“Enough!” Edward barked. I jumped in surprise at the power in his voice. “Will we be able to continue in peace, or will you and your herd interfere?” He lowered his shotgun, tapping it against his leg impatiently.
The leader tilted his head, but looked back at Edward. “What is he? I have never smelled anything like him before.”
“We will hold our position until you pass by.” Edward continued as if the shifter hadn’t spoken. “I will inform the Alphagué of the loss of your homes, and he will see to you being relocated.”
“Relocated? Where?!” he yelled, and this time he did pull his hair. “War is upon us! Why else would the Shenlong be capturing the ranges surrounding the castle? They are trapping the Siberians in! We will lose unless you return the Special and the--” His eyes suddenly snapped to me. “YOU! You are the Untouchable!” He sniffed the air, as did the others. “The rumors are true! Human you may appear, but the magic in your blood can not be masked.” He turned to Edward. “He is powerful. Powerful enough to be in Peacecraft’s or Chang’s stead, should they fall.” The leader leaned in closer. “We have to kill him.”
So fast I almost didn’t see, Edward jerked his gun up, planted the barrel on the leader’s forehead and fired. I curled into a tight ball as the other shape-shifters screamed in shock and fear. Some remained human while others changed back to their animal form, and I cringed in fear from the sounds of the fierce fight. I yelped in surprise every time one of the hot shells bounced off of me, and hoped to hell CSI would never hear about this. I was leaving DNA everywhere.
Not soon enough the air quieted, and the quietness only made it more clear that the shape-shifters were dead. I felt Logan step from behind me, and heard him walk towards the others. I didn’t raise my head, knowing there was only carnage to see. It was bad enough I could smell it. I heard them speaking softly to one another, but not what was said due to the pounding of my heart.
“More are coming,” Edward announced as he approached me. “Duo? Let me help you stand.” I was prepared when he grabbed my arms, and stood fluidly from my ball. I kept my eyes closed. “Duo, you have to get to the castle as quickly as you can. When you get there, tell Otto that the northern side has been taken, the den has been killed, and that Alexandre and his herd were rabid and had to be put down. He’ll understand.” I nodded. He then turned me in the direction I needed to be in. “Now open your eyes and go.”
I didn’t even wait for my eyes to adjust before I took off like a shot. I ran as hard as I could, ignoring the sounds of gunshots when they started again. I ignored the sounds of dying cries and shrieks. I ignored the pounding of hooves that steadily grew closer to me. I breathed in through my nose and out through my mouth. I kept my pace steady like a runner would, and I never looked behind me.
My endurance was waning when I spotted the castle. Knowing that help was nearby gave me the push I needed to go the distance. The shape-shifter behind me seemed to realize that too, and gave one last ditch effort. I felt the scrap of an antler against my back, and veered to the side just as he was about to run me through. This slowed me down but brought him forward so that we were side to side. Without hesitation, I jumped on top of him and held on to his antlers. He bucked hard, nearly impaling me several times as I flew about his head. One hard buck flung my back against his neck, where my arm was thrown loose. I ended up accidentally elbowing him in the eye. He gave a cry of pain and bucked one last time, so hard I flew through the air and into the snow-covered gravel. Luckily, I was flying pretty much feet-first and was able to control my fall and subsequent roll.
I was about to take off again when the reindeer turned tail and charged away. I saw why when several black blurs flew past me, too fast to properly see. It didn’t matter. I knew they were werewolves, and that my ordeal for today was over. I waited a few minutes to collect myself, again ignoring the screams of the dying shape-shifter, before emerging and making my way back to the castle.
I didn’t know who I was riding, and quite frankly I didn’t give a shit. I had been stumbling along when one of the passing werewolves took pity on me and tossed me on its back. It was a good thing too, otherwise something bad could’ve happened to me.
We arrived to a controlled chaos. The courtyard was overflowing with colorful creatures. The majority were shape-shifters, but there were also vampires, wizards, witches, trolls and dwarves. Otto was in the middle of the sea of bodies, directing creatures this way and that according to whatever segregation system he had. I thought that the shotgun he held also helped smooth the process.
The werewolves seemed harried, and I could see why. The shape-shifters and vampires were doing a lot of posturing and snarling, both with and against each other. The wizards and witches were bitching a lot, mostly about whom was more powerful than whom. The dwarves didn’t seem to discriminate. They hated everybody and everything, period, and announced as much for everyone to hear. The trolls remained standing where they were, looking troll-ish.
“Bring him to me!” Otto yelled, and my werewolf trotted dutifully to his side. Otto easily grabbed me and dumped me at his feet, still barking at everyone. The werewolf slunk away before I could utter a ‘thank you.’
“Shut the fuck up!” Otto yelled, and dead silence immediately met his words. He gestured to me. “As you already have smelled, this creature,” he emphasized, “is of the Shenlong, and our political prisoner.” Many looks of surprise met this announcement, especially from the wizards and witches. “He is not to be touched, in either harm or pleasure. Do so and I will kill you.” Many nodded in understanding. “He is also to be protected, at the cost of your existence if necessary.” Just about everyone had a shocked look on their face, including me. “This is the will of the Prince.” Again, nods, though no one looked happy. “Now, go retire to your assigned rooms. I am sure all of you have had a long day.” Murmurs of agreement rose up as the hundreds of bodies moved seamlessly into the castle. When the last person vanished, I stood and faced Otto. He was staring down at me, frowning. “What happened?”
“We were attacked by some reindeer shape-shifters,” I said, tiredly. “Edward said to tell you that the northern side has been taken, the den killed, and Alexandre and his herd were rabid and had to be put down.”
“Fuck,” he said, with feeling. “Our two most vicious Shifter families are dead. This is Winner’s doing.” He turned to me. “What did Alexandre say?”
I shrugged. I could only guess that the lead reindeer was Alexandre. “He said I was powerful enough to take Peacecraft’s or Chang’s place if they fell, so they should kill me.”
“Of fucking course,” he snarled, walking towards the castle. I immediately fell into step next to him. “He was probably hoping Chang and the Prince would kill each other. With Noin missing, the land would fall into my care. I am certain I would then have some sort of ‘accident’ where I would perish. If that were to happen, the Siberian Pack would fall into chaos without an Alpha, leaving the lesser creatures to be free to do as they please.”
‘Which was what he probably wanted,’ I thought, recalling Alexandre’s attitude. “Who were all of those... people?”
“Displaced creatures under the Prince’s rule. Majority from the northern side of the mountain.”
He said this nonchalantly, but I knew he didn’t feel it. That shape-shifter announced it for all to hear: Wufei was going to surround us. He was... killing the strong ones, leaving the weak or the unstable to go rabid. This was getting ugly, fast. “I need to talk to Heero,” I said, as I followed him inside. If Wufei had the castle surrounded, he and I needed to get the hell out now. Political prisoner or not, Collateral or not, I had no doubt someone would rip our throats out during the confusion in a fight between the Packs.
“Enough.” He grabbed me by the neck and steered me ahead of him. It took a while, but finally we were at the top of the mountain, in front of my ‘room.’ He pushed me inside and told me abruptly, “For your safety, do no leave without Sedici or G as your escort. Oh, G was around while you were gone. If he asks, I told him I had you sent away with his zombies for a few hours because you were bothering me with your humanness. Anyway, do not talk to anyone who is not a werewolf of the Siberian Pack, and definitely stay away from the vampires and dwarves. The vampires will rape you, then kill you. The dwarves will kill you, then rape you. I am not sure what the wizards and witches will do first. Whatever is left of you the trolls will make paste with. I will be back by morning.”
It took me a second to realize that he was gone, and then it took another few seconds for me to realize he wasn’t joking with his warnings. Not knowing what else to do, I stood there like an idiot until Sedici brought me dinner.
Sedici and I were surprisingly having a pleasant evening. He and I sat cross-legged in front of the fireplace, plates in hand as we ate our fill. We didn’t speak, only listened to the sounds of the crackling fire. I let my mind wander, as I usually did when I needed to figure something out. Of course, that’s what happened.
I was halfway through my pelmeni when it hit me. I had Oburi in my mind. For some bizarre reason I Called to him, but that wasn’t the point. The point was he answered. He answered.
That meant he was dead. Animated or not, using necromancer powers or not, he was dead. “Damnit! I should’ve realized that sooner!”
“Wuh?” Sedici said, around a mouthful of food.
I had to get in touch with him now. However, waiting until I fell asleep wasn’t an option. I was going to have to do this the hard, painful way. “Shit!” Shoving one last pelmeni in my mouth, I moved my plate to the side, stumbled to my feet and charged at the wall with my eyes closed. I let out the wimpiest man-scream I have ever heard in my entire life. Yeah. I totally wasn’t a Spartan in a past life.
“Hey!” Sedici choked. “Stupid hu–”
That was all I heard before I hit the wall. Then, it was lights out. It wasn’t lights out for long though. Oburi immediately appeared, furious but unable to fight. I could feel his desire to kill me and wear my entrails as a belt. However, this was my mind. My territory. He would do as I say.
Feeling the most control I have felt since arriving in Siberia, I demanded in a strong voice, “Where is Noin?”
Either he understood me, or her name triggered a memory. In my mind’s eye, the last mental picture he had of Noin was shown to me. She was kneeling on a pile of pelts, arms tied to her body by what appeared to be rope. Thin strings of silver stretched from one side of the wall to the other, and from the ceiling to the floor. It made for a very weak-looking but harmful cage. Her hatred for Oburi, even through the memory, was palpable.
It was obvious she was being taken care of, though. Her skin was milky and blemish-free. Her dark hair shone, and her black eyes sparkled. A bowl to the side of her showed the remnants of food. Her clothes were clean, and cut to fit her incredible figure. Despite all of that, I could tell she had lost weight. It could’ve been due to muscle loss or from no longer being pregnant. I couldn’t tell.
At least she was still alive.
I watched as the memory played on, sometimes freezing from Oburi trying to seize his thoughts. But I was a clairvoyant. With a slight pull the complete memory flared into view, including Noin spitting into his face and telling him in a very vulgar way to go fuck himself. Classy lady.
As entertaining as this was, it wasn’t helping me. “Where are you hiding?” I asked next. He didn’t understand. I literally saw the question mark over his head. “Where is your cave?” Nope. “Where is your house? Castle?” I got a response, just not the right one. The image of the Prince’s castle flared into being. Damn. “Your library?” G’s library flared up. “Your lair?”
The mental image froze. Oburi was fighting with his entire being to keep the thought from passing. Knowing that this was it, I used all of my talent to rip the knowledge from him. He screamed in fury when I succeeded, and I absently released him. The knowledge was still bouncing through my skull when I gasped awake, Otto jumping back from me as I sat up. I clutched at my head with both hands and hissed a few curse words through my teeth.
“What the fuck is the matter with you?!” Otto yelled, more in bewilderment than anger. G and Sedici were there as well, the expressions on their faces matching Otto’s tone. “Sedici tells me you shouted something, jumped up and ran headfirst into the wall! Is this some sort of human disease? If so, do you think it could be contagious to the witches? They are pissing me off--”
Oburi’s thoughts were in Russian, but this I needed no translation for. “Oburi has Noin in Lake Baikal.”
A/N: Pelmeni is a Russian dumpling. See an pic here.