Home > One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #3)(5)

One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #3)(5)
Author: Ilona Andrews

She picked the bagel up, biting into the dough with her unnaturally sharp teeth. When most people bit a bagel, we clamped it down and pulled, tearing it. When Caldenia bit a bagel, there was no clamping down and pulling. Her teeth simply sheared it, as if the dough had been cut with big heavy scissors.

“Lord Arland, my sister sent a message to me asking for help. She isn’t the sort of person to ask for assistance.” In fact, Maud would rather die than ask for help, but she wasn’t willing to gamble with little Helen’s life.

“It’s very important I get to Karhari as soon as possible. Is there any way you could expedite my application for a permit?”

“I’m afraid that’s not possible.”

My heart sank.

“There are no permits being issued for travel to Karhari. As I’ve said, it’s a pit of a planet. Most of it consists of boring plains with large herds of massive herbivores wandering aimlessly through them. There are no good hunting grounds, no great mineral wealth, so it offers very little in the way of value. It was colonized early in the history of the Anocracy and then we lost touch with it for almost five hundred years. The descendants of the original settlers have been cut off for so long that even though the planet was brought back into the Anocracy’s loving embrace a hundred years ago, the rule of law is barely recognized there. It’s the place we send our criminals, exiles, and heretics.”

My sister was stuck in eighteenth century vampire Australia.

“Is there anything that can be done? Anything at all?”

“There is only one thing to do.” He hit me with a dazzling smile, displaying his sharp fangs. “I’ll take you there personally.”

“What?”

“My uncle’s cousin was granted holdings on Karhari, so House Krahr has a presence there. As Marshal, I can travel there any time I wish.”

I almost jumped up and down. Still, my history with House Krahr had been complicated already. And Arland had developed a somewhat seasonal infatuation with me. “Are you sure? The fuel expense must be significant…”

He leaned closer to the screen. “The expense will be minimal. We’ll use the Earth jump gate, bounce off the net here, and will be in Karhari by tomorrow morning. Besides, thanks to you, House Krahr has found itself in a very advantageous position on Nexus. Our profits have soared. I can bounce back and forth between here and Karhari thirty times before the House Steward will gently chide me to keep an eye on the budget. Family is all any of us have. It is decided. Will you be ready in an hour?”

Just like that. “Yes!”

“I shall be in orbit in a few minutes. Is it only you or are you bringing anyone with you?”

“She’s bringing me,” Sean said, stepping next to me.

Arland’s upper lip trembled. He killed it before it became a snarl and peered at Sean. “What happened to your face? Never mind, not important. Your presence isn’t necessary. Lady Dina will have sufficient protection.”

“Is the Marshal threatened by my presence?” Sean asked, his voice calm.

“Hardly.”

“Then I see no reason why I can’t come along.”

“Karhari isn’t Earth, werewolf. You’ve never fought a vampire in open combat. You aren’t ready for a planet full of us.”

What?

Sean’s face was calm. “As you said, the rule of law is barely recognized on Karhari. I should be right at home.”

Arland struggled with it for a moment. “Fine. I’m not one to keep a man away from a funeral pyre when he’s jumping over obstacles to get to it. We shall meet in an hour.”

The screen went black.

Never fought a vampire… That made no sense. When Sean led the Merchants’ defense on Nexus, he slaughtered enough vampires for several lifetimes. That’s what the peace summit was about. The Holy Anocracy, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the Merchants of Baha-Char had fought over rights to Nexus, a mineral rich planet. Sean had led the Merchants’ forces as Turan Adin, an immortal general in dark armor. It turned out that Turan Adin was very much mortal. The Merchants had been going through mercenaries, and every time one died, they picked out his replacement and put him back in the armor. Sean turned out to be the last and the best. He lasted longer than anyone would have expected, but the war on Nexus was killing him from the inside out. To save him and convince the three factions to agree to peace, I had linked them all, Sean and myself included, to the inn. We had shared memories. Arland was there.

“Arland doesn’t know. How can he not know you were Turan Adin? You shared Nexus memories with the rest of us.”

Sean frowned. “When I think back to it, I don’t know which memories were his. I don’t think he knows which ones were mine. When you linked us, you asked only about things that happened on Nexus. I was always Turan Adin on Nexus. The armor never came off. I thought of myself as Turan Adin. I left Sean here on Earth with you.”

The werewolves of Auul were poets. Sometimes I forgot that, and then he said something like that.

“Will you tell him?”

Sean shook his head. “If I do, he’ll try to kill me.”

“Why?”

“We met in battle once. I had a chance to kill him, and I didn’t. He knows that.”

Arland was a proud man. Sean was right; he wouldn’t be able to handle it. Then again, having Sean near Arland wouldn’t be doing wonders for Sean’s recovery either.

   
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