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Want one really good reason for why you have to read Darkness Captured? One name. Guntram Brandt.
“What are they doing?” Udo whispered harshly. “They know we’re here, and that we tortured one of their own. Are they so cowardly that they won’t come out to fight us?”
Guntram peered through the spokes of the iron gate as the lights inside the mansion were extinguished one by one. “Tell the men to prepare themselves.”
“But I don’t see them.”
“You won’t. Not until it’s too late.”
As soon as the words were out of his mouth, the breeze rustling the branches overhead built. He turned his gaze toward the canopy above him, and then heard a sound that made his blood run cold.
A faint flapping, like a breeze caught in a bed sheet, sounded from above the trees. “They’re above us!” he hissed. He squatted low, pulling his crossbow over his shoulder. He slid a steel-tipped wooden arrow along the track, pulled back the linen cord, and latched it in the spring lock.
The need for camouflage and silence long past, he stood, raising his bow and settling the stock against his shoulder. “Wolves, do not transform!” he shouted.
“But they’ll have the advantage,” Udo complained.
“They already have it in numbers. Aim for limbs, not hearts!”
As his men tightened in, scanning the trees above them for large winged shapes and the undergrowth for Revenants closing in from the ground, Guntram said a quick prayer that his words had been heard by the vampires. They’d know his wolves didn’t intend murder. Perhaps they’d show the same restraint.
Air brushed against the back of his neck, and he whirled, lowering his weapon and swinging his free arm wide to pluck up the creature swooping down at him from the sky. His arm closed around a bare waist, and he dropped his bow to take the vampire to the ground, crushing her wings beneath her.
Breath left the blonde vampire in a loud gasp. Her blue eyes narrowed fiercely. Fangs slid from her gums, and she whipped her head toward him, opening his neck. She spat. “Wolf’s blood!” she cried, disgust drawing her lips away from her white teeth.
She wriggled like a fish against him and a knife sliced at his sides. He brought up a knee and slammed it into her belly, and then reached to nail her hands against the ground, slamming the one brandishing the dagger until she let go.
Then something large and solid slammed into his back, pulling him off the woman. Revenant scent surrounded him as fists plowed into his kidneys.
They fought with knives and fisticuffs. Relief poured through him. He and his men weren’t going to die tonight. This was just a bloodletting to cow them into surrender. So why not have some fun?
Guntram got his knees under himself and heaved upward, flinging away the vampire on his back, and then whirled to meet the next fist flying toward his chin. He blocked it with is forearm, and rammed a clenched fist into the Revenant’s mid-section, satisfied with the blunt sound as his knuckles connected with flesh and even more with the deep grunt as his opponent exhaled sharply.
The Revenant kicked out, hooking the back of Guntram’s knee and shoving.
Guntram smiled and gripped the man’s shoulders, pulling him down with him and rolling until he was on top.
His fist came back.
The woman cleared her throat. “I know you two would love to take a few more digs, but we’re wasting time here.”
She was right. However much he wanted to beat the Rev to a pulp, he wasn’t any closer to Gabriella. He lowered his fist, and let the man roll him again. Although not as satisfying as inflicting punishment, he reveled in the adrenaline that continued to spike as the man above him delivered fresh blows. More to his gut, to his chin, to his mouth, opening a gash that bled down his throat.
“Have you nothing more, wolf?” the dark-haired man above him growled.
“Plenty,” Guntram gritted out. “But we both know this isn’t a battle to the death. You have something we want. We must parlay.”
The Revenant’s fist drew back again. His lips clamped tight. “You would surrender so quickly? Are you cowards?”
Guntram licked the blood from his lips and narrowed his gaze.
The Revenant’s lips twisted with disgust. “Merde! Call off your men.”
Guntram drew as deep a breath as he could manage with the vampire’s knee planted in his chest. “Wolfen! Surrender!”
Bitter growls filled the forest, telegraphing the wolves’ resistance and frustration.
He shouldn’t have had to repeat the command and vowed silently to remind them each later why he had been given command. He’d make sure the reminder was brutal and left scars. Still, he understood their reluctance.
Bloodlust filled them. Although not in wolfskin, his men were unaccustomed to surrender, resented the implication that they had to lay down their arms and pride to their enemies. They’d get the chance to soothe their bitterness later. “Surrender! Remember why we’re here.”
The menacing sounds slowly died down around them, replaced by harsh jagged breaths. Footsteps crunched in the leaves as more of the vampires slipped into the forest around them. Guntram’s eyes widened at their numbers. They would have lasted only minutes if they’d tried an all-out attack on the compound.
His gaze took their measure. The women, some with wings unfurled, all bare-chested, like mythical harpies, had expressions set in lines every bit as harsh as the undead who served them.
The Frenchman who held him immobile glanced over his shoulder at the blonde. “Natalie, are you all right?”
Already rising, she flared her wings and winced. “Bruised is all, Nic. He’s not a light-weight.”
The Revenant grasped Guntram’s shoulders, lifted him and slammed him against the ground before jumping to his feet.
Watching the male vampire for signs he might reengage, Guntram came slowly to his knees and stood. He wiped the blood trickling down his chin with the back of his hand and forced a feral grin. “This is where I demand that you take me to your leader.”
“You’re in no position to demand anything,” the dark-haired Revenant gritted out, the fact he seemed to be the one in charge betraying him as Nicolas, the head of the coven’s security. “We have you surrounded. If you make one wrong move, if any one of you transforms, you’ll be killed on the spot.” To prove his claim he pulled a weapon from the holster strapped along his thigh. “Silver load.”
Guntram gave a sharp nod. “You know that we didn’t come to do battle.”
“Odd, since you left one of our own bloodied at our gates.”
Guntram shrugged. “Just our calling card. You will note we didn’t send his ashes.”
The blonde woman who’d first attacked him stepped up beside the Revenant. “Nic,” she said softly. “Alex would have this one brought to him.”
Nicolas’s eyes narrowed on Guntram. “Your men will submit to collars.”
Murmurs erupted from his men.
“Only if I have your vow they won’t be harmed while wearing them.”
Nicolas’s brow arched. “You’d trust my word?”
“Your Inanna’s mate, the Templar monk. I would trust your word.”
Nicolas’s firm jaw relaxed and bleakness darkened his eyes.
It seemed strange the mention of the woman who sired him should affect him so. Something had happened here.
“You have my word. If your men come peacefully, they’ll be made comfortable in our barracks while you meet with our leader.”
Guntram nodded. This was after all what he’d come for. And at last, he’d meet the man Gabriella had trusted. The one she’d lusted over. She might be headstrong, but she wasn’t a fool.
Udo’s gaze met his as a slender silver choker was lowered over his head and cinched. His friend wasn’t happy, but his shallow nod said he’d follow his command and make sure the others did as well.
A hand shoved between Guntram’s shoulder blades, forcing him forward. He cut a glance behind him, noted the quiet fury in another Revenant’s eyes. Guntram allowed a small smile to curl the corners of his lips. He’d taken great satisfaction in ripping open the one called Malcolm. They were all pissed. It seemed he’d chosen the sacrifice well.