“Your cousin Sem is dead,” Vycor sneered.
Ty tried to move, but he couldn’t. Vycor’s Mynders had ambushed him. He was strapped to one of the seats in the palace’s Ritual Chamber…the same seat he had sat in while he mentally tortured Vycor just a couple of lunar cycles before.
They had been so close to defeating the Advisor. His demise had been within their grasp. There had been just one misstep.
One deadly misstep.
“He died screaming for mercy,” Vycor said as he laid out implements beside the altar in the center of the chamber. “He cursed your name, TaeDane. He knew it was your fault that he suffered so long before death claimed him.”
“You’re lying,” Ty growled. He knew Sem had gotten out of the palace.
He had to have gotten out.
At a silent command, one of the Mynder guards standing in the chamber brought forth a basket. Ty’s stomach clenched when he saw the blood leaking out of the basket’s bottom and dripping onto the floor, but he controlled his reaction so Vycor couldn’t see his wariness. Without any preamble, the guard dumped the basket at Ty’s feet. Sem’s head flopped out, splashing gore onto Ty’s boots.
“He was still alive when we dismembered him,” Vycor said conversationally, his gaze on Ty’s face. “In fact, his ‘member’ was one of the first things I cut off. I’ll have to be even more inventive when I kill you.”
Horror blended with rage and grief, gripping Ty around the throat as he stared at Sem’s ghastly expression. Forcing his gaze away from it, he tried to reach out with his mind. He had to connect with Kyr. He had to warn her.
But his thoughts were blank. No one was hearing them.
“Oh, I’m hearing them,” Vycor assured him. “I’m stronger now than you ever were. You’ll admit it before I’m done with you.”
Ty shook his head. This couldn’t be. He was the Faire-Amanti. He and Kyr were paired. They were fated to be together. Their abilities were stronger than Vycor’s. Than anyone’s.
“You are such a fool,” Vycor laughed. “I can’t wait to have you pleading and sniveling like your cousin did. I imagine you’ll feel as though you’ve died at least twice once I finish with your amanti. You do feel everything she does, don’t you?”
Ty went utterly still. His heart dropped, then thudded painfully against his breastbone. His palms tingled with panicked sweat. Once again, he sent out a desperate thought to Kyr. He had to protect her.
“She can’t hear your thoughts,” Vycor said, his smile lethal. “But fear not.”
The chamber doors opened, admitting more Mynders. Ty’s head jerked in their direction. Then it moved from side to side in slow denial.
“Ah, here she is,” Vycor said, watching as the Mynders placed Kyr’s unconscious form on the altar. “This will be fun.”
Ty strained against his bonds as Vycor reached for the fastenings of Kyr’s lightweight armor. Although he had vowed not to let Vycor see any signs of weakness, he shouted, “Don’t touch her!”
“Oh, I intend to do much more than just touch her.” Vycor smirked as the first of Kyr’s armor hit the floor. “I intend to take her as many times as I please in whatever ways I please, and I imagine a number of the Mynders in this room would enjoy a turn, too.”
Ty didn’t have to look around to sense the lecherous expressions of the guards over Vycor’s dark promise. His muscles burned and protested as he pulled against his bonds. He watched helplessly as Vycor completely disrobed Kyr and secured her wrists and ankles to the far corners of the altar.
“We can’t enjoy ourselves if she sleeps through it, can we?” Vycor said.
He reached over into the satchel on the side table and pulled out a small snifter. Removing the top, he waved it under Kyr’s nose. Ty’s own nose burned as Kyr jerked away from the source of the pungent smell. Her low moan sent fear clawing through him.
“Leave her alone!” Ty begged. “Take me instead!”
Vycor chuckled. “Oh, we’ll get to that. But first…”
He slapped Kyr. The sharp strike made Ty flinch. Kyr gasped and fully opened her eyes. As realization set in, her gut iced in terror. Ty felt it blend with his own.
“Stop!” he cried hoarsely. He knew it was useless and only served to spur Vycor on, but he couldn’t stop himself. “I’ll do anything you ask!”
“It’s too late for that,” Vycor replied, removing his robe and revealing his heavy state of arousal.
“What are you doing?” Kyr choked out. Chains rattled as she tried to free herself. Her gaze moved to Ty. “Ty, help me!”
I can’t, he thought uselessly, but he pulled hard enough on his own bonds to feel blood trickling along his wrists. His eyes blurred as Vycor climbed up onto the altar.
Now, I’ll finally take everything from you, TaeDane, Vycor thought.
“Help me!” Kyr screamed. “Ty!”
* * *
Ty jerked awake. Sweat coated his skin. Moisture that might not have been sweat dripped along his temples onto his pillow. His tensed muscles slowly eased as his mind accepted that he’d been dreaming.
The dream had started not long after Kyr met up with him in the Dark Lands. At first, it was nothing more than flashes of images and a sense of defeat and powerlessness. With each new incarnation of the dream, though, more details appeared. The sequence of events never changed. It just got more and more vivid and intense.
He reached shakily for Kyr, who still slept soundly beside him. Battling the sharp blade of desolation that threatened to slice into his soul, he pulled her against him and wrapped her in his arms. She slept on, oblivious to his torment.
The light, familiar fragrance of her hair helped calm him, but not much. The fear from the dream haunted him, and would stay with him for a long time to come. There would be no more sleep for him that night.
How could he sleep when he suspected that such a specific recurring scene wasn’t a dream, but a vision of things yet to come?