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Balthazar's Bane by Kat Ross

Balthazar's Bane by Kat Ross

Author:Kat Ross [Ross, Kat]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 978-0-9997621-9-6
Publisher: Kat Ross


He woke with a gasp in Taj’s sunken pool.

The water was stained crimson, edge to edge. Taj sat on the rim. His perfect face swam into focus. Aquamarine eyes studied Balthazar intently.

“Well,” Taj murmured, his features relaxing. “That was a nasty one.”

The familiar icy sensation of a healing receded from his limbs as Taj lifted his hand from Balthazar’s bare chest.

Lucas knelt at his side. He looked deeply shaken, and deeply relieved. “My lord. We could hardly see anything . . . . What was in there with you?”

Balthazar drew his knees to his chest. They’d stripped him naked. He ran a trembling hand down his right shoulder. It was unblemished, but he remembered that gaping wound all too well. The sickening crack of bone as teeth dug into his marrow.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said wearily. “How many others are alive?”

“Two,” Taj replied. “One of the Blue Men and the hired killer from Jeddah.”

“She saved my life,” Balthazar said slowly.

Taj frowned. “Did she?”

“The woman is indestructible. I didn’t see a scratch on her. What about the Blue Man?”

“Bloodied, but he staggered out. You were the last.”

Balthazar’s brows lowered. “You mean the Tuareg beat me?”

“His injuries paled in comparison if that makes you feel better.”

“Did you heal him, too?” Balthazar demanded.

“You almost sound jealous,” the daēva replied lazily. “No, I did not. He has his own patron.”

Balthazar scanned the chamber. Only Taj and Lucas were there. He knew Zarifa didn’t care if he lived or died, except to further her own ends. So why did he feel so angry?

Khai.

The sudden vivid memory of the Egyptian running into the flames made his stomach roll. He’d known the man would die – that all of them would likely die. But the sheer cruelty of his particular death made Balthazar loathe Fulad-zereh with new intensity. Not to mention Taj.

“I suppose you earned a fortune today,” he said acidly. “You must be pleased.”

“It’s down to the three of you tomorrow,” Taj replied. “I don’t care about the odds anymore. I just want you to make it through. I want you to seek the sword. That’s all.”

Late morning sun streamed into the chamber, lighting his hair in liquid gold. His features looked even more inscrutable and inhuman than usual. Like some aloof god moving pieces on a game board.

“Why not one of the others?” Balthazar demanded. “What does it matter to you?”

“Because I know they won’t make it. They never do.”

“Then why should I?”

“Because you’re different.”

His calm certainty was maddening.

“How?” Balthazar asked coldly.

A puzzled frown crossed Taj’s face. “I don’t know. You just are.”

“Well, that’s a rousing endorsement.”

The daēva gave him an amused smile. “If there’s anything you need, say the word.”

Balthazar stared at the chain around his neck. His fists clenched. “Anything but what’s rightfully mine, you mean.”

“Anything but that,” Taj agreed.

Several petty requests came to mind.

I want to see you shave those golden locks and don a hair shirt. A really itchy one.

I want you to get a shovel and bury each body yourself.

I



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