Home > Homecoming (Vampire Academy #6.5)(11)

Homecoming (Vampire Academy #6.5)(11)
Author: Richelle Mead

Ivan jumped to his feet. "I can go ... I can go ... but are you sure you don't want my help? I know all there is to know about vampires. Nobody in my village has read as much as I have-"

"Go," said Mark and Dimitri in unison.

Ivan went. The three of us watched as he hurried down the path, toward where it had to make its way through rocky obstacles in order to get back out to the main road.

"Idiot," muttered Mark. He put the stake away again and trudged back over to where we'd been sitting before. After a few moments, Dimitri and I followed.

"I feel kind of bad for him," I remarked. "He seemed so ... I don't know, enthusiastic. But I also start to get why Henry was freaking out so much. If all the other human 'vampire experts' that come here are like him, I can see why they're getting killed off."

"Exactly," said Dimitri. His gaze was on Ivan's retreating figure, almost impossible to see now as he walked around a stony outcropping. "Hopefully he'll go back to his village and make up some fantastic story about how he killed the Blood King himself."

"True," I said. "The fact that we'll have done it will just back him up when people come here and see no more vampire."

Still, as I settled back down in our makeshift camp, I couldn't forget the zealous look in Ivan's eyes as he'd talked about killing the Blood King. How many others had come in with that same naive attitude? It was disheartening. I'd grown up with the idea that fighting Strigoi was a duty and a responsibility. It wasn't something you treated as a game.

Mark and I eventually picked up our hot dog debate, much to Dimitri's amusement. Dimitri tended to agree with Mark, which I found shocking. I could only blame the cuisine they'd been raised with for such misguided views. Despite the easy nature of the conversation, though, I could feel the tension building within all of us as the sun began moving down toward the horizon. The silver stakes had returned, and even before darkness fell, our eyes were constantly scanning our surroundings. Shadows darkened the stone walls around us, turning them into something mysterious and ominous.

We'd brought along a couple of electric lanterns and turned them on once it grew too dark to see comfortably. As dhampirs, we didn't need as much light as humans, but we needed some. The lanterns cast just enough to help our eyes without blinding us to our periphery, like a campfire would have. Soon, the skies were completely dark, and we knew we'd entered the time when Strigoi could walk freely. None of us doubted he'd come for us. The question was whether he would wait and try to wear us down or strike suddenly. As more time passed, it appeared as though it would be the former.

"Do you sense anything?" I whispered to Mark. Those who were shadow-kissed felt nauseous when Strigoi were close.

"Not yet," he murmured back.

"We should've brought marshmallows," I joked. "Of course, then we'd have to build a fire for sure-"

An earsplitting scream ripped through the night.

I jumped to my feet, wincing. The problem with superior hearing is that loud noises are really loud. My companions were up too, stakes ready. Mark frowned.

"Some Strigoi trick?"

"No," I said, moving toward where the scream had originated. "That was Ivan."

Mark swore in Russian, something I'd gotten used to from Dimitri. "He never left," said Mark.

Dimitri grabbed my arm to slow me down. "Rose, he's in one of the caves."

"I know," I said. I'd already figured that out and turned to face Dimitri. "But what choice do we have? We can't leave him in there."

Chapter 6

"This is exactly what we wanted to avoid," said Dimitri grimly.

"And likely a trap set by the Blood King," added Mark, just as another scream sounded. "He wants us but is too smart to come out and get us."

I grimaced, knowing Mark was right. "But that also means he's probably not going to kill Ivan right away. He's just going to mess with him to lure us in. There's a chance we can save Ivan." I threw my hands up when nobody responded. "Come on! Can you really leave that inept kid in there to die?"

No, of course they couldn't. Dimitri sighed. "This is where we could've used a map of the caves. Better to set up an ambush."

"No such luxury, comrade," I said, walking toward the cave again. "We've got to go in the front door. At least Mark can give us warning."

A debate then broke out between the three of us over who would lead and who would go last to carry a lantern. Dimitri and Mark came up with lame arguments about why they should go ahead of me. Mark's was that, as the oldest, his life was more expendable, which was ridiculous. Dimitri's reasoning was that he was safe, thanks to Yeva's prophecy. That was even more ridiculous, and I knew he was only saying so to protect me. Yet in the end, I was overruled and ended up behind them.

     Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1)
     Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2)
     Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3)
     Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4)
     Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5)
     Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)
     The Meeting (Vampire Academy 0.9)      Homecoming (Vampire Academy #6.5)