Home > Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2)(5)

Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2)(5)
Author: Richelle Mead

But as I started to turn away, I caught a glimpse of something dark red - more brown, really - on the mirror. I hadn't noticed it before because the rest of the scene had held all of my attention. There was writing on the mirror, done in blood.

Poor, poor Badicas. So few left. One royal family nearly gone. Others to follow.

Tamara snorted in disgust and turned away from the mirror, studying other details of the bathroom. As we walked out, though, those words repeated in my head. One royal family nearly gone. Others to follow.

The Badicas were one of the smaller royal clans, it was true. But it was hardly like those who had been killed here were the last of them. There were probably almost two hundred Badicas left. That wasn't as many as a family like, say, the Ivashkovs. That particular royal family was huge and widespread. There were, however, a lot more Badicas than there were some other royals.

Like the Dragomirs.

Lissa was the only one left.

If the Strigoi wanted to snuff out royal lines, there was no better chance than to go after her. Moroi blood empowered Strigoi, so I understood their desire for that. I supposed specifically targeting royals was simply part of their cruel and sadistic nature. It was ironic that Strigoi would want to tear apart Moroi society, since many of them had once been a part of it.

The mirror and its warning consumed me for the rest of our stay at the house, and I found my fear and shock transforming into anger. How could they do this? How could any creature be so twisted and evil that they'd do this to a family - that they'd want to wipe out an entire bloodline? How could any creature do this when they'd once been like me and Lissa?

And thinking of Lissa - thinking of Strigoi wanting to wipe out her family too - stirred up a dark rage within me. The intensity of that emotion nearly knocked me over. It was something black and miasmic, swelling and roiling. A storm cloud ready to burst. I suddenly wanted to tear up every Strigoi I could get my hands on.

When I finally got into the car to ride back to St. Vladimir's with Dimitri, I slammed the door so hard that it was a wonder it didn't fall off.

He glanced at me in surprise. "What's wrong?"

"Are you serious?" I exclaimed, incredulous. "How can you ask that? You were there. You saw that."

"I did," he agreed. "But I'm not taking it out on the car."

I fastened my seat belt and glowered. "I hate them. I hate them all! I wish I'd been there. I would have ripped their throats out!"

I was nearly shouting. Dimitri stared at me, face calm, but he was clearly astonished at my outburst.

"You really think that's true?" he asked me. "You think you could have done better than Art Schoenberg after seeing what the Strigoi did in there? After seeing what Natalie did to you?"

I faltered. I'd tangled briefly with Lissa's cousin, Natalie, when she became a Strigoi, just before Dimitri had shown up to save the day. Even as a new Strigoi - weak and uncoordinated - she'd literally thrown me around the room.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Suddenly, I felt stupid. I'd seen what Strigoi could do. Me running in impetuously and trying to save the day would have only resulted in a quick death. I was developing into a tough guardian, but I still had a lot to learn - and one seventeen-year-old girl couldn't have stood against six Strigoi.

I opened my eyes. "I'm sorry," I said, gaining control of myself. The rage that had exploded inside me diffused. I didn't know where it had come from. I had a short temper and often acted impulsively, but this had been intense and ugly even for me. Weird.

"It's okay," said Dimitri. He reached over and placed his hand on mine for a few moments. Then he removed it and started the car. "It's been a long day. For all of us."

When we got back to St. Vladimir's Academy around midnight, everyone knew about the massacre. The vampiric school day had just ended, and I hadn't slept in more than twenty-four hours. I was bleary-eyed and sluggish, and Dimitri ordered me to immediately go back to my dorm room and get some sleep. He, of course, looked alert and ready to take on anything. Sometimes I really wasn't sure if he slept at all. He headed off to consult with other guardians about the attack, and I promised him I'd go straight to bed. Instead, I turned toward the library once he was out of sight. I needed to see Lissa, and the bond told me that was where she was.

It was pitch-black as I walked along the stone walkway that crossed the quad from my dorm to the secondary school's main building. Snow completely covered the grass, but the sidewalk had been meticulously cleared of all ice and snow. It reminded me of the poor Badicas' neglected home.

The commons building was large and gothic-looking, more suited to a medieval movie set than a school. Inside, that air of mystery and ancient history continued to permeate the building: elaborate stone walls and antique paintings warring with computers and fluorescent lights. Modern technology had a foothold here, but it would never dominate.

Slipping through the library's electronic gate, I immediately headed for one of the back corners where geography and travel books were kept. Sure enough, I found Lissa sitting there on the floor, leaning against a bookcase.

"Hey," she said, looking up from an open book propped up on one knee. She brushed a few strands of pale hair out of her face. Her boyfriend, Christian, lay on the floor near her, his head propped up on her other knee. He greeted me by way of a nod. Considering the antagonism that sometimes flared up between us, that was almost on par with him giving me a bear hug. Despite her small smile, I could feel the tension and fear in her; it sang through the bond.

"You heard," I said, sitting down cross-legged.

Her smile slipped, and the feelings of fear and unease within her intensified. I liked that our psychic connection let me protect her better, but I didn't really need my own troubled feelings amplified.

"It's awful," she said with a shudder. Christian shifted and linked his fingers through hers. He squeezed her hand. She squeezed back. Those two were so in love and sugary sweet with each other that I felt like brushing my teeth after being around them. They were subdued just now, however, no doubt thanks to the massacre news. "They're saying...they're saying there were six or seven Strigoi. And that humans helped them break the wards."

I leaned my head back against a shelf. News really did travel fast. Suddenly, I felt dizzy. "It's true."

"Really?" asked Christian. "I figured that was just a bunch of hyped-up paranoia."

"No ..." I realized then that nobody knew where I'd been today. "I... I was there."

Lissa's eyes widened, shock coursing into me from her. Even Christian - the poster child for "smartass" - looked grim. If not for the horribleness of it all, I would have taken satisfaction in catching him off guard.

"You're joking," he said, voice uncertain.

"I thought you were taking your Qualifier..." Lissa's words trailed off.

"I was supposed to," I said. "It was just a wrong-place-and-wrong-time kind of thing. The guardian who was going to give me the test lived there. Dimitri and I walked in, and..."

I couldn't finish. Images of the blood and death that had filled the Badica house flashed through my mind again. Concern crossed both Lissa's face and the bond.

"Rose, are you okay?" she asked softly.

Lissa was my best friend, but I didn't want her to know how scared and upset the whole thing had made me. I wanted to be fierce.

"Fine," I said, teeth clenched.

"What was it like?" asked Christian. Curiosity filled his voice, but there was guilt there too - like he knew it was wrong to want to know about such a horrible thing. He couldn't stop himself from asking, though. Lack of impulse control was one thing we had in common.

"It was ..." I shook my head. "I don't want to talk about it."

Christian started to protest, and then Lissa ran a hand through his sleek black hair. The gentle admonishment silenced him. A moment of awkwardness hung between us all. Reading Lissa's mind, I felt her desperately grope for a new topic.

"They say this is going to mess up all of the holiday visits," she told me after several more moments. "Christian's aunt is going to visit, but most people don't want to travel, and they want their kids to stay here where it's safe. They're terrified this group of Strigoi is on the move."

     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)