Home > Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4)(11)

Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4)(11)
Author: Richelle Mead

"Could you use it to actually kill one?" I asked. Dousing a Strigoi in some dissolving liquid would be a lot easier than the usual ways: decapitation, staking, or burning.

"Afraid not. Only works on corpses."

"Bummer," I said. I wondered if she had other potions up her sleeve but figured I should ration my amount of Sydney questions for the day. "What are we going to do when we get to Omsh?"

"Omsk," she corrected. "We'll get a car and drive the rest of the way."

"Have you been there? To this village?"

She nodded. "Once."

"What's it like?" I asked, surprised to hear a wistful note in my own voice. Aside from my quest to find Dimitri, there was a piece of me that just wanted to cling to everything I could of him. I wanted to know everything about him that I hadn't known before. If the school had given me his possessions, I would have slept with them each night. His room had been cleared out pretty quickly, though. Now I could only gather what pieces of him I could, as though hoarding these bits of information would keep him with me somehow.

"It's like any other dhampir town, I guess."

"I've never been to one."

The server set Sydney's omelet down, and she paused with her fork in the air. "Really? I thought all of you... well, I don't know."

I shook my head. "I've been at the Academy my whole life. More or less." My two-year stint among humans wasn't really relevant.

Sydney chewed thoughtfully. I was willing to wager she wouldn't finish the omelet. From what I'd seen that first night and while waiting for trains yesterday, she hardly seemed to eat anything. It was like she subsisted on air alone. Maybe it was another Alchemist thing. Most likely it was just a Sydney thing.

"The town is half-human and half-dhampir, but the dhampirs blend in. They have a whole underground society that the humans are completely oblivious to."

I'd always figured there was a whole subculture going on, but I'd had no idea how it would fit into the rest of the town. "And?" I asked. "What's that subculture like?"

She set her fork down. "Let's just say you'd better brace yourself."

Chapter Five

The rest of the trip passed uneventfully. Sydney never entirely lost that discomfort she seemed to have around me, but sometimes, while I was trying to figure out Russian television, she'd take the time to explain what was going on. There were some cultural differences between these shows and the ones we'd both grown up with, so we had that in common. Every once in a while, she'd crack a smile over something we both found funny, and I'd sense there was someone in there I could possibly be friends with. I knew there was no way I'd ever find a replacement for Lissa, but I think some part of me still longed to fill the void of friendship that had been opened up when I left her behind.

Sydney napped throughout the day, and I began to think she was just an insomniac with bizarre sleep patterns. She also continued her equally odd treatment of food, hardly touching her meals. She always let me have the leftovers and was a bit more adventurous with Russian cuisine. I'd had to experiment when I first arrived, and it was nice to have the guidance of someone who, though not a local, knew a lot more about this country than me.

On the third day of our trip, we arrived in Omsk. Omsk was a larger and prettier city than I'd expected of Siberia. Dimitri had always teased me that my images of Siberia looking like Antarctica were wrong, and I could tell that he was right-at least as far as the southern part of the region was concerned. The weather wasn't much different from what I'd have found in Montana this time of year, cool spring air occasionally warmed by sunshine.

Sydney had told me when we got there, she'd get us a ride from some Moroi she knew. Several lived in the city, blending in with the large population. Yet as the day went on, we discovered a problem. No Moroi would take us to the village. Apparently, the road was dangerous. Strigoi often hung out near it at night, hoping to catch traveling Moroi or dhampirs. The more Sydney explained it, the more worried I became about my plan. Apparently, there weren't many Strigoi in Dimitri's town itself. According to her, they lurked on the town's periphery, but few lived out there permanently. If that was the case, my odds of finding Dimitri had dropped. Things got even worse as Sydney continued describing the situation.

"A lot of Strigoi travel the country looking for victims, and the village is just an area they pass through," she explained. "The road is kind of remote, so some Strigoi will stay for a while and try to get easy prey. Then they move on."

"In the U.S., Strigoi often hide in large cities," I said uneasily.

"They do that here too. It's easier for them to take victims without being noticed."

Yes, this definitely threw a wrench into my plans. If Dimitri wasn't residing in this town, I was going to have some serious problems. I'd known Strigoi liked big cities, but somehow, I'd convinced myself Dimitri would return to the place where he grew up.

But if Dimitri wasn't there... well, suddenly, the enormity of Siberia hit me. I'd learned Omsk wasn't even the biggest city in the region, and finding even one Strigoi here could be hard. Looking for him in any number of cities that might be larger? Things could get very, very ugly if my hunch proved wrong.

Since setting out to find Dimitri, I'd occasionally had weak moments in which I half-hoped I'd never find him. The idea of him as a Strigoi still tormented me. I was also visited by other images... images of the way he'd been and memories of the time we'd spent together.

I think my most precious memory was of just before he was turned. It was one of those times when I'd sucked up a lot of the spirit-induced darkness from Lissa. I'd been out of control, unable to get a grip. I was afraid of becoming a monster, afraid of killing myself like another shadow kissed guardian had.

Dimitri had brought me back to myself, lending me his strength. I'd realized then just how strong our connection was, how perfectly we understood each other. I'd been skeptical about people being soul mates in the past, but at that moment, I knew it was true. And with that emotional connection had come a physical one. Dimitri and I had finally given in to the attraction. We'd sworn we never would, but... well, our feelings were just too strong. Staying away from each other had turned out to be impossible. We'd had sex, and it had been my first time ever. Sometimes I felt certain it would be my only time.

The act itself had been amazing, and I'd been unable to separate the physical joy from the emotional. Afterward, we'd lain together in that small cabin for as long as we dared, and that had been amazing too. It had been one of the few moments where I'd felt he was truly mine.

"Do you remember Victor's lust charm?" I had asked, snuggling closer against him.

Dimitri looked at me like I was crazy. "Of course."

Victor Dashkov was a royal Moroi, one who had been friends with Lissa and her family. Little did we know that he'd secretly studied spirit for years and had identified Lissa as a spirit user before she even knew. He'd tortured her with all sorts of mind games that truly made her think she was going crazy. His schemes had fully culminated in his kidnapping and torturing her until she healed the disease that was killing him.

Victor was now in prison for life, both for what he'd done to Lissa and because of his treasonous plans for rebellion against the Moroi government.

He had been one of the few to know about my relationship with Dimitri, something that had worried me to no end. He'd even furthered our relationship by creating a lust charm-a necklace infused with earth and compulsion. The charm was full of dangerous magic that had made Dimitri and me give into our most basic instincts. We had pulled back at the last moment, and until our night in the cabin, I had believed our charm induced encounter to be the ultimate physical high.

"I didn't realize it could get better," I had told Dimitri after we'd actually slept together. I felt a little shy talking about it. "I thought about it all the time... what happened between us."

He turned to me, tugging the covers up. The cabin was cold, but its bed had warm blankets. I suppose we could have put clothes on, but that was the last thing I wanted to do. Being pressed skin-to-skin felt too good.

Books
     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)