Narcissus in Chains (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #10)

Chapter 15



Chapter 24

RICHARD WAS SITTING on his throne again, and I was standing back far enough for him to feel safe. Rafael, Micah, and Reece had all moved up beside me, a half-circle of kings at my back. It should have made me feel secure. It didn't. I was tired, so terribly tired, so terribly sad. Even with Micah at my back, I couldn't stop looking at Richard, couldn't stop wondering, what if. Oh, I knew, I'd never have allowed him to make me a werewolf on purpose, but a small part of me wondered. But I told that small part to shut up, and I got down to business.

"I want Gregory back unharmed. How do I do that, according to lukoi law?"

Richard said, "Jacob." That one word sounded as tired as I felt.

Jacob stepped forward, obviously pleased with himself. "Your leopard is here on our land, and we've done nothing to hide his scent trail. If you can track him, you can take him home."

I raised my eyebrows at him. "I have to follow a scent trail like a dog?"

"If you were a true shapeshifter, you could do it," Jacob said.

"This isn't a fair test," Rafael said. "She hasn't had her first change. Most of our secondary powers don't appear until after our first full moon."

"It doesn't have to be scenting," Richard said, "but it must be something that only a shapeshifter could do. Something that only a shifter powerful enough to truly be Nimir-Ra, or lupa, could do." He was looking at me when he said it, and there was something in his eyes, something he was trying to tell me.

"That doesn't sound very fair either," Micah said.

Richard kept looking at me, willing me to understand him. I didn't know why he didn't just drop his shields and let me see his mind.

Almost as if Richard had read my mind, he said, "No werewolf or wererat or wereleopard, no one can aid you in finding your leopard. If anyone interfere in any way, then the test is invalid, and he'll die."

"Even if that help is metaphysical?" I asked.

Richard nodded. "Even if."

I looked at him, studied his face, and frowned. I finally shook my head. I'd had a vision of where Gregory was, and under what circumstances, but it gave me no real clue. All I really needed to do was ask someone where a hole was with bones at the bottom. But I couldn't ask anyone there. Then I had an idea.

"Can I use my own metaphysical abilities to aid me?"

Richard nodded.

I looked at Jacob, because I knew the objection would come from him, if anyone. "I don't think your necromancy is going to help you locate your leopard."

Actually, it might have. If the bones Gregory was lying on were the largest burial sight in the area, then I might be able to track the bones and find him. Or I might spend all night chasing after piles of buried animals or old Indian graves. I had a faster way, maybe not better, but faster.

I sat down on the ground, Indian fashion, resting my hands lightly on my knees.

"What are you doing?" Jacob asked.

"I'm going to call the munin," I said.

He laughed, a loud bray of sound. "Oh, this should be good."

I closed my eyes, and I opened that part of me that dealt with the dead. I've heard Marianne and her friends describe it to be like opening a door, but it's so much a part of me that it's more like unclenching a hand, like opening something in my body that is as natural as reaching across the table for the salt. That might sound like an awfully mundane description of something mystical, but the mystical stuff truly is a part of everyday life. It's always there, we just choose to ignore it.

The munin are the spirits of the dead, put into a sort of racial memory bank that can be accessed by lukoi who have the ability to speak with them. It's a rare ability; to my knowledge no one in Richard's pack could do it. But I could. The munin are just another type of dead, and I'm good with the dead.

In Tennessee, the munin of Verne and Marianne's pack had come quickly and eagerly–so very close to being real ghosts, crowding around me, eager to speak. I'd practiced until I could pick and choose who would join with me and be able to communicate. It was close enough to channeling or mediumship that Marianne had suggested I could probably do this with normal ghosts, if I wanted. I didn't want to. I didn't like sharing my body with another being, dead or alive. Creeped me out, yes it did.

I waited to feel the press of the munin spreading around me, like a ghostly card deck that I could shuffle and pick the very card I wanted. Nothing happened. The munin did not come. Or rather a gathering of munin did not come. There was always one munin that came when I called, and sometimes when I didn't.

Raina was the only munin of Richard's pack that traveled with me always. Even in Tennessee, surrounded by munin from a different clan line, Raina was still there. Marianne said that Raina and I had a etheric bond, though she wasn't sure why. I'd managed to call munin hundreds of years old, and Raina, the very recently dead, came with more than ease. But Marcus, the previous Ulfric, remained elusive. I'd thought with my newfound control I'd be able to call him, but not only was Marcus not there, no one was there. The clearing was empty of spirits. It shouldn't have been. This was the spot where they consumed their dead, each pack member eating the flesh to take on the memories and courage, or faults, of the recently dead. They could choose not to feed, but it was like the ultimate excommunication. Raina had been a bad person, and I wondered sometimes what exactly you had to do to get excommunicated from the lukoi. Raina had been so bad that I would have let her go, but she was powerful. Maybe that's why she was still hanging around.

Though hanging around implied she was like the phantoms of Verne's pack, and she wasn't. She was internal to me, as if she poured out from inside my body, rather than pouring into me from outside. Marianne still couldn't explain why it worked that way for Raina and me. Some things you just accept and work around, because to do anything else is to butt your head against a brick wall; the wall will not break first.

Raina filled me like a hand inside a glove, and I was the glove. But I'd worked a long time to be able to control her. We'd worked out a deal of sorts. I used her memories and powers, and I let her have some fun. The problem was that Raina had been a sexually sadistic nymphomaniac when alive, and death hadn't changed her much.

I opened my eyes and felt her smile curve my lips, felt my face take on her expression. I rose to my feet in a graceful line, and even my walk was different. Once I'd hated that; now I shrugged it off as the price of doing business.

She laughed, full throated, the kind of laugh that makes a man look in a bar. Her laugh was deeper than mine, contralto, a practiced seduction of sound.

Richard went pale, hands gripping the arms of his throne. "Anita?" he made it a question.

"Guess again, my honey wolf."

He flinched at the nickname. In wolf form Richard is a ginger color, like red honey, though I'd never really thought of it like that before. Trust Raina to think of something thick and sticky when she looked at a man.

Her words came out of my mouth. "Don't be bitchy, when you called me for help."

I nodded, and it was my voice that explained to Richard's confused frown. "I was thinking something less than charitable about her. She didn't like it."

Jacob walked towards me and stopped when I looked at him with Raina's expression. "You can't have called munin. You're not lukoi."

Strange, but it hadn't even occurred to me that being a leopard might mean couldn't call munin. It might explain why the other munin hadn't come when I called. "You said my necromancy wouldn't help me, Jacob, can't have it both ways. Either I'm lukoi enough to call the munin, or I'm necromancer enough to help myself."

We–Raina and me–stalked towards the tall, shirtless man. Raina liked him. Raina liked most men. Especially if the man was someone she'd never had sex with, and among the pack that had been a short list. But Jacob and more than twenty others were new. She looked out over the pack and picked out the new faces. She hesitated over Paris and didn't like her either. You can't have too many alpha bitches in one pack without them fighting amongst themselves.

I felt something I hadn't felt before from Raina–caution. She didn't like how many new people Richard had allowed into the pack in such a short space of time. It worried her. I realized for the first time that it hadn't just been love that made Marcus put up with her as lupa. She was powerful, but more than that, in her own twisted way she did care about the pack, and she and I were in perfect agreement on one thing: Richard had been careless with it. But we both felt we could fix it. It was almost scary that the wicked bitch of the west and I were in such perfect agreement. Either I had been corrupted, or Raina had never been quite as corrupt as I thought. I wasn't sure which idea bothered me more.

Of course, she thought we should seduce Richard into letting us kill a few select people, and I was still hoping that a slightly less sweet reason would prevail. Raina thought I was a fool, and I wasn't sure I didn't agree with her. Scarier and scarier.

"Anita." Richard said my name again, hesitant, as if he wasn't sure I was in there.

I turned, one hand coming up to my hair, flinging it back from my face. It was Raina's gesture, and I watched that one movement make not only Richard, but Sylvie and Jamil behind her, nervous. No, frightened.

I could smell their fear. Raina's laugh bubbled out of my mouth, because she liked it. I didn't. I never liked it when my friends were afraid of me. My enemies, fine, but not my friends.

"I'm here, Richard, I'm here."

He stared at me. "The last time I saw you call Raina's munin you weren't able to think like yourself with her inside you."

"I really didn't leave you for all these months just because I was afraid of how close we all were. I left to get my shit together, and part of that was learning how to control the munin."

Raina said, "Control me? You wish." She hadn't said it aloud, only in my head. It had taken me a long time to realize that some things were said out loud and some things weren't. It was confusing, but you got used to it.

I said aloud what I'd seen in vision. "I saw Gregory in a hole, naked, tied up, lying on a bed of bones. Where is it?"

Raina showed me in images. It was like a fast-forward picture show, but the images came with emotions, smashing into me, one after the other. I saw a metal cap that screwed down with a tiny airway on top that let in enough light for you to see, if the sun was high enough. There was a rope ladder that spilled down into the dark and was taken up when it wasn't needed. I was Raina kneeling on a bed of bones, a human skull next to my knee. I had a syringe and injected its contents into a dark-haired man that was chained like I'd seen Gregory chained, ankles to wrists. He was gagged and blindfolded. When the needle went in, he whimpered and started to cry. The drugs were to keep him from changing.

I turned him over on his side and saw that a bone fragment had cut into his naked groin. I bent towards the smell of fresh blood, fresh meat, and the absolutely intoxicating stink of fear that came off the man. Not man, lukoi. I clawed my way up from my memory before Raina pressed our lips over him. I shoved it away from me, but I could still smell the fear, the drugs sweated out on his skin, the smell of soap from where Raina had cleaned him up, daily, before the abuse began. I knew his name had been Todd, and he'd talked to a reporter about the lukoi, helped them set up a blind with a camera on a full moon, for money. Maybe he had deserved to die, but not like that. No one deserved to die like that.

I came to myself lying on the ground in front of the throne, tears drying on my face. Jamil and Shang-Da were standing between me and the crowd that had moved to help me. Claudia and Igor were facing off with them, and Rafael had Micah by the arm, trying to convince him not to fight his way to me. Merle and Noah were moving up to join Claudia and Igor. This was all about to go to hell.

I propped myself up on my arms, and that small movement froze everyone in place. My voice came out hoarse, but mine. "I'm okay. I'm okay."

I'm not sure they believed me, but the tension level started to drop almost immediately. Good, I had enough problems tonight without a free-for-all breaking out.

I looked up at Richard, and all I could feel was anger. "Is that how you're going to kill Gregory, just leave him down in the oubliette until he rots?" My voice came out soft, because if I lost control of it, I wasn't sure how much other control I'd lose. I knew Raina. She wasn't gone. She'd want her "reward" first. She'd done her job. I knew where Gregory was. I even knew how to get there. She'd earned her prize. I didn't dare lose control of myself with her waiting like a shark just under the water.

"I told them to put Gregory some place far away from me. I didn't tell them to put him there."

I got to my feet slowly, even my body movements controlled, muscles almost stiff with adrenaline and the need to lash out. "But you left him there. Who's been going down and pumping him full of drugs to keep him from turning? You don't have Raina to do the dirty work anymore. Who was it? WHO WAS IT!" I screamed it into his face, and the rage was all she needed. She poured over me, and the last control I might have had drowned because I wanted to hurt Richard. I wanted to do it.

I hit him, closed-fist, turning my body into it, twisting my hand at the end, putting all I had into it. I did what they taught us to do in martial arts class if it was for real. I aimed not at Richard's face, but at a point two inches inside his face; that was the real goal.

I was back in a protective stance before Jamil and Shang-Da had time react. I felt them move towards me and felt others move forward, too. The very thing I'd been trying to avoid, and I'd set it off. Raina was laughing in my head, laughing at us all.

Chapter 25

RICHARD WAS LEANING over the arm of his throne, hair covering his face, when Sylvie grabbed me. I didn't fight her. Her fingers dug into my arms, and I knew I'd be bruised in the morning. Or maybe not. Maybe I'd heal it. Jacob was watching it all astonished and pleased.

I glanced back and found the bodyguards fighting. The leopards and rats were spreading out, the wolves beginning to close around them. I opened my mouth to yell something, but Richard's voice boomed over the clearing.

"Enough!" That one word froze us all, and we turned shocked faces to him. He was standing in front of his throne, blood spattered across one shoulder and on his upper chest. One side of his mouth was a red ruin. I'd never been able to do that kind of damage before.

He spat blood and said, "I'm not hurt. Some of you here have been inside the oubliette. You know what it was when Raina still lived. Can you blame the Nimir-Ra for hating me for putting her leopard down there?"

You could feel the tension begin to ease as the wolves pulled back. Richard had to order Jamil and Shang-Da to back off, and they and Claudia and Igor pushed at each other, like bullies that still didn't know who was tougher. I hadn't realized that Claudia was nearly six inches taller than Jamil, until they drew away from each other and he had to stare up at her to glare into her eyes.

Sylvie whispered in my ear, "Are you okay?"

I looked up at Richard. He was still bleeding. "Other than embarrassed, yeah."

She let me go, slowly, as if not sure that I was safe to let loose. She hovered right next to me, between me and Richard, until he motioned her back.

He stood in front of me, and we stared at each other. Blood still dripped from his mouth. "You pack a hell of a punch now," he said.

I nodded. "If you'd been human, what would that have done to you?"

"Broken my jaw, or maybe my neck."

"I didn't mean it," I said.

"Your Nimir-Raj will teach you how to judge your strength. You might stop going to your martial arts classes for a while, until you understand how your body works now."

"Good advice," I said.

He put his hand to his mouth, and it came away bright with blood. I had the urge to take his hand and lick the blood off of it. I wanted to climb his body and press my mouth to his and drink him down. The image was so vivid that I had to shut my eyes, so I couldn't see him standing there half-naked, bloodied, as if that would help me not want him. It didn't. I could smell his skin, the scent of him, and the fresh blood, like icing on a cake that I couldn't have.

"Go get your leopard, Anita."

I opened my eyes and looked up at him. "The oubliette was one of the things you fought against under Marcus. You said it was inhuman. I don't understand how you could use it."

"He was in there for nearly a day before I asked where they'd put him. That was my fault."

"But who's idea was it to put him there?" I asked.

Richard looked at Jacob. The look said it all.

I walked over to the tall man. "You never called me, Jacob."

"You got your leopard back, so what does it matter?"

"If you ever touch one of my people again, I'll kill you."

"You going to pit your kitty-cats against our pack?"

I shook my head. "No, Jacob, this is personal, between me and you. I know the rules. I make this a personal challenge between you and me, and that means that no one can help you."

"Or you," he said. He stared down at me trying to use his height to intimidate me. It didn't work. I was used to being short. I gave him dead eyes until the smirk on his face faltered and he took one step back, which pissed him off. But he didn't retake that step. Jacob might be able to kill Richard in a fair fight for dominance, but he'd never be a true Ulfric.

I stepped up close to him, close enough that a good insult would have made us touch. "There's something weak in you Jacob. I can smell it, and so can they. You may challenge Richard and win, but the pack will never accept you as Ulfric. You winning will tear them apart–it'll be a civil war."

Something flashed through his eyes.

"That doesn't scare you. You don't care," I said.

He stepped back from me, averting his eyes, his face. "You heard the Ulfric. Go fetch your cat before we change our minds."

"You couldn't change your mind with a hundred watt bulb and a team of helpers."

He frowned at me then. Sometimes my humor is a little esoteric, or maybe it's just not funny. Jacob didn't find it funny.

"Go with her, Sylvie, make sure she gets everything she needs to get him out of there and back to the cars safely," Richard said.

"Are you sure you want me to go?" she asked.

"We'll stay with him," Jamil said. None of them tried to hide the fact that they were looking at Jacob while they said it. Not only didn't they not trust him, but they didn't care that he knew that they didn't trust him. How had things downgraded to that? What had been happening in the pack that no one had told me about yet? Plenty, from the looks on everyone's faces.

"She can't go home until after the ceremony to break her ties with the pack" Jacob said.

"She will go home when I say she goes home," Richard said, voice low and full of that deep tone he got just before his voice crawled to something growling and inhuman.

"The candidates have all come prepared tonight, Ulfric, dressed to please you."

"Then they can dress to please me another night."

"You disappoint …"

"You are about to overstep yourself, Jacob." There must have been something in the way he said it, because Jacob finally shut up and gave a small bow. But he managed to make the movement mocking, and even from a distance you could tell he didn't mean it. But he lowered his eyes with his head, as he bent at the waist. It's a mistake to take your eyes off your opponent.

I asked, "Am I still lupa until the ceremony?"

"I suppose," Richard said.

"Yes," Sylvie said. And they looked at each other.

"Good." I kicked Jacob in the face, though not as hard as I'd hit Richard. You didn't have to kick as hard to do the same kind of damage.

I watched who in the pack made movements towards us and who didn't. I didn't see what everybody did, but I saw enough. Nobody near the throne made a single move to stop me, or help him.

Jacob staggered to his feet. His nose had burst like a piece of overripe fruit. Blood poured from his face, over his hands, like crimson water. He yelled at me, voice thick with the blood running down his throat. "You broke my nose!"

I was in a defensive stance, the one I'd learned in kenpo, just in case, but he didn't try to hit me back. I think he knew that there were too many people close at hand aching for an excuse to hurt him. Jacob was weak, but he was smarter than he looked, and not quite as arrogant.

"I am lupa of the Thronnos Rokke Clan. Maybe just for tonight, but I am lupa here. And he is Ulfric, and you will by God show some respect!"

"You have no right to question the Geri of this clan. I've earned my place. You just fucked the Ulfric."

I laughed, and it startled him, made him unsure. "I know pack law, Jacob. It doesn't matter how I got the job. All that matters is that I am lupa, and that means that except for the Ulfric, my word is law."

His eyes looked uncertain, and the first faint trace of fear showed, like a bitter scent on the wind. "You are about to be dethroned as lupa. Your word means nothing here."

"I am Ulfric here, Jacob, not you, and I say whose word means something and whose does not. Until we have the ceremony breaking her ties with our pack, Anita is still lupa, and I will support what she says."

"And I," Sylvie said.

"And I," Jamil said.

Shang-Da said, "I support my Ulfric in all things."

"Then let's have a little irony," I said. "Since it was Jacob's idea to put Gregory down in the oubliette, let him take Gregory's place."

Jacob started to protest, hands still trying to stop the blood flow from his nose. "You can't do that."

"Oh, but she can," Richard said, and there was a coldness in him that I'd never seen before. He wouldn't have come up with the idea himself, but he liked it. It let me know just how frustrated he'd been with Jacob.

"Great," I said. "Shall we all walk like civilized wereanimals to the oubliette and rescue Gregory?"

"I will not go willingly down in that hole," Jacob said. His voice sounded a little funny, what with all the blood and his nose smashed to hell, but he sounded sure of himself. He shouldn't have been.

"Your Ulfric and your lupa have both decreed you will go," Sylvie said. "To refuse the order is to refuse their authority."

Jamil continued, "To refuse their authority is to be declared outlaw from the clan."

Jacob glared at me when he said, "I will obey my Ulfric, but I do not acknowledge the Nimir-Ra as my lupa."

"If I say she is lupa, then to deny that is to question my authority as Ulfric," Richard said.

Jacob's eyes flicked to Richard. "We voted her out as our lupa."

"I'm voting her back in," Richard said, voice deep and quiet, but loud enough that it carried.

"Take another vote," Jacob said, still trying to slow the blood from his face. "It will go against her again."

"No, Jacob, you misunderstand me. I said, I am voting her back in, not you, not anyone else, just me."

Jacob's eyes widened. "You've preached about democracy in action since I joined this clan. Are you going back on all of it now?"

"Not on all of it, but we don't vote for Freki, or Geri, or for Hati and Skoll. We don't vote for Ulfric. Why should we vote for lupa?"

"She's fucking the Nimir-Raj. For that alone she should be cast out as lupa."

"That's my problem, not yours, not the pack's."

"You going to fuck her, too? You think the Nimir-Raj will share?"

Richard started to say something, but Micah spoke first, taking a step from the rest, his guards flanking him. "Why don't you ask the Nimir-Raj?"

Richard looked at me, a question in his eyes. I shrugged.

"Ask him, Jacob," Richard said. The blood had almost stopped dripping from Richard's mouth.

"You mind if the Ulfric fucks your Nimir-Ra?" Jacob was still bleeding like a stuck pig. His chest, stomach, even the front of his shorts were soaked with blood.

"I've agreed to any arrangement that Anita wishes, as long as she remains my Nimir-Ra and lover."

"You'd share her with another man?" Jacob said, voice thick with disbelief

"With two other men," Micah said.

That got almost everybody staring at him. I glanced at him, but mostly watched everyone else's reaction, especially Richard's. The others looked shocked, Richard looked thoughtful, as if Micah had finally done something he didn't hate.

"She is the Master of the City's human servant. Being my Nimir-Ra has not changed that. I've felt the mark that binds them together, and it is not something that will break, as, apparently, the mark that binds her to the Ulfric will not break."

"Nothing binds her to the Ulfric but her stubbornness, and his," Jacob said.

"You think so?" Micah made it a question.

Jacob looked uncertain. The blood from his nose was finally beginning to slow. "You've seen more than I've seen, if you think they still have a special bond."

"More than any of us have seen." This from Paris, who had pushed her way to the front of the crowd.

"I am Nimir-Raj, of course I see more than you do." His voice made it so logical, so matter of fact.

"I am Geri, third in line to the throne."

"Noah is my third in line. I think if you ask him he will say he did not see what I saw either. Third in line to be Nimir-Raj, or Ulfric, is not the same as being the real thing."

I fought not to give Micah the look of gratitude that I wanted to give him. We were still deep in bluff territory, and not safely out the other side yet.

"You can't mean to share your lupa with two other men," Paris said. She'd pushed her way to stand in front of Richard, with her back to me. She was either being insulting, or stupid. Maybe both.

Richard looked down at her, and it wasn't a friendly look. Somehow I didn't think Paris ever had a very good shot at being lupa, not with Richard in charge anyway. "What I and my lupa do, or don't do, is none of your business."

I saw her back stiffen, as if he'd hit her, and maybe he had hit her pride. She'd really believed she could seduce him into picking her. I could have told her that sex wasn't the key to Richard's heart. He liked it well enough, but it wasn't one of his top priorities, not if it interfered with other things that were. It had been the same mistake that Raina had made with him, or one of the mistakes she'd made with him. Raina had never really understood Richard, either.

"You can't just arbitrarily decide you don't need a vote for this," Jacob said.

"Yes," Richard said, "I can."

I stepped up beside Jacob. "That's what being Ulfric means, Jacob."

"You're going back to a dictatorship after all the high-minded talk," Jacob said.

"For tonight, it's sufficient that Anita is my lupa, and that's not going to change. We'll discuss everything else later."

"I say we put it to a vote whether the pack wants to go back to being a dictatorship," Jacob said.

"If you don't have someone set that nose, it may heal crooked," I said.

He glared at me. "You stay out of this."

Richard called up a man with short brown hair and a neat mustache. He shrugged a backpack off his shoulders and began taking out medical supplies. "Fix his nose," Richard said and then turned to Sylvie. "When he's bandaged up, pick some people and escort Jacob to the oubliette."

There were murmurings in the crowd. One clear voice that I hadn't heard before said, "You can't do that."

Richard looked up, searching the crowd, and they fell silent under his gaze. His power rolled out from him like a burning invisible fog, something that clung to your skin and made it hard to breath. They avoided his eyes; some even dropped down into submissive postures, their bodies low to the ground, eyes rolled up, arms and legs held close, making themselves seem small and defenseless, clearly asking not to be hurt.

"I am Ulfric here. If there is any among you that disagree with that, then you are free to challenge the next in line, and the next after that, until you are Freki, then declare yourself Fenrir, and you can challenge me. If you kill me then you can be Ulfric, and you can set any damn policy you want. Until that time, shut the fuck up and follow my orders."

I don't think I'd ever heard Richard cuss. The silence was thick enough to cut. It was Jacob who cut it, like I knew he would. He pushed the mustached doctor away impatiently, while the shorter man tried to pack his nose with what looked like gauze. "Anita shows back up, and so does your backbone. Does she kill and torture for you like Raina did for Marcus?"

Richard's fist struck out in a blur that I couldn't follow. It was almost magical. One moment Jacob was standing, the next moment he was on the ground with his eyes rolled back inside his head.

Richard turned to the rest of them, the dried blood decorating his nude upper body, his hair turned to spun bronze in the torchlight. His eyes had gone wolf amber, and looked more gold than normal against his darker than usual summer tan. "I thought we were people, not animals. I thought we could change the old ways and make something better. But we all felt it tonight when Anita and her leopards melded. Something safe and good. I've tried to be temperate and kind, and look where it's gotten us. Jacob said Anita is my backbone. No, but she's doing something right, something that I've missed. If you won't take kindness, then we'll have to try something else." He looked at me with those alien eyes, and said, "Let's go get your leopard. We need to get him out of the oubliette before Jacob comes to." And he stalked off through the trees and left the rest of us to trail after. There was no question about what to do next. We followed Richard into the trees. We followed the Ulfric, because you're supposed to follow your king, if he's worthy of the name. For the first time ever I thought maybe, just maybe, Richard was going to be Ulfric after all.


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