Chapter 26

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DOMINIC CLIMBED OUT OF THE CAR, where he'd parked on a quiet street in the middle of the quaint old city of Esztergom. The day was ending, filled with long shadows between buildings and under  trees. Despite the late hour and a clear understanding of what he faced, arriving in Esztergom gave him a strange sense of relief. By then, Maiel would be surrounded by all kinds of shades and mudeaters. He would be lucky to get within a mile of wherever she hid. The challenge was welcome. He looked around, half expecting a dark mob and half wondering where to begin. The city was much larger than he expected for old Europe. He sighed with despair.

"Where to now?" Dominic asked his guide.

Lena looked to the wolves. Her small mouth twisted.

"He can't tell," Lena said.

"What do you mean, he can't tell?" Dominic responded.

Looking to be certain they were still alone, Dominic stepped closer to where the girl stood on the sidewalk with her four-legged friends. Lena shook her head. Dominic set his fists on his hips and leaned over her as if he could intimidate an answer out of her.

"He can't find her anymore. He said there's too much darkness," Lena told him.

Argus growled low. Shee went to her mate's side, her head low and her eyes on Dominic. Neither animal appeared intimidated. Rather, they looked ready to pounce on him.

"Argus—"

"Akha," a voice called from behind.

Dominic spun around. A red and black apparition stood there.

"Damn it," Dominic cursed at being startled.

The foggy image belonged to only one being.

"Damn what?" Zach asked as his form cleared and Dominic's heart slowed.

"Why are you here?" Dominic demanded.

"I thought you'd be glad to see me. Instead you demand I send some unknown thing into the chasm of Jahannam?" Zach answered.

Zach assessed him, but his face didn't reveal what he saw. Dominic narrowed his eyes, holding his ground. The expression was odd, considering it was a little late for him to try and act authoritatively, after failing to do so when needed centuries ago. Dominic drew a deep breath through his nose and his temper cooled some. Zach wasn't there to poke fun.

"Our janya sent me. He wanted me to let you know that you've run out of time. King Adonai has sent his legions to the gates. They wait to engage Belial should he make his move."

"I need more time. This is the city. I can't just conjure her from the stones, but I'm getting closer," Dominic replied.

Zach pursed his lips, doubtful. Dominic looked to Lena, gesturing toward the alder for her to confirm their progress. She stared back at him stonily. Of course she took Zach's side. Their weird little connection guaranteed it.

"Obviously not enough," Dominic said.

"Obviously," Lena muttered.

Stepping toward him, Zach gave a slight curl of his lip. He straightened Dominic's collar and dusted his shoulders roughly. His eyes looked him over again, displeased with his state of disarray.

"My sister's wellbeing hangs in the balance. I need you to stop fighting us and listen," Zach advised.

The fire in Dominic's throat flared at Zach's touch and flared even higher at his words. A desire to pummel his brother-in-law's face, to watch him bleed, overtook his senses. Gripping his fists at his sides, he imagined the pleasure it would give him to tear the flesh straight from the alder's hide. He nearly felt the wings in his hands as he bent and broke them. Zach grasped his shoulders, jarring him out of his musings. Dominic stared back at him, almost confused by the touch, almost confused as to  who he was.

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