Home > The Chosen (Black Dagger Brotherhood #15)(3)

The Chosen (Black Dagger Brotherhood #15)(3)
Author: J. R. Ward


“Take your son from my body,” she commanded between pants. “Pull him from me and hold him upon your beating heart, know he is flesh of your flesh!”

With his weapons and his battle gear latched upon his form, Hharm sank unto his knees as a second foot emerged.

“Pull him! Pull him!” Blood came forth and the female screamed again and the young did not vary its position. “Help me! He is affixed!”

Hharm stayed back from the straining mess and wondered how many of the females he had impregnated had gone through thus. Was it always so unpleasant, or was she just weak?

For truth, he should have let her do this on her own, but he did not trust her. The only way he could be certain that his young was male was to be at the birthing bed. Otherwise, he would nae have put it past her to swap out a far less desirable daughter for the coveted masculine offspring—of another’s loins.

This was, after all, a negotiated transaction, and he knew all too well how such things were readily tampered with.

The sound that next arose from the female’s open throat was of such volume and duration that it stopped his thoughts. Then came the grunting, the female’s dirty, bloodied hands gripping the insides of her thighs and pulling up and out, widening the gulch at her apex. And just when he thought for certain she was dying, when he debated whether he would have to bury them both—and he promptly decided not, as the creatures of the woods would consume the remains readily—the young popped forward some distance, clearing some internal obstacle.

And there it was.

Hharm lunged forth. “My son!”

Without another thought, he reached out his hands and grabbed hold of the slippery little ankles. It was alive, the young was kicking with force, struggling against the confinement of the birthing canal.

“Come to me, my son,” Hharm commanded as he pulled.

The female writhed in agony, but he gave no thought to her. Hands—tiny, perfectly formed hands—appeared next, along with the rounded belly and the chest that even in its nascent form promised great breadth.

“A warrior! ’Tis a warrior!” Hharm’s heart beat hard, his triumph thundering in his ears. “My son shall carry forth my name! He shall be known as Hharm as I was before he!”

The female lifted her head, the veins in her neck standing out like coarse ropes under her too-pale skin. “You shall mate me,” she rasped. “Swear to it … swear to it on your honor, or I shall hold him within me until he turns blue and enters the Fade.”

Hharm smiled coldly, baring his fangs. And then he unsheathed one of his black daggers from his chest. Angling the sharp point down, he placed it over her lower belly.

“I will gut you like a deer to free it quite readily, nalla.”

“And who would feed your precious son? Your seed shall not survive without me to succor him.”

Hharm thought about the raging storm outside. How far they were from vampire settlements. How little he knew of a young’s requirements.

“You will mate me as promised,” she groaned. “Swear it!”

Her eyes were bloodshot and crazed, her long hair sweated and tangled, her body naught that he could e’er a’rise again for. But her logic arrested him. To lose what he wanted in the face of precisely the arrangement he had been prepared to make, simply because she was presenting it as her will, was not a wise course.

“I swear it,” he muttered.

With that, she bore down anew, and yes, now he would aid her, tugging in rhythm to her pushes.

“He is coming … he is …”

The young arrived out of her in a rush, fluid bursting forth with him, and as Hharm caught his son in his palms, he knew an unexpected joy that was so resonant—

His eyes narrowed as he cast his vision upon the face. Thinking that there was membrane or the like masking the young, he cast his hand down the features that were a mixture of his and the female’s.

Alas … it changed naught.

“What curse is this?” he demanded. “What curse … is this!”

 

 

ONE


MOUNTAINS OF CALDWELL, NEW YORK, PRESENT DAY

The Black Dagger Brotherhood were keeping him alive, so that they could kill him.

Given the sum of Xcor’s earthly pursuits, which had been at their best violent, and at their worst downright depraved, it seemed an apt end for him.

He had been born upon a winter’s night, during a historic blizzard’s gale. Deep within a damp and dirty cave, as icy gusts had raked o’er the Old Country, the female who had carried him had screamed and bled to bring forth unto the Black Dagger Brother Hharm the son that had been demanded of her.

He had been desperately wanted.

Until he had fully arrived.

And that was the beginning of his story … which had ultimately landed him here.

In another cave. On another December’s eve. And as with his actual birth, the wind howled to greet him, although this time, it was a return to consciousness as opposed to an expelling unto independent life that brought him forth.

As with a newly born young, he had little control over his body. Incapacitated he was, and that would have been true even without the steel chains and bars that were locked across his chest, his hips, his thighs. Machines, at odds with the rustic environs, beeped behind his head, monitoring his respiration, heart rate, blood pressure.

With all the ease of unoiled gears, his brain began to function properly beneath his skull, and when thoughts finally coalesced and formed rational sequences, he recalled the series of events that had resulted in him, the leader of the Band of Bastards, falling into the custody of what had been his enemies: an attack upon him from behind, a concussive fall, a stroke or some such that had rendered him prone and on life support.

At the non-extant mercy of the Brothers.

He had surfaced unto awareness once or twice during his captivity, recording his captors and his whereabouts in this earthen corridor that was inexplicably shelved with jars of all kinds. The returns to consciousness had never lasted long, however, the connectivity in his mental arena unsustainable for any length of time.

This emergence was different, however. He could sense the shift within his mind. Whate’er had been injured had finally healed and he was back from the foggy landscape of neither-life-nor-death—and staying on the vital side.

“… really worry about is Tohr.”

The tail end of the sentence uttered by a male entered Xcor’s ear as a series of vibrations, the translation of which was on a delay, and whilst the words caught up to the syllables, he shifted his eyes over. Two heavily armed figures in black had their backs to him and he reclosed his lids, not wishing to reveal his change of status. Their identities were duly noted, however.

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