and caught on a candle. Grabbing a matchstick that laid on the hearth, I lighted the candle and the hut was illuminated.

I noticed a clean piece of rag and water in a large basin. ”This hut has to have been inhabited by peasant humans. Their scent was really disgusting. ” I mused.

Grabbing both, I limped back to the mat and cleaned her wounds. Now that the wound was free of blood, I could look at it better and saw that it wasn a deep cut, rather a little slash. I pressed my lips on the cut.

I was almost there, she would live. If saving my mates life was the last thing I would achieve as the king of the Valerian Kingdom, then so be it.

~The next morning~

I hopped and staggered towards the hut, logs of wood in arms and the screech of the wind resumed. I had ventured out of the hut in search for wood to keep my mate warm as it begun snowing immediately after I got the wound on her neck to stop bleeding out.

The throb in my ankle had gotten worse and it was terrible because I couldn shift no matter how hard I tried. I hadn just twisted the damn appendage, it was broken. I would have to wait to heal to be able to continue the journey.

The forest was obviously enchanted with black magic for the season was for the rays of the sun so the magic was trying to make it impossible for me to take my mate over to the vampire kingdom.

With every step I took, I was vehemently made aware of my increasing weariness, how I was too exhausted to carry on.

Ancientrova still laid a league beyond, I judged, but I might never make it there, not with my broken ankle and my unconscious mate.

Finally, I caught sight of the hut again. it was a crude, pathetic dwelling but by far better than no shelter at all. Wed be out of the wind within its crumbling walls at least, for now…

Slouching, I made it through the low opening of the door just as my legs gave out beneath me. With a grunt, I whirled to my knees and the wood tumbled from my arms and rolled onto the earthen floor, making so much noise yet my mate did not so much as stir or utter a single moan of discomfort from the mat I laid her on.

”Forgive me, My sleeping killer mate, for this rough entrance in your bower. ” I said grimly on the silence when I had recovered my breath.

Unbuckling the black-enamored gold brooch that fastened my cloak, I drew the bearskin cloak from my shoulders and covered my mate to her chin, tucking the edge snugly about her body.

Then I drew the matches from the top of the hearth with cold-numbed fingers and clumsily set about building a fire.

The wood was wet so the fire was barely sizzling.

Rubbing my hands together again, and blowing upon them to warm myself, I turned to my mate. I grazed my knuckles across her cheek. It was as cold as ice. Growling a curse, I pulled down the cloak I covered her with and reached out to take her hand and rub some warmth into it but my hand brushed her gown.

”Bloody moon, what in the world happened? Why was her clothing drenched as though snow had begun to melt? There was no way snow should be on her for she was unconscious and I left her in the hut. ”

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