Bound by Sin (Immortal Brothers #3)

By: Jacquelyn Frank

Jaykun felt the sword puncture the hard leather of his armored vest, the power of its wielder outstanding. The sword went through his vest and entered his heart, cleaving it nearly in two. The shock of it drove him to his knees.

His enemy leaned in with snarling laughter and spit in Jaykun’s face.

Jaykun lost his temper.

He surged back up to his feet, startling the man looming over him. He reached for the abandoned hilt of the sword driven into his chest, and with a mighty heave, he yanked it out of his body. He knew he had only minutes before the trauma caught up to him, so he used those minutes wisely.

Finding himself armed with a sword in each hand, he hurled himself at his enemy, who was now weaponless. With an ear-splitting battle cry, he plunged both swords under his enemy’s armor—one through the man’s neck, the other under his arm and, reciprocating the honor, through his heart.

When this man fell, he did not get up again.

Jaykun’s enemy was facedown in the mud and blood only seconds later, having drawn his last breath in this world.

Jaykun threw down the inferior sword the man had used in an attempt to slay him and turned to look back toward the encampment. He began to walk toward it, the seconds ticking by with every pump of his damaged heart. He staggered, but he forced himself to remain on his feet. If he went down into the mud, he would be left there for hours, until the battle was over and one or both of his brothers came to retrieve his body.

Instead he walked off the battlefield, managing somehow to avoid engaging another enemy combatant. He stumbled up the embankment—the high ground from where they had launched their offensive—and lurched toward the command tent. He reached it by sheer force of will, but only just. He stumbled inside, startling his elder brother Dethan, who had been poring over a map of the field and its outlying areas—as well as the prize that lay beyond the battle: the city of Kriza.

“Jaykun!” Dethan cried out, dropping what was in his hands and hurrying to catch Jaykun before his face hit the ground full force. Dethan eased him down to the ground. “Tonkin! Where is my brother Garreth?” he demanded of his page.

“I will fetch him from the battlefield!”

“Have a care. I don’t want you injured as well!” Dethan said. He rolled Jaykun onto his back and watched as he gasped for breath and grew pale and cold.

But he would not die. Only a god-made weapon that took off his head, or the gods themselves, could kill him. It had been an ordinary weapon that had pierced Jaykun’s chest; that much was obvious. But it had hurt just the same and would continue to do so until Jaykun began to heal.

“It was four on one. I had them all…then a fifth came out of nowhere and plunged the bloody thing in!” Jaykun panted.

“I will get the mem presently,” Dethan said, looking around for a priestess within sight of the tent, who could use her healing gift and hasten Jaykun’s healing processes. It would help alleviate the pain more quickly.

But oddly enough, Jaykun wasn’t feeling any pain. Just cold. A bone-deep chill that had him shaking.

“You would be better served to have Tonkin fetch a mem rather than Garreth,” Jaykun wheezed.

“I was not thinking,” Dethan confessed. “I will find one at once.”

“No.” Jaykun reached up and grabbed his brother by the armored brace on his forearm. The armor was god made, just as Dethan’s sword was—the sword that presently was clutched in Jaykun’s hand. He wanted to make himself release it. To force himself to relax. But he couldn’t seem to accomplish it. He was going numb slowly, which he supposed was better than dealing with pain. “I will be fine.”

“Eventually,” Dethan bit out. “But that will take time and I will not have you suffer in the interim. Next time you are wearing my armor as well as taking my sword!”

“No. I will not have you unprotected. Besides, you know I do not like to wear full armor. It slows me down.”

“By the gods, you are a stubborn man,” Dethan hissed at him. “Will you not let anyone help you?”

Jaykun didn’t reply to that. He loved his brothers, but he would not depend on them for anything. It was not that he didn’t trust them, but he would not burden them with the trials of his life. They were his to bear and no one else’s.

“You! Mem! Come and help my brother!” Dethan called out suddenly to a mem passing by the opening of the tent. She was very young and fair-haired, and since she was a priestess of Weysa, the goddess of conflict and war, she wore armor. It was hardened leather like Jaykun’s was, meant to help protect but light enough to move in. Of course leather armor had its flaws, as was exhibited by Jaykun’s present condition, but overall it did its job.