Saasz hän ku andam szabadon--take what I freely offer. My life is your life, my blood your blood. Together we are strong.” He used the formal words, meaning every one of them. He would have given his life for their leader. The others began the ritual healing chant. They spoke in a hypnotic rhythm, and the ancient tongue was beautiful.
Behind him, Jacques heard the murmur of voices, smelled the sweet aroma of soothing, healing herbs. Carpathian soil, so rich in healing properties, was mixed with herbs and saliva from their mouths and placed over the wounds. Jacques held his brother in his arms, felt his strength, his life, flow into Mikhail, and he thanked God for his ability to help him. Mikhail was a good man, a great man, and his people could not lose him.
Mikhail felt strength pouring into him, into his depleted muscles, into his brain and heart. Jacques’s strong body trembled, and he sat abruptly on the edge of the bed, still cradling Mikhail in his arms, still holding his brother’s head to make it easier for him to replenish what he had lost.
Mikhail resisted, surprised at how strong Jacques still was, how weak he remained despite the transfer. Stop, Jacques, I endanger you. He said the words sharply in his mind because Jacques refused to release him.
“It is not enough, my brother. Take what is freely offered with no thought but to heal.” Jacques continued the chant as long as he was able, signaling Eric when he was growing too weak to continue.
Eric slashed his wrist without thought, without wincing at the gaping, painful wound, offering his wrist to Jacques, who continued to supply Mikhail with his life’s blood. Eric and Byron provided the soft rhythmic words of ritual while Jacques replenished himself and Mikhail.
The room itself seemed filled with warmth and love, and smelled clean and fresh. The ritual healing signaled a new beginning. It was Eric who called a halt when he could see Mikhail’s color had returned, when he could hear the steady beat of his heart and feel the blood flowing freely, safely, in his veins.
Byron put a supporting arm around Jacques, and helped him to a chair. Without a word he took Eric’s place, supplying life-giving fluid to Jacques.
Mikhail stirred, accepted the pain of his injury as part of the healing process, as part of the mechanics of living. He turned his head. His dark gaze sought and found Jacques, rested on him like a touch.
“Is he all right?” His voice was very soft, but commanding all the same. Mikhail was authoritative no matter the circumstances.
Jacques looked up, pale and wan, flashed a grin, and winked. “I spend a lot of time pulling your butt out of trouble, big brother. You would think a man a good two hundred years older than me would have the sense to watch his own backside.”
Mikhail smiled tiredly. “You get pretty cocky when I am lying on my backside.