Home > Destiny Rising (The Vampire Diaries: The Hunters #3)(9)

Destiny Rising (The Vampire Diaries: The Hunters #3)(9)
Author: L.J. Smith

Stefan pulled her closer against him. From their seats, Matt and Zander were watching her with almost identical expressions of sympathy and concern. Meredith was right: Elena wasn't alone. She let out a breath, and her shoulders loosened, releasing some of the misery she'd been holding since James had told her the secret of her birth.

"I'm glad Alaric's coming. And it's a good idea to ask him what he can find out. Maybe James can tell us more, too," Elena said. She tucked a lock of hair behind her ear, thinking. "Actually, he'd better be able to tell us something. He's known about this since before I was born. He's had about twenty years to find out something useful." Then she clapped her hands once, and tried to push all her fears aside. "For now, though, we need to focus on Ethan and the vampires." Elena felt her old self coming back to the surface, forceful and energetic and ready to make plans.

Stefan squeezed Elena's knee as he climbed off the bed. "Tonight is our last chance to stop Ethan," he said, standing in the middle of the room and looking at them all seriously. His face was shadowed and intense, his normally leaf-green eyes dark. "Tomorrow is the equinox, when the separation between the realms of the living and the dead is at its weakest. That's when they'll try and resurrect Klaus. Meredith, what's our weapons situation?"

Meredith rose, too, and opened her closet, pulling out her various bags of weapons: her special hunter's stave with its spikes of materials from silver to ash to tiny hypodermic needles, made to affect all the different creatures a hunter might fight; an assortment of knives of various sizes, from a long silver dagger to a thin, practical boot knife, all razor-sharp; staffs and throwing stars and machetes and maces and a number of things Elena couldn't even begin to guess at the names for.

"Wow," said Zander, who had rolled onto his stomach on Bonnie's bed to watch her. He looked at Meredith with new respect and a bit of trepidation. "You're like a one-woman army."

Meredith flushed slightly. "It might be overkill," she said, "but I like to be prepared." She pulled out a wooden trunk from her closet. "And I have this. Alaric helped me gather it all before school started." She opened the box with a half-apologetic glance at Stefan, who flinched and stepped backward, away from the trunk. Elena craned to see. It looked like some kind of plant in there, filling the box to the brim.

Oh. The box was crammed full of vervain. There was probably enough there to incapacitate a whole colony of vampires, if they could only figure out a way to rub it on them, or get them to eat it. At the very least, they'd all be able to protect themselves from being Influenced.

"Good," Stefan said briskly, recovering from his instinctive reaction to the vervain. "That should come in handy. Now, Matt, what can you tell us about the underground tunnels?"

Elena felt a little pulse of pride run through her as Stefan turned to Matt, quickly getting him to sketch out on paper what he remembered and what he had heard about the Vitales' safe house and network of tunnels. Stefan was nodding and asking questions, gently nudging Matt's memory, encouraging him to share even the smallest detail. Matt's eyes widened, his voice gaining strength as Stefan's questions continued, as if Matt was beginning to piece together the bigger picture in a new way.

Stefan had changed. When he had first come to Fell's Church, he had been so quiet and distant, reluctant to make any kind of mark on the humans who surrounded him. He had felt, Elena knew, like he was diseased, like he couldn't be among mortals without spreading death and despair.

Now he had the quality of a natural leader. As if he felt Elena's eyes on him, Stefan glanced up at her, his lips forming a small, private smile just for her. She knew this change in Stefan was due to her and to all that had happened in the past year. Surely, whatever Damon had done - even if he was sinking into violence again because of Elena - here in Stefan was something that she could be uncomplicatedly proud of?

"Couldn't we do something with all that vervain?" Bonnie asked suddenly. "Like, burn it, or make it a gas somehow and fill the tunnels with its smoke? If we blocked the other exits, all the vampires would go into the house. We could trap them and burn the house down, or at least get to all of them at once."

"That's a good idea, Bonnie," Stefan said. Zander agreed enthusiastically and Bonnie's face lit up with pleasure. It was funny, Elena thought, that they were all used to thinking of Bonnie as sort of the junior member of the group, the one who needed to be protected, and she really wasn't; she hadn't been for a long time.

"What other resources do we have?" Stefan asked thoughtfully, pacing back and forth across the room.

"I could get the guys to help out," Zander suggested. "We've been after the Vitale vampires for a while. We won't be as strong as we would be if it were the right lunar phase, and not all ten of us can transition without the full moon. But we work pretty well together . . ." His voice trailed off. "If you want us," he added. "I know you don't all feel comfortable with werewolves, and, to be honest, we're not usually big fans of vampires. No offense." He looked from Stefan to Meredith, who still held the knife against her leg.

Meredith, of course, was the one most likely to object to bringing a Pack of werewolves into their group. Bonnie had assured them that Zander's Pack was different than the werewolves they'd met before - that they were good, more like guard dogs than wild animals. But Meredith had been raised to hunt monsters.

Now she nodded slowly to Zander, though, and said only, "We can use all the help we can get." Bonnie and Meredith locked eyes across the room and Bonnie's lips tipped up in a tiny, satisfied smile.

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