Blind Salvage(Rylee Adamson #5)(19) by Shannon Mayer
Liam and I settled into a jog, catching up to Dox as he rounded a corner and entered a second wide courtyard, this one with small metal trivets sunk at intervals in the ground. It looked like a setup for a fancy water fountain, but I didn’t ask. Nope, I managed to keep my mouth shut. At the center of the courtyard, I could feel the difference in the air. I let my eyes droop to half mast, seeing the slightest of differences. This was not a mirrored reflection like Doran’s house, this was an actual entrance to the veil. In the middle of the gods-be-damned courtyard. The entrance point seemed to be one of the sunken metal trivets, rusted and bent; I would have bet good money that the humans didn’t think it worked anymore.
Dox crossed the veil as he stepped on the metal trivet, his body shifting between the human world and the supernatural. Liam and I followed.
Before we could finish crossing the courtyard, three ogres stepped out from the buildings around us, their skin shimmering in the rain. Each one of them towered over Dox, their faces bejeweled with gold. Bright gemstones pierced not only in their eyebrows, lips and ears, but were set in their cheeks and chins too. Dressed in deep brown leather pants, knee-high boots, and vests, their arms and much of their torsos were bare to the weather, but they didn’t seem to mind. I caught a glimmer of steel when they moved. Weapons, of what kind I couldn’t be sure, but they were packing. And they were big boys.
More disturbing than the weapons though—they had violet skin, the skin that had covered the book of the Lost. The book Milly had stolen. A chill swept over me that had nothing to do with the inclement weather. Coincidence? I think not.
“Motherfucking pus monkey, will you look who it is,” the largest of the ogres crowed, his hands on his hips, violet eyes dancing with laughter. I took that as a good sign. An ogre who was quick to laugh, that had to be good, right?
Dox though, he tensed. Maybe I was wrong.
My friend shifted his stance and lifted one big blue hand to the others, palm out. “You are hale, Tin?”
Tin gave a laugh. “We don’t stand on puke drinking ceremony here, little man. You know that.”
The second largest boy stepped up, eyes narrowing as he eyed me up. “You bring dinner with you? A little Tracker with a side of wolf. Not bad. Not the best combination, but I’ve had worse. Remember those smelly shit waffles that Sas brought home?”
It took everything I had to stand still, to not tell him where he could stuff his dinner and just how to season it, shit waffles or not.
Dox laughed, but I could hear the force in it. “Yeah, those were … not good. But don’t tell Sas I said that, she’d skin me alive. And no, these are my friends. Rylee and Liam, meet the triplets. Tin, Dev, and Lop.”
The second biggest one was Dev; the smallest one, who still stood at least nine feet, was Lop. Their eyes widened as Dox spoke, and it was Lop who blurted it out.
“Listen, dick nose douche biscuit you might be, but even you aren’t that stupid, are you? You don’t bring ‘friends’ here.”
Everything in me wanted to let them have it, and it took all my willpower to keep my mouth shut, though I had no doubt Liam could hear my teeth grinding. Doran had said to follow my guts, and my guts were screaming at me to give these three a big freaking piece of my mind. The potty mouth piece.
Lop took a step forward, his eye’s widening as he took me, and all my barely contained fury, in. “Ah, look at the little Tracker. I think the white trash taint jockey wants a shot at us.”
I sucked in a sharp breath, and then glared at Dox, but it was Liam who stepped forward. Yeah, neither one of us did so well with insults.
“What did you say?” His voice was a bare growl, his lips rippling as they pulled back over teeth that didn’t look so human.
A swell of appreciation caught me off guard. In my life, there weren’t a lot of instances where someone stood up for me. Usually, it was the other way around.
The triplets started to laugh, slapping their big hands on their thighs, like distant cracks of thunder. “Ooeee, I think the Tracker is banging the dog. What a slutty c*ck knob she is!”
I managed to get a hand on Liam before he took another step, but his whole body vibrated with anger. I knew what this was about; they were trying to get us riled up, to make us stupid. I’d dealt with supernaturals long enough to know that Dox was going about this the wrong way, even if it was his species.
Again, I looked at Dox, whose eyes were lowered. “You think submission is going to gain their respect? Look at them; we’re a joke to them! You’re a joke to them.” I kept my voice as low as I could. “You think that they respect you because you won’t defend yourself or your friends?”
Their laughter continued and I knew then that perhaps, as much as these were his people, Dox didn’t understand them. This, in some ways, was more my world than his. He’d lived, hiding out and being ‘human’ for too long.
“I trusted you.” I stepped out in front of Dox. “And now you’re going to have to trust me.”
His head snapped up, his eyes uncertain. But he didn’t try to stop me.
That’s what I’d thought.
With my boys at my back, I faced the triplets. “You three about done with your idiotic f**kery?”
Roaring with laughter, Dev actually went to one knee, holding his guts with one hand. “Oh, gods. What a pompous bitch nazi she is.”
I sensed Liam moving without actually seeing it, and I held up my hand, staying him. This was a game, one I’d played before. Like a schoolyard stand off. I’d never lost one of those, and I wasn’t about to start now.
I smiled at them and took a few steps closer. “Which one of you is the youngest?”
Without error, Lop and Dev pointed at Tin. He smiled at me, all big white teeth.
I beckoned him with one finger. “Mind coming a little closer, ass face?”
With three long strides, he was more than a little closer. He loomed over me, all ten-plus feet of him.
“Close enough for you, pie eating—”
I swung hard, the height perfect for an upper cut. My fist connected with his oversized man jewels, and he dropped to his knees, where I grabbed the ring piercing his eyebrows, pulling until blood dripped. “I am not a child, to follow the rules of your children. You are going to be polite to Dox, and you are going to be polite to me, or I will let my wolf rip your tiny little purple balls off and feed them to the Roc. You understand?”
He groaned, but I saw the flicker in his eyes, the twitch in his muscles. With a roar, he jerked backward, but I didn’t let go, the rings tearing out above his eyes. He slapped his hands over the open wounds, covering his eyes as he bled.
“WHORING SLUT BLOSSOM!”
His brothers didn’t join in the fight, which I was counting on. Instead, Dev rolled on the ground with laughter, while Lop leaned against a building heaving for breath, tears running down his violet-skinned cheeks.
“Tin, you’re getting roasted by a WOMAN! A pu**y is taking you out!” Dev shouted, his voice reverberating through the courtyard.
Dox moved up beside me. “You cannot do this, Rylee. You will have to kill him!”
I looked up at him. “I know. But I have no choice. They do not respect you, and I don’t want you to have to kill one of your friends. So I will do it.”
That seemed to get their attention. The two ogres stopped laughing, and Tin rubbed the blood from his forehead.
“What did you say?” Lop straightened.
I pulled a sword from my back and rolled it in my hand, the weight and feel of it a steady comfort. “I’m going to kill him. Will you respect me then?”
They went very still, like statues.
Dev shook his head. “Nah. We’d have to kill you then. And what the hell kind of fun is that?”
I frowned at him. “Are you three always this confusing?”
They shared a glance, then nodded and spoke in unison.
I glanced over my shoulder at Dox. His eyes were wide as he shrugged. “I played with them when I was a child; they were my only friends. They are the only ones I could bring you to that I didn’t think would try to kill you outright.”
“Bitch tore out my rings,” Tin grumbled, swiping the blood from his forehead.
“Then don’t talk to me like that. Only my friends get to call me names.”
Maybe we wouldn’t have gotten any further, except for one thing.
A new group of ogres showed up. And they were not laughing.
THERE WERE TEN of them, and they had the deepest ebony black skin I had ever seen, and I’d tangled with demons. Their clothing echoed their skin, and it was hard to tell where cloth began and skin ended. Even their eyes were black, the depthless dark of a predator made to kill. The only splash of color, if it could be called that, was their weapons. They carried an array of weapons, but mostly spiked clubs that carried flecks of blood and flesh on them from whatever slaughter they’d come from. There was no time for thought, though, after the initial realization that the courtyard had just filled up with ogres.
They spared us and the laughing triplets no words, just launched an eerily silent, brutal attack.
Seven went for the triplets, and three came for us. Dox hesitated.
I didn’t. I ran forward, ducked under the swing of the closest ogre and drove my swords upward, through his ribs and pierced his heart. As he fell, I spun toward the ogre going after Dox.
Liam’s snarls ripped the air, and I thought at first he’d shifted again. But no, he stood, dodging blows, using his now seemingly puny blades against the ogre. But he was doing damage, hamstringing the ogre, dropping him and then slicing his throat. Fighters, the ogres might be, but they hadn’t expected us to fight back, or to know how to fight.
The third ogre had Dox by the throat and had his back to me, which made killing him swift and easy. I slid my blade through his black hide from the back, again piercing the heart and dropping him instantly. Dox shook him off and scooped up the club the black-skinned ogre had held. A rage I’d never seen before clouded his eyes.