Blind Salvage(Rylee Adamson #5)(7) by Shannon Mayer
A roar came from outside. The giant was still stomping around, and pissed as all get out. He gave me an idea. A bad idea maybe, but it might be the only chance we had.
“Pamela, knock out that arch.”
She spun, clapped her hands together and then flung them apart. The arch over the entryway blasted apart with the force of her spell, and as the dust settled, a loud, booming laugh floated down to us.
Garbling his language, whatever it was, the giant stomped into the courtyard, scooping up the closest red cap and jammed him, pike and all, into his mouth.
I blinked several times. That had been the hand that I’d cut off his fingers. And while they were maybe a bit on the short side, they’d grown back. Son of a bitch, I didn’t know giants had that ability.
The red caps were torn, half of them engaging the giant, the other half standing in our way. Better odds than we had before. Liam fired the crossbow, the bolt taking the closest red cap in his right eye. With a scream, the red cap went down to his knees, and then fell forward onto his face. Liam was already reloading the crossbow before the red cap hit the ground.
“Pamela, out front,” I said. “I’ll keep an eye on the big bastard.”
Trusting my crew, I let them take the lead. Which meant I had to let them guard my back while I watched the giant take out the red caps one by one. Their fighting style was guerrilla, striking hard and then darting out of the giant’s way, inflicting blows, but not any real damage that I could see. The giant’s skin was thick, and the red caps weapons weren’t spelled to cut deep like my swords.
Unfortunately for them, the giant caught on faster than I had thought he could, and in a matter of minutes, he’d eaten four more of them, armor and all.
“Rylee, we have a problem,” Liam said calmly, like he was telling me about the upcoming weather.
I turned away from the giant and his snacks. Ahead of us another legion of red caps trotted into the castle courtyard. Three rows of ten—maybe that wasn’t a legion, I didn’t really know for sure. But another thirty red caps? Shit.
A body went flying by us and I ducked, rather belatedly. I turned to the giant, who had demolished the last of the red caps and was now eyeing us up. I saluted him with my sword, another idea forming.
“You remember this?” I called up to him.
Apparently he did, as he flexed his hand with his newly regrown fingers. He roared and I did the only thing I could think of. I ran toward him.
OKAY, SO MAYBE—again—it wasn’t the best idea I’d ever had. “Stick with me,” I gasped out, and again, Liam and Pamela moved with me. I wasn’t worried about Alex; he wouldn’t stray from my side with a battle like this going on. He panted, alternating between whimpers and swearing at the red caps, but he didn’t get in the way.
Through the giant’s legs I ran, skidding through the blasted rock and vaulting over a downed block. My feet hit the ground on the other side and the rib that had been knocking on my lung slid through it. Sharp, piercing pain rocketed through me, and I clutched my chest, still managing to get around the broken entryway, before flattening myself against the outside wall of the castle. Now the giant stood between us, and the red caps, giving us time to regroup.
Pamela and Liam plastered themselves next to me.
Liam smiled over at me. “Out of sight, out of mind. Too bad it isn’t always that easy.”
I couldn’t smile back, just slid to the ground, blood bubbling up to coat my tongue. I swallowed the coppery flavor back, knowing that if they saw it, they would panic. And while it was bad, I would survive; it just hurt like a son of a bitch to breathe. Or move. Or blink.
“Rylee bleeding.” Alex sniffled, the little rat fink.
“I’m fine.” Okay, that’s what I said, but the blood in my mouth made it a rather garbled ‘I’m fine.’
The sounds of death and destruction rolled out of the castle around us. The giant was cleaning house, as I’d hoped.
“Rylee, open your eyes.” Liam called to me, and I wondered when I had closed them.
I took a slow, shallow breath. “Ribs should only be outside of lungs.”
His hands hovered over me. “Shit.”
“I can carry her, if you can clear the way,” Pamela said, and I started to protest that I could walk. And while my legs weren’t injured, with each breath, the rib pushed further in and it felt like it was aiming for my heart, the traitorous little bastard.
It didn’t matter how tough of a supernatural you were, heart shots tended to be deal breakers, and I was no exception to that rule.
“Yes, Alex, you guard Pamela against anything that shows up,” Liam said, and my eyelids fluttered. Gods, this hurt. The pain and lack of oxygen was beyond mind-numbing.
“Pamela, you take Rylee to the dungeons. Just keep heading down.”
I wanted to protest, point out that the exit in the dungeons would take us to New Mexico, not North Dakota. Why would we be going to New Mexico?
“I can’t lift her!” Pamela cried, and I did open my eyes then. This was one of those rare times that my Immunity was a real bitch, and peeling it back over my whole body, well, I didn’t think I could do that. Liam’s arms went around me, and I had to bite back a whimper as he lifted me up, doing his best not to jostle my body.
“Rylee.” Liam brought his face close to mine so I could clearly see his pale gold eyes. “We have to turn back; we need to get you help.”
“We do that, and then whoever is doing this will have time to plan something new to stop us. We don’t have a choice, we can’t go back.”
He let out a breath, his nostrils flaring. I thought he would argue, would try and force me to do what he thought was best.
“Then that means you’re up to bat, Pamela,” Liam said, his voice deadly serious.
“I can do this.” There was movement to my left, and then her hand curled around mine, giving it a quick squeeze.
He grunted. “You have to, or Rylee is going to die, and a good chance we will follow her shortly down that dark walk.”
Hell, I wasn’t in that bad of shape, was I? No, a punctured lung wasn’t that bad.
Liam’s arms tightened around me, and we started forward. With each step he took, the rib shimmied forward. Maybe only a breath forward, but still, it was working its way closer to my heart. Awesome.
A whoosh of something, and then there was a chorus of high-pitched screaming. My eyes were closed, and I drifted in and out of consciousness, the pain making me black out.
I saw Berget, somewhere in my in-and-out state, my mind playing tricks on me, no doubt. The Berget I remembered, yet not. She was older, but she wasn’t the bitch vampire I’d met in Venice. No, this was the girl I had called my sister. Blonde hair, blue eyes, a sweetness that she’d had in all of her early years. She reached for me, her hand brushing mine, fingertips resting on my pulse.
“Rylee, you’ll save me. I know you will. Don’t give up. Please.” Her fingers stroked down the length of my cheek.
“No, I’m not. There is a way to untangle this monster that I’ve become.”
I didn’t want to hope for this, not again. Each time I believed her salvageable, her life was snatched away from me.
Maybe she sensed that. She leaned close and put her lip to my ear. “You will find the way to release me from the bonds they placed on my heart, soul, and body. I believe in you. You are my hero still.”
I turned my face from her, unable to say anything. And then we were below ground, and Liam lowered me to sit against a wall. “Stay here, and don’t move.”
Right, that was not high on my priority list.
Alex curled up beside me. “Pamie hurt.”
My eyes shot open and I Tracked her, felt her threads above me, and though they were strong, she was hurt and her last emotion before she blacked out was a fear so strong it could still be felt along her threads. With the last of my strength, I pushed myself to my feet, using the wall as a brace, and I started up the stairs. Two steps up, and Liam was rushing down, Pamela in his arms.
Blood, lots and lots of blood. Liam was covered in it, but I knew through the thread I Tracked Pamela with that she was the one hurt, not him.
I tried to speak, but that required a deeper breath. So I had to settle for snapping my fingers at Alex. He moved to my side and I buried my hands into his thick coat. Damn it all to hell and back, how was I going to walk when each step sent waves of pain and darkness my way?
Liam blocked my way. “Wait here, I’ll take her through, and then I’ll come back for you.”
I shook my head, swayed on my feet, and managed to whisper. “That’s what they want. Can’t split up.”
So in the most painstakingly slow parade, we inched through the dungeon. No red caps showed up, so I assumed that Pamela had taken care of them all. The girl was one hell of a witch.
I used the wall and Alex to brace myself, pain darkening my vision twice before we reached the exit through to New Mexico. At the last second, I remembered that the exit had been blocked, and I cursed under my breath.
Gods help us, let it be open now.
With the last of my strength, and with the gods apparently looking out for us, I stumbled through, crossing the veil into the icy blast of the New Mexico winter. There the morning had only just started; a hint of the night still clung to the edges of the land. Though, the fact that we had come out in a cave probably wasn’t helping any with the light. Stumbling forward, I didn’t see him until he grabbed me. Hands, big blue gentle hands caught me, shocking the hell out of me.
“Hey, Rylee. Heard you were coming my way and might be in some trouble.”
Distantly, I knew that there was no way Dox could have known where we were going to come out, or that we’d need help. So how had he found us? Who had told him?
“Don’t try to talk, Rylee,” Dox said, his face coming into view as he carefully scooped me into his arms. “We need to get you two out of here.”