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Blood of the Lost(Rylee Adamson #10)(12) by Shannon Mayer

“Yes, I think I will enlighten you.”

I wanted to laugh at him. The classic bad guy monologue? He had to be kidding. Pride had to be on his list of vices.

“The four horsemen are so much more than just War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death. Each has abilities. Many of mine are tied to the element of air. I could suck the wind out of your lungs with a snap of my fingers, if I so chose.”

I swallowed hard. “And you don’t because I’m such a conversationalist, right?”

“No, I like to feel my victims die, to watch the light go out of their eyes as their hearts struggle to beat one more time. I like to have my hands on them.”

I wrinkled my nose. “Rather perverted, don’t you think?”

He grinned widely at me. “It’s the only way I can catch their souls and eat them.”

Oh. Fucking. Hell.

“Yes, I see by your face you finally understand what I am. Why were Pestilence and I attached to one another? A slow death peels the soul from the body and makes it harder to resist me.” He snaked out a hand as if to grab me, and I swung my remaining sword as I stepped back.

It sliced off the tip of his middle finger. He snatched his hand back and shook it as if he’d burned it and not had a piece of it removed. “You are going to be so sweet to drink, Tracker. The Blood of the Lost, a vintage I haven’t tasted in many, many years. Not since your mother, I believe.”

A razor’s edge chill slid down my back and I didn’t even think about anything past what I wanted to do to him. Chop him into tiny fucking pieces and have Blaz roast him to a crisp before throwing what was left to the fishes. I leapt forward, swinging with what I knew would look like wild fury. My sword slashed through the air and I missed him over and over again.

On purpose.

Erik’s words when I’d trained with him echoed in my head as if he stood at my shoulder and guided me through the exercise.

“Don’t let them see how fast you really are; don’t let them see the control you have, the ability you have to read them and the situation. Let them think you’re out of control. Let them think you are going to be easy. Because they will be anything but, and you need to be ready for the fight of your life.”

Pestilence laughed at me, and beckoned me forward. “How in the seventh Veil Orion rose to power is beyond me, if he thinks you’re so terrifying.” He held his right hand out and a sword appeared in it. Made of a bright white material, it caught the sun and reflected a shimmer of rainbows around us.

I forced myself to pant, sucking air hard, even going so far as to stumble and go to one knee.

If I could get him to come at me, to drive me backward, I’d have him.

Of course, that was when the cavalry arrived and whatever plans I had went to shit.

Alex, in his mixed up werewolf form, ran across the lot from the left, Peta loping beside him albeit a bit wobbly. Lark was behind them and all three were covered in open wounds, pustules that oozed thick green mucus.

“Get away from her,” Lark barked out, coughing on the last word.

Pestilence turned to them. “Not dead yet? Let me help you with that, you meddling Elemental. I’ve had enough of you.”

He took a step, but the earth below him softened, sucking him into a hole all the way to his neck. Rage lit his features, twisting the handsome face into the monster I knew he was; his mouth opened past the point any human jaw should and three tongues, each one the length of a car, snaked out of him.

“Good job, Lark. Good fucking job.” I sidestepped the first tongue, but only just. Saliva flicked out across me, burning through my shirt and pants.

“Shut up, you ungrateful Tracker. If you’d followed the plan, we’d have him by now.” Lark dropped to her knees and drove her hands into the pavement, pulling it up and throwing it behind her in chunks. Peta let out a snarl, pressing herself to Lark’s leg and Alex ran to my side.

“I’m with you, Rylee.”

I dropped a hand to his head for the briefest of seconds before I had to leap out of the way of the second tongue as it whipped toward us. “If I’d followed the plan, you’d probably be dead along with Eve and Marco.”

“Please. You think I can’t take care of a demon?”

“I know you can’t,” I snapped back. I ran toward my sword driven into the ground and went to one knee behind it. Pestilence flicked a tongue at me.

“Alex, stay down,” I said as I clung to the handle of my sword. This was going to hurt, no way around it. I took a breath a split second before the thick meaty tongue wrapped around my sword and me. The saliva burned through my clothes and within seconds my skin blistered.

Pestilence pulled me slowly toward him and his gaping mouth. Shivering with pain, I struggled to hold it together. “You’re a fucking pussy, pesty boy. Orion sent you because you are the weakest of his generals.”

With a roar, he yanked me toward him with a speed I never could have mustered on my own. My body screamed at me to do something to stop the burning, anything to ease the acid eating through me. As Pestilence held me directly over his mouth, Lark yelled at me.

“Tell me you know what you’re doing.”

“I know”—I yanked my sword upward, slicing through Pestilence’s tongue—“what I’m fucking doing.” The tongue flew away from me and I dropped, landing with a foot on either side of the demon’s head.

I held my sword over my head, poised to drive it straight through him when I saw the laughter in his eyes. “You will never win, Tracker. Even if I die now, you will die later. And I will be free again.”