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Rising Darkness(Rylee Adamson #9)(7) by Shannon Mayer

I gritted my teeth, the urge to fix things strong. Faris strode toward me, a glower on his face.

“Bratty witch.”

“You don’t know what she’s been through, Faris.” I turned, expecting him to keep up with me.

“Doesn’t matter what she’d been through, she could kill us all if she doesn’t learn to control herself. I thought you said the druids were training her. They should be teaching her the healing arts, not destruction, since she has that down pat.”

I let out a sigh. “She’s always had a way with the power moves, she’s a heavy hitter, not a creature of finesse.” I put Pamela from my mind, knowing I would have to deal with her soon enough. Right at that moment, I needed to find Doran. He would tell me what was going on.

As it turned out, he found us as we strode through the makeshift camp. One second it was just me, Faris, and Alex, the next, Doran was beside me, a hand on my lower back.

“I know you like the whole danger and doom aspect of leaving things to the last second, Rylee,” Doran said, “But even for you this is a bit silly.”

I stopped in my tracks. “We need to talk.”

He tipped his head to the right. “This way.”

The four of us cut through the people milling about, the number of humans and supernaturals interacting was shocking, and to be honest, it made me nervous. “Do they know?”

Doran knew what I was asking. “No, the humans think the volunteers here are just good at what they do.” He pushed through a small knot of vampires who glowered at me and Faris. I glared back, not recognizing any of them. Doran led us into a thick canvas tent that was seven or eight feet tall and easily twenty feet square. A command center if I ever saw one.

Doran waved at the chairs and those who occupied them. Deanna and Will, Frank, and Mer the green ogre. Probably the only ogre we had on our side after the massacre at Doran’s home in New Mexico. They all stood as we walked in, but it was Will who rushed to greet me. I wanted to cringe away from him, and at the same time jam my knife under his chin for his inappropriate moves, his hatred of Liam, his unwillingness to help. Looked like he was going to try and make a pitch for me yet again. I steeled myself, but didn’t need to.

Faris blocked him from getting too close to me, and I fought not to smile my gratitude. “Leave her be, cat.” Power swirled in Faris’s voice, power that felt a hell of a lot like Liam, and Will actually stopped, shook his head and took a step back. Now that was interesting.

“Rylee,” Will said my name and I nodded at him.

“Will. Deanna. Frank. Mer.” I nodded at each of them by way of greeting. “Fill me in.”

Deanna did most of the speaking. “Filling in” was a nice way of saying the catastrophe had gotten uglier than I ever thought possible.

The plague sweeping the world had infected over half of the global population. Majority of those hit the hardest were the young ones, those who hadn’t had years to build up their immune systems. And of course, they were the ones Orion and his demons wanted weak anyway. The young. The ones who would be the strongest in body and mind.

“That isn’t the worst of things, though, Rylee,” Deanna said, her voice hitching.

“Fuck, how could it be worse?” I was still struggling to comprehend the numbers they were throwing at me, the sheer effect of the world losing half its population either dead or so sick they wished they were dead, bleeding out their pores as fever raged and their bodies gave up, death coming slowly and with unimaginable pain. Or, if they were truly unlucky, their bodies and souls were hijacked by demons.

Deanna pushed a hand through her hair; her eyes and the pale, sickly pallor of her skin gave testament to how hard the situation had been on her. “The supernaturals have been dying off as well. We’ve lost entire species.”

Chills swept my body, chased by a wave of heat. All I could think about was my friends. Those I’d left behind. Charlie being at the front of the list. Brownies could contract the same diseases as humans, part of the reason they avoided our world and stayed on the other side of the veil. Only, the veil had closed and how had that affected them?

Almost as if reading my mind, Doran spoke. “The brownies were essentially booted out of the veil when Liam closed it. We don’t know why, only that they were pushed out. We haven’t heard from any of them since then.”

“Charlie?” I asked, hoping he would pop in like he so often did.

“Nothing.”

“Who else?”

Doran moved to my side and I knew it was going to be bad when he took my hand and squeezed it gently. His green eyes on my own.

“The Harpies have been hit hard. They have enough human blood in them that the pox swept through their numbers. There are only a few left, barely enough to re-populate their species. And that is if we can keep them clear of the disease.”

I swayed where I stood. Harpies. “Eve?”

It was if everyone held their breath and I closed my eyes against the truth. Instead, I Tracked my friend, knowing the demons could pinpoint me as I did. Her threads burned bright and clear, far to the north. I gasped, relief coursing through me, and a tear trickling from one eye. “She’s alive.”

Doran gave me a grim smile. “She can’t land anywhere here. Her and Marco are the only pair left in the area, and they’re staying with the unicorns in the forest near Jack’s manor,” Doran said. “You can’t see her, Rylee. Even now, you could carry the taint of the pox on your skin and we can’t risk losing them.”