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Veiled Threat(Rylee Adamson #7)(4) by Shannon Mayer

“Motherfuckers!” I jumped forward, hoping to hell we could kill them. The last time I’d faced a hoarfrost demon I’d been inside a pentagram; taking out the pentagram with the scorpion tip tail had banished the demon.

This time around they were in the physical world, no pentagram to hold them.

“Don’t let them sting you,” Erik said, calmly, as if telling me what the weather report was for the next twenty-four hours, “that would not be good.”

I ignored him, knowing the scar on my chest, the black snowflake, gave me Immunity from the demon’s venom. The first demon gave me a big grin, its mandible cracking wide and then chittering together, before engaging me. There was nothing I could do but work to get around it.

Working fast, I drove my swords through the air, through the demon’s waving pincers. Black, thick blood poured out of the stumps as the demon reared back in pain, its tail arching high, a thick drop of poison hanging from the tip.

“Come on, bitch. Let’s see what you’ve got.” I snarled, sliding around the side and driving both swords through the thickly muscled tail. The demon fell forward, unbalanced without the weight. I grabbed the stinger at the base and jumped onto the demon’s back, pushing the stinger deep into its neck. It shuddered once, twice, then went still. Booyah for me.

Liam was on the ground, a demon over him, and—Erik was engaged with the last demon, though he didn’t seem to be faring well. He was doing a lot of dodging and almost looked like he was trying to talk the demon down. His lips moved but I couldn’t hear the words. Not that it mattered.

There was no question for me. Liam came first. With him pinned to the ground, the demon had its back to me. Stupid, very, very stupid. I swung my two swords in tandem, crossing them in front of me. With one swipe I took the demon’s tail and head.

The body shuffled and I scooped up the tail, ramming the stinger into the demon’s back over its heart to be sure. Flopping like a decapitated chicken, nerve endings still firing, the hoarfrost demon bounced on the ground but it was death throes. Its jaw clicked a few more times even unattached from the rest of the body, eyes dulled and finally it went still.

Liam rolled to the side and we approached the final demon, who’d put Erik into a corner. He was blowing hard, barely able to keep the hoarfrost demon at bay.

“You are in trouble, little man. Orion wants to talk to you,” the demon said to Erik, its tail arching high overhead. Even with a clear shot, it never tried to stab Erik with the tip. Neither of them seemed aware we were coming up behind them. Good for us.

Lightning fast, Liam struck, taking out the demon’s legs and pitching them sideways. A scream of rage erupted from the demon, but I was on it before it could take a second breath, using its friend’s stinger and cramming it into the demon’s mouth.

“Suck it, you piece of shit.” I pushed hard, felt the stinger drive deep into the back of its throat. It thrashed for a moment, then slowly stilled. I climbed off it, breathing hard.

There was a shuffle of feet and the three of us spun to see the captain of the red caps standing in the doorway.

“Remind me again about how tough you assholes are?” I wiped off my swords with a rag from the red cap arm that had come through first.

“They appeared in the middle of us, through a cut in the veil, and headed straight for this door; demons are supposed to be bound to the deep levels of the veil.” He seemed truly confused. I didn’t care.

“Demons have not been truly bound for nearly thirty years, and some don’t need a proper doorway to step through,” Erik said, helping Liam to his feet. “Were any of your red caps stung?”

The captain nodded. “Three.”

Erik’s eyes were grim. “Kill them. There is no cure.”

The captain didn’t argue, but he did give a slow nod. “I did not see you, Slayer. I thought all your kind were done in during the last rout.”

Slayer?

“No, not all. But most, you are correct. Kill your men, captain, and burn the bodies. Dragon’s fire is best.” Erik cleaned off his sword and slid it back into its sheath at his side.

The red cap’s captain stared at him. “It will be done. Your red bitch is on the other side of the third doorway, yes? We will take them to her.”

Erik laughed; damn he seemed jovial for someone with the tag of ‘Slayer.’ “Still cranky, is she?”

“Cranky? Is that what you’d call it?” The red cap turned to leave, paused. “If the demons are truly coming through, I do not know if we can stop them. But we will lay our lives out to try. We will block the doorways from our side.” His eyes rested on me for a brief second.

The door shut behind him and I swallowed hard, finally taking in the moment. Demons were being sent through the veils and coming after me. No, it wasn’t ego, it was truth. One of the downsides of all the quiet time for the last month meant I was reading through the big black book of demon prophecies. Besides the nightmares, I’d learned enough to know that the demons saw only one outcome for the future: them ruling the world. A minor fly in their ointment though … I was the one who was going to stop their ‘messiah.’ Which meant, to them, I was the biggest threat and worth taking on at every chance. Nothing was going to change that. I was just surprised they hadn’t tried before now.

A thought occurred to me. “Is that why Orion wants to speak to you? Because you are a Slayer?”

Erik paused, his eyes downcast for a moment and I watched him closely. “Most likely.” And though I waited, he said nothing else. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I didn’t trust him. Or maybe I just didn’t trust anyone except my inner circle anymore.

After that, the three of us left the mineshaft in relative silence.

At the top of the shaft, Blaz waited, curled around the opening like a giant, blue and black scarf.

Making friends again?

Liam laughed, though there was no true mirth in it. “You could say that, Blaz.”

The dragon lifted his head and stretched his wings and jaws wide. But as Erik stepped from the shaft Blaz recoiled, scrambling back with a speed that shocked me. How could one tiny human scare a dragon so badly? Was it because he was a Slayer?

Please, pray to the sky gods, tell me you did not bring Ophelia with you.

Erik smiled and shook his head and I finally got a good look at the man who claimed to be my uncle. His hair was dark with hints of red here and there between a few sparkling strands of grey. Heavily muscled, even though he had at least ten years on Liam, they were of a similar build. Hell, they could have been brothers except for their coloring. Tattoos wrapped around his wrists and crawled up both forearms, disappearing underneath a loose sand-colored shirt.