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Wounded(Rylee Adamson #8)(12) by Shannon Mayer

Bones and skin burst under the pressure of his jaws, the hot blood spurting out and steaming in the night air. With his back turned, he heard the approaching ogres, but he couldn’t get out of the way. Three blades drove through him at the same time, cutting deep into his body and neck, but none were the copper blade. That was likely his only saving grace.

A gurgled whimper rolled out of him as Raw’s body fell and he went with it. They hit the ground hard, but Raw didn’t move. Liam crawled on his belly to the hand he’d removed. The copper blade still sat inside the now limp fingers. That knife was deadly, and the demons couldn’t have it. The other ogres laughed behind him and one called out, “No, don’t finish him. Let him suffer, let him see his people cut down as they try to rescue him.”

With the last ounce of his strength, he lay down by the hand and scooped the handle of the copper knife gingerly in his mouth.

He closed his eyes, praying that he was right, that this wasn’t his time.

And that Rylee would come for him.

We were fucking surrounded. Erik was on foot, and wherever he went, the demons were driven out of the ogres’ bodies. The ogres didn’t survive the expulsion, but it still wasn’t enough. We’d taken out at least two dozen of the hundred or so in the gang.

I trusted Nikko to keep me safe and finally Tracked Liam. Everything in me froze. He was hurt bad, his heart beating so slowly I wasn’t sure we’d make it in time.

“BLAZ!” Fuck them all, they could roast, but not until Liam was out of the way.

The dragon had been waiting for me and dropped from the sky like an avenging big ass angel. He swooped low, teeth and claws snapping ogres in half, following the thread I’d tied to Liam. When he launched back into the air, I could see the limp form of a black wolf in his claws. “Get him help!”

Pamela can help him?

I nodded, knowing Blaz could sense my intent as well as words unspoken. Liam was out of the way, but we were still in trouble. A flash of light drew my eye and I turned to find Erik had worked his way back to my side.

“Rylee, you truly have a knack for diving in, don’t you?”

Erik parried with a green ogre who was small, at least as ogres went. Erik ducked inside of the ogre’s guard and put his hand against the skin over his heart. The ogre fell, screaming as the demon ripped free of its body. Twenty-five down, seventy-five or so to go.

Piece of cake. Perhaps not so much.

Three arrows shot through the air, two driving through Nikko’s side, and one through the red unicorn’s neck. The red unicorn went down with a gurgling cry, his eyes rolling up and showing the whites as a group of ogres leapt forward, slashing and hacking him. Nikko let out a piercing scream that ripped through the night. I looked down and realized one of my legs was pierced through with the arrow, sealing my fate with Nikko’s.

It has been an honor to know you, Tracker. Blood of the Lost, you will save us all.

His head whipped around and, with a sharp yank, he grabbed the arrow pinning us together, then gave a mighty buck, sending me flying through the air.

“That won’t save us!” I yelled as I fell from the sky, only to be snatched up before I hit the ground by a familiar set of talons.

“Rylee, I see your lizard has left you alone again,” Eve said as she tightened her grip on me. I twisted in her claws.

“Erik, we can’t leave him!”

“We won’t,” she said, flipping me into the air and then diving underneath me so I landed on her back.

“Slick moves,” I gasped out as I clung to her back.

“They have to be, to keep up with you.”

I turned to see a blur of grayish silver wings dive and scoop Erik out of the melee, much to the roaring and consternation of the ogres. I couldn’t see Nikko any more and my heart tore at the loss of such a pure spirit and a great ally. But like every other loss in my life, there was no time to dwell on it.

Life was about to get real ugly for the demon ogres, at least, that was what I was hoping. Fog rolled in around them and where it touched, ogres froze. Not all of them, but enough that I could see the fog was doing something to them. An undertone of screaming, faint echoes of voices trapped and now freed curled up through the air, tangling with the fog.

Those ogres possessed by evil spirits and not actual demons were no longer controlled by Orion. Doran had come through.

I opened my mouth to yell to tell them they’d been fooled and their friends could not be saved. But I didn’t need to.

Those ogres released from the evil spirits fell on those who were truly possessed.

“I don’t understand what’s happening, why are they fighting now?” Eve called out. Erik answered her.

“Evil spirits can be expelled, they don’t attach to the soul of the creature they possess like a demon does.” Simple, yet still horrifying to think of a soul being latched onto by a demon.

Madness, total and complete, erupted as the ogres attacked one another. My heart sank as I watched the bodies pile and the number of the dead rise, and it was not on the side of those who’d been freed.

Erik and his ride, an odd-looking silvery gray harpy, caught up to us. “The weak ones are free, but they will be dead soon. We have to get the hell out of here.”

He was right, this was a lost cause and we had to give way, much as it sucked shit.

“Eve, how far behind are the rest of the harpies?”

“They are on their way to London.”

Her words stuck in my brain and I struggled to speak. “How could they have known?” Were they in on it? Shit, was I going to have to check every person who came within our close-knit circle?

“They have seers.” She turned her head so I could see the chagrin in one eye. “I argued with them, told them they were needed here but they insisted they would meet us in London.”

“Don’t feel bad.” I put a hand on her neck. “I would have done the same thing, argued ‘til I was blue in the face.”

The silver harpy swept in close, his baritone startling the shit out of me. “She made a good argument.”

I cranked around in my seat to stare at the first male harpy I’d ever met. Now that I was looking at him, I could see the differences. He was far thicker in the legs, body and neck, and his face didn’t have the feminine lines Eve did. His eyes were pale, a gray blue that would have disappeared if not for the black feathers around them like a mask.