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Wounded(Rylee Adamson #8)(17) by Shannon Mayer

I was betting that was a mild understatement on all counts. “Anyone else right there I can talk to?”

Turned out that Frank was the only one not in the middle of the fight that was still ongoing. My heart sank with each word he said, knowing that Berget’s control over her adoptive parents, the old emperor and empress, was slipping. Far sooner than we’d hoped for. If she was going to die, though, I couldn’t let it be by someone else’s hand. I was responsible for her—she was my sister—and I would be the one to make sure she didn’t hurt anyone else.

“Frank, first of all, are Liam and Blaz there yet?”

“No, they aren’t.”

My heart thud hard in my chest. I had to believe Blaz would look after Liam. The big ass lizard knew I’d remove his hide piece by piece if anything happened to my wolf.

“Okay, I’m going to ask you to do something very hard.” I closed my eyes and pressed my head to the desk as tears slipped from my eyes.

“What do you need from me?”

“At sunset my time, which is”—I did the math in my head—“eleven your time, I want you to get close to Berget, and open the veil to the farm, right in front of the barn. Can you do that?”

He didn’t even hesitate. “I can do that.”

We hung up and I let out a breath I’d held too long. Alex butted up against me, putting his cold nose right into my face, though I kept it on the desk. “Rylee, why are you sad?”

I wrapped my arms around him, hugging him to me, hiding my eyes from the world.

“Because I have to kill my sister.”

Chapter 6

THE FLIGHT TO the farm would take less than an hour, but I wanted extra time to prep. Pamela would grab Berget with her magic and hold her down while I took her head. There would be no other way and we’d have to do it fast. If the opal was failing already, we had very little hope of extending Berget’s sanity long enough to actually help her.

Of course, as my plans normally did, this one tracked sideways. I stepped out of the hotel room, Erik and Pamela ahead of me, Alex a step behind.

Erik stopped short and I bumped into him. He reached over and tugged Pamela back. “Rylee, do you feel that?”

For fucks sake, what now? “What should I be feeling?”

Alex bumped into my hand. “A disturbance in the force.” That was the second time Alex had quoted Star Wars. But he was right; there was a disturbance in the energy around us. Like something was sucking the light and life out of the very place we stood.

That couldn’t be good. “Erik, is that demons I’m picking up?”

“Yes. And not like the ogres. These will be one of the packs. Stronger, faster. Meaner. How the hell they found us this fast, though, I have no idea. They don’t have a way to Track like you do.”

I wasn’t up to snuff, my body still catching up from everything. “Fight or run?”

The demons took the decision away from us as they burst out of the motel’s office, John wrapped in web that covered his whole body except his head. But that wasn’t what really caught my attention. No, it was the demons themselves. They were human looking if you just considered their torsos and initial limbs. Not so human if you counted the wings on their backs, giant rat heads sitting on their shoulders, and the extra sets of arms sprouting from their sides.

Alex let out a howl, stopping them in their tracks.

“Hey, where the fuck do you think you’re going with John?” I pulled my whip with one hand and a sword with the other. There was no choice; there would be no running if they were taking my friends. The demons said nothing, just dropped John and advanced toward us. I counted thirteen of the rat faces. “Eve, stay put!” I yelled knowing the harpies would want to be a part of this showdown.

And did they listen? No, of course not. They dove on the pack, plucking two out and cutting our enemy’s numbers a little. The demons saw the harpies and changed formation, closing ranks completely, making it nearly impossible for any more of their members to go skyward. Eve and Marco harried them, but weren’t able to get their claws into any more.

Erik took the point, and the fight was on. The rat pack surged toward us, hissing and shooting some sort of nasty smelling goop from their mouths. I dodged the first splash, saw it stick to the pavement. “They shoot their web from their mouths!” I yelped as I snapped my whip toward the rat closest to me, thinking only of keeping my friends safe.

The whip sizzled as it wrapped around the rat’s throat and I jerked it forward, ramming my sword into the demon’s belly. The actual demon expelled from the human host, leaving me staring at what the demon had been possessing.

A child.

Younger even than Pamela. I screamed and had to fight the rage that spooled up through me. They’d possessed children, those very souls I’d sworn to protect above all others. How didn’t matter, only that they had.

“Rylee, they know your weakness. They did this on purpose, to stop you from being effective,” Erik yelled as he took down a demon and another child lay dead at his feet. A little boy with ginger hair and a smattering of freckles across his cheeks.

I couldn’t stop the anger, couldn’t control it as I lashed out at the demons. Their bodies took the hits and they snarled and giggled as they circled around me. Screaming my rage, I fought with everything I had, but none of my blows did anything. I wondered where Pamela was in all this; there hadn’t been a single blast of fire from her.

“Rylee, control it!”

But I couldn’t. There was nothing in me that could handle this with anything but rage, with the righteous fury that billowed through my body. Distantly, I knew I was going to pay for this.

If only I’d understood just how bad it was going to be.

A demon hit me from behind, stunning me, as he slammed my head to the ground. Alex leapt between me and the demon and with a snarling swipe was able to push the rat faced monster back.

I managed to get to my knees, and I tried to use my magic. But nothing happened. The power slid through my fingers the way Milly said would happen if I got hit in the head. It was one of the few things that could slow down a witch, and I wasn’t to ever tell anyone about it. But it looked like someone had told the demons.

I grabbed my head and tried to stop the spinning, tried to slow the out of control beat of my heart as the sounds of fighting pounded in my ears. Alex stayed close to me, but the demons lost interest in me as soon as I was down.