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Wounded(Rylee Adamson #8)(19) by Shannon Mayer

“What’s going on?”

“You need the violet book of prophecy, the book written by the Blood of the Lost. You need it so you have all the steps to stop Orion. That is where all the answers are. But he has it in a spelled room I cannot unlock.” She blew out a sharp breath and clutched at her belly. A groan slipped between lips. “Gods, not yet.”

Fucking hell, was she going into labor? The sound of fluid dripping onto the floor made me think that was exactly what was going on. “Milly, tell me you aren’t in labor.”

“Hurry.” Was all she said as she used the wall for support. I slipped my hand around her waist and helped her walk. Her belly where it pressed against my side contracted and flexed and something hit me. I gritted my teeth to stop from freaking the fuck out. Like an alien life form, her baby kicked and fought to break free of his mother’s belly.

We made our way to the top of a set of stairs that curled up out of sight. Narrow and tight, they would make a perfect bottleneck for someone coming after us. “You sure you can do this?”

Milly nodded, though there was sweat on her face and her eyes were strained at the edges. She gulped in a breath of air and let it out in a slow hiss. “Let’s go.”

The stairs were just wide enough for me to walk beside her, supporting her as we worked our way up, flight after flight. Milly kept moving though, and I was fiercely proud of her.

There were five floors to be exact, without a single landing to pause on, just a doorway marking the level we were at, until we neared the top. There, on the fifth floor, we found a landing that was about ten by ten and bare, except for a single window that let in a dull, weak light.

“At the top,” Milly whispered, “there is a doorway with no door. It looks like you could walk through with no thought, with no consequence.” She dragged in a gulp of air and let out a low moan, sliding to the floor. I lowered her down so she could lean against the wall. Talia came up and crouched on her other side.

“The baby will be here soon.”

Milly grabbed my arm. “Rylee, there is someone you will have to face within the room. I can’t see who it is, I don’t know if they would see you as friend or foe. But the spell, you should be able to walk right through it.”

“And if I can’t, what will happen to me?”

Talia shook her head. “You will be bound to Orion.”

I rocked back on my heels. Bound to Orion if my Immunity failed. “Got it. You wait here.”

Milly let out a soft laugh that turned into a whimper as she clutched her belly. “Hurry.”

Without looking back, I ran up the last flight of stairs. At the top was an open doorway as she said, but it was fuzzy. Like one of those stupid tricks people do when they put cellophane across a doorway and then they put something appetizing on the other side.

The tease for me, of course, was the violet skinned book of prophecy. I could see it on a small, wooden table in the middle of the room. I walked right up to the edge of the doorway and stared at it. Rimmed in symbols, I knew what some of them represented. The black skinned book had a lot of them.

Power. Obedience. Violence. Nothing good, of course.

“Piece of shit,” I snarled and forced my feet forward. The spell that held the doorway slid over my skin and I felt the daggers of it try to dig in. The black snowflake on my chest burned with a fire that made me want to gasp out loud, but I held my breath and took another step, the spell dragging hard over me, leaving welts. I stumbled and went to one knee, and the spell finally gave up and slithered back to where it had been. I turned to look at the doorway. The spell hadn’t stuck to me, but it hadn’t been dispelled, either.

The sound of a sword being drawn snapped my head around. An older man stood between me and the table where only moments before the room had been empty. He wore tight black pants and knee high black leather boots and a white shirt that was buttoned all the way to the top. Dark hair streaked with grey at the temples accentuated his eyes, which where a bright silvery tone. He reminded me of the three Musketeers. Minus the ridiculous hat and feather. “It seems you must face me now.”

“Are you a guardian?” ‘Cause if he was, there was no way I could beat him, I’d have to out maneuver his ass, grab the book and make a run for it.

“I am not a guardian. I am the last pureblood.”

I arched an eyebrow up. “Well, la-dee-fucking-da. I’m the last Tracker. Want to compare notes on being the last of our kind?”

His lips arched upward into a smile. “I shall enjoy gutting you, Filthy Tracker.”

He launched his attack, but I met him from my knees, drawing my swords in time to block his swing at my head. Like I would go down in the first round.

“Come on, let’s see what you’ve got, bitch.” I stood and slid around to the left, keeping my eyes on him.

I’ll give him his due; he was good. His skills were honed and every move he made was textbook, the forms perfect, the angles superb. But he didn’t fight dirty.

Something I most certainly did.

As he lifted his sword arm for what would be a bone-jarring hit, if I caught it on my crossed swords, I leapt inside his guard and drove my knee into his man junk. He lost his air and started to bend over. I snapped my elbow up, into his nose, breaking it. His fingers went limp around the sword and the weapon fell to the floor with a clatter as his eyes rolled back into his head.

“See? You stink, you filthy pureblood.” I spit at his feet as I backed away. Just because he was down didn’t mean I would take my eyes from him. I slid one of my swords into its sheath and then reached back as my hip hit the table. Blindly, I groped for the violet skinned book. The leather was smooth under my hand and I thought of Sas. She was the only violet skinned ogre I’d ever met. I tucked the book under my arm, holding it tight.

“You cannot take that book. It is for the one who would save the world from the demons,” he gasped out and I stared at him. How much info could I get from him? And would it help me or would he deliberately try to deceive me? I was betting on the deception side of things, but still….

“And who is that?”

“The child of prophecy, the one who will face the demons. She will save the world. You cannot take that book.” He rolled to his knees and reached for his sword. I jumped forward and kicked it out of his reach. It skittered across the floor coming to a rest near the doorway.