When Darkness Ends(Guardians of Eternity,book 12)(72) by Alexandra Ivy
“The hounds aren’t attacking, they’re deliberately trying to force us deeper into the mountain.”
Oh. Herded. Like cattle.
“Why?” she asked, even as a small voice in the back of her head warned she didn’t want to know the answer to that particular question.
“Trolls prefer to eat their dinner while they’re still alive.”
Her heart stopped. Yep. Much better not to know.
He glanced over his shoulder, his expression more determined than concerned.
“Stay behind me.”
There were more howls joining the first. Three. Maybe even four.
“There’s too many,” she warned.
A slow smile revealed his large fangs, his jade eyes glowing with anticipation.
“Someday, princess, you’re going to trust me,” he promised, then with a lightning-quick motion he was surging forward to meet the charging hellhounds.
Fallon’s breath lodged in her throat as the four hounds swiftly surrounded him, their sharp barks loud enough to hurt her ears.
Cyn turned in a slow circle, meeting the evil crimson gazes. Fallon clenched her hands. It looked as if he were daring them to attack.
It was only when the largest of the hounds leaped forward that she realized he’d been deliberately provoking the leader of the pack.
With a savage snarl the beast snapped his fangs at Cyn’s throat, the acid from his mouth spraying onto his sweater and burning through to the flesh beneath.
Fallon winced, but Cyn seemed unaware of the damage as he grabbed the hellhound by the head and with one massive twist of his hands snapped the creature’s neck. The other hounds hesitated, clearly smart enough to recognize that Cyn wasn’t going to be easy prey.
The pause gave Cyn time to use his knife to cut out the leader’s heart. Fallon grimaced even as she approved of his precaution.
Most demons had to have either their head or their heart removed to prevent them from returning to life.
Tossing aside the bloody carcass, Cyn curled back his lips to flash his fangs in direct challenge.
The hounds whined, clearly wanting to scurry away in fear. But almost as if they were being driven by some outside force, they charged toward Cyn.
With a swing of his arm, Cyn sliced the knife through the nearest hound’s upper chest, sending it to the floor with a snarl of pain. The next two he easily sidestepped, kicking one in the side with enough force to send it sailing into the far wall.
There was a crunch of bones as the hellhound slid to the ground in an unconscious heap.
Never hesitating, Cyn was turning just in time to grab the hellhound who was pouncing on his back. Grabbing it by the muzzle, he crushed the monster’s mouth, slicing his knife through its chest to remove the heart with obvious expertise.
Fallon grimaced at the carnage, but she couldn’t help but admire the smooth skill that Cyn displayed as he tossed aside the dead hound and bent to deal with the one that had healed the wound on his chest and was rising to his feet. With a few more slices of the knife he ensured the beast wouldn’t be getting back up again.
Good . . . Lord.
Distracted by the bloody battle, Fallon barely noticed that the hideous stench that permeated the air had suddenly intensified. Not until she was actually gagging at the foul odor.
Spinning around, she watched as a massive, lumbering monster stepped out of a side tunnel.
She gasped, stepping back as she studied the seven foot creature who awkwardly headed toward her.
She’d never seen a troll in person, and she had the sudden hope that she never had to see another one.
It wasn’t just the size or the grotesque features that made her shudder. Or even the large tusks that protruded from his lower jaw.
It was the frenzied hunger in the crimson eyes.
He was looking for dinner.
And she was going to be the main course.
She forced her stiff lips to part. “Um . . . Cyn.”
Cyn was headed toward the final hellhound lying unconscious across the floor when he sensed the troll entering the cave just behind Fallon.
Raw fear jolted through him as he watched the nasty creature reach for Fallon.
Oh hell, no.
With a speed that few other demons could match, Cyn was surging forward, planting himself between the troll and Fallon before the bastard could touch her.
“Stay back,” he commanded in clipped tones.
The crimson eyes narrowed, a howl of frustration sending a shower of dust from the ceiling as the troll realized his easy meal had just become a fight to the death.
“You no scare me, leech,” the troll lisped, his gaze shifting to the knife that Cyn held in his hand.
Cyn understood the demon’s confidence.
A troll had thick skin that couldn’t be pierced by a traditional weapon. Not even Cyn’s fangs could gnaw through the barklike hide. It took a blade that had been enchanted with magic to cause any damage.
Thankfully Cyn’s knife had been given to him by his foster father and it had been forged with powerful hexes etched into the steel.
“Then let’s play,” he taunted, edging toward the middle of the cave. Not only did he need room to maneuver, but he wanted the troll as far away from Fallon as possible.
The troll obediently shuffled forward while Cyn located the spot he intended to strike. In the demon’s lower stomach there was a large artery that he could reach with his knife. Once it was severed the troll would die within minutes.
Holding his position, Cyn abruptly ducked as the beast swung a massive fist toward his face. At the same time he struck out with his knife.
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