When Darkness Ends(Guardians of Eternity,book 12)(86) by Alexandra Ivy
“Mon Dieu.” The gargoyle glanced toward the distant edges of the illusion that were already turning a sickly gray. “Do something.”
Magnus muttered a curse as every eye turned in his direction. What the hell did they expect him to do? It wasn’t as if he’d been trained to get out of collapsing spells.
Then his gaze landed on Tonya’s pale face and his gut twisted with a fear so deep it nearly sent him to his knees.
For the first time in his life his primary thought wasn’t centered on himself. Or what was best for him.
Even the thought of imminent death didn’t faze him.
In this moment nothing mattered but this beautiful imp and making sure she survived.
He would sacrifice anything to make that happen.
Still gripping the emerald in his hand, he glanced toward the ashen-faced druid.
“Can you create a barrier?”
The old man gave a slow nod. “Yes, but it will only hold for a few minutes.”
“That should be enough time,” he muttered, waiting for the three men to grab hands and form a circle.
There was the sound of low chanting, then a thin, nearly transparent shield began to spread from the men, flowing toward the edges of the illusion.
Only when the barrier was in place did he close his eyes as he allowed his innate powers to flow through him.
Instantly a warm glow filled his body. The heat was intoxicating, bubbling through his blood and spreading outward until he felt as if he’d captured the sun and held it deep within.
“Magnus.” Tonya grabbed his arm, giving him a small shake. “What are you going to do?”
“Perform a miracle, I hope,” he said, abruptly releasing his power with a massive burst.
Heat sizzled in the air, scorching a path of glittering gold toward the nearby breech.
The ground shook as his magic smashed into the wall of the illusion, nearly sending them all tumbling to the ground.
Magnus cursed, realizing that it wasn’t going to be enough. His power hissed and crackled, battling against the druid’s spell, but unable to penetrate the thick illusion. He clenched his teeth, refusing to give up.
Gathering his strength, he halted the steady onslaught, instead sending out pulses like a battering ram.
Once. Twice. The third time there was a loud pop followed by a series of fine cracks that spread across the backdrop of the sunny meadow.
The fourth at last shattered a large hole, revealing a dark cavern with a circle of tall, standing stones.
“Go,” he said between gritted teeth. “Hurry.”
The druids didn’t hesitate, bolting toward the opening with a speed that was surprising for such elderly men. On their heels was the gargoyle. And then, at last, Tonya was darting forward.
A soul-deep relief surged through him, even as the druids’ barrier began to disintegrate beneath the pressure.
He instantly turned, using his powers to hold off the collapsing spell long enough for the others to escape.
Close to complete exhaustion, Magnus didn’t have time to consider the irony of his exquisite life of utter selfishness coming to an end while he was playing the role of hero.
His only thought was that Tonya had escaped.
And that was enough.
Falling to his knees, he bowed his head in pain, knowing the spell would soon reach a critical mass and explode him into oblivion.
At least it would be quick.
Resigned to his fate, he didn’t hear the approaching footsteps.
It wasn’t until slender fingers wrapped around his forearm that he realized he wasn’t alone.
Glancing around in horrified shock, he met Tonya’s determined gaze.
“What the hell are you doing?” he snarled. “I told you to go.”
She jerked him upright with surprising strength, dragging him toward the opening.
“Not without you.”
He struggled to break free of her grasp, knowing she’d never make it if she had to drag him along. Damn, the stubborn female. She was supposed to be safe. Now she threatened to ruin his one act of noble bravery.
“No . . . Tonya . . . leave me.”
Refusing to release him, Tonya wrapped an arm around his waist, half carrying, half dragging him as his knees gave out.
“We’re in this together, prince,” she managed to rasp, hauling him ever closer to the opening.
They were less than a few feet away when the pain became unbearable, and Magnus knew the end was near.
Lifting his weary head, he locked his gaze on Tonya’s delicately carved profile.
If he was going to die, he wanted this to be his last sight.
Still struggling forward, Tonya gave a soft cry as the spell around them shuddered. She tightened her grip on his waist, moaning at the crushing pain.
Then, as they stood just inches from the opening, there was an ear-splitting screech and the spell exploded into a thousand pieces.
Tonya had endured her fair share of hangovers. Hell, she ran a demon club. There were bound to be a few nights that she overindulged.
Like the night she hosted a mating dance for two woodland fairies who’d brought an entire wagonload of fermented ambrosia to the club. Or the unforgettable party that Viper had thrown when Styx had taken over as Anasso. The drinks had been on the house and there hadn’t been a sober demon in a hundred-mile radius. Including her.
But no matter how hard she’d partied, she’d never felt as if a railroad spike was being drilled into the back of her head and her skin scraped down to the nerve endings.
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