Magic Shifts(Kate Daniels,book 8)(39) by Ilona Andrews
The colossus peered blearily to the left. His face used to be human at some point. Traces of it still remained: human nose, small eyes, balding skull fringed in longish dark hair. But his lips were peeling back, revealing sharp inhuman teeth. His ears were growing, lengthening as I watched, their corners creeping up. The brow ridge curved outward, overshadowing his eyes.
He was still transforming. There was no telling what he would look like at the end of metamorphosis.
“Look at me when I’m talking to you, scumbag!”
The colossus turned away, swinging around and offering me a glimpse of his face again. Something bright shone in his left earlobe, a small brilliant spark. His irises glowed a bright unblinking orange, as if burning from within. No intelligence in the eyes, just a kind of dull, stupid rage.
I tried one last time. “Sixty-five feet tall and your dick is still tiny!”
No reaction. This wasn’t working. Either he didn’t hear me or he really wanted whatever was inside the Guild.
The giant swung forward. It looked like he was about to bend forward. Oh no, no, let’s not . . . Oh my God. Some things you could never unsee.
The giant peered through the fourth-floor window, straightened, drew his tree-trunk thick arm backward, and punched the upper floor of the Guild. Bricks flew. His feet glowed brighter. A dark metallic sheen crept up his calves. Tiny bursts of flame dashed up his legs and the acrid stench of burning human hair filled the air. He was turning into metal and judging by those feet, that metal would be red hot. I had seen many odd things, but I had never seen that. The amount of magic that would be required for the metamorphosis and getting the giant summoned in the first place had to be staggering.
Kill it first, sort it out later.
A man leaned out the third-story window and fired two crossbow bolts into the soft tissue under the giant’s jaw. The creature roared, slapping at him with sudden speed. He tried to duck back in and lost his balance. The giant palm smashed into the merc. He plunged and fell with a wet sickening sound. The giant raised his massive foot and stomped down.
The iron on his legs climbed another foot. If he turned completely metal, he’d be indestructible. I had to level this playing field and fast.
The only other way into the Guild was through the back door. Normally it was locked and barred from the inside, but it was better than nothing.
I pulled Cuddles to the side and sent her galloping through the street. Buildings flashed by. A left. Another left. People ran past me and on, into the city. I shot out onto the cross street, jumped off Cuddles, and ran around the corner to the back of the building.
A twisted wreck that might have been a large truck at some point blocked the back door, its cab twisted and caved in. A mangled black sedan lay on top of it, and a wooden cart on top of that. He must’ve grabbed whatever vehicles he could find on the street and piled them against the back door. Smart.
Ten feet above the barricade, a boarded-up window interrupted the wall. It must’ve been a functional window at one point, because someone had gone through the trouble of installing metal bars over it. The bars were gone now, but the steel brackets and a section of the frame were still attached.
This was a very stupid idea. Climbing up those cars would make me into a sitting duck. If that thing realized what I was doing, I’d have nowhere to go. Not to mention I had no idea what was behind that wood. If it was solid wall, I’d be in trouble. It didn’t matter. I had to get into the Guild.
The giant bellowed. Bricks flew above the Guild like a meteor shower. I ducked behind the corner and watched them pelt the ground. The last chunk bounced off the pavement.
I lunged into the open and backed up.
Stupid, stupid, stupid . . .
I sprinted to the cars. Five feet from the truck I jumped and scrambled up the car pile. I stretched, grabbed at the pitted wall, and pulled myself up. The building shuddered. Rock climbing was never my cup of tea. Rock climbing up a shaking wall while a naked giant was having a midlife crisis and pounding on it like a spoiled toddler was at the very bottom of my Would Like To Do list. For my next trick, I might as well set myself on fire . . .
My fingers slipped. I slid down and caught myself on the protruding brick. Easy does it.
The giant roared like a tornado. Poor thing. All stressed-out. That’s okay, wait a few more minutes. I’ll cure all your frustrations.
I pulled myself up to the window, stretched, and grasped the metal frame with my left hand. It held. I hit the wood on the window with my right, testing it. A low sound answered me. Hollow.
I grabbed onto the frame with both hands and brought my knees up. The frame creaked, stressed by my weight, and rocked like a loose tooth. It would probably come out after the first kick. I’d have one shot at this. Maybe two, tops.
I kicked the wood with both legs. The boards creaked but held.
I swung out and hit the window again. The board on the right snapped in two with a loud creak.
A huge hand grasped the side of the building to the right. Crap. He didn’t hear me screaming at the top of my lungs, but he’d heard the wood break.
A head came into view: first the cheek, then the chin, then a tire-sized eye. A bright spark winked at me from the giant’s earlobe.
I smashed my feet into the boards. The wood snapped, just as the remnants of the frame came out of the wall. I flew through the window and crashed into a table. Papers and cleaning supplies flew around me. Ow.
The light from the broken window vanished, replaced by a hand. Two fingers thrust through the window, hooked the wall, and tore a chunk of it out. I scrambled to my feet. A hand plunged into the room, reaching for me. I drew Sarrat and slashed across the thick fingers. Blood swelled from the cut.
The giant howled and jerked his hand out. I spun around. Metal shelves lined the walls, filled with stacks of paper and cleaning supplies. I was in some sort of storage closet. A small door beckoned in the opposite wall. I grabbed the door handle. Locked. Damn it!
The wall behind me rocked. I glanced over my shoulder and saw a red car coming at me like a battering ram. I lunged to the side, against the wall. The car smashed into the door, crunching with a metallic groan. He was trying to squish me with the car like I was a bug.
The car hammered against the door, clenched in his six-foot-long hand.
I darted left, squeezing between the shelves and his hand, and sliced at the thumb, driving the blade into the flesh. Blood poured. The creature screamed and jerked back, his fingers still locked around the car. I’d severed the extensor tendon. Good luck trying to straighten that hand.
I slashed the hand twice with quick precise cuts. Blood drenched the floor. The giant howled, straining. His fist popped out of the room like a cork out of a bottle. I dashed to the door, leaned back, and hammered a kick just below the lock. The door splintered. I tore my way through it and into the hallway. I was on the second floor, on the inner terrace. Below me the floor of the Guild spread. People huddled by the walls.
The building shook. A chunk of the top floor vanished, snapped off. For a moment sunlight flooded the inside of the tower, and I saw Ken and Juke on the third floor pressed against the wall next to the now-defunct elevator. Ken’s lips were moving, his eyes focused. Juke was clutching a bow. Julie and Curran were nowhere in sight.
The daylight faded as the enormous face of the giant appeared in the gap. The giant opened his mouth, showing yellowed teeth. A dull roar tore through the Guild. Oh good. I’d pissed him off.
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