Magic Shifts(Kate Daniels,book 8)(40) by Ilona Andrews
I sprinted along the terrace to the stairs. A titan-sized hand reached to the bottom from above, fingers spread to grab, like a dragon’s mouth, and came up short. The thick fingers raked the air.
Juke shot out of her hiding spot, raised her bow, and fired. The arrow streaked through the air and bit just under the giant’s left eyelid. Juke darted back. The giant lashed out, trying to backhand the terrace where she hid.
Ken clapped his hands together. A torrent of yellow steam shot out from between his hands. The giant jerked his hand up to cover his face. The steam hit his palm. Blisters swelled under his skin, rupturing. An earth-shaking bellow rolled through the Guild, so loud it almost knocked me off my feet.
The stairs loomed before me. I sprinted up the staircase. The fourth floor flew by. I rounded the bend in the stairs and saw the sky above me. The giant had taken off a chunk of the fifth floor and now the last flight of stairs protruded above the building, leading nowhere.
I forced myself to slow down and walk up the last few steps. I needed to be close for this to work, and I couldn’t afford for him to slap me off that stairway.
The giant roared right in front of me, grasping at the people down below. I pulled the magic to me and spat a power word. “Aarh!” Stop.
The magic tore through me like an inferno and smashed into the giant. Instead of gripping him, my power crashed into an invisible wall, ricocheted, and slammed back into me. I tumbled back down the stairs and fell against the wall. Every bone in my body rattled in its socket. I screamed, but the agony dragged me under, robbing me of my voice. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t move. Above me, the giant, a smudged dark shadow, kept digging in the building.
It didn’t work. My power word had backfired.
Time stopped. My head swam. A vortex of pain clamped me, dark and merciless. It felt like my very being was being shaved away one thin layer at a time. Razor blades filled my mouth and throat. Dear God, it hurt. It hurt so much. My ears hurt. My hands bled. My chest refused to rise. It felt like I was dying.
I clung to life, but it hurt so much. If I let go, it would stop hurting.
Get up. I had to get up.
My legs had turned to Jell-O. It felt like my bones were broken, and my body was filled with their shards.
The giant straightened and raised his fist. A person struggled in his fingers. Black hair. Don’t be Juke . . .
The giant’s cavernous maw opened. Yellow teeth bit down.
He tossed the bottom half of the human being aside like a used tissue and reached down again.
No, you don’t.
My fury cut through the agony. I gripped it like a lifeline and forced myself to roll up to my hands and knees. I would get up. I had to get up.
Come on, legs. Straighten. An inch. Another inch.
He would not get away with this. I would make him pay. He wouldn’t kill anybody else.
The pain snapped inside me. White haze exploded in my brain and I went blind.
I concentrated on breathing. Calm. I needed to stay calm.
The haze burned off in another explosion of pain. I sheathed Sarrat and pulled out two throwing knives. Now I just had to run. Piece of cake.
I charged up the stairs. The pain tore inside me. One step, two, three . . . The last step loomed before me, the giant’s back under me as he bent over, stretching to grasp more bodies.
I jumped and plunged down, both knives out. My feet connected with the giant’s back. I slid and dug both of my blades into his flesh. Touching his skin was like opening the door to a burning stove.
The giant swung around, trying to knock me off with his hand, but I had landed almost in the dead center of his back, next to the spine. His fingers passed harmlessly below.
I yanked the left blade out, stretched, and sank it in six inches higher. Blood seeped from the wound in a hot flood, drenching my clothes. The giant shrugged his shoulders, muscle rolling under the skin. I jerked the right blade out and jammed it higher than the left. Left, right, left, right. The effort was wrenching my arms out of the sockets. Left, right, left, right . . .
Thick, coarse iron spikes burst from the spine next to me, growing into a crest. His skin was almost too hot to touch. He was still metamorphosing and right now it was helping me. I clutched those spikes and scrambled up.
The big hand reached over the shoulder and slapped the spot a foot above my head. The skin quaked under me. Crap. If I climbed any higher, he would flatten me into a Kate pancake.
A cloud of flies the size of tennis balls erupted from within the Guild, swirling around the giant’s head. He waved his arms. The movement sent my legs flying. I gripped the knives and hung on. He stopped turning and slapped at his face. I glanced up. The flies hung in a dense cloud off to one side, then slowly moved to the other. The giant swiped at them and howled.
Someone was helping me.
I climbed up the giant’s back, one knife thrust at a time, grabbing a spike when I could. His shoulder loomed. Almost there.
I dug my knife in one last time. The shoulder stretched before me, four feet long and three feet wide. His neck was less than three feet tall. I grabbed a handful of his hair and threw one leg over the shoulder, straddling it. His face was barely human now, his mouth a wide gash, his nose bridge almost flat with two wide nostrils jutting out of nowhere like the nose of a bull. The flies still buzzed around the giant’s head. Far below, Ken stood out in the open, chanting, hands out, his face strained.
I pulled Sarrat out. The jugular wouldn’t do it. It could take him ten minutes to die. I raised my blade and stabbed it deep into the side of his neck, below the Adam’s apple, in the spot before the carotid artery branched into exterior and interior. Blood wet my hands, spurting from the wound in a hot gush. I stabbed deeper, slicing into the artery. I didn’t have to sever it. I just had to cause enough damage. A partially severed carotid would bleed him out faster anyway.
Bright blood sprayed out like a geyser, drenching my body and face like a fire hose. Yes!
The giant swayed, off balance. Oh shit. How the hell do I get off this crazy ride?
I slid Sarrat back into the sheath, grabbed the giant’s hair with both hands, and held on. The giant rocked back and forth and clamped his hand to his neck, trying to hold back the flood. I clung to his hair. My hands, wet with blood, were slipping. Go down. Come on, go down.
With a loud cry, the giant stumbled backward, turning wildly, off balance, then careened forward. The blood kept spraying. I only needed a minute or two. He was dead already. He just didn’t know it.
A lurch to the right and I caught a glimpse of the staircase. Someone was running up.
The colossus pitched forward, slumping as if drunk, trying to catch himself on the Guild’s building. His head rolled back. The runner leaped, a spear in his hands, and I saw his face. Lago. He landed on the enormous cheek. The spearhead shone, catching the light, and Lago stabbed it straight into the giant’s eyeball.
Well, wasn’t that nice and dramatic. Way to jump in there at the end. If I weren’t holding on for dear life, I’d do a sarcastic slow clap.
The giant bellowed. His whole body trembled. He stumbled around the Guild, trying to catch himself on empty air and failing. His knees gave and he sank down, his face scraping against the ruined top of the Guild. Lago jumped back onto the building. I had no such luxury.
The giant rocked back. If he fell backward, I’d be dead.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online