Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(50) by Jennifer Estep
“Move!” I yelled, although my voice was lost among the shrieks and screams. “Move! Move! Move!”
I pushed a couple of middle-aged matrons out of my way and staggered over to the table. Mallory sidestepped away from me, clearly wondering what I was doing, but I only had eyes for the bomb. More women streamed past the table, carrying Mallory along in their wake. Good. The farther away she was, the more likely she was to survive.
Just as I’d thought, the bomb was housed inside a jewelry box made out of pale rose quartz. Flowers and vines swirled through the sides, while a small silver clasp held the lid closed. It would have been quite beautiful, if not for the ugly rune carved into the top.
A mace—Pike’s rune.
As my gaze locked onto the symbol, a pale blue light flared, growing brighter and brighter and slowly filling in the lines of the mace rune. Cold, hard power leaked out of the box, building and building like a wave rising up. Pike must have coated the box with his metal magic to make the blast even more powerful, to send the nails inside shooting out in all directions for maximum effect.
No collateral damage this time—just utter destruction.
I’d been trying to keep a mental clock running in my head, but I didn’t know how accurate my timing was. I thought that I had about thirty seconds left to do something with the bomb—other than watch it explode and rip people to shreds, including me.
Desperation filled me. My eyes flicked left and right, but there was no place to throw the bomb. Even if I managed to find an empty area, I couldn’t throw it far enough to keep everyone out of the blast radius. The blowback would still kill people, along with the resulting shrapnel.
Twenty-five . . . twenty-four . . . twenty-three . . .
Lorelei reached my side. She’d lost her floppy hat and one of her heels, but her mouth was set into a determined slash as she stared down at the bomb.
“Encase it with your Ice magic!” she yelled above the screams. “As much as you can! I’ll use my metal magic to keep it from blowing outright! That’s the only way to contain the blast!”
Twenty . . . nineteen . . . eighteen . . .
I reached for the box and wrapped my hands around one side of it. Lorelei slapped her hands down on the other side, and we both blasted the box with our magic.
There was no time for subtlety and skill. If the bomb blew, it would kill both of us, regardless of the fact that I was using my Stone magic to harden my skin. But better me than all these innocent people. So I slammed a layer of Ice around the jewelry box, hoping that the force of my magic wouldn’t make it detonate in my hands.
And it didn’t, thanks to Lorelei.
Pike’s metal magic started to react to my Ice power, and the entire box trembled, as though it were about to explode, even though the lines on the mace rune weren’t completely filled in yet. But Lorelei sent a wave of her metal magic into the heart of the symbol, pushing back against Pike’s power. She didn’t seem to be as strong as her brother, but her magic was enough to slow his down.
Fifteen . . . fourteen . . . thirteen . . .
The rose quartz wailed at the sudden, brutal assault, but I shut the stone’s cries out of my mind and hit it with another round of magic. Then another, then another, as though I were wrapping a Christmas present, only with elemental Ice instead of pretty paper. Lorelei worked beside me the whole time, holding off her brother’s magic as long as she could.
Best-case scenario, my Ice would throttle the blast, and it wouldn’t be any worse than a pipe bomb some juvenile delinquents stuck in a toilet. Worst-case, Raymond Pike had a whole lot more magic than I did, and I’d be seeing Fletcher in a few more seconds.
Ten . . . nine . . . eight . . .
Through all my layers of Ice, Pike’s mace rune burned an even brighter blue, the entire symbol now fully lit up with his metal power, indicating that the bomb was about to explode.
Five . . . four . . . three . . .
“Throw it!” Lorelei screamed, ripping her hands off the box. “Throw it now!”
I snatched up the Ice-coated jewelry box, reared back my hand, and pitched it as hard, high, and far away as I could. It didn’t travel all that far, getting stuck in a tree branch behind one of the trellises—
The force of the blast knocked me back into Lorelei and sent us both tumbling to the ground.
The tree disintegrated into the sum of its splinters. So did the trellis in front of it and all the surrounding bushes. Ash and cinders fluttered through the air like confetti, along with burned leaves, blackened petals, and smoldering bits of bark. Lorelei and I were the closest to the blast, and the smoke boiled over us, making me cough and cough. Strangely enough, the smoke smelled like roses.
The explosion seemed to go on forever, although it couldn’t have lasted more than a few seconds. I didn’t know how long it was before I was able to pick myself up and stagger to my feet.
I wobbled back and forth, my ears ringing from the blast and my head swimming in a way that told me that I had another concussion. But I was still in one piece, and so were Lorelei and everyone else. So I forced myself to ignore my injuries and focus on the damage.
The smoldering remains of the tree were studded with nails, the charred trunk bristling with them like a pincushion. I half expected blood to come pouring out of the wounds, but of course, it didn’t. Still, a shiver raced up my spine. That could have been me studded with nails—or, worse, Jo-Jo and Roslyn.
My friends rushed over to me, Jo-Jo reaching for her Air magic to heal my injuries. Her power surged over me much the same way my Ice magic had blasted over the jewelry box. I grimaced at the pins-and-needles sensation of her magic sweeping over my body and stitching back what was cut, bloody, and bruised.
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