Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(81) by Jennifer Estep
More of that hot, embarrassed rage stained Pike’s cheeks a dark, ugly red.
Lorelei shook her head, her braid swishing against her shoulder. “I don’t know why I was ever afraid of you, Raymond. You don’t have any real strength, any real power. Not the kind that truly matters. All you have is your ego, and it’s not going to be enough to save you. Not this time.”
But Pike laughed, the sound soft yet confident. He gestured out at the gardens. “You think you’ve beaten me by bringing me here? I don’t need any metal here to kill you. I brought plenty of my own. I always do.”
His eyes flashed a wicked blue, and he chucked his mace at us.
For a second, I thought that he was a complete idiot, throwing away his one weapon, especially with such a halfhearted attempt. But then I felt a wave of magic surge off him, and I realized what he was really targeting with it: the mace.
“Bomb!” I screamed.
I reached for my Stone magic and used it to harden my skin, even as I tackled Lorelei, driving her to the ground and covering her body with mine—
* * *
Fire, heat, smoke, noise.
The mace’s metal spikes shot out from the force of the explosion, while the rest of the weapon splintered into jagged pieces that cut through the air like knives.
I grunted as the dangerous mix of shrapnel pelted my back, along with wads of dirt and rocks. The hailstorm punched into my body, leaving bruises behind, but my Stone magic kept the pieces from actually slicing into my skin. As soon as the last of the shrapnel fell, I rolled off Lorelei and scrambled to my feet. She did the same, both of us searching for her brother.
But Pike wasn’t there.
Lorelei whirled around, searching for him. I looked over at my friends.
Mallory was down on the ground, with Jo-Jo, Silvio, and Owen trying to help her up. Corbin must have used the explosion to make a break for it, and he was running for the entrance, with Finn, Bria, Xavier, and Sophia chasing after him.
My gaze locked with Owen’s.
He pointed to the hedge maze tunnel on the far side of the garden. “Pike went that way! Go! Go!”
Lorelei and I looked at each other, then sprinted in that direction.
Lorelei and I plunged into the hedge maze.
As we ran deeper into the maze, the hedges became taller and thicker, the tight tangle of limbs impenetrable, and the path twisted and turned, with new branches splitting off from it every few feet in no discernible order or pattern. A sign planted at one of the junctions said that the maze was designed to look like a rose when viewed from above.
Wasn’t that ironic.
The silvery light of the full moon frosted the tops of the hedges, outshining the iron streetlights that were planted throughout the maze. The air smelled crisp and green, with a metallic hint of the night’s coming frost. Leaves had fallen off the trees farther out in the gardens and blown down into the maze corridors, the brown curls creating spiderweb patterns on the white flagstones.
Lorelei and I came to a junction. I looked left and right down the murky, shadow-strewn corridors, but I didn’t see Pike or hear anything but our harsh, raspy breaths. If we went the wrong way, he was gone—until the next time he decided to plant a bomb somewhere.
I reached out with my Stone magic, listening to the rocks in the ground and hidden in the bushes. But they only murmured of the night’s growing chill. Pike’s passage hadn’t been long or distinctive enough to resonate with them. I cursed and bent down, hoping there would be some sort of scuff mark or bootprint on the flagstones that would indicate which way he’d gone.
I got to my feet and stalked back and forth in both directions, but I didn’t see so much as a broken branch. I let out another curse. Given my luck, I’d pick the wrong direction, and Pike would get away.
Lorelei pointed to the right. “He went that way.”
“Are you sure?”
She nodded, her eyes glinting like pale sapphires, and I realized that she was using her own metal magic, weak though it was. “I’m sure. I spent years tracking him and his magic all through our house so I could avoid him as much as possible. He’s still holding on to his power, trying to find some metal to use with it. It’s faint, but I can sense his trail. Trust me.”
“Lead the way.”
Lorelei headed down the right passageway.
We moved quickly and quietly. We didn’t speak. We didn’t need to. The only thing that mattered now was finding Pike—and finishing him.
But the maze made it difficult.
Time and time again, we came to junctions where the hedges split into two or three or sometimes even four new directions. I would have been floundering around for hours, trying to track him, but Lorelei never wavered, and she never hesitated.
The whole trek reminded me of that day in the woods, except this time, Lorelei was the hunter, the unstoppable force. No matter how many different directions Pike took, no matter how he maneuvered through the maze, she followed the faint trail of his magic like a bloodhound glued to a scent that only she could detect.
Finally, we rounded a corner and spotted Pike darting through a patch of light. He quickly disappeared into another corridor.
“There he is!” Lorelei yelled, raising her Ice gun. “There he is!”
She ran after him. I reached for her, but I wasn’t quick enough to grab and yank her back. In an instant, she was several feet past me and sprinting even deeper into the maze.
“Wait!” I hissed. “Wait!”
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