Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(84) by Jennifer Estep
Until my knife broke.
Pike and I were locked together, trying to overpower each other. Cold, hard, invisible waves of our magic pulsed through the air, even as our knives slid back and forth, the blades screeching together. But my ceramic wasn’t as strong as his silverstone, and the metal finally sawed through my weapon, leaving nothing behind but a jagged, useless hilt.
The snap of the knife threw me off balance. I grunted and tried to spin away, but Pike grabbed my hair and yanked me back toward him.
Then the bastard punched his blade into my side.
I screamed and flung my hand back, trying to shoot Ice daggers into his face to blind him. I missed the mark, but I blasted him with enough magic to make him growl and let go of me.
The knife tore free, hurting just as much coming out as it had going in. I fell to the ground, clutching my side and trying to ignore the pain flooding my body from the brutal wound. Pike hadn’t hit anything terribly vital, but he’d come far too close for my liking. I needed to end the fight—and him—now.
Pike loomed over me, my blood dripping off the end of his knife. “Now what are you going to do, bitch?”
I put my hands on the ground and lashed out with my foot, driving my boot into his ankle. The blow wasn’t all that hard, but Pike yelped in surprise, his feet skidded through a patch of dead leaves, and he landed hard on his hands and knees.
I lurched back up onto my feet. A troubling amount of blood had already soaked into my blue T-shirt, with even more oozing out of the wound.
Pike scrambled upright, flipped his knife over, grabbed it by the blade, and hurled it at me. I snapped up my hands, reached for my magic, and sent out dozens of Ice daggers. My Ice knocked the knife off course, and it clattered harmlessly to the ground.
Too late, I realized the attack had just been a distraction so that Pike could get to what he really wanted: the iron bench near the pagoda.
I didn’t think he had the strength, but Pike wrenched the bench free of its foundation and lifted the whole thing off the ground. Then he ripped the metal apart with his bare hands and put it back together.
All over himself.
The wrought-iron bands uncurled from their original shapes, crawling up Pike’s arms like snakes. And that was only the beginning. His blue eyes glowed, and his magic blasted off him in cold, hard waves. The iron bands began to move, writhing faster than any snake ever could and taking shape over his body.
And I finally realized what he was doing: creating a suit of armor for himself.
In seconds, Pike was encased in metal from head to toe, the pieces of the bench covering most of his body as though he had rolled himself up in the slats.
But he wasn’t content with just his new metal shell.
Two snakes of iron curled across his knuckles, forming two solid bands there before sprouting spikes—the same sort of spikes that had been on his mace before he’d blown it to bits. Spikes also appeared along his arms, legs, and chest, but the ones on his hands were the most worrisome. They swayed like two undulating cobras, as though they were waiting for me to get within striking distance.
I grabbed a ceramic knife from against the small of my back, even though I couldn’t get close enough to Pike to stab him now. Not without getting a spike through some part of me in return.
Pike laughed at my obvious frustration. “Not exactly what you were expecting, huh, Gin? My source told me that you were clever. Well, thanks to my father, so am I. And now it’s time for me to finally avenge him.”
He threw his hands forward. A blast of magic rolled off him, and the metal spikes hissed out from his body, straight at my heart.
* * *
I did what anyone would do in this situation.
I hit the ground.
The deadly spikes shot out over my head, but I still landed hard on my injured side. I groaned but forced the throbbing, aching sting of the wound away and got back up onto my hands and knees. Since I was already on the ground, the best thing to do would be to drag Pike down to my level. Driving my knife through his heart, his throat, his eye would do the trick. I wasn’t picky. All I had to do was get close enough to hit one of those sweet spots, and he’d be as dead as his father was.
So I drew back my foot, determined to ram it into Pike’s knee. But the spikes on his legs zipped out, and I had to roll out of the way to keep from impaling my foot on the moving pieces of metal.
Pike stepped up and slammed his foot into my ribs. More pain erupted from my wound, along with an agonizing spurt of blood. I groaned again but forced myself to keep moving, to keep fighting. I hadn’t given up that day in the woods, and I wasn’t going to give up now.
Raymond Pike was not going to be the death of me.
Since I couldn’t kick his legs out from under him, I staggered back up onto my own feet. I tightened my grip on my ceramic knife and darted forward, but once again, his lashing metal spikes drove me back.
And again, and again.
Every time I found a vulnerable spot, an opening, Pike used his magic—and his snakelike spikes—to take away my advantage. The bastard also plunged the sharp tips into my skin, cutting me again and again and bleeding me dry one small slice at a time.
He knocked my knife out of my hand, and I screamed, frustration mixing in with the increasing pain. Pike laughed the whole time—just laughed and laughed. The mocking sound only added to my anger, but there was nothing I could do to shut him up.
Finally, Pike grew tired of letting me try to kill him, and he went on the offensive. He flexed his hands, then curled them into tight fists. The metal ringing his knuckles shifted into two long blades, more like swords than knives.
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