Spider's Trap(Elemental Assassin,book 13)(86) by Jennifer Estep
Pike puffed up at my compliment, but I was about to pop the overinflated balloon of his ego.
“But I’m clever too—clever enough to win.”
“And why would you think that when I’m so close to killing you?”
I smiled, but it was a cold, heartless expression. “Because you’re in my killing fields now, bitch.”
I spread my arms out wide, gesturing at the landscape around us. The one that seemed so benign, so innocent, so harmless. It was anything but. Because there were different kinds of gardens besides those with pretty trees and flowers.
Like the rock garden we were standing in.
White, gray, and black stones stretched out all around us, arranged in elaborate floral patterns. A small stone platform perched at the edge of the garden, offering visitors a better view of the patterns.
Of course, I’d ruined the pretty designs by hobbling out into the center of them, dripping blood everywhere, and sending loose rocks skittering sideways with my slow, clumsy feet. And now I was going to ruin Raymond Pike with all the lovely stones around me.
He finally realized what I was up to and let out a loud, vicious curse, even as he surged forward to try to stab me to death. But this time, I was the one who waved my hand and stopped him dead in his tracks.
Rocks exploded all around him, as though he were standing in the middle of a minefield.
Despite all the metal wrapped around his body, Pike instinctively ducked. He started forward again, and I sent out another wave of Stone magic, making more of the rocks explode and then using my power to force all the bits and pieces right back at him until he was standing in the middle of a stone tornado. Shrapnel zipped through the air, pelting his body, the jagged fragments small enough to slide through the gaps in his makeshift armor but still plenty sharp enough to tear through his clothes and rip into his skin.
“What’s the matter, Ray?” I called out above the din. “Don’t like someone using your own tricks against you? It’s not a metal box filled with nails, but I think it’s pretty damn effective, don’t you?”
Pike was too busy ducking shrapnel to answer. But he realized that he couldn’t endure my stone bombs forever, and he reached down, peeled one of the spikes off his arm, and threw it at me.
I ducked, but the motion sent a hot rush of pain shooting through my injured side, making me double over and lose my grip on my Stone magic. Pike used the opportunity to surge forward and slam his body into mine.
I landed on my back—hard—my head snapping against the ground. I had to work hard to blink the spots out of my eyes.
Pike loomed over me, that smug smirk stretching across his face again. “Now what are you going to do?”
One of the metal bands around his arms snaked down his hand and latched onto my throat, forming a circle there—one that slowly started to tighten.
More of Pike’s metal magic blasted over me, cold, hard, and unyielding, the sensation eerily similar to my own Stone power, even though he was killing me with it.
Pike put his knees on my chest, cutting off even more of my air. I kicked and flailed and thrashed, but he was stronger and heavier, and I couldn’t buck him off. My hands clenched, digging through the stone shards that littered the ground like crushed bones. I searched and searched through the stones, but I’d done too good a job, and nothing but fragments remained.
The white, gray, and black spots flickering in front of my eyes grew darker and darker. I was seconds away from blacking out. The end would be quick after that.
Desperate, I threw my hand out to the side, making an Ice dagger, which I slammed into Pike’s chest. But the Ice shattered against his metal armor. He chuckled, amused by my pitiful attempts to hurt him, but he relaxed his concentration on his magic, just for a moment. I pushed back with my own power and managed to hook my fingers underneath the metal band around my throat.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Pike asked. “That’s not going to help you.”
I didn’t bother answering him. I was too busy coating the metal band with all the Ice magic I could bring to bear.
“Enough of this,” Pike growled. “I’ll choke you to death with my bare hands if I have to—”
He reached forward to do just that, but I let loose with another blast of Ice magic, combining it with my Stone power and focusing them both on breaking the metal ring around my neck. There weren’t enough stones left for me to kill Pike, but maybe I didn’t have to use my element to end him.
Maybe all I had to use was his.
The iron didn’t want to bend, much less break, but the extreme temperature swing of my Ice coating it and then being cracked away was enough to get the metal to creak and groan around my neck. With one hand, I slapped away Pike’s grasping, choking fingers as best I could. With the other, I kept hold of the band around my neck, freezing and shattering my Ice and Stone magic on it over and over again.
But I couldn’t hold off Pike forever, and he managed to dig his thumbs into my windpipe, right above where the metal was wrapped around my throat. He pressed down as hard as he could, putting all his weight into choking me to death.
I kept hammering at the metal band with my magic. That was all I could do.
And finally, at last, it was enough.
The iron gave up, and the metal squealed as it finally cracked open and fell away from my throat. A metal shard broke off in my hand and threatened to fly away, but I tightened my grip on it, using my Ice magic to freeze it to the spider rune scar in my palm before it could skitter out of range.
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