Dragonbane(Dark Hunter,book 24)(54) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Zakar gaped at him with a look of total disbelief. “You’re the Koru-Nin?”
“Yeah.” Max met Fang’s equally slack-jawed stare. “The real reason why I’ve never left Sanctuary before now. I couldn’t care less about the Dragonbane mark. Anyone wants to try and kill me, bring it with friends, and shovels to mark your graves. Rather it’s what I protect that keeps me hidden. I can’t afford for it to fall into the wrong hands. And should I ever happen to go down… only my brothers Falcyn or Blaise have the ability to take over its stewardship. Not even Illarion could handle its power.”
Seraphina had known the Sa’l Sangue Realle was important, but it wasn’t until she saw their faces now that she fully understood her mate’s duties. Just how important Max was to the universe as a whole.
And how incredibly powerful and deadly an object it was. No wonder the demons were after it.
Zakar narrowed his gaze on Max as if trying to understand him. “Have you ever used it?”
“It’s not my place. Nor does it tempt me.”
“Hence why he’s the guardian for it. Anyone else, we’d all be paying tribute to as our grand and evil overlord.”
Max snorted at Acheron’s dry tone. “Bow down before me, Atlantean scum.”
His eyes haunted, Max laced his fingers in Sera’s hair while he talked to the others. It was the tenderest expression of care anyone had ever given her and it touched her a lot more than she wanted to admit to. “Considering all that, there’s no reason we can’t reclaim the Tablet from Kessar and the others. Even in Irkalla.”
Sin knuckle-bumped him. “Let’s salt the sands of Irkalla with their blood.”
“No.” Acheron shook his head at Sin’s offer. “I think that’s a profoundly bad idea, since Katra would have both our asses if you went in and we couldn’t get you back for whatever reason. She’s not going to let you go there without her. You willing to risk her life?”
Acheron winked at him. “Good answer.”
“Who’s Katra?” Sera asked Max.
“Sin’s wife and Acheron’s daughter. As his wife, she’s technically part of the Sumerian pantheon and could descend into Irkalla with us, should she choose to do so, and as Ash said, she would do it to protect Sin. But she’s also the daughter of Artemis. With that lineage and those ties to that many competing pantheons, who knows what could happen to her if she went in there. While most of the gods should be sleeping, we don’t know for certain if that’s true of all of them. Our luck, and my personal experience, says prepare for a nasty surprise.” Max sighed heavily. “To be safe, we have to do this independent of outside pantheons. With the exception of Illarion, whose father is Ares, the drakomai can go without a problem.”
“What about a Hellchaser wolf?”
Max inclined his head to Fang. “You are welcome, brother.”
“Amazons?” Sam asked.
“Are you a demigod?”
She hedged a bit. “Granddaughter of Ares. Does that count?”
“Closer than we should chance, especially given the disgruntled look on Dev’s face.”
“Yeah,” Dev said irritably. “Back to the Katra thing. You go. I go. Don’t turn me into a demon, Sam. I’d look bad with serrated teeth.”
She groaned at her mate.
“That also leaves Chi out, and me,” Acheron said. “We better not chance it either.”
“But I’m still in.”
Sera scowled at Styxx. “How can you be in if your twin isn’t?”
Styxx let out an evil laugh. “That’s a long story. The shortest version is he was hidden in my mother’s womb as a fetus to keep his pantheon from killing him. While his mother is a goddess, my mother was a human queen. So even though we look alike – another trick of his mother’s to hide and disguise him – I’m a Chthonian. He’s a god. Clears me for active duty in nether realms ruled by ancient pantheons that bar his participation.”
Fang checked his phone before he spoke again. “And that’s my boss. Thorn’s got his own major situation exploding that’s requiring his full attention. In fact, he wanted me to help with it, then decided he’d call in Cadegan and Varyk instead, and leave me to deal with this.”
Sera crossed her arms over her chest. “So we’re a handful against a horde?”
A playful light darkened Styxx’s eyes. “Typical odds for me.”
Max jerked his chin toward Styxx. “Styxx was the commander of the Stygian Omada.”
It was her turn to have her jaw drop at the name of one of the most successful and famous armies in history. It ranked up there with Achilles and his Myrmidons. In the Greco-Apollon wars, the Stygian Omada had been invincible. “That was you? But you’re just a baby.”
Styxx laughed at her unintentional insult. “So was Alexander the Great. It’s amazing what people can do when they’re highly motivated and there’s an enemy army about to swarm over your carcass, should you fall.”
“Very, very true.”
Now it was Acheron’s phone that rang. He stepped away to answer.
“Blood moon,” Dev said, feigning an evil accent. “What we live for.”
Cherif scoffed. “I can handle that. It’s the dying for it that terrifies me.”
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