Dragonbane(Dark Hunter,book 24)(57) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Biting her lip, she used the pain to focus her thoughts on something other than the way his armor clung to his muscles. The way he moved like a lethal warrior.
She shook her head to clear it. Have you any idea where we’re going? She sent her thoughts to him.
Yes and no. I’m tracking the Tablet. But no, I don’t know the layout here.
You fake it well.
He laughed silently.
She didn’t know why she allowed him to charm her so. He was completely irresistible. And she remained quiet as they snuck through the nether realm, so as not to distract him from his task. It was incredibly dark here. Eerily quiet. No wonder the Sumerians had always described this place as drab and bland.
The dead here decayed into nothing just as they did in their graves. And the only good thing she could say was that they didn’t punish their dead. But neither did they reward them for a life well lived. They merely existed here until they faded away.
How completely tragic. What a dreary, awful place to be sent to for eternity.
Suddenly, Max paused.
Sera tried to peer over his shoulder to see what had his attention, but he was too tall for that.
She wanted to argue, but knew better than to try, so she nodded and stayed put. It was probably for the best. This way she could watch the darkness for someone sneaking up on them. Not that she could see them in the darkness.
But maybe they’d be heavy breathers. Make her job easy.
Not have bathed for a few days…
A few extremely long minutes later that felt like an eternity in hell, she felt a presence behind her. She jerked around, intending to punch the culprit and run.
“It’s me,” Max whispered in her ear. “I got the Tablet.”
“Don’t do that!” She lightly flicked her fingers against his stomach to let him know how little she appreciated his startling a hundred or so years from her life.
He opened his mouth to speak, then went completely still as a voice cut through the darkness with an eerie, deep resonance.
“Well, well. I knew if you thought our numbers were down you’d come. And here Nala thought I was a fool for telling her that.”
Gasping, Seraphina flinched as someone lit a torch in the darkness. Then she wished they hadn’t.
Oh dear gods.
They were surrounded by gallu.
Max cursed under his breath as he saw Kessar in the blinding torchlight. An effing trap… and he’d walked right into it. He should have known the Tablet wouldn’t be so easy to find and grab.
How stupid am I?
Well, that didn’t bear thinking about right now. Worse, he’d known the demon wasn’t an idiot. That he’d only have one shot at this and that would be it.
And I blew it.
Good going, jackass.
Not only had he killed himself, he’d killed Sera, too. Yet he refused to be a part of her death. One way or another, he would get her out of this, at least.
Praying for a miracle, he swung around on Sera and gently pushed her into the shadows, hoping this worked, since he was the bigger target they were after. Then he ran, drawing the others away from her location. Okay, not the brightest plan ever, but luckily they were pretty stupid and ran after him with everything they had.
What he didn’t expect was for Sera to run after him, too. And when she turned into a dragon and picked him up to fly him above the demons chasing them, he couldn’t have been more stunned.
At first, he hadn’t even believed it was her. But as he looked over her beautiful red scales and the talons that held him, there was no doubt.
His dragonswan had saved him… as the dragon she hated.
Unfortunately, she couldn’t travel far in that form. The walls of the cavern narrowed so much that she had to set him down and return to being human or risk losing or breaking her wings.
“Impressive,” he said in an awed tone.
She flexed her arm as if assuring herself that she was “normal” again. “And what you did was wildly stupid. How have you managed to survive for so long?”
“No real idea.” He checked to make sure he still had the Tablet with him, then felt along the glassy walls, trying to pick a way through the domain toward an exit or at least some light. Not even his powers could detect anything. It was so frustrating to be this completely blind.
“Do you still have the Tablet?”
“Yeah. Not that it seems to be doing us any good. And if Kessar captures and bleeds me, it’ll be a lot worse. For everyone… especially me.”
Sera considered that. “He used the Tablet to awaken my tribe. Can you use it to do the same?”
Max hesitated. “How do you mean?”
“Can you reverse whatever he’s done to my tribe and free them again?”
He wasn’t sure he liked where her thoughts were going with this. “Yes, but I fail to see how that could be helpful.” Especially since the Amazons and Katagaria wanted him even more dead than the demons did.
“If you free them, we can drive back the demons, and I’m thinking Nala will know some way out of here.”
“Even if she does, I doubt she’ll help you and I know she won’t help me. I’m the dragon whose head she wants to mount on her wall.”
“I think I can persuade her.”
“I’m not sure I want to bet my life on this.”
“You have a better idea?”
“Fight our way out.”
She scoffed at what he considered an almost legitimate, if not sane, plan. “You think that’ll work?”
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