Dragonbane(Dark Hunter,book 24)(76) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Metallica, Pantera… that would make sense. Death metal, definitely. But medieval love poetry?
Nah, it just didn’t fit.
Illarion turned human so that he could sneak inside for a peek. Max followed suit only to find that it wasn’t Ares who was playing and singing in the middle of battle.
It was Apollo. Which kind of made sense, he supposed, since Apollo was the god of music and poetry, and rather passive. Sure, why not? Him and Nero. Fiddling while Rome, or in this case, Olympus burned.
The god probably needed the light from the fires to read with his old eyes.
As if sensing their presence, Apollo stopped playing and narrowed his gaze angrily on the shadows that concealed them. “Little dragons, all in a row. Tell the big Greek god, how deep is your sorrow flow?”
A chill went down Max’s spine. He grabbed Illarion’s arm and tried to pull him back, but his brother wouldn’t obey. It was as if he was being drawn forward by some unseen, mystical force. Like the music lured him against his will.
Apollo rose to his feet, while he continued to pluck at his lyre. “I know you’re there, son of Ares. I can feel you. Come and give your uncle a hug… sing with me.”
Illarion actually took a step forward.
Max sank his claws into his brother’s arm, hoping the pain might get through to him since nothing else was working, and shook his head no. It’s a trick!
Pressing his lips together, Illarion finally hesitated.
“Ahh,” Apollo said in a petulant tone. He plucked a sour note. “Don’t you trust me? You do know that’s why Dagon chose you for his experiments all those centuries ago, don’t you? Because you were my nephew, he thought to use you to spare the Apollites my curse. He knew my love for you, as your uncle, would sway my mercy. It’s why I begged Zeus and the Fates to spare you from the slaughter.”
Apollo tsked. “Your jealous half brother Max didn’t tell you that, did he? That I never wanted you harmed. You and Lycaon’s sons were to be excluded from the cleansing. Your brother lied to you, Illarion, to save his own ass, and to win you to his cause. It’s what he’s been doing since the very beginning. Why do you think he left you trapped all those centuries in Le Terre Derrière le Voile?”
Max gaped furiously at that accusation. How dare he! Bullshit! You know better, Illy. You were there. You heard them, same as I. That’s not the way it happened! And I never knew you were trapped. I would have come for you, had I known.
The sudden doubt in Illarion’s eyes cut him soul deep. How could he believe Apollo for even an instant over him? Especially after everything they’d been through together.
“You aren’t born of Arel blood, little nephew. You have no loyalty to anyone save our pantheon. Join us and I’ll give you what you want most.”
“Illarion,” Max spoke out loud, trying to reach his brother through whatever spell the god was weaving with his lyre and words. “Don’t listen to him. He’s lying. You know he’s lying!”
His brother took a step back and grabbed on to Max’s arm to steady himself.
Relieved beyond belief that his brother had chosen wisely, Max wrapped his arms around him and held him close. He could feel Illarion trembling against him.
Until a light, musical voice called out with the cadence of a perfect angel.
His breathing ragged, Illarion pulled back and looked up with wide eyes. Edilyn?
“I’m here, my precious dearling. I’ve missed you so much!”
Apollo laughed. “All you have to do is join me, nephew. Help me take back what was stolen and I’ll see you reunited with your Edilyn.”
Max shook his head and held on tight to Illarion’s arm. “You can’t do this! Illarion! It’s a trick!”
His eyes haunted, Illarion met his gaze with a longing insanity he’d never forget. And if it were Seraphina? What choice would you make, brother?
Damn it! The truth of that statement burned like fire in his gut. He knew what choice he’d make.
The same one Illarion did as his brother shoved him back and ran to Apollo.
In that moment, Max knew he couldn’t stay. If he did, he’d be forced to fight the last creature on this planet he’d ever harm.
The brother he’d spent a lifetime protecting.
Worse, he knew that wasn’t Edilyn. It couldn’t be. It was an illusion of some kind. But Illarion was so desperate to have her back that he didn’t care. He was past listening to reason.
Distracted, Max glanced back into the temple to check on Illarion as he embraced whatever demon or creature wore the skin of his brother’s wife. His thoughts and emotions were so scattered and raw that for a moment, he forgot he was still in a human body.
Forgot he was in the middle of a war and a battle.
But he was reminded fast when a demon materialized in front of him and ran him completely through his heart with a sword, and kicked him to the ground, leaving him there to die.
Savitar went into Kalosis expecting a war zone. But the absolute silence of Apollymi’s dark palace was even more terrifying. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
It was so quiet that only the sound of his own heartbeat filled his ears. The dark was oppressive and sterile. Unsettling. Downright terrifying in its own right. Yeah, this had all the markings of a Creature Feature film and was exactly the type of home you’d expect for a woman termed The Great Destroyer.
Zakar scowled at him as Savitar turned around, looking for the body count that should have been here. “Is it supposed to be empty like this?”
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