Daimons were such messy eaters.
They chewed and bit to get at the aether in the blood and they weren’t exactly particular about what area they went for. This one was as cliché as the last one. Had gone straight for the throat. Daimons were drawn to pures because they had more aether.
The male tilted its head to the side and sniffed the air. A slow smile split across its gruesome face, and a second later it sprang to its feet. Behind him, several daimons turned toward us.
But demigods and an Apollyon? We were chock-full of aether goodness and our appearance was like ringing the damn dinner bell.
“Can I still fight?” Aiden asked, smirking.
Flipping the dagger in my hand, I rolled my eyes. A second later the half daimon rushed Aiden’s back, and in the last moment, Aiden spun, kicking his leg out. His booted foot caught the daimon just below the knee, the impact shattering the bone. The daimon went down, and oh yeah, that fucker was going to be out for the count. It started to climb back up, but Aiden caught it in the chest, with a dagger.
Daimons who used to be half-bloods didn’t implode in a shimmery dust. When they died, they died like the rest of us. A pile of flesh and bone that looked like any number of dead bodies. This one fell backward, eyes clouding over.
“Yeah,” Aiden said. “I can still fight.”
“Lucky us,” I drawled, moving forward. “What would we do without you?”
However Aiden responded was lost in the shrill, annoying-as-hell scream of an oncoming daimon. It was a pure, and this one looked jacked the hell up. Skin leached of all color. Eyes nothing but black pits. Teeth like a damn shark’s.
And it was time to play.
Meeting the daimon head-on, I slipped under its widespread arms and popped up behind it. Landing a kick in the back, I jumped on top of it as it fell, then slammed the dagger deep into its back. The daimon froze and then imploded like a mini-glitter bomb.
I threw myself into the fight. Could’ve taken that dumbass out with one jab, but nah. I needed to work out the pent-up frustration. I needed to get it out of my system.
So I toyed with them. Pure daimons I took out with a dagger quickly, but I waited for the halfs that were turned—the ones who were trained Guards and Sentinels. They knew how to fight. I went hand-to-hand with them, exchanging blows until each punch started knocking around the bitter emotions gnawing away at my heart. Every so often I caught a burst of power—Alex or Aiden using the elements—and each small surge of energy fueled me.
I turned, coming face to face with a female half with blood smeared across her mouth. One eye was gouged out, probably from coming face to face with another Sentinel. Real attractive.
Grinning, I lowered the daggers.
The half daimon opened her mouth just as blood burst from her chest. The pointed end of a Covenant dagger appeared and then retracted, and the half daimon dropped.
Solos stood behind her. Scratches cut deep into his left cheek. “Sorry. I owed her that.” He gestured at his cheek with the bloody end of the dagger. “Not looking to have a matching set.”
“No doubt.” Wiping my arm across my forehead, I glanced down at my chest. Flecks of blood covered me. “What the hell happened?”
“That cell outside of Rapid City grew—shit.” Solos dipped down as a daimon launched itself at him. He rose, slamming the dagger up. “As I was saying,” he said, shaking out his damp hair. “Fucking pure Guards couldn’t tell when they came to the gate—they were turned Sentinels. Let them right in and then the rest came out of the woods.”
Over his shoulder, Alex delivered a powerful roundhouse kick, knocking the teeth out of one of the daimons. “What about the outer walls?”
“Overrun.” He grunted, catching a daimon and tossing him my way. “Complete loss, man. Complete loss.”
Catching the daimon with one hand on the shoulder, I introduced chest to dagger. Glitter bomb ensued.
“Oh, shit,” Solos said.
I lifted my head, unable to figure out his expression as he wiped at the blood on his face with the back of his hand. Yanking the dagger out, I spun around and jerked to a stop. Nearly fell the fuck over. No way. My fucking eyes were deceiving me, because there was no way Josie was standing right in front of me.
My grip tightened on the dagger I’d picked up from the . . . the man in white. The man who lay unmoving on the ground with his throat absolutely ripped apart. I could see his trachea. I didn’t even know what a trachea looked like, but I was pretty sure I could see it. Or his larynx. It had only been after I walked past him that I realized he had daggers and I needed daggers.
I felt bad poaching the dagger from him, but it was heavy and warm in my hand as I forced myself forward, knowing I was making the right choice. I was not a weakness that needed to be hidden away.
I was a mother-freaking demigod.
Like a real demigod, not a ready-made microwave dinner like Alex and Aiden. I was, like, a casserole that took all day to be slow-cooked in a Crock-Pot kind of demigod.
I could fight.
I was not weak.
I could hold my own.
As I stared at the bodies on the ground, some moving or crawling, and some with the pallor of death seeping into their skin, I wasn’t entirely sure this was wise, because I . . . I’d never seen anything like this. It was a war zone. Shouts rattled my bones. The metallic scent of blood mingled with smoke. Cries followed my footsteps as my heart pounded.
This wasn’t training. This was real. This was what these people lived under the threat of.
Smoke plumed from burnt patches in the soil. I could see Alex and Aiden, fighting side by side, a dynamic duo—an extremely attractive and agile dynamic duo—and further up, there was a half-naked Seth, standing beside Solos. I twisted to the right, my heart stuttering in my chest. Something stared at me.