The Struggle (Titan 3) - Page 12

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“Josie!” Deacon yelled.

“Go,” I demanded, breathing heavy. “Dammit, Deacon. Get the hell out of here!”

“Now don’t listen to her and ruin all my fun,” Hyperion taunted.

I stepped back, forcing Deacon backward as the wall of flames around Alex and Aiden dropped. Alex was on her feet, cradling her arm. Aiden’s gunmetal-gray eyes widened when he saw his brother.

I couldn’t let Hyperion get to him—get to any of them.

Pushing off my back leg, I spun out, preparing to deliver a viscous kick. Hyperion swung out his arm, catching me around the waist. I shouted as he lifted me. My arms flailed as he slammed me into the ground. The impact rattled every bone in my body.

Hyperion grabbed a fistful of my hair. Shouting as he lifted me up, my hands grabbed at his as fiery pain erupted over my scalp. My feet left the ground, and I was suddenly eye to eye with Hyperion.

“I have spent days and weeks and months fantasizing about what I’m going to do to you.” His was voice was soft, but the words hit me like a sledgehammer. “I cannot wait to get started.”

I drew in a short breath.

Then I was flying backwards, and I didn’t have the chance to brace for impact. Hitting the ground, I gasped as the air was knocked out of my lungs. Stunned, I couldn’t move for several seconds. Holy crap. I had to dig deep, summoning akasha as I started to lift myself up, but I couldn’t find the strength. All I had was instinct, a drive to survive. I put one hand in front of the other and moved my knees. I crawled—crawled along the dusty ground, fingers digging through thin blades of grass.

Get up. Get up. Get up.

Lightning struck across the sky, filling the air with electricity. Dumbly, I watched the sky rip right open. Wings—all I saw were wings. Wings that spanned eight feet, attached to long, lean bodies. They circled at dizzying speeds. Screams—screams of fury ripped through the air, raising the hairs all along my body.

“Furies!” someone shouted. Maybe Aiden?

Erin. Erin!

Backup was here. Finally. All I needed to do was to get up. Just get—

Pain exploded along the side of my ribs as I was flipped over. My back hit the hard dirt as the air wheezed out of my lungs.

Hyperion loomed over me. “Time for us to go.”

I opened my mouth, but another burst of pain robbed me of breath and sight, and then there was nothing but darkness.

~

A shiver woke me.

The first thing I became aware of was the fact I was lying on my side and there was a hard, damp floor under me. It was cold, too cold. Blinking my eyes open, I bit back a moan. I could barely see anything as I gingerly lifted myself up, planting one hand on what turned out to be a cement floor.

Where in the world was I? Where was everyone? The furies?

Moving a hand to my wrist, I jerked my fingers back when a faint shock traveled up my arms. There was something wrapped around my wrists. Bracelets—thin bracelets.

They most definitely hadn’t been there before, and I had a bad feeling about them—about all of this.

My ribs hurt as I sat up. The steady throbbing in my temples caused my head to swim as my eyes slowly adjusted. There was a small window high up. Dust danced in the faint light that trickled in. Taking small breaths, I lowered my gaze along the wet cement walls. A dank, musty scent filled my nostrils, reminding me of how the shades from the Underworld had smelled.

I shivered again.

Turning slightly, I bit down on my lip as my body protested the movement, and then gasped. I wasn’t alone.

There were two people in the room with me. Both were lying on their sides. One was female. Dirty, bedraggled hair that appeared to be somewhere between brown and black shielded her face. She was only wearing what appeared to be a tank top and underwear. Even in the pale light, I could see that her thin legs were covered in either bruises or dirt. Near me was a shirtless male, his chest and stomach sunken in. Horror gave me strength to sit up fully as I stared at them.

I had a horrible suspicion of who they were and where I was.

“Hello?” I croaked out.

Neither body moved. I had no idea if they were alive. Forcing myself to move, I winced as I managed to drag myself the few feet to the closest body. The closer I was, I could make out some of his features. He had high cheekbones and full lips, but that was all I could see. His jaw was bruised and dirtied. I placed my hand on his still arm, sucking in air as I felt his cool, clammy skin.

And his eyes opened.

Drawing back, I stared into dull, vacant eyes. I opened my mouth to speak, but terror closed my throat off, because I knew—I knew there was barely any life in those eyes.

He was almost a shell, a dried-out husk of a person, and they . . . these two people were the missing demigods. The ones we were headed to find.

I sat back—fell back on my butt and I felt no pain as I stared at him. “Oh my god,” I whispered. “No. No way.”

This couldn’t be happening. I couldn’t be here. Panic unfurled in my chest. My gaze swung around the room as my pulse pounded erratically. Oh god, I couldn’t be here. I would wake up and—

No. This wasn’t a nightmare. I was with the Titans and that could only mean one thing for me. No one would be coming. Seth didn’t know I was captured. He was gone, and I didn’t know what had happened to Alex and Aiden or Deacon or Luke. I had no idea if they were alive or in here, wherever here was, or somewhere else if the furies had protected them.

My fingers curled in, nails digging into my palms.

I dragged in a halting breath.

I was so screwed.

And I was scared—terrified. I didn’t want to be. I wanted to be like I was sure Alex would be if she were in my place. Scared but strong, confused but plotting a way out from the moment she awoke. But I wasn’t her. I hadn’t trained since birth. I was just a mortal less than a year ago, and I knew—oh gods—I knew what was going to happen to me. All those horrid, whispered promises Hyperion had made me before Seth had arrived the last time. He was going to carry through with them. I knew it.

Pressing the back of my hand to my mouth, I squeezed my eyes shut. Tears burned as the panic infiltrated every vein. I couldn’t—

Voices and footsteps echoed outside the chamber, and I froze, unsure of what to do as I tried to decipher the language they spoke. Moments passed and I began to understand.

A woman was speaking. “You are a fool, Hyperion. You are not the one in control here.”

“I did not ask for your council.”

She made an exasperated sound. “Her? He will come for her and he already—”

“Close your mouth or I will rip your tongue out, Tethys,” Hyperion warned. “You know I will.”

My heart stopped and there was only silence for a few seconds, then I swallowed hard, eyes widening as I heard the locks turning on the door. There was nowhere for me to go, and it didn’t matter, because the door swung open, and light leaked into the room, revealing a narrow tunnel and Hyperion standing in the center of it.

The male beside me suddenly moved. He scuttled back against the wall and hunched over, curling his forearms around his face as he began to rock.

“Good.” He strode forward, legs encased in leather. “You’re awake. Now the fun can really begin.”

I threw up a hand. “Don’t come any closer.”

He stopped, and I could hear the smile in his voice. “Or what?”

There was no point in replying. Concentrating, I reached deep inside of me and searched for aether and . . . and found nothing.

“What . . . ?” I pressed a hand to my stomach, to my core, and felt nothing.

Hyperion chuckled. “There is nothing you can do. You see, Sunshine, nothing is simply absolute. There is always a nullifying factor. Those bands around your wrists were once around ours.”

Lifting my arms, I stared at the thin bands.

“They were forged in Olympus with the blood of Zeus and Cronus,” he explained. “Titan blood is powerful, and if you mix it with the Olympians? It was what allowed our children to entomb us. Those bands nullified our powers long enough for us to be placed in those tombs. They were removed when we did the whole deep-sleep, never-wake-up gig. Luckily, we were able to find a few.”


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Titan Fantasy
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