The Struggle (Titan 3) - Page 5

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“Deacon,” Aiden said calmly. Smoke drifted off the tips of his fingers. “Get Gable into the kitchen. Keep him there.”

For once, Deacon obeyed without argument. Whipping around, he grabbed the stunned-into-silence Gable and hauled ass to the kitchen, slamming the door behind them just as one of the so-very-dead-looking things howled a sound of rage and blood, sending a shiver down my spine.

They attacked.

There was no time to figure out what was happening, what these things really were, or why they were coming after us. The things could move fast. Half went toward Alex and the guys. The rest raced in my direction, and for a split second, fear punched through my gut. I was immobile with it. I may be a demigod, but these things were terrifying looking, and I was just a mortal girl about to get her flesh torn off her bones.

But I wasn’t a mortal girl.

Far from it.

Instinct took over, forcing my body to move. I darted to the left as I tapped into the powers stirring inside me. Reaching the raised dais, I spun around. A small ball of flames hit one of the creatures in the back. Fire erupted, swallowing its body.

“Holy crap,” I whispered.

On the other side of the chasm, ultra-bright flames danced over Aiden’s knuckles. Then he turned, taking out another as Luke brandished a dagger. Apparently he’d been the only one who came out of his bedroom prepared. Overachiever. Jumping forward, he slammed the dagger into one of the eye sockets and jerked his arm back, his lip curling in disgust as maroon-colored blood spurted out at him. The thing shrieked as it fell to the floor, shattering upon impact.

“That’s so gross,” he muttered, flipping the dagger. He twisted, eyeing another creature. “So freaking gross.”

Tapping into the fire element, I welcomed the lava now coursing through my veins. My right arm heated, and a bolt of fire shot from my palm, smacking the closest creature to me in the chest. It went down in flames. I spun, hitting another creature. The third zigged and zagged on me, getting close enough that the smell of rot and death turned my stomach. I danced back a step, tapping into fire once more. Flames swamped that creature as it fell forward. I turned, throwing out my arm. Fire crackled over my fingers, and I let it go just as another creature shot forward. The fourth creature took the hit in the shoulder, spinning it around. I turned as the fifth one jumped—jumped like a jackrabbit, landing no more than a foot in front of me. I reared back, but it wrapped a bony, fleshless hand around my forearm.

Fiery pain erupted, robbing the air out of my lungs. The touch seared my skin, forcing out a hoarse scream. The creature laughed, spewing dirt into the air. Rearing back, I tore my arm free just as a dagger sliced through its face from behind.

It didn’t jerk or spasm—simply fell to the floor, exploding into a pile of clumpy ash.

I was standing face to face with Luke.

“Looked like you could use the help,” he said, twisting at the waist. “Are you okay?”

Breathing through the pain, I looked down at my arm. Four marks the size of fingers burned my arm. “I’ll be okay.”

Luke didn’t get a chance to respond, because those on fire were rising from the floor. The flames receded, revealing charred skin and bone.

“What the hell?” I gasped out, pressing my wounded arm to my stomach as I scanned the atrium.

Aiden and Alex were backing up, both with the same stunned expressions on their faces. “This isn’t good,” she said. “I thought fire killed zombies.”

“Yeah, I don’t think these are zombies, babe,” Aiden replied.

“Head shots seem to work,” Luke called out. “So they’re kind of like zombies.”

“We don’t have daggers.” Aiden stepped to the left, halfway in front of Alex. It seemed like an unconscious, protective move. “We could push them back into the crevice.”

As soon as he finished saying that, as if the gods were laughing at us, several more climbed out of the hole in the floor.

“I don’t think that’s going to work.” Alex sighed.

My dagger was nowhere to be found among the broken tiles. It could’ve even fallen into the chasm. If fire didn’t kill these things, then . . .

I only knew of one other thing.

Instead of pushing away the pain, I used it to fuel me, and I reached deep inside, tapping into the very center of my being. Akasha roared to the surface, and releasing the supreme power was like a flower opening up to the sun. It was a release—a burst of white light powered down my arm like a cyclone.

I let it go, sending it straight to one of the charred creatures lumbering toward Luke and me. The pale light shrouded the creature for a half-second, and then it exploded into ash.

“Well, that works, too.” Luke grinned, obviously having way too much fun with this, and I had to wonder how he ever thought he could stop being a Sentinel.

Following suit, Alex and Aiden summoned akasha, while Luke was more hands-on, using the dagger. We took down nearly a dozen, but they streamed out of the crevice like an unending Night of The Living Dead.

Exhaustion was already settling into my bones as I released another bolt of akasha. It might’ve been the lack of sleep or the battle with Atlas and how Seth had . . . how he had fed off of all of us, but we couldn’t keep this up forever.

Akasha rippled down my arm as the smell of sulfur deepened. The ground shook once more, tossing me backward. I grunted as I hit the floor on my bad arm and my akasha faded out. Shifting onto my back, I dragged in air between my teeth.

“Josie!” Aiden shouted.

One of the creatures was right at my side, reaching out with those painful, super-gross hands. I rolled onto my side and pushed up. My left hand dragged across the floor, slipping over something smooth and cold. I glanced down, spying the dagger. Wrapping my fingers around it, I shot to my feet, screaming as I brought the dagger down. The sharp blade cut through skin and bone, sinking deep into the skull. Wrenching the dagger free, I stumbled back a step as the thing fell to pieces.

The house trembled as the rift in the floor widened, and through the charred bodies and the fresher ones that now rose, a horse head appeared.

“Am I seeing things?” I asked just as one of the creatures reached for me. I brought the dagger down and whipped back toward the opening. There was another horse head and then another.

“What in the world?” Akasha faded from Alex’s arm.

An undercurrent of power rippled through the room, coasting over my skin. I had no idea what was happening at this point, but three horses rose up out of the ground, dark as night and covered in black armor, and they held riders. The two on the outside were dressed head to toe in black, and the one in the middle wore leathers—leather pants and a leather, sleeveless shirt. A golden band wrapped around his well-muscled upper arm, and an aura of power surrounded him. He had a head full of wavy black hair, and his face was brutal in its beauty, as if his features had been carved out of granite.

The two men unhooked the silvery lassos attached to their waists. With startling reflexes, their wrists snapped and the lassos shot out like lightning, slicing through the creatures like heated knives through butter.

My brows shot out as I watched the two men make short work of the creatures. The lasso thingy would’ve been real helpful about five minutes ago, because within seconds, the creatures were all gone. Nothing more than soot and ash on the floor.

Aiden exhaled heavily. “Nice of you to join us, Hades.”

Luke stepped back, bumping into me. We exchanged looks.

Hades?

The Hades?

Oh my gods.

“Sorry, mate.” Hades spoke, his voice accented. “Was in the middle of entertaining Persephone when literally all hell broke loose.”

“They’re yours?” Alex gestured at the pile of ashes.

Hades smirked. “Were.”

“What in the world is going on?” Alex demanded, resting her hands on her hips as she stared up at Hades—the Hades. “The ground split open and these things came crawling out like cockroaches.”

“You don’t know?” Hades sighed as he forced his horse to turn around. Dismounting, he stood next to the massive beast, and I saw just how tall Hades was. Like, giant kind of tall.

“Yeah, we’re a little in the dark here,” Aiden replied. “We thought it was an earthquake until they started coming through.”


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Titan Fantasy
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