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|Jacob(Nightwalkers #1) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“Gideon,” she growled low between her teeth. “I’ll settle for your best guess.”
“Very well. A Demon’s name is attached to the essence of that Demon’s power. A power that you were absorbing at the moment of Legna’s Summoning. My guess is that because of this, you were mistaken for the actual target and were drawn into the Summoning just as Legna was.”
“Oh. I see.”
“An act of providence, Enforcer. My internal diagnostic of Legna tells me that she is whole and well, unaffected by this trap. I suspect you are nullifying the energy that would cause her to transform.”
“Hey! Didn’t I tell you two to stop chattering?” Kyle barked from across the room.
Gideon glanced at the necromancer as if he were some sort of pesky fly.
She leaned in to whisper. “Where is Legna?”
“I sent her to sleep. She is safe in her subconscious.”
“I didn’t know you could do this.”
“Have you never heard of Demonic possession?”
Isabella’s spine straightened in surprise. If she didn’t know better, she’d think Gideon had just cracked a joke. But his countenance was just as matter-of-fact as it had always been.
“That tears it. I’m going to teach you a lesson, spawn,” Kyle spat, marching up to the pentagram, his brown eyes full of indignant anger.
“What does it matter if we talk to each other, necromancer? Are you so afraid that you might not be able to hold us?” Bella countered, trying to toy with his psychology in order to keep him from doing anything that would reveal the truth of the matter.
“Hardly!” He snorted. “But you’ll learn to obey me, you little bitch.”
Kyle glanced around, clearly trying to decide on a form of punishment. Isabella’s breath started to come a little faster and she sought the comfort of Gideon’s silver eyes. Instead, she saw them close and a moment later Legna’s body dropped lifelessly to the floor.
“You made that one faint,” laughed Ingrid. “That’s just too funny! Come on, Kyle. Teach that one a lesson. She’s the one that deserves it.”
Isabella suddenly rose up to her feet, bracing them apart and settling her closed fists on her hips. She wouldn’t meet his threat sitting on the floor like some little weakling.
“Kyle, what’s going on?”
The necromancer turned to see the other two had returned.
“Good. You’re back. Let’s start the spell. I can’t wait to hear these two scream.”
Isabella crossed the width of the large symbol, coming right to the edge closest to the magic-users. They ignored her as they began to join hands and form a crude standing circle. She heard Legna move somewhere behind her, just as Lucas started to screech. Monster or not, it was clear that he was very familiar with the ritual they were starting and that he was utterly terrified of it.
“Stay back, gather your strength,” she hissed to Legna.
Sparks of blue light began to sparkle like tiny fireworks around the chanting necromancers.
Hurry, Gideon, hurry! she prayed fiercely.
We are coming, little flower.
Isabella was so unbelievably relieved to hear that powerful, loving voice in her head that she felt like crying.
Jacob! Please, I can’t do this alone! I can’t protect Legna and fight necromancers and one of the Transformed all by myself. I know I’m not that strong!
Stay calm, Bella, you are capable of doing anything you will need to do to survive. You always have. We are almost there.
There are four of them, and they know how to combine their strength. They’re starting a spell. Please be careful, Jacob. If you get too close to me you won’t have your power!
I know, sweetheart. Relax, and trust us. When I tell you to, be ready to distract them. If you break their concentration it will backfire on them and knock the wind out of them.
I know just what to do.
That’s my little Enforcer. Just remember, once you break the magic, you will set Lucas free. We will handle the necromancers. You must focus on Lucas.
Isabella nodded even though he couldn’t see the gesture. She focused entirely on the foursome before her, her eyes narrowing into lavender slits of concentration and intent. Everything faded from her awareness, only the ribbons of blue light weaving between the necromancers holding her attention. If she’d seen her own smile in that moment, she would have realized she’d become the hunter she was destined to be.
Bella, do it now. Be careful.
She didn’t even respond. She stepped over the edge of the pentagram, clearing her throat loudly as she advanced quickly on them.
“Excuse me, but where can a girl get something to eat around here?”
Ingrid was the first to look at her.
“Kyle!” she screamed, her eyes practically bugging out of her head. “Kyle, it’s out of the pentagram!”
Kyle jerked around to look at Bella, the blue energy flashing in wild twisting ropes as its flow was disturbed.
“That’s because it isn’t a Demon. Boy, for a bunch of geeks, you sure are stupid.”
That cut it. Their concentration went to hell, and so did the magic they’d controlled. A huge explosion of crushing force blasted all five of them off their feet. Isabella’s back slammed violently into a wall and her breath was forced from her lungs, the ominous sound of a bone snapping resounding in her subvocal hearing. She dropped to the floor like a stone, landing with a weak grunt. She tried to get up, scrabbling to her hands and knees, gasping for breath and then losing it all over again in a scream as pain blossomed brutally across her right side.
She gritted her teeth, determined to fight the pain and get to her feet. Jacob and the others needed her. She was the Enforcer, born to hunt the Transformed, and she needed to do her job. She staggered to her feet, shoving her wild hair away from her face, causing another spear of pain to drive into her side.
And then she saw Jacob.
He entered the room in a detonation of dark, vicious dust, coalescing into his tall, powerful form in the span of a breath. His rage radiated off him like a nimbus, every muscle in his body taut with deadly beauty, every handsome line of his face carved from marble vengeance.
Seeing him at last gave her a rush of strength and determination unlike anything she’d ever known before. She straightened up, full of pride in her mate, her hand falling away from her ribs as her pain was pushed back into oblivion. A blast of wind struck her, twisting her beribboned hair into a sleek black banner behind her head. She didn’t even look to see Elijah become solid. Her full attention went to the second pentagram.
Lucas leapt into the air, his powerful wings finally free to carry him out of his prison. He was heading for a large window, clearly unperturbed by the glass in his way. Isabella gave chase, scrabbling over a series of crates that were stacked up to the window level. She couldn’t have wished for better luck. If they took their battle outside, she wouldn’t have to worry about disrupting the powers of the Demons who fought the necromancers behind her.
Bella! Not outside! If he gains the open, he will escape you!
Trust me, love, he won’t want to. You told me yourself, the Transformed have only two thoughts. Now that the first, freedom and self-preservation, is satisfied, that leaves only the second, and the full moon that magnifies it a thousand times.
She felt the disquiet and doubt that twisted around inside of him, but he said nothing and thought nothing to gainsay her. She turned to her task, leaping headlong out of the window mere seconds after Lucas crashed through the glass.
Elijah turned on the nearest necromancer, a short, chubby fellow who looked as though he were going to soil himself with fear. He gave him a wicked smile and a low growl of greeting.
“Come, necromancer, at least make it interesting. You know… dying in a blaze of glory and all that.”
Elijah received a vicious bolt of power in the center of his back in response. He staggered forward with the force of it, his flesh feeling as though it was being flayed apart. The warrior was able to ignore the pain that followed, having trained himself to remain on his feet through far worse injury, and regained his balance while turning to seek out his attacker.
“Leave him alone, you monstrous bastard!”
A female. And she was five times more powerful than the one she was protecting. Before Elijah could move, a streak of white and tan crashed into the woman, tackling her to the ground. Legna let out a cry of triumph as she grabbed the other female by the throat, forced her to hold still, and locked eyes with her.
“Spawn, am I? Straight from hell, yes?” she hissed viciously, a resonating, animalistic sound trebling out of her. The rush of her returned power made her giddy, just as the sharp influence of the moon encouraged her wildness. Her predator’s gaze pushed past lens and retina, driving through the tunnel of black pupil as she thrust herself into the necromancer’s mind. “See, sorceress. See yourself in hell.”
Legna tore through every memory, every source of fear imagery her captive had ever had. She ravaged the female’s mind as a strip miner ravages the earth, dragging from it precious minerals of sins and diabolical wrongs she’d committed.
Ingrid screamed at a bloodcurdling pitch as she felt herself being thrust into the bowels of her personal picture of hell, the one that had terrified her since she had learned of the concept at the age of six. She was cast down into a pit of flame and poison, feeling her flesh corrode away as hell began to scream her name, long and loud and full of punishing intent. Every person and creature she had ever wronged in her life began to well up from the poisonous pool she was bathing in, each clawing and scraping at her and howling for revenge.
She was very much alive when her accusers began to tear her to pieces.
And very much dead beneath Legna’s hands by the time they finished.
“Hell is in your mind, necromancer,” she whispered to her defeated foe, “and so is death, the very moment you believe in it.”
Meanwhile, Gideon’s astral form was hovering over the third male. The magic-user was considering his options, trying to figure out what to do, and Gideon could see it in the furtive shift of his eyes.
“An attack will be useless. You cannot harm me, infant,” Gideon stated blankly.
Unfortunately, the necromancer didn’t realize that Gideon was merely stating a fact.
The necromancer began to conjure up a cloud of poison, using the gesture of his hands to send it swirling around the Body Demon. He backed it with a push of force, trying to drive the poison into the Demon’s cellular structure. Gideon watched the poison seep through him as if he were studying the marching pattern of a line of ants. However, since he was in the lightest corporeal adhesion of his astral form, there was nowhere for the poison to go, so it spilled away from him, scudding over the floor. The necromancer’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head as he witnessed this. Then he was being pinned in place by implacable silver eyes.
“How tragic, that so weak and pathetic a being has managed to cause such pain to my kind,” Gideon observed coolly.
Then, with the speed of a thought, Gideon became fully corporeal, his astral form solidifying into the perfect manifestation of his fierce reflexes and hard muscle. He shot forward with savage grace, a hand shooting out to snag the necromancer around the throat. He pivoted in a single motion, slamming the nasty creature into a wall for added counterforce in his effort to strangle the life from the kicking, struggling sorcerer. With merely the pressure of his fingers and palm, he played the role of death closing in on the damn fool mortal. Powerful magics or no, he was as fragile as any human and no match for Demon strength. This was without making mention of the barely capped fury the normally controlled Ancient found himself struggling with.
“You will never again threaten Magdelegna, or any other Demon, with your ignorance and avarice. Your death is too easy a punishment, necromancer. Be grateful for that.”
A last breath rattled out of the necromancer, and Gideon released him with an absent shaking of his hand, as if flinging off some vile contaminant as the body fell to the floor. He turned his back on it without the slightest regret.
His mercury gaze sought out Legna, settling on her just as she rose from her position over the female necromancer. She threw back her head and shoulders, taking the deep, cleansing breath of a female predator satisfied with her kill. She’d always been the most beautiful female he’d ever seen, but now, in this victorious moment, she was utterly stunning. Gideon felt a savage response within himself, an urge so vital that it took nearly every ounce of his formidable control to tamp it down and lock it out of his thoughts so she wouldn’t become aware of it.
It was Jacob and Noah, side by side, who took on Kyle.
By far the most powerful of the four, he unleashed a barrage of electrical spears from his fingertips. Noah reached out one hand and every last bolt suddenly targeted it as if attracted by some sort of magnet. There was a sonic pop as Noah absorbed the fierce attack and literally sucked the energy into his own. Noah was impressed with how the necromancer remained unfazed, instantly dishing up a second attack.
Unexpectedly, the floor beneath Noah and Jacob splintered, sending them crashing through it. With a fast thought, Jacob altered their weight and the pull of gravity, allowing them to land on their feet in a gentle touchdown. They turned to launch themselves back to the necromancer’s level, but the brash creature had followed them down, levitating above them as he unleashed a third offensive.
Out of nowhere, a hail of iron nails suddenly flew at the two Demons.
Jacob felt them sinking into his shoulder, hip, and thigh before he even realized they were coming at him. Several more hit Noah, knocking the King back off his feet. Each nail felt as if someone were extinguishing a cigar deep in the tissue of his body. They burned, scorching his flesh, the pain driving him to his knees. Using every ounce of concentration he could gather, he reached for Noah and, grabbing his wrist, deconstructed their bodies into swirls of dark dust. The nails were left behind and dropped with a clatter onto the cement floor.