The Beautiful Ashes Page 70

’’That thing isn\ Ivy.’’

My sister\s confused whisper cut through my inner battle, but the surge had already activated my abilities, and they zeroed in on Adrian. Granted, my hallowed-sensor should\ve picked up on what was in his pocket before, but in my defense, I\d been a little preoccupied thinking I was about to die.

’’Her appearance is disguised,’’ Adrian responded, flashing a nasty smile at the Hound. ’’Not that it does any good with me.’’

The Hound looked mildly irritated at being shoved around, but it didn\ attack. Talk about well-trained. Demetrius pulled a knife out of the sheath on his belt, and I braced in pity for the creature. Here\s hoping the demon would make it quick

Faster than I could blink, he had Jasmine in his grip, the knife against my sister\s throat. The Hound barely spared them a glance, but I lunged forward with an anguished cry.

’’No!’’

Adrian caught me before I reached the demon, and for a split second, his eyes met mine. So many feelings spilled from his gaze that I could barely believe he was the same person who\d looked at me so coldly moments before. Then four incensed words brought our attention back to Demetrius.

’’You lied to me.’’

Adrian took off his long coat, putting it around me. The whole time, his gaze never left Demetrius\s, even when I felt him furtively remove something from the coat\s pocket.

’’You wanted me to be a betrayer.’’ Adrian\s voice was thick with sarcasm. ’’Be careful what you wish for, father.’’

’’If you won\ rule with me, then you can die with your whore,’’ Demetrius hissed, digging the knife deeper into Jasmine\s throat. ’’But not before she tells me where the weapon is. I know you found it, Davidian. Where did you put it?’’

Adrian\s gaze swung to me. ’’It was here?’’

I nodded, too horrified by the line of blood trailing down Jasmine\s throat to answer audibly. Another ounce of pressure, and her jugular would be severed.

Adrian let out a short laugh. ’’Right under your nose this whole time. Must\ve been hidden here before you stole this realm from Ciscero.’’

’’Give it to me, Davidian, or watch her die,’’ Demetrius ordered, ignoring that.

I tightened the coat around me, then went over to the pile of bones and pulled the slingshot out from under it. Damned thing didn\ work anyway, but maybe it would provide enough distraction for Adrian to use whatever he\d brought with him.

’’Ivy, don\ ,’’ Adrian said, grasping my arm.

I glanced at his hand and then back at him, trying to tell him with my eyes to get ready.

’’If he has this, he doesn\ need us anymore,’’ I said, knowing the demon would try to kill us anyway, but hoping Demetrius believed I was that naïve.

The two minions who\d brought Jasmine began to circle around us. Blondie, Muddy Minion and Scowling Minion moved to block the tunnel entrance, as if the dozens more behind them weren\ enough to prevent our escape. Demetrius didn\ seem to notice the extra activity. He stared at the braided rope dangling from my hand with something akin to rapture.

’’So let us all go,’’ I continued, ’’and it\s yours.’’

Adrian translated my words to the demon. He dropped my arm, too, his hooded sapphire gaze flicking between me and Demetrius.

I hoped that meant he understood and was on board. Demetrius was. He lowered the knife, revealing a small, still-bleeding cut on Jasmine\s neck. Then he shoved my sister toward me. She caught herself before she reached me, staring at me with horrified confusion. Right, I still looked like a Hound. How could I keep forgetting that?

’’A deal\s a deal,’’ I said, tossing the slingshot toward the demon.

He reached out to catch it and Adrian hurled the small object he\d concealed in his coat. Dazzling white exploded in the underground room, throwing Demetrius backward while briefly blinding me. The demon\s agonized scream seared my ears as Adrian yanked me into his arms, and I felt rather than saw him haul my sister against him next.

When my vision cleared, the five minions were dissolving into ashes from the Archon grenade and the Hounds were dead, but Demetrius was still alive. And mad as hell.

’’You failed,’’ the demon spat, hauling himself over to block the exit to the tunnel. ’’You may have killed these men, but you will not escape!’’

Adrian\s response was to whistle, loud and long. Demetrius cocked his head, confusion replacing the pain on his pale features. Then his eyes widened as screams erupted from farther down the tunnel. He sprang aside right as a huge gray form hurtled into the room. Dark gray wings unfolded, revealing the monstrous, massive gargoyle I\d encountered earlier.

’’Thanks for keeping everything just the way I left it,’’ Adrian told Demetrius before throwing Jasmine at the gargoyle. ’’Especially for keeping my most loyal pet, Brutus.’’

Jasmine screamed as the gargoyle caught her against its chest with one leathery, muscled arm. Then it was my turn to yelp as Adrian shoved me at the creature. The gargoyle pressed me next to Jasmine, its arm an unbreakable band across our stomachs. Adrian ran across the room, snatched up the slingshot and then threw himself at the gargoyle right as it began to beat its massive wings. The gargoyle caught Adrian and shot forward, the powerful expulsion of air propelling us down the tunnel.

The gargoyle was so strong that it could hold us without difficulty, but the weight of our three bodies proved too heavy for it to fly. We smashed into some of the minions lining the tunnel, resulting in a brief, fierce fight before another rush of the gargoyle\s wings cleared us over them in a sort of hop. Then we plowed back down again.


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