Then three forms barreled into them, causing the necromancers’ web to break while they careened from the impact before smashing into the wall at the other end of the club. Ian, Maximus, and Marty had finally joined in the fight.
I turned around. “No need for you to tell us anything now—”
I stopped speaking when I saw that former faint glow in necromancer’s fingers had turned a deep, brilliant blue and spread to her whole hand. Vlad couldn’t see it from his view behind her, and Mencheres was focused on using his power to help people that had been trampled by the desperate escaping patrons. In a flash, I knew what that meant. She shouldn’t have been able to finish her spell without the ability to speak, yet she had.
“Vlad, watch out!” I shouted, snapping my whip at her.
It severed her arm above the wrist, but not before she touched her indigo-infused hand to Vlad’s arm. Then her severed hand held on despite the rest of her falling away as Mencheres spun around and violently yanked her back. Horrified, I watched as that blue glow seemed to melt into Vlad’s arm.
Vlad snatched her severed hand off and flung it aside. Then Mencheres yanked her out of Vlad’s arms and shoved her away before she could touch either of them with her other hand, which had turned bright blue from magic, too.
“Don’t touch her!” Mencheres said when Vlad surged toward her to grab her again.
“That’s right,” she hissed. “Or you’ll get another dose of the curse of endless regret.”
I wasn’t sure if I was immune to this type of magic, so I eyed the necromancer warily as I circled her. I didn’t need to touch her with my hands to take her out. All I needed was to get close enough within a clear space to strike.
Then a sudden, awful gasping came from Vlad. I glanced at him in time to see him abruptly crumple to the floor. That panicked me into rushing to him instead of cornering the necromancer. Mencheres rushed over, too, and the look on his face was almost as frightening as seeing Vlad gasp as if he were being choked by something that had no form.
Mencheres looked helpless—and afraid. What kind of spell was this “curse of endless regret”? “What do we do?” I shouted.
“We can’t help him.” Mencheres’s voice was harsh. “This spell is designed to trap its victim inside their worst memory, and if it takes Vlad to where I think it will, we need to get everyone out of here or we’ll all die.”
“Can’t.” Vlad managed to speak but his voice was garbled, as if he was being strangled by the spell. “Can’t let her . . . live.”
“We’ll get her later,” I began.
“Now!” he roared, his voice agonized. “No . . . matter what!”
Then his eyes rolled back and he went completely limp. Before I could grab him, he suddenly stood as though yanked upward, and his eyes seemed sightless as he held out his hand. “Give it to me,” he said in a visceral snarl.
I gaped at him. “Give you what?”
Mencheres hauled me away before I could reach him, and his rough shake almost rattled my teeth out of my head.
“You cannot help him now,” he snapped. “But you are the only one who can stop the sorceress without being infected by her spell. Find her and kill her, Leila. Do it now.”
Every part of me wanted to scream out a refusal. I couldn’t leave Vlad like this, I couldn’t! Yet maybe killing her would end this spell the way killing the earth mage sorcerer had ended the spell that had nearly finished Ian. That had to be it, and a vicious part of me needed revenge for what she’d done to Vlad.
I picked up her severed hand and took in a big breath. The floating lights I also inhaled caused my glamour to drop like a snake shedding its skin, but now I had her scent.
“Take care of Vlad,” I said to Mencheres, then spun around and chased after the necromancer.
Mencheres’s power didn’t work to control the necromancer, but he used it to keep the doors of the club closed in an attempt to prevent her from leaving. Even amidst the smoke and scents from the dozens of people that hadn’t evacuated yet, I managed to track her and found that she had made her own exit. The warehouse only had a few windows and they were so high up, none of the humans could reach them. That made it easy for me to find the smashed one that the necromancer had escaped through, and I vaulted after her with single-minded intent.
You’re dead, bitch! You’re dead.
Crowds of people were outside the warehouse, some crying, others huddled in shock. I paid them no mind as I chased down the necromancer’s scent trail. It led me through the nearby traffic intersection, and the part of me that wasn’t crazed with the need to kill was relieved that it was still only her scent, which meant she hadn’t grabbed a hostage or two from among the patrons. I was also thanking my lucky stars that the necromancer must not have the ability to fly or she would have done so already, and I couldn’t follow her scent if she flew away.
Yet a strong winter breeze scattered her scent when I rounded the next corner. I had a moment of panic until I heard tires screeching and the sounds of a crash in the highway up ahead. Something had caused a bunch of cars to suddenly slam on their brakes, and I was betting that it was her.
I increased my speed as I ran toward the sounds. When I got close, headlights momentarily blinded my vision as one of the cars abruptly spun the wrong way and faced me instead of the flow of traffic. I blamed the winter-slick, icy roads until the car suddenly elevated and came hurtling right at me.