The Beautiful Ashes

Page 24

Yesterday, the sight would’ve made me gag, but after touring the pyramid, all I wanted to do was cheer, especially when Mayhemium fell and didn’t get back up.

Adrian strode over, yanking my arm with a hand now coated in what looked like motor oil.

“What part of ‘leave’ did you not understand?” he snapped.

“The part where I left you alone with a pissed-off demon,” I replied, feeling dazed. “Is he dead?”

“Of course not.” Adrian propelled me into the darkness, running so fast I had trouble keeping up. “For the tenth time, humans can only kill demons with the weapon we don’t have yet.”

“You’re not human,” I panted, my strides no match for his.

“I’m as human as you are,” he said, shocking me. “And you need to run faster. He’ll wake up soon and send every minion in this realm after us.”

“I can’ faster.” I could barely talk, I was huffing and puffing so much from our frantic pace.

“Yes, you can.” He hauled me closer, his body a guide in the stygian darkness. “We’re the last of the two most powerful lines in history, and our ancestors passed down all their supernatural abilities to us. If you try, you can do everything I can do, except sense demon gateways. It’s in your blood, so use it.”

The source of his incredible abilities was also in my blood? Impossible. I wasn’t superwoman; I was the girl who’d hated gym class because of all the times I’d gotten picked last for teams.

“I’m running as I can,” I gasped out.

He only yanked harder on my arm. “Not yet, and you need to. I can protect you from a few demons, but not all of them. Do you know what will happen if they catch you? Death will be the best part. Before that, they’ll hurt you worse than they’ve hurt anyone else. Rape won’t be enough. Torture won’t be enough—”


“—and they’ll make you watch as they do the same to your sister,” he continued ruthlessly. “You’ll die knowing that everything she suffered was your fault, so run, Ivy!”

Something snapped in me. I’d already failed Jasmine by leaving her in that B and B when I should have stayed until I found a way to get her. The last time I’d seen my sister, I’d been running away, and she had no way to know that I was coming back for her—

“That’s it,” Adrian yelled, his grip on me loosening. “Faster, Ivy, you can do it!”

I didn’t feel any change in my body. My legs didn’t work harder, my lungs didn’t suck in more air, but I was somehow ahead of Adrian, running flat out into the impenetrable darkness. Once again, I flashed to that day at the B and B. Mrs. Paulson had attacked me, and I’d made it into my Cherokee without knowing how. Right now, I did. I must’ve run just like this, with a speed no human should have, but I somehow did.

Was Adrian right? Had ancient legacies and inherited abilities been simmering in me this whole time?

He drew even with me, his hand a brand on my chilled flesh, guiding me in directions I couldn’t see. At some point, I’d dropped the ski gear, but I was glad I didn’t have it. All that padding would’ve hindered me, and the cold spurred me on. In my mind, it was now tied to this place, so I hated it. I ached to be back in the sunshine where it was warm and demon-free, and all I had to do to accomplish that was to run faster.

So I did, my legs pumping with the same velocity as Adrian’s. When he grabbed me and I felt the body-bending force of hurtling through one realm into another, then found myself facedown with a mouthful of hot sand, I smiled.

We were back in the Zone of Silence.

Adrian didn’t give me time to celebrate by kissing the ground, which I wanted to do. He also didn’t pull me back through the gateway so we could search another demon realm through the vortex’s version of a revolving door. Not with Costa and Tomas waiting here like sitting ducks. Instead, Adrian hauled me up into the Jeep, barking something to Tomas in Spanish that had the brawny Mexican and the handsome Greek scrambling for their machine guns.

“Vamonos!” Tomas shouted, starting the Jeep.

Adrian practically flung me into the back, jumping in after me and grabbing the third gun. To my surprise, he shoved it into my hands, barking out quick instructions.

“Hold it tight. It’ll still fire if you drop it, then you’ll blow your own head off. Stay down, but if anyone gets too close, shoot them until you see ash.”

He grabbed the last gun, hooking his other arm through the railing behind the seats. I did, too, after Tomas’s rapid acceleration almost pitched me out the back. I’d just gotten a good grip on both the automatic weapon and the metal bar when a stream of people hurtled out of the oblong rock behind us.

“Incoming!” Adrian yelled, and started firing. Costa did, too. The noise was like explosions going off in my ears, but when the minions began running after us as if they had rockets strapped to their asses, I didn’t care if I’d go deaf.

They moved like Adrian did, and they were armed, too.

Adrian shoved me down at the first hail of bullets. The back of the Jeep shuddered, but the rounds didn’t penetrate. Now that I was eye level with it, I saw how thick the back door was, and that extra metal plating couldn’t have come standard.

“Didn’t I tell you to stay down?” I heard Adrian snap, then another barrage of gunfire stole his voice. The Jeep bounced madly from Tomas’s speed, but Adrian and Costa held on to the rails as they fired and ducked in a frenetic display of violence and defense.

“You gave me a gun, let me help!” I protested.

“No,” Tomas yelled, whipping the Jeep around so fast that I hit my head on its side panel. “Stay down! You’re who they most want to kill!”

Me? Then I remembered Mayhemium’s look of loathing, and what he’d hissed right before Adrian hit him. The last Davidian. Did the demons want me dead because I was the only one who could locate a weapon that could kill them?

It didn’t take long to get my answer. Despite the hail of gunfire Adrian, Costa and even Tomas leveled at the minions, they kept trying to get to where I crouched. My little corner became dented from all the bullets fired at it, and every so often, minions would hurtle themselves into the Jeep kamikaze-style. Adrian threw them out with his incredible speed, but I was soon covered in blood, bruises and cuts. And they kept on coming, until I was convinced that the whole realm had emptied in their attempt to kill us.

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