We reached the top a second later, and I pushed Maisie toward the windows and pointed. “Do you see that?” I demanded. She gasped when she saw what was waiting for us below. “That’s not a game, Maisie.”
Chaos reigned. Figures in black descended on the masses like bloodthirsty crows. Magic zinged through the clearing like lightning. And from a distance, the howls of several werewolves added their dark music to the violence. A flash of green caught my eye, and I caught my breath. Giguhl was down there, fighting a trio of vampires while Valva attacked a fourth.
Maisie’s eyes didn’t leave the grisly scene. “I’m not hiding. I can’t expect my people to die while I hide like a coward. Now give me a gun and let’s go help them!”
I sighed. Maisie might not be a warrior, but she was no coward. I looked at Adam. He shrugged reluctantly. “She knows how to use one. I taught her years ago just in case.”
I sighed. Now that I’d seen what we were up against, I understood we’d need every able body fighting if we were going to survive. I handed her a Glock. “It’s got apple bullets.”
Maisie surprised me by flipping the safety off like a pro. I raised an eyebrow.
“Sabina,” Slade said. “We need to move.”
I cocked my gun. “Let’s go.”
I thought the bird’s-eye view of the battle was bad. But running into the thick of it, I knew the real meaning of hell. I charged into the smoky, blood-soaked clearing, leaping over bodies.
Rhea broke off early on to help heal the mages who’d already been injured. Slade and Maisie ran behind me. But seeing the magical fireworks up ahead, I shouted for Slade to split up and help a group of mages surrounded by magic-wielding vampires. I grabbed Maisie’s hand and started pulling her along behind me.
“Sabina!” Adam called. I stopped and turned. He ran toward me, his face expressionless. Then he grabbed me around the waist and pulled me to him. His lips slammed into mine for a brief, hard kiss. When he pulled away, he smiled. “I’m glad you came back. Now make sure you stay alive.”
A little dazed, I nodded stupidly. “You, too.”
With a last, heated glance he ran into the fray.
“Sabina, watch out!” Maisie yelled.
I turned just as a vamp jumped me with a flash of fangs. I didn’t recognize him. Didn’t matter. I shot him between the eyes. I paused, expecting nausea to strangle me. Only my fickle conscience didn’t rear to life. Instead, laser-sharp resolve overcame me. I couldn’t let these bastards kill everyone I cared about in the world.
I grabbed Maisie’s hand and ran toward a clump of three vamps ganging up on a female mage. She was holding them off with zaps of magic, but she was outnumbered.
One of the vampires raised his hands and shot a bolt of energy at the mage. I paused as she fell back, knocked unconscious from the blow. Now I knew what the Dominae did with all the mage blood they’d drained. When vampires feed, they absorb the essence of the creature they feed from. That’s why the Black Covenant had forbidden vampires from hunting mages or faeries. The access to their magical blood made them too dangerous.
The three vampires descended on her like a pack of jackals. Screaming with rage, I ran at them. I threw one a few feet away and shoved the gun into the back of another’s skull. His face exploded all over the mage’s pink chiton. The third guy—the one who’d used magic—rounded on me.
He raised his hands to throw a bolt at me, but I ducked and rolled. As I came up, I swept my leg under his. He fell to the ground and Maisie shot him the chest. I left Maisie to help the mage up and moved ahead.
Through the chaos, I saw Giguhl up ahead. I started to follow him in case he needed backup, but a screech caught my attention. Stryx circled overhead. I raised my gun and took aim. That f**king owl had been spying on me for the Caste all along. I closed one eye and pulled the trigger. The owl screamed as the bullet ripped through one of his wings. I cursed as his body fell. I didn’t have time to hunt him down and finish the job.
A familiar scream ripped through the clearing. Through the haze of smoke—the by-products of so many spells shooting around—I saw Maisie was in trouble. A vamp had her in a headlock while two others grabbed for her feet.
I went on autopilot. Reaching my sister was my only focus. I pushed my way through the crowds of fighting mages and vamps trying to get to her. On some level, I was aware of Slade’s pounding footsteps behind me.
“Sabina!” he warned a split second before someone tripped me. I fell forward, face-first into the ground. The impact knocked the wind out of me and the gun from my hand. I scrambled forward to retrieve it, but my attacker grabbed my legs and pulled me back. I scissored my legs and flipped over awkwardly.
The demon could have been Giguhl’s brother—a Mischief demon. Same black horns, same black lips and goat eyes. Only this one had green-and-black-striped scales. My heart sped up. How the hell did the Dominae get demons to fight for them?
Vamps I could handle, but I still had no idea how to best a demon. Even one as low on the danger scale as a Mischief. I kicked, dodging its sharp claws. Over his head, I saw Slade fighting two vamps as he tried to get to me.
The demon grabbed me, pulling me off the ground. Suddenly the world shifted and I crashed back down to the dirt. I flipped over in time to see Giguhl heft the thing and throw it several feet away. Relief flooded through me. I’d never been so happy to see my demon. But the enemy Mischief was up in an instant, running at Giguhl. Before I could jump in to help, Valva came flying at them looking like a Valkyrie. She jumped on the Mischief’s back while Giguhl tossed bolts of demon magic at him. She wrapped her diamond chain around the demon’s throat while Giguhl blasted his midsection.
“Go help Maisie!” Giguhl shouted.
A vamp got in my way, and I pulled a knife from my boot and threw it at his back. He ignited as soon as the apple-wood handle pierced his back, but I was already past him. Heat from the explosion warmed my back while I took another one down.
Nearby, I heard a bloodcurdling scream. I looked over in time to see Damara fall under the fangs of a vampire. My chest tightened. The poetic justice of the situation was lost among sympathy for the naive girl. Her need for revenge had blinded her to the dangerous game she’d been pulled into until it was too late.
“Sabina! Help!” Maisie’s cry forced Damara from my mind. I cursed as I noted the eight-to-one odds my sister faced. I pumped my legs and used my weapons to clear a bloody path to her. She didn’t pause to look at me, just turned her back so we formed a two-headed defense machine.