“Where are Seth and the crew?” Colin asked as he whipped around. A Sentinel had caught one of the masked pures, bringing the bastard to the ground.
It took me a moment to recognize the Sentinel, but it was Alex’s father. Alexander.
“They aren’t back yet.” If Seth was, he would’ve already lost his patience and laid waste to the pures. “We can take care of this. We have to.”
Colin turned back to me. “We can. We—”
“Everyone, get inside! Get inside!”
Twisting at the waist, I saw a Sentinel racing across the grounds. Whatever relief I felt at seeing him was short-lived. “They’re coming!” he shouted, panic pouring into his voice. “They’re coming!”
My heart lurched at the terror in his voice. I took off, running toward him. Colin was right behind me. “Who’s coming?”
Fear filled the Sentinel’s eyes as he reached my side, grabbing my hand. The kind of fear that shot a cold shiver down my spine. “Not that way. You do not want to go that way!”
“What are you—?”
The sound of what reminded me of a wounded animal tore through the air. Several wounded animals. High-pitched and shrill.
Terrified screams mingled with something darker, something inhuman. A screech echoed through the air, drowning out the screams.
Masked pures began dropping to their knees, clutching at their heads as they tried to cover their ears.
Off in the distance, I thought I saw something dark against the gray skies. Large…birds? There were three of them, their wings gliding—
“Holy shit,” I stumbled back a step. “Those aren’t birds, are they?”
“No.” The Sentinel tugged on my hand. “The furies have been unleashed, and they are pissed!”
Colin’s mouth dropped open. “The furies?”
“They’ll take out everything in their paths. We need to get inside.” The Sentinel was moving, pulling me behind him. “The Library.”
I got my feet working again, but I had to look over my shoulder, because I just had to. Their wings moved silently as they drew closer and closer. One broke off, zooming to the ground like a torpedo.
We reached the steps as Alexander joined us. Tiny hairs on my arm rose as a sharp tingle erupted along the back of my neck. Instinct guided me as my grip tightened on the Sentinel’s hand.
“Stop!” I shouted.
A dark shadow fell over us. Colin was at the top of the steps when he froze. A stuttering heartbeat passed. A furie landed in front of the closed library doors, and she was not as I expected. Not at all.
This furie was beautiful, all golden hair and peachy skin. Absolutely stunningly beautiful in her white, diaphanous gown. She had the lithe grace that always seemed inherent to Erin. The furie’s wings were frail-looking and transparent, her expression serene.
She zeroed in on Colin, tilting her head as she seemed to size him up. She…she sniffed the air. Long blonde hair toppled over her shoulder.
“Tricky. Tricky. Tricky.” She laughed and it sounded like wind chimes.
“Back up,” the Sentinel said, voice low. “Colin, back up.”
I had to agree with the Sentinel. I’d seen how badass Erin was, and she was a friend. These furies? I had no idea what they were capable of, but they had just been just freed from their tombs, so I imagined they’d be a bit…aggressive.
Colin took a measured step back, and behind me, I could feel Alexander crouching. We weren’t the only one on the steps or on the porch who had the same idea. We were just the ones who were holding still.
“Don’t move,” the Sentinel said, his gaze trained on the furie, and I was beginning to think he had experience in dealing with them. “Everyone just stand very still—”
A half darted away from the wall of the library, rushing toward the steps.
Thick blonde curls lifted from the furie’s shoulders and then she shot forward, moving as fast as I’d seen Seth do many times over. Her bare feet left the stone porch as she flew up and forward, those massive wings spreading out on either side of her.
She changed in an instant.
Peachy skin shifted gray and wings thickened, also turning gray. Slender fingers formed razor-sharp claws. Blonde hair darkened and curls—holy crap, the curls were like Medusa’s. They were snakes.
The furie grabbed the half by the head. Sharp claws dug into the girl’s scalp. Bright red blood trickled down the sides of her face. The girl’s scream was cut off as the furie’s wrists twisted.
With the slightest pressure, the furie had snapped the girl’s neck.
“Oh my God,” I whispered, stomach churning.
Everyone moved at once, but the furie was simply faster. She snatched up another—this time a masked pure-blood. She took him into the air, ripping him in two.
The furie was on a mission, heading straight for Colin.
Hands tugged on my shoulders, and my gaze met Alexander’s. The man couldn’t speak, but I got his message. Run. The four of us turned, and I had no idea where we were running to, but I was down with this plan.
What I had just seen…
We made it halfway down the steps when I heard a strange, rough sound turn into a scream. I looked behind me, and my freaking heart stopped. The furie had Colin.
“No!” I screamed, whipping around.
The Sentinel grabbed for me, but I was fast when I wanted to be. I darted around him as the furie lifted Colin into the air by the chest. Colin struggled, grasping at the furie’s bony hands, but it was no use. Red ran down his arms, dripping to the stone porch.
No. No. No.
Colin was good. He wasn’t out here, harming anyone. He was a protector. Kind. And he’d been nice to me from day one even though Seth had made it extremely hard on him.
“Josie! No!” The Sentinel yelled, but I raced back up the steps.
The furie lifted her head as I tapped into the deadliest element inside me. Akasha. The ripple of power expanded inside me, building until it erupted. I screamed as I threw my hand out. White light poured from my palm, and it struck true, arcing over the distance and slamming into the furie’s shoulder.
Screeching in pain, she dropped Colin, but I didn’t let up as rage and fear mingled with the powerful energy. I was vaguely aware of Alexander and the Sentinel rushing forward and grabbing Colin, but he…he wasn’t moving.
The furie came at me howling, but the white energy poured over it, stopping her in her tracks. The power recoiled, snapping back at me. I teetered back a step as the furie crashed to the stone, falling into a pile of slender arms and broken wings. It didn’t move.
I’d killed it.
I’d killed a furie.
Oh crap, was that bad?
The answering screeches from the other two furies sent chills down my spine. One was down, but there were still two. I figured they were going to be pissed.
Heart pounding, I turned just as the two furies stopped in mid-flight. They were a couple of yards away, and I tensed, having no idea if I could take two of them at once.
But they weren’t gunning for me.
Wings cutting silently through the air, their heads tilted up as if they were hearing something. Mouth dry, I waited for them to attack.
There were two flashes of blinding, bright light and then…
Then they were gone.
Having no idea what had just happened, I decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth. I hurried down the steps, to where the Sentinel and Alexander had Colin laid out. Both were kneeling, so all I could see was Colin’s legs. Obviously he wasn’t as hurt as I’d feared, because they weren’t taking him to the infirmary. They were just kneeling there.
“How is he?” I asked, running my damp palms over my hips. I felt weird. Shaky. “Is he…?”
The Sentinel looked over his shoulder at me, his face pale as he shook his head. My steps faltered. I saw all the red first. It was too much. Covering his chest and stomach and down the front of his pants. So much blood, it pooled under him, and Alexander was kneeling in it, and his hands—his hands were still on Colin’s chest. He was pushing down, as if he could stop the river of blood, but there was no stopping it.
My hands floated to my mouth, but they froze halfway, because I saw Colin’s face. I saw his eyes. They were wide and fixed on the sky, and I knew in my heart of hearts that it was too late.