Mercenary Magic Page 49

“We won?” she asked.

“Yes.” A spark of magic flashed in his tired eyes. “Too bad you slept through the whole thing.”

“Not all of it. I was cheering you on from here while trying to convince my body to get up.”

The humor washed from his face. “Let me see your hands, Sera.”

She showed them to him. A few of the blisters had popped and were oozing blood and pus.

“There was an enormous amount of magic streaming through those bangles,” he said.

“Enormous? Come now. There’s no need to be modest. How about gargantuan?”

“You tried to disrupt the flow of magic,” he continued. Apparently, he didn’t find her weak attempt at humor very funny. “You didn’t just try, you did it. And it almost killed you. You almost died for me.”

“Ha, you’d like to think so, wouldn’t you? Maybe I did it to save the city from a cult of crazy mages.”

He winked at her.

“I did.”

“If saving the city was all you wanted, you could have just hit Finn over the head while he was draining my magic.”

“What’s your point?”

“He wasn’t in any condition to stop you,” he said.

“Yeah, well, as we’ve been over at least a hundred times, I’m not the smartest person in the world. I just did the first thing that came into my head.”

“Your head? Or your heart?”

“You flatter yourself.”

He chuckled. “You can deny it all you want, but your actions speak for themselves. At that moment, you weren’t thinking about saving the city. You were thinking about saving me. Stop,” he said as she opened her mouth to argue.

It was just as well. She wasn’t even sure what she’d say.

“We’ll discuss this later,” he said.

“Like hell we will. There’s nothing to discuss.”

“You just keep telling yourself that, sweetheart.” He hovered his hand over hers. “I have just enough magic left to heal your hands.”

“You mean, you can do something other than wreck devastation?”

“Yes, now push in that pouting lip before I bite it.”

Following orders wasn’t Sera’s strong suit, but then she couldn’t be sure he wasn’t serious. He looked down at her hands. Almost immediately, the blisters began to shrink and close. Sera felt a rush of pain, which was quickly swallowed by a warm and smooth flood of soothing energy. She watched the raw burns fade to pink, then disappear completely.

“Wow.” She moved her fingers, then clenched her hands into fists. “Thanks.” She caught him as he toppled. “Are you all right?”

“Healing you took more magic than I’d expected,” he muttered softly. “I’m out of practice.”

“If you can’t walk back to the boat, I’ll just swing you over my shoulder and carry you there.”

“You’re not strong enough.”

“Sure I am. I bench press dragons all the time.”

He snorted. Sera waved the commandos over. They hadn’t made it two steps when a heavy thud shook the building.

“What’s that?” she asked.

Callum peered out the window. “Oh, no.”

“Tell me.”

“The mages didn’t retreat. They went to gather reinforcements.”

Sera hurried to the window and looked outside. They were trapped at the top of a guard tower, and below an army of mages, fairies, and a slew of nasty creatures were swarming inside.

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

The Burning Tower

CALLUM AND DAL set up a barricade at the door. There wasn’t much in the room, but they molded what little they could find into a thick magical paste that they slathered across every hinge and gap. Tony waited behind them, his eyes closed, his hands pressed to the wall.

“How many?” Kai asked him.

“A dozen Wondrous Ones—mostly elves and a few fairies. About as many mages. A flock of ravens. Some dark ponies.”

Dark ponies weren’t dark, at least not on the outside. They were pink, purple, and a million other different shades of pastel. Each one of them looked like it had wandered straight off the set of My Little Pony. Except they weren’t friendly or sweet. Inside, they were as dark as midnight, those nasty little creatures. And they kicked hard.

“We have the defensive advantage,” Callum said.

Something thumped against the door, and the glowing barrier sizzled like a glob of fat hitting the frying pan.

“Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to deter them,” said Dal. He raised his gun to the bars on the window and fired. A raven the size of a house cat dropped out of the sky. “They’re coming from both sides.”

The floor shook with the force of an earthquake.

“All three sides,” he amended, then shot another giant diving raven.

The door thumped again. And again. And again. They were getting into a rhythm. Low and steady beneath that pounding percussion beat, the floor buzzed. As clouds rolled across the sky, a blast of lightning hit the tower. Bricks erupted from the outside walls and tumbled to the ground like falling tears.

“The vampires have arrived,” Dal called out from the window.

“Common vampires?” Sera asked.

“Yes.”

Good news.

“But their eyes are glowing red.”

Not so good news. Glowing red eyes meant bloodlust. Someone—probably that dolt Harrison—had gotten those vampires worked up, then unleashed them onto the tower. On the bright side, they’d probably do as much damage to their allies as to their target. Unfortunately, they could do a hell of a lot of damage before they conked out. They’d tear the tower down brick by brick to get to their target. Sera’s guess was that target was either Kai or her. Harrison wouldn’t have had to look far to find a sample of their blood. The top room of the tower was practically painted with it.

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