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Blood of the Lost(Rylee Adamson #10)(8) by Shannon Mayer

And there it was, the reason I’d become what I was; the reason I’d lost my sister and began the journey that brought me here. Marco swung farther out again, effectively ending the conversation.

Lark touched my arm, drawing my attention back to her. “Rylee, if you succeed in killing Orion, and sealing the Veil, Marcella will continue on the path she is set on now, to become a guardian like her father.”

Berget’s words and now Lark’s clamored for the front of my brain, but I already knew what was coming, yet I still had to ask. A chill worked its way down my spine. “And if I don’t kill him?”

There was a heavy pause in the air and I knew what she’d say, but I waited. Needed to hear the words out loud.

“Then her Tracking abilities will come on line and the task will be laid on her shoulders to defeat the demons and close the Veil.”

I spun fully around in my seat to face her. “She’s a baby, how can that even be?”

Lark’s eyes were sad. “Have you not read the full ceremony? There is no fighting for you, Rylee. Only sacrifice. Your blood is what seals the Veil. Nothing else.”

My jaw dropped, I fully admit I hadn’t taken into account how literal the prophecies could possibly be. “You mean you’d take her and sacrifice her?”

Lark’s eyes flashed. “If you’re dead, I will do what I must to make sure this world survives.”

“You’re a fucking bitch,” I snarled at her, my hands automatically going for my weapons. I couldn’t help it; she threatened my daughter.

“No, you’re the bitch if you don’t pull your shit together. Do you see now why it’s so important we do this right? We have one shot, Tracker. One shot to save everyone.”

I lowered my hands from where they’d gripped my swords, her words sinking in. I’d known all along what was required, accepted it, and moved toward it. I’d faced death so many times, it didn’t faze me anymore. Not when it came to my own life.

I’d always survived.

I’d always come out on top.

“You’re telling me I’m going to die. There’s no other way?” The words felt hollow in my mouth, like I wasn’t really saying them. My neck throbbed in time with my heartbeat.

Lark closed her eyes and bowed her head again. “That is what the prophecies say, Rylee. The ceremony is there in black and white. There is no way around this. I have been trying to find a way to kill Orion and save you.” She lifted her head, her eyes glimmering with unshed tears. “I cannot see a way to do both.”

Our conversation was interrupted by Marco swinging close again, his wingtips brushing Blaz’s flank. “Sun is rising; we’ve got to bag these two.”

Liam stared at me; I knew it was him by how much silvery gold rimmed Faris’s blue eyes. No words passed between us, but I knew he could tell something was wrong by the way he frowned.

The two Harpies and Blaz dropped out of the sky at the next available clear spot, which turned out to be a large boxed store parking lot. As early as it was, there were a few cars scattered here and there. Easily missed by the winged creatures.

Unless said winged creature was feeling rather destructive. Blaz landed on top of a large burgundy pick-up truck with fancy rims and chrome accents. His claws wrapped around it and he crushed the truck cab like a tin can as he settled on it like a perch.

“Necessary?” I asked as I slid off his back and landed in the lopsided bed of the truck.

Sharpening my claws on the metal. He gave me a wink and I managed a smile. I knew what he was doing. A distraction might have worked for anything else, but not this.

Not a death sentence.

Eve hopped on the tarmac. “I don’t like this, it feels so unnatural under my talons.”

Alex and Pam still sat astride her back, talking and laughing with her, and I had a brief moment of seeing the future.

Of Alex working with Pamela, and Eve carting them around the country as they . . . did what? There was no way for them to Track children. Pamela turned as if sensing my eyes on her. Her hair blew out around her and I saw her as she would be. A powerful witch with the heart of a lion. She would go after children; she would find a way.

My chest constricted, and I felt like I was saying goodbye. Lark’s words hammered home in a way that no other person’s could. Every other time someone threatened me, they’d been my enemy trying to kill me.

Lark was my friend, and she was trying to save me.

And even she knew it was impossible. Liam came behind me and I turned into him before he touched me, burying my face against his chest.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m scared, Liam.” The words slipped out of me and I couldn’t take them back. He wrapped his arms tightly around me.

“It’s okay to be scared. This isn’t the first time.”

“Not like this.” I breathed him in, not caring that he and Faris were stuck together. He kissed the top of my head.

“No matter what, we will be okay. You have to believe that.”

I wanted to, damn I wanted to more than I could express. To be that girl again who could go in blind to a situation, swinging her swords, and still come out on top. This time, that wasn’t going to work. I couldn’t stop the doubt any more than I could stop Alex from being a goofball.

Eve let out a raucous squawk. “Rylee, something is coming our way.”

Of course there was.

I stepped back from Liam and looked in the direction Eve stared. On the horizon, backlit by the slowly rising sun, a cloud formation swirled toward us. Black and gray storm clouds wove in and out of each other, like a wave of water crashing toward us in the sky.