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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Scorched Skies (Page 37)     
  • Scorched Skies(Fire Spirits #2)(37) by Samantha Young
  • “You don’t know that she will.”

    “Are your promises made of nothing?”

    True anger flared through him and the candle in the room sputtered out. With a flick of his hand it reignited and she was sitting up straight, her chin held high but her eyes wary. As if he would ever hurt her. “I am doing what I can,” he repeated.

    “I have to protect her,” she whispered, clenching her hands together.

    True sadness and true frustration flooded him. “I told you that may be impossible.”

    “But we will do what we can,” she murmured his words back at him as she stood.

    “Will you be long from her?” Red asked, standing too. His fingers itched to touch her but they’d both decided they couldn’t afford the distraction.

    She shook her head. “I need to refuel, but I’ll be quick.”

    A flare of jealousy ripped through him. “Who is to be your victim this time?”

    “Well it can’t be one of the team.” She must have seen the tautness of his features, the strain, for her eyes softened. “They mean nothing to me.”

    “I know,” he reassured her.

    “I don’t want to draw unnecessary attention, so I’ll choose a man from the city. I’ll be back with Ari within a day.” She took a step back, preparing to enter the Peripatos.

    He smiled softly. “Until next time… Ms. Maggie.”

    She grinned ruefully back him. “Strange name to give me but… it’s growing on me.”

    “It’s only taken you two years.”

    Her glittering laugh disappeared into the fires with her.

    Brett McConnell was a tall, wiry young man. Dressed in all black and limping badly he greeted Jai and Anabeth at the entrance of the mausoleum that led into the main graveyard.

    “Glad you guys could make it,” Brett grinned, his dark eyes tired and his face wan. “I didn’t even know the bastard had me cornered. He ripped my leg up pretty good and took off for here. We were in Utah, so it’s been quite the chase. Thankfully he decided to take up shop near you guys.”

    Yeah, it’s quite the coincidence, Jai thought, glancing around surreptitiously. Something was off about this whole thing. He didn’t think it was a set up. He could usually read people pretty well and Gerard seemed like a stand-up guy. Plus, The Guild had no motive for trying to entrap him or whatever this was. No. Jai was worried that the Utukku somehow knew about Ari. But why would an Utukku want anything to do with her? It made no sense.

    “You look excited, Anabeth,” Brett observed, amusement glittering his eyes.

    The young woman nodded, her eyes flicking around wildly.

    Jai frowned. Was she scared? She didn’t seem the type to be scared. In fact she’d become rather handsy these last few days. Jai was beginning to feel like a housemaid trying to avoid the improper attentions of her master.

    “It’s her first Utukku,” Brett explained to Jai. “Her first big hunt.” He turned back to the girl. “You’ll do great. You know you’re awesome.”

    She smiled widely, lighting up under the compliment. “I know, just a little nervous. But excited. I really want to get this over with.”

    “Well, it’s getting dark and the cemetery is empty, so let’s get moving.” He shot a look at Jai. “I know you’re a big hotshot and everything but you ever fought an Utukku?”

    “Once.”

    “OK. So you know to look out for the drop in temperature when he’s in the vicinity?”

    Jai smirked. “I don’t really feel temperature change.”

    “Oh right. Full-blooded Jinn.” Brett shrugged. “Well, let’s hope you have a fast reaction time.” He pulled off his backpack and withdrew a dark wooden box. “Since you’re here you can make yourself useful. I’ve been chasing this thing from cemetery to cemetery trying to keep it so busy it won’t hurt anyone, but it’s one of the most vicious I’ve seen.”

    Jai eyed the box. The Anglicized name for the box was a Secretum and they were quite rare. It was created from the wood of a Conessi Tree, packed with tellicherry bark and harmal and also treated with harmal. A strong enough Jinn could entrap another lesser Jinn within the box, and once locked it was impossible for the Jinn to get out. An Utukku could be trapped within it but Jai had never attempted it before. “You want me to put this thing in a Secretum?”

    “I’d be truly grateful.” Brett grinned. “Anabeth and I will keep him occupied while you do it.”

    Jai reluctantly took hold of the Secretum. “I’m not making any promises.”

    All extremely well trained, they strode through the rectangular mausoleum on silent feet and stepped out into the now dark cemetery. Jai’s night eyes washed over the area before them, trying to spot a hint of movement, a spark of fire. Making sure not to step on twigs or crush the ground beneath their boots, the three walked in tandem, walking back down to the beginning of the graveyard so they could skirt the perimeter and then make their way inwards in a spiral. The hush pressed heavily upon them and very gradually Jai could hear Anabeth’s breathing increasing. He tapped her shoulder, and with his eyes, tried to tell her to calm down. She nodded gratefully, her long red hair glinting in the brightening moonlight. Jai sighed inwardly. She should have covered her hair.

    “What’s this? Three little Jinn looking for me?”

    They whipped around as one and Jai took a step forward, putting himself between the voice and The Guild hunters. Sitting upon a large gravestone was the Utukku. It was smaller than the average man, but its scaly, muddy-green limbs were long and thin. It peered at them with constant blinking yellow eyes and a wide, lion-like smile. Whispy white hair protruded from its head in tufts and long black claws curled from the tip of its fingers as it waved a hand at them, grinning, his pink and black gums visible as he flashed sharp, black teeth. “Alú at your service.” He shot a look behind Jai. “Well, I’ve done my part. Now you do yours.”

    Fire erupted as the Utukku took off into the Peripatos and Jai spun around, his brain trying to make sense of what it had said. His eyes put two and two together as they fell upon an unconscious Brett, the smell of copper from the blood seeping out of the wound in his chest filling the night air. Jai’s eyes were drawn to the weapon that had caused it as the handle of the blade was clenched tighter in Anabeth’s hands.

    “Why?” Jai asked, shocked but unafraid of her.

    “He wants you out of the way,” she whispered. “He promised me everything.” A dazed smile lit her pretty face and Jai knew she was lost in the intoxicating power of the Jinn who had offered her so much. “Even this.” She untucked a stone from under her t-shirt where it hung on a silver chain, and before Jai could react to defend himself against the emerald Anabeth should not have had, he was flying backwards through the air. The breath whooshed out of his lungs as he collided with the hard dirt ground. As he struggled to suck it back in and as his eyes re-focused, Jai’s mouth fell open, his limbs too slow to stop the fire-powered swords raining down from the sky towards him.

    The knot of unease in Ari’s gut was growing steadily tighter. Her legs were even beginning to tremble. Waves of nausea kept rolling over her and she knew, she just knew, that something wasn’t right. Glad for once to have lost Fallon’s interest to Charlie, Ari had escaped into the quiet solitude of the bedroom they shared. What had been that energy she’d felt when Anabeth had come into the room to collect Jai? And more than that… why had the Utukki or Utukka or E-dimwit or whatever it was, taken up shop in a cemetery so close to the Guild. The more and more she thought about it the more and more it just seemed too much of a coincidence.

    Oh crap.

    Had The Guild set them up?

    Had they set up Jai?

    Why hadn’t the idiot seen through that? He was supposed to be the smart one.

    Oh God, Jai!

    Visions of finding his lifeless body flashed across her eyes and Ari’s breath left her in panic.

    No, no, calm down. She shook her head. I’m acting like a crazy person.

    Or am I?

    There was only one way to make herself feel better and that was to go after Jai and assist him. If he was fine and sent her back then she would obey him. For once. She just needed to know that everything was a-OK. Do I tell them I’m leaving?

    Ari thought about her suspicions.

    Nah.

    Doing as Jai had taught her, Ari concentrated on the cemetery. St. Francis, Gerard had called it. She thought about the St. Francis Cemetery in Phoenix and focused on Jai in particular. Fire exploded around her, licking her skin with its invisible flames. Disorientation eased far more quickly this time and Ari stepped out into the night air, the smell of heat still tickling her nose.

    Everything happened so quickly after that.

    Jai lay on the ground, yelling in agony as two fire blazing swords pinned him down through his shoulders. Anabeth stood yards away from him, standing over a body, rubbing a large emerald stone. In her other hand was a ball of glowing, burning, molten, violent ember that was growing in swirling ferocity.

    “There’s no coming back from this, Jai!” Anabeth cried out maniacally. “He wants you gone!” She threw the ember ball at him and Ari had no time to command her, no time to stop it. Instead she pulled on the Peripatos, fire flickering in and out, dizziness overwhelming her… and then pain as she put herself between the magical weapon and Jai, landing in the path of the ball of ember. It felt like a hole of heat had been punched right through her. Her chest blazed with pure agony. She couldn’t breathe. The starry sky twinkled above her, not making a move to help as Ari tried desperately to suck in air. Tears streamed down her cheeks as her whole body writhed with pain, her limbs twisting, her fists clenching as she struggled on the hard ground. Her lungs suddenly opened up but being able to breathe now only made her focus on the excruciating hurt flaring from her chest. It crawled into her blood and snapped all her nerves. The sky grew blurry, black creeping into the edges of her vision as her brain tried to shut out what it couldn’t withstand.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire