I’m still somewhat dazed after completing my Necromancer Series trilogy, but the final book is out and here’s an excerpt depicting Ruby and Ewan’s mad dash to escape creatures in the demon realm. Enjoy!
“We need to move. We shouldn’t stand around in one spot for too long.”
I did my own scan of our area, suddenly anxious. “So where are we exactly?”
In response, a piteous howl sounded in the distance, and I cursed while a tremor rippled through me. That wasn’t the answer I was looking for.
Ewan grimaced. “These are the Myz forests. Consider it our version of Tolkien’s Mirkwood Forest.”
“Yea,” I said with mock enthusiasm. “I was hoping for another questionable, scary forest teeming with demon rejects.” Of course, of course the goddamn Death Cult Sanctuary had to be located in a place where demons avoided, where nameless beasts wandered, where I had to search for a questionable relic that may or may not rip my world apart.
Ewan took the lead and led us down a path thick with trees. Their roots protruded from the ground like tentacles of the Kraken itself, busting past the frothing waves. Branches swaying above us formed a canopy. Their thick foliage blocked out the daylight while the ground bore the wet smell of decaying organic matter. While this resembled a human jungle—on acid—experience had taught me that the next moment could introduce any number of strange creatures or flesh eating flora. The more I stared, flicking my gaze side to side, back and forward and up, the more I caught a shake of leaves or twinkle of orb-like lights.
To temper my nervousness, I broached the topic of Ivo and the fight. “Won’t Ivo seek us out when he finds out Damon is alive?”
“He won’t find out, not for a while. For all he knows, I delivered a fatal stab to Damon. Portia took Damon to the home of her allies where he can recover, buying us some time before Ivo discovers the truth.”
Or we’d all die and it wouldn’t matter.
Ewan slowed his pace and tightened his grip on his sword. He twisted his head back. I’d nipped at his heels as we walked, so much so that I plowed into his back when he stopped suddenly. He gazed intently at a spot in the thick cluster of trees beside us, drew closer and swiped at a bunch of moss, revealing a statue. Black lines ran like distended veins over the red stone figure. It loomed a good five feet taller than Ewan. As he cleared away more moss, I stood back and stared with dismay at the wolf-like statue, fangs extending from a long snout. It stood on hind legs held up by an almost human torso, and claws. Freakishly long claws.
“Is this a real creature?” I asked.
He tapped the edge of his sword on the torso. “These marks. These things were long thought extinct, but . . . ” He scanned the area again. “We should get to the Sanctuary.”
I gave the red, black smudges Ewan had pointed out one more look before taking off after him. “What are the marks?”
“Possibly a ritual to waken them from slumber. If they still exist that is.”
I glanced behind me again and resumed my position at his heels. And once again, I plowed into him. Damn it. “Can you please . . . ?”
He clamped a hand over my mouth, which really covered half my face.
The forest was so quiet, the air so still, not even one leaf rustled. The only sound came from my own raspy breaths and thumping heart, but I perceived, as did Ewan, through some demon instinct, we were no longer alone. He lowered his hand and raised his sword in front of him, resuming his push through the forest while pulling me behind him. Suddenly the canopy above us thrashed. I ducked—a laughable, instinctive gesture—when a large bat creature swooped overhead before descending back into the trees.
I released a breathy laugh, relieved the creature hadn’t expressed the slightest interest in us. I skipped the few feet to catch up to Ewan. He halted again, and this time, I stopped within inches of his back. Ha. I stepped around to face him and my amusement fled.
His gaze was fixed on the expanse of trees to our right, and when I moved my head to look, I caught a swift movement, a dark shape. Ewan swiveled his head to our left, and again, another dark shape, slipping in between the trees and rocks, but closer, close enough for me to see its height. It was taller than Ewan. But what really got the panic revved up and jackhammering my bones were its elongated jaws and outline of long claws. And glint of red eyes.
Ewan clenched my hand and moved us down the path, not quite running, but at a clip fast enough to offer him the occasional glimpse into the forest. I concentrated on the tree line as we whipped past and made out dark misshapen figures, two, maybe four.
Only now, fully revealed, did they make noises–guttural growls, claws clicking in anticipation of the kill. I had a vivid enough imagination to picture the gruesomeness of that scene. Creatures like these were not made for delicacy, but to tear, gut, and rend their prey. Up to this point, I’d encountered zombies, deranged voodoo priests, and all sorts of creepy crawlies, but these things were hunting us with a frightening intelligence that chilled me beyond anything I’d ever experienced. While I’d been attacked too many times to count, I’d never felt hunted.
My mind developed a singular focus. I thought of nothing except running, jumping. Heard only my panting, Ewan’s huffing, and the howls, more high pitched and whiney than any werewolf. Occasionally they quieted, so silent I almost wondered if they’d given up. But that was their deadly game, to keep us guessing, unsure, until we made a fatally wrong decision. But we didn’t let up. Not for a damn second.
We ran past bushes that whipped out, their branches scratching and scraping until finally we stumbled into a clearing. I bent, gasping, my hands on my knees in an effort to ease my frantic breathing.
An uneasy silence descended once again upon the surrounding forest. If I hadn’t known better, I might have believed we’d somehow lost them. But I knew—way better.