Sentinel, p.43
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       Sentinel, p.43

         Part #5 of Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
 
Page 43

 

  And where the hell was Apollo?

  The Sentinels who’d been inside the Covenant had given us the way in that we needed. The back eastern wall was exposed, a way in and out. There’d be guards, but nothing like what would be seen at the front. I knew in my heart of hearts that Aiden and Luke and Solos would make it. They had to. But the sharp tang of fear was in the back of my mouth.

  Alex?

  Seth’s voice inside my head almost caused me to stumble. What?

  You’re having a lot of feelings right now.

  My gaze narrowed on his back as he moved ahead of Aiden and me. And you’re not?

  You’re afraid, was his simple, two-word response. I contemplated pushing him down the rocky slope but figured I didn’t need him bruised already.

  There was a pause. Being afraid isn’t the problem, Angel.

  Stop calling me that.

  He ignored me. Use that fear. Glancing over his shoulder at me, he winked. Aiden cursed under his breath, and Seth smirked. Use anger. Don’t let either of them consume you.

  Yes, sensei.

  Seth snorted.

  “I hate when you two do that,” Aiden muttered.

  “Sorry?”

  He sent me a long look, but there was no anger in his steely gray eyes. Both of us hadn’t been smart about last night. We might have gotten a few hours of sleep, spending those precious hours before and after committing each other to memory…and in ways that brought a blush to my cheeks in spite of the cool wind caressing them.

  Neither of us wanted to admit that we both feared last night would be the final time we were together. I couldn’t let myself focus on that, but it was a reality that couldn’t be ignored.

  We passed the nondescript outer fence and then quickly reached the last hill at dusk. I glanced over my shoulder, my gaze roaming over the assembled throng. All of them were ready. It was time to do this, to end this. Everything came down to this battle, and not just for us, but for the unknowing mortals, too. If we failed, the mortal realm would fall to Ares, and then Olympus would be next on his to-conquer list. The Sentinels and Guards behind us knew this, too. This whole situation was bigger than each and every one of us.

  “It is time,” Perses said. Excitement practically rolled off the Titan.

  Seth nodded and turned to me. Part of me wanted to delay this moment, but this was one of those times when I had to pull on my big-girl pants. What I wanted to do and what I needed to do were two very different things.

  I swore in that moment this would be the last time I’d ever have to make a choice between want and need. I spun around and hugged Luke and then Solos. “Be safe,” I told them both. “Promise me. If not, I’ll find you two in the Underworld and kick your asses. I swear. ”

  Luke chuckled. “You’d actually do that, too. I promise. ”

  “As do I,” Solos added, bending his head and pressing his lips to my cheek. “And you do the same. ”

  I nodded and turned away before I got all choked up, coming faceto-face with Aiden. Clenching Aiden by the shirt with one hand, I pulled his head down to mine and kissed him. And it was no chaste kiss. Or tender. Our lips bruised together, our bodies melding into the touch. I drank him up in that kiss, as he did me.

  A few low cat-whistles brought me back to reality. I let go, rocking back on the heels of my boots, but he still held on. Aiden’s eyes were liquid silver.

  “I love you,” I said. “I love you so much. ”

  Aiden’s lips moved over mine. “Agapi mou, I will be with you in no time. ”

  Nodding slowly, I let out a long breath and slipped from his hold. Turning to walk to where Seth and Perses waited, I couldn’t look back. Not even when the three of us started our hike to the east because if I did, I would run back to Aiden, and we couldn’t delay this any longer.

  We’d traveled about half a mile when Perses raised his hand, motioning us to stop. He tilted his chin up, expression sharp. Then he smiled wolfishly. A second later, a powerful roar whirled through the tall elms and firs, sending birds flying frantically into the air. It was the sound of rage and determination—a sound of war. I twisted toward the west. The dusky sky brightened in hues of orange and red, intensifying every couple of seconds.

  “It has begun. ” Perses smile spread as if he’d been presented with a feast of his favorite foods. “We must hurry. ”

  Heart racing, I dug in deep, latching on to the sense of duty and holding onto it with dear life. Along with Perses and Seth, I ran down the hill even though my heart was back at the gates with my friends and Aiden.

  Sliding around outcroppings of large boulders and kicking up loose rocks and dirt, we stormed down the rocky slope. The twenty-foot white marble wall came into view and the sounds of battle from the front gate grew.

  Perses darted further to the east, cutting across the sloping hill and heading for the east side of the protective wall. Several fireballs shot into the air, slamming back down to earth by the gate, and I winced with the impact, knowing that, when those flames had landed, lives had been lost.

  We reached the bottom of the hill and the corner of the east wall just as that wicked sense all half-bloods had kicked in. Tiny hairs rose on my body, and shivers shot across the back of my neck.

  “Daimons,” I said, skidding to the halt as I pulled out my daggers and hit the button in the middle. On each side, blades shot out.

  Seth did the same, but Perses looked like he wanted to use his hands and get bloody and messy. We rounded the corner, running smack dab into a cluster of daimons. Their mouths dropped open, letting out eerie, aether-starved howls. Their eyes, black and bottomless, stood out in stark contrast against their pale skin. Among them were daimon halfs, the most deadly of their kind.

  It sickened me to see them here, knowing that Lucian, Ares, and even Seth at one point had controlled the daimons by feeding them innocent pures. Anger rose like a violent storm inside me, and I tapped into it.

  I threw myself into the fray, taking out the first daimon with a brutal swipe of the sickle blade, cleaving its head clear off its body. Seth slammed a half in the chest with a booted foot, knocking it to the ground before he brought the pointed end of his weapon down into its chest. As I’d suspected, Perses was hands-on, snapping necks and ripping out important body parts.

  A female daimon dove for me and I spun, catching the ugly thing in the stomach with my kick. She met the sharp end of my blade before she hit the ground. Dipping down, I sprang back up, whipping the sickle around in a clean sweep. Another came at me, and I jumped. Landing in a crouch, I flipped the sickle blade over and punched up, catching the daimon in the stomach.

  I rose quickly, shaking the blood and gore off my blade as I twisted. Bodies of half-blood daimons littered the ground, but there were still more daimons, at least a dozen. Moving around them, I slammed the dagger end of my blade into the back of a daimon stalking Seth. Unlike the halfs, it exploded into a burst of shimmery dust—right in my face.

  Yuck.

  Perses kicked a daimon half-down and then grabbed it by its legs, lifting it up in the air. The thing screamed its fury, but Perses swung it like a baseball bat against the marble wall. I looked away before I could see that level of splat. There were some things you could never un-see, and that would’ve definitely been one of them.

  Alex!

  The sound of Seth’s voice in my head spun me around. “Gods. ”

  Rushing toward me, a daimon half howled hungrily and was joined by another and another. All the aether in the three of us had to be driving them crazy. They were teaming up, making it more difficult to fight as we had been were trained.

  A fierce wind blew from Seth, sending his trio of nastiness away from him.

  Yeah, screw this.

  Hooking the sickle blade to my hip, I threw my hand out, summoning the element of fire. Heat zinged through my veins, warming my skin. Sparks emanated from my palm, followed by an eruption of fire
. It hit the center daimon and spread outward to the ones on each side, consuming them.

  Three daimons hit the ground, screaming as they rolled and twisted. The smell of burnt clothes and flesh mingled with the metallic scent of blood.

  When all the daimons were down or dust, we wasted no time. Rushing along the side of the east wall, we found the breach—a burnt-out, three-foot-wide section of wall. Wiggling through it for me was easy, but it took Perses and Seth a little finagling to get through the tight fit.

  A few steps in and we were met with a set of charging automatons.

  We so didn’t have time for this.

  Seth shot past me and raised his hand. The marks of the Apollyon whipped across his skin. Energy seeped into the air around us. In a burst of light, akasha spun from him and smacked into the first automaton, lighting it up. Joining in, I summoned the fifth and most powerful element, hitting my target.

  The automatons were no more.

  “That does come in handy. ” Perses stalked back us, blood dripping from his face. Not his. I wanted to ask if he needed a hanky. “You two should use that more often. It would make this easier. ”

  My eyes narrowed. “You have a god bolt. Why don’t you use that?”

  “I prefer my hands in battle. It means more. ”

  That didn’t even deserve a response. Shaking my head, I sent Seth a look. This guy is nuts.

  But he’s good.

  Racing across the now-overgrown lawn of the Covenant, we passed destroyed and shattered statues of the gods. The only ones standing were those of Ares. The guy did nothing to hide his arrogance.

  Suddenly, Seth reached out, grabbing my hand and forcing me to make a sharp turn to the left. I looked down, almost mistaking what I saw for dried-out branches.

  But the brownish-white sticks weren’t sticks at all. Nor was the tattered material clinging to it leaves.

  “Oh, my gods…”

  The remains of once beautifully crafted statues weren’t the only things that lay seemingly forgotten on the ground. Every so many feet, there were…bodies in the grass. Some were old and nearly completely decomposed. Others were fresher, their skin a horrible array of purples and browns, their bodies bloated.

  Be careful of where you step, he said.

  When Seth let go of my hand, I looked up to see that Perses hadn’t even stopped as he plowed through the remains of someone. Bile rose up the back of my throat, and it took everything I had to push it down. Perses was a necessary evil, but sometimes I really hated the bastard.

  The sounds of battle at the gate raged on as we drew near the main Covenant building. Screams of pain mixed with shouts of victory and the sound of weapons fire. The fight had spilled forward, reaching the destroyed row of the Olympian Twelve statues, which was now the Olympian One. I could see many Sentinels and soldiers on both sides, clashing together in hand-to-hand combat. It appeared the automatons were down, but we were close enough to the fight that we now were drawing attention.

  Several soldiers shouted, and a large group broke apart, racing toward us.

  “The servants’ entrance. ” Seth pointed at the side of the building, where the doors and windows were busted out. “We don’t have time for this out here. We have to get to where he’s been and—”

  A soft, tinkling laugh halted the three of us, and my heart jumped in my chest. I knew that sound. The air shimmered in front of us, taking form, and forcing even Perses to take a step back.

 
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