Chapter no 80

House of Earth and Blood

Flashing red lights erupted, casting the world into flickering color. A roar rose from below, the gallery shuddering.

Bryce knew.

She knew the tank had exploded, and that Lehabah had been wiped away with it. Knew the nøkk, exposed to the air, had been killed, too. Knew that Micah would only be slowed for so long.

Syrinx was still whimpering in her arms. Glass littered the gallery floor, the window to Jesiba’s office shattered a level above.

Lehabah was dead.

Bryce’s fingers curled into claws at her side. The red light of the warning alarms washed over her vision. She welcomed the synth into her heart. Every destructive, raging, frozen ounce of it.

Bryce crawled for the front door, broken glass tinkling. Power, hollow and cold, thrummed at her fingertips.

She grabbed the handle and hoisted herself upright. Yanked the door open to the golden light of late afternoon.

But she did not go through it.

That was not what Lehabah had bought her time to do.

Hunt knew Lehabah was killed instantly, as surely as a torch plunged into a bucket of water.

The tidal wave threw the nøkk onto the mezzanine, where it thrashed, choking on the air as it ate away its skin. It even blasted Micah back into the bathroom.

Hunt just stared and stared. The sprite was gone. “Shit,” Ruhn was whispering.

“Where’s Bryce?” Fury asked.

The main floor of the gallery was empty. The front door lay open, but—

“Holy fuck,” Flynn whispered.

Bryce was sprinting up the stairs. To Jesiba’s office. Only synth fueled that sprint. Only that kind of drug could override pain. And reason.

Bryce set Syrinx on the ground as she entered the office—and then leapt over the desk. To the disassembled gun mounted on the wall above it.

The Godslayer Rifle.

“She’s going to kill him,” Ruhn whispered. “She’s going to kill him for what he did to Danika and the pack.” Before she succumbed to the synth, Bryce would offer her friends nothing less than this. Her final moments of clarity. Of her life.

Sabine was silent as death. But she trembled wildly.

Hunt’s knees buckled. He couldn’t watch this. Wouldn’t watch it.

Micah’s power rumbled in the library. Parted the water as he plowed across the space.

Bryce grabbed the four parts of the Godslayer Rifle mounted on the wall and chucked them onto the desk. Unlocked the safe door and reached inside. She pulled out a glass vial and knocked back some sort of potion—another drug? Who knew what the sorceress kept in there?—and then pulled out a slender golden bullet.

It was six inches long, its surface engraved with a grinning, winged skull on one side. On the other, two simple words:

Memento Mori.

Remember that you will die. They now seemed more of a promise than the mild reminder from the Meat Market.

Bryce clenched the bullet between her teeth as she hauled the first piece of the rifle toward her. Fitted the second.

Micah surged up the stairs, death incarnate.

Bryce whirled toward the open interior window. She threw out a hand, and the third piece of the rifle—the barrel—flew from the desk into her splayed fingers, borne on magic she did not naturally possess, thanks to the synth coursing through her veins. A few movements had her locking it into place.

She ran for the shattered window, assembling the rifle as she went, summoning the final piece from the desk on an invisible wind, that golden bullet still clenched in her teeth.

Hunt had never seen anyone assemble a gun without looking at it, running toward a target. As if she had done it a thousand times.

She had, Hunt remembered.

Bryce might have been fathered by the Autumn King, but she was Randall Silago’s daughter. And the legendary sharpshooter had taught her well.

Bryce clicked the last piece into place and dropped into a slide, finally loading the bullet. She careened into a stop before the gaping window, rising onto her knees as she braced the Godslayer against her shoulder.

And in the two seconds it took Bryce to line up her shot, in the two seconds it took for her to loose a steadying breath, Hunt knew those seconds were Lehabah’s. Knew that’s what the sprite’s life had bought her friend. What Lehabah had offered to Bryce, and Bryce had accepted, understanding.

Not a chance to run. No, there would never be any escaping Micah. Lehabah had offered Bryce the two extra seconds needed to kill an


Micah exploded out of the iron door. Metal embedded in the wood paneling of the gallery. The Governor whirled toward the open front door. To the trap Bryce had laid in opening it.

So he wouldn’t look up. So he didn’t have time to even glance in Bryce’s direction before her finger curled on the trigger.

And she shot that bullet right through Micah’s fucking head.

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