Sacrifice (The Gryphon Series Book 3)(12)By: Stacey Rourke
I smiled in spite of myself when I realized that idea held no appeal to me. My calling gave me a peace and clarity of my path that few people ever found. “Because I have a higher calling and it’s a heck of a lot more important than me ending up on E! News Daily.”
Kendall sucked in a shocked breath. How dare I speak ill of her beloved E!.
I rolled my eyes, but stayed on with my original point. “To protect our identities and to keep all these people safe we’re going to take that thing far away from here to kill it.”
Rowan’s expression contorted in a swirling mess of confusion and disgust. “And there’s nothing in it for you?”
“Not really. No.”
“Yet you do it voluntarily?” With the judgmental, condescending tone he used, you would have thought I just admitted to gargling with razor blades.
I pressed my lips together and nodded.
“Whatever blows your skirt up, Poppet.” He shrugged. “As for me, I need to get this little hero mission over with and go find myself some fun form of debauchery to revel in. I hang around you all too long and I may catch morals.” He faked a shiver. Then, with a smile that bordered on villainous, he added, “Now let’s go snuggle your big, nasty beastie.”
“Liberty Island?! You got us as far as Liberty Island?” A hooked claw swished over my head. I ducked before it could skewer my brain.
“There’s no one here and I couldn’t hold him any longer!” Rowan hollered from under the shield of his arms. “Even in smoke form he managed to bite me. What is that thing?”
With his lip curled to reveal razor sharp teeth, Gabe-lion galloped toward the beast. The creature swung its horns and hooked Gabe under his front legs. It stomped through the snow, then flung him at the water’s edge. Gabe dug his claws into the frozen ground as he skidded. Inches were all that prevented him from plunging into the icy Upper Bay.
“My best guess is that at some point a bat and a water buffalo got together and had a love child that could miraculously walk on two legs.” With one arm still defensively raised, I pointed with the opposite hand. “That would be their love spawn.”
“Well, whatever it is, it’s cranky we interrupted its tirade and brought it here.” Rowan scooted around to position me between the Bat-bull and himself. Nobility was obviously not a personality trait he bothered with. “Did I mention what a monumentally bad idea this was?”
“It came up!” I shrieked as the Bat-bull pivoted around and thundered at us on heavy hooved feet. “Kendall! Little help here!”
Kendall sat huddled in her winged cocoon by Lady Liberty’s big toe. Feathers parted and one blue eye peeked out. “You can come in here. I’ll scoot, but I’m not coming out!”
“Oh, that’s nice. Shield!” I hollered and leapt in the air. Pulling into a tight tuck I spun over the head of the incoming Bat-bull. Rowan disappeared in a puff of smoke a second before the beast plowed into him.
Our lion—slightly disheveled from his fall—trotted up at the same moment Rowan reappeared behind me. “Now that you got him here, oh-wise Conduit, what are you going to do with him?”
Snow kicked up when the Bat-bull screeched to a halt and spun back in our direction. A white cloud of hot air puffed from his wide, smooshed nose. Red eyes glared from big bovine sockets. He tossed his head to intimidate us with the massiveness of glossy black horns. I couldn’t speak for the others, but that intimidation tactic worked wonders on me. Every time it charged I forgot how to use my abilities and my feeble mind only manage one thought—run!
“I suggest we figure out how to kill him before he kills us!” I squealed in an octave only dogs could hear.
One back hoof pawed at the ground, yet this time the beast didn’t charge. Instead it raised its two-fingered hands high in the air. Coal-black flesh gave way to ridged and curved talons. In one swift motion it arched back then slammed its hands to the ground. Those claws sliced through the frozen earth like it was softened butter.
Beside me Gabe tensed and sniffed deeply at the air. Whatever his Spidey Sense detected caused his muzzle to curl up in a threatening growl.