Sacrifice (The Gryphon Series Book 3)(13)

By: Stacey Rourke

Before I could form the words, “Golly, Gabe, what’s the matter?” the ground began to shake. Our lion locked his legs to steady himself. Both Rowan and I fell to our knees. Bone-chillingly cold water sloshed up in protest of the quaking ground. It rained down on us in a shower that cut like knives. I glanced over at Lady Liberty, deeply hoping she was sturdy enough to withstand the tremors. So far the big broad was holding up, but I needed to make this stop before she reached her limit.

On my hands and knees, I crawled to Rowan and latched onto his wrist. “Drop me off right in front of it.”

Golden hair bounced over his forehead and into his eyes. “I can’t tell if you’re insanely brave or suicidal.”

I peered back at the Bat-bull and pondered the same thing. “Right now, let’s go with brave. But make it quick before I change my mind and make Keni fly me out of here.”

“Keni would be totally okay with that!” her muffled voice interjected from behind down covered “walls”.

Rowan hooked an arm around my waist and poofed us to the foot of the beast. I thought I’d have a few seconds to initiate an offensive attack. I did not. Turns out the Bat-bull had surprisingly quick reflexes for such a big fella. Before I could get my bearings, it retracted its claws and attacked. My hands caught its horns a second before it gored me. Momentum knocked me to the ground, and I took the Bat-bull with me. I held firm as the beast tossed and turned to free its head. Up close its squished bat-face was even more grotesque. Plus, this dude smelled foul. Like soured milk left in the sun to bake. Judging by the eardrum splitting squeak it was making, I guessed it was enjoying our close encounter about as much as I was. If my hands weren’t busy pushing its chin to its chest so it couldn’t see to shred me with its wildly flailing claws I would’ve covered my ears. Battle can be downright inconvenient at times.

Gabe danced around the perimeter of the battle, anxiously anticipating his opportunity to jump in; preferably one that wouldn’t lead to him accidentally chomping his sister. Rowan, on the other hand, stood so close he could’ve poked the Bat-bull with his borrowed boot. Yet there he stood, texting away with a rather bored, disconnected look on his face.

“Little help here?” I grunted.

The pirate sucked air through his teeth. “Sorry, doll. I’m like your demonic cab driver. Here to give ya a lift, but not getting involved in your goings on. By the way, the meter is definitely running. Aren’t I supposed to scurry off to save your beau?”

“This is why people don’t like you.” A goober of foamy Bat-bull spittle dripped down onto my jacket, prompting an immediate dry-heave.

I needed out from under this guy now, if not sooner. Wriggling and straining, I maneuvered my knees up to my chest.

“We will save Caleb—oof—together.” I managed to get my feet positioned just right and used a little extra oomph to kick the monstrous dude off of me, “Right after I kill this thing.”

One of its horns snapped off in my hand and the creature went airborne … for a second. It landed on its feet. Red eyes burned with rage as it pawed at the earth and snorted.

I sprang off the ground and landed in a defensive stance, the horn grasped firmly in my hand. The creature flipped his head and charged. Padded feet thumped up beside me and a slow smile of renewed confidence spread across my face. My feline sentry finally found his in.

“I’ll go high, you go low!” Together we sprinted at the incoming beast.

We had fought side by side enough to know each other’s battle strategies. Not a sound or syllable had to be uttered. Instinct led us to jump at exactly the same moment. I put my shoulder in and hit the Bat-bull square in the chest. Gabe took out its legs.

The creature hit the ground with a loud, “Huuuunnnhhh!”

Our combined force was enough to bring it down, but barely enough to keep it there. The thrashing creature bucked violently beneath us. In a move that would’ve gotten us kicked out of any superhero league—if there was such a thing—we sprawled on top of it. A suave and cool move? No. But effective.

Knowing it was more Gabe’s weight than mine keeping the beast down, I turned my body and wedged the flat side of its broken horn against its windpipe. Its thrashing grew spastic and reckless. It didn’t take long for lack of oxygen to win out. Glowing red eyes dimmed and rolled back into its bovine head.