She hadn’t noticed, too busy finishing off another Hunter.
“No!” Paris leapt between the two combatants. Because he was taller than Sienna, the tip of Galen’s sword cut through his chest rather than his neck. Skin, muscle, bone, all three split. Warm blood poured as his knees buckled.
A high-pitched scream of unholy rage and denial nearly busted his eardrums. Sienna had noticed. He thought maybe his heart had taken some of the impact, too, because the organ skipped one beat, then another.
His vision fogged. Bodies became blurs of movement. Black—Sienna and her ire. White—Galen and his brute force. The two engaged, a whirlwind of motion and menace.
Come on, come on. Paris wasn’t going down like this.
He pushed to his feet, but was immediately tossed back down. Someone had barreled into him, was punching at his face. Got his lip but good, the tissue slicing on his teeth. Though Paris couldn’t see who it was, he suspected the culprit was human, and kicked out. The weight left him, and he got back on his feet.
The male came at him again. “I’ve always wanted the honor of killing one of your kind.”
Paris still held his dagger and swiped. Contact, gurgling. Another body joined the ever-growing pile.
Sienna…Sienna… There! Still fighting Galen. Her motions were slowing, and there were seemingly thousands of new streaks of red interspersed with the black of her broken wings. She was hurting, weakening. Eyes narrowing, homing in on his target, Paris kicked forward. More Hunters rushed him, but he kept his eye on the prize and hacked at whoever got in his way. Then it happened.
Galen pinned her to the floor, ready to render the final blow.
“Where is Legion?” the keeper of Hope shouted, going to his knees, putting his weight on her shoulders.
“Never…tell…” Her voice held no trace of Wrath. Which meant the demon wasn’t guiding her right now. She was in control. She would feel every injury.
Hurry! Get to her! Paris stumbled, righted himself, kept moving. Closer…but not close enough…so damn far away.
Another human, tossed aside.
“Where is she?” Galen.
“Where you’ll never find her.” Sienna.
Just beyond them, Cronus drilled Rhea’s sword with so much force, the queen lost her grip. The king pounced, fisting her hair and forcing her to her knees. And there was nothing she could do about it, weaponless as she now was.
With his free hand, Cronus withdrew a thin link of chain from the pocket of his robe and bound her wrists behind her. Struggling the entire time, she spat curses at him. He hooked the chain around her ankles. A hog tie. A good one. The queen wouldn’t be going anywhere until he let her.
A sharp lance of pain seared between his shoulder blades. Someone had just stabbed him in the back, Paris realized distantly. Once again his knees gave out. This time, he couldn’t get to his feet. Commanding his crystal blade to elongate, he shoved the length backward, nailed the one who’d taken him down, then he began crawling. He would reach Sienna. He would, even though every inch he gained left a thick trail of blood behind. In fact, he’d lost so much he wasn’t sure how he was still conscious.
Galen swung around, removing his weight from Sienna, but she stayed where she was. Prone, motionless.
What had the bastard done to her? “No. No.” On his hands and knees, Paris worked his way to her. “Hold on, baby. I’m coming.”
Cronus and Galen circled each other. Both were cut and bleeding profusely. Both were limping.
“Well, well. Our showdown at last,” the king said. He coughed and spit out a tooth. He was without a weapon, having dropped them to confine his wife.
He couldn’t flash away, too injured to do so.
Galen raised his sword. “Well, well, indeed. You didn’t bring what you promised me, and now you are defenseless.”
“Am I? I think not. If you want your woman,” the king continued, “you’ll walk away now. I will bring her to you, and you may keep her. But you are never to defy me again. So walk away. Now.”
Sienna twitched. Twitched again. Relief consumed Paris. Almost there, almost… Slowly she rose, shook her head and took stock of the scene playing out in front of her, clearly still consumed by Wrath’s influence after all. Cronus had his back to her. Galen was in front of Cronus, but paid her no heed.
The crystal dagger she held glinted in the light. And it elongated as his had just done, thickened, the end becoming a hook. Becoming a scythe. Becoming the only weapon capable of killing the man who ruled from the Titan throne. Paris realized what was about to happen and froze.
Oh, damn. Anyone looking from behind Galen, which was the view from Danika’s painting of this moment, would see only Cronus. They wouldn’t see the slight female behind him. The female who would change the world with her next action.
“I will never bow to you,” Galen snarled. “And I will get my woman on my own.”
“You’ll get her after I kill her, then.”
Galen roared, his weapon shaking in his grip.
“Actually,” Sienna said, even as Galen swung, “you’ll be the one dying.” She, too, swung.
Her weapon was longer, stronger, and far more powerful, and she beat Galen to the punch.
Cronus never knew what hit him.
His head detached, flew, and his body collapsed. Rhea screamed, but for a split second, she looked nearly triumphant. “Worth…it,” she whispered, and then she, too, went silent, suddenly motionless.
My woman. Pride joined Paris’s relief. My woman did this. Won this.
As the throngs began to shout in revelation, a dark, screeching form rose from the king’s body, its crimson eyes glowing, its fangs long and sharp, and a tail swishing behind it. A similar form rose from Rhea, only hers had a stooped back with horns and claws so long they could have been sabers.
Their demons were escaping.
Crazed, Greed and Strife shot high into the air, disappearing into the night. Two of Pandora’s demons would once more be unleashed upon the world.
“Someone should go after them,” Paris tried to say, but then Sienna screamed, hitting her knees, and he no longer cared about anything else. Her arms spread wide, her back arched, contorting her. Her head fell back, and she released another scream, then another and another.
At last Paris reached her. At last she quieted, her voice box razed. She remained in that position, shaking, shaking so badly. He wanted to gather her into his arms, to offer comfort, but he put himself in front of her. He was her shield. Now, always.