No. It wasn’t him. As he turned to take down on the Raviners coming at her, she caught full sight of his face.
Syn hadn’t ever seen him before in her life and every instinct inside her screamed as he used his blade on one of the remaining Raviners, laying the thing’s neck wide open, nearly severing the head with one powerful blow. He moved like a pale shadow. Like death. Deadly and silent.
She couldn’t watch him, though, because she had still had one of the power-hungry creatures to deal with, close, too close, slashing at her with a blade of some foreign black metal.
The next time she saw the blond man, another Raviner had joined the mess of bodies on the forest floor.
Off to her right, Lee screamed and Syn turned just in time to see her friend go to her knees, clasping her head. A Raviner stood behind him, one pale hand lifted. Inside the depths of the thing’s robes, Syn could just barely make out the faint glimmer of its eyes.
Power. The thing reeked of it.
She jerked her pulsar up and aimed.
But before she could pull the trigger, a brawny arm came around the Raviner and then blood flowed as his neck was laid open. The Raviner collapsed to the ground, his blood bubbling out of the gaping wound in his throat. Xan…alive. Covered in grayish Raviner blood, but alive. Then he was gone, losing himself once more in the battle.
Fear left a metallic taste on her tongue. She didn’t fight it. She welcomed it. If she didn’t use the fear, it would use her.
Her gift whispered to her, begged to sink into the earth, to be set lose—to forge something larger than a ball of fire. Syn resisted. Not here. Not out in the open—using the bigger magic called too much attention. Instead, she lobbed fire into their faces, on after another and just hoped they’d burn like mad.
She shot a glance at the time and swore. Raising her voice, she bellowed, “Duck and cover!”
The ground started to rumble. What few remaining Raviners were there froze and then they darted into the forest. Seconds later, a deafening boom echoed through the woods. In seconds, the sky was obscured by smoke and debris.
Syn huddled against a tree, Xan’s body pressing into hers.
The earth shuddered, heaved. She caught the stench of wood burning—hot, acrid smoke flooded her head. Distantly, she heard inhuman shrieks. And deep inside, she felt the first wave of death.
It could have been hours. Days.
Thunderous cracks echoed through the forest as trees succumbed and went crashing to the earth. Ash choked the air.
After an eternity, all went still. Struggling to breathe, Syn shoved against Xan’s chest and rasped out, “Need air, lover.”