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.Kenneth swung into immediate action.By the look on his face, he was ready to take it all the way.Catching the closest Mer with a tackle, he slammed his opponent into a nearby wall.Kicking and twisting against his weight, the Mer screamed with rage.“Die, inferior!” she snarled.The blade she carried flashed in an upward arc, slashing a long slice in his arm.Weapon skittering from his grip, Kenneth hissed in pain.“Shit!” Catching the woman’s wrist, he twisted hard.The bone beneath his grip snapped like a stick.“Sure do hate doing that to a lady.” He panted.“But you ain’t no lady.”Dropping her dagger, the wounded Mer howled in agony.Catching sight of another attacker, Kenneth caught the strap of the first woman’s belt.Digging his fingers in deep, he slung the Mer around in front of him.At the same moment, her comrade thrust the spear intended for Kenneth.The serrated point impaled the Mer all the way through, back to front.With a sharp sound of surprise, the first Mer sank to her knees.Kenneth immediately spun toward the third female soldier, swinging his bare fist in a roundhouse blow.His hand made contact.Hit with a full- force blast, she dropped like a stone.He whirled on the women who’d captured Tessa.He narrowed his eyes, and a half smile came to his lips.For him the fight was just beginning and he intended to keep on kicking ass.One of the women surrounding Tessa stepped forward.She drew her finger across her throat in a crude gesture of execution.“Stay back,” she warned.“Or I will kill her myself.”Kenneth came to a dead halt.He immediately raised his hands to show he wasn’t armed.“I’m staying,” he said.“No fast moves.”More Mer soldiers came through the destroyed wall.Half the great temple was in a rubble, but it didn’t matter.In less than an hour, the rebels had fallen.Swarmed from all directions, Kenneth cursed as a couple of Mer came to avenge their slain sisters.They retaliated without mercy, driving him to his knees.Scant minutes later his body bore the deep cuts and bruises—wounds not deadly enough to kill but sufficiently vicious nevertheless.“Deliver the death blow,” one soldier urged.Another shook her head.“We are commanded to take the outsiders alive.”Struggling to escape her assailants, Tessa kicked and screamed like a madwoman.“Stop it, you bitches! Leave him alone.”One of the Mer gave her a hard slap.“Hold your tongue, animal! He gets no less than he deserves.”Tessa blinked, recognition flooding her mind.Chiara, her mind filled in.But the woman who had greeted her and hailed her as a goddess was not the same.Outfitted in a tight leather jumpsuit and boots, she’d shaved her long blond hair.Only a Mohawklike strip remained.On one side of her scalp was a small tattoo, a symbol Tessa recognized to mean death.Magaera’s warriors were prepared to follow the bidding of their queen.To fight and to conquer was their sole purpose.They wouldn’t stop, not even when faced with death.Such was the true nature of the Mer.“Are you so blind that you can’t see what your queen is doing to Ishaldi?” Tessa demanded.The priestess laughed.“The chance to be immortal, to be a true goddess, is worth the price.Your world has the resources we need to make it so.”Tessa’s heart sank.Nothing stood between the Mer and the human world.Nothing at all.“I wish I had never opened it.”Chiara frowned.“Unfortunately, you didn’t.The sea-gate still blocks us.”Shoved by rough hands, Tessa and Kenneth were hustled to the undamaged portion of the massive temple.The wide stone stairs leading up to the sea-gate were perfectly intact, as was the altar.Several of the rebel Mer and their human mates huddled at the base of the stairs.Faces pale, their eyes were rimmed with fatigue and defeat.Tessa recognized Atheia, Cyntheris, and several others among the group.At least a few had survived.Though probably not for much longer.No doubt they’d all face the executioner.And that was definitely something she didn’t want to contemplate.Hands on her hips, Queen Magaera stood at the top of the altar.Arta Raisa stood on one side.Jake stood on the other.Seeing him, Tessa frowned.Bastard.It wasn’t fair that he’d walk out of this disaster unscathed.Chiara prodded her in the back.“Walk.”Barely giving them a chance to lift a foot, the Mer soldiers practically dragged them both up the stairs.They couldn’t seem to deliver the prisoners fast enough.Queen Magaera’s gaze raked her captives.“There you are, you silly little bitch.” She arched a brow.“Did you honestly think you were going to get away?”Reckless bravado surged through Tessa’s veins.“Gave it my best shot.”Ignoring her, Magaera turned to Jake.“I wonder if she knows how painful her flippancy is about to become.”“Go ahead and get it over with,” Tessa said defiantly.The queen chuckled.“Oh, you shall not be the one to be sacrificed.Not yet, anyway [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]