Home > Fused in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy #3)

Fused in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy #3)
Author: K.F. Breene

Chapter One

Fifty yards. That was all that separated me from the lethal, pasty-white monster intent on slicing me in half. Long, gnarled fingers ending in wicked claws dangled at the sides of stringy, bowed legs. Sharp fangs descended from black gums, and swampy-looking skin sank between sharp ribs.

The thing was hideous. I would never get used to the vampire monster form, a vampire’s stronger, faster form that allowed it to inflict incredible damage. This monster in particular, an elder, could boggle the mind with his power and viciousness.

Knees bent, mind focused, I waited with my hands slightly in front of me. As soon as he made a move, the time allotted me to plan or strategize—hell, even to yell oh shit!—would be minimal. I would only be able to react and hope my weapons landed before his did.

The vampire twitched. I flinched.

Fooled me.

Stillness resumed, drowning the area in silence. A battle was about to kick off, like it had every couple days for the last month and a half since Darius had given me this large warehouse.

I yanked out ole trusty, my sword, while desperately trying to access the ice magic that allowed me to fling things telekinetically. It was a super-cool power in theory, but each time I used it, the cold energy expanded to fill my entire body, freezing my humanity, stealing my breath and my emotions.

Using the ice power reminded me of my heritage. Reminded me that, technically, I was demon royalty—and if I wasn’t careful, I’d become just like the horrible, disgusting demon that had awakened this ability in me. I’d defeated Agnon in Seattle, but I’d never forget how it had used its power to turn humans into violent, vengeful horror shows.

I feared I would lose myself every time the cold power consumed my body, and that very fear was blocking my ability. I knew that, but I couldn’t seem to get around it.

“Waiting for this to start is easily the worst thing about training,” I said. Rocks of all sizes and other debris littered the ground near the walls. “Darius’s monster form is a close second.”

Callie huffed from her position way off to the right. Her husband Dizzy tsked, away to the left and (hopefully) out of the danger zone. The four of us made a big diamond.

“Reagan, that isn’t very nice,” Dizzy said. He adjusted the football helmet covering his head. “He can’t help what his fighting form looks like. I bet you never make fun of shifters after they change.”

“They turn into furry, pettable creatures.” I rolled my shoulders.

“She makes fun of shifters before they change,” Callie said with a grin. She palmed her helmet, which was a size too big. “Why are we wearing these things, Dizzy? It flops down and then I can barely see. That’s got to be more dangerous than not wearing one.”

“Remember the last time?” he asked, his voice rising. “Reagan exploded our spell and blasted us.”

“I fell on my butt that time. Not my head.” Callie adjusted the satchel draped around her shoulder and across her chest. “Give me a butt guard if you’re so concerned.”

“You need a mouth guard,” he muttered, bending back the flap on his own satchel so ingredients and spells were easily reached.

I shook my head to wipe away the smile. I loved when the dual mages ragged on each other, but now wasn’t the time. I had to focus. I had to pretend they’d actually kill me if given the chance, which was hard when I knew the worst I was likely to be subjected to was some deep gashes—something that was, annoyingly enough, not enough to jump-start my ice magic.

Sometimes I really hated my fast-and-loose approach to danger.

I cleared my mind and saw my surroundings with fresh eyes.

Two high-powered mages waited to the sides of the cavernous space, facing me, pulling ingredients out of their bags in preparation to take me down. In front of me, a mere fifty yards away, waited an incredibly fast monster, his arms slightly out to the sides and claws splayed. He surveyed me as prey. As something he would capture, consume, and toss aside.

The vampire launched forward. Faster than thought. Headed in a straight line right for me, his claws out, his fangs dripping saliva.

“Oh sh—” I threw up a sheet of flame, forcing him to run through it. His black, stringy hair caught fire. He kept coming, ignoring the pain I knew my fire must have caused him.

A jet of red streaked toward me from the right. I ripped the fire from its current location, shifting it into the path of the hex. I unraveled the spell easily as green shot toward me from the other side.

Then Darius was right in front of me, slashing. His claws raked my leg before I could block. Searing pain bit into my flesh. I grimaced as I slashed with my sword, cutting his side. He dodged back, but I didn’t have the chance to advance on him. A tornado had filled the warehouse, the turbulent air whipping at my hair, my clothes, and even my sword. I sent a stream of fire to disintegrate it as Darius slashed again. The triumph of dodging him was short-lived. He bodily picked me up and threw me.

“Use your power!” Callie yelled at me. I could barely hear her over the roar of a magical beast somewhere in the vicinity. That had to be one of Dizzy’s spells. He loved making larger-than-life creatures that were all bark and very little bite.

I ignored it as I hit the ground and rolled. Claws came at my face.

I flinched and rolled again, jumping up and catching the arm already coming at me. Before I could throw him over my shoulder, a spell splatted my ankle. Instant agony throbbed up my leg.

Darius spun, whipping me around. I flew again, right toward a massive tiger with glowing red eyes and too-large teeth. It opened its mouth as I neared, unable to stop myself or alter course, before chomping down on my middle.

Another flare of intense pain joined that of my ankle. I hollered but retained the presence of mind to cut down with my sword, stabbing the animal’s amazingly real-looking shoulder. Glowing red seeped through the honey of its magical fur before the spell burst, spraying out magical knives.

Heat coursed through me. I made fire coat my body, fizzling the magical projectiles as they hit and neutralizing the spell that had attached itself to my ankle. My power now raging within me, I turned up the heat intensity but reduced the size of the flame, making a sort of head-to-toe body armor.

Darius grabbed my arm, probably intending to throw me again. Instead, he flinched almost immediately. His hand sizzled.

“Ouch, huh?” I said, blasting him in the face with more flame. “There go your eyebrows. It’s the worst, I know.”

He reeled backward. I landed two quick punches into his middle and swiped my foot toward his legs. He jumped over it and shoved me, sending me rolling across the floor like a tumbleweed. A green spell hit my fire armor and exploded, knocking me backward for another ride across the floor.

My head thunked against the concrete floor. I made sheets of fire drape down around me on all sides, closing me in and hopefully giving me a moment to recover.

A ghastly face pushed through the layers of flame, followed by that swampy body. He struck, those three-inch claws aimed center mass. Fear shot through me, tied to my survival instinct. Cold surged up, out of nowhere, hampering my fire. The heat around us dwindled and the ice throbbed in my middle. Strange thoughts crowded my head before I realized they weren’t mine.

She is not making enough progress, I heard from Darius.

Darius is improving beyond measure, Dizzy thought.

That vampire better not hurt her, or I will make it wish it wasn’t turned, came from Callie.

My breath dried up and I reacted without thinking. Air condensed in front of me. Sparks flew as Darius’s claws cut through my invisible shield. I pushed outward. An explosion of magic picked the vampire up off his feet and hurtled him across the room.

Rage rose inside me. Vengeance. Every dark emotion I’d ever had, intensified.

I am solely yours, mon ange, for all eternity, echoed from Darius’s mind as he skidded across the ground. I loved when he called me his angel, a sentiment that was hard to hang on to just now. You are my sanctuary. My soul.

Your mother would be proud, echoed from Callie. She loved you so much.

Is this the part where I’m supposed to think things to help her? Dizzy asked himself.

The cold throbbed within me, radiating out from my middle and through my limbs. Rocks and boulders rose into the sky from near the walls, hovering. Darius stopped rolling and jumped to his feet, facing me again. His body flexed, ready to attack, but this time, I wasn’t nervous. This time, I wanted to pull his arms out of the sockets and toss them away. I wanted to punch into his chest and yank out his blackened, still-beating heart.

Two streams of magic came at me from either direction. My fire licked at the ice magic, begging to be used, but most of its potency was blocked.

That didn’t matter.

I flicked my hand, lazily tossing up an invisible wall. I didn’t know how my magic could manipulate the very air, but it did, and in some situations it worked even better than the fire.

The spells hit it and melted, sending steam curling upward. A laugh left my mouth, inhuman and raspy. A demonic sound.

I saw Callie and Dizzy retreating, heading for the door. It had just gotten too dangerous for them. I was too dangerous for them. But I couldn’t come back. I’d forgotten how to turn away from the aching need to tear apart the world and every living thing within it.

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