Ghost in the Winds (Ghost Exile #9) - Jonathan Moeller Page 0,1
Oh, gods, Kylon…
No, Caina couldn’t think about Kylon now.
There was no one else to help her. She didn’t know where Morgant and Annarah were, or if they had even survived the explosion. If Caina did not stop Callatas and Kalgri right here and right now, Callatas would prevail and unleash the Apotheosis.
Caina knew she did not have a chance against Kalgri in a fair fight, even if Kalgri had been weakened.
But Caina never fought fair unless she could avoid it.
And she had found something in the Tomb of Kharnaces that might surprise both the Grand Master and the Red Huntress.
Callatas drew in as much power as his tired, exhausted mind could hold.
It wasn’t much.
With a few moments’ rest, he could have cast a spell to rip Caina to shreds where she stood. With an hour’s rest, he could have transmuted her into a statue of frozen crystal, to stand as her own tombstone for eternity.
But he didn’t have that time. The duel with Kharnaces had been the most challenging battle of his long life, and his reserves had been depleted. The shadow of Kotuluk Iblis flooded through Callatas, renewing his strength, but it wasn’t nearly fast enough.
If he did not find a way to kill Caina right now, she would kill him first.
“Kill her!” he shouted to Kalgri. He intended the command to sound authoritative, but his voice sounded ragged and thin. Not that mattered. The Red Huntress often chose to interpret his commands in her own way.
This time, though, their desires aligned.
Kalgri ran forward, heading right towards Caina.
The Voice’s fury and hate snarled within Kalgri’s skull as it had for over a century and a half.
It was quieter than usual. The long battle had drained most of the Voice’s strength. Kharnaces had summoned lesser nagataaru to his side, dozens of nagataaru spirits housed within the undead flesh of mummified humans and baboons. Kalgri had fought them off, allowing Callatas to duel Kharnaces until Caina figured out a way to destroy the Great Necromancer and the Harbinger within him.
The Voice hissed with glee at the thought of the defeat of its ancient rival.
The glee did not last long. The fight and the explosion had drained both the strength of Kalgri and the Voice. The moment of ultimate triumph was at hand, and Kalgri would feast upon the death of the entire world.
But only if she killed Caina Amalas first.
Caina had escaped Kalgri at Silent Ash Temple and again at Rumarah. Both times she had been saved by her friends, but this time, there was no one to help her. For all her cunning and boldness, even if she was a valikarion, she was still just one young woman with a dagger.
Kalgri would finish her.
She ran towards Caina, blades ready. Had the Voice been at full strength, the nagataaru would have infused her with superhuman strength and speed, and she would have already killed Caina. As it was, the Voice barely had the strength to start healing Kalgri’s injuries from the battle. She was in considerable pain, and it slowed her down. The Voice needed to feed on life force to recover its strength. Kalgri needed to kill someone right now.
Killing Caina would be a pleasure. Her only regret was that Kylon of House Kardamnos wasn’t here to see it. Well, perhaps Kalgri could keep Caina’s head and present it to the Kyracian before she killed him, just as she had killed his pregnant wife in front of him. How he had roared with rage! Yes, she would look forward to dropping Caina’s head before Kylon in the final moment before he died…
Kalgri rebuked herself. She was exhausted and hurt, and her mind wandered. Such distractions in the midst of a fight were often fatal. She hurried towards Caina as Callatas continued his spell.
Once she crippled Caina, she could take her time, drawing out the Ghost’s death slowly and painfully.
Caina stooped and snatched up the Seal, shoving it into a pouch at her belt, her ghostsilver dagger still in her right hand. The cowl of her Ghost shadow-cloak had fallen back, revealing her thick black hair, her cold blue eyes, the sharp cheekbones and the thin mouth. Right now her blue eyes were bloodshot, the mouth tight with strain, and Kalgri was pleased to see the fear. She couldn’t sense Caina, not after the woman had become a valikarion, but Kalgri did not need the Voice’s senses to tell her that Caina was also exhausted.
Kalgri slashed with her scimitar. Caina