Feel the Burn Page 77

After the first javelin attack, Kachka, Marina, and Zoya moved, charging into the midst of the confused men, using their spears to quickly kill them. There was no time for torture or fancy moves. They were almost always outnumbered. So they had to move with speed and efficiency.

With their spears, they attacked one of five spots on the body: through the chest to the heart; through the neck to the main artery; through the inner thigh to the main artery; through the back to sever the spine; or under the arm to another main artery.

Whichever was available, they hit it and they hit quick. They didn’t bother with disembowelings—as many Riders liked to do during big battles when they had unlimited backup—since it took too long for the victim to die and they were often still able to fight for quite a bit.

The priests, who had been waiting for death, backed up, clinging to each other and praying to their gods, most likely. Kachka was always fascinated how these sects were quick to thank their gods when it had been she and her team who’d saved them. And, last she looked, there were no gods helping. Even the horse gods didn’t leave the Outerplains for all this human drama, so she never bothered to call on them for assistance.

A flash of steel came at Kachka and she spun to the left, rammed her spear into the armpit of one man, tore it out, and rammed it into the chest of another.

She’d just turned to go after a different man when Tatyana sent out a call.

Kachka knew that meant more men were coming. It was a trap. She wasn’t surprised, and it wasn’t the first she’d encountered. The better they got at this, the more pissed off Duke Salebiri became.

However . . . she’d expected a few extra men. A squad. Maybe two. Even a platoon. The six of them could easily handle fifty fanatics.

But the Duke hadn’t sent a platoon of mad fanatics.

He’d sent a battalion of his troops. At least three hundred well-trained, well-armed men. And all of them running right toward Kachka and her team.

Gaius stood on a hill and stared down at the men charging toward the temple and the Riders standing between them and the defenseless priests.

“What do you want us to do?” Brannie asked.

The old rage, the one that had gotten him his reputation during those dark years, roared through his blood. Like Annwyl’s insanity, his rage never went away, it just lay dormant, waiting to be roused from its slumber.

Well, it was wide awake now.

Gaius looked at Brannie and growled out, “They’re on my territory. Uninvited. Kill them all. Leave nothing for even the crows to dine upon.”

Brannie’s slow grin showed how much of a Cadwaladr she truly was.

Shifting to her true form, her weapons and armor growing with her, she turned to the dragons with her and screamed, “With me, Mì-runach! With me!”

The siblings ran out of javelins and turned to their bows. Each arrow hit its mark, taking down their victims instantly. But they would run out of arrows soon, too.

The soldiers climbed the trees to get to Tatyana and Nina, forcing both women into the battle.

They’d all been helping to train Tatyana, making her a stronger fighter. But this was not only too much for her—it was too much for all of them.

They had to pull back. Kachka took a moment to look around, trying to find an exit. A way out of this.

“Kachka!” Marina bellowed. “To your left!”

Kachka turned, her sword raised to block the oncoming blow, her spear low to strike and kill. The soldiers charged toward her and she readied herself for the onslaught. But as the men came near, the wind around them whipped up and a black dragon in dark steel armor dropped all its weight on the men, stomping them into the ground.

“Down, Kachka!” a female voice ordered.

“Down!” Kachka yelled at her comrades and they all dropped as flame shot out, covering the soldiers near them.

Screams and battle cries rang out, but there were more dragons, their flame tearing across the troops.

Human bodies covered in fire, the men screaming for death, fell around Kachka, but ignoring them, Kachka scrambled to her feet and ordered, “Strike!”

Her team moved quickly, ignoring the ones trying to put out the flames on their flesh and focusing on the ones wily enough to avoid the blasts.

Kachka speared the first soldier who ran toward her, but she sensed someone moving up from behind. She yanked out her spear and prepared to turn and use her sword to slash the one behind. But before she could turn, a body slammed into her back, pushing her forward as the edge of a giant blade cut deep across her cheek.

The soldier who’d been impaled rested against Kachka’s back, eyes wide in death, mouth forced open by the tip of the blade that had been shoved through it.

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