Mak wasn’t the only warrior in the sitting area. Thank the goddess. They were younger warriors, but they were strong enough to fight, on Mak’s orders.
I just kept thanking the goddess for that as Mak carried me toward the small office in the basement where the campus healer worked.
It was just a young female there, but she patched my arm where the hideous, eight-inch gashes bled and bled. I was still bleeding.
I knew that I could die if the bleeding didn’t stop soon.
The junior healer, Mada, looked at me. “You need to get to the Healers’ Hall, as quickly as possible. The blood loss is significant. And I don’t know enough about demon wounds to get it to stop.”
“We’ll go now,” Mak said. “Have the Adrastos and Jareth Equa meet us there.”
I wrapped my uninjured arm around his neck, fighting the urge to cry.
I’m not a weak female. I’m not.
I wasn’t about to let myself cry. I’m stronger than that. Crying wouldn’t help anyone get through this. Not Mak, and definitely not me.
Mak carried me to his truck, two of the security warriors trailing after us. To guard.
Against another demon attack.
That’s what Mak and the healer had both said that creature was. I started shaking even harder.
“He didn’t look like the demons in Alaun’s books,” I said for no reason at all. I didn’t know where the words came from, but they were something. I had to say something.
“No, I don’t suppose he did. He was an askasodreno demon. They are mercenaries. Hired killers.”
“I thought that was over. Theo said I was going to be safe.”
“Well, Theo was wrong.” I didn’t miss the fury in Mak’s tone.
“That’s never happened before.”
“Always a first time for everything.” Mak pressed a hard kiss against my lips before lowering me to the passenger seat of the truck. “Keep the arm elevated. I’m going to get you to the Healers’ Hall as fast as I can, baby. I promise.”
Kindara wasn’t there, even though Mak carried me in, demanding the best healer our tribe had.
Thadd was there, instead. Big, strong, warm honey-brown hair, and thick glasses, he had always been one of the calmest, most reassuring males I have ever known.
He, unlike his brother, has always been one of my favorite cousins.
My father and his mother were first cousins. He is family.
I always felt safer with my family.
“What happened?” he asked, unwrapping Mak’s now ruined hasha from around my arm. Hashas came in handy for so many things.
I just hissed as pain radiated from the wounds marring my skin. Nothing had ever burned more.
“She was attacked by a demon. Askasodreno,” Mak said. “On the college campus.”
“Good Goddess, are you certain that’s what it was? I’m going to need to clean it. I won’t lie. This will burn. Greatly. I…” Thadd pressed against the worst wound gently. “I can try something. If you are willing. But I have no idea what will happen, and no guarantees.”
“What in the three hells are you talking about?” Mak asked. I heard fury in his words. I looked at him quickly. There was so much suspicion in his gold eyes as he hovered over me protectively.
“Something Kindara and Barlaam are experimenting with now. Kindara has theorized that the demon chemical that Incubi demons are capable of creating actually can act as a pain-killing agent for our people. And this herb here, a common leaf from the demon world, acts as an astringent in Relaklonos. We met with the chief demon healers just this morning. No one except for Kindara and Aodhan, and Aureliana, have used it yet.” Thadd met my eyes as he pulled a dark vial of bright-purple liquid out of a nearby cabinet, followed by another jar of what looked like a strange red toothpaste. “I don’t know if they will work. And if this gets infected or if that demon had poison barbs in his claws, I am not certain you will survive, Jume. We have two options—we can clean it and pray to the goddess that’s enough, or we can try demon cleansers and demon blood.”
“These demon scratches just might kill me, won’t they?” An icy calmness surrounded me as I looked my cousin straight on. Thadd wouldn’t lie. He was one of the most honest males I know. Nor would he sugar-coat it. I trusted him to tell me like it is.
“Yes. Askasodreno are usually armed with poisoned claws. And from the green spreading over your forearm here, I am convinced this one was as well. It’s only a matter of time. It will be fatal unless we neutralize the poison straight away.”
I know I am fated to die early, but I am not ready to die today. “Then there is no real choice, is there? Just…do it, ok? Before I change my mind. Give me the demon potion.” I pulled in a deep breath and looked at the male warrior holding my other hand. “Mak? Will you go? Bring my sisters to me? Just in case…I need to see my sisters again. One more time. Just in case this is the last day I have.”
He nodded, then left without saying a word. But I could see the panic in his eyes. And I know. I most likely am going to die today.