Fury of the Demon (Kara Gillian)

BOOK: Fury of the Demon (Kara Gillian)
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Raves for Diana Rowland’s Kara Gillian Novels:

“A nifty combination of police procedural and urban fantasy. Not too many detectives summon demons in their basement for the fun of it, but Kara Gillian is not your average law enforcement officer.”

—Charlaine Harris,
New York Times
bestselling author

“Rowland’s world of arcane magic and demons is fresh and original . . . [and her] characters are well-developed and distinct. . . . Dark, fast-paced, and gripping.

—SciFiChick

“A fascinating mixture of a hard-boiled police procedural and gritty yet other-worldly urban fantasy. Diana Rowland’s professional background as both a street cop and forensic assistant not only shows through but gives the book a realism sadly lacking in all too many urban fantasy ‘crime’ novels.”

—L. E. Modesitt, Jr., author of the
Saga of Recluse

“Diana Rowland has built a fascinating and compelling urban fantasy series, with main character Kara as tough as she needs to be yet vulnerable enough to be realistic.”

—Fresh Fiction

“Rowland once again writes the perfect blend of police procedural and paranormal fantasy.”

—Night Owl Paranormal

“Phenomenal world building, a tough yet vulnerable heroine, a captivating love triangle, and an increasingly compelling metanarrative that just gets juicier with each book. . . . Blows most other urban fantasies out of the park.”

—All Things Urban Fantasy

“Yet again, Diana Rowland has knocked my socks off with a stellar book that left me positively desperate for more.”

—A Book Obsession


Mark of the Demon
crosses police procedure with weird magic. Diana Rowland’s background makes her an expert in the former, and her writing convinces me she’s also an expert in the latter in this fast-paced story that ends with a bang.”

—Carrie Vaughn,
New York Times
bestselling author

Also by Diana Rowland:

SECRETS OF THE DEMON

SINS OF THE DEMON

TOUCH OF THE DEMON

FURY OF THE DEMON

VENGEANCE OF THE DEMON*

*******************

MY LIFE AS A WHITE TRASH ZOMBIE

EVEN WHITE TRASH ZOMBIES GET THE BLUES

WHITE TRASH ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE

HOW THE WHITE TRASH ZOMBIE GOT HER GROOVE BACK *

* Coming soon from DAW

Copyright © 2014 by Diana Rowland.

All Rights Reserved.

Cover art by Daniel Dos Santos.

Cover design by G-Force Design.

DAW Book Collectors No. 1641.

DAW Books are distributed by Penguin Group (USA).

All characters and events in this book are fictitious.

All resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.

The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal, and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-14374-6

DAW TRADEMARK REGISTERED U.S. PAT. AND TM. OFF. AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES —MARCA REGISTRADA HECHO EN U.S.A.

Version_1

To Jack and Anna.

Contents

Also by Diana Rowland

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 1

I clung to the pain like a badge of honor. Blood dripped in a slow splatter from a deep gash in my forearm, and my left knee throbbed from a vicious twist, but I couldn’t suppress my grin. I dragged my sleeve across my face to clear some of the sweat and grime, and squinted at the massive demon who crouched beside the white trunks of grove trees a dozen feet across the clearing. Two blue-white splodges of arcane potency writhed on his chest like knots of electrified worms where my rounds had struck. That had to sting.

“Well played,” Gestamar rumbled as he stretched his leathery wings wide then folded them close. He bared wicked fangs, bright white against the rich bronze of his heavy-featured bestial face. “You have been practicing.”

“Every single day,” I replied. It was the first time I’d won in nearly four months of games, and it felt damn good. “Games” with Gestamar—the demonic lord Mzatal’s essence-bound
reyza
—were like a combination of hide and seek, tackle football without pads, and hunting, all while trying to reach and defuse a bomb that happened to be on the other side of a kick-your-ass obstacle course from hell.

Not that we were in hell or anything remotely like it. This world, known simply as the “demon realm,” was about as far from the Earth concept of hell as a rain forest was from an oil refinery.

And as much as it sucked to get battered, bloodied, and knocked on my ass, I remained grateful for every scenario he ran with me. Whether here or back on Earth, I needed all the training and conditioning I could get—physical, mental, and arcane. My background as a cop and demon summoner would only get me so far with the kind of enemies I had: Rhyzkahl, Jesral, Amkir, and Kadir—four demonic lords dubbed by Lord Seretis as the
Mraztur
, which loosely translated as “motherfucking asshole dickwad defilers.”

The designation fit perfectly.

Those four were bound and determined to either forge me into their tool or kill me trying. Too bad I had other ideas.

I wiped blood from the Glock with a relatively clean corner of my shirt and jammed it into its holster at the small of my back. Technically it wasn’t a Glock at all, but a masterfully wrought demon knock-off with weight and action near indistinguishable from the real deal—invaluable for training since my gun was an integral part of both offense and defense on Earth. Ammunition made of resin casings, gunpowder, and potency pellets—an ingenious creation of Mzatal’s—turned the thing into what I lovingly called my potency paintball gun. The option to include my cop weapon-training in live fire scenarios rocked.

“You endure much for Idris,” Gestamar said and swept a clawed hand over his chest several times to clear the residue of the potency strikes.

“He’d do the same for me.” My jaw clenched. Like me, Idris Palatino was a summoner—a human with the ability to open a portal between Earth and this world, the demon realm. Moreover, he was Mzatal’s protégé, utterly brilliant, and a damn nice guy who I was proud to call friend.

But four months ago, I’d inadvertently almost destroyed the demon realm during a ritual to retrieve Vsuhl—one of the three essence blades. And, when the dust cleared, Idris was gone—kidnapped by the fucking asshole Mraztur.

“We’ll be going after him soon, and I intend to be ready.” I straightened my shoulders. “But it’s not just for Idris. When I get back to Earth, I have family and friends to protect.”

Gestamar grunted and dropped his eyes to my arm. “Your wound requires care. Do you wish me to bind it?”

I looked down and grimaced. A shallow jagged gash from one of Gestamar’s claws ran from elbow to wrist on the outside of my forearm. “The bleeding has pretty much stopped,” I said. “I’ll get Mzatal to fix it, but you have my thanks for the offer.”

Gestamar stood, towering over me by several feet. He bared his teeth in the scary demon equivalent of a smile. “Again, well played,” he said, then bounded toward me and leapt into flight at the last instant.

I ducked and covered my head, instinctively shielding myself from the strong downdraft of his wings. “Thanks!” I called after him. The windblast carried the bold musky spice scent of a reyza after exertion, much more pleasant than the human equivalent. I sniffed my pits and gave a disgusted shudder. First, find Mzatal for a little damage repair, then a long soak in the bath.

Fortunately, we’d ended the action in the grove, which was only a few minutes walk from the palace. A couple of hours earlier, we were far afield in the eastern hills, and it would’ve been a long limp home.

Sunlight filtered through the brilliant purple and green leaves of the canopy, danced over the white trunks and onto the short, soft grass of the clearing. Ahead of me, two parallel lines of trees formed a tunnel that led out of the clearing and toward the palace. I released a soft sigh of ease and allowed myself a moment of serenity as the grove’s presence wrapped around me like a comforting hug. The groves formed a network of organic teleportation nodes, with one in each realm of the eleven demonic lords and about a dozen or so more scattered across the planet. My intuitive connection to the special trees baffled the lords, and though it felt perfectly natural to me, I had no logical explanation for it either.

Not that I was complaining. It was a damn powerful connection to have.

As I limped toward the tunnel, a tailless flash of orange, white, and black darted past me and disappeared into the trees. Fuzzykins, Eilahn’s cat. Her presence meant that my awesome
syraza
bodyguard was somewhere nearby. Not that she was ever far.

As if in response to my thought, Eilahn approached through the trees. Here in the demon realm, she kept her syraza form—long-limbed with graceful bird-like fragility, gorgeous pearly iridescent skin and delicate wings that looked too flimsy to be of use. The perfect example of how looks could be deceiving. There wasn’t a damn thing fragile about her. On Earth she took the form of a human woman in order to blend in, though the form she chose was
smokin’ hot chick
. She drew a fair amount of attention with her looks, though admittedly less than wings and three-fingered hands would.

“You are victorious,” she said, her large violet eyes shining with pride.

I beamed, still basking in the warm glow of triumph. “I am! I was done, exhausted, and then faked a face plant—which must’ve been convincing, because Gestamar swooped down for the kill. I twisted around and nailed him twice, point blank. It was
sweeeet
.”

“Sweet, yes, for the victory,” she said in the beautifully musical syraza tones that brought birdsong and meditation chimes to mind. She eyed me critically, touched my wounded arm then dipped her head toward my knee. “Injured nearly to immobility.” Displeasure touched her elegant, humanoid features. “Not good.”

“Got my foot wedged between some roots,” I told her, looking down at the swelling. “I turned, my foot didn’t, and my knee paid the price. It wasn’t pretty.” It actually hurt like blazes, but if I’d been back on Earth my big worry would have been whether the damage was repairable and if it would need surgery and how long I’d have to do physical therapy in order to walk properly again and how much it would end up costing me. I smiled to myself. Pain was easier to handle when a bit of time with a favorably disposed demonic lord would make it good as new. Best healthcare plan ever.

I flashed a grin. “Even with the bum knee, I still managed to make it through the tree tunnel, drop Gestamar, and unweave the wards before they blew.”

All jubilation drained away as a cold presence like an exhalation from a tomb washed over me. I recognized the feel, sought its source, and hoped I was wrong.

But I wasn’t. Lord Kadir glided toward us from the tree tunnel entrance. Androgynous golden-haired beauty and violet eyes were wasted on the lord I’d mentally dubbed Creepshow. An icy half-smile played on his lips as his gaze slid over Eilahn then fixed on me with predatory intensity. I’d only been this close to him once, at Rhyzkahl’s palace, before the betrayal. Once in a lifetime was more than enough.

Like a phantom, Eilahn melted into the forest. I hoped it was to go warn Mzatal that one of the Mraztur was here unchallenged.

Kadir’s aura saturated me, like a dozen psychopaths all merged into one. Instinctively I summoned grove power, cloaked myself in it and shielded my thoughts from the innate mind reading ability of the lords. “What are you doing here?” I managed, thoroughly pissed that his feel alone set me shaking.

He stopped two paces from me. “Whatever I choose, Kara Gillian,” he purred.

That sure as hell wasn’t an answer to ease my mind. I mentally reached for Mzatal. We shared a deep connection beyond words—like an emotional telepathy—but right now I felt him in the plexus chamber, deeply absorbed in his work with the planetary arcane flows. Damn it.

“Get the hell out of here,” I snarled. Kadir was a demonic lord with firepower beyond my normal ability to counter, but right now we were in the grove, and this was
my
turf.

He leaned closer, spoke with slow, deliberate menace. “I depart because I choose to do so, not at your mandate, little morsel.”

“I’m not stopping you.” I stepped aside, swept my arm in a
Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out
gesture.

Fuzzykins chose that moment to stalk out of the trees beside Kadir, tail straight up in the air and pregnant belly making her look as if she’d swallowed a Chihuahua. I silently willed the silly animal to get the hell away from here before Something Bad happened, but to my dismay she wound around his ankles and rubbed against his boots. “Mrrrrow?”

I gaped. Seriously?
Seriously?
The cat hated me but liked
him?

Kadir let out a laugh that sent splinters of unease through me, then crouched and ran his hand over Fuzzykins back. She responded with loud purring and a head butt as he slid his hand around her neck, rubbed.

Blood pounded in my ears.
If you hurt that stupid cat . . .
I called to the grove, pulled more of its potency to me. I’d nearly killed Rhyzkahl with grove energy once. I knew its potential.

Kadir went still, then lifted eyes that shone with focused intensity to mine. “Do it,” he murmured, and the challenge cut as clearly as if he’d screamed it. His lips parted with anticipation, and he closed his hand around the cat’s neck, though not yet hard enough to cause her alarm.

“Kara, no,” Eilahn said with force as she stepped from the trees. “He cannot—will not—harm Fuzzykins.”

Kadir’s mouth pinched together in annoyance as though his day had just been ruined. He released the cat and stood smoothly. His gaze swept over Eilahn then returned to me. “This borders upon a breach.”

Eilahn kept her eyes on mine while I struggled to figure out what the weird lord was talking about. “A breach would only occur if I were to speak with one to whom it is not permitted,” she said. Though her smile was tight and dangerous, her tone remained utterly conversational, as if describing the puffiness of cumulus clouds. “As I have spoken only to you,” she informed me, “no breach has occurred.”

Comprehension dawned. Okay, so apparently the two weren’t allowed to speak to each other? Were we in third grade?

Whatever the deal was, the moment of tension seemed to be past. “I’m not playing into your bullshit this time, Kadir,” I sneered. “You said you were going, now go.”

He ran his thumb slowly over his lips as he regarded me, though there was absolutely nothing sexual in the gesture. It was more as though he contemplated sinking his teeth into my flesh, and not in any cool-romantic vampire way either. Like Hannibal Lecter with an extra helping of psycho-sinister.

To my relief and surprise, he dropped his hand and gave a light shrug, inclined his head slightly to me then sauntered past toward the center of the clearing with Fuzzykins trailing him. I watched as he crouched to make the potency offering to the grove and chucked the stupid cat under the chin while she rubbed and purred up against him. Kadir set the pregnant cat aside with an oddly careful gentleness, then straightened, met my eyes, and was gone.

The grove rippled with his departure. I exhaled in relief, then extended into the connection and followed his signature to his realm. “Good fucking riddance,” I said to the empty air when I felt him arrive in and then leave his own grove.

Fuzzykins sat where Kadir had placed her and fastidiously cleaned her right front paw in a position that sure as hell looked like she was giving me the finger. “Traitor,” I muttered.

“She simply follows her instincts,” Eilahn said from behind me.

“Crappy instincts!” I turned on her, annoyed—admittedly, a bit unfairly—to see her relaxed stance. “Why did you leave when he came into the grove? I could have used backup from the beginning.”

“I did not wish to risk violating agreements,” she stated, “and so I stepped away. I did not intervene until you were close to engaging in a dangerous action.” She gave me a faintly reproachful look, and I knew she meant my readiness to use grove power against the skeevy lord.

Eilahn scooped Fuzzykins into her arms and murmured to her in demon as the foul beast hissed at me. “In any event, it seems you did not need backup,” she continued calmly. “You are unscathed.”

I gave an involuntary shudder. “That’s a matter of opinion. I
despise
him. I feel like I’ve been slimed.” I scowled at her. “What was he doing here? Why didn’t anyone tell Mzatal?”

Eilahn cocked her head. “Mzatal knew.”

“Knew?” I stared at her. “Wait, you mean he knew and was too involved in his work to come out and kick Kadir’s ass?”

“No, that is not what I mean,” she said. “Do you believe that Fuzzykins will require the services of a veterinary obstetric specialist when it is time to expel her spawn?”

“A veterinary . . . what? No! Jeez, she’s just having kittens.” I narrowed my eyes. “And stop changing the subject. What
did
you mean?” I suspected she enjoyed messing with me.

“Simply that Kadir was here under agreement, and therefore Mzatal knew.”

“What kind of agreement would he have with that—” I stuttered to a stop as I focused on the tingle of distant grove activation. “I need Mzatal.
Now
.” My voice trembled with urgency. “Rhyzkahl and Jesral just used the grove network. They have Idris and someone I couldn’t identify with them.”

BOOK: Fury of the Demon (Kara Gillian)
4.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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