Scent of Magic Page 111

“Too bad you didn’t figure this out a couple hours ago,” Cellina said. “Do you know why I wish you dead?”

“You’re jealous that Tohon is so smitten with me.” I let that sink in. “I hope you know that getting rid of me is not going to make him love you, Cellina. That man is incapable of loving anyone other than himself.”

“Nice try. He is obsessed with you, and it’s causing him to make poor decisions, and he won’t listen to reason. Once you’re gone, he’ll be easier to manipulate.”

“Interesting word choice, Cellina,” Tohon said. He stepped into the clearing. “However, I already suspected you had your own agenda regarding Avry. In fact, I was just discussing this at length with Sepp as we followed you here. Wasn’t I?”

Cellina’s face paled as Sepp joined Tohon. We were having quite the party.

Sepp’s queasy expression suggested he was uncomfortable being here, and he stared at the ground. “Yes, you were.”

Tohon’s arrival confirmed that I’d no chance for rescue. Unlike Cellina, he might keep me alive for old times’ sake. Tohon strode over to me and took my hand in his. His fiery gaze promised pain. Perhaps not.

“You’d be proud of me, my dear,” Tohon said. “I also deduced Sepp’s involvement with this little plot. Should I kill them both?”

A few slight sour notes sounded to the northwest. “No,” I said, hoping this time it was someone who could help me. Of course, the person needed a couple squads with him or her to be of any use.

“Why not?”

“You can use them.”

“Ohhh, I like. Go on.”

“Well...Wynn’s in tight with Ryne’s army. She runs messages for him and is privy to all his plans. But I’m thinking if you kill her sister, she won’t be as accommodating for you. And Sepp...this one is harder since he’s a whiny, nasty man who betrayed me before.” I paused. “You know...I’ve changed my mind. You can go ahead and kill him. He has no redeeming value.”

Tohon laughed as Sepp whitened. Interesting that the death magician was terrified of Tohon. And for the first time ever, I wasn’t. At this point I had nothing left to lose. Tohon might try to claim me again, but I was quite confident he couldn’t.

“I agree with you about Sepp, but not Cellina and her sister. It is tempting to use them, but I’m too pissed off.”

“Tohon, I—”

“No begging, Cellina, you know how much I hate it.”

“In case you didn’t realize it, your royal ass**le,” Wynn said, “you’re surrounded by Cellina’s ufa pack with no allies nearby. Even Baby Face would side with us on this one.”

Tohon gasped in mock horror. “Is that true, my dear?”

“No. I’m good.”

He blinked at me in surprise. “Why?”

“You’ve always been straight with me. Unlike them. Two are traitors, and Cellina killed Kerrick. Ooh... Can I kill her? With Kerrick’s sword?”

Tohon didn’t need to know the whole truth about Kerrick. At least, not yet. I gave her a pointed look.

“That would be fun to watch. Cellina, give Avry his sword.”

“You’re insane,” Cellina said, gripping the hilt. She backed away a few steps. “Attack!” She pointed at us.

The ufas surged forward as one. I grabbed Tohon’s arm with my free hand, bracing for the impact.

“Heel,” Tohon said in a loud and commanding voice.

And just like that, they halted their charge and aligned themselves behind Tohon.

“I’m disappointed in you, Cellina. Do you really think I’d train them without a way to stop them from attacking me? And I’d never stray too far away from reinforcements. I’ve a squad stationed nearby.” He glanced at my hand clutching his arm. “I see you didn’t trust me either.”

I let go, but he kept my other hand. Before I could comment, he turned his head to the northwest as if listening to something. A succession of muted forest noises sounded. His cheeks reddened in anger, and his grip tightened painfully. Uh-oh.

Instead of blasting me, he said, “Cellina, you bitch. Just how long have you been lying to me?”

“Uh...” Cellina exchanged a glance with Sepp.

“Although I’m surprised he gave you his precious sword. That was quite the coup.”

“What are you talking about?” she asked.

“Kerrick, come on out and join the reunion,” Tohon called.

Ah. He thought Kerrick hid in the forest. I said, “Kerrick never returned from the north. He died fighting the tribal warriors.”

“Then you’re in for a shock, my dear.”

Pain burned up my arm and stabbed into my chest. I yelped.

“Kerrick, the longer you wait— Ah, there you are.”

The agony ceased. What game was Tohon playing now? Everyone stared to the northwest. Guess my would-be rescuer just got caught. I followed their gazes and gasped.

The world around me faded. It blurred into blotches of colors—greens, grays, browns. Kerrick stood in the center of the big blur, clear and sharp. His gaze met mine, and the hard shell that had formed around my heart crumbled. Emotions I thought had died sprang to life, flowing through me until I was dizzy and sick.

Unlike Kerrick. His face showed no emotion. He held a strange curved blade in one hand and a sword in his other. The rain had plastered his hair to his head and soaked through his tunic. Dark circles marked his eyes. He’d lost weight.

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