All Spell Breaks Loose (Raine Benares #6) - Page 29


“Then we drop back to Plan B.”


I didn’t remember that one. “Which is?”


“Kill as many of them as we can.”


I’d heard that Plan B more than once. Fortunately, I lived through those times to get to hear it yet again. I also knew the second part of Plan B. Tam thoughtfully neglected to say it, though we all knew what it was.


Don’t be taken alive.


Piaras was standing perfectly still, peering intently at something in the shadows. “There’s a red toad over there—and two more farther down this side tunnel.”


My hand immediately went to my bandoleer. “How big are they?”


“Normal size. They look weird, though.”


“Do they have smooth skin?” Kesyn asked.


“Yes, sir. And green eyes, I think.”


“Go tell them to ‘ka’lit pri’chis talmat.’”


“Uh… pardon?”


Kesyn rolled his eyes and said it again.


Piaras repeated the incantation, but flubbed the last word.


“Don’t hurt yourself, son. It’s ‘ka’lit pri’chis talmat.’”


“Ka’lit pri’chis talmat.”


“That’s it. Now go tell that to the toads.”


Piaras took one step, then stopped. “What are they?”


“Khrynsani have been known to use those critters as spies down here. If their eyes had turned red, a Khrynsani guard topside would be seeing what the toads see—namely us.” Kesyn shooed his hand at Piaras. “Go on, now. That little spell will take care of everything.”


“Yes, sir.” Piaras went to do as told.


“Get close enough—and get your aim right,” Kesyn called after him.


Tam was laughing as quietly as he could manage. “You didn’t tell him those toads are going to explode.”


Kesyn gave him an impish little grin. “I thought I’d let that be a surprise.”


A startled yelp came from the side tunnel.


Kesyn took a quick bite from his chunk of stinky cheese. “He knows now.”


Piaras returned and shot Kesyn a dirty look. The old goblin smiled and raised his cheese in salute.


“Imala and I will take a look first,” Tam said. “See what we’re walking into. Then we’ll take it from there.”


According to Tam’s memory, the tunnel ended in a storage alcove about twenty paces from the guard station. Imala said she’d heard that the captain of the guard used to scare the hell out of the dungeon guards with surprise inspections. This was no inspection, but I sure hoped it was a surprise.


For them, not us.


Tam and Imala were gone less than five minutes. When they returned, their expressions were neutral, though Imala was fighting a smile.


“Good news?” Mychael asked.


“For once,” she said. “There are six guards at the station. Only two are mages. A short stair leads up from the guard station to the temple’s main levels. There’s a locked and warded gate at the top.”


“At least two guards are posted outside the gate,” Tam said. “One will be a high-level prison mage and qualified to disable the wards for anyone who wants to see a prisoner. More good news is that they’re using the same wards as the palace dungeon, which I’m familiar with. Those wards take thirty

seconds to lower, a minute maximum if the guard gets flustered.” He turned to Kesyn. “Sir? Would you—”


“Yep, I’ll take that one. Flustered guards, coming up.”


Tam grinned. “I’d hoped you’d offer.”


“Four guards patrol both levels at all times,” Imala continued.


“Are there any gates between the levels?” Mychael asked.


“There are, but they’re only closed to keep an escaped prisoner from reaching the next level up. Otherwise, they’re kept open in case guards on another level need reinforcements.”


“Alarms?”


“It looked to me like they’re using the same as they always have.” Tam looked to Imala for confirmation.


She nodded. “There are two panic alarms at the guard station—one on the desk, the other on the wall behind it. The other level should be equipped the same way.”


“Mychael and I will take the guards at the station,” Tam said. “Raine, if any of them manage to dodge us, put that dart-spitter of yours to good use. The goal is not to allow an alarm of any kind to be given. No hesitation. No mercy.”


Kesyn belched. “No problem.”


Tam and Mychael had battlemagic. Imala had her curved sword. Piaras and Chigaru had what the navinem told them they had. And I was armed for ogre with bolt-spitters and two bandoleers of extra ammo. We had a good plan.


I really hoped it stayed that way.


Imala would disable the two main alarms. Tam, Mychael, and I would do the same to the six guards. Kesyn would latch onto the pair of guards standing at attention outside the main dungeon gate with a paralysis spell. To have those two guards hit the ground would attract attention, so Kesyn would just ensure that they stayed at attention. That accomplished, he would throw out a sound-muffling ward. That way when all hell broke loose, no one in the main level of the temple would know a thing. Prince Chigaru’s job was to not get himself killed so those mages and military we were about to free would have a living Mal’Salin to take orders from. Piaras’s job was to make sure Chigaru did his job.


Tam stepped out of that shadowy alcove like Death himself, his hands glowing with a shade of red found only in Hell’s furnace, his expression that of a man who didn’t care what he was about to do to any of them. Tam wasn’t shielded, at least not that I could see, as if he were daring any and all of them to bring on their best. Try and die.


Khrynsani faces blanched and bodies froze.


Tam’s hands came up and a thin shaft of red fire shot from his palm to the nearest black-robed mage’s chest, punching a hole through it as clean as a javelin. An instant later, the second mage was slammed up against the guard station wall, an identical hole burned through his throat.


The other four guards hesitated for what would be their last heartbeat. Mychael chose a target, pointed at it, and a fiery needle of blue light shot from the tip of his finger. It was so bright that I had to look away. When I opened my eyes, Mychael’s second target was sliding down the wall to the floor, a tiny black hole burned between the Khrynsani guard’s eyes.


Imala coolly worked between the flying magic to disable the two alarms. One guard had been on the receiving end of a glancing blow from either Tam or Mychael, and dived for the alarm mounted on the wall. Imala drew, cut, and killed in one smooth and completely silent move.


The last guard was already dead on the floor.


They

hadn’t left any for me. Not that I had a problem with that.


Kesyn took the stairs three at a time to take care of the prison mage and his Khrynsani partner.


The alarms hadn’t gone off and the four guards and two mages had died without a sound. But someone in the dungeon’s lower level must have heard something.


They did.


The attack came from below.


A sea of black-clad Khrynsani guards surged up the stairs. The light was dim and I couldn’t tell how many there were, but my feet said it was too many and they had a strong opinion on what I should do next.


Kesyn charged up the stairs to the guards stationed on the other side of the temple-level door, snatching the attention of the guards running up from the lower level. In the two seconds that their attention was on the old goblin, I opened fire with satisfactory results.


Imala could handle herself just fine in any kind of fight, but outnumbered was outnumbered. Tam and his battlemagic were taking care of the rest of what came at either one of them.


Tam had said to kill any mages first. I shot whatever came into range first. A pistol crossbow held three bolts. I emptied both pistols in thirty seconds. I had two bandoleers full of bolts, but no time to reload. Whoever made these things assumed six bolts would do what you needed to get done. I threw the now-worthless pieces of crap aside, drew my swords, and pretended the next guard to reach me was the manufacturer. Though it wasn’t the guy who made the weapons’ fault; it was mine for wading into more trouble than six bolts (and no time to reload) could handle.


Sometimes it was good when your reputation got somewhere before you did. I was swinging a sword, not magic, but it was apparent that my wanted poster had been seen by more than Regor’s general population. However, it was just my luck that enough of the goblins coming at me weren’t afraid of being immolated by the wrath of the rock. However, a desperately-fighting-for-her-life elf swinging three feet of steel was at least given a little more respect.


Until I came face-to-face with a Khrynsani mage.


He was armed with a black staff carved with spells. For a goblin prison mage, that was all the weapon they needed.


The cat was probably out of the bag about my magic, but I had no way of knowing if Nukpana had shared that joyous news with his lackeys. But right here, right now, it didn’t matter. I’d come too far and was too close to pulverizing that rock to have some jail mage screw this up for me.


I attacked. I couldn’t give him time to breathe, let alone point the tip of that staff at me and incant anything. He wasn’t shielded; apparently he hadn’t thought it was necessary with me. If I had anything to say about it, I was going to show him how wrong he was. No one else was being shy about screaming and yelling, so I joined right in. It felt good. I’d kept too much penned up for too long. Magic had gotten me into this, and now magic, in the form of a Khrynsani jail mage, had the gall to try to take me out. I had news for him; I wasn’t going anywhere. And if I was going to die tonight, I wasn’t going to be a notch on this guy’s staff.


Then he did something I wasn’t ready for. He stopped fighting and took a step back. It wasn’t a retreat exactly, more like—


A blow across my shoulders drove me to my knees.


He was getting out of someone’s way. Someone who was determined to turn me into a notch on his staff. Literally.