The Savage Grace Page 85

“Mercy!” Marrock begged between his shrieks of pain. “Mercy! I submit!”

Talbot twisted the spear again, his foot pinning Marrock down for better leverage. Marrock shrieked.

“Stop!” Lisa shouted at Talbot. “He’s submitted.”

Talbot only twisted harder.

“Stop!” I shouted at him from the hayloft, but he didn’t seem to hear me, either. I took a running leap and jumped from the loft. I landed in a trough of hay and ran to Talbot, shouting his name. A look of complete and utter rage filled Talbot’s eyes as he twisted the spear in Marrock’s back. I was sure the eclipse hadn’t started yet, but was it already having some sort of terrible effect on Talbot?

“Stop!” I sent my open hand sailing and slapped Talbot across his face.

He let go of the spear and stared down at me—that rage burning in his eyes. Then he blinked and clutched his palm over the red hand-shaped mark I’d left on his face. “What was that for!”

“He submitted. Let. Him. Go.”

“Fine.” Talbot grabbed the spear, yanked it from Marrock’s back, and cast it aside. “You’re welcome,” he snapped at Lisa, who gaped at him openmouthed.

“Grace! Grace!” I heard a voice shout. I couldn’t tell where it came from at first, and I thought the wolf was shouting in my head again. Only it sounded an awful lot like Brent.

“Grace! Come in, Grace!”

I realized the voice was coming from inside my ear. I’d completely forgotten I was wearing the earpiece.

I put my hand to my ear. “What is it, Brent?”

“Still no Shadow Kings. What do you want us to do?”

“Stand your ground,” I said. “They’ll show.”

Brent swore so loudly it made my eardrum rattle. “Looks like Slade needs some help!”

I dropped my hand from my ear and went sprinting back out into the barnyard. Daniel and Mr. Chain Whips were still fighting, but I didn’t have time to ascertain the situation because Slade was running straight at us, down the middle of the field, with two giant wolves on his heels. “A little help here!” he called in our direction.

“I thought you were supposed to be handling one of those guys,” I said to Talbot.

“I was a little busy,” he said.

“You want us to stop them?” Brent shouted in my ear.

“No! Do not give up your position!”

Slade went barreling past us. Talbot flew at the larger of the two wolves. Lisa, weaponless now, jumped onto the back of the smaller of the two wolves, pummeling her fists against the sides of its head. I sent my sword into its hindquarters, slicing a chunk in its left hip. It stumbled to the ground. I raised my sword, ready to swing at it again, but the beast lowered its head and tucked its tail between its legs. It whined in submission.

The larger wolf stopped short before sending Talbot flying off its back. Slade punched the beast in the face, but instead of retaliating against him, it spun around and faced Lisa and me. Its yellow eyes narrowed in on me. It scratched at the ground like a bull and then charged in my direction, with great galloping leaps.

I gulped and raised my sword, ready to defend myself against the attacking wolf. But before it could make its final bound, Talbot came flying down on top of it. With a brutal swing of his sword, he sliced into the wolf’s neck. Then a second swing decapitated it completely.

“What the—?”

I stared at Talbot, amazed that he was able to pull off such an attack on the wolf, and revolted at the same time by what he’d done. “You … you weren’t supposed to kill him unless it was a final resort. That was the deal.”

He stared back at me with blood on his hands.

“I told you I’d kill anyone who tried to harm you,” he said.

“Grace,” Brent said in my ear, “the eclipse.”

I looked up in the sky and watched as a red stain crept along the edge of the moon, like blood slowly soaking into a white sponge. The eclipse was just starting, but I could already feel a surge of energy raking down my spine. My powers were magnifying.

“Any sign of Caleb?” I asked Brent. I knew he had a better vantage point than I did from his hiding place.

“No.”

I spun in a circle, searching every face I could see in the crowd. I was so sure Caleb would make his entrance the moment the eclipse started. It would be just like him to want to capture the drama of it all.

A ferocious roar ripped through the air, and I thought the Shadow Kings had finally arrived. But it came from Daniel’s opponent, the Urbat who had lost both of his chain whips. He reached his hands up in the sky, seething and shaking, and I watched as his hands transformed into clawed paws. He fell to all fours, and his body rocked and convulsed. His army fatigues shredded as his body burst into the form of a giant, hulking red wolf at least twice the size of any werewolf I had ever seen.

“Whoa,” Brent said. “Give me whatever steroids that guy’s taking.”

“It’s the eclipse,” I said.

The giant red wolf crouched in the straw ten yards away from Daniel.

“Do you want us to—?”

“No. Not yet.”

Daniel squared his shoulders, standing tall and mighty. He opened his arms, his sword ready in one hand. With the other, he beckoned the wolf to attack with the inward wave of his fingers.

The red wolf reared back and leaped at Daniel. Daniel countered out of the way and sent a hard crack across the wolf’s head with the hilt of his sword. The wolf shook off the blow and ran a few yards in the opposite direction away from Daniel.

I ran toward them, ready to back up Daniel if needed, but before I was even halfway across the field, the wolf leaped high into the air, straight at Daniel’s right side. Daniel tossed his sword into his right hand and stabbed it up into the wolf’s rib cage, then used brute force to swing the wolf through the air and slam it to the ground on its back. Daniel pinned it to the ground with the sword as the red wolf thrashed his clawed paws.

Daniel towered over the red wolf, and I could see the fierceness in his eyes. Not rage like I’d seen in Talbot, but the fierceness and determination of a warrior.

“Submit!” Daniel commanded the red wolf. I could feel the tidal wave of power crashing off his body. “Submit and I will spare you!”

The red wolf crumpled in submission. Daniel pulled the sword from his chest. The red wolf rolled over and crawled from the ring on its belly. That’s when I noticed that many of the guardians around the ring were bowing to Daniel now. As if they’d heeded Daniel’s call for submission also. I looked behind me and saw Lisa and Slade bent on one knee.

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