She didn’t answer him. He wouldn’t want to hear it anyway. No matter how bad their odds, she had no intention of leaving him behind to save her own life.
But maybe there was something she could do to help them both.
With Rune and the two guards alternating bursts of gunfire, Carys looked to the shadows around her and in the gloom of the tower. She gathered them close, concealing herself.
Then she slipped out from behind Rune and charged their assailants.
She was gone even before he realized what she was doing.
“Carys!” Rune felt her whisk past him like a cool gust of air. He saw the formless drift of shadows move swiftly, stealthily, avoiding the gunfire. She was difficult to track, but Rune kept the gunmen busy dodging his bullets and drawing theirs to him instead of her.
Not even an instant later, one of the two guards was thrown across the room by invisible hands. His startled comrade pivoted around with his assault rifle to find the attacker.
Rune seized the opportunity. His bullet flew, nailing the guard in the back of the skull.
The gunmen dropped, lifeless.
Rune redirected his aim and shot the other one too.
Carys materialized that same moment. She quickly retrieved the fallen weapons, giving Rune a fangy smile as he ran over to meet her.
He couldn’t decide whether to kiss her or chew her a new one for the stunt she’d just pulled. While she was cool as could be, his heart was banging in his chest like a fucking jackhammer.
“Now we have two more guns,” she said, handing one of them to him.
He slung the backup rifle’s strap over his shoulder. “We’re gonna talk about this later,” he snarled, but he could hardly hold on to his anger when the fact was they made a damn good team.
But they still weren’t home free.
Not even close.
The commotion had drawn a lot of unwanted attention. Now, more guards started pouring in from other parts of the fortress. Amid the thunder of rushing boots and the jangle of weaponry, he heard his father’s furious voice, shouting kill orders to his men.
“This way. Hurry!” Rune grabbed Carys’s hand and led her through another antechamber that would skirt the main corridor and take them into the great hall. They barely made into the huge room before Riordan and half his garrison were on their heels.
Rune pulled Carys with him behind a stone alcove. They ducked as far as they could into the meager shelter as a fresh hail of bullets ripped through the air all around them.
Rune shot back, but only squeezed off a handful of rounds before his magazine emptied. He threw the rifle down and swung the backup into his hands to continue shooting at the dozen men now advancing into the great hall with his father.
“Give it up, boyo. You’re rats in a trap.” Riordan’s voice boomed over the staccato spurts of gunfire. “What’s it gonna be? You want us to shoot you like vermin, or take you alive and then lay waste to your woman while you watch?”
Rune glanced at Carys, neither of them acknowledging the threat. Their gazes locked in determination. They had their plan of escape. They had each other. All the rest was simply noise and obstacles to overcome.
“Flush them out of there,” Riordan commanded his men. “We can have just as much fun if we take them captive in pieces.”
The guards opened fire again, moving into new positions around the great hall.
“They’re going to corner us,” Rune whispered. “We need to get across the room if we can. The exit to the kitchens is that door to the left of the fireplace.”
Carys glanced that way, then gave him a nod. Rune knew she wouldn’t do it without him, even though her speed could take her there twice as fast than if she waited for him. So, he had no choice but to lay down heavy gunfire and try to take out as many guards as possible if they were both going to make it across.
Carys held her weapon at the ready too. No fear in her eyes, only a steely determination that galvanized his own.
There was a lull in the barrage. Rune gave her a signal. “Go.”
They ducked out from behind the wall. Both of them spraying rounds, they hustled across the wide room as swiftly as they could. A number of guards cried out as they were hit, several going down for good.
The return fire came at them hard now. Rune felt a bullet rip into his thigh. He stumbled, nearly brought down by the crippling impact.
He refused to let it slow them down—not when Carys’s life was on the line.
With rounds still zinging at them, they made it into the mouth of the room’s central hearth. The ancient fireplace, with its heavy walls made of massive stones, was tall enough for them to stand upright in it and deep enough to hold a dozen men. But there was less cover here than where they just been. Though now they were just steps away from where they needed to be.
Carys looked down at his fresh wound in horror. “Oh, shit, Rune.”
The hole in his thigh was gushing blood. Not good. On top of all of his other injuries, it was catastrophic. Her blood was still a vibrant force inside him, but it wouldn’t stop him from bleeding out.
And as the feeling started to fade from his leg, he knew he wouldn’t be able to run now. Hell, at this rate, he’d be lucky if he managed a slow hobble.
Damn it, no!
“I can smell your blood, Aedan.” His father’s gleeful voice rang out over the straggling shots. “You may not know it yet, but you’re dead, son. Gonna be a shame you won’t live long enough to see me and all of my men rape your Breed bitch until she’s begging for us to kill her too.”
Rune gently lifted her chin and held her gaze. “That’s not going to happen,” he told her firmly. “I’m not going to let them touch you. Not ever. We’re going to get out of this.”
“I know.” She nodded, but he could see the flicker of fear in her eyes now.
Her doubt nearly killed him. Far more than any bullet could.
Even he had to acknowledge that things didn’t look good for them. More guards poured into the great hall now. His father’s personal army was closing in, diminishing their chances of escape with each second that ticked by.
“We have to make a break for it,” he told her.
She shook her head. “You’ll never make it.”
“But you might.” When she parted her lips to protest, he cut her off with a kiss. “Please, Carys. I love you. Do this for me.”
Misery swam in her gaze. “No. No, I won’t! Rune, we’re staying togeth—”
Her words cut off as a sudden explosion rocked the fortress.
Dust fell from the heavy rafters of the hall. Outside the room, a sudden, frantic commotion kicked up.
Fineas Riordan shouted to his men, “What the fuck was that?”
A panicked voice answered. “The main gate, sir. Holy shit, they’ve taken it out!”
Carys swung a wide-eyed glance at Rune. “The Order. Rune, they’re here!”
In the middle of the great hall, Riordan was barking commands to his guards. “Get out there and push them back! All of you, look alive—hold this keep! Whoever’s at our gates, blow them away! And kill these two right fucking now!”
Chaos and gunfire erupted.
But apparently, his father had no intention of sticking around to lend his own blood and sweat to the battle. Rune saw him grab a weapon from one of his men, then he flashed across the great hall to an archway leading to the east tower of the castle.