A Battle of Blood and Stone (Chronicles of the Stone Veil #4) by Sawyer Bennett

CHAPTER 1




Finley


The wraith is easily ten feet tall but given the fact it flies through the air to hunt down its quarry, it’s twenty feet above me as it hovers.

Ten minutes ago, I didn’t know what a wraith was.

Still not exactly sure since I haven’t had time to ask Maddox or Zaid about it. That’s because the minute it flew out of the coffin we had just opened—in a dank mausoleum in a spooky cemetery on the outskirts of Pest in Hungary—I’d been fighting the creature off.

It’s creepy as hell with skeletal-looking hands and feet showing under tattered, moth-eaten robes. Not an actual skeleton but rather thin, pale skin stretched directly over its bones, so it looks horrendously emaciated. The hood is pulled low over its head, which I imagine resembles the rest of its body, but I can’t see any details. It’s pitch-black where the wraith’s face should be.

Honestly, I’m thankful all I can see are the hands and feet.

I send my whip cracking at it, but it’s too far out of reach. All I’m succeeding in doing is letting it know if it comes closer, I’ll get some good licks in.

Maddox, Zaid, and I are in Hungary searching for a relic Zaid had gotten a lead on from one of his darker contacts—namely Boral, his father. It supposedly acts as a compass of sorts—leads people to and helps them enter alternate realms. The information was sparse, and we have no clue how we can use it or if we can even locate the realm where Micah lives so we can try to steal the chalice and Blood Stone, but it’s the best we’ve come up with so far in the last two weeks since Carrick disappeared…

Right after he told me that I was the reincarnated love of his life.

I was still reeling from that information when Rune—god of death and simply the biggest asshole I’ve ever met—grabbed Carrick and disappeared with him.

“Try to get it to come closer to you,” Maddox yells from beside a large headstone.

When the wraith shot out at us, we’d fled the mausoleum, knowing we’d be able to fight better out in the open.

Zaid had yelled, “Wraith.”

And that’s, of course, how I knew it was a wraith.

Maddox yelled, “Run,” from which I gleaned it was dangerous.

For the past five minutes, Maddox and I have been keeping the damn thing occupied while Zaid went back into the mausoleum to search for the relic.

“You want it to come closer to me?” I yell, flicking my whip in its direction. When it had dropped closer, I managed to rip a piece of the fabric from the bottom of its robe. Emitting an ear-piercing shriek of fury, it shot back up a little higher.

“Yes, be bait,” Maddox urges.

I can’t help but grin at that. While Carrick was overly cautious and protective, barely letting me out of his sight because of all the scary dangers in the world, Maddox hasn’t held me back once in the past two weeks. But that’s the difference between the two demi-god brothers. Carrick is cautious and wise, while Maddox is impetuous and shortsighted.

Regardless, I’m just glad to be doing something because sitting around waiting for Carrick to decide to show back up is driving me batshit crazy.

I’m told he’ll come back. Maddox, having the ability to contact the gods, found out Rune is using Carrick for a project but that he is alive and unhurt. He’s just currently indisposed.

It pisses me off, quite frankly.

He’s a demi-god for Pete’s sake. He could have come back by now. I’m sure of it, and when he does, he’ll get a piece of my mind for all the worry he’s put me through.

Except right now, I’ve got a bigger worry.

“Put your whip away,” Maddox calls. “That will draw it in closer.”

I take the briefest of moments to shoot him an incredulous look. He just grins back at me.

I trust Maddox. He wants the damn thing closer to the ground, so he can attack it. Otherwise, we’ll continue this horror show dance whereby the wraith screams death at us and dive bombs, only to shoot back up into the air, hovering and waiting for another chance to attack.

Quickly, I coil my whip and settle it over me crossbody style. I’m not about to toss it away, but maybe this will appear less threatening to the creature.

It rides the air above me, slowly bobbing up and down. I can’t see its face, but I can tell it’s considering something by the way it lazily hovers without making a sound.

“Come to mama,” I murmur as I stare up at it with defiance.