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Infinity Blade: Awakening (Page 7)

No. They were chasing her.

“You’re not with them!” Siris yelled.

“Enemy of my enemy and all that,” she called back, reaching a rope dangling from the window she’d come in through.

“Routines… damaged . . .” a voice came from behind. “Restarting system . . .”

“You don’t know what you’re doing!” Siris yelled. “I’m not the God King. I killed him!”

“He’s immortal,” the girl said, scrambling up the rope. She reached the window, then pulled her rope up behind her. “You couldn’t have killed him.” Siris stopped his pained running as the two golems lumbered up to the wall, glaring toward the assassin with smoking visors.

“If you think that,” Siris yelled, “then why in the hell were you trying to attack me?”

She couched on the window ledge and looked down at him. She’d stopped grinning, but now just shrugged, almost in a consoling way. Then she leaped out of the window.

I’ve been played, Siris realized. She was never trying to kill me. She didn’t ever think I was the God King.

She just wanted the sword.

As did the golems, apparently. One began beating the wall down with its fist, breaking open a hole, causing the ceiling to rain dust. If they kept bashing holes in the walls, this place was going to come tumbling down on their heads. The other golem glanced back at Siris, as if considering finishing him off.

They probably had the place under surveillance, he thought. In case I returned. Well, at least he’d done what he’d wanted. He’d drawn their attention, and could now lead it away from Drem’s Maw.

And… maybe letting the woman run off with the blade was a good thing. If she took it to one of the other Deathless, they might fight over it. Leave him alone.

But it is the only weapon that can kill them, he thought. The only weapon we could ever use to fight back. Am I really just going to let it go?

He froze in place. Suddenly, he felt like a horrible coward. He would seek freedom, but what cost would he pay for it?

Finish what you began… .

“Please… reset… security protocols . . .” the throne warbled.

Siris glanced at it. Then started running. He scrambled up the rubble-strewn steps to the throne. It had been mostly destroyed, and sparks buzzed at the back, where some long, thin bits of metal were hanging free like thick strands of hair. The golem’s strike had cracked the mirror, but words still glowed on its surface.

Siris touched his palm to it.

“Security protocols reset,” the voice said. “What would you like to do?”

“Activate Transportation Ring.”

“Ring activated and attuned to your Q.I.P., master.”

“How do I use it?”

“You must choose a gesture. The default is to spread your three middle fingers apart, then snap them together twice.”

Siris raised his hand and took a deep breath, then snapped his fingers together. His hands flashed, and weights dropped into them. The God King’s shield fell into one hand, the Infinity Blade into the other.

From outside he heard a distinct—and very aggravated—yell of annoyance.

Both golems spun on him.

“I’m an idiot, aren’t I?”

“I’m not equipped to answer that question,” the mirror said happily.

“You don’t need to,” he said, hefting the blade and shield. “How does the transportation thing work?”

“A linked ring and disc can summon inorganic material.”

“Inorganic?”

“Nonliving matter. Metal, stone, or wood that has been dead long enough. You must keep the transportation ring on your finger, then attach the anchor disc to something inorganic. Performing the summoning will bring one to the other.”

He glanced at the sword’s hilt. There was a small metal disc there, stuck as if magnetically to the base of the pommel. He tried to pry it loose.

“Touch it and will it free, master,” the throne’s deadmind said in its helpful voice.

“Right,” Siris said, the room shaking as two golems charged him. Sweating in anxiety, he rubbed his thumb across the “anchor disc,” and it fell loose. He transferred it to his shield hand, holding it in his palm.

All right, he thought. I can work with this.

He hurled himself off the dais. His wounded hip still ached, but it was starting to recover from its numbness. He focused only on the fight, clearing his mind.

The first golem swung a sword the size of one of the palace doors. Siris skidded on the marble, going down on his knees and sliding underneath the blade. Its passing stirred his hair. He came up on his feet, tossing the ring’s metal disc toward the monstrous weapon.

The disc hit and stuck. Siris jumped to the side, narrowly avoiding a blade that crushed into the ground beside him. He rounded on the two golems, who turned and swung in a tandem attack.

Siris tapped his fingers together twice. One of the golems’ swords vanished in a flash of light, then appeared before Siris. He didn’t try to grab it—the thing was obviously too heavy for him—but he’d positioned himself so that it fell into the air just in front of him.

That blocked the second golem’s swing. The blades crashed against one another. Siris ducked forward, ears ringing from the crash, and rammed the Infinity Blade into the knee of the still-armed golem. The God King’s sword was made of strong material; it cut through the steel.

Sparks erupted around the blade as Siris—still in motion—moved past the golem and struck from behind at its other leg.

The golem teetered and dropped with a crash. The first golem—the one that had lost its weapon—was staring in stupefaction at its empty hands. It looked up at Siris, then swung a fist.

Siris dodged backward, his foot hitting the fallen sword. With a quick duck, he recovered the transportation disc and attached it to the Infinity Blade.

Then he tossed the blade between the golem’s legs.

The monster spun, watching the blade skid away. Obviously, its primary orders were to recover the weapon. The golem turned to go after the blade, and Siris attacked forward, summoning the blade back even as he did.

The weapon appeared with a flash in his hands as he rammed it into the golem’s thigh. Siris ripped the blade out, severing the thigh and dropping the beast. It smashed to the floor.

Grinding sounds from behind gave him warning that the other monster was—incredibly—climbing to its feet. Siris spun, pulling the disc free. The gigantic monster loomed above him, sparks spraying from its legs. It walked in a crouch now, trying to keep its balance.

Siris tossed the disc up toward the thing’s face; the disc stuck to the golem’s helm. Siris dodged a fist, then activated the ring. The flash of light from the disappearing helm blinded the creature, which stumbled.

Siris jumped, slashing his blade through the thing’s mechanical, clockwork neck.

It lurched, then dropped forward.

Siris took a deep breath, then walked up to the other golem. It was trying to move. Siris slammed his blade down through its back.

Both golems fell still.

“You know,” a feminine voice said, “you’re actually quite good at not dying.”

Siris spun toward the window. By reflex, he gripped the Infinity Blade tighter.

The window was empty.

“Over here,” she said.

He followed the voice, finding her standing in the shadows beside the doorway. Kuuth and a few daerils were waiting there, including Strix—the daeril who had first met Siris at the door to the castle. Strix yelped, moving out of the way as the assassin stepped into the light. He hadn’t seen her standing there either.

“How did you get there?” Siris demanded.

“I’m a good runner,” she said, folding her arms and looking at him appraisingly, one finger tapping her upper forearm.

“I’m not giving you this sword, woman.”

“I don’t want the sword,” she said. “Not anymore.” She smiled. “I’ve decided I want you instead.”

Chapter Three

THE GOD KING lounged on his throne in the upper room of his Seventh Temple of Reincarnation. He played with a knife in one gauntleted hand, watching the massive screen that dominated his far wall. In it, the boy stood in the rubble of the Lantimor throne room, speaking with that girl.

Who is she? he thought idly. Which one does she serve? His query to his deadmind ledgers had returned no results. She wasn’t Deathless—or if she was, the ledgers had no record of her face.

The God King moved his other hand across the input pad on his armrest. He’d scanned the boy’s Q.I.P. while his old throne had attuned the ring. You couldn’t get much from a surface scan; you needed bloodlines. Still, there was some information there.

Curious. He needed some of the boy’s blood to be certain. Or, at least, that of a true relative. If I’m right about him, so much will suddenly make sense . . .

“Great master?” Eves asked from beside the throne. “Great master, I don’t understand. Why . . .” The Devoted fell to his knees, bowing his head. “Your ways are mysterious and wonderful, great master. Too grand for my mind to comprehend.”

“I didn’t want her running off with the blade, Eves,” the God King said, still playing idly with his knife.

The boy was quick-minded. When the God King had remotely disabled security on his throne—covering what he’d done by implying damage to the throne had caused the lapsed security—the boy had immediately seen what to do. Good thing, too. She had to be a minion of one of the other Deathless. The Killer of Dreams, perhaps? Or Vist? Both coveted the Infinity Blade. They weren’t the only ones.

Well, the boy had recovered the blade. That was just as well; better the foe he knew than the foe he did not.

The God King’s hand hovered above his input panel. The boy and the girl were no longer trying to kill one another. Pity. The God King could make out no sound; those systems actually had been damaged in the fighting.

He needed more redundancy there. He hated discovering where he’d been insufficiently prepared.

He pushed the button on his input pad. In doing so, he shut down and destroyed the entire deadmind system in his old palace. That one button-push remotely wiped all the memories, then set the fail-safes to destroy the deadminds’ mechanical housings. In moments, the palace systems were completely unrecoverable.

The cameras had to be turned off too. Unfortunate, but he had his other means of keeping watch on the boy.

The God King stood up. “Come.” Twelve knights in black armor fell in behind him as he strode from the room. “It’s time to pay a visit to the Worker.”

“THE DEATHLESS won’t leave you alone,” Isa said. “Not as long as you have that sword.”

“What do you know about the sword?” Siris replied, tapping his razor on the washbasin.

He’d stripped to the waist, and was standing in a bafflingly luxurious bathroom. It appeared that the God King, despite being immortal, had still needed to use the privy. There was a silver one in the corner. The mirror was almost as long as the wall, the washbasin was gold, and the polished razors were incredibly sharp. Isaline sat beside an enormous tub turning the water on and off. His mother would have loved a tub that large, though she’d have used it for washing clothing. The water came out warm.

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