This is one of the bloodier scenes in this book, so if that’s a trigger you might want to skip.
I do love me some Ilona Andrews fight scenes, Maud and Arland will always be one of my favorite couples.
It was gaining.
They were almost there. Almost. A few dozen yards.
The dragon lunged, roaring. The teeth. Huge teeth.
This wasn’t a dream. The monster from her nightmares had come to life and was trying to devour her daughter.
The little boy’s vihr shied, screaming in panic, and stumbled. The boy and the beast went tumbling into the grass. The dragon loomed over them. Maud saw it all as if in slow motion, in painful clarity: Helen’s terrifed face, her eyes opened wide, her hands on the vihr’s reins; the vihr turning, obeying her jerk; and then she was on the ground, between the boy and the dragon.
Twenty yards to her daugher.
A sound ripped the air around Maud, so loud it was almost deafening. A small clinical part of her told her she was howling like an animal, trying to make herself into a threat.
Helen drew her blades.
The dragon opened his mouth. Its head plunged down and Helen disappeared.
Something broke inside Maud. Something almost forgotten that lived deep in the very center of her being, in the place where innkeepers drew their power when they connected to their inn. She had no inn. She had nothing, except Helen, and Helen was inside the dragon’s mouth. Everything Maud was, every drop of her will, every ounce of her strength, all of it became magic directed through the narrow lens of her desperation. It tour out of her like a laser beam and she saw it, black and red and ice cold, committed to one simple purpose: Stop!
Time froze. The dragon halted, locked and immobile, and the bulge about to travel up its neck stopped in its tracks. The vihr, one fallen, the other about to bolt, stood in place, petrified. The vampire boy sprawled in the grass, unmoving.
This is the magic of an ad-hal, that same clinical voice informed her. You shouldn’t be able to do this.
But she was moving through the stillness, her sword in her hand, and as Attura tore into the dragon’s hide, Maud slit a gash in its cheek. Blood gushed, red and hot. Maud thrust her arm into the cut. Her fingers caught hair and she grabbed a fistful of it and pulled. She couldn’t move it, so she planted her feet, dropped her sword, and thrust both arms into the wound. Her hands found fabric. She grasped it and pulled.
The weight shifted under her hands.
The edges of the gaping cut tore wider.
Her daughter fell into the grass, soaked in spit.
Is she dead? Please, please, please, please…
Helen took a deep, shuddering breath and screamed.
The magic shattered.
The dragon roared in pain and swiped at Attura, who was clinging to its neck. The savok went flying, flipped in midair, landed on all fours like a cat, and charged back in.
The dream haunting her since she arrived on Daesyn burst inside her, popping like a soap bubble, and in a flash, she remembered everything: her parents’ inn, the monstrous dragon, the deep inhuman voice that reverberated through her bones, “Give me the child.”
There were two children behind her, and she was the only thing between them and the dragon.
She tore at it with all the savagery of a mother forced into a corner. She stabbed it, she cut it, she pierced it, her blood blade the embodiment of her rage. There was no fear left. She’d burned it all in the terrifying instant she saw Helen being swallowed. Only fury and icy determination remained.
The dragon struck her and she dodged. When it caught her with a swipe, she rolled back to her feet and came back in, her teeth bared in a feral snarl. She stabbed it in the throat. When it tried to pin her with its claws, she cut off the talons. She wasn’t a whirlwind, she wasn’t a wildfire; she was precise, calculating, and cold, and she cut pieces off of it one by one, while Attura ripped into the monster’s flesh.
The dragon rearred, a bleeding wreck, one eye a bloody hole, paws disfigured, and roared. She must have lost her mind, because she roared back. It came down on her, trying to trap her with its colossal weight. She had the crazy notion of holding her blood blade and letting it impale itself, then something hit her from the side, carrying her out of the way. The dragon smashed into the ground, and in a lightning flash of sanity, Maud realized she would have been crushed.
Arland dropped her to her feet. His mace whined, and he charged the dragon, his face a mask of rage. She laughed and dove back into the slaughter.
They cut and slashed and crushed together. At some point she caught a glimpse of the children stabbing at the crippled dragons legs. Finally, it swayed like a colossus on sand feet. They drew back and it crashed to the ground. Its remaining eye closed. It lay unmoving.
Maud gripped her sword, unsure if it was over. she had to make sure. She started forward, aiming for its face.
Arland rose out of the gore, jumped up onto the dragon’s head, and raised his mace, gripping it with both hands. They hit it at the same time. She sank her blade as deep as it would go in its remaining eye, while he crushed its skull with repeated blows.
They stared at each other, both bloody.
Helen hugged Maud’s leg, her lip trembling. Arland slid off the dragon’s head and clamped them to him.
His voice came out strained. “I thought I lost you both.”
Maud raised her head and kissed him, blood and all, not caring who was watching or what they thought.
Sweep of the Blade by Ilona Andrews
Innkeeper Chronicles #4
Published- July 16, 2019