Welcome to Aeolya, a mythical land shrouded in mist. Home to a range of magical and deadly creatures from fire-breathing dragons to talking birds. Explore Aeolya's monumental cities or dare to enter the haunted Shatterglass Forest. But be warned! The Gods of Olympus reign over this mysterious realm, with everything from demigod heroes to impossible monsters doing their bidding at every turn. Be mindful off your words, the Gods are not as forgiving as you might think.
Quinn's eyes snapped open as the freakish sixth sense kicked her fight or flight response into overdrive. The Aeolyan humidity and the dust covering the floor made it hard to breathe. Since she'd fled the secret meeting outside Pyer, no place had been safe. This abandoned factory had proved no different.
The Halfrunners were here.
She could hear them on the lower level, searching each room systematically, throwing open doors, slamming them shut. The sound threw her back to a few months ago, when she'd pushed open the door to her house. Her father, a minister of the Council of Fai had been home and had thrown her out into the streets after the sudden and extreme death of her mother only hours early. The memory twisted her gut into a raw ache, but the last thing she needed to do was think about that right now.
Jumping to her feet, halting in the narrow hallway, straining to hear how many Halfrunners were here. Four? More? Her fingers jerked around the shaft of the notched arrow in her bow. Holding it up, she ran her fingers over the sharp edges of the arrowhead plated in silver. The act reminded her of what needed to be done. Halfrunners loathed anything with a pointy end.
Halfrunners were more or less humans, with the occasional monster or demon tossed in. And they die just the same. The difference with Halfrunners is they are masters of the kill. Trained right from birth, these guys know millions of different way to kill a person without anyone ever knowing.
Somewhere in the building, a floorboard groaned and gave way. A deep howl broke the silence, starting as a low whine before hitting an intense shrill pitch. The scream sounded inhuman, sick and horrifying.
Quinn scowled. They had brought their pets. Halfrunners were notorious for having war hounds by their sides. Big, shaggy beasts that really couldn't be classified as a cute puppy dog. With a mouth full of razor sharp teeth and claws that shredded everything they touched, they weren't particularly cuddly. But she had only seen one outside. And luckily, it seemed to be the unfortunate mutt that crashed down three flights of stairs.
She darted down the hallway, tattered sneakers pounding against the worn-out boards. Speed was in her blood. Strands of long, dirty hair streamed behind her. Quinn rounded the corner, knowing she had only seconds—
A whoosh of stale air whirled around Quinn as the Halfrunner grabbed a handful of her shirt, slamming her into the wall.
Dust and plaster floated through the air. Black dotted her vision as Quinn scrambled to her feet. Those emotionless eyes stared at her like she was his next meal ticket.
The Halfrunner grasped Quinn's shoulder, and she let instinct take over. She twisted around, catching the surprise flickering across his pale face a split second before she kicked. Quinn's foot connected with the side of his head. The impact sent him staggering into the opposite wall. She rolled away and released the tension on the bow string. Surprise flickered across the Halfrunner's face as he looked down at the arrow protruding from his chest.
A guttural sound escaped his gaping mouth before he hit the floor with a thump.
With the bow still in hand, Quinn whirled around and took the steps two at a time. Ignoring the pain in her limbs.
“Little girl, where are you running to?”
She stumbled to the side, falling into a large steel press.
Twisting around, Quinn's heart slammed against her ribs. The Halfrunner appeared a few feet behind her. Like the one upstairs, he looked like a freaky ninja. Decked out in black army clothes. The gun attached to his belt looked pretty normal except for the glowing blue ammo. Azure. A chemical concoction extremely deadly to Demigods and descendants of gods. Halfrunners were renowned killers of Demigods. With soulless, hard eyes, that reflected no light or life, he looked like the Grim Reaper. A curved, scythe-like dagger was hanging limply from his hand.
“What are you doing all alone?” he asked, voice deep and alluring.
Quinn took a step back, her cyan eyes searching the room for an exit. The Grim Reaper blocked her way out, and she knew she couldn’t stand still for long. She had to get back to the Resistance.
He laughed, the sound lacking humor and life. “Maybe if you beg—and I mean, really beg—I’ll let your death be a fast one. Frankly, mortal don’t really do it for me. Demigods on the other hand,” he let out an amused chuckle, “they’re actually worth my time. Mortals? Not so much.”
Quinn's face remained expressionless. "Your buddy upstairs thought otherwise."
His brows rose. “Now you’re starting to upset me. That’s two of us you’ve killed.”
Quinn didn't answer. Her heart stopped when the floor behind her creaked. She glanced over her shoulder, spotting a female Halfrunner. She inched closer, forcing her toward the other Halfrunner.
They were caging her in, giving no opportunity to escape.
Another one shrieked somewhere downstairs. Quinn sighed. More delays as far as she was concerned.
The ringleader advanced on her. “Do you know what I’m going to do to you?”
Quinn raised an eyebrow. "Not much." She was glad that false arrogance covered the fact she was as freaked out as everyone is when Hades is in a good mood.
The female’s cursing cut off his response.
She was obviously untrained; those ones were always the easiest to kill. Quinn's eyes narrowed on her. Slinging her bow slowly over her shoulder she feinted toward the female. Like a druggie going after her fix she came right at her. The male yelled at her to stop, but it was too late. Quinn took off in the opposite direction like an Olympic sprinter, rushing for the door she had kicked in earlier in the night. Once outside, the odds would be back in her favour.
Then most annoying thing happened. A wall of blue flames flew up in front of her, burning through benches and shooting at least eight feet into the air. It was real. No illusion. The heat blew back at her and the fire crackled, eating through the walls.
In front of Quinn, he walked right through the flames, looking every bit like an elementalist should. The fire did not singe his pants nor dirty his shirt. Not a single dark hair was touched by the blaze. Those cool, storm-cloud eyes fixed on her.
It was him—Mathew Grey.
Quinn never forgot his name or face. The first time she'd caught a glimpse of him sitting in a dark alleyway in Pyer, a good friendship a formed between them. She'd been sixteen and he seventeen. The fact he was a fire elementalist or that he was homeless hadn’t mattered whenever she'd talked to him around town.
Matt's presence could mean one thing only: the Resistance had arrived.
"Took your bloody time," Quinn hissed.
Their eyes met, and then he looked over her shoulder. “Get down.”
She crouched within indignant huff. Not liking Matt's indifference to the results of his tardiness.
The pulse of heat shot above her, crashing into the intended target. The floor shook with the Halfrunners wild thrashing and her wounded screams filled the air. She felt confident that being burnt alive didn’t feel too good. A popping sound followed the movement, and the flames vanished as fast as they appeared. Within seconds, only the smells of burnt wood, flesh, and smoke remained...
Rising up, Quinn peered through her dirty hair as Matt gave an apologetic look for the lateness of his arrival.
Two more people rushed the room. Relief rushed through Quinn as she embraced her best friend. Dylan Summers was the same age, but she was devilishly talented in deception. Since the last time Quinn had seen her, Dylan had shot past her in height, but her fiery red hair was just the same, wildly curly and untameable. Her rounded, innocent-looking face was clean of dirt, unlike Quinn's.
Once upon a time they had trained together back in Pyer. Dylan now moved with a grace she’d never had before. She went for the female, and with one quick swoop, she thrust a long, slender dagger into the burnt flesh of her skin, just to be on the safe side.
The last member of the Resistance was Matt's own flesh and blood. Alex Grey might have been the youngest at 16 and shorter than a ten year old, but she was an air elementalist that could just as easily knock anyone flat with a wave of her hand as Quinn would disarm and stake a recently turned vampire in her sleep. She zeroed in on the Halfrunner Quinn knew was somewhere in the factory but hadn’t seen yet. Watching how she moved such precision was always something to admire.
Matt gestured over Quinn's shoulder with his head. "You're getting that one?"
Quinn glanced over her shoulder. A Halfrunner was stalking around. He eyed Alex, who was in the process of taking down another Halfrunner, like she was the last piece of food on Aeolya. She shook her head, figuring Matt, despite his triviality, wouldn’t want her fighting any more than she really had too.
And for once she was too tired to argue with him.
There was no time for him to react when Matt appeared. He was ripped off stance and thrown forward. Quinn heard a sickening crunch, and then wild shrieks, but she paid little attention. Her head was pounding.
Dylan appeared next to her, dusting off her palms with a smile grin. "Well," she quipped. "That was fun."
Quinn just rolled her eyes.
Alex and Matt came over slowly. Matt ruffled his sister's pin-straight hair. Squirming, Alex glared at him then turned to Quinn. "That should be the last of them."
Quinn was silent, as per usual. She was never particularly fond of opening her mouth.
Dylan's bright blue eyes searched Quinn's face. "Did you get what you came for?"
Meeting her friend's questioning look, Quinn produced the crumpled piece of parchment from her back pocket.
Dylan's took it and flattened it out. Her eyes quickly scanned its contents before she handed it to Alex slowly. The younger girl snatched it quickly, her blue-green eyes darting over the words rapidly.
"So, are you going to meet this...source?" Dylan asked warily. "Minister Telly is not a fool when it comes to these things."
Minister Telly had been, more or less, a double agent for the Resistance since Quinn formed them after she left Pyer. As a Minister of the Council of Fai alongside her father, Telly had always made a special effort to keep an eye out for Quinn. He'd been providing them with information and sources to meet regularly in order for the Resistance to keep tabs on the Council's plans.
Quinn eyed the parchment with disdain as Matt, having plucked it from Alex, read it quickly. "No. I can't risk going that close to Pyer. My father will be searching for me."
"But if Minister Telly thinks that whatever this source person has is important, shouldn't we take that risk? Telly isn't dumb. He wouldn't make the meeting so close to Pyer without good reason." Dylan advised. Despite the dangers of the Council finding out about his "treachery" Telly had remained a loyal friend.
Quinn smirked slowly. Her full lips curling up in that famous smile. "You're going."
Dylan raised an eyebrow. "Yeah," she said, drawing out the word. "Not happening."
"I wasn't asking." Quinn mused, her voice laced with determination.
Dylan rolled her eyes, not impressed in the slightest. "Make Matt go."
Matt scowled. Quinn always thought his pretty-boy face wasn't suited to that look. "Matt is needed here for the supply raid later tonight. Alex is too inexperienced to do this task the way we need it to be done. Besides, you have a natural talent for negotiation." Quinn explained, her voice now lacking the usual sarcasm.
Dylan huffed. "Fine. I'll meet you back at the town by late afternoon."
Quinn nodded. Whirling around on her heel, Dylan sauntered off in the direction of the golden city.
Matt shoved his hands into the pockets of his jacket. "I'm surprised your father hasn't ordered for the town to be searched. It's like the most obvious place for any renegade people."
"He hasn't because he thinks I'm a spoilt brat who can't stand staying anywhere other than a five star hotel blessed by the god of luxury, if there is one." Quinn muttered, annoyance bubbling slighting under her cool, blank expression. Just the thought of that man made her temper sputter like fire.
The old abandoned ghost town in the Armadillo Plains had been the home for the Resistance since Quinn formed them when she'd left her father. It was an idea of Telly's when she'd stopped by his home in Pyer to tell him of her going. Telly had suggested the old town and it had so far proven its worth.
Matt was looking at her with an expression she couldn't figure out. "I wouldn't be so sure."
Quinn shook her head. "No one can be sure about anything where the council is involved."
Alex, who had been standing silently next to her brother, looked up at Quinn. "We should go."
Quinn stared back at the factory before darting off in the opposite direction with a single word.