Today's excerpt is from Soul of Dust by Adam Millard.
We hope you enjoy today's tease!
The heat from the blast scorched at my back and legs. For a moment, I thought my ass was literally aflame, and I reached around and began patting myself down. The sound of my attacker’s boots on the concrete somewhere behind me reminded me that I needed to act fast, lest I be finished by a follow-up assault.
I quickly clambered to my feet and turned to face the street. A small fire raged twenty or so feet away. I’d been blown halfway down the road by the explosion. The unmistakable stench of magic drifted through the air on a steady breeze. I didn’t know where I was looking, or what I was looking for, but my attacker was still out there, watching from the shadows, preparing to strike again. I could sense them, could feel the power emanating from them. I’ve been doing this long enough to know when I’m up against a formidable opponent. The sonofabitch that had tried to dust me was no amateur.
I glanced down at my hand and realised I was already holding Phoenix. That was a good thing. It meant my instincts were working just fine. I must have pulled the wand out on my way through the air. And yet I hadn’t sensed the danger. I’d been too busy thinking about Maria West, about her new boyfriend, who may or may not be a wolf, vampire, or daemon.
I stepped off the kerb and crouched behind a parked Volvo. I needed to get my bearings, or at least wait until the damn ringing in my ears went away.
Who would want to kill me?
Stupid question, really. There weren’t too many Jack Bridge fan-clubs out there. I could count on one hand the people who actually enjoyed my company—and still have fingers left over—but it had been a while since someone had taken a pot-shot at me. If I was human, I’d have been nursing my feelings in that moment.
A bright light flashed to my left, and the Volvo I’d been crouching—cowering?— behind leapt into the air. I managed to roll away just as the vehicle came down, two tonne of twisted steel. I didn’t stop moving until I hit the wall of some industrial building.
I turned and my attacker rush past a row of parking meters. They were quick, but not quick enough. I brought Phoenix up and yelled, “Ignis!” A bright orange stream of pure energy burst from my wand, lighting up the entire street, singeing anything it came into contact with. The torrent of power arced down on my enemy. I can’t tell you the joy I felt when the dark cowl they were wearing burst into flames. The scorching heat didn’t stop them, though, or even slow them down. The assailant disappeared around the corner of a disused bowling alley.
When someone tries to kill you, and fails, it’s probably best to chalk it up as a small victory and move on with life. I couldn’t do that. I like to know who my enemies are. Nine times out of ten they’re people I’ve already met, spoken to, which doesn’t say a lot for my people skills.
I jogged—the explosion had taken some of the va-va-voom out of me—across the street, mindful that the last attack had come from seemingly nowhere. I didn’t think there was more than one of them, but you could never be too careful. Another one of those blasts, and I’d be shedding charred skin for the next month or so.
As I reached the corner, the acrid tang of burnt flesh stung my nostrils. That was a good thing. I’d inflicted some damage.
With my back to the wall, I quickly stuck my head out and back again. I was glad to find it still attached to my neck when I did. Slowly, I edged around the building, and that’s when the smoking pile on the concrete, not ten feet away, came into view.
My attacker’s cloak. A thick, grey cloud of smoke billowed up from the garment, and I knew in that moment the damage would have been severe enough to mark my assailant.
Good. Fuck ‘em. Hope I carbonised the sonofabitch.
The smoking cloak, though, was all that remained. Now that I could hear again, I tuned my senses in, focused on the area directly in front of me, the only possible escape route of my cowardly assassin. I didn’t have to adjust my mind too much before I heard the unsteady gait of an injured asshole. The footfalls were moving away, back toward the city.
I blew out a huge breath and pulled the water from my pocket. As I sipped, I scanned the street. The small fire in the middle of the road. The crumpled mess that was once someone’s pride and joy, the smouldering cloak.
I needed sleep more than junkies need a fix.
I didn’t hang around any longer than necessary, but once the cloak stopped smoking I picked it up and tucked it into my trench. Did I mention I have one of the most expensive microscopes on the market?