Marcos fired at thin air, aiming where Emiliana’s targets had been. Spurts of blood guided his aiming as he moved toward Ramira, who’d started shooting even before he did. The little girl was on the move as well, trying to avoid the cluster of metal spikes that were shooting up from the floor.
One of them found her. It skewered her shoe, and she screamed as she fell to the floor. In the next moment, Marcos was there, scooping her up with one arm and pulling her out of the next spike’s path. But there were still more to evade, and one of them caught his left leg, which it then began coating with newly materializing metal, trying to slow him down.
Marcos dropped to the floor with his sister still in his grasp, scrambling to shield her with his body.
That was when the room heaved, throwing everything into confusion, and briefly, Marcos thought there’d been some kind of explosion or earthquake.
And then he saw the crystalline spears. The area by the door was completely filled. Glassy pillars, so numerous and densely packed that they almost looked like a wall. The only anomaly among their brilliantly clear bodies was the blood, long streaks of crimson, splattered and dripping and pooling on the floor.
He looked around for Lord Asad, thinking it must’ve been the Sandlord’s doing, but instead, he saw his father, standing at the foot of the bed he’d been using only moments ago. It hadn’t been glass. It had been ice.
“Pa!” said Marcos. He wanted to rush over and hug him, but he was still mindful of Ramira’s injury. By the time he made it to his feet again, he realized that something was off.
His lord father was just standing there, silent, face drawn downward. Axiolis was still attached to his back and also saying nothing.