The stairs shook as Matheus followed Alistair up, boards squeaking as the posts swayed. Smoke drifted in from around the doorframe. The tendrils slid over the open sides of the steps, curling down to the floor. The smell of cordite and charcoal intermingled in the air, overshadowed by the neon bright scent of blood. Hunger lurched in Matheus’ gut. With every step, another lead weight attached to his legs. The strength of Eamon’s blood drained away, along with the bravado that had buoyed him while he dealt with the guards.
From the first floor came the sound of breaking glass. Matheus stopped, one foot hanging in mid-air. He stared without seeing. A haze rolled over his vision, bringing the taste of metal to his tongue, and the smell of sizzling flesh to his nose. He choked, panic spreading as he wheezed, air trapped in his throat.
“Are you okay? Can you hear me?”
Matheus jumped, then grabbed the railing, checking his fall. The adrenalin still raced, but he overrode the impulse to run.