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~ Previous Chapter ~
THE AIR SCREAMED, but Mhysra didn’t even have time to blink as heat lashed out, singeing her clothes and hair. Then the lightning split to strike at two kaz-naghkt diving down on either side of them.
The creatures exploded in a burst of boiling blood and scorched meat, leaving the air full of the revolting stench of cooked kaz-naghkt.
Cumulo gave a squeaky cough, his wings folding as they collapsed gracelessly onto the tiles of the cathedral spire.
“Maegla, I never want to witness that again.” Lyrai tugged an unresisting Mhysra from the saddle and clutched her to his chest, running shaking hands over her blistered face and sizzled hair. “Gods, are you all right? Please tell me you’re all right.”
There was pain in his touch, but it felt distant. His hands soothed too, but again Mhysra could barely feel them. Everything felt frozen, as if her body had stopped the moment she saw the lightning aimed straight for them, and refused to start again, even though they hadn’t been hit.
“Cue,” she whispered, voice cracked and squeaky. “Cumulo.”
Lyrai huffed with relief and brushed a brief kiss across her swollen lips. “Thank Maegla.”
“Well, you’re in the right place for that,” Dhori drawled, though there was a noticeable tremor in the hand he stroked across Mhysra’s hair. “Never do that again.”
As the warmth of Lyrai’s hold slowly sank into her, melting her frozen state, bringing back the sounds of the battle and the gentle whisper of the rain, Mhysra managed to dredge up a smile. “I didn’t plan on doing it that time.”
Feeling better, if still rather shocked, she pulled away from Lyrai and stumbled on shaking legs to where Cumulo was sprawled against the slick tiles, wings outstretched, chest heaving as he tried to catch his breath.
“I thought that was it,” he muttered, over and over again, eyes wide and staring. “I thought we were lost.”
From his crest, right down to his talons, his whole body was black and scorched. Even his beak. The feathers on his chest were shrivelled and brittle, but he’d never looked more beautiful to Mhysra.
“Cue.” She threw her good arm around his neck and hugged him tightly.
Though he hissed with pain, he instantly put his head over her shoulder, mantling his wings forward to keep her against him. “My Wingborn,” he whispered. “My Chickling.”
Shutting her eyes, she held him harder. They’d evaded death by a hair’s breadth and all she could do now was hold him. “Maegla bless, Cumulo.”
“I think she had a little help this time,” Dhori murmured, as a shimmering shadow passed over them.
Mhysra and Cumulo looked up as Rhiddyl glided by, looking more than a little scorched herself. Goryal waved from her back, while miryhls and Riders hunted down the last few remaining kaz-naghkt that hadn’t been taken out by Rhiddyl’s phenomenal strike.
Out over the Cloud Sea, Reglian was still bellowing and rampaging amongst the pirate ships, which seemed noticeably fewer in number.
“Whatever makes them happy,” Mhysra said, and cuddled Cumulo some more.
Overhead, a pair of fleeing kaz-naghkt burst into flames.
JAYMES WAS IN agony, but by the gods it was worth it. Emberbright and Argon made a superb team; the miryhl sweeping down on knots of attacking kaz-naghkt and the dragonet setting them on fire. He didn’t know how she was doing it, all he cared was that she could – and with such precision.
Even if his skin did feel as though it was melting into her scales.
As if Emberbright’s hitherto unforeseen skills weren’t enough, he’d also been privileged enough to see Rhiddyl in action. Oh, he’d seen her fight another dragon before, but that had been different. This was astonishing. The accuracy of her lightning was almost inconceivable. Jaymes had seen it snake around four or five miryhls to get at the kaz-naghkt tangled behind them. He’d seen one strike shoot underneath a Rider’s outstretched arm, leaving little more than a faint scorch stain on the man’s coat. All of it in an eye blink.
Maegla, he was glad the dragons were on their side.
Emberbright snarled and Jaymes looked up as two more kaz-naghkt blossomed into flames.
The dragonet in his arms chortled. “Fun!”
Smiling through his pain, Jaymes agreed with a nod.
A sharp whistle drew his attention downwards, and he blinked in surprise at the Cathedral of Maegla, seen from above. Even more astonishing was the group of Riders and miryhls roosting there. Argon circled the spire once and landed beside the sooty, panting Latinym. Hurricane was bleeding and Cumulo looked like he’d been playing with fire again.
Then his friends were there, horror on their faces, concern in their voices. Emberbright chittered, too pleased with herself to accept a scold, while Jaymes smiled vacantly. He felt like he was still flying.
“We need Goryal,” he heard someone mutter. “Where’s Corin? Corin!”
“Corin,” Emberbright murmured sleepily into his mind. “Fought alone. Skybreeze will sulk.” Her throaty chuckle had Jaymes chuckling too.
Then he slithered off Argon’s back into blissful unconsciousness.
~ Next Chapter ~
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