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~ Previous Chapter ~
Only four updates to go. The end is nigh!
MHYSRA COULDN’T WATCH. Lyrai and Yullik were fighting on one side, while Cumulo had emerged from the kaz-naghkt on the other. Perched on the top of the slope with Derrain and Hurricane, there was nothing she could do except watch as the people she loved most on the Overworld threw themselves into danger.
Her heart tried to beat its way out of her chest with surprise and relief when Cumulo came up fighting. She’d honestly thought him lost forever, and though he looked awful, half-plucked and bleeding all over, she’d never thought him more beautiful. Emberbright was with him, burning and shrieking, along with the other Riders and miryhls. They were heavily outnumbered, but she knew they would prevail. Rift Riders always did.
Except when Yullik ses-Khennik was involved, she reminded herself, shivering as she watched Lyrai and Yullik circling each other. Blue runes flashed up and down Lyrai’s sword, only visible when they’d tasted this enemy’s blood. It made her wonder where the sword had come from and how old it was. More than that, she thanked Maegla for it, because when Lyrai was lucky enough to get a strike in, Yullik bled. Not like a kaz-naghkt or a dragon, briefly and quickly healed, like a human, freely and fiercely, weakening the rest of the body.
Heart thumping, she edged slowly down the slope, getting closer to the fight, wishing there was something she could do. Yullik was clearly toying with Lyrai, going far slower than she knew he could and using a mere fraction of his strength.
Then he formed two swords and began burning Lyrai up, piece by piece. She pressed her hands against her mouth, muffling her instinctive cries at each strike. They had to hurt. Gods. She knew all about pain from this man’s hand, but at least he’d never burned her.
Reaching the bottom of the slope, she watched as Lyrai scored a strike across Yullik’s chest, opening up another line of black blood that seeped out to stain his golden skin. Yet no matter how many times Lyrai bled him, Yullik showed no signs of stopping. He was too powerful.
She wished she had a weapon, a rock, something, anything to throw at him, to distract him just for a moment. To defeat him once and for all.
Clenching her fists against the cold rocks beneath her, she turned and found Derrain sitting behind her, a grimace of pain on his face – and a dagger in his hand.
She didn’t need to say anything, simply held out her hand. He gave it to her.
Leaning across, she kissed his cheek for luck, then began crawling over the fallen kaz-naghkt bodies, silently listing all those she’d loved and lost to this monster, starting with Kilai and Cirrus and ending with Tenacity, Victor and Triumph. He had taken so much from her, but he wouldn’t take this.
He wouldn’t take Lyrai.
She saw him stumble, her beloved lieutenant, a fresh burn livid across his face. Lyrai landed on his knees and Yullik grabbed him by the hair, etching a killing line down his chest.
No. Not this time.
Mhysra gathered her strength, gripped the dagger in her hand and lunged, plunging the blade into the first bit of Yullik she reached.
The metal sank into his back with surprising ease. Gold light flashed, racing up the blade into her arm – and then she screamed.
* * *
YULLIK FELT THE moment victory slipped once more from his grasp. A flash of fire sank into his kidney, pulling him backwards. His power pulsed, sucking his flaming sword back inside as he screamed with pain and rage.
The Wingborn. It was the Wingborn again. She had betrayed him. Again. He lashed out, twisting around, his power forming into a whip of fire, ready to wrap around her traitorous neck.
And paused, gasping, as the Eagle’s Blade touched his heart.
* * *
LYRAI OPENED HIS eyes, blinking through tears of pain and saw Mhysra fall backwards, Yullik blazing as he turned on her.
Lyrai lunged upwards, sword first, sliding into Yullik’s back as he turned.
The blue runes blazed in violent life and the whole blade flashed. The gold of Yullik’s magic raced down to meet it, colliding and racing up Lyrai’s arm in a burning burst of agony.
Crying out, he fell, cradling his sword arm against his chest as Yullik fell to his knees, blood dripping from his gasping mouth. The stricken man tried to reach back to pull the blade out, but stopped with an agonised cry. He was stuck, unable to save himself, unable to die, unless someone twisted the sword.
“Lyrai!” Mhysra crawled to him, eyes wide, hand hovering as she searched for a place to touch him that wouldn’t hurt.
Everything hurt, and Lyrai didn’t care about more pain. He pulled her hand to his face, pressing it firmly against him when she tried to pull away. He needed her coolness against the heat. He needed her here. Gods, he needed them all here, to know that they’d survived.
“Mhysra,” he whispered, raising his lips.
“Gods, Lyrai, look at you.”
He was exceedingly glad that he couldn’t; he preferred looking at her anyway. “Kiss me.”
She sniffled a startled laugh through her tears and carefully lowered her face until her lips rested softly against his. She tasted of salt, exhaustion and perfection. He sighed as she pulled away and closed his eyes.
“A Rift Rider is never alone,” he murmured, smiling, and surrendered to the blackness that lurked beneath his pain.
More on Sunday.
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