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~ Previous Chapter ~
One week to go!
MHYSRA BENT OVER Lyrai as his body went limp, blessed unconsciousness sweeping in to claim him. Sniffing back her tears, she looked up and saw the rest of her friends busily mopping up the last of the kaz-naghkt. She glanced over her shoulder.
Yullik knelt bleeding and alone, watched over by a fierce-eyed Hurricane as Derrain dragged himself towards Mhysra and Lyrai.
“What do we do?” Derrain asked, eyes wide as he took in Lyrai’s injuries.
“We finish it,” she said, catching her best-friend’s shoulder when he turned as if to take care of Yullik himself. No. This was her task to complete.
She crawled back to Yullik, author of so many of the Overworld’s disasters, creator of kaz-naghkt, destroyer of Aquila, murder of Kilai and Corin and too many others to name.
And Wingborn. The only other one she’d met.
She crawled in front of him and waited until he raised barley pale eyes to meet hers. Gone was the golden light, fled was his power. He had never looked more human – or broken. She stared into those pale eyes and wondered what would have happened had he been allowed to just live. If his parents had been given time and peace to raise him. If he and his Wingborn had been allowed to grow up together, to learn to fly and laugh and be. If he’d been given a time of innocence and happiness. Instead of having it all ripped apart by torture and cruelty.
What wonders might he have produced if he’d only been left alone?
Instead he’d created horrors because horror was all he’d known.
He pushed himself back on his heels and straightened up, grimacing at the sword jostled against his heart. Black blood dribbled from the corner of his mouth, joining the cuts across his chest.
Before he could speak, before he could sneer or drive her away with words, she reached out and touched his face. “I’m sorry.”
He blinked, pale eyes momentarily lost, like the little boy she imagined he once had been, waiting patiently for his parents to return, knowing deep down that they were already gone. Taken. Murdered. Because of him.
He swallowed. “As am I. I…” He paused and drew in a slow, deep breath, closing his eyes as a tear squeezed free. “I am… sorry. I didn’t mean for Kilai to die. I… didn’t mean to kill your friend. The little dragongift. I… didn’t mean to do most of it. I was just… I was just… so… angry.”
“I know.” And she did, because she would have burned the world down had they ever taken Cumulo from her. She didn’t forgive him, could never forgive him, but she understood. “Nisha is waiting.”
He smiled, gaze going distant as if he could already see his Wingborn waiting to greet him as soon as he crossed from this world to the lands of Typhaestus. He blinked and focused on her once more.
“Don’t ever outlive your Wingborn, Mhysra,” he said, licking the blood from the corner of his mouth. “It isn’t worth it. The pain… oh… oh… gods.” He shut his eyes, head dropping back, the glowing tip of Lyrai’s sword sliding out through the front of his chest. “End it. Please.”
Nodding, she stumbled to her feet. Her aching body protested and she would have fallen, but a strong hand gripped her elbow, keeping her standing. She recognised Dhori through her tears and accepted his help as she walked behind Yullik. As she sank to her knees again, she brushed a kiss across his sweating forehead.
She wrapped her fingers around the eagle-headed hilt and tightened her grip. “Fly fast, fly free, Yullik ses-Khennik.”
Then she wrenched it hard, twisting the sword inside his chest.
Yullik jerked, mouth open in a last cry, “Nisha!”
The scourge of the Overworld slumped face down amongst the kaz-naghkt. Dead. Finally.
Exhausted, Mhysra could only stare at the empty shell of what had once been so very dangerous, barely reacting as her friends swept around her, gathering up their wounded and carrying them clear of the carnage.
When Dhori came back and gripped her elbow again, she staggered to her feet, leaning against him as he helped shift her over to where Cumulo was waiting, along with Glory and Ferocity, the last survivors of her kaz-naghkt babies. Tears dripped down her face, but she felt numb, staring at where Yullik lay, unlamented and forgotten.
When a rattle sounded above, she lifted her head. Even as her friends scrambled for weapons, cursing their injuries, she only waited. If death was coming, so be it. They’d been through so much, fought so hard, but she was tired. Yullik was dead. The fight was over. She was done.
It wasn’t kaz-naghkt who came crawling through the hole in the ceiling, it was the dragons.
Arguing with each other and issuing apologies, the only thing Mhysra really welcomed from them was Goryal’s healing abilities. They could look after Hurricane, Lyrai, Cumulo, Stirla and Argon, and possibly even reattach Jaymes’ mostly severed hand. It was the least they could do, after leaving them to fight Yullik on their own. Again.
Tired of it all, Mhysra cuddled her remaining kaz-naghkt babies close, curled up against Cumulo’s bloodied chest, and shut her eyes. Tomorrow she could deal with her anger. Tomorrow she could deal with her grief. Tomorrow she could deal with… everything.
For now she had her Wingborn, her babies and her friends. For now she was not alone.
For now it was enough.
~ Next Chapter ~