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~ Previous Chapter ~
And now the end is here
And as we face the final chapter…
Blah, blah, blah
We did it Mhysra’s Way!
WHENEVER MHYSRA LOOKED back, she could never remember much about the journey from World’s End. Part of that was because of the pain she continued to struggle with, part of it was down to the shock of all that had happened. A lot of it was lost to worry about Cumulo, Lyrai and the others, but a grey fog covered most of those days.
They were a battered and ragged bunch that stumbled out from beneath the mountain in the arms of the various dragons. Although the dragons had proven next to useless in all the important battles, there was no denying that they were handy to have around when it came to getting home.
The Riders’ injury count was severe. Derrain had cracked parts of his barely healed spine, Mhysra’s pelvis still wasn’t right, Lyrai was burned over most of his body, Stirla had lost an eye and Jaymes had almost lost a hand. The miryhls weren’t much better, with Hurricane having broken a wing, Cumulo half-plucked and scarred all over. Atyrn was limping heavily on her right side, while Zephyr and Argon both bore hefty bandages over fresh scars. Only Dhori, Latinym, Emberbright, the surviving kaz-naghkt babies and the dragons came through without any need for attention, and even they had plenty of cuts and bruises to show for their days beneath World’s End.
Tucked into the secure hold of the three large dragons, they made a pitiful sight as they flew away from the cursed mountains as Yullik’s fortress collapsed in on itself in one last ground-shuddering rumble. The next Mhysra remembered she was back on the Illuminai, being hugged by her mother, who seemed genuinely pleased to see her for the first time in Mhysra’s memory.
Then she slept. They all did. While the Illuminai travelled across Etheria, stopping at Kaskad for supplies, Mhysra and her rescuers rested, oblivious to the world, not even stirring until long after they’d set out for Aquila.
Even then Mhysra’s recollection of what followed was hazy. Goryal featured frequently as they did as much healing as they possibly could, stretching their power between their many patients. They mostly did that by making them all sleep. Mhysra didn’t mind. Whenever she woke it was to find Derrain in a bed on one side of her, Lyrai on the other. Cumulo and Hurricane were stretched in front of her, the eyries having been transformed into a temporary infirmary so that the lot of them could keep an eye on each other. Her last two kaz-naghkt babies were there too, and when she was awake enough to think, she worried about what would happen to them. They might well be the last of their species and she felt responsible for their fate.
Then sleep would roll in again and she’d drift in dreamless darkness, resting, healing and travelling steadily eastwards, crossing the clouds towards home.
They reached Aquila in the pouring rain, thunder and lightning heralding their arrival in an unhelpful display of Maegla’s approval.
“Dhori,” Mhysra grumbled as she was shifted onto a stretcher to transport her from ship to citadel. “Can’t you have a word with your mother?”
“Shush,” her friend chuckled in her ear as he helped carry her onto the top deck, where Rhiddyl was waiting. “That’s supposed to be a secret, remember?”
“I ‘member,” she sighed, and slipped back into sleep, mercifully missing the bit where Rhiddyl carried her to Aquila and a team of helpful Riders moved her up through the corridors towards the new infirmary.
The next time she opened her eyes, she was staring at a white ceiling. The sound of rain filtered in through the nearest window, thrown open to allow a cool breeze to waft inside. Blinking, she used her arms to push up against her pillows, wincing at the familiar twinges of pain down her back and into her hips.
Rapid footsteps approached and she looked up, breaking into a smile at the thin figure hurrying towards her. “Mouse!” She took in his pristine uniform and the unmistakable green band around his upper arm. “I mean, Head Healer Mouse,” she corrected herself.
“Head Healer Morri actually,” her old friend said, smiling as he looked her over. He tickled her feet to check for sensation, looked into her eyes and checked her temperature before finally sitting on the bed. A green glow gathered around his hand as he carefully peeled back her blanket and placed his palm against her hip.
She stared at it, blinking, and Mouse-Morri smiled. “I hear you’ve been having adventures.”
She looked at his crooked smile and smiled wryly herself. “As have you.”
They shared a commiserating look and Mhysra found it almost impossible to believe this calm, competent healer was the same twitchy boy she’d met so long ago on the first day of the selection school. He looked well, if a little tired and a lot older, and there was no denying the welcome relief his green glowing magic brought her aching bones.
When he was finished, he tucked her blanket back into place and reached under her bed, placing a fresh honey cake on her lap. “Happy birthday, Mhysra.”
That’s when all her friends, most of them still confined to their sick beds, sat up and yelled, “Surprise!”
Through startled, blurry eyes, she looked around at all the people who meant so very much to her, wounded miryhls included, and shook her head. She was nineteen years old today, but she’d grown up more in the last three years than all the previous ones combined. She wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else.
Finding Lyrai sitting on her bed, she took his face between her hands and kissed him through her tears. He laughed and raised the honey cake to her lips, darting in to share the taste. And even though he was covered in bandages, with his left arm bound in a sling, he had never been more handsome.
“Welcome home, Mhysra.”
“Welcome home, Lyrai.” She smiled, looking at her dearest friends in the place she loved more than any other in the Overworld, and knew it was true.
They were home.
Yullik was dead, the kaz-naghkt were defeated, the war was over. Aquila was theirs once more. They’d won. It was time to celebrate.
“Bring wine and cakes!” she shouted, to a roar of general approval, and knew that no matter what happened next, she would never have to face it alone. Whatever it was, big drama or small, she would survive, because she and her friends were strong.
Rift Riders brave and true.
“Aquila is proud,” she whispered beneath the general hub of merriment, and laughed as an overgrow nakhound pup landed on her bed to wash her face. No sooner had she fended off Bumble’s enthusiastic welcome then the kaz-naghkt babies arrived, with Cumulo hot on their tails, each one eager to claim their jealous share of her attention. All the while Lyrai tried to keep hold of her hand, staking his own claim, making her laugh.
Love, friends, wine and cake? What more could she possibly ask for?
Oh, yes, she was definitely home. Thank Maegla.
THANK YOU so much for reading World’s End, the sixth and final novel in the Wingborn series. I hope you liked it.
The ebook version should be available to buy in May, along with a short novel follow-up that is a sort-of extended epilogue dealing solely with all the romantic loose ends. The main plot finishes here, but if you’re not ready to leave this bunch yet, look out for the Aftermath ebook in May.
If you can’t wait that long, it’s being serialised exclusively right now on my Patreon page. I won’t be serialising it anywhere else. Not here, not Wattpad. You don’t have to read it to complete the series, it was a purely self-indulgent exercise on my behalf because I wasn’t ready to let everyone go yet.
Not that you have to, because I will be serialising Misfits of Aquila for free towards the end of the year, in which pretty much all the surviving Rider characters will appear, some in passing, some more extensively. But if you can’t get the ebook or join the Patreon, you will be able to catch up with them there.
Before all that I’ll be back with a different book and a different world some time in June or July with a new serial, The Mages of Royas Bay. I’ll also be releasing the final two Dragonlands books at some point in between.
But that’s all to come later. For now, thank you so much for reading!
Take care, my lovelies xx