Elemental Heir : Book 1 Of The Elemental Heir Series

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Chapter 70

I am sure I’m a bird.
I’m absolutely certain of this.
So why, why, why...
Why can’t I fly?

I am a speck in the sky, a tiny mass of bright feathers and song and joy.
I flap my wings with all my might,
But I stay in place.

I cannot move forward, or up, or down, or side to side.
I am stuck.
I am flying in place.
In limbo.

I try and I try and I try,
And only when I begin to panic do I realize
I AM moving.
I’m moving backward.
I am being sucked into a vortex that looms behind me, swirling and daunting, and filled with uncertainty.
I don’t want to be sucked in.

I push my wings as hard as I can, desperate now, desperate to escape this rotating pit that threatens to swallow me whole.
But it’s no use.

Back, back, back I go.
Until the mouth of the darkness consumes me.
And I’m not a bird anymore.

I’m flying, flailing, careening through the vortex, unsure of which way is up, or down. I don’t know where, or who, or even what I am anymore.

And then...

I slide back into the shell from which I came.
Somehow, somewhere, I know that this shell used to be my body. It used to be my temple, my sacred home, my silent companion.

I slide into it, feeling disgusted as my soul is forced into the confines of this limited prison that I used to find such solace in.

It feels like putting on wet clothes, like pouring ice cold water on my head. It feels wrong and so, so uncomfortable after knowing the pleasure of being free. I hate it. I want to go back...

It hurts here.
It hurts so much.
Why couldn’t I just be a bird?

I gasped, my eyes flying open as I jerked upward and into a sitting position. I blinked the confusion and sleep from of my eyes, the torches in the room too bright, as I glanced around myself.

Where am I? How did I get here?

I felt strange... Not only because of my disoriented state, but also because my body felt odd. I could feel magic coursing through my veins, power so strong it was overwhelming. It felt as if it was going to burst out of my skin.

It made me shiver uncontrollably. It was like chewing on cotton, or tin foil. Like scratching your nails down a chalkboard. It was unbearable.

The only thing distracting me from the uncomfortable sensation was the confusion filling my mind as I stared around the room.

Am I in the infirmary?

My eyes adjusted to the light and fell upon two shapes near the right corner of the room. Shock and terror had my body flinging itself from the bed before my mind had a chance to catch up.

I ran, my bare feet slapping the stone floors, and fell to my knees beside Andromeda and Torryn. The motion was so panicked, so clumsy, that my knees sung with pain as they slammed into the hard floor. But I didn’t care.

They were both unconscious. Torryn had a cut slicing through his left eyebrow, which produced a bright, ruby red trail of blood down his face. A minor injury. Both of their chests rose and fell softly. They were alive. Relief crashed over me, warm and welcome and...


What the hell is going on?

“Andi?” I whispered, gripping her slim shoulders and shaking her lightly. She did not stir. I turned to her golden haired mate and cupped his face, slapping his cheek a few times. “Torryn!”

No response.

“Oh gods, what has happened?” I asked no one, my voice trembling.

A flash image of the island crossed my mind, setting fire to my thoughts. The last thing I remembered was tearing the rune from the roof of the tower.

And then...

The monster. It was coming right at us. It had risen from the sea, covered in emerald scales and three times as big as any dragon I had ever seen. Each one of it's teeth had been as big as me. It was going to devour us whole... and I thought it had succeeded. I thought I had died. I was in that place... The meadow... The bird. Was it all a dream?

Where is Dristan?

I turned, my eyes searching for some sort of clue as to what had happened. Searching for him.

“Sylvie!” I choked, scrambling across the floor to her side. She was lying to my left, face down. I turned her body carefully, stroking her face. She was breathing.

I turned again.

Warrick, Aella and Marrok were also here, unconscious and piled together in the opposite corner of the room. I stumbled to them, checking their injuries. They were alive, but why were they all unconscious? What on earth had happened here?

A gruff, pained cough sounded near the door of the infirmary. I stood and whipped around, crouching defensively in front of my friends.

I instantly straightened my spine when I realized the sound had come from the one person I wanted to see more than anyone else in the world. I nearly screamed with relief.

Dristan was laying on his back, his wings battered, dusty and crumpled beneath his weight. He groaned, arching his back, and then sat up slowly. He cradled his head in his hands briefly, then brought his hands in front of his face. They were shining with blood.

I didn’t need to see the thick, red substance to know he was injured and bleeding. I could smell it. I would know the scent of his blood from a hundred miles away.

I took a slow, unsteady step in his direction. I lifted a hand, trying to ignore the way it trembled like a leaf in an autumn breeze. “Dristan.”

His head snapped up. I watched as several emotions passed through his bloodshot eyes. Shock. Relief. Fear. Love. Despair. More relief.

“You’re hurt.” My voice broke as I moved across the room to him. His eyes never left mine as I dropped to my knees in front of him and took his face between my hands.

His dark hair was wet with blood on the entire left side of his head. It was trailing down his neck and was beginning to soak through the shoulder of his shirt.

“Oh gods, what happened?” I choked, trying to pull his head down so I could examine the wound. But he wouldn’t budge, wouldn’t move his head, wouldn’t stop staring at me with those big, much too blue eyes.

I stopped yanking on him and examined his face. His eyes were haunting. Tortured... His lips parted as I stroked the pad of my thumb over his bottom lip, scrutinizing the ghosts in his eyes as I did. I could hear his sharp intake of breath.

And then, I was wrapped up in his arms. He pulled me into his lap, burying his face in my tangled hair, and I was on fire with the heat of him. His blood soaked into my clothes as I wrapped my arms around him and pulled myself closer.

He groaned again, but it wasn’t like the sound of physical pain he’d made a few moments ago. It was a groan of immense, emotional relief. I could feel it through the bond, could feel his anguish, his fear, his joy, as he held me to him.

“Oh, gods...” He gasped brokenly. I could feel hot tears against my neck. I could smell the salt.

“Shh,” I whispered, kissing his cheeks, his eyes, his nose, his lips. “Everything is alright.”

He tangled his hands into my hair and pulled back to look into my eyes. “You’re alive.” He said in wonder. “You’re alive.”

He kissed me, his lips searing. He pressed his forehead against mine. “You were... Your heart stopped... You were...”

“Dristan,” I said gently, “I’m okay... I’m okay. Please, tell me what happened. How did I get here? Why is everyone passed out? Why are you bleeding?”

He glanced around the room, seeming to remember there were others here with us. “Shit” He rasped.

“What happened?” I repeated.

He turned to me, his hands still in my hair. “We brought you back.”

My jaw fell open slightly. “Brought me back?” I whispered.

“You were...” His eyes glazed over with fresh pain before he screwed them shut. “You were dead.”

The bird. It wasn’t a dream.

Ice filled my veins. “But... How could you bring me back?”

He released his hold on my hair, but made no move to let go of me yet. “Aella... She had been trying to heal you, but the damage was too deep inside of you. You... You were slipping away... Your heart stopped... And the only way to bring you back was for all of us to lend you some of our own magic. We had to refill yours so you would have enough strength to survive.”

They gave me their power? That must’ve been why I’d woken feeling so strong. Painfully strong.

“She warned us that it was dangerous. If we gave you too much, we could be killed in the process. It was very painful... The most intense pain I’ve ever felt. But it worked.” He studied my face. “It worked.”

My breath hitched in my throat. “Oh...”

“You’re alright, now.” He said.

I tried to smile, but my skin was beginning to feel like it was covered in tiny bugs. The uncomfortable sensation of magical overload was becoming more and more noticeable in my body. “Dristan, I feel strange.”

His hands were immediately on my face. “What is it?”

“I-I don’t know.” I whispered. “I just... I feel overwhelmed. I feel like my body is going to break apart and all of this power is going to explode out of me.” I rubbed at my arms. “I-I don’t like it.”

He sighed, his face visibly relaxing. “It’s probably just the after effects of receiving all of our power. I’m sure it will fade.”

I nodded, but my anxiety didn’t lessen. “You’re probably right.."

He smiled, but worry grew behind his eyes. He must've spent a great deal of time worrying over me. He thought I had died. Gods, no wonder he looked like hell. My heart constricted as I gazed at him. I pulled him to me and pressed my lips to his.

I couldn't bear the idea of him spending another moment worrying for me, so I decided to change the subject. "We need to help the others. And I need to stitch that wound on your head.”

The moonlight bathed me in a silver glow as I sat on the patio, turning the seashell over and over again in my hands. I could hear the water running from inside as Dristan showered.

It had been a long day. It took the others longer to wake than it had taken Dristan. Probably because he was the strongest. He had fussed like an adolescent while I stitched his head wound, muttering about how he “wasn’t a child”, and so on. Warrick and Torryn sure got a laugh out of it, until I made them sit down and have their wounds stitched as well.

I was just glad everyone was alive. The gods has blessed us.

The doctor had ordered plenty of rest for everyone tonight, until their magic refilled. As for me, he'd said that I was perfectly healthy. He assured me I was fine, even when I tried to explain the uncomfortable sensation of the magical overload in my body. He told me I just needed to let some of it out.

So I had.

I had flown around the perimeter of the Aviary several times today, using my magic to manipulate the air around me. I had gone to the training rooms and blasted fire from my fingertips for almost an hour straight. I had teleported myself silly, just for the hell of it.

But the feeling of overwhelming power in my limbs would not lessen. I tried not to worry about it too much, despite the chills that occasionally ran up my spine. I would try to ignore it for now. I was probably just being paranoid.

Besides, I didn’t want to worry Dristan. He had been through enough lately. I cringed the entire time he’d explained to me what happened on the island. How he’d rushed me home and how I’d nearly died in front of his eyes. I didn’t think I could feel worse until he explained that the “monster” I had seen rise out of the water, threatening to swallow us whole, had just been another illusion from the Sirens.

I had expected him to be so angry with me. I had expected him to scream, shout, throw things. But he didn’t do any of that. He was just glad that I was alive. It almost made me feel worse. He had been, however, very hostile towards Aella. I felt guilty for that, felt sorry for her. I was just as much to blame.

But she didn’t seem to mind. In fact, she didn’t even seem to notice.

I ran my fingers over the deep groves of the shell, marveling at the way the moonlight sparkled off its iridescent surface. I hadn’t opened it yet. Hadn’t touched the water rune yet...

This was it. The final rune. This was the last puzzle piece I needed in order to perform the portal spell and send the king and his armies away. I had found all the runes, at last. A task that seemed impossible not so long ago. How far I had come since then...

I had grown so much. Learned so much... Changed so much. I was stronger, now. More sure of myself than I had ever been in my life. I knew how to use my body as a weapon. I was in better control of my emotions, but I still had a long way to go in that regard. I had made difficult decisions, let people down, given people hope... I wasn’t a frightened, lost “human” girl forced into a life I never wanted anymore.

I was strong, and fierce, hardened by true danger and trauma. I was wiser, braver, more experienced in almost everything. I had built friendships stronger than any I’d ever known before. I had found a love so powerful it still sometimes consumed me. I had faced death, and betrayal, and monsters I’d once thought were nothing but bedtime stories.

I wanted things, now. Things that were far, far bigger than myself. Things that would’ve frightened the old me. Things the old me would have never understood.

I had come so far...

“Are you just going to stare at it all night?”

I jumped slightly at the sound of his voice behind me. I had been so deep in thought that I hadn’t even noticed the shower turning off. I turned and found him standing in the doorway, a white towel tucked around his hips.

My mouth salivated at the sight of him. The water droplets on his chest and abdomen sparkled in the moonlight like tiny diamonds. His hair was damp, tousled in the towel dried way that I loved.

My eyes lifted to his. “Maybe I’ll stare at you, instead.”

He smirked. “I wouldn’t blame you.”

“How modest.” I snorted, turning forward again. I gazed at the shell, feeling nervous. I wasn’t sure why I hadn’t opened it yet...

I listened to his quiet steps as he came to sit by my side. He smelled divine. “Are you feeling any better, love?” He asked gently.

I shrugged. “I’m alright...” It wasn’t a direct answer, so it wasn’t really a lie.

“I can feel your unease.” He reminded me, lifting a brow.

“Well, I did come back from the dead today.”



“No.” He cut me off, taking my hand. “No more keeping me in the dark. Tell me what’s wrong.”

I winced. He was playing the guilt card, and I hated it. But he was my partner, the person I could confide in above all others. And he was right. I shouldn’t keep him in the dark. Still...

“I don’t want to worry you.” I whispered, looking up at him.

His eyes softened as he studied my face. “You know I’ll worry anyway. And if you don’t talk to me, I’ll assume the worst.”

I took a deep breath. Exhaled. “I still feel strange. I tried to let some of my power out, to relieve the build up, but it didn’t help. It’s driving me crazy...”

His brows furrowed. “I can feel your discomfort through the bond, but I can’t sense it fully. Tell me what it feels like.”

I shivered and pulled my hand from his as another chill crept up my spine. I buried my face in my hands as the sensation peaked, and passed. I sighed a breath of relief as it did. “It feels... Like I’ve had fifteen cups of coffee. It feels like I can’t relax, like I just need to scream, or run a thousand miles, or just... Explode. I don’t know.”

He frowned. “I’m sure it will pass. The doctor said-”

“The doctor said to release some of it.” I said, throwing my hands up in frustration. “I’ve done that, and so much more. I’ve been projecting my magic all day, Dristan. It’s not improved at all. How do we know it will pass? How many people have been brought back from the dead like this?”

His mouth pressed into a hard line. He was silent for a few heartbeats. “I don’t know... We should talk to Aella about it tomorrow if it’s not better.”

I nodded, biting my lip nervously. “Okay...”

“Stop doing that.” He growled softly, grabbing my chin and pulling down, freeing my lower lip.

I couldn’t help the grin that graced my lips. “Sorry.”

He smiled back, shaking his head, and then his eyes grew more serious. “I wanted to ask you something.”

“Ask me what?” My smile faltered at the intensity in his ocean eyes.

He turned away a moment, gazing out toward the mountains. His eyes glittered in the darkness, mirroring the night sky. “These times are dangerous...” He said mournfully. “And were about to face the worst of it. Countless times... Countless times, I’ve nearly lost you.”

I gazed at the side of his face as he voiced his thoughts. I thought of all the times I’d nearly died... I thought of all the times I’d nearly lost him, too. I felt my jaw clench reflexively as I thought of what was soon to come.

“I was angry when you left with Aella.”

Oh, no...

I felt my muscles tense further and I closed my eyes. This was what I’d been dreading. I knew he would be angry. I knew I couldn’t have gotten off that easy. I prepared myself for his scolding, prepared myself for the guilt.

“You are your own person, Brenya, and you did what you believed was best for the people. But it cut me deeply that you left without telling me. You took a reckless risk, a stupid one, and it almost killed you.”

I cringed.

“But what you did... Was the bravest thing I’ve ever witnessed anyone do. You’re love for the people has grown stronger than your sense of self... And I know I can’t change that. I don’t want to... You’ve made me incredibly proud, despite my anger and fear for your safety.” He said.

My mouth popped open silently as he stared out toward the sky. Shock and pleasure warmed my cheeks as my throat grew thick with emotion. This was not what I had been expecting him to say.

“I will never be happy with you risking your life... But I can’t make those decisions for you. I can try, but you’ll always find a way around me. You’re clever, that way...” He smiled to himself as he paused. “We are immortal... Yet, we keep facing the threat of death. It keeps coming back, as if it’s looking for us... It’s a cruel irony, isn’t it? How invincible we seem, and yet, how easily we can be killed.” He turned to me, his expression serious.

I swallowed, staring into his smoldering eyes. I couldn’t find my voice.

He smiled, almost sadly, but it was brief. He looked away again. “Even for us, seemingly immortal beings, life can be short. Nothing is promised...”

He laced his fingers with mine and planted two, tender kisses on the back of my knuckles. “Which is why I’ve been thinking of how important it is to seize the day.”

“How so?” I breathed, distracted by the pleasant, warm pull that was unfurling in my lower belly. Would his touch ever stop affecting me so strongly?

“We haven’t set a date to be married.” He said, watching me carefully from beneath his feathery lashes. “And I wondered... In light of our not so immortal lives about to be on the line again... If you would object to marrying me sooner rather than later.”

He studied me as I blinked stupidly at him, stunned, my lips still gaping at the air like a dying fish. “Really?” I finally managed to say. “It means that much to you?”

He looked almost dejected and I immediately regretted my choice of words. He had taken my response the wrong way. “Yes,” He said. “It does... But we can wait, if you’re-”

“No!” I blurted, gasping. “No, I didn’t mean that I don’t want to!” I took his face between my hands and pressed my forehead to his, laughing softly. “Of course I do. I’m just... Surprised. I didn’t realize it was so important to you, that’s all.”

His brow creased as his hand trailed up my forearm. He stared intently into my eyes, his face so close, his lips only an inch away. “Of course it is.” He whispered. “I don’t want to face the possibility of death again without knowing I have bound myself to you in every way possible. There is nothing more important to me than you."

I felt a hot tear slipped down my cheek. “No one is going to die.” I said, my voice breaking softly.

“Is that a no, then?”

“It’s a yes.” I kissed him, laughing. “But only if you stop talking about all this...” I waved a hand. “Doom and gloom, nonsense.”

Strong arms pulled me into his lap as the sound of his deep laughter echoed around us. “You drive a hard bargain, mate. But I think I can manage.”

"Good." I smiled into his neck.

"So, when will it be? Tomorrow? Two days from now?"

"I'll marry you right this second, if it will make you happy." I whispered into his hear.

He kissed me again, chastely, at first. But when he felt the fire growing inside of me, spreading through my veins like wildfire, he deepened the kiss. He pulled me to him, molding every inch of my body to his.

And soon, we weren’t just kissing.

We were making love beneath the stars. Cherishing each other. Savoring the moment...

Seizing the day.

“I still can’t believe you left like that, without telling anyone.” Andromeda said, crossing her arms as she sat across from me at the council table.

She had been angry with me yesterday, after she’d woken up, and apparently, she was still angry with me today. I smiled at her apologetically, but it was no use. She flipped her long, caramel colored hair over her shoulder and turned her face away.

I pouted, knowing she couldn't see my face.

I sighed, and my eyes flicked to her left, landing on Torryn. He also disapproved of what I had done, but he was less vocal about it. I was a bit unnerved by the way he kept staring at me, as if I were a three headed unicorn or some such beast.

I couldn’t blame him, though. His experience with Sirens was nothing short of incredibly personal. The fact that I’d survived seemed to surprise him more than the fact that I’d left for the island in the middle of the night. Perhaps he was angry that I’d survived... Not because he wanted me to die, but because his brother had not been so fortunate. It was only a theory, but still, the thought had be blushing scarlet. I looked away.

“Where are Sylvie and Marrok?” I asked Dristan.

He gazed at me, lounging in his chair at the head of the table. “They are informing the wolves of the portal spell plan. Preparing them for what is to come.”

“And where is Aella?” I asked.

He grimaced. “I asked her to refrain from annoying me with her presence for the time being.”

I rolled my eyes, but decided to let it go. “Have you already informed the other soldiers? The Dragon and the Fae?” I asked eagerly.

“They have been briefed, but not in detail. They know that our goal is to open the portal before any actual fighting begins. Some of them were pleased, but most of them were disappointed. They were looking forward to the bloodshed.” He laughed bitterly.

I frowned. Men...

“Have you decided when the battle is going to happen, then?” Andi asked, still not looking at me. Stubborn mule... I was contemplating taking my sandal off and chucking it at her head.

“Not exactly.” Dristan said, leaning forward. “But we shouldn’t wait long. A few days, at most. We will need remain undetected while we set the portal trap, first... Keep our soldiers hidden in the skies... I think the element of surprise is the best strategy. We’ll set the trap, show up at their gates, declare war... Lure them out...”

“And then send them into oblivion.” I finished for him, smirking from across the table.

He grinned back. “Precisely.”

“Don’t you think we should test the spell, first?” Torryn interjected, leaning an elbow on the table.

“I was thinking the same thing.” Warrick said from my right.

I cringed. “Actually...”

Everyone turned to look at me. Dristan tried to give me a reassuring smile, but it seemed to get caught on his lips. He already knew the predicament we were in, but we hadn’t told the others yet.

“What?” Warrick said, narrowing his eyes.

“Well...” I fiddled with an invisible piece of lint on my sleeve. “I was going over the spell last night, and I realized that, er...”

“Spit it out.” Warrick pressed.

I sighed. “Once the runes are placed, the spell chanted, and the portal is opened, the runes are sort of... er, destroyed in the process.”

Everyone was silent.

“The portal is supposed to stay open for thirty seconds, and then it closes again. Once it closes, the runes are destroyed. The spell can only be preformed once.” I added quickly. “And...” I chewed my lip. “There is no mention of the elemental runes in the Rune Book of Shadows. There is no record on how to create them...”

There. I’d said it. It was all out in the open.

I waited exactly seventeen breaths.

“So, you’re saying....” Andi said calmly. “That we have no way of knowing if this spell is even going to work?”

“It will work.” Dristan said.

“What if it doesn’t?” Andi snapped. “What if it doesn’t work, and all of our soldiers are slaughtered?”

“That won’t happen.” I said loudly.

Andi finally looked at me, her eyes flaming with worry and anger.

I reached across the table and laid my hand on top of hers. Her expression softened a fraction. “We must have faith, Andi.” I said gently. “My parents left this to me for this purpose. It’s going to work.”

She lowered her eyes and nodded before giving my hand a gentle squeeze.

“All right.” Warrick said, clapping his hands together. “So, are you going to open the last rune?”

I pulled the sea shell from my pocket and set in on the table. I took a deep steadying breath before lifting my face and meeting all of their eyes in turn.

“This is it.” I whispered. “The last one.”

“What are you waiting for?” Warrick teased, nudging my ribs with his elbow. “Are you nervous?”

I pushed him back, trying to smile. “Yes, actually, I am.” I admitted. “Opening this rune makes this all so much more... Real. Once I open this, we’ll have everything we need for the portal spell. And there will be nothing else in our way... War will be a reality in a few days, and I just... It’s all happening so fast.”

“The faster the better.” Torryn growled quietly.

The others mumbled in agreement, all except for Dristan, who stared at me from across the table with a sympathetic expression. He smiled weakly when I met his gaze. I was sure he could feel my unease.

‘You are not alone.’ He said lovingly down the bond, reciting those four words that he’d promised me from the very beginning.

I smiled back, sending his consciousness an affectionate caress in answer.

“Alright.” I sighed, picking up the shell. “You might want to hold onto something...”

It had been a joke, but every single one of them grabbed hold of the table, their expressions as serious as a heart attack. I almost laughed, but I was too nervous.

I cupped the shell in my hands...

Took a deep breath...

And crushed it to dust.

A small, blue cube rolled into my palm. It’s surface was almost iridescent, like the shell had been. It reminded me of the surface of the ocean, the way the color undulated in the light. Like waves...

I didn’t have much time to marvel at the strange color. My skin ignited where the rune touched me, taking my breath away in an instant, and I heard someone scream. I soon realized that the one screaming was me.

I watched in amazement and horror as the strange, blue color from the rune bled into my own skin and began snaking up my arms. The sensation burned, but not from heat. It was like arctic ice had been injected into my veins. Up, and up, and up the color went, burning me all the way, until my entire body was glowing, shimmering, in an iridescent, blue light.

It was only when my entire body had been transformed that the pain stopped. I panted with relief as a new, warm, pleasant feeling took it’s place. I looked up and found the others watching me with wide eyes. The wooden table beneath Dristan’s fingers had splintered and broken in several places, but he remained still.

I glanced down at my body. My skin was stunningly beautiful. Alien and shocking. I stretched my fingers in front of my face and gawked at it. My hand was almost transparent...

Like water.

“What the fu-” Warrick started to say, but my delighted laughter cut him short.

This feeling was incredible. I could feel the ebb and flow of the water that I now embodied, could feel the playful power that it tempted me with. And though I knew that these waters were gentle, and loving, I also knew that they could be powerful and daunting if they wanted to be.

If I wanted them to be.

I lifted my hands toward the ceiling, still laughing with the thrill of this newfound magic within me, and when I opened my palms, tiny droplets of water began to fall from above us.

Torryn grumbled, grabbing some loose pieces of paper and covering his perfect, golden hair from the rain I had created. Andi laughed with me, lifting her face to the ceiling. Warrick gawked at me. Dristan smiled at me, the water rolling off of his cheeks and dancing in his dark, unruly hair.

My shock and elation grew even more powerful as I realized what I had just done. I hadn’t just manipulated this water... I had created it.

I didn’t need to be near water to use it to my advantage. I could conjure it up in the palm of my hands. Curious, I stretched my palms before me. I closed my eyes, and when I opened them again...

Two, perfect spheres of water hovered above each of my palms.

“Rutting hell...” Warrick gasped, his brows raising. “Where is all of this water even coming from?”

I smiled and gestured toward my new, strangely translucent form. “From me.”

He wrinkled his nose. “That’s... Kind of disgusting.”

I threw an orb of water at his face. He jumped out of his chair, sputtering and cursing, his entire head drenched. Andromeda nearly fell out of her chair laughing. Dristan chuckled from across the table, still watching me closely.

“You’ll pay for that!” Warrick growled, wiping at his forehead. But I could see humor dancing behind his eyes.

“Can you please turn the rain off?” Torryn grumbled, his paper umbrellas now soaked through and useless.

I had no intention of stopping my fun. That was, until door suddenly burst open, causing us all to jump with surprise, and Marrok slid into the room. His expression was grave, and he was panting heavily. As if he had been sprinting as fast as his legs could carry him.

My glowing, blue skin faded as we stared at him in shock. And soon, I was in my normal, Fae form once more. For a few moments, the only sounds were of dripping water and Marrok’s labored breathing.

He glanced around the sodden room, confusion flitting across his face, but he quickly found my eyes and his seriousness returned. I went ridged, my body now on high alert, and I stepped toward him.

“Marrok, what’s wrong?” I heard Dristan say authoritatively.

Marrok glanced from me, to Dristan, and back again. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. It shook as he exhaled. When he opened his eyes again, they were blazing.

“I’ve just received a report from the scouts near the boarder of the Aviary’s wards.” His eyes flicked back to Dristan.

Dristan stood and crossed the room, snaking his arm around my waist. I leaned into his side, my anxiety sky rocketing at the dread in Marrok’s eyes.

“What did they say?” Dristan said calmly, though I could feel his distress.

Marrok ran a hand through his windblown hair. He met each of our gazes before he spoke again. And his words were like stones in my chest.

“The human king and his armies are here and Ronan is among them. He has led them straight to us.”

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