The streets were covered in damaged buildings, bodies, armor, blood. It was a carnage that she had never seen. Kiaran had maneuvered the area with ease, only having to kill a handful of enemies.
Nearly every other corner had a cloaked person—matching Heni’s discrete power. They were able to send groups of men into frenzies which would often cause them to die by their own hands.
Kiaran’s hands trembled as she snuck across the city. Her heart throbbed with each breath she took, hoping against all odds that she could make it to the prison. Sterjia should be well distracted by all the chaos.
But her fear only continued to rise.
Finally, though, she made it to the prison. The building in sight made her chest ache. Could he be in there? Could he be alive?
Kiaran slinked along the dark halls, somehow keeping from anyone’s view. Heni and the others seemed to be quite the useful allies. She’d have to remember to try recruiting her against Sterjia.
She rushed past rows of doors, her chest heavy. Ahead were two guards at the fourth door, just as she was told. Her sword was hidden against her side beneath her cloak. Her wet hair stuck to her face, bits of blood and soot plastered to her skin. Once she stood before the men, they shifted their weight.
Before they could draw their weapons, Kiaran already slashed her sword through one man’s chin and helm. Ripping it from him, she slew the other before the first man hit the floor. Retrieving the key, she moved to the door. Her fingers grew clumsy as she fumbled with the lock. But, finally, she got the door open.
“Please, be in here,” she whispered desperately.
The light flooded from the door, stretching across the floor. She was hesitant to step forward, locked in place. The smell alone was enough to tell her how bad it had been for him.
Davin was sitting in the center of the room on his knees, his pants soiled from the damp, dirty floor. His hair fell into his face which was framed in a thick beard. His hair was long enough to reach past his shoulders.
Her sword fell to the floor with a loud clatter as she rushed to him. “Davin,” his name escaped her in something like a whimper. Relief and fear swelled within her like a terrible flu. She fell to her knees, reaching for him, however, stopping as he lifted his gaze to her.
He was broken.
“You came?” he asked weakly.
Her jaw tightened as she watched him. The torch light from the hallway washed over her, though he could only see a black figure before him.
“Of course I came,” she whispered.
Such sadness flooded him, his eyes unable to leave hers as tears formed.
He was fully broken, and swallowed by guilt. He was as engulfed as a lost ship on at stormy sea. Forever swallowed whole. She took a breath while watching him.
“Kiaran,” Davin said as he lowered his head, “Please...”
His knees were covered in filth, his battered hands gripping at his thighs. Her heart sank and her chin quivered, about to cry. She slowly reached a hand toward him, touching the tips of her fingers to his hair. He was crying, she could feel it. It was utter and complete heart-break.
She pulled him tight against herself, wrapping her arms around him. He hid his face against her shoulder as he gripped her. They embraced so tightly that it felt like they might meld into one.
She ran her hand over his hair, speaking softly, “Davin, I’m sorry it took so long.” Her voice was so pleasing and cooling. His fingers tightened against her back as he squeezed her tighter.
“I am sorry,” he finally choked out.
“No,” she said. “Come, Davin. Stand up.” She could see how he had given up. The lifelessness within his usually charming, dark brown eyes was gone. It was replaced with the want for death.
He remained motionless, however. Taking in a breath, Kiaran knelt in front of him, locking eyes with him. They were red, tears lining his face. She gripped him by both sides of the face, her voice very stern, “Davin, I will get you out of here, and we will kill Sterjia ourselves to fix this.”
He lowered his brows as he replied, saying, “You do not even know what I’ve done. You’d hate me.” Her heart stopped for a fraction of a moment. Long enough to make her body ache.
“I do not hate you,” she sneered. “I would never. I am here because I promised you,” she said. His face softened ever so slightly. “Did you hear it? Or was I speaking to the air?”
His hands cupped her wrists, his brows lowering in relief and fear. “I thought I was mad,” he whispered.
“No,” she whispered back. “I promised I’d save you just as you saved me.” She turned her hands to grip his and pulled him to stand with her. “Come, we must hurry. I didn’t waste my time coming down here to leave without you, Davin.”
She snatched up her sword and headed for the door. There was another explosion nearby, rumbling the building. Kiaran grasped Davin’s hand more tightly, pulling him down several halls and up a tall flight of stairs. Bursting through the wooden door, she reached the top of the northern rampart. They raced across the slick stone until they reached the end where they could hide in the shadows.
The rain was fading away and more smoke filled the air. Kiaran reached out with her mind, hoping to find Lirra--which she did, for the dragon was also reaching out mentally for her.
Kiaran looked to Davin as he stood motionless, the rain hitting him. He had a few new scars she could see reaching up the back of his neck. They weren’t as thick as the one from the bear, but they were prominent. Kiaran’s heart raced, her blood hot. Waiting for Lirra was one of the worst things she ever had to do.
What if a group of men came after them? She’d have to fight every single one of them off. She’d die fighting. There was no way she’d let them touch Davin. Not in her life. They’d be lucky to survive her afterlife.
Finally, there was the steady thud of wings as the large, Great Dragon neared the wall. The sun began to peak through the storm clouds, casting dark pink colors across the sky. As the dragon neared, the wind buffeted faster until she clutched her talons on the wall.
Kiaran raced toward Lirra and climbed up her leg and onto her shoulders. Reaching down, she used much of her aching muscles to pull him on behind her. She sheathed her sword and tied the ropes to herself and to Davin’s calves, and then gripped the other rope.
“Go!” she shouted.
Lirra roared with as much ferocity as she could muster. The sound nearly broke Kiaran’s inner ears and the dragon launched off the stone, crumbling part of the wall as she hit it with her tail.
The clouds and smoke filled the air between them and the tops of the trees. Kiaran could feel his body tense as he grew uneasy, gripping his arm around her waist. A grin stretched across her lips. He was safe.
Out of the deepest part of her chest, Lirra trilled with a heavy roar and purple fire burst from her maw. Her wings shimmered like bronze and gold against the sunlight. She trilled, her body vibrating beneath them.
They flew together, the wind stinging Davin’s skin. He clutched Kiaran’s waist even tighter as they lowered. She was heading straight down, like they were crashing. His entire body grew as stiff as stone, his heart dropping.
Kiaran could feel the rate of his heartbeat and she laughed. The clouds had dampened their hair and clothing, both matting against their skin.
“Davin, you’re free!” she shouted, one hand gripping his, the other flying into the air above their heads.
He pulled her tight to his chest, hiding his face in the back of her shoulder. Though he were free, she didn’t feel the relief and joy she had expected from him.
Perhaps he was yet to be fully saved.