Smoke and Mirrors

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Epilogue: Things We Have Lot in Fire

~SOUNDTRACK: Rhodes – The lakes~

Ember Blackthorn was a dragon. And a thief. Big sister, best friend, lover. In fact, she was no longer those latter ones. The flames had taken that much from her.

It had been quite a while since she’d battled and killed the Hades Brides. She felt it in her bones that the threat was far from being gone, but she didn’t have the energy to worry about that just yet. Today was her nineteenth birthday. But she didn’t have the energy to celebrate, either. Months and months of grieving, only to learn that when you love someone as much as she’d loved those she had lost, you don’t move on at all. She had accepted that. It was why she was leaving.

She’d been in the Onyx Valley for the past few months. Pulling herself back together, trying to fix what had been broken, trying to heal. She’d only learned that she couldn’t. The dragon refused to answer her calls anymore. Perhaps the dragon knew she didn’t mean them. Perhaps the dragon knew she was afraid of it. Afraid of the same fire she’d been breathed by. So this morning, as she turned 19, she made Nana promise to take care of her family for her. After all, her little siblings were quite scarred by the whole experience, as well. Nana had frowned. She’d asked where she was going. Ember lied. She said she didn’t know. Then she grabbed her red cloak and left the Onyx Valley behind.

She was back in the one place she’d never thought she’d want to see again. Thebbington Abbey. She’d just stolen some money, enough to set her plan in motion. So now she walked down the beach, her feet soaked in water. She loved the way her footprints marked the wet sand, but the waves came one by one and wiped them away. As if she hadn’t been here at all. As if she were a phantom. She surely felt like it, too.

There was no fixing what those witches had broken. She couldn’t build back the Crimson Dagger and gather an entire stranger crew, especially since she’d grown to care for Max’s old crew. She couldn’t stop Bandit from giving his life for her and her family. She couldn’t bring Kaleb back. Bloody hell, she couldn’t even give Kaleb a proper burial. He was now no more than specks of dust scattered in the wind. But Max was alive and his spirit was shattered just as hers was. He didn’t remember her. But she remembered him. And she loved him. She didn’t know where to start and she didn’t know what she would do if she got to face him again. But she would not give up on the last shred of hope she had.

Ember Blackthorn was a girl. A broken human. A red cloak off to find and fix the man she loved. And if the Gods were kind enough, he would remember to love her back. And thus, perhaps, what is broken can be healed.

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