Call of Descent

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Chapter Forty-Two

“There it is,” Malik cried over the fierce wind that was blowing. Sentralon Island lay stretched out before them as dawn ascended.

“We’ll have to land and send in a scout party, find out what we’re up against,” Dertrik said. Malik turned and nodded. Their campaign had grown since Fharlasina. Four Teoko now flew through the air, each carrying the weight of three. Orric flew point with Malik, Rimca and Dertrik. Variss, Orric’s mate was not far behind him, she carried Ryne, Claire and Ima, who had fought her way ferociously to Mo’an Delar after finding out about Reniko’s capture. Shiona carried with her Penumbra – who had joined Ima on her flight to Mo’an Delar and who was enjoying a most uncomfortable ride dragon back – Skylar, and Garrin, the oldest of Skylar’s sons. Ordenn took up the rear, carrying the rest of Skylar’s sons with him, Tobias and Xanthus as well as Malik’s brother Callum. Trokar’s message had called them all together and now they went to Sentralon to gain back their Wayann, their unifying force. Sixty days. It had taken them sixty days, and every day Malik prayed that when they reached her, Reniko could be found somewhere inside that shell of ice, Shylaya.

As light left the day, they reached the outskirts of Sentralon city. Barred on all sides by mountains, the four Teoko and twelve companions had the perfect cover. Restless after they landed, despite their haggard journey, Rimca and Ryne offered to do reconnaissance, and as they disappeared down the hillside, those remaining set up a cold camp. Malik was thankful that winter, which had touched the rest of Vespen, had not settled onto Sentralon as heavily. Though the air was chill, it felt like home, where it rained more than it snowed. The subdued weather gave the small band a little cheer, since there would be no fire this night.

Rimca and Ryne returned early the next morning. They both looked grave.

“It’s a fortress,” Rimca said. She had nothing else to add.

“There is no way we can get in there, not if we had a hundred more men,” Ryne replied.

“There must be a way,” Malik said. “I haven’t come all this way to give up now.”

We would be better off with an aerial attack, Penumbra said.

“Penumbra is correct,” Orric said. “If the four of us draw away most of the fire, we can drop a small group off in the confines of the castle. It’s our best chance of getting in.”

“And how do you purpose we get out?” Ima asked. “If all the Teoko are dead, it won’t be long before we join them.”

“This is a suicide mission,” Rimca said.

“No it’s not. If we find Reniko, we can end everything. She knows how to end all of this without a war,” Malik said.

“If we find Reniko, I’m afraid that when we go in there, all we are going to find is Shylaya,” Dertrik said.

I’m sure Malik and Rimca will be able to find a way to override the programming, Penumbra said.

“It may not be that easy,” Dertrik said and looking directly at Malik he spoke again. “Malik, you have to be prepared to do what is necessary. Shylaya has sworn to kill you. Defend yourself against her. If you can’t remind her of who she is, you have to kill her. Reniko may be the leader this planet needs, but Shylaya will do all she can to destroy it.”

“How can you say that? I can’t kill Reniko,” Malik said.

“If you can’t revive her than she is already dead. If she remains alive as Shylaya, Trokar will hold the key to all of Vespen. Not just the people, but the Levanith technology as well. A thousand years ago, the Levanith made sure that the Rük would never lay hands on their knowledge, and now Trokar has exactly that. She is his key to that knowledge. We can’t afford to let him keep that. If you can’t find Reniko, Shylaya must be killed. Do you understand?” Dertrik said.

Malik hung his head. “I don’t know if I have the strength to do that.”

“Malik, I know you think I’m cold, but it’s not like that. I raised Reniko. She is like a daughter to me. I hate what I have had to give her into and I’ll hate myself forever if this mission ends in her death, but there are greater things at stake here. Besides, do you think Reniko would want to live as Shylaya for the rest of her life? A human’s life would be too long to be trapped like she is, but she is Levanith, she will live for thousands of years trapped within that shell. Free her, by whatever means necessary. Reniko is not afraid to die, Malik, you know that. There are worse things than death.”

“I understand,” Malik said. He understood, but he still didn’t know if, when the time came, he could take the life of the one person he loved.

That night, they executed their plan. Malik, Rimca, Dertrik, Ryne, Skylar, and Callum took to the air with Orric and Variss while Penumbra, Ima, and the others remained behind with Ordenn and Shiona to be the decoy.

Orric and Variss circled above the city hidden in the clouds that hung over the night sky waiting for the battle to begin. When the bells began to ring, they watched as half the infantry ran to the borders of the city.

“It’s begun,” Orric said.

Reniko woke up the instant the first bell had been rung. Rushing from her room, clothed only in her robe, she ran to Trokar’s room and waited at the door. She wasn’t surprised when it flung open moments after she arrived. Nor was Trokar surprised to see her there.

“It can’t possibly be the resistance,” Reniko said.

“This island is not known to the rest of Vespen,” Trokar said.

“True, in a sense, but when I was with that snake Malik, we found out that there was a way of finding out the position of this island by visiting the capital of each continent. We had found two of the three pieces we needed before you rescued me.”

“Fharlasina was the capital of Raet Serac, it was completely destroyed by those fool parents of yours,” Trokar said.

“I saw Malik there, Milord, the day I pledged my life to you. In Fharlasina I mean,” Reniko said.

“So, they’ve come to destroy us have they?” Trokar said bemused. “Let them try.”

Orric had barely touched down in the courtyard of the castle when Rimca, Dertrik and Malik leapt from his back and he was back in the air. Variss resorted to the same tactic and the two dragons were back in the air before the guards were even aware that they had come and gone. The six humans took shelter in the shadows, trying to avoid the sentries that stood watch on the wall. All of them had their attention riveted on the city below, not a single Rük was concerned about what already lay inside the castle walls. This allowed the humans to slip unnoticed into the castle interior. Inside, the hallways were brilliant with light, the shadowy exterior of the castle hiding the radiance of the massive halls. Malik saw at once that not only had this at one time been the home of the Levanith, but that it had housed the Teoko as well. Most of the hallways and interior rooms in the castle were cavernous in size. Once inside, they found a quiet unused room and Malik pulled out the sphere from Reflaydun and activated it.

“We are inside the castle at Sentralon. Do you have a map that can help us out here?” Malik asked.

“We do, but it’s old, before the Rük invasion, I cannot attest to its accuracy now,” the hologram replied.

“It’s better than nothing,” Dertrik said. The small holographic image was instantly replaced with a startlingly complex 3D image of the Sentralon Castle as it had been a thousand years ago. Dertrik scanned through it, referencing where they had landed to where they were now.

“If I’m correct, we should take this corridor up, I don’t think with all the commotion that is going on in the city that Reniko will be sleeping, I think she’ll be with Trokar in the audience room, or one of the antechambers around there, somewhere they can monitor what is going on.”

“You think they know we are here?” Malik asked.

“Well if they don’t know yet, they will soon enough,” Dertrik said. “Come on, we shouldn’t stay in one place for very long.”

“He’s right. Time is against us. The quicker we do this, the more chance we have of actually making it out of here alive,” Rimca said.

“Like Dertrik said, there are worse things than death,” Skylar said.

“Yes, like knowing that you failed miserably before you died,” Callum replied.

“Such a positive outlook we have acquired,” Ryne said shaking his head, “let’s go before we all lose the nerve.”

Outside, Orric was gaining altitude, trying to hit cloud level to use it as a cover to re-join the decoy. Variss was close behind. When Orric was nearly into the clouds he looked back to see how his mate was doing, she smiled at his concern.

“If we die tonight, my love, none of it shall be in vain. We die restoring peace back to this world,” Variss said. Orric looked back at her, concerned by her sudden comment, and Variss Engaged him. He had never felt Variss enter him so intimately before, she poured every ounce of love she felt for him into their connection and vanished like a flickering flame. He watched her wings suddenly stop beating and she began her descent to the ground, no longer defying gravity. He turned back to her and gave a fierce cry, a cry louder than any Teoko before him had uttered, a cry of pure raw pain and rage. Variss was dead.

“By my hand,” he heard a malicious voice utter from above him. Jekkah. “I’m afraid your end will not be as swift as hers.”

Orric looked at his brother, no love was left between them. “How could you? How could you betray all of us like this? How could you kill Variss, the only female I have ever loved? You have caused me more pain than I thought one being could cause to me. You will not survive this night, my brother. I will avenge Variss’s death, I swear.”

“Such sentiment,” Jekkah mocked. Orric was the first one to engage using his rage to enhance his strength. Jekkah was swift and fled before Orric could lay a claw on him.

“It’s time to see brother, who of us truly is the better half,” Jekkah said.

“Tonight I will show you, brother, that madness never prevails,” Orric said as he met his brother in battle both in mind and in body.

Dertrik led the way through the maze of corridors. They were deep into the interior of the castle when Malik suddenly stopped him, uneasy.

“This place is too deserted. I have a very bad feeling about this, like we’re being baited. They know we are here, Dertrik, what are they waiting for?” Malik asked.

“Well what should we do? Isn’t it better to take advantage of their hesitation?” Rimca said.

“We’re being led into a trap, I can feel it,” Malik said.

“Trap or no, would you have us turn back?” Dertrik asked.

Malik looked at his companions. “I’m going on, but I won’t ask any of you to come with me. It’s a trap, and I won’t have you risk your lives uselessly.”

“You really think we are just going to abandon you?” Rimca said.

“We aren’t just doing this for you, Malik, but for Reniko as well,” Dertrik said.

“You’ll need all the help you can get,” Ryne said.

“I can’t abandon you now, brother, not when you finally have taken a stand against father’s passiveness,” Callum said clasping his brother’s arm.

“My whole life has been devoted to protecting Reniko, I’m Shidenen, I’m with you to the end,” Skylar added.

“We have better chances of succeeding if we split up,” Malik said, reassured by their words, “that way if one group is compromised the other still has a chance to get to Reniko. Remember, we get Reniko back, or we kill Shylaya. Those are our only goals; don’t worry about the rest of us.” All five of them nodded their consent and the two groups spilt apart, Dertrik and Rimca with Malik, while Ryne and Callum went with Skylar.

“They’ve split up,” Reniko said as she watched the monitor that was suspended on the wall before her.

“Perfect, they’ll be easier to handle this way. With their forces divided they will be weaker,” Orborok said. Reniko looked at him with a sneer. She wished that he wasn’t here. She was hoping to enjoy this moment alone with Trokar, but he and Agger had made their way to Trokar’s audience room where Trokar had welcomed their presence.

“I wouldn’t be too sure,” Reniko said which caught Trokar’s attention, to Orborok’s immediate annoyance, “each one of those people down there can fight as well as any white Rük. That one there,” Reniko said pointing to Dertrik who was running at Malik’s side, “was my old master. He may look old, but don’t underestimate him, he is nearly as good as I am.” Reniko finished off with a grin that she directed to Orborok. He snarled in response.

“Don’t be cocky, Shylaya, I would have killed you had you been anyone else,” Orborok said still sore about losing to the Levanith brat.

“I would have killed you had Trokar not stopped me. Lucky you are as important to him as I am,” Reniko whispered in Orborok’s ear as she slid past him to lock arms with Trokar. Orborok seethed inside, trying to hide his anger from Trokar. Ever since he had known this Shylaya he had hated her, she was a witch, with power, Orborok thought, power over me, and power over Trokar. She was dangerous, more so because she knew it. She held the keys to everything Trokar had been after and she knew it. Orborok looked at Agger, who too looked as annoyed with Shylaya as he was. They had both suffered by her position. His only reassurance was that Agger had informed him that written in the false memories that they had given Reniko was subservience to Trokar. She would not defy him, would not try to undermine him. Agger had made sure of that. Shylaya’s will was strong, so it was their only fail-safe against her.

“Enough of this,” Trokar said, which cowed Reniko slightly. “Should we end this game?” he asked her.

“Fine, but leave Malik to me. I have an old debt to pay,” Reniko said.

“It will be the final test of your loyalty to me, my pet. Kill him and you shall lack nothing,” Trokar said. “Deploy the troops. Leave none of them alive.”

Malik ran down another corridor only to find once again a dead end. “We’re running in circles, Dertrik.”

“I can’t help it, the hologram did say this was an old map. But I’m sure we have to be getting close. Come on, let’s try down this way,” Dertrik said pointing to a corridor off to their left. Malik sighed and followed Dertrik down the corridor. They soon found themselves in front of a pair of very large doors. Grabbing hold of the handle Malik gestured for Rimca to get ready, and when she had her bow pulled taught, he forced the doors open, only to be met by another silent room.

“This place is a tomb,” Rimca said as she released the tension on her bow. Dertrik was the first to step through the door followed closely by Rimca. Malik followed after them unsheathing Imako seconds too late as he felt a blade suddenly as his throat.

“Your tomb,” a cold voice said at his ear. Eight Rük surrounded the small band. A trap indeed, they had fallen right into Trokar’s hands. It all ends here, Malik thought closing his eyes and preparing for the fatal thrust.

“You can have the other two,” he heard a familiar voice say, “but he is mine.” Malik opened his eyes and saw the Rük parting to let in Reniko. She had her wings spread imposingly and was cloaked in a swath of blood red silk. She looked ready to kill.

“Reniko,” Malik whispered unable to get anything else out. Standing before her in the flesh he was terrified by the change in her. “What have they done to you?"

“What have they done? Trokar liberated me, from your hands. You, who were keeping me from him. You kidnapped me away from my Lord. Kept secrets from me, lied to me, deceived me. You tried to conceal what I was from me, to keep me from what is rightfully mine. Now you will be the last thing that stands between me and everything that is mine by birth, by right. With your death, I shall stand at the right hand of Trokar.”

“Reniko, what are you talking about? I didn’t kidnap you, I helped you. I rescued you from the Rük. Don’t you remember everything that we have seen? What about Savonly and Reflaydun? Don’t you remember what the Rük did to Crosshatch and Mountain Side? They hunted us, they tortured me, and you rescued me. Don’t you remember? Don’t you remember anything?”

“I remember using you to gain information. I remember you leading me to Reflaydun. I remember you kidnapping me from Orborok when I went to report to him,” Reniko replied.

“How can you say that? After everything we have been through. What about Tresca, don’t you remember Tresca?”

“Where I found you conspiring with Rimca, keeping secrets from me, the both of you,” Reniko said glaring at Rimca who had been silent to this point.

“We weren’t keeping secrets from you Reniko, we were trying to protect you,” Rimca said.

Reniko turned away from Rimca with disgust and stood staring at Dertrik. He looked calm despite his situation.

“You, you are the worst traitor of them all. You were the start of the whole deception. You kept my life from me. You, the Shidenen, the one person who was sent to Earth to tell me my inheritance, you denied me that knowledge; sent me into this world blind.”

“A mistake,” Dertrik replied, “one that I probably would have repeated had I had the knowledge I have today. This was not the inheritance you were to have Reniko. Your parents sent you to Earth to save you, so that one day you could come back and rid Vespen of the Rük. You were never to join Trokar, but to defeat him.”

“My parents sent me to Earth because they were trying to keep me from fulfilling my destiny. They were keeping me from Trokar.”

“Yes, they were keeping you from Trokar, because Trokar wished to use you. You are not a person to him, but a possession. Come back to us Reniko, come back to the people who love you,” Malik said.

“You don’t know love,” Reniko said and drew her sword, “you have something of mine, and I wish to have it back.” Reniko replied coolly pointing the tip of her sword at Imako.

“I do Reniko, I do know love. I love you, I have since the moment I met you. Please try to remember. Remember our love for each other. I can’t lose you,” Malik said.

“My name is not Reniko, it is Shylaya,” her words were icy. “Draw your sword.”

The Rük surrounding Malik and Reniko shifted to the sides of the open room pulling Rimca and Dertrik with them. Reniko pointed her sword at Malik’s chest. “Draw your sword.” Malik did not, could not lift Imako to his defense. He looked at Reniko. He looked into her eyes. Reniko felt disturb by his unyielding stare and dropped her sword trying to turn her gaze from him but she couldn’t.

“I know you are in there somewhere, Reniko, they can’t cover you, not with all the magic in the world. Come back to me,” Malik said.

“Enough!” Reniko screamed. “I will kill you.” She let her sudden confusion pass into her blade and lunged at Malik who still stood before her, defenseless. Malik closed his eyes, not believing what he saw before him. Reniko would not kill him, she couldn’t.

“Malik you must,” Dertrik yelled, and with that broke the spell that Malik had weaved over himself. He thrust Imako up to block just as Reniko came lunging at him. She let out a cry of rage at Malik’s sudden defense and they began their fight.

Orric landed on the ground roughly. One of his wings was broken and his limbs felt heavy with fatigue, but Jekkah lay by his side, also panting with effort. Both of them had lost the advantage of the air and now their battle would finish on the ground. Orric stood facing Jekkah who looked frustrated now. The smaller Teoko was running out of energy, he didn’t have the stamina of his younger brother.

“Why won’t you just die,” Jekkah yelled.

“Because I have much to live for,” Orric said and took up the fight once again. I have to end this, Orric thought, before Jekkah gets his second wind.

Malik broke to one side barely avoiding Reniko’s blade as she advanced on him. Her style had not changed, regardless of how much she had. She still hated being the aggressor despite the anger she was feeling. It set the fight off balance, since Malik would not engage with her unless she did take the offensive, this annoyed her, and unsettled her just enough that Malik felt that he was actually matching her instead of being overwhelmed by her. Their battle was a tight blur, as Malik backed away, Reniko advanced. Malik was trying to get Reniko off of him, trying to gain some room to breathe, so that he could try talking to her again, but she was all over him. She was fast and deft with her blade, and Malik had yet to gain the speed that she held. Finally Reniko and Malik locked blades and with a shove he forced her off. Reniko spun her blade to her side and laughed. While Malik was watching the sabre that she held, Reniko feinted left and spun the other direction lashing out at Malik’s side. Malik parried the blow just in time, both swords centimeters from his ribs.

“Well, well, looks like you’ve learned a thing or two. I guess it’s time to really fight with you. Let’s see how well you do against a Levanith,” Reniko said. She wasn’t even winded, Malik was breathing heavily. I can’t win this, he thought as Reniko unfurled her wings and suddenly the battle went vertical. Reniko was a blur of motion; it took all of Malik’s concentration to figure out where she was going. Fighting her on even playing ground had been hard enough, but now that she had taken to the air around them she was impossible to fight. Malik held on to the thoughts that were battling in his head, his feelings were in conflict. Trying to stay alive, he parried blow after blow, barely surviving a blow only to find that she was behind him. He wasn’t ready for this, wasn’t prepared to fight her like this. And with a sudden clarity, he knew what he had to do to get Reniko back. Reniko dropped unexpectedly out of the air in front of Malik and as Malik went to block, Reniko thrust her wings forward, causing a torrent of wind to wash over Malik. Closing his eyes to the sudden assault, he felt Imako knocked from his hand. Opening his eyes he watched as the sword spun gently in the air and landed deftly into Reniko’s hand, the sword only stopped its motion when Reniko had thrust it forward into the soft flesh of Malik’s left shoulder. He gasped as the cold steel bit into his flesh and fell to his knees.

Reniko withdrew Imako from Malik’s flesh and set up for the finishing blow. Malik looked up at her sadly, a smile on his face, which caused Reniko to hesitate.

“You always were better than me, Lyss,” Malik said and bowed his head to the ground holding his hand over his wound trying to stop the bleeding and waiting for the end. When it never came, he looked back up at Reniko. She was frozen in place. Lyss. That word. That word was so familiar. Where had she heard that word? And she remembered, her mother talking with her father.

“I love you Sev,” Shyla said.

“Now and always, Lyss. Now and always…”

Lyss. There was more, more to that word. Someone had called her that.

“Now it’s my turn to thank you, Lyss.”

Will you be all right, Lyss?

“Can’t sleep, Lyss?”

“You must live in a marvellous world, Lyss.”

“Don’t worry, Lyss.”

“Your normal, Lyss, not mine.”

“You are Levanith, Lyss.”

“Lyss, I’m sure you’ll be as infectious as ever.”

“Of course not, Lyss.”

“Something troubling you, Lyss?”

“Lyss, what happened?”

Lyss…

Lyss.

That name, that word, it was her. She was Lyss. Memories came flooding to the surface of her mind. Memories of sparring with Malik, of him teasing her with that name, Orric and Malik using it with such concern. That name spreading from a tease to an intimate thing. A sign of love. A sign of a strong bond. She was Lyss.

“I’m Lyss,” Reniko suddenly said and the pain came. Her mind was suddenly engulfed in it. The conflict that suddenly occurred in her mind caused confusion and unending pain, such strong memories all conflicting, but all just as real as the other. She screamed, the pain was unbearable, and she remembered Trokar, standing over her injecting mercurial fluid into her mind, the pain, the screams, he had relished them all.

She was on the ground when her eyes finally came open. Malik was looking over her with Rimca and Dertrik at his side. They looked so concerned. Reniko lifted her head from the ground and looked around the room. The Rük that had been with her were now dead dispatched by Dertrik and Rimca. Reniko looked back at Malik and fell into his arms hugging him tightly, sobbing.

“You saved me. Oh, Malik what have I done?” Reniko said as she felt the sticky blood that was covering Malik’s left shoulder.

“I’ll be alright Reniko. I’ll be all right now that you’re back. I thought I lost you. But I couldn’t lose you. I couldn’t lose you, Lyss.”

“You saved me Malik. You saved me from the darkness. You saw inside my soul, you found me there, sleeping so cold inside. You found me. You brought me back. I love you,” Reniko said. She kissed Malik, savouring the moment, trying to forget everything else. The last two months had been so dark. “I’m so sorry, for everything I’ve done. Forgive me.”

“It wasn’t your fault, Reniko. Trokar programmed you.”

“The memories they gave me, they were so real.” They appealed to the darkness inside of me that I didn’t even know I had, Reniko thought, but left unsaid. How could she tell him that? She was terrified to admit it to herself.

“It doesn’t matter anymore, Lyss. It’s over. Let’s get out of here.”

Reniko tore the silky fabric of her dress and bound Malik’s wound as best she could, then she rose to her feet helping Malik to his.

“We can’t leave, not yet. This isn’t finished,” Reniko said.

Dertrik was talking on a communicator to Skylar. He looked up when Reniko spoke. “Yes, it is. Skylar, Callum and Ryne are already retreating from the castle. We have to leave now, there are too many Rük to win this fight here and now.” Dertrik said.

“No, it ends here, now. With Trokar’s death this whole war will end,” Reniko said.

“What do you mean?” Rimca asked.

“I mean that without their leader, they will all be divided amongst themselves. Their whole culture thrives on a hive like structure. Kill the queen bee, destroy the colony. There is only one black Rük to a colony world. If we destroy Trokar, it ends.”

“I don’t understand. How will the Rük know that Trokar is gone?” Malik asked.

“All the Rük on this world are Trokar’s children or his siblings. They are linked. Trust me, when he falls they will know,” Reniko said.

“Well, I guess we have one last thing to do here,” Dertrik said.

“I have one last thing to do here,” Reniko said. “I’m doing this alone.”

“That’s ridiculous Reniko. We didn’t come all this way to save you to let you fall right back into Trokar’s hands,” Malik said.

“I can do this,” Reniko said.

“Not without help. We are stronger together, Renny,” Dertrik said. Reniko paused and nodded.

I’m here with you Reniko. I hope you remember the truth. Reniko suddenly heard the thought spoken in her mind. Penumbra. Pen was here.

I remember Pen. I wish I could tell you that. She thought sadly wishing her connection with Pen went both ways like it did with Orric.

“Come on, we have to hurry, they probably already know what is going on,” Reniko said taking up Imako and weighing it in her hands. She handed it to Malik with hesitation and he shook his head in protest.

“Imako is yours, I was just holding onto it for you. That blade is best served in your hands. I’m just clumsy.”

Reniko sheathed Imako and handed Malik the blade she had used in the fight against him. “Not clumsy. You beat me, didn’t you?” Reniko said smiling warmly at Malik.

Malik smiled back. “I guess I did.”

Orric let out a loud cry as Jekkah dug his claws deep into his flesh. He was losing the battle and they both knew it. Forgive me Variss.

Reniko heard the cry echo in her mind and she stopped in her tracks causing the rest of her party to stop as well.

“Reniko what’s wrong?” Malik asked.

“It’s Orric, he’s dying. Jekkah! Jekkah is killing him,” Reniko said and began to flee in the opposite direction that they had been going.

Dertrik stopped her. “You can’t help him Reniko. You can’t fight a dragon.”

Reniko paused and looked at Dertrik. “I can’t, but I can help. Wait for me,” she said and she Engaged Orric.

Orric let me lend you strength. If you can’t defeat him with physical strength alone let us do it mentally together.

Orric heard the voice in his head, Reniko? You have returned to us. Orric let out another cry as he grappled with Jekkah and lost ground once again. He felt a surge of energy course through him and using Reniko’s strength he pressed back the attack.

“How?” Jekkah asked as Orric flung him to the ground lashing out at him with fierceness.

“I harbour the strength of two,” Orric said, “my friends help me, but who will help you Jekkah?”

The poison has warped your brain Jekkah. You may not have died physically that day, but who you were before died that day. Trokar took hold of you completely, and in the end all you were to him was a pawn, Reniko spoke into Jekkah’s mind.

“Lies, all of them lies,” Jekkah said.

“Not lies brother, the truth. Why do you deny who you are?” Orric said.

“This is who I am,” Jekkah spat and resumed the fight.

Can he be saved, Orric, like Malik saved me?

I don’t think so, Lyss. His mind was damaged severely by the Rük toxin. My brother died a long time ago.

I’m sorry, Orric, for what you have to do. Reniko disengaged from Orric and Engaged instead with Jekkah, overwhelming him with her power, holding his damaged mind in her own. I forgive you, for all you have done, for all you have suffered, Reniko said. Jekkah, in the grip of Reniko’s mind, reeled with shock. And with one final attack Orric took his life, ending the suffering that he had endured and caused.

Reniko came back to herself, tears in her eyes.

“Is Orric going to be alright?” Malik asked.

“He’ll be fine. Jekkah’s dead. He killed Variss,” Reniko said.

Malik helped her to her feet. “Let’s end this. Trokar has caused enough suffering in this world.”


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