Nightblood

In a world of eternal darkness, the light is slowly seeping in. It’s up to one particular winged warrior to save the Night.

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17. Chapter 17

Chapter 17

 

Tears stream down my cheeks, hot and bitter. Ryan is barely holding back his, trying to protect the kohl artfully rimming his eyes. 

Eyes filled with regret and sorrow. Eyes that bore into me. Eyes that set my body aflame with their cold stare. Eyes, silver with veins of navy, eyes I'd never forgot. 

“I'm sorry…” he murmurs, wiping strands of glossy black hair from my face, exposing my own dark silver eyes. Not as interesting as Ryan’s, but still haunting.

“For what?” I ask in response, my body trembling with the nearness of him. His arms are wrapped around me, his face hovering inches from my own, his hot breath tickling my cheeks. 

“For leaving, and not returning sooner," his voice carries a tremor that can only be regret. 

“You're here now. That's all that matters," I answer, leaning my head against his chest. He eyes the hut I built, the small fire.

“Can we—can I…?” He blurts, unsure of what words to use. I get what he means, and tug him towards the shelter of the hut. Hardly enough to call a hut, but it serves its purpose. 

We duck inside, crouching by the fire. I watch as the first moon vanishes, the other almost dropping over the horizon. 

Yawning, I curl up underneath the blanket, making sure to keep my wings tucked in around me. Ryan curls up to my front, and I wrap myself around him, letting my warmth seep into his shivering form. 

I cannot appear to find my way into sleep, instead I listen while Ryan's breaths become deep and even, his face relaxing. 

Eventually though, I drift off, plunging into a blank sleep, an ocean of velvety black unfurling to hold me in its grasp. 

I don't awake to midway through the Crossover, and carefully remove myself from around Ryan. I think about scribbling a note, but I have nothing to write on or with. Instead I murmur to him that I'm gone hunting, and take to the star studded skies, the moonlight casting my drifting form in silver as I glide.

In the air, I swear I can almost feel his presence. Carson’s. I can imagine him here with me, drifting on the breeze, a ghost crafted from mist and fog. I can almost hear him shouting my name, calling to me from afar.

I shake off he feeling, knowing it's causing me grief more than anything else. It hurts to imagine he's still with us, it hurts to think he's watching us in spirit form.

My wings still ache from my last flight, but I push through anyways. I scan lightly for prey, but I'm more interested in simply enjoying the flight. The breeze is cool, keeping me aloft with minimal effort. 

I follow the swooping of the air currents, before drifting back down to the ground, before lifting up once again, flying back to the campsite where Ryan still slumbers peacefully, face empty of any emotions, relaxed in sleep.

I awake him, shaking him gently by the shoulder. He jerks up, and I roll my eyes at the panic tensing his lithe form. 

“Come on, we need to get something to eat," I all but shout, having to speak loudly to be heard over the roaring of the wind, what is once a breeze is now a vicious storm, the winds battering us so badly we can hardly stand.

“What? The wind’s to strong—” he's cut off as I lift into the sky without him, barely clinging to the air, the wind to strong.

“It's too dangerous! You stay here!” I shout, my voice barely audible over the windstorm. 

I do not wait for him to answer, knowing that he's sensible enough to stay put. I collect up some berries, barely enough to get by, but all sensible prey has retreated deep inside their burrows in wake of the windstorm. It's not uncommon for there to be windstorms on the Night, but they are much more frequent on the Day side. Thankfully it doesn't appear to bad, and hopefully will pass before anything bad happens.

The Great Battle, as everyone had taken to calling the battle we fought not too long ago, has taken its toll on me. Exhaustion still has not retracted its hold, my magic barely begun to return. 

That exhaustion is made all the more prudent by battling the wind, everything beginning to ache. Unable to go any farther, I collapse at the edge of the encampment, Ryan rushing to greet me.

“I got berries,” I say with false positivity, dragging myself along. We flop down inside the shelter, listening to the branches creak and groan. It won't hold up for much longer, at least not with this wind. 

We divide the berries up between us, and I chuckle as Ryan greedily gulps down his share.

I eat slower, savouring the individual flavours. Some are tangy, some sweet. Some are bland,  some almost too flavourful. 

Once the berries are all gone, hunger barely stanched, we huddle inside the shelter. I use my bare flicker of magic to keep up the fire, trying not to expend too much of my Heartmagic, as it has barely returned as it is. 

Everyone now and then, it will suddenly roll over me, a rushing river of magic that makes me tremble and vomit once it's left. But the times in between those floods I'm left with little to nothing, barely enough to control the fire, to keep it going in the viscous wind. 

We sit in silence, waiting until the wind slowly dies down, descending into a silent gust. 

I slip out to hunt, bringing back food. Ryan barely speaks, and I prepare everything for him and deposit it directly to his front, him not even offering a word of thanks or gratitude for my efforts. I admit I'm a tad annoyed with him, for not doing anything to help out. But I provide for him nonetheless, keeping him warm and fed. 

Finally I can't stand the silence anymore, and work up the nerve to tell him about my return to the Nightbloods.

“Ryan…? Winter’s almost here, and with it I must return to Nightblood camp or risk the cold—”

“No! NO!” He shouts, eyes going wide with panic. He grabs for my wrist, holding me in place. 

“Let me go!” I command, my voice dropping into a deadly snarl, anything human in my gaze vanishing. 

“Don't! You can return there!” He screeches, eyes taking on the sheen of a madman, growing distant and crazed. His nails dig into my skin, so hard I can smell the dark tang of blood as he pierces through the soft flesh of my wrist. 

“You've gone crazy! Let me go! ” I hiss, voice carrying the tone of death. I wrench myself away, and he lunges for me. 

“Don't!” His only word, before I lean forward, slamming my horns I to his shaking form. 

He staggers backwards, and I don't stick around to see what happens, if the blow is killing or if he's just momentarily stunned. I lift up, flying on the scraps of the windstorm to the Nightblood camp, rage sending tremors through my body.

Seeing the clearing, I break into a descent, landing in the camp shaking and disheveled. My heart is beating out of control, adrenaline and rage coursing through my veins.

Everyone’s attention immediately snaps to me, and I pale under the weight of their gazes. 

“Look who's here… the Day-lover!” Someone shouts, as a figure I barely recognize steps into view, everyone else in the clearing silently gazing at us. 

The man is tall, his hair glossy silver, his eyes deep cerulean with a blurred ring of pale silver around the edges, spreading in deeper in his iris in the form of silver flecks. His horns are solid black, as if hewn from onyx, and short and stocky, resembling ram horns. His wings are magnificent, black with glimmering pieces of silver and navy edging the gleaming feathers.

“Day-lover? Who do you speak of?” I snarl, my voice brimming with steely rage. My magic flickers inside me, begging to be released, welling up to its full force.

“You,” the man hisses in return, voice carrying the promise of violence. He's itching for a fight. I'll give him one.

➿➿➿

Guilt tears at Ryan. But he's powerless, locked in another vision. He spent most of his time with Estrie clasped in a vision’s embrace, and now he's paying for it. 

Everything hurts. His head throbs. He aches. Estrie's fury towards him is a painful knife in his side, an ever-present reminder that he failed. 

He is nothing more than a mortal Strennan. Nothing. And Estrie is a warrior, a vision of beauty and wrath. 

The vision ends, another useless one showing his brother and his ‘girlfriend,’ the pretty Sriss girl. He couldn't stop his brother from falling in love with her, he couldn't stop Estrie from returning to the place she'd meet her doom. 

He can't do anything now, his body bruised from Estrie’s battering, his mind locked in a haze.

He can only hope that his words managed to get through to Estrie, that she'd at least consider his warning. 

➿➿➿

 The man and I glower at each other, when an achingly familiar face appears from the mist.

I would rather the man take his knife and stab me, for that's how it feels. The level of betrayal, the hatred, the grief. And that stir, faint as a summer’s breeze, of love. 

“Seres!” I sob, watching as the man I loved strides forward. “But how, you—you're dead?” My sentences are punctuated by sobs, voice thick with grief.

He is dead. He is dead. He stands in front of me, all the regal beauty I remember. His wings, silvery blue, his eyes a shade bluer than his wings, his horns, thin and almost straight, except for that faint curve. 

“I am here now,” he states, his voice carrying none of the love I had grown accustomed to. 

“How?” I gasp between silent sobs, cursed tears sliding down my cheeks, my mouth twisting into a sad smile at the sight of him.

I have to remind myself who I am. A warrior, created by magic and carved from darkness. A fighter, until the vey end. Seres won't change that. I refuse to be brought to my knees by the ghost of love. 

“A ritual. A risky one. They brought me back, to—” he pauses, blue-silver eyes shining with tears. 

“What Seres? What did the bring you back to do?” I demand, rage solidifying in my heart. 

“To… to kill you,” he answers, voice shaking furiously. Rage sets me in a blind haze.

“She fell in love with someone else! A Day-sider on top of that! Do it!” The first man bellows, and with only a moment hesitation Seres launches himself at me, no mercy showing in his gorgeous yet deadly gaze, his regal features set in a snarl of rage. 

He is upon my in moments, and I have only moments to dodge. The tears streaming down my cheeks are hot and bitter, tears of burning anger. With a roar, I let my magic take over.  

I return his every blow, sparks flying around me, a blazing aura. I call to the energy that shimmers inside of me, alighting balls of sheer white energy. 

I fling them towards Seres, and a hiss is his only sign of pain, his only emotion. His face has gone slack, empty of anything. Not even rage, or grief. Nothing. He is empty, I realize, a shell. 

I grab one of my daggers, one hand bright with blazing magic, the other clasping the hilt of the dagger, blade gleaming. With terrifying accuracy I hurl it at Seres, yet somehow he manages to dodge, the dagger glancing off his shoulder. 

Dark blood wells up, not silver, but black. A terrible stench rolls towards me, like rot and death. A shell, filled with empty and vileness. The smell is so overpowering, my eyes water, even after my tears have dried. 

Rage claws at my insides, a beautiful kind of deadly. I launch at Seres, lifting into the air on silent wings, spiralling form above to Seres, magic at the ready. 

I slam into him, my energy searing at his flesh. Black blood oozes from everywhere I touch him, he smell billowing out, reaching my sensitive nose. 

We are locked in combat, a fight to the death. Mine or his, is what the next few moments determine. 

I fling my power at him, clasping him in a net of blazing white energy, and he screeches in pain at its contact. For a moment, I think I might stand a chance at winning. 

But suddenly he launches himself at me once again, and I can't hold him off. I'm sent crashing to the ground, rocks scraping at my back, my wing twisting painfully. I hear it snap, hot pain lacerating through me, cutting like a sharpened knife. Sharper than any knife.

He towers over me, the bringer of death. 

 

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