Disclaimer: I do not own the right to Broken Sky (But I how I wish I did...). This is merely the work of a mad fan. Hope you enjoy this new chapter, all comments are welcomes. See you next time.

Chapter 5

Li'ain woke.

For awhile she lay curled on the bed as the last fragments of the dream lingered in her mind. Her graceful eyes closed; her beating heart slowing as the familiar yearning swept through her. That had been extraordinarily intense.

As if spurred by the thought, she felt her fingers slowly trace the rim of her lips as his face briefly flickered. She could feel the heat rising on her cheeks, a powerful flutter in her stomach and… a warmth in her loins.

Quelling the sudden surge of emotions and desire, she rose from the bed and grabbed her travelling cloak from where it lay casted over the back of small wooden chair. Throwing it over her slender shoulders she left the room and moved through the dark hallway, making sure her footfalls were measured and silent so as to not disturb Zin-lin and his family.

Outside, the air was smooth and crisp, helping to relax the former princess as she stepped onto the small balcony. Coming to the chest-high, wrought-stone rail, she rested her arms against the edge as her gaze drifted across the blue fields. In the twilight she could see the lights of Kitika shimmering faintly with a hazy, yellowish glow, almost like a distant mirage. For awhile she allowed her tired eyes to continue to roam over the violet plains, noticing the various shades and tones in the limited plant life.

She'd actually forgotten how eerily beautiful the landscape of Kirin Taq was. It was something she'd never really appreciated when she had been its ruler.

No, for Aurin, Kirin Taq had been a land with little value, thrust upon her by a foolish father, who deluded himself into believing it would win her love and affection. But since returning to this world she'd began to notice these seemingly trivial, though obvious, details. In a way, it possessed an unreal quality that was almost dream like, especially when compared to the hot and often arid climate of the Dominions.

She exhaled and closed her eyes as a wave of sudden exhaustion embraced her.

Lightly gripping the rail, she steadied her balance and tried to compose her mind.

She knew she needed to sleep and, if she was honest, she desperately wanted to sleep. But lately she found that natural cycle to be nearly unattainable, to the point that all she was able to manage were light doses. But they were always interrupted...

Her thoughts lapsed into a moment of brief silence. How long had that dream lasted for? How long had she's rested for? Opening her eyes, she looked towards the dimly lit sky. She knew it would be impossible to accurately tell. Time was measured differently here. In The Dominions, they'd use dials and the sun's position in the sky or, if it were night, the moon's. However, the eclipsed sun of Kirin Taq seemed to always be suspended in the same position as if frozen there, never rising, never setting.

In the back of her mind, she vaguely recalled a legend she'd once been told by one of her nannies, not that Li'ain could remember the detail, nor did she really care.

Besides, back then she would have had no problem telling the time. Her body had been in-tuned with the invisible clock of her realm. She had instinctual known every semi cycle when it came and when a full cycle (one day by Dominions time) had passed.

Having been away for so long, that had all changed…

Change, again her thoughts returned to that word and she allowed herself to reflect on its meaning as she remembered the dreams. It was now the fourth time they had come and they were growing with an alarming strength. While it was true she'd had such dreams before, these ones were significantly different. They were far more vivid in their detail, particularly the one she'd just experienced... it had almost been as if...

She shook her head and inhaled the soothing air deeply, trying to empty her mind and compose herself. They were just dreams of desire, her subconscious weaving new realities for her to draw a simple comfort in. It was no different to when she'd been back in Fane Aracq when she'd been the ruler of Kirin Taq. Her dreams had taken on such dimensions... no, she was trying to look for a simple solution to a complex problem. There was something else. It sometimes seemed as if she were being told something or shown something... and no matter what, it was always him... always Ryushi.

For the arrogant, prideful part of her being, the part that was still princess Aurin, it was a loathsome idea. It was galling that he still processed such a large influence over her. She wanted to be over him, she wanted her feelings to move on. Yearning for him in such ways, seemed weak; it felt beneath her, it was beneath her… and yet she couldn't deny she still cared for him, still thought of him, and even, in the deepest, darkest and the most private of thoughts, lusted for him.

Despite her better judgement, she allowed herself to submerge deeper into her thoughts. Maybe she desired him so much, because she could never have him? It was one of the bitterest lessons she'd ever learnt. There had been a time when she'd had everything and could take everything; her own father had even enslaved the Keriags for her. Beautiful dresses and robes, made from the finest silks, velvets and cottons had been hers. Diamonds, gems, pearl and other such vain jewellery had been brought on her every ridiculous whim. She'd had luxury that few would ever experience. Everything had been hers... except him.

Ryushi... he had eluded her. Somehow that seer had won his heart... or seemed to have won. She watched in silence as a gentle breeze swept through the field below, causing the grass and spots of crystalline flowers to sway almost dreamily. She sighed as she felt a tightness coil around her heart. No, she scolded herself, she was trying to look for a simple answer again, moreover she was trying to shift blame and shirk responsibly. She knew there had been every chance that he could have been hers. She'd made the decision to leave. Her pride and arrogance her cost her someone she genuinely cared deeply about.

Her relationship with the Parrakkain swordsman, the youngest son of the group founder, was more complicated than she'd perhaps care for. Maybe she was demanding too much of herself. After all everything had changed the second they'd met, the war, the future of the worlds and her life.

He had absolutely fascinated her; with his cheek, his bravado, and his convictions. He had challenged her, had taunted her, had teased her, and had even excited her. While everyone else around her indulged every one of her impulses through a mixture of fear and self preservation, Ryushi had treated her like a human… with both honest contempt and honest affection. While it was true she'd had Corm and Tatterdemalion... she could have never really considered them friends in the truest sense of the word. They had been servants and advisors, beloved and valued, but servants and advisors none the less.

No, as Aurin, she'd been completed isolated and over time she'd grown more and more bitter, hate filled, resentful and cold. But, she'd always hid it well and continued to masquerade in the great deception that was her life... until she'd met Ryushi.

In the time they'd been together, he'd been her enemy, her friend, her lover and even her liberator. The role he'd played in her life had been far too significant to merely dismiss.

He wasn't like Whist who could be easily cast aside once he'd fulfilled his purpose and use, nor was he like Jedda or even Kia, dear as they were. Ryushi was something wholly unique and precious to her.

Her reflection broke as she felt a light dampness in the corner of eyes and a surge of anger as the yearning swept through her body and mind.

It caused her pride to sneer, caused her conceitedness to hiss, and awoke her fury. But, beyond the black emotions, the woman inside her cried as the combination of loneliness and longing wrapped around her.

No… there no denying how much he still meant to her… and it hurt she'd never see him again. It hurt… because she inflicted this on herself….

The anger she felt gradually subsided and sighing, she finally dismissed the painful thoughts. She allowed a few heartbeats to pass her by, before she summoned her attention to the other issue that had been weighing heavily on her.

Though she wasn't precisely sure, she'd guessed that it had been anywhere between two to three cycles since she'd helped Zi-lin and taken his offer for her to be his guest. She was still trying to get over the shock of what she'd learnt. It all still seemed so unbelievable. Yet the proof was in front of her.

She had remained with Zi-lin and his family, trying to gather more information regarding the collapse of her former kingdom and The Dominion's government. It was a task she'd found to be particularly difficult and she'd often found herself wishing Corm and Tatterdemalion were here to help her, as they had when'd they'd located Kia in the mines. Still, even without their assistance, she had managed. And it appeared that everything Zin-lin had told her was true, the assassination of the political leader Rayin, the backlash, and the starting point for the following events, with the most interesting twist being 'Krimpa'.

The ultimate question was how had it all been done, provided it was all part of ingenious plan? There began the frustrating cycle she'd found herself in. For every question she solved, or thought she'd solved, another one emerged. There was little doubt in her mind, that the events had, to some degree, been orchestrated. There was far too much coincidence for her to believe that it had been a simple case of fate, far too many factors. It wasn't so much a case of finding a motivation either; there were various options to pick from. Greed, personal grudges, prejudice, pride, corruption... there would always be a reason that someone would use to justify their cruel actions... in much the way she had, she realised soberly.

Quickly dismissing the unpleasant emotions that came with the memory, she returned her thoughts to their previous cycle.

Since the incident in the market place, she'd been keeping her profile low. Though she had made journeys back into Kitika to learn more, she had always done so with the upmost care, making sure she wasn't seen, but able to hear titbit of information, though never enough to satisfy the numerous questions. She also made a point of steering clear of any and all the guard patrols.

She indulged a reflective smile. Yes, Whist's lessons certainly had their uses, as had he. Gathering information was easier with him around; he had a gift for inserting himself into any environment and gaining crucial knowledge, with nobody ever questioning or suspecting him. A useful talent; and it was something she wished she could access now. There was much she still wanted to know, needed to know, in regards to Aurin.

"Many atonements must be made before this age is done." Da'al Jakai words rose, unbidden in her mind.

Li'ain swore softly, feeling lightheaded with a mixture of fatigue and frustration.

Why were the healer's words still bothering her? Hadn't she'd done her part in the war? Hadn't she helped kill her own father? Her eyes closed as she exhaled, allowing the emotions to depart. What was wrong with her? Why had she felt such guilt when she'd discovered she was in Kitika? Why did she feel any such guilt? There was nothing she could do. The past was the past and there was nothing that could change it. It wasn't as if she could clap her hands and resurrect the dead, or any other such nonsense.

Realising these new thoughts were going nowhere, she banished them and returned to her previous musing.

Despite her sleep-deprived state, Li'ain could see what was happening. If what Zi-lin had said was true, then she, or rather Aurin, was being used as a symbol for the Kirins to rally against the new oppression they were facing. She gave a faint smile, though there was little humour in it.

How tragically ironic, that her name was seeming to carry and inspirer the same hope Parakka's had - Parakka, a rebel group that had been forged to fight her father's tyrannical rule and bring it to an end, the same group that had its political ideology of freedom and equality. Now the roles had almost been completely reversed.

Despite her efforts, she found her thoughts briefly returning to Ryushi. How would he react if he were to learn about 'the fall' as she dubbed it... he'd been so passionate about the group, in fact it was his father who had created it. What about Kia? She'd given so much to that group and had lost so much because of it.

Her gazed lifted to the purple sky, as her thoughts drifted around the Dominion twins that had changed everything. She doubted she'd ever know their reaction and, in all honesty, she hoped they would never know. Again she shook her head lightly, dismissing the current thoughts from her mind and returned to the previous thread.

The part involving herself, or rather her past self, was most intriguing.

If Zin-lin was indeed right, then many of the Kirins took comfort in the strange legends that were circulating about her. It was obvious to the former princess that somebody was creating these stories and using them as means to an end, the question was who and why? Who would gain from having her back on the throne? And why go to such trouble to paint her as such a virtuous creature, considering her dark past?

She sighed and closed her eyes, as she realised what was happening. It was political power games, in their purest form. In her time as ruler of Kirin Taq she had witness such things between the nobles in her palace. Perhaps someone was posing as her in order to gather followers in order to gain absolute power, such thing had occurred before. But that would incredibly dangerous, not to mention stupid. They would a walking target, with many enemies. She felt a soberness enter her. Many enemies...

Regardless of Zin-lin and Tomcha's personal thoughts, she knew many of her former subjects wouldn't share their views on Aurin, and would far rather see her head on the end of a pike. Yet, there was something comforting about Zin-lin and Tomcha's belief. In the recesses of her mind the healer words whispered to her. She inhaled and exhaled, composing herself, allowing the emotions to dissolve.

Perhaps finding redemption wouldn't be such an impossible task. She couldn't change the past of Kirin Taq… but maybe she could save its future.

The sound of footsteps, from behind, caught her attention and dismissing her thoughts she turned. Concealed behind the frame of the door was Morqa, her hand gripping the smooth wood as she cautiously peered around the edge. Her opaque eyes stared at Li'ain in a manner that the former princess found quite unsettling. In truth, she wasn't sure what to make of the young Kirin girl. Morqa spent most of her time trying to avoid Li'ain, though whether it was because she was shy, as Zin-lin had assured her, or for another reason, the former princess couldn't tell. But this wasn't the first time she'd spied the child observing her; perhaps she was finally ready to introduce herself.

She favoured the Kirin with a faint smile, though she wasn't sure why; the Kirin would be unable to see it.

"Hello." She began soothingly, watching the child for any sudden changes.

Morqa remained silent, but slowly she stepped out from the door's frame.

Li'ain waited a few heartbeats, then tried again. "Did you have a nightmare?" she offered.

"I don't like you..."

The former princess blinked, unable to conceal her surprise. It was the first time she'd ever heard the Kirin speak.

"I see." She recovered quickly, her ghostly smile fading as her face became neutral and unreadable. "Well, I suppose I can't help that."

Morqa continue to stare at her, the faint light catching the milky surface of her eyes. "What are you hiding?"

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me! Who are you? What do you want?"

Li'ain held Morqa's gaze, feeling an odd sensation crawl up the back of her neck as she stared into the pale eyes. Though the Kirin was blind, the former princess had the impression that Morqa was...

"I don't want anything," Li'ain said.


Li'ain repressed a sigh as she felt a ripple of irritation, followed by a stir of tiredness. She wasn't in the mood for silly games and her patience was beginning to ebb. But it was clear that, whatever the child wanted, she wasn't going to allow the former princess any peace, until she had it.

"Very well," Li'ain pressed, keeping her tone impassive. "Why do you think I'm lying?" she enquired.

Morqa's lips twisted into a cynical smile. "Because you're a dishonest person... and a cruel person" she said, her voice shifting to a tone of clear coldness.

Li'ain closed her eyes and exhaled evenly, commanding her annoyance to subside. "Why am I dishonest person?" she continued, trying to remain as composed and collected as her current state would allow her.

"You know why," the Kirin responded.

"Do I?" Li'ain questioned evenly.

"Yes, you do," Morqa hissed gently. "How many people have you killed now?"

A sudden panic touched Li'ain as she understood the insinuation. Impossible... could the child? No! She couldn't... "You games are boring me!" Li'ain said curtly, feeling her composure begin to strain. "Excuses me,"

She turned to leave.

"I know you really are... Aurin."

Li'ain froze as the word left the Kirin's lips. Quickly, she tried to regain herself, but she soon realised there was little point. Even if it had just been a wild guess, Li'ain knew she'd given too much away with her reaction. The Kirin child seemed to know this as well, because, as Li'ain turned to face her, she gave a smile that neatly encapsulated the sense of victory she was feeling. Li'ain felt the exhaustion sweep over her, along with frustration.

"How did you know?" she asked into the silence that had descended.

"Because you've just told me" Morqa said simply, turning from her and moving to the banister. So it had been a guess... and Li'ain had played right into it.

"You're very devious?" she observed, mentally scolding herself for not seeing the trap.

"I have to be," Morqa explained. "Nobody ever spares a second thought for the blind. I use it to my advantage." She paused thoughtfully. "If it helps... I was able to make the guess when I saw the turmoil on you, when grandfather mentioned Aurin." She turned to the former princess. "I'm not blind," she confessed. "I was born with eyes that make me appear to be blind, but I can see perfectly well. I've been watching you; when you talked to my uncle and my grandfather, I was hiding nearby, listening. I've also listened to you whenever you slept."

She regarded Li'ain for a moment and then a sly smile appeared. "Who's Ryushi?" she asked almost conversationally.

Despite herself, Li'ain turned her head from the child's eyes as she felt the blush spreading on her pale cheeks. She hadn't been aware that she talked in her sleep. "A friend," she said, turning back to the Kirin once she'd mastered herself.

"Sounds like he's more than friend," Morqa commented, before shrugging. "But I guess it's not my business."

For a while Li'ain stood in silence, watching the small Kirin. She felt embarrassed that she'd played into the child's hands and given her such an advantage. And she was also annoyed with herself for being manipulated so easily. Yet, she had a slight respect for Morqa's sharp mind and ability to read emotion. Had the victim been anyone else, she might have even congratulated the Kirin.

"How come you haven't told your grandfather?" Li'ain enquired, causing the Kirin to shrug again.

"I needed to make sure you were who I thought you were..." she trailed off, her brows furrowing as she descended into thoughts. "Why did you help my grandfather?" she asked suddenly.

Li'ain paused. It was a question she herself had reflected on. In truth she wasn't sure why'd she'd stepped in and saved Zin-lin from the guards. It had been an incredibly stupid move, and it was something of a miracle that she managed to escape. No... she hadn't been that careless, there been a certain degree of practicality to her decision. She'd been able to surmise that the guard could be bribed, Whist had taught her how to spot the 'blind guards' when he'd still been of use to her, and with that information she had taken the risk... however, she still found herself amazed that she had. But that wasn't entirely it. Originally she had no intention of stepping in, but as she'd been trying to leave, she had felt a ripple in her mind. It was almost as if an invisible force was nudging her to aid the old Kirin. Perhaps it was just a case of intuition again... and yet...

"I don't know," she replied honestly. "I just did."

Morqa remained silent, her eyes closing as she contemplated Li'ain's answer. "That's not really a good reason... considering who you are."

Li'ain regarded her, feeling a flicker of anger at the backhanded remark. "It is possible for people to change," she pointed out reasonably.

"Perhaps..." Morqa said, though her tone suggested she was unconvinced. "Now answer my other question. Why are you here?"

"To be honest... I don't know," Li'ain admitted. "I've been travelling The Dominion and I felt drawn to Kirin Taq."

"Do you believe that might be a sign?"

Li'ain blinked, the question catching her off guard. "Are you suggestion my returning and meeting your grandfather was more than a coincidence?"

"I don't know," Morqa confessed. "Some believe that the flow can dictate actions and guide us."

"I suppose," Li'ain conceded, remembering the Deliverers and their part in her father's downfall. The Deliverers... now, that was something to contemplate later, but not right now.

She exhaled and gathered her stray and tired thoughts. "I've answered a few of your questions. Now would you be so kind as to return the courtesy?" Realistically, Li'ain knew she had very little leverage in this conversation. Now the Kirin knew who she was, she had a certain degree of power over her... of course there was the option of... she silenced the thought.

"I suppose it's only fair," Morqa said, coming out of her own contemplation. "What do you want to know?"

"Are you working for a group, or some sort rebel movement?" Li'ain crossed her arms. "I assume there is a rebel group?"

"Of course," Morqa said with a shrug. "Wherever there is oppression, there is rebellion; light and shadow." She smiled lightly, perhaps amused by the philosophy. "Anyway, do I help with the relief effort?" she rephrased the question. "Yes, I gather information by posing as a blind and deaf child. I have contacts in both The Dominion and Kirin Taq."

"I see," Li'ain said softly. "Does your uncle or grandfather know?"

The young Kirin gave a contemptuous snort. "My grandfather is far too much of a coward to really do anything about Kirin Taq. He just hopes that the stories of you are true."

"He seemed quite brave when he challenged those guards." Li'ain commented, remembering the incident in the market place.

"Maybe he's getting tired of the rape and murder..." The Kirin sighed. "I do love my grandfather, but he's a fool. Look how easily he trusted you, look how much he told you. Told you about Vinra, told you about stories regarding yourself... what if you'd been a spy planted by The Dominion... we've had them before..." she shook her head as if to forget an unpleasant memory. "He and my uncle are getting careless in their desperation..." She lapsed into silence and turned her head so she faced the blue field.

Li'ain watched the Kirin, feeling a stir of pity towards her. No more than eight winters, and yet, here she was risking her life with her contacts, and formulating plans and tactics that would put most adults to shame. Briefly she found herself remembering the Resonant, Elani...

"So, you've manage to figure out who I am." Li'ain continued, "I assume you want something?" It was a logical chain of thought. Even if Morqa had been groping with the name, she'd found the answer she wanted. It was the fact that the Kirin was lingering and talking to her - telling her value pieces of information, despite her earlier anger at her grandfather for doing the same- was a clear indication that she had something in mind.

"I do..." Morqa said softly. "I want your help"

Li'ain repressed a smile. She'd guessed as much. "And if I refuse?" she questioned, her voice finding just the right level of coldness and arrogance.

Morqa turned to face her, her lips twisting into a wry smile. "You haven't got a choice," she said. "If you don't help, I'll tell everybody, who you are. The Dominion army will arrest you and you'll be paraded as a trophy and then executed. Imagine that neck in a noose... or severed from your shoulders."

The former princess's face remained emotionless. "So you're black mailing me?"

The Kirin responded with an eased shrug. "In essence... yes," she said.

"What makes you think I'll be any use to you?" Li'ain asked.

Morqa sighed. "Don't play stupid," she said. "It really doesn't suit you. You've heard what my grandfather said, you know about the stories of the princess. Even The Dominion army knows the stories." She leant against the railing. "Listen, despite what you may think, a lot of the Kirins would far rather see you back on the throne, then The Dominion's dog. They want their lives back, far more than their freedom..." her sentence trail off as a thoughtful look passed her features. "In actual fact... I don't think anyone really wants freedom, not in the truest sense... they all want security. As long as they have food, peace of mind and a bit of money to pamper themselves, most will be content. Personally, I believe that's the reason Parrakka was doomed to fail..." Morqa exhaled. "As much as I hate to admit it... you've become a beacon and a rallying point for Kirin Taq to fight against this threat. Somebody else must clearly think this... because they've gone above and beyond painting you in new colours."

Again Li'ain felt a touch of surprise. It was a little disconcerting just how much this child had managed to surmise. But there was still more to this puzzle...

"I have one more question, and I wish for you to answer me honestly. Why are you helping with the liberation?" the former princess asked. "Is it because you wish to save your people and land?"

Morqa's face darkened. "No..." she whispered. "I'm doing it for revenge..."

"For your mother's death?" Li'ain pressed, her voice becoming gentle as she remembered what Zin-lin had told her. Yet, somehow, her voice sounded insincere.

"They didn't just kill her..." Morqa sniffed. "Or me..."

The former princess regarded the Kirin for a few seconds, trying to think of something to say.

"I see..." she began.

"No, you don't..." the Kirin spat, with a sudden savagery. "No one ever does, and no one ever can..."

Li'ain felt an uncomfortable stir in her stomach and hard coldness set over her. "I suppose not... I'm sorry... nobody should have to go through something like that..."

"Don't patronise me!" the Kirin sniffed, quickly wiping away premature tears. "I don't care about your pity, it's worthless! I just want your help!"

The former princess remained silent, unsure how to respond. She didn't know what to do, even after all these years, interaction with others was something she found difficult. Her eyes closed as she felt conflicting emotion, swelling within her.


Li'ain opened her eyes and looked at the small Kirin. In the dull light of the eclipsed sun, she could see the tears gather in Morqa's eyes. As if suddenly just aware of the former princess's gaze, the Kirin sniffed and ran her arm over her face. "I really don't want to ask this of you..." she began. "But, things are really desperate... I don't see them improving..."

"What do you think I'll be able to do?" Li'ain asked.

The Kirin closed her eyes as her arms wrapped themselves around her. "I don't know..." she confessed. "I really don't know... but there must be something you can do to help..."

The former princess rubbed her arm nervously as she heard the healer's voice again. "I don't think I can help you..." she sighed. "I'm sorry. But, regardless of what your uncle and grandfather think, there is little I could do."

Morqa looked up at her sharply. "You haven't got a choice!" she snapped. "We need you, and you're going to help – you're as much to blame for this mess!" She jabbed at the former princess. "Take some responsibility for your actions!"

Li'ain waited for the Kirin to lower her accusing finger before speaking. "Morqa," she began softly. "I have been very patient with you. But don't you dare threaten me again, or I will kill you." Her eyes hardened causing the Kirin to flinch. But she soon recovered and stared down the cold gaze, her fists tightening.

"I really don't want to threaten you like this," Morqa said, trying to keep her voice even. "But like it or not, you need to take responsibility, we all do!"

Li'ain sighed. "This has nothing to do with me, and I will not be forced against my will!" She looked at the young Kirin, noting her determination. "However, I will consider what you've said."

The Kirin snorted. "I suppose it's the best I can get," she wiped her eyes again. "Take care, Aurin, I suppose it's all you're good at!"

Back in her room Li'ain fell against the bed and closed her eyes, feeling overwhelmed. She was angry, bitterly angry at the young Kirin and her words. This wasn't Li'ain's fault, or even Aurin's fault.

These were circumstances beyond her control. She had helped kill her father, she had saved Kia, among others things. There was nothing more for her to do. Yet, the words of Morqa and Da'la Jakai, played over and over. It was true she had been speculating on saving Kirin Taq, but it had been just that; speculation, a possibility. A course of action, she may or may not take. She had never committed herself.

She sighed as her thoughts drifted back to the Kirin. Though she'd hadn't been directly been told what happened, Li'ain could take an educated guess and very thought turned her stomach. It was hard to believe that something that horrible could even happened, even more so considering how old Morqa was. But such atrocity had happened before, and, unpleasant as it was, they would continue.

It was an unsettling thought.

These disgusting events had forced a child to act beyond her years, and enter a harsh world.
In the back of her mind, she recalled Elani and way her circumstances had caused her to mature rapidly. She wondered how the Resonant took the collapse of the government she'd worked so hard to build. It must have been heartbreaking, to watch it crumble before her eyes, because of the very people she'd been trying to save. Then again... perhaps she wasn't even alive to mourn. That seemed more merciful...

Li'ain's reflection broke as weariness swept over her, causing her limbs to turn heavy. She reached over for the quilts and drew them over her.

Resentful as she was, she realised she couldn't ignore this. When she'd stepped in to save Zin-lin she had, inadvertently, sealed her fate. There was no walking from it. Though it was galling to admit, Morqa was right, this was as much her fault, as it was anyone else's...

When she'd helped kill her father, she had help Parrakka secure victory, and with its victory, she'd also secured their government systems and political philosophies.

At the memory of Parrakka her thoughts returned to the twins. She knew what they would do. "My word is my bond" she found herself whispering, feeling another painful stir in her heart at the words. This was all too much. Curling her elegant form under the quilts, she drew the pillow closer to her and nestled her head into its soft folds. Dimly she felt her eyes began to droop and slowly she fell into her dream's embrace... into his embrace.