(A/N: Whoops, I accidentally abandoned my story for eight months and then uploaded thirteen chapters of a possibly pointless backstory, and am now uploading a really crappy chapter that I haven't even revised because if I don't get it out now, it'll be another eight months before I get back to this. If you're curious, the first part was written before the hiatus, and what's below the line was written afterwards. I've changed as a writer and a person and all of you have changed as well, so let's see where this leaves us.)

Chapter 21

There was barely time to think before a hundred spells were moving their way. Emlen and Odahviing entered battle mode, ducking and twisting and yanking out their weapons and attacking.

It was easy enough to kill one – three stabs and they were out. But three hundred hits were next to impossible. Emlen slashed and ducked and lopped heads off, but she was quickly tiring under the force of constant fire and electricity and ice. Somewhere in the depth of them was an older necromancer, the strongest of them all. His spells easily carried over all of them and nearly knocked Emlen over. She didn't know where Odahviing was. She couldn't keep track, but she heard him shout.

She screamed when she fell. A necromancer aimed a spell at her face, and she knew it was over.

And then the necromancer was knocked aside and the others about her scattered. She looked up, expecting Odahviing. But that – that was not Odahviing.

"Shadowmere!"

It was odd, the ecstasy that filled her right then. She jumped up to fight beside the great black horse with the glowing red eyes. He knocked aside their enemies with ease – enough to calm Emlen enough to glance around for Odahviing, to make sure he was still alive.

He was, but there were too many on him and he was getting overwhelmed. She made to run towards him before she heard the crash and turned. Shadowmere was knocked to the ground. A fireball was aimed at his face, and he wasn't going to survive this one.

Time slowed as she turned. She didn't think about what she was doing, she couldn't even control her movements – her soul had taken control of her body.

"FUS RO DAH!"

Necromancers flew away from the horse. Never had such force poured from her body. As soon as the horse managed to stand, she fought her way to Odahviing.

It must have taken an hour to kill them all. But with the power of Odahviing and Emlen's shouts, and Shadowmere's near invinicibility, they finished. The strongest was the hardest – Emlen quite nearly died. But they got him first.

Emlen and Odahviing collapsed at the base of a tree and fell asleep right on each other while Shadowmere guarded them. There would be time for questions later.


Twelve hours later, Odahviing and Emlen were walking on the road with Shadowmere between them. They weren't talking because Emlen had smacked him on the back of the head and his pride was hurt.

There was a note on the eldest necromancer with instructions to lead the army to kill Emlen and Odahviing, and then to meet back at a cave, with the location conveniently listed. Emlen knew they needed to go there right away, which Odahviing disagreed with and that had something to do with the argument, but some of that argument also stemmed from the fact that Emlen had shouted to save Shadowmere, and Odahviing was jealous that she hadn't shouted for him but he wouldn't admit that.

She hadn't gotten around to telling him she met Rhoslyn, and she wasn't sure if she really would because, was it even real? and, did it even matter?

When the sunset and darkness fell, they stopped and Odahviing made a fire and Emlen undressed and tucked up against Shadowmere, irritated with Odahviing but mostly sad, because she'd really rather be tucked up against him. She fell asleep, trying not to care whether he was looking at her or not.

Odahviing's anger didn't really so much melt away as completely diffuse with his realization of his idiocy. He was a thousand year old dragon – not a petty human, and he did not have time for this nonsense. Emlen would do as she wanted and he would follow her and make sure she didn't kill herself. It did not matter whether he was happy or not with the circumstances.

He was stewing over that, forcing his contentment, until Emlen sat up, looking a little dazed. Not terrified as though she had a nightmare, but perhaps still half-way asleep. She stared at him without speaking.

"Emlen?" he finally prompted, not yet rising to check on her, half-expecting her to lay back down and go back to sleep.

"I thought you'd left." Her words were mumbled.

"I haven't gone anywhere."

"That's good. I suppose you wouldn't have." She rose and stumbled over to him before trying to lie down against him. His armor bothered her, so he stopped her and had her sit for a moment while he stripped down to his underclothes and then he lay down and wrapped his arms around her. She tucked against him, her body warm against his.

"You can't leave me," she murmured.

"I won't, Emlen."

"You have to promise. Even when I'm foolish."

"I promise I won't leave you even when you're foolish."

"I don't believe you."

"Emlen, I'm not going anywhere." His tone was a cross between exasperated and amused. She wouldn't remember this when she woke up.

"You'll have to go. It'll be all right."

"Emlen, I'm not going to leave you."

She didn't respond to that one before she fell asleep on him.

When morning came and the sun rose up, Emlen sat up and stared at him. He had slept a bit, but was wide awake to meet her eyes.

"How did I get over here?"

"You woke up half way through the night."

"Really? Did I say anything?"

"Nothing important."

"Oh." She looked about. "Where's Shadowmere gone?"

He noticed the horse has disappeared and he didn't entirely mind. "Does he disappear often?"

"No, he never does this. What if he got hurt?"

"He can take care of himself. Are we going to that cave today?"

"Yeah."

They were dressed and walking on the road again, no horse between them this time, but not really speaking. Odahviing let his fingers lightly brush hers, and she took it to mean she was forgiven and gripped onto those fingers quite tightly.