The final chapter of this rather short story. Thank you for taking the time to look through! As always, I do not own any Broken Sky material
It had gone awry. Horribly off course. The plan was in shambles.
They were in Netherfane.
Blink and Whist looked around, worried. Macaan had transported them all, but he had forgotten about one person. Aera. She had been hiding in Whist's shadow, her power creating a blind spot in all the minds she encountered. It allowed her to walk past them and have them none the wiser. But where was she.
Aera shuddered, panicking. A damper collar was tightening around her neck, squeezing off her power. No one would be able to find her now. She heard Macaan's voice around her, mocking.
"Well, I seems I've caught a stowaway. No matter. I'll get to you later."
She could hear the battle taking place below. She heard her Splitling scream, and for once, didn't feel the urge to scream with her. She was cut off, alone.
Alone. She had no other person to live through, to help, to be able to relate to. Alone reminded her of the time when she had been under the training of her cruel master, of how she would be locked in a cellar every night, the hated collar with the damp stone always choking her and the beatings that took place with it on, forcing her to do as she was told, a constant reminder of what punishment would be if she were alone.
Her breathing became labored, frantic. She was helpless. Her swords wouldn't do her any good. Macaan would kill them all, and then he would destroy all of them…all of those innocent people that she was connected with, people that in her dreams she had visited, helped, suffered, laughed and cried with. He would kill them all, sparing none because he wanted them to suffer as much as he had.
For the first time in her life, Aera cried for herself.
Blink barked sharply; he smelled something. Whist grabbed him, and Blink understood the look in Whist-master's eyes. It was how Sand-man looked at Kia-earthshaker. He blinked, and then backed up to give them space.
Whist knelt down by her, and pushed the hair out of her face. She jerked, tears tracing her beautiful face, the ugly collar standing out against her long hair. She let loose a sob and threw herself into his chest, sobbing brokenly. Whist felt a coldness resulting from his close proximity with her, and felt Blink suddenly grow distant. The dog didn't make a move; he watched his master and waited patiently.
"Calm down, we have to go help them," he said. She tried to get herself under control, but failed.
"What is it? What is it?" he asked, shaking her gently.
"I was alone…I was alone. I had no one else…I hate being alone," she whispered. Whist watched her carefully, and felt something move in him. Something he expected from other people, not himself. He cradled her face and kissed her, long and hard.
Aera's eyes widened in shock, and then closed them, arms hugging the boy who kissed her. It was incredible, and what was more, it was all for her, from only him. Blink was cut off, leaving only Whist. She pulled away and rested her head on his shoulder, and he just held her for a few seconds. He stood up with her, still holding her. She turned her back to him, moving her hair out of the way. He brought up a pick and took off the collar, stroking the stones in her back as they glowed again, repossessed of their soft fire. She smiled as he placed an arm around her waist and a hand on Blink, who had rejoined them. They blinked.
As they arrived in a rocky outcrop, she dropped the collar, and gasped in pain. She could feel the people of both the Dominions and Kirin Taq clamoring in her mind for help, for a savior. She fell to her knees, hands clamped over her ears. Whist dropped with her, hand rubbing her back, trying to help. She bit her lip until blood flowed, and gripped his hand tightly. She forced herself to look at the fight below, nearing the final stage.
Elani was screaming as Ryushi and Kia let loose a tremendous amount of energy at Macaan. Her cousin was trying to keep up her defenses, but was failing. Macaan knew the twins would tire quickly, and he was holding on until then, though just barely.
"Whist, aim for Macaan. I can get his defenses down," she whispered. Whist nodded, kissing her forehead, and got up to take aim.
Aera stood up, and spread her hands. She grabbed hold of all the thoughts of all the people, the memories, the histories, the lives, and focused on Macaan. She spoke, and only he heard.
"You want to be King? Then be King!" With that, she thrust all of the lives of all the people of both the Dominions and Kirin Taq into the mind of Macaan, forcing him to freeze as Whist yelled for his attention.
As he looked up at the spinning disk, he lived every life, bled from every scar, and felt every blow. Aera felt him questing for her through it all.
"Here I am," she whispered, and as his eyes widened in shock the disk struck home. Aera felt his death as sharply as if it were her own, a sign that she was once again the bearer of the memories. She gasped painfully, and felt her knees give out from under her. Blackness followed.
Afterwards, Kia was united with her Splitling, Aera. Elani had many questions for her and the strange half breed was adopted by the younger girl very quickly.
Ryushi and Calica had boarded the ship, The Banto, when Whist came up to her. Li'ain had joined them, planning on traveling with them for a ways. Aera sat on Or'aci, a seat behind her for Whist. Blink had chosen to go next to Li'ain. On the ground.
Whist looked uncertainly at the points with the scales rubbed off. Aera wrapped her arms around his waist, burying her face in his new coat.
"How do I do this again?" he asked nervously. Aera sighed, and switched places with him.
"Watch. You and I are gonna join with Or'aci. You'll actually be Or'aci for a while. Ok, now you put your hands here, and then press forward gently. See, he's going for takeoff. Now push harder, depending on the speed you wanna go. Ready?"
Whist nodded, squeezing her waist a little harder. She rested a hand on his clenched fists and bent down.
"Let's go, then," she said. She grinned as he quickly kissed the base of her neck, a sudden rush of wind causing her white hair to fan out. Or'aci screamed a challenge to the departing Aracille, reminding him to come back soon. On deck, Ryushi and Calica waved. On the ground, Kia and Jedda looked up, smiling as the pair soared overhead. Or'aci dipped suddenly and clipped Gerdi in the head, causing Hochi to burst out in laughter.
Li'ain looked up and saw them flying closer, and spurred her mount onward. One day they would go across the sea, maybe in the near future. But first, she wanted to see more and learn more. Whist and Aera would accompany her for a time before going on their own journey. Li'ain smiled.
Some things were meant to be broken; others seem impossible to fix. But sometimes, it turns out that the thing was never broken to begin with.