Seventeen – 01

[This post is from Thordin’s point of view.]

“Where is Sif?”

It was the second time he’d asked the question, as he hauled himself up onto the wall on the far side of the gate. He was surprised to see Marin crouched next to Seamus, her bow in hand. How had she beaten them there? He hadn’t thought rallying the rest and getting Phelan’s staff from his room had taken quite that long.

Maybe it was his good-bye to Jacqueline and sending her below. That’s what took so bloody long.

Even as worry swelled his throat, Thordin couldn’t blame his friend. If he had been in the same spot, he’d have done the exact same thing.

“Seamus.”

The former leader of the Wild Hunt gave a little jerk, tearing his gaze from the field. He took a deep breath and for a second, Thordin could see the weight of all of the years crash down on Seamus’s shoulders.

Then, he pointed out into the field and Thordin’s heart froze in his chest.

No.

There she was, out on the field, her hair whipping around her, torn free of her braid in the winds of Anhur’s brewing stormfront. She faced Anhur, who slowly drew to a stop a few yards from her, clouds writhing in the sky above him. It was too far away to hear what they said.

He didn’t realize he’d risen from his crouch, didn’t realize he’d moved toward the forward edge of the wall. He didn’t realize that his weapon was in hand, that he was ready to jump—not until Phelan grasped his shoulder and jerked him back.

“You can’t,” the Taliesin said, his voice grim but firm. “If you go out there and whatever she’s doing is going well, you showing up there is going to turn everything sour.”

“And if it’s not going well?” Thordin croaked. It felt like someone or something had him by the throat, choking off his air. Maybe it was his heart, risen up to strangle him. “What then?”

Phelan’s fingers tightened. “Then we fight like hell because this is our home and no one’s going to take it—or anyone here—from us again.”

“Why didn’t you stop her, Seamus?” It was Thom that asked the question, and for that, Thordin was silently grateful. He wasn’t sure he could form the words, let alone sound quite as civil.

“When she has her mind set to something, there’s no stopping her, no matter how much you may want to,” Seamus said, his voice grim.

Out on the field, there was a flicker of movement. Thordin sucked in a sharp breath as Sif drew her blade.

“Oh no.” The words escaped before he could stop them, a whisper lost in the suddenly howling wind.

Thunder crashed and lightning arced downward unerringly toward the charging shieldmaiden as the storm flowed outward, toward her, toward the wall.

Toward the rest of them.

“No.”

The light left him blinded and breath burned in his throat. Rain sheeted from the sky, the storm suddenly rolling over them, over the walls, the sky black as soot and wrought iron. Thom was yelling; something about archers and range. Marin was shouting—something about watching the sky. A shiver of power swept over him. Phelan and Matt were working magic again, deep magic—it seemed the geology student turned blacksmith remembered far more of a druid and a silversmith than he had ever let on.

And Thordin could do nothing except stare blindly ahead at a spot where there was nothing but the painful blue-white of lightning bolts raining down where the love of his life had been and hold on to a last fraying thread of hope.

Lightning crackled at his fingertips. It was hard to breathe.

No.

There was something.

He stopped thinking entirely. He slammed a hand down against the stones of the wall; a ripple of something flowed outward in the space of a heartbeat.

If it takes my life for yours, it will have been worth it.

His vision dimmed at the edges.

I love you, Sif. Forgive me.

The sky screamed.

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