[This post is from Thordin’s point of view.]
The storm overhead twisted, lightning that had once arced toward the walls wrenched away. The wind howled as it shifted, the clouds churning like a maelstrom. At the far end of the field, smoke and dust cleared as the rain poured down, cold like liquid ice.
Sif turned slowly to look toward the wall, standing in a glittering dome still crackling with the last traces of the lightning that had been called down on her. Across the distance between them, their gazes met. She gave a slight nod. Thordin nodded back, throat tight as relief flooded through him.
An incoherent, enraged shout echoed over the field. Thordin’s heart froze.
He didn’t realize I was alive.
Sif twisted as Thordin watched, turning back toward Anhur as he charged the barrier that had sheltered her from his storm. It shattered under the weight of his shoulder. The skies roiled, the storm shifting again as Anhur tried to wrench control of the weather away from Thordin and reclaim it as his own.
A shriek split the air, followed by another, then a third.
Thom’s identifying shout was followed by Marin’s orders. “Ranged, fire at will! Don’t stop until they stop moving!”
A whisper of power shivered through Thordin’s bones and for a second, he panicked, control of the storm slipping until he realized that the source wasn’t Anhur, it was Phelan and Matt, strengthening the wards that Marin and Kellin had worked so hard to forge and maintain. A faint shimmer coruscated up an invisible path, skating up over their heads toward a spot somewhere above and behind them—a dome over the village they’d built from the ruins of what had come before. Dark blurs sped toward that invisible barrier, upward, along the curve of the wardings, trying to beat that faint shimmer to the apex of the dome.
Focus. Vestiges of control were slipping form his grip, wrested away by Anhur, who’d managed to claim some of the rolling thunderheads above. Thordin’s hands squeezed into fists and he set his jaw, focusing on the storm, on the flows of the wind and the power behind the clouds, behind the lightning and the thunder.
The shrieks of the camazotzi mingled with the shouts of his friends on the wall, on the ground, in the watchtower. Dimly, he heard J.T. shouting about them being inside. That sent ice sluicing through his guts, a feeling he tried to ignore. Anhur’s control was slipping. Out on the field, he could hear shouting, as if the Wild Hunt had gone over the walls to engage the camazotzi beyond the lines of the wards, wards that crackled as the black-winged creatures threw themselves at the invisible walls, trying to find a single weak point, a crack they could exploit.
The cacophony was familiar and alien all at once.
The storm slipped entirely from Anhur’s grip. Thordin exhaled, feeling the power of it down to the marrow of his bones, wrapping around him like a lover’s arms. It was an achingly familiar feeling, one he’d only briefly experienced when Olympium had come, when he’d taken over strengthening the wards from Matt—and even that hadn’t felt like this. This felt like nothing else he’d experienced in this lifetime and yet he knew he’d felt this way before, in some long-ago yesterday when he’d lived another life.
Thordin took one slow breath, then another, nudging the storm gently. The rain turned to sleet, turned to hail out on the field. Lightning skated across the wards, another layer of protection. The winds battered the camazotzi still in the sky, buffeting them and driving them to the ground. The clatter of steel and the sound of arrows was distant, lost over the sound of the storm that was as much within him as it was around him.
Then he heard the scream.
His eyes snapped open, searching the field.
Sif stood at the center, Anhur on one knee in front of her. Menhit’s arm was around her neck and Thordin could just see the glimmer of red-stained silver in her hand.
The gaze of both women landed on him and his heart froze in his chest.
Howling an anguished cry, Thordin threw himself off the wall and charged.