The second surprise saw Elyna glance at Faith, concerned for the woman as she too sat a little straighter in her chair and met the measured gaze of the king. Well she had vowed to try and save him, it seemed fitting that she was already sworn to fealty. The Skyrider struggled to breathe, the air too cumbersome to seep into her lungs and give any relief. Outside the city was burning and the taint of acrid smoke lined her tongue. The King was here, and he was in good company. The sight of Cassander revealed seemed to spark relief in the woman and as she sat taller, her shoulders were pulled back but relaxed.
Veljorn vowed destruction. To fight and battle to the bitter end. Elyna stood slowly. In a gesture that she hoped would confuse and console the man, she trailed her hand across Marcus’s shoulders and squeezed gently. He turned to watch her move as she circled the Sailor, aware that she had probably attracted the attention of the tent. Yoreth, who knew her better stood up quickly from his chair but it was too late. She’d closed the distance between herself and her Uncle in two careful steps. The knife was pulled from her belt and she spun. Elyna wrapped an arm around her Uncle’s neck and before he could react the star steel blade was plunged without hesitation into the side, to the hilt.
If Veljorn was a Burhan, he did not represent them all. He did not represent her and she would not be ordered to marry anyone, or live a life dictated. She had forsaken her Noble name to that end and it had been the right thing to do. “You do not speak for me,” she told him dispassionate. No one did, and no one ever would again.
Perhaps there only needed to be one more death. The blade she named Serpent Death in that moment as Veljorn tilted his head back against her body and chocked. Blood rising to his lips as his eyes met hers and she watched his final gasps for air. The blade withdrawn in a swift and practised motion of a warrior sent a spray of warm blood across the tent. It had only taken a few moments and Yoreth and Marcus had lunged for her. The Skyrider took a step back. Yoreth closed a grip around her arm and she twisted and forced him to break his hold. Serenity settled over her because this was now a battle that she could understand. One with actions instead of words. She felt the familiar trickle of adrenaline slide down her spine and her fingertips hummed with energy. Perhaps it was unusual but the woman had always found peace in action and the simple repetitive motions of training and fighting. Her balance was off because of the baby and yet she knew it, and she knew that she could compensate. Letting go of conscious thought she embraced the darker part of her own heart. One willing to deal death and justice as necessary. She sent a silent prayer to Pre that she could consider the execution of her uncle as Just. Correcting the carnage he had wrought.
Marcus reached for her other side and she twisted to face him. He stumbled to a halt when faced with the knife, still warm and dripping blood. Held level with his neck as the woman made deliberate motions around the edge of the tent toward the door. As chaos erupted and shouts were raised Elyna kept her focus on the Sailor, ready and waiting for any sudden moves he might make. Yoreth flanked him and the pair approached.
The wind was at her back with the open tent flap, “Faith?” Elyna called without lifting her gaze from the pair of warriors held at bay by the fury in her expression and the unwavering calm of her weapon.
If the world had held it’s breathe it suddenly inhaled as she stepped out from the tent and into the crisp clear night. Elyna lunged for the weapons rack and retrieved her sword then carried on running. She followed her natural instinct and fled. Hopefully with Faith at her heels the woman found a clear path to the dragons, as it seemed the soldiers were reluctant to approach the enormous animals. The Skyrider considered yet again, if perhaps there was something wrong with her. Because she wasn’t afraid of the Dragons. She loved them, still. Like horses they seemed to sense intention and one lifted its head as she sprinted towards the group. A smaller creature with scales such a dark shade of emerald green they looked black or even blue tinged in the flickering firelight.
Without hesitation the woman crossed grass that was trodden into mud and climbed up, reaching for the leather straps of the harness and pulled herself up onto what could only be described as a saddle set before the mighty wings. If Faith had followed her, the woman reached down to assist the slave. As Marcus had followed her, he stopped on the outskirts of the flying creatures and roared with frustration. The Dragon who had allowed her to mount up extended enormous wings and flexed.
“Hold tight and shut your eyes!” Elyna called to anyone who might be listening and the Dragon reared onto hind legs before leaping and lurching into the Sky. It was always harder to gain height from a flat start and so it felt as though they would surely crash atop the tent, before the wings caught and lifted them higher. They spiralled up and the Skyrider tried desperately to recall all the lessons of Jacadon riding she could remember. Mostly she’d ridden Volarean but Dragons were a different creature entirely. The reins collected and held lightly, Elyna watched the campsite drop away beneath them. The fires becoming tiny pinpricks of light in the distance like a second night sky.
Regret found her. No matter what, if Zvezdana had found love then surely Elyna had taken it from her. It was a keen pain and one the woman wouldn’t have wished on anyone. She could only hope that his death would save thousands. Though it would be little comfort to his widow. What of Lazuli? What had Cassander done?