Chapter no 30

A Dawn of Onyx

In the dark, the silver soldiers that surrounded us looked like mythical giants, looming above us on horseback. I pulled Leigh close to me and

tried to ignore how her shaking limbs were tearing my heart to bits.

Before I could draw my sword, my arms were pulled behind me by one of the silver-clad men, and I fought kicking and thrashing to hold onto Leigh.

“Don’t you lay a single fucking hand on her,” Kane spit at the soldiers behind me, but they dropped him to his knees with a flurry of punches and I winced and gagged at the cracking sounds.

Leigh was wrenched from my arms, kicking and screaming, and both of us were held by more and more and more soldiers in the icy silver armor. We were desperately outnumbered.

Stalking forward in the sand and staring us down was an older, shockingly handsome man. With the same carved jaw, cheekbones that could cut glass, and slate-gray eyes, the resemblance was uncanny. Deep in my soul—I knew. I knew exactly who he was.

My vision was blurring. I choked down my nausea.

He turned to Kane, who spit blood onto the sand. “No letters? No visit? If I didn’t know better, I’d think you didn’t miss me at all.”

Horror dripped down my spine like blood. Lazarus Ravenwood. The Fae King.

Destroyer of us all.

Kane stared at his father, but said nothing.

Fury bloomed in my heart, in my stomach, replacing the icy coating of shock and dread. Molten and unrelenting rage heated my blood as I strained against the Fae soldier that held me back.

If Kane didn’t kill this man, I would.

The angry sun mirrored my blooming hate as it crested over the dark sea behind us. The rays illuminated Kane’s eyes, and for the first time, I saw genuine fear in them. His hands below were shaking, and he schooled them into fists by his sides. A fog of dread so crushing I could hardly think of anything else filled my mind.

Lazarus turned his attention toward me. His cropped gray hair, smooth tanned skin, clothing that rippled and glimmered with fabrics not of this realm. He was tall, like his son, but older, leaner. Clearly he was ancient, but his face only gave away a refined, mature beauty. Chiseled and charming and aged like a fine wine. But his eyes… they were depthless and hateful.

Stalking toward me slowly, he lifted a single finger toward my face and ran it down my cheek. My stomach roiled and Leigh whimpered at my side.

I was going to rip this man’s skin from his bones. “Feisty, aren’t we? You don’t even know me.”

“Do not touch her,” Kane snarled.

“Always so temperamental,” Lazarus said to his son, chiding. “It’s not my fault you fell for my assassin.”

His what?

I forced my brow to unfurrow, but not quick enough. “Not so honest with your lady friend, my boy?”

I went still as death.

Assassin? How were there more lies? More I didn’t understand? No. It couldn’t be. He was lying—trying to tear us apart.

Still, I couldn’t bring myself to look at Kane.

“Good thinking, lady friend. Your first instinct was the right one.” I needed to shut my brain up. “Stop that,” I hissed.

The Fae King turned to Kane once more.

“I see the appeal, son. She’s magnificent. After all these years of searching, she’s just as I always imagined she would be.”

My stomach sank like a stone in a deep sea. What did that mean?

Kane lunged toward him with lethal intent, but Fae soldiers pushed him

back down to his knees.

“Stop!” I moved toward them, but more soldiers swarmed me, pulling my hands and arms backward, holding my head still.

I thrashed and gnawed, trying with all my might to move even a single muscle, but they were stronger than anything I had ever felt. Their arms and hands were like steel bands around me. Lazarus just smiled and assessed my trapped form.

His eyes swept over me, predatory and rife with curiosity.

“If you harm so much as one single hair on her head,” Kane snarled from the sand. “I will reduce you to fucking ash. I spared your life once. I will not do it again.”

Lazarus couldn’t have been less interested in Kane’s threat.

“Is that how you remember it, son?” He asked, turning to one of his men who handed him something I couldn’t make out.

I strained to see what he held, and then all the air left my lungs in a strangled gasp.

A silver dagger glinted in his hands.

Kane thrashed—thrashed against the men behind him. Horror ripped through me. I couldn’t look into his eyes. I didn’t want to see his fear. I—

“My son never told you of the seer’s prophecy? Color me shocked,” the King said, approaching me slowly, as if I were a rabid animal. “You must know that’s the only use he had for you. A tool to beat his old man, once and for all.”

I shook my head from the soldier’s hold and turned to Kane. “What is he talking about? What else haven’t you told me?” Pure fear rang through my voice. It was a wail. A cry. A plea.

“I’m so sorry Arwen. I’m so sorry—”

I shook my head as if I could rattle any of this information into place. Nothing anyone was saying made sense. Sobs and panic were welling up in me, betrayal burning my cheeks. The Fae King closed his eyes and recited the prophecy from memory.

A world of lighte blessed across the stones,

A king doomed to fall at the hands of his second son. A city turned to ash and bones,

The fallen star will mean war has once again begun. The final Fae of full-blood born at last,

Will find the Blade of the Sun inside her heart.

Father and child will meet again in war a half-century past, And with the rise of the phoenix will the final battle start.

A King that can only meet his end at her hands, A girl who knows what she must choose,

A sacrifice made to save both troubled lands, Without it an entire realm will lose.

A tragedy for both full Fae, as each shall fall, Alas it is the price to pay to save them all.”

Humor danced in his eyes. “Kind of miserable, isn’t it? ‘Each shall fall’?

Pity. I think we could have been great friends.”

I could barely formulate a thought. My mind was reeling, stomach turning, I—

He had lied to me. After everything. The prophecy—

Cold, calm coated my veins as finally, finally I understood with perfect clarity. The one thing Kane had never told me, had always continued to shroud in mystery, to dismiss, to hide.

The single reason Bert had brought me to Shadowhold. Why Kane had kept me there.

The powers I had never understood— But Kane had.

I was destined to end this man before me. The Fae King. Because was the last full blooded fae.

And I was fated to die.

Lazarus lifted his silver dagger toward me. “It will all be over soon, Arwen. Try not to struggle.”

I thrashed against the men that held Leigh and me. Her sobs shredded me

from the inside out.

“No!” Kane roared.

A blast of dark billowing power erupted from the ground and shoved the Fae soldiers off of Kane with the force of a crackling storm. The silver clad men scrambled for him, but none of their own powers—rivers of fire nor violet light nor shimmering mirrors—were a match for his poison-black shadows. Kane slipped from their clutches and launched himself at his father with sheer, unending venom.

Deadly black smoke unfurled from his hands, rippled off his back like wings, and nearly reached the Fae King.


But Lazarus spun and with a wave of his hand a single stake of solid ice appeared from thin air and lodged into Kane’s chest, forcing his legs to buckle and slamming him to the sand with a hideous groan.

“Kane!” I screamed, my voice not my own.

He moaned in agony, sticky dark blood spilling out through his hands as he tried and failed to pull the ice from his sternum. I crawled and pulled against my captors, sobbing too hard to scream. My power twitching in my fingers, I could heal him, I could save him, I could—

But I couldn’t move an inch. Couldn’t even look at him when the Fae soldier behind me forced my head away from Kane and to face Lazarus.

I didn’t want Leigh to see this. I shook my head unable to think unable to breathe—

“Please,” I begged.

“Arwen…” Kane groaned from the darkness, prone in his own blood, soldiers on him once again. Eyes filled with unending, utter rage. And agony.

And sorrow.

So much sorrow it was cleaving me in two.

His hands reached toward me, but he was held down by too many, and bleeding. Bleeding out, ribbons of blood—

Lazarus was in front of me now, with the glittering silver dagger. I braced myself for the inevitable searing pain.

A sharp gust of wind and the sound of sparks on metal knocked me off my feet, and I toppled backward onto Leigh and the soldiers that held us.

I clamped down on the relief— Free. We were free.

When I sat up, my vision still blurred from the force, Kane was gone.

In his place on the sand, beside three eviscerated soldiers that were just moments ago holding him down…

Was the dragon from the very first night I was flown to Onyx.

All sleek black lines and glistening scales—it seemed ridiculous I hadn’t known all along. Kane in his dragon form was the same: a mind-bendingly beautiful, terrifying creature of wicked power.

My heart froze solid.

Then, without a beat, Lazarus shifted as well.

The power of his transformation forced sand into my eyes, and I coughed against the biting taste of lighte on my tongue, shielding Leigh in my arms.

Lazarus’ shifted form was a gruesome, gray-scaled wyvern. Larger than Kane’s dragon by more than half, and twice as frightening. While Kane’s shifted self still retained some warmth, some humanity, Lazarus was all monster. Nothing but cold, unfeeling violence.

The pointed ridges down his long back and across a swiping tail glinted in the white sun, and a ragged pink scar sailed along his scaled rib cage. Rows of teeth shone like stalagmites in a crowded, treacherous cave. Bright red eyes like fresh blood shot to me only once, before lunging toward Kane. His claws slashed through the air as he took Kane’s dragon form in his jaws by the neck and shot into the sky.

I squinted up at the early dawn light above the battle-torn beach. Like a horrific domino effect, a handful of the Fae soldiers around us shifted as well and shot upward after the two of them.

Sphinxes, hydras, harpies.

All fae mercenaries as Kane had told me, taking off after their King. Kane didn’t have a chance.

A hideous and bewildering celestial battle waged above us among the stars that mingled with early, pale light, but I didn’t wait to see what might

happen next.

I grabbed for my sword and swung at the soldiers that surrounded Leigh and me. I knew we were outnumbered. Still, I had to try.

“Stay with me,” I barked at Leigh, as I drove my blade into a Fae soldier’s neck.

I parried and blocked, moved through soldier after soldier. But something wasn’t right.

Why had nobody so much as touched me?

I wasn’t that good. These were Fae soldiers, supposedly the deadliest men ever to have existed, and they were trained for battle.

“What are you doing?” Leigh asked, her voice small. “I was taught to wield a sword. It’s a long story.”

“I’m not talking about that.” Then I saw it.

The sand below our feet as we moved was dented inward. Each soldier that attempted to touch us was blasted back by a glass-thin protective burst of light.

“That can’t be me,” I said, but my voice was softer than a whisper. The final Fae of full-blood born at last. Images of the warm glow and strength I felt when I fought the wolfbeast flooded my mind. “But let’s not stick around to find out.”

I sheathed my sword and raced for the ship, carrying Leigh in my arms. The golden arc around us was a second sun to the bare blue light on the beach giving way to morning.

“What about the king?” Leigh screamed as we bowled over soldiers of every creed and kingdom.

“Which one?”

“Your king!” she cried.

“Leave him.” At the thought of Kane, a thundercloud of fury settled over me. He had lied to me from the very first moment we met.

Used me.

If he lived, I was going to choke the life out of him myself. Upon reaching the ship, Leigh ran up the gangway.

There they were.

My mother and Ryder, their faces bathed in relief.

Leigh fell into their arms and a tiny part of my shattered heart healed. “Thank the Stones,” said my mother, holding Leigh to her chest.

The deck was strewn with fallen Amber bodies—Griffin and Eryx must have taken the ship from them while we were held by Lazarus. A hum of triumph sailed through me at their success.

But Peridot and Onyx soldiers were barely keeping Lazarus’ men from boarding the ship. Amelia and Mari helped to untangle ropes and unfurl sails as swords clanged and voices bellowed. The fiery roars in my ears signaled the salamanders were coming.

Our steel was going to be no match for a firefight.

“You have to go, now!” I called to the Onyx soldier captaining the ship. The sun was just rising over the sea, and we were losing the cover of darkness we would need to sail away and not be followed. I helped a young Peridot man clad in armored pants and tattoos hoist the anchor aboard. Griffin gave the signal to the captain, the vessel creaked into motion, and I sprinted back down the gangway, ignoring the pleas of my family.

No matter how much their voices crushed my heart. Ripped it in two.

I had to help, to do something. I scrambled down into the shallow water, planted my feet in the sand beside the other Onyx warriors, and raised my sword.

Two clawed feet landed beside me.

I swung the metal in my hands to attack but recognized the sea glass eyes immediately.

“A griffin? Really?”

The hulking, feathered beast nodded. “My parents weren’t very creative.” Griffin moved first, taking out rows of soldiers with his deadly wingspan,

and ripping heads clean off with his lionlike teeth. Blood splattered my face, but I didn’t care. If anything, I relished it. Looking at the carnage, the bodies, the slumped carcasses of scaled beasts—what they had done to the peaceful city of Siren’s Cove.

I was going to kill each and every one of them.

I parried and stabbed, but moving in the shallow water slowed me down and I heaved with the force of swinging my blade against stronger fighters. Above us, I heard the roar of Kane’s dragon form as he lit the soldiers that fought us with fire, the gray wyvern following in close pursuit. The smell of charred flesh threatened to bring my stomach’s contents onto the sandy bank beneath us. No amount of time spent in an infirmary had desensitized me to scorched human remains.

Still, the hordes kept coming.

I jabbed and grunted, narrowly dodging blades and flames and fists. I was grateful for the pale light. I didn’t want to see how red the ocean water we moved through had turned. A Garnet soldier came at me and slammed his blade against mine. I blocked and spun but he slipped through, and I barely caught Barney out of the corner of my eye as he sliced through the soldiers’ neck before the man impaled me.

“Thank you,” I breathed.

He slammed me down into the shallow water in response, covering my body with his.


“You have to get on the ship, Lady Arwen.”

“We can’t leave these people to die,” I grunted under his weight. “We don’t have a choice.”

I knew Barney was right.

They had too many men. And beasts. And Fae. They weren’t even using any lighte—their swords and arrows and cannons enough to decimate half of Siren’s Cove. Barney rolled off of me and whistled at the sky, and not a minute later gnarled talons picked Barney and I from the sand and carried us over the sea and onto the moving ship. Wind assaulted my face and we landed with a thud, the force of Griffin’s wings sending some of the Peridot soldiers aboard running for the galleys.

I looked back to the shore. Some soldiers still clashed calf-deep in the bay, but most of our enemies looked to be retreating. For a moment, I wondered with child-like optimism if they would just simply let us go. If

being ripped from my home, then the keep, and now this palace, losing my oldest friend and destroying whatever might have been with Kane might just be enough loss for a lifetime.

Instead, I watched in silent horror as the salamanders lit enemy arrows alight and a fiery rain of piercing metal hailed down onto our ship. The entire deck ran for cover. Ryder and I lunged for Leigh and Mother and moved to get under the deck.

We toppled into the captain’s quarters with a thud. I sucked in a great lungful of musty cabin air.

“Thank fuck,” said Ryder, checking to make sure he was in one piece. Once he was sure no limbs had been lost, he flattened out against the floor to sip in gulps of air.

Bleeding Stones,” exhaled Leigh, untangling herself from me.

I waited for my mother’s admonishment against our foul language. Surely even near death wouldn’t stop her automatic reprimand— But it never came.

The darkest chill—pure dread—barely tickled my neck.

I turned around, sitting up from the worn wood beneath me.

My mother was prone on the ground, an arrow lodged in her heart. “No!” I shrieked.

No, no, no, no, no—

I gathered her into my arms, shaking and screaming, my pulse too loud in my ears, shuddering—

“Arwen, you can fix this, right?” Ryder scrambled to the other side of my mother. “Mam, Mam! Stay with us.”

“Mother?” Leigh grasped her tightly, and my heart stopped beating altogether.

I knew as soon as I held her. My stomach turned and my vision blurred, and I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t breathe.

My abilities had never worked on my mother.

I tried anyway, pressing my palms into her blood-drenched blouse. I poured all the energy I had into her. Like Dagan taught me, I thought of the sky and air and atmosphere. Tried to pull everything around me into myself

like sucking in a final breath. My pulse thrummed, my body ached, my head pounded, and I waited. Waited for her tendons, muscles, and flesh, at my power’s urging, to stitch themselves back together around the arrow. My nerves vibrated and my jaw clenched at the effort, but the blood continued to pour out in rivulets, and nothing happened.

“I am so, so sorry. I can’t— I’ve never—” I sobbed. “Arwen,” she said, her voice a whisper, “I know.”

I cried harder, unable to find strength or courage or hope. Her wound was too great. Ryder’s face was crumpling. He held Leigh tight, but she had gone deathly pale and still, the tears welling in her eyes the only sign of her horror.

“I did this. It’s all my fault,” I wept.

“No. No, Arwen.” She swallowed a wet cough. “I have always known what you are, and loved you just the same.”

Confusion and shock warred inside my reeling, spinning mind.

How could she have known? The ask died in my throat as she coughed again.

She had so little time left.

“I am proud of you, Arwen. I always have been, and always will be. Wherever I am.” I buried my face in her neck. There was no pain, no suffering greater than the looks on Leigh and Ryder’s faces.

“My beautiful babies,” she whispered. “Take care of each other. There will be—”

She went limp before she could finish her last words. Then it was only the sound of our weeping.

My mother was dead.

I had failed her completely.

The sun was peeking through a pastel, clouded sky. The choppy water rocked below us, a calm rhythmic melody.

And my mother was dead.

I could not endure this. I wasn’t strong enough.

Ryder’s crumpled face heaved over her still body, as Leigh just stared in shock. Her simple tears and uneven breaths were the only signs she was

even conscious. I wanted to reach for them both. To hold them close to me. Tell them it would be all right. But I could barely even think, let alone speak.

Let alone lie.

Without feeling my legs bend beneath me, I stood. My heart was a dull thump, my mind clear. I might have heard Ryder behind me. Calling to me. But there was no way to tell for sure.

I left the captain’s quarters in a daze and stood at the stern of the ship, facing the shore. Arrows still rained down on the deck, missing those who were ducking for cover, but none pierced my skin. Garnet and Amber’s ships followed us in the uneven waters. The salamanders were retreating from the beach, leaving remains of the carnage behind them. Husks of armor, discarded weapons, sand mottled by blood. The dark skies above were filled with purple clouds amid a sunrise that promised rain. Sky-bound creatures fought, talons and scales clashing among the mist.

A pure, white-hot rage was consuming me. Filling me from my feet to my palms. I vibrated with fury and sorrow.

But not fear.

A torrent of raw, brutal power unleashed from my soul, spilling from my eyes, palms, and heart. I could feel it flowing from me like a dam breaking open. I screamed, unable to control it, my lungs burning with exertion.

White light and a gusting wind as sharp as blades cut across the sea and decimated the soldiers. Amber and Garnet, battalions on the shore and ships at sea alike lit up in golden, hot, shimmering light. Their screams were my fuel. Their suffering my spirit. And I drank and drank and drank.

Raising my arms to the sky, I pulled from the air around me. The rain-tinged ether, the lightning, the clouds. They filled my veins and lungs and eyes. I brought the remaining ghastly winged creatures above me down into the sea one by one until the salt water turned red and the waves churned with their blood. I felt the horror radiate from those around me on the deck. I heard screams, even from those I loved.

But I was powerless to stop it.

I thought of all the innocent citizens of Siren’s Cove. Dead, wounded,

without homes. The injustice of it all.

I thought of Leigh and Ryder, without a mother. The horrors they had to witness all for kingly greed. The nights of nightmares and days spent crying that stretched ahead of them.

I thought of Powell. The sickly smell of his clothing. The tight, confined space of his shed. The agony of each lash, both his belt and his words. All that his abuse had cost me. A sheltered, pitiful life.

I thought of my mother. The sweet children she had raised almost entirely alone. The small life she had lived. Her lifelong pain and suffering. Her one shot at health, squandered. How her own daughter, blessed with the gift of healing, had never been able to heal her. And the undignified, excruciating, arbitrary way in which she had died.

And then, I thought of myself. Every exploitation, manipulation, blow, insult. Everything that had shaped my childhood and these past few years. A life wasted in fear, hiding from what was outside, terrified of being alone yet always feeling lonely. Betrayal from the only person who had shown me what anything else could feel like. A prophecy that promised my death.

I finally had a profound understanding of my purpose in this world, and it was to die.

I wailed and purged—

Sputtering the pain outward as it bled from my fingers, my heart, my mouth—

Power shuddered through me, decimating, destroying, unending. I screamed my suffering into the skies and brought down a merciless hail of fire on the enemy soldiers.

The world was too cruel.

Nobody deserved to live to see another day. I would annihilate them all.

I would—

“You showed extraordinary bravery when you had no hope it would save you.”

“What you call fear is indeed power, and you can wield it for good.” “I did not want to live in a world without you in it.”

“You are a bright light, Arwen.”

“I have always known what you are and loved you just the same.”

I collapsed on the deck in a heap, sobbing and gasping for breath.

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