Chapter no 45 – ‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌LOYALTY

Nightbane (The Lightlark Saga Book 2)

“I know what the sword does,” Isla told Oro. He immediately called a meeting.

Azul was not fighting with them, but he had remained on the island, to help in any way they needed him.

He was there, in the war room, when she told them everything. Her history with Grim. The oracle’s words. The fact that she had important memories. Azul looked pensive. Zed looked furious. Enya looked curious. Calder looked from Oro to Isla, then back again.

They might have been angrier if she hadn’t immediately told them about her latest memory.

“Dreks used to be people. Cronan made a sword that controls them and can make more.” She pressed her lips together. “I believe Grim now has that sword.”

Heat flooded the throne room.

“It’s done, then,” Zed said. “It’s—”

“Wait.” Azul held up a hand. “You don’t remember finding it, though, right? Perhaps you never did.”

It was a good point.

Zed laughed without humor. “The oracle said Grim has a weapon. The dreks flew toward Nightshade after the attack. It’s obvious he controls them. And now, with the sword . . . perhaps he has created more. We must prepare to face an army of endless dreks.”

Calder was the one who said what they must all have been thinking: “How do we possibly prepare for that?”

Even before learning about the sword’s use, winning seemed impossible.

Now, she wondered if it was foolish to ever think they could stand a chance against Grim.

“We’re dead,” Zed said, after a few moments of silence. “If he really has that sword, and can create dreks at will . . . we’re dead.”

Enya stood. “No. Not yet. What we are now is desperate. We need to find more power. We need to find another way to win.”

“We only have four days left, Enya,” Calder said.

She whipped around. “So, we give up? We let this army destroy our home? The one our own parents loved and protected?” She shook her head. “No. I refuse.” She took a step, and wings of flame burst forth from her back. They curled open, sizzling behind her. She looked like a phoenix. “I didn’t live five hundred years in the darkness, dreaming of the day I got to feel the sun on my skin again, to have my home taken away.”

Enya was right. They couldn’t give up.

And she was right about something else. They were desperate. Which meant Isla was about to make a very bad decision.

Grim was coming with an endless army of dreks. Loss felt almost certain, but she couldn’t give up.

There had to be a way to save the island. There had to be a way to save Oro and herself.

Isla used her starstick to portal to the edge of the Star Isle forest. It didn’t take long for the serpent to find her.

She watched as the snake turned into a woman and walked toward her, her long green scale dress trailing behind. “I let you live last time,” she said. “It seems you have rejected my gift.”

Isla didn’t have time for games. “We need you,” she said. “The destruction coming . . . We have no chance against it. Not without you and the other ancient creatures.”

The woman glared at her. “We are outcasts. No one has ever cared about us. How dare you ask for our help?”

Isla let her shadows loose. They swept across the silver ground, swirling like ink. “Because I’m an outcast too,” she said. She stepped forward. “I understand if you can’t trust anyone on this island. I understand what it’s like to be hated and abandoned.” She took another step. “Don’t trust them. Don’t believe in them. Believe in me.”

The serpent’s eyes sharpened.

“I will not abandon you. I will fight by your side, and when all of this is over, I will make you a place on Wild Isle. You won’t have to hide or kill

innocent people for food. You will be part of the island again. I promise. I extend that promise to whatever else lives in this forest.”

She meant it. With every part of her, she meant it. The serpent rejected her anyway.

Isla didn’t let the rejection stop her. There were other night creatures on the island. She went to each isle and sought them out.

Remlar was right. Most, when she showed them who and what she was, bowed their heads and joined her.

Her. Their loyalty was to her.

All this time, she had rejected the darkness within her. Now, she wondered if it was her greatest strength.

By the time she left the last isle, the shadows of the island tilted toward her, as if called by her presence.

She took one in her hands, felt it glide across her fingers. It slipped away, and she turned to grab it again—

But she wasn’t on Lightlark any longer.

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