Chapter no 59 – ‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌BEFORE

Nightbane (The Lightlark Saga Book 2)


Isla’s chest was ripping in two. She was helpless. Stuck here, on the

Wildling newland. It would take months to sail to Nightshade, and even then, even if they let her in—

It would be far too late.

No. This wasn’t happening. She hadn’t finally found someone who understood her only to lose him.

Tears and salt and gasps turned into a predatorial silence. All her senses sharpened like a dagger.

Grim was a demon. He was the feared ruler of Nightshade.

But he had become her friend. They had faced countless challenges together. He had touched her in ways that made her feel alive, and like the space between stars, and she had felt, for once, that her body belonged to her. Not the realm. Her.

For all his remarks and attitude, he had believed in her. He had trusted


And she trusted him. He had saved her.

She was not going to give up on him.

Thousands of miles were no space at all, not for them. He was right.

They were infinite. She reached out, looking for her demon, for him. The one who had pressed shapes against her skin, the one who didn’t know he had a dimple because he so rarely smiled.

Her mind emptied of anything other than him. She could see him in her head, could smell him, could feel him.

She reached out with every ounce of herself, threw her marrow through the world—

And found him.

When everything else cleared away, the universe fading like ash and smoke, only a link remained. She could feel it now, tying them together.

Isla didn’t think about what it meant. Not then. The thread was wrapped in power, and she didn’t know how to use it; it slipped through her fingers, but she had one ask—one request.

Take me to him.

With the sword in her hands, she grasped Grim’s power to portal with every inch of herself and vanished.

She landed on her knees.

Dreks were falling from the sky like pieces of night smelted into rain. Hundreds. Thousands. Grim had told her about them, but nothing could prepare her for seeing them—hearing them.

They were far smaller than the dragon, but whereas the creature was graceful, these were like throwing stars, shooting across the sky, falling to the ground, talons first.

Grim was at the center of it all.

There were others. They did not last long. She watched Nightshade warrior after Nightshade warrior be plucked up and away. Some were torn in half in the sky; others were eaten whole. Blood, everywhere, screams, men twice her size yelling for their lives.

Grim. He was rumored to be one of the strongest rulers.

Shadows erupted from him, and where they struck, everything died. He was seeping, everywhere, roaring—

It was not enough. The curses had dimmed his power. There were too many. And some seemed immune to even his shadows. They barreled toward him, and Isla knew how these injuries worked. They rotted flesh and bone and did not heal. How many times had he already been struck?

The scar ran across the ground, for as far as she could see. Grim said it went across all of Nightshade. Right there, so close, was a village Grim had told her about—the one that had been deemed safe. Dreks swooped down into the streets. Cries. Children.

Grim looked up, as if sensing her. And Isla had the feeling that no matter where they were, even on a battlefield, he would always be able to find her.

Horror. Pure, unfiltered horror, and devastation, to find her here, in a place where everything would soon be dead.


Understanding. He had taken her starstick. There was only one way she could possibly be here.

They stared at each other, and for just a moment, it was like no one else was there. Just them. No dreks. No soldiers.

He looked at her like she was the beginning and end of his world, and he smiled—smiled because he had found love, even if it was just before he died.

Grim closed his eyes, and she knew what he was going to do. He was going to portal her away. He was going to die.

Before he could, a drek pierced his chest. Its talons went right through him.

She screamed, and it didn’t sound human; it sounded like scratching the night sky with a blade, like pain spun into a sound.

Other dreks shot down. Grim roared, and they all descended, seeing their chance. They gripped him by the shoulders, and his head went limp. They were going to tear him in two—



Isla didn’t hesitate before she took the sword in her hands—and dug it deep into the ground before her.

Nothing happened, not right away. She didn’t know how to break the curse, she didn’t know what to do, but she was desperate.

And there was something there. Something strange and twisted. Isla grabbed it.

Her pain provided passage. Everything she was made of spilled out. The sword shook beneath her hands. Then, her fingers slipped, and when her hands hit the ground, death was unleashed.

From her poured an endless wave of shadows. The dreks shriveled and died. The soldiers became clouds of blood. Everything that wasn’t him disappeared.

Her darkness ate the world, and it had no limit. It kept going.

You and me . . . we’re infinite.

She felt infinite.

Power poured out of her like the ocean tilting itself to the side, unstoppable, uncontrollable; it raged and raged, and Isla kept screaming until it finally ran out. Because her love might be infinite, but her abilities were not. Her life was not.

It felt like she was saying goodbye, but she didn’t really care. Because he was there, and he would be okay, and she loved him, she loved him so much, she just hoped he would take what she was offering, all of the Wildling power she wasn’t supposed to have, because she knew he would take care of her people. Just like he had taken care of her.

Grim roared, and Isla sent her Wildling powers across the thread that bound them together. It was the last thing she did as she stumbled and fell.

Into his arms. He had portaled and caught her, and she knew he would survive his injuries, but he was searching her face like he was the one dying, and he was yelling at her, but all she could do was smile.

“Isla, come back to me. Come back.”

He shook her, and she could barely feel it; there was barely anything left.

Her body stiffened. Her breathing stopped. Grim roared.

“Wake up,” he said. His voice was thick with desperation. He was

crying. “Stab me through the chest again if you have to, just wake up.” She wanted to. She really did.

“Grim,” she said to him, the last of her life leaving her. She remembered what he told her. Pain could be useful. Pain was the strongest emotion. “Pain is not the strongest,” she said.

Then, her heart went still.

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