Chapter no 56

The Ashes & the Star-Cursed King

The wind rushed around me, yanking my hair back. Beside me, Vale matched my pace, our warriors behind us, wings spread, cutting through the air. We were flying fast, headed straight for that castle,

hedging our bets on how far we could get before Simon sent men out after us.

From up here, we could see the fleet in the distance, purple sails tinted blue beneath the moonlight, surrounding the coast of Sivrinaj. Distant sparks flashed through the darkness—explosives and magic hurled at the castle. Nothing that would bring down the city, but it was enough to create a distraction, splitting Simon and Septimus’s valuable attention and resources.

Far below us, Ketura and her men were reduced to a single wave of destruction. The explosions of Nightfire lit up the night with blinding bursts that drenched Sivrinaj in white, as the demons tore through stone and wooden barricades to free up paths to the inner city. It was, in a way, morbidly beautiful—like a hand sweeping through sand.

It was only a matter of time, though, before the Bloodborn forces flooded the streets to meet her. With the Rishan occupying the sky, she’d be forced to take the brunt of Septimus’s troops. She was ready for it. The crashes of unbridled chaos below shifted into the cacophony of battle, distant screams and clashes of steel mingling with the explosions and demon snarls.

She was evenly matched.

But not outnumbered. Not yet.

I prayed to the Mother it stayed that way.

Vale dipped close to me. “Highness,” he said, voice low and serious, and I didn’t even have to turn my head to know exactly what he saw by his tone alone.

We’d been rushing toward the castle, seizing as much sky as we could before Simon’s Rishan men would come to meet us. We’d made it far, now over the tall spires of the inner city—farther, honestly, than I had expected.

But the easy part had come to an end.

A wave of Rishan soldiers rose from the castle grounds like a thick plume of smoke—a rolling morass of wings and steel blotting out the stars.

My heart sank when I saw that wave of soldiers. Vale had only been able to guess at exactly how many Rishan warriors Simon had been able to accumulate. We’d hoped he was relying more on bravado and illusions than numbers.

This sight dashed those hopes. This was a real army.

Still, attacking by air meant we only had to deal with Simon’s limited Rishan forces. We’d prepared for this.

I scanned the lines, looking for the man I was really after—the only one I had to kill to end this, once and for all—but I didn’t see Simon anywhere in that sea of faces.

That surprised me. I was so certain he’d be at the front of the pack, ready to demonstrate his dominance. Hell, I thought he’d want to make sure he was the one to kill me himself.

My gaze lifted beyond the onslaught of incoming men, to the silver spires of the Nightborn castle rising above the bloodshed.

Or maybe he was cowering in his tower, waiting for me to come to him. I could make that happen, too.

Simon’s soldiers gained speed, whipping through the air like arrows.

And we didn’t slow, either, bracing to meet them head-on.

If they wanted a fight, they’d get a fight.

“Ready yourselves!” Vale bellowed, silver wings spreading beneath the moonlight, his own weapon bared.

An expanse of steel raised as our opponents charged for us, neither group slowing, neither group hesitating.

I was fucking ready.

I lifted my sword, and we dove into the wall of death.

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