I was stupid. I was distracted. I didn’t see the arrow coming until it was too late.
I felt the blood before the pain—thick wet warmth spreading over
my side beneath my arm, which had been lifted to hold my blade.
The sword clattered to the floor.
The world dimmed, as the white heat of Nightfire ebbed.
Suddenly I was moving, no longer against the wall but to the side of it, sliding to the ground without my permission.
Raihn grabbed me and pulled me behind him. His form, massive and silhouetted by the flames, loomed before me.
“—the fuck do you think you’re doing?” he roared.
My eyes fell to the other end of the hall, struggling to see through the smoke and my blurring vision. A young Bloodborn soldier cowered under Raihn’s vicious glare, eyes widening as they fell to me, and he realized who I was.
“She—she was attacking you—” he stuttered.
A torrent of curses flew from Raihn’s mouth, falling into mush in my head. Through the fire, I could make out more silhouettes pouring through the hallway—more Bloodborn? Reinforcements. Fuck.
My hand pressed to my wound. It bled heavily. Half vampire or no, blood was always my weakness. It always seemed ready to pour out of me at any opportunity.
Then my head turned, and I made out a figure through the smoke, crouched in the corner. Jesmine. I recognized her even as little more than a
hazy silhouette. She stared at me through the smoke, creeping forward as Raihn berated his soldier.
She took half a step closer, but I shook my head.
She hesitated, eyes narrowing, questioning it. But I shook my head again, harder this time, a wordless command: Go. Now.
Maybe we could take the Rishan, but if Bloodborn were here now, Jesmine and her people—my people—were about to be decimated.
She crept closer again, the smoke clearing enough for me to see the protest in her eyes—the unspoken, What about you?
I tried to wave her away. The motion was too much. My vision blurred.
I didn’t remember losing consciousness. But suddenly, I was flat on the ground, staring into Raihn’s face as he leaned over me. He was saying something I couldn’t make out. It didn’t matter, because I was slipping away before the words left his lips.
I didn’t want his eyes to follow me into unconsciousness. But they did, anyway.