Chapter 43:


The Scorned

Without thinking, I threw myself around the woman, trying to save her for reasons unknown. I wrapped my body tightly around hers, just as the fireball consumed us. The woman let out a shriek and passed out immediately from the pain. I, on the other hand, wasn't as lucky and stayed conscious. The only thing I could do was grit my teeth through the pain.

Eventually, the fireball dissipated, and I tried to get to my feet, but my body wouldn't comply. I could hear Selene fighting, but I couldn't get my eyes to focus. The only thing that my senses were able to detect was a rotten smell. It took me a moment, but I realized that I was smelling my skin burning.

Soon my eyes focused, and I instantly wished they hadn't. My skin was covered with nasty-looking burns, and certain parts were still bubbling and popping. All I had wanted since I had met Selene was to be able to feel. Now I would give anything to make this feeling go away.

I tried one more time to rise to my feet, but I collapsed to the ground in a pathetic heap. The only thing I could do was to turn my head and watch Selene fight for her life.

If the situation were different, I would have marveled at Selene's fighting prowess. Unfortunately, this was not the time, as she was fighting on the defensive. She streaked through the air, dodging the constant barrage of fireballs. She had burn marks all over her skin and wings, while the mage looked perfectly fine, not even short of breath.

Selene sped through the air and snatched two swords off the bodies of dead soldiers. Without a wasted motion, she flipped around in the air and sent one flying towards the man. Just like before, the man summoned a wall of flames in front of himself. The fire quickly melted the weapon with ease. Selene kept moving at blinding speeds and was suddenly back behind the man and threw the other sword. The same thing happened, but the man's reaction time was noticeably slower.

Selene wasn't done, and as soon as she threw the second sword, she appeared back in front of him again. Selene took advantage of his slower reaction time and extended her fingernails, turning them into daggers, and thrust forward. She was able to sink her fingers into the man's chest, but it appeared that she missed the vital blow. Before she could distance herself, the flame wall shot up, consuming part of her arm and wings.

She let out a scream of pain and tried to fly away, but she didn't get far. Her burnt wing hanging by her side gave her the appearance of an injured animal. Eventually, her body refused to move anymore, and she collapsed to the ground. Holding his injured chest, the mage slowly advanced towards Selene. I could see that Selene was scanning the field until she eventually spotted me.

Selene gave me a warm smile and mouthed, 'Thank you,' then closed her eyes, accepting her fate.

I was utterly helpless as the mage stood over Selene and extended his hand. I let out a pained grunt as I struggled to my feet, refusing to let Selene's story end like this. I took a few unsteady steps towards the man, doing all I could to not fall over.

My pained grunts caught the man's attention, and with a smirk, he said, "Say goodbye," and launched a fireball.

Time seemed to stand still. The man had flames exploding from his hand that moved forward ever so slowly. I had no idea what was happening, but I wasn't going to let this opportunity pass. My body was in no shape to fight, so I knew I only had one option. Use whatever power I had inside of me.

When I used that power last time, I was perfectly healthy, and it had felt horrible. And that was only for one arm. I knew in the back of my mind that using this power in my current state would be deadly, but I was ready to give up my life for Selene. I took a deep breath and pictured Selene's smile when I had kissed her on the cheek, how happy she was. I engraved that moment in my mind.

I also knew that just changing my arm wouldn't be enough. I would have to change as much as possible.

I stared at Selene as the fireball inched closer to her, waiting for the change to happen, but nothing did. I began to panic, not knowing what else to do. This was the only option I had to save Selene. Why wasn't it working?

Suddenly the change happened, and it happened all at once. Last time it had felt as if each scale individually slowly forced its way from under my skin. This felt as if thousands of needles were pushing their way through my skin at the same time. And I felt every single one of them.

I opened my mouth to let out a scream, but the sound refused to come out. I fell to my knees, unable to maintain control of my body. Glancing down at myself, it looked as if blood trickled out of every cut the scales made. With the amount of blood I was losing, I knew I only had moments to act before my body shut down for good.

I roughly bit down on my tongue as I staggered back to my feet, doing everything in my power not to pass out. I took an unsteady step forward, then stopped as the pain wracked my body. Apparently, my body still had more transformations as two monstrous wings forced themselves out from my shoulder blades. At first, it felt as if they were made from feathers, but I could feel them slowly harden into the same scale-like armor that covered the rest of my body.

With my wings fully stretched out, it appeared that my transformation was finally complete. The pain subsided substantially, but blood still flowed out of my body at an alarming rate. I turned my attention back to Selene, and with a single flap of my wings, shot towards her with incredible speed. As soon as I started moving, everything seemed to speed back up.

I made it to Selene just as the fireball would have engulfed her. Positioning myself to take the hit, my wings closed around us, shielding her from the blast. The fireball slammed into my back, but with my new armor, I felt nothing.

I quickly scooped Selene into my arms and flew toward the castle walls. I made sure to hold her carefully, not wanting my new skin to cut her. To my surprise, the areas that were touching Selene receded into my skin. It was as if the scales didn't want to hurt her either.

I gently laid her on the castle's wall and smiled as she slowly opened her eyes. Her confusion quickly turned to surprise, then relief when she realized that I was standing over her. She tried to talk, but her emotions got the best of her, and she began to cry. I wanted to stay and comfort her more than anything, but my vision began to blur from blood loss. I gently brushed tears from her face and whispered, "I promised to keep you safe. I will be right back."

With that, I flapped my wings and took to the sky. The mage saw me instantly and began to send fireballs my way. I didn't even bother trying to dodge them, knowing they couldn't hurt me. I tucked my wings into my side and shot towards the mage, building speed as I fell. I passed through fireball after fireball until I crashed straight into the mage, slamming us both into the ground. When the dust settled, I was happy to see that he was a mangled mess. I was even more elated to know that he was still alive. He wasn't going to get off that easy.

I stood over the man with a cruel smile on my face. I leaned down and gripped his throat, effortlessly pulling him off the ground. With two flaps of my wings, we were now well above the clouds. The man sensed what was going to happen and began to babble out why I shouldn't kill him.

I paused for a moment, and he seemed to think that I was having second thoughts. With a snarl, I interrupted his begging and growled out, "You misunderstood my silence. After what you did to Selene, you are going to die. I was simply thinking of the best way to kill you. He opened his mouth, but before words could come out, I released my grip.

The mage latched onto my leg, but unlike with Selene, my skin didn't change. The scales sliced into his hands, forcing him to let go.

I smiled as his screaming grew quieter and quieter until I heard a soft thud, and everything went silent.

With the deed done, I flapped my wings and was soon back with Selene. As soon as I landed, she threw herself into my arms. I wanted to tell her that everything would be okay, but I suddenly felt very weak. I turned my head to cough, and an alarming amount of blood shot out of my mouth.

Selene stared up at me with worried eyes, but I could only smile as I lost my balance, and everything faded to black.