Chapter 25:

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Aboard the Winnow

Auren makes quick work of the dragon, as expected of a skilled Gallian caster. He'd ended it in one bright spark of ether—as per Lili's request—and sent it tumbling into the trees. Bookmark here

The dragon raises its head, dazed and pleading, but Auren doesn't hesitate. He curls his fingers around an invisible handle in the air, and a blade of light extends from his hand. It's over in an instant.Bookmark here

There is little comfort to be found in the presence of a rapidly melting, inky corpse. Its limbs—or what remains of them—lie dormant against the ground as the rest of the dragon pools into the ground. The cloth-like body slowly deflates, reminding Lili of a pillow fort that’s just caved in. Bookmark here

There's so much that she should be feeling that it's easier to not think at all. She kneels down and watches the ink slowly seep through the grass. Auren's destruction is better observed; immersion feels like an ice-cold can of cola against her face. The puddle is so still that it looks like she could lower her hand into it like a hole. Bookmark here

With that same Gallian ease, Auren kneels down with her and dips a test tube into the dragon, disturbing the surface and leaving her reflection in pieces. It also serves as a reminder that this is—or was—a dragon, and it will stain her skin for sure if she tries to touch it.Bookmark here

Lili hurries back to Avett, of whom they've leaned against the base of a tree. She takes extra care with his body as she throws his arm over her shoulder once more. Auren tucks his vials into his pouch and tries to do the same, but Lili shakes her head.Bookmark here

"It's fine. We can handle ourselves," she says. Bookmark here

As Auren nods and shuffles on ahead to rendezvous with Ysh'vanna and her ship, Lili takes this moment to look back and up.Bookmark here

High above the blackening silhouettes of the forest cypresses is a glass dome of blue. It stands above the trees and reaches into the stars, casting an eerie glow over the canopies like a second sun. Bookmark here

She wonders how long it'll hold. If it'll last them through the night at all. Bookmark here

Ysh'vanna is waving to them from the cockpit, gesturing at them to hurry on up so they'll get to spend the night in the Hive's "hangar" instead of the New Zealand wilderness. Avett looks at the dome, his eyes weary, his body begging for respite.Bookmark here

His voice cracks mid-way, but he manages to power through his words regardless. "It'll hold, Lilith. It'll last them until they won't need it anymore. They'll be alright."Bookmark here

He closes his eyes. He's got no idea what he's talking about, but Lili appreciates the sentiment.Bookmark here

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Aboard the Winnow

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