“We follow you, Horizon Walker.”
Sariel’s eyes moved to Zildath’s and she saw… trust there. He trusted her to show them the path forward. Her gaze moved over the rest of the baby gods and she saw the same look in each of them.
Because you haven’t met your friends yet, Shae. But you will. Remember, dear one, the ties that connect you to this world are just as important as anything you discover within it. They are part of the great adventure.
I found them, Grandmother.
Her eyes moved back to the portal. She felt Vardin everywhere, and she knew that his time was limited. She had to fix this before he moved on or he wouldn’t be able to have the afterlife he wanted. Her fingers flexed into fists as she fought the desire to take one last look, to linger, to stave off the inevitable ending she felt on the horizon. To prevent Vardin from becoming …a memory.
Sariel didn’t look back as she stepped through the portal, as she took the one chance Vardin gave them to fix what had gone wrong on this plane.
That’s what Horizon Walkers do. They fix planes and guard the paths. That’s what she was meant to do. Thats what led her here to this moment, to her purpose. The lights bent around her as she moved through the gateway. She had barely cleared the portal, before she froze. All of that glorious purpose that she had found …evaporated at what was before her.
Sariel’s mind, that was never entirely blank, was now suddenly and painfully silent.
She had searched for him for so long, and suddenly there he was. Sariel knew it wasn’t real but it didn’t stop the painful beat of recognition her heart thudded out. There was movement around her, the others were reacting, but they were almost outside of her awareness.
All Sariel could see was Niall.
His face was wrong.
She had seen him angry, but Niall had never been enraged. The expression twisted his face in a horrible parody of how Niall lived his life. Zildath’s voice sounded far away, but when he called her name it came into sharp focus, bringing her back to herself. “Sariel, who is he?”
She couldn’t bring herself to answer him because it wasn’t Niall. He was wrong. And no one should know Niall like this.
“He’s…a horizon walker. The best.” Her voice sounded quiet and small even to her own ears.
“No, he’s not.” The strength and the confidence Sariel could hear in Take’s voice pulled her eyes from Niall to the other woman. “You are.”
‘What if it’s not enough? What if I’m not enough?’
Vardin smirked, ‘Then I guess we’re screwed’.
Sariel’s jaw tensed and when her eyes moved back to Niall they were hard, determined. She raised her bow and nocked her arrow. Her sharp eyes lined up the shot as she felt the gaze of her pack on her. They needed her.
She wouldn’t miss.
Sariel forced her breathing to be even, to be steady. She pulled her arm back…
“I can tell you what he found.” The sinister voice reached out to her with a precision that made her mind scream out.
Vardin’s eyes were kind but sad, ‘He found something. He wouldn’t say what. Just that Planes Walkers were going missing.’
Sariel’s eyes widened, the chill that moved up her spine was cold and unforgiving. And her hands started to shake. This was only the second time since her first breath that her hands had shook. Both happening with hours of each other.
One caused by drug abuse, apparently.
The other caused by the chance to save one of the few people that meant anything to her…
…and knowing she would have to forsake him.
Sariel ruthlessly steadied hands once again, her breathing evened by the sheer force of her will, and her eyes turned cold.
I can tell you what he found.
I’ll ask him myself.
And as she let her arrow fly, Sariel watched in silent horror as it pierced the back of his skull. She felt like she had shattered her heart, and not his bones, for something cold and empty had taken its place.
Sariel heard the voices of her pack as they spoke, as they conquered their own apparitions. But, she felt… far away. Even as her pack pulled her into an embrace, their arms keeping her from flying into a million tiny pieces…
…the cold nothing stayed.