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Song of Sorrows and Fate: Chapter 43

The Storyteller

It didn’t seem real.

I could see the blood, could smell the refuse in the air. His body wasn’t shifting. No dark glamour dug into the soil. He was there, unmoving, bloody, and gone. Still, my mind did not want to accept it.

Until Saga’s gasps drew me from my own stun.

She dropped the blade and stumbled into Ari’s arms. He clung to her, kissing the side of her neck, gripping her hair.

“He’s . . . he’s gone. He’s gone.” She kept gasping the words against her husband’s chest.

“You were terrifying,” he whispered back. “Beautifully terrifying.” Ari kissed her. His hands on her face. “I need to be alone with you soon, it was such a sight.”

Saga gave a wet, broken laugh. Her shoulders slumped and she clung to him again, almost shrinking, as though the countless turns, the centuries of pain, were crashing over her.

Truth be told, I think the lot of us felt the same.

I leaned into Silas. He mutely hugged my body against his. As Tor pulled back the pyre, even Elise and Valen held hands, both on their knees across the gap. Exhausted, maybe a little lost on what to do next.

Kase and Malin were, oddly, the most joyful. They laughed against each other. Laughed and held tightly to a new dawn. A new existence.

The ring of glowing seidr used to tie Davorin on this small bit of broken earth faded as the song we sang drifted into nothingness. Shadows pulled back.

The sea fae camp was in ruin. Tents were toppled. Fae were still fleeing through the tides. Ghastly ships appeared from beneath the waves, distant and too close to the Chasm barrier we’d never be able to catch them. Not at the speed their strange vessels could travel.

The ones trapped under the blades of Rave and our other warriors looked about at the broken soil and slaughtered battle lord with a touch of horror.

I grinned, taking it all in.

The gifts of fate. Together, those twisted paths Silas and I naively created, united at long last to end the battle my father, my mother, our people, once gave their whole lives to fight.

Lifetimes in the making, victory was finally ours to claim.

Much the same as the battle in the isle, the cleanup and organizing afterward was nearly as exhausting as the actual fighting.

It took the whole of the day and well into the night to gather the dead sea fae and return their bones to the sea. Funeral pyres were lit for our fallen. Too many, in truth, but we took a breath to honor the fallen. To walk amongst them, to remember them, and sing them into the great hall of the gods.

The most joyful part of the battle was reuniting with those left behind.

Livia Ferus shoved out of the doors first, nearly tripping a few of the blood fae watchers set to guard the little royals. She was sobbing and running, and she never stopped until she flung her arms around Elise’s neck. When Valen approached, still soaked in ash and sweat, she opened her arm to squeeze his neck too.

Aleksi greeted Tor and Sol like he thought a warrior might, stalwart and steady—at first—but in three breaths the boy crumbled and cried until Tor scooped his skinny body and carried him into the palace.

Jonas and Sander were already chatting about all they’d seen when Kase and Malin took hold of their hands, leading them back to the hall.

“There are ghosts here, Maj. Swear to the gods,” Jonas said. “Oh, and I saw lots of shadows. Scared the piss outta Sander.”

“Did not.” Sander shoved his brother. “You’re the one who said you needed to sleep with me the whole time.”

Jonas shoved back. “Did you cut off his head, Daj?”

“No,” Kase said, pressing a kiss to the boy’s head. Perhaps not an affectionate man to others, but the Nightrender became another person entirely around his family. “Saga was the one who cut him down.”

Jonas groaned. “Mira’s never gonna stop boasting about it then.”

I chuckled and watched as Mira hardly seemed to care that her mother was the one who ended Davorin’s life. She cared more that she had both her parents’ arms wrapped around her, holding her close.

Silas kept close to my side as we helped bandage the wounded. We aided Niklas in passing around his elixirs.

Elise’s cry drew our gazes across the hall. Elise, Herja, honestly most of the Night Folk clan, sprinted toward the doors when Lilianna stepped inside, a little pallid, but grinning and no longer trying to rip out her family’s throats.

Herja’s youngest girl clung to Lilianna’s waist. Livia hugged her grandmother’s arm, and Alek took the other. Through the embraces, Lilianna found my gaze. Once her family released her, she approached, almost cautiously.

“Arvad . . .” She cleared her throat. “He told me the truth.”

I smiled softly. Every moment was clear in my head. Our letters. Our interactions. Our plot against the icy King Eli. I was the one who warned her of a crimson night because my Whisper warned me of the blood moon.

I was the one who told her of the fury sleep, the way to hide her warriors since I knew deep in my heart, through the whispers in my mind, that another army was hidden much the same.

“Strange, isn’t it?” That was the best I could say. What was there to say? It was unbelievable in many ways, but it was true.

She smiled. “No. The more I think of it, the more it makes a great deal of sense. You have always had strength. So did Greta. You have pulled us—everyone—through the most trying ordeals of our lives. Battle after battle, you gave us ways to escape, ways to survive. You are truly a queen of cunning. I could not ask for a more fitting title.” She cupped one of my cheeks. “Nor a truer friend.”

Lilianna pulled me into a tight embrace, and I let a tear fall as I clung to her, much like I’d done before I sent her to sleep all those turns ago.

When the moon perched at its highest point, it was pearly white. Cold, blue light replaced the bloody tone of our nights.

I tilted my head and soaked it up.

Davorin’s head was spiked in the hall of Hus Rose. Some of the littles shrunk from such a sight. The ones who did not were expected. Aleksi and Jonas spent the better part of a clock toll spewing curses at the bastard and fighting invisible battles as though they were there.

When the doors opened to the great hall well after midnight, a hush descended.

Stieg, Frey, and Raum returned with two boys coated in dirt and grime.

“Gods,” I whispered, clinging to Silas’s palm. “It’s the sea king.”

“That’s his cousin with him. The boy I shoved into the water.”

Erik Bloodsinger looked about the hall. He caught sight of Davorin’s head. If I hadn’t been watching the young sea fae, I would’ve missed the flicker of fear in the boy’s eyes.

“Found what’s left of the sea folk,” Raum said, tugging on the cousin’s arm.

“They’re all that’s left?” Kase narrowed his eyes. “Where are the rest?”

“Dead or long gone through the Chasm.”

I scoffed. “They abandoned their king. They abandoned boys to their enemies.”

Stieg offered a look of sympathy to the Ever King. One Erik promptly ignored.

Valen rose from one of the chairs at the table. “Will they dine with enemies? I’m certain they’re hungry.”

Stieg shifted uncomfortably. “I’ve been told countless times that the Ever King will surely poison our ale and food. He assures me we will not see it coming.”

Valen’s jaw ticked. It was clear he did not want to punish a boy who’d saved Tor, but there was more than one life to consider. “Then they’ll be more comfortable in the catacombs. Agreed?”

It was with hesitation, but soon enough the lot of us agreed. A cinch tugged at my chest as the sea fae boys were led through the hall. It felt wrong, almost cruel, but what could we do? Bloodsinger was quick, he was filled with hate, and he knew how to poison the whole damn palace if given the chance.

As he was led through, the young royals stopped to gawk, to catch a glimpse at a king who looked more like them than their parents.

Livia leaned around her father, watching the boy. More curious than the princess’s stare was when Bloodsinger glanced over his shoulder. Whether he sensed the eyes of another on him, or something else, he quickly found the Night Folk princess.

Livia peeled her gaze back to the table, cheeks flushed in embarrassment. Erik narrowed his eyes, almost confused, before he was dragged out of sight.

“Tired at all?” Silas asked and pressed a kiss to my hand.

I leaned my head on his shoulder. “Yes. I think I should like to wash and sleep for days. I hope you feel the same.”

“Why do you hope?”

I paused, tugging on his hand, and drew my lips close to his. “Because washing requires no clothing, and sleeping requires your body close to mine. I hope you are agreeable to this plan.”

A sly curve to his lips lifted the scar on his face. “Always, Little Rose.”


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