#1734

The atmosphere is crumbling. The skies are falling, the ship breaking apart, raining down its metal skeleton and flesh-bound occupants. They plummet so fast their screams are ripped from their mouths, wind-whipped eyes watching in helpless terror as the pinnacles of skyscrapers rush closer and closer. They will be dashed against those steel towers like hail striking pavement to break apart and melt.

She falls with them, watching the dark city loom before her, filling her entire vision. She can’t tell if the screaming which fills her ears is hers or simply the cacophony of all those who rush to their deaths. But she is different from them; she alone can avert that bloody end. As the towers approach, she summons the magic in her bones and slowly pulls her body up, first to horizontal and then vertical and then she is flying, pushing against death and gravity to rise back into the sky. She passes those who still fall but cannot help them, she barely has the strength to lift just herself. But she cries for them, a howling dirge to mourn everything perishing around her…

…and wakes still with that wail in her throat, enough so that it jerks her upright. Coughing, trembling, she takes in her surroundings with disbelief. A forest clearing, dappled with sunlight and smelling of summer. She looks down to her hands but they’re not her hands, they can’t be, they are too slender, too fine, too untouched by hook or lightning. And her clothes! Not sea-salt stiffened leather, black on black on black, but the finest silk dyed autumn’s colors. No, no, this can’t be right. Where is the hook? Where is the cloak?

“———-?” The name startles her most of all, pulls her from the spiraling panic to look up from where she kneels to a face so familiar, a face from the much distant past. “Where have you been?” he asks. “I’ve been looking for you all day.”

“‘Kedis?” Her ears and head still ring with confusion. When did she last hear that name? This morning, or a thousand years ago? Wasn’t it taken from her? Wasn’t he as well, so long ago it stopped mattering? Impossible for it all to have been a dream – the banishment, the wandering, the lost ones and the hook and the war, the ship – no dream ever lasted a millennium. And then she is weeping, howling, but when he holds her she can’t say why.

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