When I got to The Fallen Shadow I was so excited to write the following scene! Liv’s slow transformation was carefully crafted so the final battle in which she… (hahaha! Your gonna have to read the book!) Here’s a taste of what’s to come.
Livia was happy with her choice of footwear for a change. Without wings she’d had to walk up the Stairway, and although it wasn’t miles and miles of stairs, by the time they had reached the top she was out of breath and her thighs were screaming at her to stop.
Tynan had suggested they rest a few times but her pride had kept her from stopping, annoyed that he hadn’t even broken a sweat on the way up. They hadn’t otherwise spoken on their journey; she’d been simmering at both him and herself.
She was mad at him for being mad at her, and yes, she was well aware of how stupid that sounded. Did he not see she was trying to do the right thing by him? That she was trying to protect him? This stubbornness was a new trait from him. Well, she could be stubborn too!
“Where are we?” he asked from very close behind her. She turned to find herself eye to eye with him as he was standing on the step just below hers. He was nearly solid again. He’d been shifting into his corporeal body little by little as they had ascended the Stairway. She couldn’t meet his eyes; she could tell he was still angry with her as well.
“We’re almost there.” She pointed to the clouds above her. “The entrance to my Stairway is just here… What?”
Tynan was glaring at the clouds. He was armed but had changed out of his ceremonial armor. He wore a simple belted tunic and trousers with a pair of comfortable walking boots. He gripped the hilts of the daggers at his waist.
“I just wish I could go first,” he said. She frowned wanting to argue but she stood aside, he was the warrior after all. He shook his head. “That’s not how it works, the Pathfinder must lead the way.”
Livia suppressed a smile. This Pathfinder thing was turning out to be pretty cool!
“Well then…” She made to move the cloud aside but he stopped her grasping her hand. His touch felt barely there but his hand was warm again.
“Here, I want you to wear this,” he said, unclasping the Dark Star from around his neck.
“But it’s your birthday present.”
“Wear it for luck.”
“I’ll need more than luck, if something is waiting for us up there, Tynan.”
“Just…please?” He couldn’t quite meet her eyes. “It would mean a lot to me.”
Livia’s brow wrinkled, she pursed her lips but nodded. She wasn’t sure what good it would do, but she’d wear it because he’d asked her to.
The moment the pendant touched her skin she felt its warmth and a little zing. It flashed; happily it seemed, in the hollow of her throat. Tynan stroked a finger over the star; he looked up through his black lashes at her his expression guarded. Her gaze fell to his mouth, remembering how soft his lips were.
He stepped back clearing his throat. “Be careful,” he said.
“Right, yeah,” she said in a clipped tone.
She shoved the clouds aside, probably with more force than necessary. Pausing, she strained to hear any sounds from above, then carefully she peeked out from under the rug on the floor of the alcove.
“What?” Tynan had drawn his blades and pushed up beside her.
“Oh,” he said sadly. “Liv, I’m sorry.”
The Libridomus was in ruins. The grand rotunda was shattered, its columns toppled. The precious contents of the library had been set alight, small fires still smoldered amongst the rubble.
Livia carefully climbed out and into her little alcove, Tynan immediately after. In a daze she looked around, utterly heartbroken.
“What kind of people would do this?” she wondered aloud.
“Monsters, not people.” Tynan said. She saw he was angry, Livia remembered his love for the library in the Faerie realm. His anger stoked her own and hardened her resolve.
“This way.” She set off in the direction of the staircase, but Tynan held her back. His presence was corporeal again, his hand on her arm strong.
“I’ll take point.” He stepped in front of her and carefully led them through the shattered remains of the library. The path was blocked by debris and they picked the way over and around it as quietly as they could.
Finally they came to the staircase that led to the ground floor. They stood at the top and looked down into a gaping hole. It must have been ground zero for a huge explosion.
“Is there another way down?” he asked.
She shook her head. “There were three stair cases from this level to the first floor but nothing’s left.” Looking around she pointed to the blown out glass doors across from them. “Let’s see if the terrace is still intact,” she said, taking a step back.
Suddenly someone grabbed her, she issued a startled yell and twisted away. Tynan jumped in front of her and drew his daggers.
“Oh sorry, so sorry, my friends!” said the cowering figure. “I didn’t mean to surprise you.”
The person was wearing a stained and torn yellow robe their pale arms held up defensively. Tynan made an aggressive step forward but Livia held him back.
The Archivist looked up. “Mistress Livia! Heavens be praised! Come closer, child. Help me,” he said.
He smiled though her friend’s face moved strangely only pulling to one side. His wings had been hacked off, what was left of them they lay in tatters against his back. Stepping around Tynan she made to help the librarian but Tynan brandished his blades.
“Liv, stay back,” he said.
“What? No, Tynan, this is Raziel. He’s the Archivist,” she said to him.
Tynan morphed into the Wraith, his spectral alter ego baring the gleaming silver shards of his jagged teeth. Raziel cried out and backpedaled away from them. Livia was aghast.
“Tynan! You’re scaring him!” she yelled.
But Tynan was not listening; he followed Raziel as he tried to flee. The Wraith threw one of his daggers pinning Raziel to the wall through the flesh of his shoulder.
“Foul creature! Come forth and face your death!”
“Tynan! Stop it!”
“Can you not feel it?” the Wraith asked her. “His true life-force is gone!”
“His what? I…”
“Look at his eyes!”
Livia turned her attention to Raziel and gasped. His eyes were rimmed with a sickly purple grey color just like her father had described, but there was something else too. A feeling of wrongness, a crawling tingling feeling made her shudder in revulsion. Raziel was gone she could feel it.
“What did you do to him!” she asked the creature before her. “You let him go!” The air grew frozen, her breath steamed from her mouth. “Let him go NOW!” she commanded.
Raziel screamed, his mouth splitting wide. There was something coming out, Livia recognized it immediately. Shiny black with iridescent wings and a sharp beak, it was a Phaji! Horrified she stepped back as Raziel’s body fell and began to liquefy.
The Phaji made to fly away but the Wraith blocked its path sending his other dagger flying after it. It arced around and flew in circles still screeching in pain. It was dying; she felt the fear like she had at the Queen’s tribunal.
Good! For what it had done to Raziel, Livia hoped it was in agony! She wished all of the Phaji’s most horrible fears were coming true in its final moments! She let her mind fill with every awful thing she could think of.
The fear took over its mind until it fell at her feet bleating and scurrying around on the floor. An icy rime moved toward it. In moments it was over. Covered in ice crystals, it turned onto it’s back convulsing and then was still.
She was standing over the Phaji breathing hard and shivering. Tynan pulled her into his embrace and rubbed some warmth back into her arms. No longer the Wraith, he was whispering soothing words in her ear as she came back to her senses.
She stared at the dead Phaji. “Your power, is that how you do it? Scare it to death? Is that what you did?”
“What I…?” Tynan began but then stopped. “Uh, yes. That’s the power a Shadow wields when necessary.”
She slumped in his arms, feeling drained. “Thank you,” she told him. “Raziel was my friend ever since I can remember. His spirit can rest now that you’ve avenged him.”
Raziel’s remains began to glow and Tynan was about to go back on the offensive but Livia waylaid him with a gentle hand against his chest.
“It’s alright. He’s traveling Beyond. He’s free now to join those who have gone before.”
Raziel’s glow shimmered and lifted from the floor before it flashed brilliantly and then faded away.
“Good journey, friend.” Livia said softly.
Tynan collected his daggers and re-sheathed them at his waist. “We should keep moving. Someone might have heard all that screeching and come to investigate.”
She nodded her agreement and they made their way around the blast crater. Livia was once more thankful for her shoes as they crunched across the broken glass of the blown out doors.
The terrace at the front of the Libridomus and the stairs that flowed to the street were mostly intact. Livia paused to look at the sky, the Milky Way blazed above her, a meteorite sped briefly across the sky and she remembered the wish she had made the night she and Tynan had met.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
She smiled sadly. “I doubt it.”
Tomorrow a final excerpt from the last book in the series
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