Chapter 24

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I pulled my hand away from my cheek and curled my blood-stained fingertips into a fist. The blast, the battle, the rain—none of it could erase the stain of my friend’s blood on my skin.

I searched the skyline, finding helicopters of suspect authority painted black against the untamed fire that blazed where apartments once stood. Below, brilliant lights raced to scenes of emergency, whilst others hunted prey they deemed predator. I could only claim responsibility for entombing mercenaries in their own aircraft. The rest of it—the explosion, the fires, the bullets—did not belong to me.

The man who’d caused all of this devastation had vanished. I crushed the primitive telephone in my grip as punishment for having lost his trail; smoke and drops of molten metal seeped between my fingers.


I turned my eyes away from the unquenchable fire beneath roving helicopters and the smoke flooding the skyline. Jemier. Gloriously outfitted in his royal Cydrithennan armor and wielding a sword, he was poised to take me from my perch on this balcony.

“Do you mean to use that on me, your prince?”

“You’re not just my prince, Solin. You’re my drathos. Come home. End this.”

Sirens filled the air, another voice in the wails of emergency vehicles that had sung to the city all night. The moon had long ago been cloaked by a raincloud, which doused us with its chilly offerings. It could not douse the turmoil in the city.

“I can’t.”

“You can, Solin! Just give the order to your forces. You killed Gaians!”

My nostrils flared in rage. “What forces, Jemier?” I gestured to the whole of the city and the sky. Despite the rasp in my throat from the embers, the anger, the battle, I shouted at him. “WhatForces. There are no forces. There is no one to command. There is nothing I can end, and there is no home!”

“There is a home!” he said, his brown hair matting against his face in the rain. “On Cydrithenna. Come with me, Solin, please.”


“You look like shit, Solin. Your hands are covered in blood, and you’re exhausted! Just come home and rest!”

“I can’t, aren’t you listening? Don’t you see what is going on here?”

“I know that you killed Gaians, Solin. Whether by accident or on purpose, it has to stop.”

“Only one was an accident. Just one. And I’m sorry. The rest deserved it.”

“Deserved it? Are you hearing yourself?

“They were the handful of mercenaries responsible for that!” I thrust my arm at the fire. “They killed innocents, and they did it on purpose. And the dishonor of that deed? That belongs to one of their own!”

“Who’s one of your own!”

I turned away from the blaze. “Not anymore. And he never would have been if I’d known he was capable of this.”

Jemier approached, his footsteps wet slaps against the patio. He stood before me, then tossed his sword at my feet before placing his hand on my shoulder. I experienced a relief so powerful and overwhelming that I masked myself with my illusory magick and stepped away, letting a glamour receive Jemier’s friendship.

“How did you know,” I said.

“Know what?”

“That Robert was one of mine?” Why was Jemier not with Robert now, or taking me to him? I needed to find the man who’d betrayed me, who’d killed Dorais amongst others, and relieve him of his life.

Jemier didn’t respond.

“Or did you just assume I was connected to this wrongdoing, as you always have?”

“Am I wrong?”

A flash, then a crack. More sirens sounded. Our gazes, and my glamour’s, shifted back to the building to the north.

“You are,” I said.

His eyes flickered with fire, and his mouth furrowed in sorrow. “This tower…this balcony, does it remind you of home? Is that why you’ve stowed yourself away up here?”

My glamour pulled away from him. “My home is collapsing under that fire, getting buried along with the bones of my friend and innocent Gaians.”

“I am your friend.”

“You are my captor. How did you find me?”

“A representative came to your father.”

“Oh, those traitors from Shadowfall?”

“Shadowfall? Were you behind that too, Solin?”

Almost, I wanted to say. “No.”

Drathos.” He drew closer to my glamour, while I crept nearer to him. Where did he get off pretending we were drathos? Had he ever come to my aid when doing so didn’t directly benefit him? A trick then, to bring me in. I couldn’t go to prison again.

I thought of my dagger. Not necessary. He’d thrown his sword down in peace. As I approached him, replacing my real footsteps with the cadence of the rain, he spun my glamour around and held it.

I’d not anticipated that. I stopped. He stroked my glamour’s shoulders with his thumbs, gazing at it, and I magicked the same wide-irised gaze in return. I returned to his arms and faded my illusion. His touch upset me, made me miss a home that was never really home, made me miss…

I brought my hand up to my cheek. Would this blood never be cleansed?

I showed him the ruddy stains on my fingers. “Help me find the person who did this, Jemier.” I swallowed, drawing my stare away from my hand and toward his eyes. “Please, help me find him. He betrayed me and killed innocents. He killed someone important to me. We have to find him. Please, Jemier. Help me!”

“Solin, I already have.”

But he hadn’t. He hadn’t! Exhaustion brought tears to my eyes. “You haven’t, Jemier, please…”

“It doesn’t matter. Just come home with me.” He squeezed gently, then lay his forehead against mine. “Please. I need you, Solin.” He slid his hand up to my jaw, then grazed my nose with his own. “I need you.”

I let my eyes close and leaned in. His other hand skimmed down my arm and landed on my hip. He drew me even closer. His hand ran along my belt and glanced my dagger.

I clasped my hand down hard on his wrist. He tried to wrest free, and I aided him with a short blast of telekinesis. I unsheathed my dagger. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Solin, please!” He held his hands in front of him. “It’s not what you think, I didn’t mean to—”

“Stay away from me!”

A scowl formed on his face. “You’re coming home with me, whether you want to or not.” He took an offensive stance, and although he did not eye his discarded sword, it remained in his peripheral sight, and he’d be foolish not to grab it. Jemier had more physical strength than I did, but not even he could overcome one of my illusions, no matter how much the day’s events had drained me of energy.

“I am not coming home with a usurper.”

He dashed for the sword and clutched at concrete instead. He spun around to find his blade in my offhand. I stabbed the sword deep into the balcony floor and poured magick into it. Pyromancy, another talent of mine he could not match. None could. The blade glowed a brilliant orange, and the hilt sagged.

He tackled me, attempting to disarm me. He slammed my arm against the floor and the weapon popped free of my palm. Straddling me, he pinned each wrist down.

“Stop!” he grunted. His hair stuck to his sweat- and rain-soaked face. He slammed against my wrists again. “Stop!” He brought my wrists above my head and attempted to clasp them together with one hand. “You’re coming home with me.”

“I am not.”

I pulled apart his armor with my mind and thrust my dagger into his side, refreshing the bloodstain on my hand. He’d never pinned my wrists down; I’d fooled him again.

“Solin, you—” He collapsed into my arms.

“I’m sorry, Jemier,” I whispered to him. “I won’t be my father’s prisoner again. And I won’t be yours.”

I flung him through the parapet of the balcony as more sirens went off. His body snapped the metal, and I waited with nauseating anticipation for the sound of his body hitting the pavement below. 

Instead, I heard the sliding of scales, felt the push of air as Jemier shifted into his dragon form and flew into the night with a bleeding gash beneath his forearm.

End of Season One: Flicker.

Season Two: Spark →


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The Fire of Felwing series and its novels, Flicker, Spark, and Blaze © Elizabeth Tybush. All rights reserved. Chapter images (“vibes images”) created using Canva, DALL-E 2, and/or other tools. (Read more)