I emerge into consciousness every so often. It’s always painful. It’s like staring into a bright light. Mia is always there. She’s taking care of me. I know there are things that need to be done. Haulloran’s army needs to be dealt with. Someone has to stop Vorana. What’s happened to Mia? Mia wants to kill me. Mia’s taking care of me. I’m in love with Mia. Mia’s a fairy. I’m in love with Vorana. Vorana’s a nightmare. I’m having nightmares.
I wake up. My head is clear. I sit up in bed. My body reeks of sweat. I look down at my abdomen. There is no scar there from where the sword ran me through. In fact, none of the scars I’ve picked up in the last two years are there. Or on my back. Or anywhere else. I know this. How do I know this?’
I look up. Mia’s sitting on a chair beside me, looking expectantly at me. She’s wondering if I’m in my right mind, which implies I haven’t been. I say to her, “I think I’m sane, but I remember getting run through with a sword.”
She smiles. “You were.”
“How long have I been out of it, Mia?”
“Three days. The worst was a day ago. You were raving and having some sort of nightmare.”
That I was. I ask, “Mrokitar?”
“Gone.” Mia runs through a list, counting off with her fingers. “Vorana fled. The queen is dead. Vorana drove her to suicide. Sarton’s dead, but you already know that. Katrina and the rest of the dragon warriors died after a day, as expected. Mother Alesca and Inacha have temporarily taken charge of the government under the king. The king really admires Inacha.” Mia smiles. “Mother Alesca, on the other hand, I think terrifies him. She can be so stern. Earl Haulloran is in the dungeon. Lady Gwella is under close custody, but not in the dungeon, as she’s in the last stage of pregnancy. Your lover Evana and her father have been freed. They’d been in the dungeon, but not mistreated. The wall’s down around Gehulia, and most of its inhabitants have survived, but Zilla is dead. She sacrificed herself to keep the others alive.” She thinks a moment. “I think that accounts for the people you’d want to know about.”
She’s left out one person. “What about you, Mia?”
She tries to smile. “Someone had to watch over you. Demigods are dangerous.”
“Mia.” I make it clear I’m not satisfied.
She gets up, walks to the small window in the opposite wall, and looks out. Without turning, she says, “Vorana was able to reduce me to her slave again. I would have killed you, Tollon.”
“Vorana needed Mrokitar’s help to do that,” I point out.
Mia shakes her head and lets it hang down. “No. Mrokitar brought me here, but Vorana was able to enslave me all by herself. She molded me, growing up. She knows exactly how to destroy me. She could do it again.” She pauses. She sobs. She wails, “I wish I were dead.”
I get out of bed. I have no clothes on, but that doesn’t matter. I stand behind Mia, wrap my arms around her, lay my head against hers. I whisper in her ear. “Hey, I’m a demigod now. I’ll find Vorana and kill her for you.”
Mia’s sobs become louder. She turns and clings to me, her body shaking with her shame and sorrow. And I start crying, too. For Mia. For Paviara. For Sarton. It’s been a long, unhappy time.
We both sob ourselves out, mostly. And then a voice rings out from the doorway into my little apartment. “I must say, you two looked more cheerful when Tollon was out of his mind.”
I turn to see who’s speaking, but I already know from the voice. It’s Chypa. What takes me by surprise is what I see.
Chypa isn’t human.