Chapter 12: On Her Hands

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For several, agonisingly long seconds, Ryn almost forgot about the fact she was in freefall.

Her body, her mind, was so numb from what she had seen, that she barely recognised the sensation as she tumbled through the air, to the imminent death below.

But her instincts would not allow that to happen.

Mere meters from hitting the ground, her wings snapped out, catching at the air like a parachute, and transforming her downwards plummet into a speedy forwards propulsion.

It saved her life, but only just.

She hit the ground, and she hit it hard, rolling across the tar road, torturous heat flaring up her arms and body, as the rough ground scraped at her fragile skin, the clothes she wore doing little to protect her.

When she finally skidded to a halt, her side to the ground, agony shot up the flesh between her ribcage, as though someone had stabbed her with a red-hot blade.

Aderyn cried out sharply, the sound transforming into a groan, and then again into a breathless gasp.

She tilted over onto her back, eyes pressed shut as the pain caused nausea to claim her; the world was swimming as bile rose up into her throat.

Her wings, though crushed and bent at awkward angles that tugged at the muscles in her back, were likely the least injured parts of her body.

But there was not a shred of pain that flared up in her body that could match the one that seared through her mind as it cruelly forced her to re-watch Gregory's murder, over and over again.

The way the scorpion had struck, the way its tail had pierced flesh as easily as a knife through butter. Gregory's soundless scream, coming out as nothing more than a pained gasp for air.

And then.... The light had faded from his eyes as simply as if a mere cloud had passed over the sun. But the sun never showed itself again. It never would.

He was dead.....

'Aderyn?'

She barely heard the voice call her name.

Hammering footsteps grew louder.

'Aderyn!'

Suddenly someone was at her side, crouched over her, one hand reaching out to grasp at her shoulder.

Eyes peeled open to see a shadowed face, awash with obvious concern, and scarred with shock, staring down at her.

She coughed, her mouth recoiling at the taste of blood.

'Colt?'

'What the Hell happened?!' He shouted.

She could barely concentrate on his face, let alone his words.

What was he even doing here?

The pain in her side flared back up again and she groaned once more, fingers feeling weakly around for the wound.

It was then that she felt it. Large glass shards protruding from her skin. Had the glass from the broken window punctured her when she fell?

But as she tried to reach for the end, she found they kept on going, curling around to connect with her back.

These weren't shards....

These were her own feathers.

'Colt... Colt help,' she breathed. 'Pull them out. Pull them out!'

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