22: Straight Shot

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                                                                        Part 22: Straight Shot


                                 “O take me with you; I know you will go away when the match burns out,” (The Little Match Girl, Hans Christian Andersen)



I'm not sure how it happened, but when I exit the house of evil men, I find myself in a town engulfed in flames. Every house in sight is aflame. Fire sprouts from the wooden houses like angry, red hands, threatening to tear down the entire town.

“How did this happen?” I hear myself asking the smoke that billows up into the night sky. I wasn't expecting a reply, but I got one.

“I suggest that you don't stand there for much longer, little maiden.”

My head snaps to the side. I expect to find Jhyn watching me from the shadows, but there are no shadows here. Every ounce of darkness has been drowned away by the glowing flames.

I cough into my hand. My throat is starting to tingle. “Jhyn?” I call. “Are you still here?”

“Not physically, but I am with you,” Jhyn's delicate voice responds. It seems to be coming from within me. I can feel what little bass his voice contains reverberating in my heart. I press my palm against my chest in amazement. It feels so warm.

“How—?” I begin to ask but Jhyn's voice cuts off my question.

“Get away from that house, Zenobia,” he commands in a low voice. “Your face is not one I wish to see burned by flames.”

It's at this moment that I realize that the house I just escaped from is also on fire. I look up at the burning foundation for only a brief second before I do as I'm told. I run away from the house and towards the town. Dain and Dante must still be somewhere around here. I know that this is the same town we brought Morgana into when she fainted. The inn can't be far.

“Do you know where the inn is?” I ask Jhyn, who I'm sure must be listening. Jhyn doesn't respond. I slowly stop running and press my palm against my chest. A cold wave of sadness washes over me when I feel that the warmness has faded away. His presence has left me, it seems. A feeling of desperation seizes me as I begin calling for my bodyguards.

“Dain?” I cry over the maddening wails that have overtaken the burning town. “Dante?”

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