Chapter Forty-Six

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This time, when Em pushed back, May was in no state to resist her. She wasn't even in the right state to comprehend what she had just witnessed. A sound like a high ringing bell filled her ears, muffling the sound of Em's wailing. The world moved so slowly.

May tore her eyes from Welkin to look at Sita. The Star had turned when Em screamed and watched as she sprinted from the grass without so much as a flicker of emotion.

Get up, May willed herself. Get up and do something.

Despite the shaking in her knees, the act of getting to her feet seemed to wake May up. The world and all its sounds and sensations came roaring back to her, and with it, a searing firebomb of rage that detonated in her stomach and exploded outwards.

"What did you do?" she screamed, launching herself in bounding steps toward Sita. She wasn't sure what she was going to do when she reached them—rational thinking didn't seem within her grasp at that moment—but it didn't matter. When only a few remaining strides separated them, Sita made a small flicking motion with their fingers and May's legs seized mid-step. She flailed her arms and fought against her invisible tether but nothing helped.

"I came to exact the will of our Council," Sita said with a softness that may have belied pity. "Welkin understood the conditions of their exile and knowingly disobeyed them. They accepted the consequences of their actions."

May looked down to where Em had collapsed at Welkin's side. Em had rolled the fallen Star onto their back and was cradling their head in her lap, calling for them but receiving no answer. Welkin's eyes were open, staring hauntingly up into the overcast night sky; the brilliant gold was gone, replaced by something that resembled dark, murky wells. Em sobbed and May's heart broke.

There was no question: Welkin was dead.

"Fuck you!" May screamed. She hinged forward and snatched a field stone that laid at her feet. With a wild swing she threw the rock at Sita. Her aim was good enough that the Star was forced to step out of the way. "All they ever did was love. Did they really deserve to die for that?"

"Welkin interfered with the fabric of this world, knowing full well such meddling would disrupt the Plan. It is forbidden among our kind and so, yes, they earned their punishment."

"Give me a break." May reached for another stone, only to have her arms freeze too. "If that's your standard, then your entire Council in complicit. How dare any of you act like interfering is against the rules when your stupid wishing star has literally ruined lives. Something you created screwed up your almighty Plan more than Welkin ever did, but I don't see you doing anything about that!"

For the first time, Sita bristled. "Because to do something would be to interfere. What part of this don't you understand?"

May rolled her eyes, one of the only defiant actions she had left at her disposal. "Right. Because asking your followers to do your dirty work for you is in no way interfering. I mean, you only inadvertently started a war, but what do I know, right?"

From her place at Welkin's side, Em lifted her head. "May, stop. Please, just let it go."

"I will not stop," May snapped. "They need to hear this. If they're so concerned about their precious Plan getting messed up, maybe they should actually do something about it." She turned a fierce gaze to Sita, locking their golden eyes with hers. "If you won't do something, I will. And I'm not stopping until this is over. Take that back to your fucking Council."

Her words were like fire and Sita was scalded. The Star shrank back from May and her vitriol, slinking further into the shadows. Their form began to glow, stardust whipping around them like a swirling nebula. With another quick flick of their hand, May's body came free. But before she could act, Sita collapsed into a flash of light, and with a firework-like whistle, retreated into the sky.

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