Read the first part here.
Eliza was on her knees. Ash and dust blew in on the wind, falling like a dark and deadly snowfall that came to settle around her. She had taken refuge right in the centre, away from the flames, as the Shadow Kingdom had burned to nothing. The smoke had been so thick and so heavy that she had almost passed out a few times. She was still coughing, but it was beginning to thin as the last few embers died around her. The crackling flames were gone, the screaming had stopped and the clearing was so quiet now. It was dark too, without the light from the vines, but the darkness was so empty. So meaningless.
She thought of the fight she’d had with Dyana and how that too seemed meaningless. The anger and hurt she had felt after that was nothing compared to the pain she felt now. It was like someone had taken a red-hot sword and sliced her down the middle. Her heart was gone. And in its place was a bleeding, empty hole that grew with each passing minute- eating away at the rest of her insides. She wondered how long it would be until there was nothing left. She hoped it would be quick.
“Dyana,” she whispered her name, hoping that somehow the scattered remnants of her Shadow Princess were in the night air around her. “I’m so sorry. I love you.”
The wind brushed against her skin and she pretended that it was Dyana saying I love you too.
Around her, beyond the walls that were blackened with smoke she could hear the sound of horses, of men whispering to one another, and it dawned on her that this was no accident. There were people out there who had deliberately torched the Shadow Kingdom. She got to her feet and drew her sword.
There was still a fight to be had.
Eliza had never been more dangerous. She knew that either she she would take down this entire army single-handed and avenge the death of everyone in the Kingdom. Or she would die trying. Either option suited her just fine.
A deep, metallic clank rang out across the clearing. She turned to see a grappling hook attach itself to the top of the wall. Someone was climbing in. She walked towards them. Ready.
The hole in her chest grew hot with an anger that spread through her veins. She gripped her sword so tightly her knuckles turned white. More grappling hooks appeared. Perhaps the whole army were descending on her. She wasn’t afraid. She had already lost everything. Devils and daemons could scale those walls and she would not be afraid to face them.
The last of the smoke cleared as she came face to face with Dyana’s murderer. Her stomach tightened. The hole in her chest deepened.
.Her brother stared back at her.