Chapter Twenty-Two

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           Siobhan lay curled in a ball in the corner of the hunter's cabin. A fire crackled in the fireplace, filling the room with warmth. Tears dampened her cheeks as she held her legs tight to her chest. Wyx sat beside her with his lengthy legs curled into his body, nibbling on one of her braids. Not since Nyka did Siobhan have a horse sleep beside her. It was nice, comforting, though it did little to ease her pain.

She stared at the window frosted over on the outside. No storm was on its way, the sun was busy melting the snow outside, but it did little to raise the temperatures. That was fine by Siobhan, it fit her mood even if she didn't have ice magic running through her blood. An avalanche could bury the cabin and suffocate her, and she wouldn't care.

She was a horrible person. All her life the only person she cared about was herself. Sure she could lie and say she helped Wren get Natalia back, but it was for the money. Money she thought she needed to get to Ardorn. Selfish. Horrible. What selfless act had she done recently? None. Everything she did was of some benefit to her. Now she ran at the first sign of real danger, leaving all Wyvernton to face the wrath of a Wyvern. When the Wyverns last roamed the earth, they were a symbol of the lowlands before the noble eagle replaced them, it was why the capital was called Wyvernton. Now, they'd fall. Fall all because Siobhan was selfish and couldn't do a damn thing to help them.

"Pathetic," Ayla snapped, slamming open the door to the cabin. She tossed the carcass of a white rabbit toward the fire. "The great Ice Fang, sitting in a pool of her own piss feeling sorry for herself."

"I'm not sitting in my piss."

"Oh right, laying in it. Apologies, oh great Ice Fang." She bowed, waving her hand toward Siobhan.

Siobhan pushed herself up and growled. "I'm not laying in it either. My faculties are under my complete control!" Wyx nudged his nose against Siobhan. She stroked the side of the horses face and watched Ayla skin the rabbit. "Actually cleaning and cooking your meal? That's strange for a shifter. Don't you normally prefer your meals fresh from the kill?"

"This rabbit isn't for me, it's for you. You need your strength if we're going to make it to Raiven before Garrith finds you again. We'll stay here long enough to eat then leave. We won't stop again until you're ready to fall off the horse from sleep deprivation. Don't worry about the horse, he can handle the ride we're about to put him through."

"I'm not going to Raiven. I'm going to Ardorn and getting the hell out of the lowlands." Selfish. She was so selfish.

"Wren needs you."

"I already told you, screw Wren. Elias will get him and Natalia to Raiven. Don't worry, your precious human will get there."

Ayla groaned. "Goddess this is pathetic. How can the fate of all magic rest in the hands of a human who didn't know he has magic and the fallen heir of Draygon who'd rather feel sorry for herself then to honor the name of her ancestors?"

Siobhan jumped to her feet. "Who the hell are you to judge me? What do you mean the fate of magic rests in my hands?"

Ayla jabbed a sharp stick through the rabbit's carcass and stuck it into the fire. Flames curled over the meat, instantly filling the cabin with the scent of it cooking. Siobhan's stomach rumbled, she couldn't remember the last time she'd eaten anything. It was well before her and Wren had entered the spires, that's all she remembered. She stared at the sizzling meat, ready to rip it from the fire and eat it raw.

The lioness stood slow, turning to face Siobhan. Both hands curled against her hips.

"I am Ayla, first in line for my pride, true daughter of Briana. It is my unfortunate duty to be charged with watching you just as Ivan was. Just as Master before him and many nameless faces you didn't know. From the day you left Draygon there has been someone by your side and I'm not talking about Elias. We've watched from the shadows mostly, but we've been there." Ayla grinned. "Do you want to know who you are?"

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