The trees bore witness to my sorrow as I sat my pack and dagger aside and bent before the grave of one whom I’d loved with all the years these sixteen had allowed me. The elf music poured through the lands, haunting, cutting to the core of others gathered at their own grave markers. Once, we’d gathered on these hills to waltz beneath the moonlight with our boyfriends, now, we’d buried them. War was a harsh thing. A forever thing.
I set the firestone upon the tombstone and began to chant in my native elfin tongue. I spoke of love and death, of kisses and torment, of hatred and vengeance, and finally of sorrow that knew no bounds. The angel heard me for I felt her dark wings enfold my shoulders and whisper to me, “What is it you would have me do, child?”
“Let him live,” I sobbed.
“There is a price,” she answered.
“He has already paid a greater price than anyone should.”
Her wings stretched forth. “Very well. I bind you, Azael Lakedon to this pledge. Do you do so willingly?”
She folded her wings. “It is done.”
A ghostly mist blew across the grave and I swung around to find the angel gone.
Things clouded further until I could no longer see in any direction. Gone was the elfish music. There was only the wind—and a strange sound—a heartbeat.
My breath caught. It was him. Maell. He’d returned to me. I reached out my hands. The fog began to clear. A silhouette burst through. His handsome face appeared, void of any blood or mayhem. He was just as I remembered. He drew me into his arms and pulled me close, saying the sweetest things. His fingers paused in a caress of my cheek. “Azael, forgive me. The price.”
I shook my head. “What do you mean.”
“Death wants you.”
I stepped back, out of his arms. “No, no, it can’t be true. I just got you back.”
“Your life for mine. The consequences must be severe.”
“You love me?” He raised a brow.
“Then there is no greater amount to pay.”
I stumbled on a rock, going down, my dagger in my hand before I realized it as he bent to crack my spine. Shoving it in, I watched as he blinked in surprise, then anger, and shattered to ashes in the wind.