Then the whole sky howled with danger, terrible danger, dragon-breaking danger.
We were all too tangled up in combat to do much about it, and we didn’t have much time to think and didn’t know what the danger was. I know I breathed my harshest lightning at Greshthanu then, which was utterly the wrong thing to do.
And the terrible purple rays from the region of Muld in Trest fell upon us, the great Trestean weapons that had threatened all their world. My Hoplonton could not hold them all off, and my vô crisped and scorched under their force, but my body was untouched. I could see a bit of Arilash, with just a Small Wall. She didn’t have the strength in her vô to block them from her, and the tan scales were ripped from her back, and fell, bloody, towards Ze Cheya beneath us. She roared in pain and anger. Six drakes were similarly wounded, and roared their answers to her in kind. I roared too, in anger.
Greshthanu … Greshthanu didn’t have much of his Small Wall left, after I had been breaking it so much, and what he had was tilted against lightning, giving him little enough protection against anything else. And Csirnis and Llredh and Ythac had been attacking him with all their force too.
Greshthanu’s body was ripped apart by the twistor beams. It fell apart in seven pieces, spraying blood and bile and ice and bone. There is no healing spell good enough for that, none enough for even a twelfth part of his injuries.
The eight of us stared aghast. Our fiancé, our companion and friend and gadfly — a whole dragon — slain by the powers of hovens? We keened in our fury and, yes, our fear.
And the sky started to scream danger again.
“Scatter, out of the way!” I called out. “They will strike again soon! Arilash, you must travel now!” My rival had the weakest sort of protections left, and no dangersense. Another great twistor assault might have injured or killed her.
We flew this way and that, and defended ourselves as best we could. Healing spells, travel spells to get out of the way, apotropaics for those whose protections had been weakened in the fight …
The second and third barrage of the Peace Everywhere Array came from Trest in the sky, hitting at where we had been.
We weren’t there, though.
The capitol of Ze Cheya was next in line. There was nothing that could have protected it from the power of Trest. The twistors carved vast arcs of destruction in the crowded streets, and ripped the ancient temples out of the ground and flung them in a blind cyclopean bombardment across the city that had been wholly innocent, and wholly generous, and wholly beautiful. In retrospect at least.
The Magic Trumpet of Dorday’s headline that day called it “Hove’s Finest Hour.” And said that all of us had been killed.