And then she turned around and screamed, “Vampires!”
Domenico’s head jerked up at Misty’s whispered words, unable to believe he was indeed hearing her right. But when she turned around and screamed the word ‘vampires’, Domenico sprang into action.
As he moved towards Misty, he caught sight of Ivory quickly taking out a bow and arrow from behind her back, managing to hit Lysander on the shoulder before running away, her half-crawling, half-running gait telling Domenico that she was no longer a Faerie.
All her vampires followed her, but it still left twenty Faeries armed with swords ready to chop them down to pieces.
Misty gulped, muttering. “I’m flattered she thinks we’re worth 20 Faeries, but I really wish she didn’t think so highly of us.”
Domenico whirled her around to give her a short hard kiss. “Have faith in me, princess.” He shifted right after, leaping high into the air to knock down three Faeries with his claws.
The battle had begun.
As Domenico fought his battle in the air, Misty and Lysander did what they could on the ground.
Misty flung her throwing stars and when they didn’t come back early enough, she grabbed what she could from the floor – rocks, branches, vines - using them as weapons. She twisted and jumped to avoid the hard strikes of Faeries’ swords, never stopping moving even though the blades grazed her skin time and time again.
Past the forest, the cries of slaughter grew louder, and Mother Nature wept with them, causing Lysander to falter, his eyes filled with pain. His attacker took advantage of it, sword raised high. Misty swung to his side using a Tarzan-like vine before twirling it around the attacker’s neck and strangling him with it.
Behind them, more bodies fell to the ground in heavy thuds, Domenico ruthlessly disposing their opponents with cold-blooded expertise.
Lysander was about to thank her when he saw another attacker coming their way. “Misty!” He scrambled to get before her, knowing she would not be able to evade the attack on time.
A flash of black fur sped in front them, and the Faerie fell to the ground, neck sliced open by claws. By the time Misty had helped Lysander up, all twenty traitorous Faeries under Ivory’s command were dead.
Not a second later, a cacophony of howls followed.
She knew right away who it was that had come to help them. “Jayme!” she breathed.
Lysander suddenly sank to his haunches, frantically holding the ground. “Something’s wrong…” He sucked his breath in. “She’s burning the realm down.” Without another word, Lysander broke into a run.
Misty ran after him, praying there was something she could save.
“NO!” Lysander stumbled to a fall as he gazed at the bright orange light licking its way to every roof and structure, its roars intermingling with the cries of the injured.
The entire town was burning. At the edge of the realm, Misty could see wolves running after the vampires frantically trying to escape the allies that had unexpectedly come to the Faeries’ rescue.
Misty was weak-kneed at the sight of the burning town, and she knew the cries of grief coming from the gentle race that had taken her in would live with her forever. She slowly approached Lysander, bending down and hugging him from behind.
Domenico moved beside her, still in Lyccan form, pressing his side against her, lending his heat to warm her. She glanced at him, unable to say what she wanted to because it was not the right time. He nodded, nuzzling her face.
Misty turned back to Lysander, her heart aching at the ashen look on his face.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I’m so, so sorry.”
The High Circle – what was left of it – met at the edge of the realm, where the shields once stood. But they were broken, had been so ever since Ivory chose to betray her race by inviting the vampires in. It was a loophole that she had accidentally discovered when she managed to take the vampires into the Midways.
Misty was doing her best not to cry as she listened to Magenta saying the names of those who were confirmed dead, but she couldn’t control the tears when she heard Sir Belfast’s name among the dead.
Magenta choked, too. “He had been very…brave, sacrificing his life to save as many of our people as he could when the vampires attacked. He had been a hero during the Great War. And in this war he had become a legend.”
When Magenta finished the final count, 645 Faeries had lost their lives, a fatal blow to the race. The shields were also down, and would be so until a month-long ritual using the blood of fallen heroes was completed.
Lysander spoke in the end. “I withdraw my offer of betrothal to Misty Wall.”
Cries of protest ensued, with Arabella strangely being the most vocal. “How can you be so selfish, Lysander?” she demanded hoarsely. “It is now that we need something to seal the alliance more than ever.”
Misty bit her lip, wanting to defend Lysander but knowing he wouldn’t appreciate it. This war had changed him, made him even colder and more aloof and she despaired of ever seeing his light-hearted side again.
“We will still seal it,” Lysander said quietly. “But I will choose another princess and not someone…who already belong to someone else.”
Domenico’s arm tightened around her waist.
“There will be no delay. Tomorrow we will set for Lyccan Hall.”
Domenico and Misty went to visit Daryl and Milo after the meeting, with the latter bedridden and sporting a broken arm after having it nearly torn off by a vampire.
“They were incredibly smart,” Milo said with a faraway gaze, his lips tightening as he remembered those bloodstained hours that had nearly demolished their entire race. “They used fire to create chaos and when people started running, that was when they started biting and trying to turn us into one of them.”
Milo turned to Domenico. “They will never stop, won’t they?”
“No. They won’t.”
“What the f**k do they want?”
Domenico said grimly, “The whole f**king world.”
They left when Milo was starting to yawn, Daryl thanking them for their visit and inviting them to come again. Outside, the moon appeared serenely beautiful but for the first time it failed to comfort Misty.
The walk back to her home was filled with troubled silence. Misty was the first one to speak. “We have to talk.”
Domenico only nodded.
She turned to him, cupping his face, and when their gazes met, she started to cry. There were still doubt in Domenico’s wonderful green eyes, and it hurt to know that she had been the one to put them there.