Dark Fae Freed – Heather Renee

Fury fueled my every thought and movement as I continued forward. It didn’t matter that I had been knocked on my ass. I had a singular goal, and nothing would distract me from what needed to be done. Not even the wounds covering my body. I might have been broken, but I wasn’t giving up. The further I flew from Finn’s farm, the more my emotions came back to me, but not in the way I’d felt them before. I was once again the monster the king had created. Except this time, Zephyr was my target. My intent was ruthless. My care was gone. Nothing mattered beyond killing him. He’d shown up moments after I’d blown Edgar to bits, hopefully to never be put back together. Perfect timing on the king’s part, likely thanks to Dain, the son nobody knew the king had and whose death I had zero remorse about. He’d been a traitorous fae who ended up being more devious than I’d thought possible. With a destination clear in my mind, I teleported myself mid-flight and landed on the pristine beaches of West Island.

I knew King Zephyr wouldn’t have gone anywhere but his fortress. Unfortunately for him, it wouldn’t remain a fortress for long. My feet pounded against the sand as I drew on my power, willing the magic within me to heal the wounds I’d suffered. Between the fight with Edgar and the hits the king had gotten in before disappearing, I knew the damage to my body was extensive, especially to my left wing. I could still use it for the basics, though, and I wouldn’t let a bit of pain stop me. Nothing can stop us, my inner voice hissed as magic began to trickle from my fingers and wrap around my arms and wings. With every step, my bones began to heal and muscles regained their strength. I wasn’t at my best, but it didn’t matter. My drive to see this through would be enough. I had to stay on task.

I would find and end King Zephyr, no matter the consequences. By the time I arrived at the gate, my wings were extended and turned back into hardened weapons while magic swirled around me like the rage I carried deep within me. At some point, either during the previous fight or on my flight over, my braid had come halfway undone. Instead of trying to fix the tangled mess, I untied the rest and let my iridescent strands fly behind me as my steps brought me closer to the one thing I wanted most. One of the fae guards caught sight of me and began yelling, but I didn’t let him get more than two words out. With a dozen lethal feathers already in hand, I sent one sailing toward his throat. He didn’t react quickly enough, and blood gushed from the wound as his fingers helplessly tried to cover the gash. By the time I reached him, the guard was on his knees, gurgling incoherent words. I paid him no attention as I continued forward. A line of nearly a dozen guards waited by the water well, and another smaller row beyond that.

The good thing about seeing what waited for me was that it proved King Zephyr was indeed afraid of me and somewhere within his castle. “If you stop now, the king just might show you some mercy, Lucinda,” Gabriel shouted from the castle gates, hiding behind the rows of fae like a coward. He’d been even more ruthless than King Zephyr when I lived here. I hadn’t forgotten the times he’d nearly drowned me, whipped my back until there wasn’t an inch of skin untouched, or when he’d made me wear the blood of those I’d killed when I was only thirteen. If it was possible, Gabriel might have been even more vile than the king. He didn’t deserve a verbal response. A wave of magic surged from my hands and into the first line of guards, followed closely by several more of my feathers. My power burned the skin of my opponents, and the feathers sunk deep into their chests. Only half of the guards were left, and I was just getting started. Five fae came charging toward me at once, but I wasn’t going to give up, no matter how dire things might seem.

Power blasted into me, and my wings acted as a shield, absorbing the impact. Waiting until the king’s pawns were within physical striking distance, I flung my wings out and sliced three of their heads off in one strike. Another guard snuck around behind me at some point and tackled me, wrapping his arms around my waist while another guard stepped on my wings, standing over my head. Ignoring the searing pain from the magic of the one restraining me, I jerked my arm up and grabbed on to the junk of the one above me. With one pull, he came down, freeing my wings and nearly sitting on my face, knocking the other guard away. We rolled around on the ground, and I used my feet to kick him backward. Before I could get up, the previous guard moved back in and sliced a blade across my stomach, leaving a gash that wouldn’t heal anytime soon. Damn it! I groaned, soaking in the agony and turning it to rage, then swiveled around and cut my attacker’s chest open with my wings, enjoying the gasp of surprise coming from the fae who thought he had bested me. Not today, asshole. Even with five down in a matter of minutes, I was nowhere close to getting inside the castle.

I called my power forth once more, drawing on the darkness and begging it to give me the strength I needed to get within the king’s walls. Magic exploded from me, going in all directions and demolishing whatever it touched. The well crumbled before me, the tables nearest to me from the market caught fire, and the mortar between the bricks began to crumble. Using that much power hadn’t been my intention, but it was effective. Several of the guards that had been headed for me stopped, glancing at each other until one of them yelled, “Keep fighting!” Gabriel still stood back, leaning against the wall with a smirk on his round face. Gods, I couldn’t wait to kill him. Spilling his blood would be almost as satisfying as the king’s. Before I could worry about him, I had to contend with those still stupid enough to fight me. The larger group took almost every ounce of energy I had left within me. I took out fae after fae, ignoring every hit they managed to get in when more than two came at me.

By the time I was done with them, I hadn’t wavered from my goal. My focus was still on removing whatever obstacles lay in my way of getting inside that castle. After the last fae went down from the second group, I took stock of my newest injuries. My right wing was back to hanging lower than the left. Blood oozed down my forehead and across my stomach, and I walked with a limp. Now, there was no one else between me and Gabriel. Even in my tattered state, glee filled me at how close I was to getting my hands on the king. We will succeed. No matter the cost. We must get to the king, my inner voice encouraged.

“I’m disappointed to say I’m mildly impressed with your fighting skills, Lucinda. It’s such a pity I have to kill you now,” Gabriel taunted, not at all afraid it was finally just me and him. “I said not to kill her. She will suffer for taking part in my son’s death, and her punishment will be by my hand,” King’s Zephyr’s voice sounded, but he was nowhere to be seen from where I stood. Find Zephyr. Don’t let him hide from us, the voice urged. As I stepped closer to Gabriel, unafraid of what he might be able to do to me in my weakened state, I glanced through the open gate and caught sight of a struggling blonde behind another dozen guards just inside the king’s walls. We weren’t so alone after all. Ivy’s fiery gaze met mine, not a single tear in her eye as she nodded. A part of me really wished she didn’t have to die, but Neva wasn’t back with a witch to save her.

If I could get close enough, I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to kill the king. Not even for Ivy. King Zephyr moved his head to the side of hers, but before I could focus on him, Gabriel sent a blast of dark magic toward me, and the power clipped my good wing, bending it into an awkward point. “Don’t play with her, Gabriel. Just capture her and bring her to the dungeon.” As I kneeled on the ground, recovering from the most recent blow, I turned back toward the sound of his voice. King Zephyr met my stare and ran his nose through Ivy’s blonde locks. “I need Lucinda awake for the first part of her suffering.” Ivy shuddered, then dropped an elbow into his gut. “Keep your damn hands off me.

” King Zephyr retaliated with a punch to the back of her head, and Ivy fell to the ground behind the other waiting guards. Wrath built within me once more. Nobody deserved to be treated like that, especially Ivy. I might have been beaten on the outside, but I wasn’t done fighting. The king was the ultimate bully, and I was going to show him what happened when he didn’t give others the respect they deserved. Gabriel took a step toward me as I stood back up. My full focus was on him, wrath bubbling and power continuing to build within my core. “Are you going to make this fun or disappointing, Lucinda?” Gabriel jeered, and I stumbled to the ground once more, a new plan forming. “Of course you’re not going to fight. You’ve always been pathetic.

I never could see what the king saw in you. Not even with your unique wings.” The last bit was whispered in my ear as Gabriel grabbed hold of my hair and yanked my head back. “You know, I normally like rough foreplay, but I’m going to have to pass this time,” I snarled, forcing my head forward and into his nose even as his grip tightened around my strands. The resounding crunch was pleasing, but I knew it wouldn’t faze him enough to get me through the gates. I wrapped my hands around his face, sending a wave of magic into Gabriel with enough force to knock him out. Unfortunately, my actions nearly did the same to me. “Get her!” King Zephyr shouted, and I glanced up in time to see him retreating with Ivy dragging behind him and fighting against his hold. I took quick stock of my situation and was fully aware of the blood seeping from multiple wounds—mostly from my stomach. My wings were pretty much useless, but I refused to believe any of those things were going to stop me.

I ripped out more feathers and winced when I realized how many I’d grabbed. I’d never utilized my own feathers this much before, but I had to use whatever was at my disposal when magic wasn’t enough. The feathers would grow back. After throwing a handful of sharpened feathers at the advancing horde, I spotted a glowing sword at Gabriel’s hip. Crawling toward him since I still couldn’t stand, my fingers wrapped around the hilt. The pain caused me to hiss and almost drop it, but my hold tightened against my command as dark magic filled me, allowing me the energy to finally stand again. End them. Now! The more magic I soaked in from the blade, the darker my thoughts became. I moved to swing down toward Gabriel and cut his head off, but power burned into my back. “I love granting death wishes,” I stated with a grin as I moved toward the group that had assaulted me.

I had no idea who hit me, but the whole lot would pay for their mistake. Some of them slowed as black magic began to intertwine with my normal teal, but I had to give credit to the six who didn’t stop following what had been commanded of them. At least they were loyal, but that wouldn’t save them. Nothing would now. While greedily inhaling the power that the sword was providing, I channeled some of it back through the blade and arced it high in the sky before swinging it around and across the chests of four fae. Their skin burned on contact with the metal, and their knees buckled, but the ones behind them were prepared. The fae I’d thought slowed out of fear were merely preparing. As more moved forward, three of them stood side-by-side, palms facing me and navy power swirling around their hands. I tried to bring my wings in front of me to use as a shield, but even with the increased adrenaline from the sword, they weren’t cooperating. Before I could think of a plan B, the fae fired off their magic at me all at the same time, and I ended up on my ass as someone called my name from behind.

When I tried to sit up, I realized my hands were empty and the sword was nowhere in my limited sight, causing my energy to wane once more. Another hole was ripped through my bodysuit that should have been nearly impenetrable, and blood soaked through not only at my stomach, but now my shoulder as well. Everything within me felt broken, but it was my fury that gave me the strength to keep getting up. I wasn’t done with these people. I had to get to the king. A blur of motion flew past me as I crawled to my knees, still failing to stand, but I did lay eyes on the sword. A large part of me was screaming to leave the blade be, but I just needed its power for a little bit longer. I lifted my head and caught a glimpse of forest-green wings. When my eyes focused, Finn was moving swiftly between the remaining guards knocking those unconscious that he could and even breaking a neck or two on those he couldn’t. I wasn’t sure who this new Finn was, but he was glorious and going to be my ticket to the king—him and the sword.

I just needed my magic to start healing me and everything would be fine. Finn could get his sister and say goodbye, and I could end the reign of terror that was King Zephyr. Except, when Finn was done and there were no more guards coming toward us, he didn’t do what I expected, what I wanted most. His gentle hands lifted me up and cradled me to his chest. “Let’s go.” Don’t let him take you. He will ruin us. Don’t let—the inner voice started to yell in my head, but I cut it off, needing to focus. Finn took a step in the wrong direction, and I fought against his hold. “No.

We just killed more than half his personal guard. We need to end this now. It’s our best chance.” Adjusting so he could use one hand to grab my chin, he growled in my face. “Lucinda, if I don’t get you away from here, you’re going to die. You’re not healing, and I have to save you.” It didn’t matter that everything within me was screaming in agony and that he was probably right. I wasn’t ready to walk away. I was there to kill the king, and that was what I would do. Or die trying.

“Let me go. I’ll be fine. I can use the sword I had.” I pushed against his chest, but he didn’t seem the least bit deterred from his intentions. I tried to draw on my darkness, take whatever boost I could get, but something was wrong. The power was just beneath the surface, but it was being smothered. Had I lost too much blood? Was this it for me? Shit. Maybe I was as bad as he said, but I wasn’t ready to give up. If this was where I died, then so be it, but if I was going down, I’d do it fighting. “You’re not going to die.

I won’t let that happen,” Finn grumbled. He tightened his hold on me as the castle disappeared around us and consciousness began to fade away.

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