He screamed until he felt his vocal chords tear. He screamed until he was choking on the blood pushed up from his punctured lung and the pieces of his destroyed throat. He screamed until he stopped making any sound. And still he screamed.
He screamed to the Currents. He screamed to the Winds. He screamed to whatever gods were listening. He screamed until he felt his mind beginning to crack from the strain. But still he screamed.
Because the pain of his wings being mutilated meant nothing to him now. He didn’t even feel it anymore.
Because the pain of all his wounds and the fear of death they brought meant nothing to him now. He didn’t even notice them anymore.
All he noticed was the way their link thrummed with life but felt so incredibly empty. All he noticed was the way his Qishir’s Answer was really a goodbye. All he noticed was the way the elation and hope that had bloomed at feeling the Oath take and hold with it, at the feeling of their link strengthening and becoming solid, evaporated as those thirteen words sank in. All he noticed was the silence and the loss that made his bones ache in a way that had nothing to do with his injuries.
He’d felt Rhyshladlyn die before. But this… this was something completely different. Because Rhyshladlyn wasn’t going to just die like he had before. This time his mind was going to be shattered and his magick ripped from him, then his life would end. Azriel knew exactly what an Oathing Sacrifice entailed, he’d seen it happen firsthand. Had watched what had happened to the Qishir when the sacrifice was Accepted and when it wasn’t. And he knew that even though Rhyshladlyn had thrown up that door on their link that he would experience every excruciating moment with him. Knew that just because that door blocked him from Rhyshladlyn’s thoughts and emotions it didn’t destroy their link; he would feel and know what Rhyshladlyn did as he lived it. Such was the point of the link between Triad and Qishir, between the Sacred Three and Qishir; so that the Court knew when their Qishir needed them and vice versa.
So he would know the exact moment when the love of his life ceased to exist. He would know when his reason to hope, to live, died. Because this was so much worse than watching his mate die.
And so he screamed.
Gods, Rhys, how could you be so stupid!
But that wasn’t fair. Rhyshladlyn hadn’t had any idea what Azriel had planned. He hadn’t known that Shiran City was prepared to funnel its own power through Azriel, down their link, and into Rhyshladlyn so he could make it back into the City and take Anislanzir on before Azriel was truly at any risk of dying. All he had known was that if the Oath was finalized that his father would know immediately and that Azriel would be killed get to him. Because the death of one was the death of the other. All he had known was that Rejecting Azriel’s Oath would blow back and kill him, so that hadn’t been an option either. But by the High Ones, an Oathing Sacrifice? That was his failsafe, his fall back plan? It couldn’t be. He had to have missed something that the Qishir had not.
High Ones See me and grant me mercy. I did this. My Qishir, my mate, did this… is doing this… because of me.
Regret for his actions burned hot in his veins and he sagged forward in the bindings, all the physical fight having gone out of him, barely aware of the way his stomach turned over on itself at the feeling of his wings shifting against his back with far less weight than they should have. Barely aware of the way his breath rattled dangerously in his chest. Barely aware of how each movement made to try and draw in life sustaining air burned in his throat and sent new pain skittering along his nerves. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was that he threw his power and whatever power he could get from Shiran at the door that blocked their link, trying to get through, trying to get that power to Rhyshladlyn before the sacrifice could take full root, before it could take him away forever. But the door held fast. It wasn’t going anywhere unless its creator took it down.
And he continued to screamed. He screamed to the High Ones, to the Currents, to the Winds, to anyone and everyone who could hear him, who would listen. He screamed his pleas to save Rhyshladlyn, to not let him die, not yet.
He screamed until he felt Anislanzir’s talons sink into his throat on either side of his larynx, grip, and pull in an effort to physically silence him. But he didn’t stop screaming with his magick, with his power, with his Touches. Even when his body jerked with the blows of first Anislanzir’s fists and then his blade, he didn’t stop. Even when he was physically choking to death on the blood from the hole in his throat, he didn’t stop. Even when he felt his intestines shift and heard the squelching plop as they slipped from his body, he didn’t stop.
He couldn’t stop because if he did? It meant that Rhyshladlyn was dead and he refused to accept that.
Tears flowed down his cheeks, smearing the blood and other unsavory things that rested there, burning in the small cuts that littered his face and the open wound on one cheek. But he didn’t care. His body jerked from the sobs that made no sound, jerked from the blows Anislanzir continued to land, jerked from the strain on his mind and his magick as he just kept screaming. Anislanzir was screaming right back at him, telling him to shut up, to stop making so much racket, to tell him what the in the name of all Thirteen Cliffs was making him lose his mind like this, but he didn’t listen. He didn’t answer. He didn’t care.
Because the only reason for him to do whatever necessary to live was about to disappear forever. He would never again get to hold Rhyshladlyn close. He would never get to tell him how proud he was of him, how honored he was to have stood beside him. He would never get to see those exceptionally rare, genuine smiles that made his entire face and eyes light up. He would never hear that laughter that was like coming home and happiness and hope in a sound, that never failed to make those who heard it brighten up and laugh with him. He would never get to see him relaxed in sleep. He would never get to hear him moan in pleasure and growl in annoyance. He would never get to hear him try and make jokes that no one got but everyone laughed at anyway. He would never get to see him roll his eyes when he was exacerbated. He would never get to watching him go through his fighting dances. He would never get to make a family with him, to take his name, to build their Court together and watch it flourish.
I cannot do this without you, Rhys. Why… why would you… Please, please don’t leave me. You cannot leave me.
And so he screamed and screamed and screamed.
I need you, Rhys. Please.
He screamed until he felt that final tether that held Rhyshladlyn to the realm of the living begin to fray. And just as the last string of it began to snap he threw back his head and san–