She stumbled and collapsed against the wall, vision unfocused, chest too tight, as her body suddenly just refused to remain upright and mobile anymore. The skin of her arms felt like it was crawling and when she looked down at them, she could see the markings that spoke the names of her Triad pressing against her skin. Seeing it she cried out because she knew something was very wrong even before the shiver of warning danced down her spine, pulling at her Triad’s Blood Oaths as it went like one would pull at the ropes of tower bells.

“Thayne!” Bayls’ voice cut through the rising panic but not enough to shift her attention to the Sinner female.

Despite the panic that clogged her throat, despite knowing it was probably ill-advised, she reached out to her Triad, desperate to touch them all, to know for certain whether her fear was founded. For the mirrors of a Qishir’s Oathed Triad and Sacred Three only showed up when one or all of them were dying or dead.

Some tension eased in her when she felt Ishmariel struggle to keep his feet as he carried a basket of fruit through the market, his breath stuttering out of him as her awareness thundered passed him. The panic subsided slightly when she felt Y’adtrik come flying awake pressed between two warm bodies, his eyes so wide she saw more of the white sclera than she did his irises. But for all that the tension and panic had eased when with the knowledge that her Steward and Warrior were safe, it came roaring back at double the intensity when she felt Alaïs’ terror and fury. Crying out again, she bent over double as it washed over her, filled her, and shook her body like one would rattle the bars of their prison.

Everything was chaos and that didn’t even quite cover it. She twisted and turned and everywhere she looked was another of the those nightmarish things. At every turn, for every one she dropped, there was another to take its place and another and another. For all that she had dropped nearing into the hundreds of them, it wasn’t enough to stem the tide, to give them a fighting chance. Not with Nhulynolyn dying, not with Azriel seriously injured. She and Thae’a and Xheshmaryú were skilled enough, she more so than the other two, but with their strongest warriors taken down? 

We’re going to die here. The thought just fueled the fire of her fury as she turned to face another creature. 

cry pierced the air, made it burn and shake as the ground rumbled like thunder and the sky turned black with shapes that were Dhaoinic, humanoid, monstrous, and every shade in between. A war howl in a language that was more beautiful than any she’d ever heard before shivered across the currents as the mass that crouched atop the retaining wall descended upon them all. 

But she wasn’t afraid of what had come to their rescue. If anything it meant that now they had a chance to survive. 

She pulled away with a breath like a drowning man breaking the water’s surface. There was a smattering of voices speaking all at once: Bayls, Adïmshyl, and Jaro, all of whom had been at the house with her. She could feel Ishmariel and Y’adtrik running through the City streets to get there, to put their hands on her, to lend her their strength so that collectively they could help Alaïs. Could all but see through their eyes as they ran, dodging Ryphqians left and right and center as they took corners at a blur, calling out a warning of their arrival with each intersection they came upon.

Otherborn. So many Otherborn. Thousands of them, all in one place, all without their . All here with the sole goal of saving her, Nhulynolyn, Azriel, Thae’a, and Xheshmaryú. She’d only ever heard stories of such a thing happening. Of so many of her kind gathering in one place for any reason let alone for a common goal.

“What are they doing here?” Xheshmaryú asked breathlessly as he dodged a swing from one of the things before delivering a left cross to its throat that tore its larynx out mid coughing scream. 

“We were sent to your side by the Grey Qishir,” answered an Otherborn with midnight black skin, white eyes, and a shock of white in a sea of black curls that fell around eir face as ey delivered a roundhouse kick to a thing’s face and sent it flying yards away to meet the hands of another Otherborn who literally ripped it to pieces. “Nhulynolyn Otherborn sent a distress Call out as he was dying, pulling his twin to his side. We are the contingency plan in case Qishir Rhyshladlyn could not save him entirely or in time.” 

“Thayne! Fuckin’ talk to me!” Bayls’ voice pulled her from the battlefield that the cabin had become. A soft whistle followed by a stinging in her cheek helped her fully slide back into her body, to disengage from her Companion and find Bayls’ hazel eyes inches away and filled with worry-born fury. “Are you actually back with us this time?”

“Did you… did you just slap me?” she asked, one shaky hand raising to touch her cheek.

“You weren’t responding so yeah, I did. Wanna fight about it?” Bayls retorted and Thayne couldn’t help but snort. For all that she was the smallest and youngest in the Grey Court, never mind in the Honorable Court, the Sinner female was always ready to fight no matter the reason or the time.

But Thayne also knew that of them all, perhaps Bayls was the only one able to recognize what had happened, where she had gone. The Sinner was handfasted to an Otherborn after all, the mirror twin of the Grey Qishir. What would have happened if Bayls hadn’t been here with me? 

“Not particularly. I got enough of that just seeing through Ally’s eyes,” she replied and felt the way everyone in the room went still.

“What do you mean?” Bayls asked, voice dripping with suspicion.

She had a whole new respect for the pressure Rhyshladlyn had always been under. Though granted, the Grey Qishir hadn’t been fully Blood Oathed to his Triad at the time of his disappearance like she was now. But he still had to weigh the safety and welfare of everyone in the Court when making any decision. How he had managed it with even a sliver of a clear head she had no idea. Because she was struggling to even breathe passed the thrum of her and Alaïs’ Bond. It was so incredibly loud with its demand that she touch it again, that she feed it energy and strength and power. Realistically she knew better than to give in to that demand. Knew that if she did, she’d drain her reserves dry before pulling from Ishmariel and Y’adtrik’s until the three of them collapsed under the strain.

But logic never held up well in the face of strong emotions.

“Oi! The fuck d’you think you’re going there, Firesbane?” Adïmshyl asked and she frowned at the Lupherinre.

“Don’t make that face at him,” Jaro commented. “He’s not the one who’s trying to stand to go and make a suicide run.”

She blinked and looked at the Soulless who just raised an eyebrow at her.

“Thayne, tell us what’s going on. Rushing to their sides won’t help matters. We can do more here than we can there,” Bayls’ voice was so even, so calm, that it swung her attention to the Sinner. Made her realize that she had gotten shakily to her feet, had half turned towards the front door.

So much for realistically knowing that I shouldn’t lend Ally aid in any form, physical or magickal. 

With a sigh she rubbed a shaking hand over her face before slowly sliding down the wall until she was sitting again because her legs felt like they were going to give out at any moment. It was better to chose to be plopped on her ass than be forced there.

“Creatures I’ve never seen before converged on the cabin,” she began, struggling to remember everything she saw as well as the information she got simply from sharing space with her Companion’s mind. It was the only real complaint she had about being fully Blood Oathed: sharing information mind to mind in such a manner could be extremely disorienting. “Alaïs and the rest were caught wholly off guard. Nully is severely injured and unable to fight. Uncle is also injured but not incapacitated with it. Only Xhesh, Ally, and Tee are still uninjured enough to fight and have only remained that way because a literal host of fucking Otherborn descended on the cabin.”

Bayls rocked back onto her heels before sitting heavily on the floor of the front room in front of her, blinking rapidly, hands pressed into the carpet between her crossed legs. Adïmshyl whistled between his teeth before pacing away towards the kitchen, hands on his hips as though he were reaching for the battleaxes he hadn’t carried in a few hundred years. Jaro just blinked at her, eyebrows raised so high they were nearly part of his hairline as he slowly uncrossed his arms, letting them drop limply to his sides.

Ishmariel and Y’adtrik chose that moment to push through the front door, breathing heavily from running through the City, eyes bright, cheeks flushed.

“What did we miss?” Y’adtrik asked as he squatted down, one hand pressed against the floor to keep himself balanced. Ishmariel made a yeah what he said gesture before doubling over in an attempt to regain his breath.

“Oh, nothing much,” Bayls replied, sounding way more flippant than Thayne knew she felt. “Just that a new creature of some type is attacking the old Grey Court cabin and a host of Otherborn decided to join the party to save Azriel and the rest.”

Ishmariel looked up, frowning. “I’m sorry… what?” he asked, still breathless but not nearly as bad as before.

“And that’s not even the best part.” She looked down at her arms where those markings still glowed and pressed against her skin and tried to convince herself that she wasn’t leaving Alaïs to die by not listening to the demanding thrum of their Bond. “Rhyshladlyn was the one who sent them.”

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