92

It had been far easier than he’d expected to get out of Xitlali’s compound. Even easier to scramble up the retaining wall that stood nearly twenty feet high all around it and drop to the other side before anyone could stop him, if they even saw him to begin with. Though honestly it wasn’t really all that surprising given that Rhyshladlyn blanketed his attend across the entire compound. Anyone who hadn’t felt it was either dead or Imènian-blind.

He glanced at the darkening sky and frowned. It was late in the evening, true night not too far away, and he had to get out of the area before then. Had to be halfway across Imèn, nearly to its western boarder, before it hit and gave cover to the things that waited beyond the city’s boarder wall. He could feel what had gathered, called there by Rhyshladlyn’s power and the Balance that dripped from the air around him, and knew that when they descended, if they descended, only those who bore signatures laced with Rhyshladlyn’s would survive. Though knowing Rhyshladlyn, he wouldn’t let anything but himself touch those who still remained in the compound.

So he ran, putting on more and more speed as his feet ate up the distance. He could easily make it across Imèn World in a matter of hours, after all, such distances were nothing to his kind when they wore their original skin. But showing that truth now, so close to Xitlali’s compound, while still in a city she controlled, that the Anointed One held influence in, was risky. Dangerous even. But his Qishir had told him to run, told him to find the Grey Court and pass along a message to Bayls Qaeniri. And regardless of the danger to himself, regardless of the risks, he would not fail. Not after Rhyshladlyn had killed in the most monstrous way he’d ever seen let alone heard of in order to give him back his freedom.

Even if there was nothing else between them, no other tie that held them linked, that would have ensured that he owed a debt to the Grey Qishir that would never be repaid.

He blew through the market district, dodging Dhaoine who were spending the last remaining minutes of daylight to haggle with merchants, altering his course slightly as he took a side road that branched off the main. He didn’t want the main gate, he wanted the smaller, side gate at northwestern edge of the city. It wouldn’t be as heavily guarded and seeing someone suddenly rush it and get through without any issues would cause alarm but it would take a lot longer for a smaller gate to get that information to the right people.

Part of him was amazed that four hundred and a fifty years of war and three hundred years of the aftermath where Balance was no more and Ordered Chaos reigned hadn’t changed it all that much. Not really. Was amazed that even though he hadn’t seen the city properly in nearly a thousand years, decades before he’d been captured and branded as a sold slave versus one Called to serve, he still knew exactly where he was, how to get out, but more importantly how to get back in. Which will be important when we return to get Rhyshladlyn out. 

The gates where in sight when he leapt, the ground whining as he left a crater in his wake, blowing stone bits and dust in all directions to the sounds of shocked Dhaoine.  He had barely made it over the parapets, narrowly missing kicking a couple guards in the face as he soared over them, when the first horn blew. But he paid it no mind. It didn’t matter how quickly they mobilized any sort of armed force against him; he’d be gone before they even opened the gate.

He dove for the ground, hitting the sand hard enough to throw up a cloud of it around him as he tucked and rolled to his feet, pushing off as soon as they were on the ground and took to the skies with a roar that sounded like the crackling of flames, shedding his Dhaoinic skin with a shivery sigh of relief. Scales flowed, replacing humanoid skin, his eyesight sharpening as his eyes reshaped themselves, his other four arms sprouting from his torso as it elongated to accommodate them. Leathery skin stretched between each limb to form makeshift wings that would disappear when he landed and didn’t need them again. His legs fused together, growing longer as they became the long, muscular body of his tail as it undulated through the air, propelling him forward faster and faster. 

*Hythin,* he called as he put leagues between him and Xitlali’s compound, hearing the distant sound of more horns. He chuckled at the thought of Xitlali realizing he was gone, of what Lílrt would do when he returned and learned of what had happened. It was a very nice thought. *Gather your new friends behind you and meet me at Ryphqi City. I will be there in a few hours.* 

*You’re free?* the Shadow asked, sounding far more surprised than he normally would have. *How?* 

A fierce smile tugged at his lips as true night settled deep and fast around him, bringing with it the chill of winter’s rapid approach. But he didn’t mind it. The cold never really touched him anyway.

*Yes. And Rhyshladlyn gave me a mission.* It wasn’t a true answer but it was good enough. For the only Dhaoine in that place who could have saved him was the Grey Qishir himself. No one else was powerful enough to Heal him and remove the brand Xitlali had put on his skin.

For a moment there was silence and a stillness that was still surprise than anything else before he felt Hythin gather himself and shake off whatever thoughts had distracted him.

*I shall be there. Though I cannot promise how many will stand at my back but I will bring those that are willing… and able.*

He didn’t reply but then again he didn’t have to. He loosed another crackling fire roar to the skies and felt millions of eyes rise to stare at him as he felt overhead. Knew that what had gathered at the boarders of the city he’d left behind filled the land surrounding it. He got the sense that they were waiting for something. He didn’t know what that was or even why they were waiting for it, especially when at least half of them were deadly creatures that obeyed no one, let alone themselves, but he knew better than to question it right now.

There was more important things to focus on. For now.

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