Prologue

Everything hurts but he drags himself across the floor anyway. Agony makes a proper home in his bones, spreading his joints until they barely listen to him but still he puts one hand out, digs his nails into the rug and pulls. Then throws out his other hand, digs in his nails and pulls again. Over and over until he’s staring at the legs of his desk, at the papers that had fallen to the floor when he’d been tossed into it hours ago. For several heartbeats too long he just stares, eyes unfocused, trying to convince himself that he can do this.

For all that his legs won’t support his weight yet, he knows he has to pull himself up. It’s important that he succeeds. For all that it will hurt, for all that it’s borderline impossible, he has to do this. It is the only way to guarantee that if he fails to get free, the Worlds will know the truth.

So with a cry that he can’t swallow no matter how hard he tries, he reaches up, grips the desk’s edge, and pulls his body up. Pulls until he’s laying half on the desktop, half draped on the floor. Eyeing the chair to his right he lets out a breath he tells himself doesn’t shake and lists towards it. Counts to three and then lets himself fall fully. Murmurs a breathless prayer as he lands in it and death grips the desk to keep from toppling over entirely.

As the agony ricochets along his nerves, he closes his eyes and waits for the vertigo to ease up. Waits for the nausea to pass. When it has he opens his eyes and watches as his left hand slides a few sheets of paper towards him, grabs a pen, and begins to write. Watches with a weird sort of fuzzy detachment as he writes until his hand cramps and he’s gone through five sheets back to front. And still he writes. Fights to stay present enough to finish. To stay conscious and clear headed enough to keep going. Because this is part of his story, part of his truth, and this betrayal won’t go forgotten. Won’t be erased even if he dies, even if he fails. Even if everything else is lost, this won’t be. So for all that he wants to sink beneath the waves of numbness, wants to let his mind fragment to make the pain of his body and his Self easier to handle, he doesn’t. Not yet.

When it feels like he’s finally empty, he leans back and stares down at the last words on the final page. Reads them over and over until his vision blurs and tears he told himself he no longer had the hydration to make fall down his bloodied, bruised, and broken face. Reads them until they are as real as the chair he sits on, as the desk groaning under the white-knuckled grip of his right hand. Reads them until his broken heart feels as numb as the rest of him has finally started to feel.

I wish he hadn’t saved me if only because it was all a lie. Because then I would not be in a nightmarescape worse than anything my sire created for me.

Relyt Greymend is a traitor. And it is my decree, my dying wish, that when I depart the living realm for the After that he follows me to the Cliffs where his worthless fïtshanŷr Self belongs.

Signed in blood and ink, bereft of power for the collar he placed about my neck,

Grey Qishir Rhyshladlyn Nhulynolyn Ka’ahne

Pricking the heart finger of his left hand with one of his fangs, he smears his blood across his signature and sits back in the chair, eyes falling closed even as he fights to keep them open. A wave of exhaustion drops over him like a wave crashing against the shoreline. He needs to hide this missive, needs to place it where it can be found by his Court, those he trusts, those he knows will leave not a single inch of the Worlds unsearched to find the truth, to find him.

But for right now he needs to rest. Just for a few minutes.

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