52

It was hard to say when he’d gotten out of his cell. Probably seconds after his shackles had shattered. It was harder still to say why he’d scrambled to his feet and lurched out of his cell, aiming for freedom. He was weakened by days without adequate food or water, no exercise, and being unable to observe his needing at the new moon. So realistically, he hadn’t stood much chance against the fabled Death’s Gateway Prison, where Dhaoine went to die slowly. But knowing his chances were slim hadn’t stopped him from darting passed the still-stunned guards and Healers. From pushing open the door to his cell hard enough it banged against the wall and thudded closed behind him with a sound that shook his bones.

And the moment his feet touched the hallway he was running, strength he hadn’t had heartbeats before suddenly coursing through his veins. Followed the whisper of the wholeness of his Key having finally unlocked him. Followed the urgency of his qahllyn’qir that told him to get out and head northwest. He ran blindly through the prison, knocking aside guards and warriors and other prisoners as he ran, not breaking stride. Took turns and stairs blindly, burst through doors hard enough to splinter the wood at the hinges, to throw whoever stood on the other side several feet.

But none of it really registered. None of it mattered. Because Rhyshladlyn lived, barely, but he did. And Relyt refused to let him die again. Refused to allow his past mistakes, his failures, to rob the Worlds of their only chance to return to normalcy. Let the weight of that determination settle across his shoulders, let it ground him as he took another set of stairs two at a time and came to a landing that opened into a spacious room at least fifty feet across and thirty wide. Smiled wide enough that his cheeks hurt with the strain of using muscles that had gone so long unused when he spotted the floor to ceiling windows that covered the far wall to either side of a massive set of doors. Freedom.

His laughter was borderline hysterical when he picked up speed, scattering more guards and other Dhaoine who didn’t wear a noticeable uniform as he stretched his stride to his full length and dove for one of those windows. Glass rang around him as it shattered and he fell into the fresh air of the early morning, tucking into a roll across the stones of the courtyard. He was still laughing as shouts of surprise and genuine fear rose all around him. But he ignored it. Merely rolled to his feet and kept running as the eastern horizon slowly but steadily lightened with the approaching dawn.

He didn’t know how much time had passed since he’d felt Rhyshladlyn’s brief death but figured it had been hours. His qahllyn’qir slipped and slithered under his skin, pressing up against it until he was certain his skin would split around them. Relyt groaned at the feeling, fought not to despair at the sense that he was already incredibly late. That he’d lost precious time he hadn’t had to begin with. But with each running step he took that carried him farther from the prison, the more sure he felt that he was on the right path. That for all that he was likely too late for whatever it was he had to do next the fact that he was still trying was enough. Even if it didn’t feel like it.

O’ Great One, Hear the prayer of Your wayward son. Let my feet be swift and my heart sure. Let me not fail him again. Please, I beg of You.

As the sirens went off behind him as Death’s Gateway went into lockdown, Relyt lifted a hand, caught a Line, and left Anglë World without a backward glance.

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