I turned away so I didn’t have to see it, but I heard his head fall to the ground.
I stood there, still holding the sword, and looked around the room. The haze had faded away, and pain returned to my body. My body screamed in agony, and my legs threatened to give out underneath me. Kyra and the other Vittra had stopped writhing and they both sat up.
“Go,” I said, struggling to catch my breath. “Tell them the King is dead.”
Kyra looked at Oren’s corpse with widened eyes, and she didn’t question my orders. She and the other Vittra scrambled to their feet and ran out of the room, leaving me alone with Loki.
I dropped the sword and rushed to his side as quickly as my body would let me. I knelt next to him, and pulled his head onto my lap, but it lolled to the side. Blood stained the front of his chest, and I put my hand over the wound, trying to press the life back into him.
“No, Loki, please,” I said as tears streamed down my face. “Loki, stay with me. Please. I love you. You can’t leave me like this.”
But he didn’t move. He didn’t breathe. I bent down, kissing his forehead as I sobbed, and I didn’t even have words for the pain I felt. With nothing else to do, I began to wail.
“My god, I’m too late,” someone said, and I turned to see Sara standing in the doorway. She looked at the dead King, her husband.
Loki had saved her life once, and she was a healer. She would be the only chance I would have at saving him.
“Help me,” I begged her and tried to hold Loki up to her. “Please. You have to help him.”
“I…” Sara didn’t answer for a second, and then she ran over to us, kneeling on the other side of Loki. “I don’t know that I can. He might already be gone.”
“Please,” I cried. “You have to try.” She took a deep breath and nodded.
“Do you have any energy left?” Sara asked.
“I don’t know,” I admitted. I felt weak and drained. Hurting Oren had taken most everything out of me.
“Well, help me, if you can,” she said. She put her hand on top of mine, the one that covered the hole in Loki’s chest. “Give me any energy you have. I need all I can get.”
I nodded and closed my eyes, focusing on her and Loki. A warm tingling went through my hand, a sensation I was familiar with from being healed before. But something else happened. I felt it in my veins, flowing through me, being pulled from me. Like hot liquid escaping out through my fingertips.
Then I heard it. Loki gasped loudly, and I opened my eyes.
He took deep breaths, and tears of relief slid down my cheeks. Sara’s hand was still over mine, and her skin had become wrinkled and pinched. Her hair suddenly had gray in it, and her face had aged noticeably. She’d given Loki a lot of her life force to save him.
“Loki,” I said.
“Hey, Princess.” He smiled dazedly as he looked up at me. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” I smiled and shook my head. “Not anymore.”
“What’s this?” He took my hair and held it out so I could see. A curl near the front had gone completely silver. “I take a nap, and you go gray?”
“You didn’t take a nap,” I laughed. “Don’t you remember what happened?”
He furrowed his brow, trying to remember, and understanding flashed in his eyes.
“I remember…” Loki touched my face. “I remember that I love you.” I bent down, kissing him full on the mouth, and he held me to him.
Sara had been drained too much to use any healing on me, but Loki was as good as new. He lifted me up, carrying me out of the King’s chambers. Sara walked with us, and we went out to see what damage had been done to the palace.
Kyra apparently had told the other Vittra what I’d said, and when they heard the King was dead, they scattered. What few were left bowed before Sara. She was their Queen, their reigning monarch, and she declared a ceasefire.
Not all of the Trylle survived. We lost a few, but only a few. Duncan broke his arm, but he did much better than I thought he would. Finn probably had a concussion, but he would live. Tove hadn’t been hurt at all, and Willa was proud of the battle wounds she sustained.
Despite the losses, and the damage to everything, I felt good. We had done what we set out to do. We’d freed ourselves, and the Vittra people, from Oren’s oppressive rule. We were free.
Epilogue: Four Months Later
The first few weeks after the Vittra attack were rough. I’d broken several bones and dislocated my shoulder. So many of our people needed the healing powers of Aurora and Sara that I refused to use any on myself. I had to heal the old fashioned way.
Everyone was quick to point out that I healed much more quickly because of my Vittra blood, but it was still a rough couple of weeks. Some good things came out of it, though. Like Loki waiting on me hand and foot. Truth be told, he barely left my side.
As soon as I was well enough to attend, we had my mother’s funeral. The entire kingdom turned out, and to my surprise, the King and Queen of the Kanin came, as well as the Queen of the Omte. They came to pay their respects but also to thank us for ending the tyranny of the Vittra.
Oren had set his sights most fervently on the Trylle, but we weren’t the only ones. It wasn’t until the funeral, when so many people came that the crowd overflowed into the street, that I realized what exactly we’d accomplished.
I also got to hear from other Trylle and even other tribes what my mother had done to protect them. The deals she had made, the things she gave up, and all the work she put into keeping the peace. Elora had given so much to the people, and it was so moving to see them truly appreciate it.
Losing Elora made me understand even more the importance of having a mother, and what had been taken from Rhys. Despite the way my “host” mother, Kim, had treated me, I knew she’d done everything out of love, love of a child she’d never even met.
Matt took Rhys to see Kim, where she’s still locked up in an asylum. Matt’s working to repair his relationship with her, although he’s resistant to the idea. Being willing to see her at all is a huge step.
Rhys plans to go to college near the hospital in the fall, so he can start to get to know her. Matt says that Kim is doing a bit better, and if she continues on the road to recovery, she might be released one day.
Matt came back to Förening, though. He says his home is here, and for that I’m grateful. I know I’m an adult with my own kingdom now, but I don’t think I’m ready to that live far away from my brother.