Dawn of Ash (Imdalind, #6)

Written By: Rebecca Ethington

Dawn of Ash (Imdalind, #6)

Rebecca Ethington

To Duck

Who showed me sunshine,

Who reminded me how to laugh,

Who is missed.

“Ilyan!” Risha’s voice cut through the explosion that shattered the building to my left. The ancient structure answered with a groan that threatened to send the building down on top of us all.

“Move!” Risha, the Sk?ítek woman who had led the survivors from Edmund’s raid and now served as my second, screamed again from where she fought alongside the others we were trapped with, even though it was becoming increasingly obvious there was no way we could fight them off alone.

That wouldn’t stop me from trying.

Yells and shouts of fear increased over the already rampant noise of battle, the building heaving as the screams escalated, the attacks right along with it. More dirt, more dust, more debris fell over us, ripples of fear tensing through me at what was about to happen. I shoved it all aside, letting Risha’s yell alert me to the much broader danger—my father’s men who were rushing me, moments from destroying me.

With one flash of magic, I killed the two men before me, their power fading completely as their destruction became nothing more than shadows. Then I dodged the attack at my back, my attacker’s powerful blast flying into the building that groaned loudly in warning.

Shards of brick continued to pour over us like hail, burning sparks of magic singeing my clothes and hair. I expected the building to tip with the impact, the powerful explosion being the final nail. However, it stayed, and the loud Trpaslíks’ laughter rang in my ears as I turned to face them, my jaw a hard line of anger.

With one quick movement, my hand shot out to grab my would-be assassin by the throat. With my hand clenched around the soft, warm flesh of his neck, the pulse of his heart was a torrent of fear, beating in time with the explosions surrounding us. His fear increased alongside the heat of my magic, a sharp flare of warning moving into him.

“How did you get in?” I growled, watching the man’s eyes for any sign that he might answer, but he only stared at me, his eyes bulging, red, and wild as I continued to hold him in place. “Tell me, and all this ends.”

He gasped for breath, but I already knew it was not in an attempt to answer, not with the way he smiled, the way he tried to posture to me, the threat obvious in his expression, even if the fear in his eyes didn’t make it believable.

A streak of red light erupted right above my head, and I turned. Keeping the Trpaslík debilitated under my palm, I fired toward the battle we had inadvertently walked into, expecting to hit whoever had tried to assault me. Instead, I was faced with a cavalcade of my father’s men as they emerged between the destroyed buildings that surrounded us, the skies full of his Vil?s.

My anger increased at the knowledge that one wrong turn had led us there, into the dead end with alleys and streets feeding into it like some sort of river basin. How was I to know they had built a new shopping mall last year? The street had always gone straight through. Modern invention continued to baffle me.

With one flare of power, I sent an attack into yet another of the Trpaslíks with my free hand, the other still holding the little man, his smile fading to nothing as one of his comrades collapsed to the ground lifelessly.

“I don’t like killing innocents,” I growled as I turned back to my captive, fully aware the anger in my voice would make that phrase unbelievable. “Tell me where Edmund is, and I can protect you.”

The man’s smug smile faded as fear clouded his eyes, his focus intent as he weighed his options. My chest tensed in fervent possibility, hoping perhaps this one would tell me. Perhaps this one would crack.

Just as he opened his mouth, though, an explosion erupted at our feet, rubble flying through the air around us. Instead of speaking, he then laughed.

“I obey only my master who saved me, who taught me what it is to be truly strong.” His voice echoed around us, loud and disjointed. “We will defeat you all!”

The man screamed his last words before I let my magic flow through him, into him, ending his life with one flash of power against his heart. Quick and painless.

It was the humane way. They weren’t all Trpaslíks, after all. Many of them, like the one I had killed, were Chosen—innocents my father had poisoned with his tainted Vil?s, trained, and abused, just to send into the city we were trapped in with the sole purpose of attacking us, destroying us.

It wasn’t their fault.

Stepping over the body, I rushed back into the battle, killing man after man as the tension in my body grew into a dangerous rage. I always had trouble controlling my temper, especially without Joclyn. Normally, I had her magic to comfort me, but she was asleep. Her Drak magic had pulled her under as it did every so often. As a result, I was walking a dangerous line.

With an explosion of sound and an eruption of power, a single stream of red light exploded from my hand, flying right into one of the many abandoned vehicles rotting in the dark, forgotten city. The broken thing flew through the air, right into the narrow opening of an alley to our left, hindering the advance of about thirty more attackers.

“Risha,” I yelled as I raced toward her, heart pounding as I blocked another attack, sending one right back toward the source and into the heart of a man who fell to the ground.

“Help! Ilyan!” a voice came, one of my Chosen calling out in fear of the hissing creatures surrounding him.