Rochelle stumbled through the darkness and chaos as sounds from the trees echoed around her. The forest stood tall and somber, bearing witness to the devastation at its edge. Her feet tread carefully between shattered plates and overturned tables while her overflowing eyes surveyed the devastating scene. The house was destroyed. Fire had gnawed the timbers like a savage animal. Outside, the garden had been trampled by many booted feet. All the precious crops she’d so diligently tended were useless. She could see where the glass of her windows lay shattered amongst the shrubs. It glinted in the firelight, a thousand fiery eyes reflecting back the destruction of her home. The small, serene cottage, where she’d found an escape from all that had chased her in the kingdom, was gone.
As she entered the house, a numbing pain huddled within her breast like a frightened animal at the figure lying motionless on the floor. She turned the face towards her and pressed a hand over her mouth, muffling a strangled cry. It was her brother, with the Tyrant’s dagger protruding from his chest.
Rochelle dropped to her knees and stroked her sibling’s face tenderly. The Mirages had certainly come long ago, for there was no heartbeat or stirring of
breath. His soul was gone.
It felt as though her world was splitting apart. Her brother lay dead, and that meant he had failed to stop the Tyrant from claiming what he had come for. Bitter tears fell from Rochelle’s eyes as she retrieved the blade from her brother’s chest, rose to her feet, and exited the ruined dwelling. The painful truth pierced through her heart as if the Tyrant had stabbed her as well.
They had taken her daughter. They had taken her precious Eleri.