Cesias dove as fast as he could, flaring out his wings and landing. The cavern was tall and foreboding, and blood was scattered across the wide field, but there was nothing. Nothing. No bodies, no Mordekai or Meken or Kyatyr. Where- where could they be?

"Beloved." Jaira turned, slowly, to face Cesias, who was staring in horrified fascination at the carnage just a few feet into the foliage. Two young men lay dead- one with a knife in his heart and one obviously rended by dragon claws. A formless wreck of a man lay on the ground, bleeding from huge teeth marks. Sirach, she knew. An emerald-studded dagger was shoved into the earth.

And, lying and bleeding against a rock, was Mordekai.

He was dead, she knew that before she even approached. Despair choked her as she neared him, cautiously, trying to swallow but having nothing to choke down in her mouth. Falling down beside her lover, she buried her face into his shirt and wept.

Meken had been here- Trek's harness had been lovingly left as a token of he and Mordekai's friendship, and she knew he would want to be alone until he could conquer his grief. As for her-

Oh, god. Mordekai.

Why did everything the world gave her turn out to die before she could properly relish it? Why did the gods loathe her, and embellish those like Sirach?

She took Mordekai's broadsword. It was better that she pass it along to someone to use, a son named for him, perhaps, with muscles and intellect to match. It was better that than the grave-robbers getting it, and selling it. With that, she wrapped her arms around her dead lover, holding him as close as she could, and pressing herself into him. It was her fault. It was her fucking fault...

She began, slowly, to walk to the east, when something sharp pressed into her heel. Sirach had no boots her size, and her won were demolished by years of wear, and now she cursed that as she glared at the offending object. The pewter dragon winked at her, pressed into the dirt. She looked down at it for a second, then slipped the chain over her head, and walked on.

Overhead, a dragon flew.