Here we are. The final chapter of the book 1. I know it's short, but it's an epilogue, so that's to be expected.

Oh, and it's from a different point of view.

Chapter 28

Epilogue

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I found Cale in an empty back alley in Lowtown, cradling a faerie boy's body to his chest. The dirty cobblestones were spattered black with blood and bodies, none of which were completely whole. The place reeked of death and magic.

It had taken me three hours and five men hired off the street to find him, but I'd had no doubt that I would. This was my city--nothing went on here that I did not know of.

When I spoke his name, the boy's shoulders tensed, like an animal shrinking away from a blow. He looked at me, eyes blank and haunted. For a moment, I thought he didn't recognize me, but then--

"Azri." Tears slid out of the corner of his eyes. "Azri." He said my name a few more times, turning his face away and clutching the silver-haired faerie closer to him, as if he was trying to fuse their bodies together. The faerie was clearly dead; limp and pale, a deep gash open in his stomach.

Cale didn't resist as I bent down to pick him up. He was still alarmingly light for his age, but heavier than he had been the last time I'd taken him up in my arms.

I carried him all the way back to the Lord Davon's mansion, past the festival, the revelers, oblivious to the catastrophe that had unfolded in the night. I doubted any of them would have cared even if they'd known.

I sent someone back for the faerie boy's body. I left Rilkone's where it was. The rats could have it, for all I cared.

I brought Cale down to my laboratory, sat him on the cot in the corner, and brewed up the strongest batch of chamomile-lavender infusion I could. It was very calming.

He drank it without any comment, without complaining about concoctions or poisons or anything like that. It scared me.

I left him sipping the tea, legs curled up under him, shoulders hunched like a leper.

I found Rizak in the barn sitting before a fire that was so hot it must have been burning all day.

"Aren't you uncomfortable?" I asked him, shrugging off my cloak.

"No," he grunted. I didn't press further.

"I want you to alert the staff," I said. "Cale and I will be departing at dawn tomorrow. Make ready two horses, Lesa and...Rom. He will be small enough for the boy."

"Why the sudden change?" Rizak asked, rising slowly to his feet.

"Cale killed again tonight. Rilkone and his men ambushed him in Lowtown. His friend, the faerie whore, he's dead."

Rizak looked quizzical, and if he'd still been a bear his ears would have perked up. "Did Cale--?"

I shook my head. "I don't know. The whore's wound could have been made by claws, but it could very well have been a knife."

"And Rilkone?"

I felt a distant surge of pleasure in my gut. "Decimated."

Rizak grinned, revealing sharp, crooked teeth. "At least some good has come out of it, then."

I laughed.

--

I examined the body of the faerie boy--Ellicor, I believe his name had been. Using an alchemical solution of acid and animal fat, I was able to detect traces of steel in the wound. It was one glimmer of light in the overwhelming darkness of the evening.

The boy had been killed by a knife.

Cale didn't seem to care.

"It means you didn't kill him," I said, arms crossed, leaning back against the worktable. "One of Rilkone's men is guilty, not you."

Cale looked up from where he had been staring at the tips of his toes for hours. He shrugged.

"Doesn't matter," he said, voice rough. "If it hadn't been for me, Rilkone wouldn't have been there. He'd still be alive."

"That isn't fair, and you know it," I said, though I knew I didn't sound very convincing. Cheering people up, telling soothing lies, had never been my strong suit.

"Just leave me alone," Cale mumbled, bowing his head, so his hair, that extraordinarily golden hair, flopped into his eyes.

From the moment I met him, a month and a half ago, I'd realized that Cale looked his best when he was in pain. Skin gone pale, eyes wide, pupils swallowing the grey, lips parted in exquisite agony. It was at moments like this when my resolve was tested to its limits--resisting the urge to throw him to the ground, ravish him the way I've wanted to since that cold night in Rinian.

But everything had its time and place, and I was nothing if not a man of patience.

"We're leaving tomorrow," I told him.

He looked up again, eyes widening. "What?"

"Leaving," I repeated, frowning. "Setting out for the caves of the Red People. I think it would be best if we got an early start."

He swallowed slowly, nodded a few times, as if having trouble settling his mind on something other than the faerie boy. "Alright," he said finally, and that was all. He went back to staring at the floor.

I left him in the laboratory, after locking the cabinets, putting away all the implements that could conceivably be used to cause harm. Cale was volatile at the best of times--I hated to think what could happen if he was left alone with a knife or my poisons when he was in this sort of state.

I couldn't afford to lose him.

The world couldn't afford to lose him.

To Be Continued...

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So...that's the end of The Poisoner's Ring!

What did you guys think? I'd love to hear some opinions on Azri and his point of view or such things.

I'm going to take about a month long break before I start posting the next book, "The Poisoner's Game". I need time to write some stuff and outline some stuff, so look for it in early September!

Oh, and if you want to check out some other stuff by me, I have begun posting my other novel, "Break The Sky". It would mean so much to get some feedback from some of you lovely readers! The main character is a girl, but it will have both het and slash pairings in it.

So...until we meet again!