Hi, all, here's part 2 of the final chapter! (Part 1 here)
Ilfin of Arc Final Chapter - Part 2
The shuttle touched down in the open area between the forest and the first of Grenmassin’s ruined cottages, and Iniri, Ross and the pilot left the vessel behind after the pilot had secured it.
Grenmassin remained a burnt out husk of a once thriving village. The land would recover, but every cottage, well and stable needed to be rebuilt. Iniri said not a word as she led her two Ilfin protectors towards the system of caves; every step she took confirmed to her that in this place she would not again live. Averting her eyes from the blackened wreckages of the homes of dead family and friends, she ascended the rocky path.
A buzz of voices greeted her long before she saw anyone. The sound was hopeful, warm and welcoming. Somewhere Siri’s laughter rang out and she heard Kay’s chuckle in answer. She smiled for the first time since landing and even managed to set aside her grief over losing Enris again to another time and place.
A loud snort in the distance caused her to halt at first before she moved to a gap in the jumble of boulders lining the path. Gazing towards the west where a sizable plateau of green grass and lacy waterfalls rose above the high water mark of the river, she discovered a herd of horses contentedly grazing.
A wide smile erupted onto her face.
Horses. Messengers. It meant all surviving Messengers had congregated here as well and they had obviously made a point of gathering together their mounts.
Massin as civilisation had a much greater chance of success with the Messengers in full trot once more.
“They saved parchment, quill and ink as well,” a man’s voice intruded into her thoughts.
Smiling, Iniri looked up to find Coltern watching her from a vantage slighter higher up. He was the soldier she fell in love with on Makaran, but he was also Damin of Massin, tanned and fit.
Her smile vanished as she stared up. “Go on, you two,” she murmured to her protectors and waited until they had moved past Coltern before moving herself.
“What is it?” he asked, stepping down to meet her on the path.
“We do not belong here.”
Blinking, he bent his blue gaze on her. One hand shoved fair hair from his face, and it shook slightly. “What do you mean, Iniri?”
Reaching up, she cupped his face. “I mean that Iniri and Coltern do not belong here …”
He jerked away. “You want to return to Makaran?”
“No,” she whispered and recaptured his face to bring it close to hers. “I mean that here we are Lyra and Damin, my love, and I will be happier living out our days as the people we were born to be for this world.”
Placing his hands over hers and pressing her warmth into his cheeks, he stared deeply into her. Not merely into her eyes, but her mind and her soul. And then he smiled; a gentle, beautiful gesture of pure wonder.
“Lyra,” he murmured. “I have missed you.”
Laughing softly, she placed her lips upon his and whispered, “Hello, Damin.”