The wicked heroine, p.2
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       The Wicked Heroine, p.2

           Jasmine Giacomo


  In the end, their Oath was indeed broken, but not by Arisson.

  Jacasta succeeded in binding the Dire Tome apart from the world. Yet, she alone survived the battle of magic and steel within the Heart of the Dragon. The bodies of Arisson and the Dzur i’Oth riders lay scattered across the stonework floor and the black marble dais.

  Jacasta knelt alone in the blackness, raging her grief helplessly; it echoed off the distant, unseen walls, and her prayers could not escape to rise to the heavens. Kneeling beside her husband’s body, she drew her knife and hacked her long dark braid off as high as she could reach, and laid it across his chest.

  “My Oath has broken; I am not worthy,” she muttered through bitter tears.

  She interred Arisson’s body in an unused tomb among the dead monarchs of the land. She longed to remain, to mourn, yet she knew there were hundreds who still sought her, to regain what she had taken and hidden away.

  They could not retrieve the book without her now. She dared not remain anywhere near this place, lest they take the key she possessed.

  She re-emerged from the Green Dragon, walking toward the shadow-cloaked hills. Not to return to them, but to walk past them, and on beyond. Her broken, bitter voice trailed once more on the wind. “As Arisson has perished, so let Jacasta perish with him. My people can only be safe if I leave these shores. They are the only ones I could save, and they will never know of it.

  “Now, I am only the Shanallar.”

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