The council meeting had not gone well. They had lost all hope, heedless of Darus’ own belief. “Misplaced,” they had called it. “A fool’s hope,” they said.


He stood on the balcony outside the now empty council chambers, overlooking the deserted gardens outside the city walls. Flowers had already begun to wilt, shrubbery withered and the grass grew taller by the day.


The girl sat at the edge of the garden, looking out across the plains. She had been there for days, silently guarding the city gates. Whatever drove her, he would likely never know, but he had seen what she could do and it had given him the hope that the council had so easily dismissed.


His wife, Orla, appeared at his side, clad in armour.


“What are you doing in that?” He demanded.


“They are coming, Darus. She is coming. I am not going to stand by and do nothing.”


“You shouldn’t-“


“This is no time for misguided chivalry, my love.” She turned to face him now, laying a hand on his cheek. “I will not wait to die in here, I won’t let you die alone out there. If the world falls, I will be right beside you.”