Chapter 7

The Ketch that once belonged to the House of Kings lay on its side now, the vessel's underbelly stripped down to the curving superstructure supports. A half-kilometer of power cabling spooled out from the middle of ship, forming a path that lead to the salvage team's tents. From the escarpment overlooking the salvage site, the Ketch looked like the disemboweled remains of some great beast.

Kosis wondered, as she sipped on a hand-tank of Ether, if this is what her people had become. Carrion birds to the rotting carcasses of their society. She wondered how many more generations of Eliksni it would take before the old ways were entirely forgotten. If any Eliksni born today would know how to play the instrument now buried on the overlook.

Would her daughters be proud of how she had chosen to survive? She wondered where their bones were scattered. Wondered if they suffered when the House of Kings was torn apart.

The sound of footsteps pulled Kosis from her thoughts. She affixed her Ether flask to her belt and rose to greet whomever was coming. It was Savek. Alone. "Your shift isn't over," Kosis firmly reminded the Dreg.

Savek lunged forward with a Sword—Kosis's own weapon, stolen from her tent. She sucked in a breath, which might have exited her as a cry of confusion had the Dreg not buried the Sword hilt-deep in her throat. Ether sprayed into the air, comingling with blood.

The blade ground against her spine as she slid, helpless, down the length of the Sword. As she fell to the ground, her vision tunneled dark, her extremities numb. Savek screamed a primal and unfathomable wail.

The Vandal's last thoughts were of the Kell of Kells.

Then, nothing.