Behind the wyvern, she caught sight of Gild and his sister creeping through the castle—though they were seeing a very different castle than she was. One that was long abandoned, left to decay under the burden of time.
She swallowed, wishing Gild could see her. Wishing he knew she was there.
But they were divided now, until the sun set. How much longer?
She met Tyrr’s fearsome gaze again, and determined it was a good sign that the god hadn’t yet burned her up like a roast pig.
The wyvern huffed, and a wave of heat scorched Serilda’s skin. Its nostrils flared. Its eyes narrowed.
It took Serilda a moment to realize it was glaring, not at her, but at the arrow in her hand.
“Oh—this isn’t mine!” she said. “I would never … um. Here.” She broke the arrow over her knee, then tossed the pieces into the hearth. “Better?”
In the corridors, the thunder of footsteps rattled the walls. The clang of weapons.
“The dark ones are coming. Please—I need your help.”
The beast prowled closer, so close she could see her own reflection in its faintly glowing eyes. And she could see it. A wisdom deep in those narrow pupils. An ancient magic, breathtakingly powerful.
Tyrr. God of archery. God of war.
“Please,” she breathed, cowering. “Will you help me?”
The beast snarled, sending a breath of steaming air over her.
Then the wyvern bent its head low to the ground.
It took Serilda a long moment to realize it was encouraging her to climb onto its back.
“I … are you sure?” she said, scrambling to her feet.381
The beast gave a shake of its head, but did not throw her off as she grabbed on to the row of scales on its back and hauled herself up between its wings.
Serilda had hardly grasped what was happening before the rubinrot wyvern was barreling toward the doors and launching itself out through the entry hall, stopping dozens of dark ones in their tracks.
Then the flames started, surging through the crowd. Serilda kept her head lowered against Tyrr’s scales, afraid that the heat would blister her skin. But it did not last long. A second later, the wyvern was forging ahead, through the entry hall and onto the steps of the castle keep. The wyvern stretched its neck upward and roared at the gray twilit sky, trembling the stone walls all around them. Wings extended and, with two powerful thrusts, they were airborne.
Serilda bit her cheek against a scream and ducked her head along the muscled back, gripping the scales as tightly as she could. The clouds were dark gray, and though she could not see the sun, she knew sunset was near. As the wyvern swooped over the castle walls, she spotted two figures racing across the drawbridge.
Gild and his sister.
“There!” she said, pointing. “Can you land us in front of those buildings?”
At first, she didn’t think the wyvern would listen to her. Then it banked hard to the side.
They dropped toward the ground. She felt the shimmer of the veil falling over the world just as they landed in front of Gild and his sister with a thump and a flap of enormous wings.
Gild cried out, throwing his arm in front of his sister to protect her. His eyes widened as he took in the great golden beast with the ruby gem on its brow—and Serilda astride its back.
She smiled at him, though her whole body was shaking and her hands would not release the wyvern’s scales. “We didn’t get Solvilde or Hulda,” she said, panting. “But we did free the god of war.”
The streets of Adalheid were dark, the window shutters latched, not a candle or torchlight to be seen beneath the cloud-covered sky. But Serilda was still afraid that one of the townsfolk might decide to peel back their curtains and peer out to see if the wild hunt was screaming by, and she didn’t want them to see Tyrr. The dark ones were frightening enough. The people of Adalheid didn’t need to start having nightmares of wyverns in their midst, too.
They retreated outside the gates, finding relative security in the graveyard that sprawled across the rolling hills north of the city.
“Stay alert,” said Serilda, having finally caught her breath. “The veil is down and there can be vicious things in graveyards.” She shivered, thinking of when her father’s corpse had awoken as a nachzehrer.