Like weary hammer strikes against an anvil, Iluchus’s feet pounded over and over. Shakey legs bore her onward with nothing more than grim determination. She walked in a haze—barely seeing, thinking, or sensing anything. She’d set her course and launched her body upon its course before succumbing to the shock.

The quality of the ground beneath her feet shifted from sodden field to gravel. The sensation jolted her from her fugue and back into the mental trauma of her failure and to the physical pain of her condition.

Iluchus collapsed at the edge of Potshari and brushed the crushed gravel from the pads of her feet. She bit back tears and nursed her bloody, blistered and bare feet which had somehow borne her all the way here.

Turning her head up, her gut twisted at the sight. Nothing remained of the Gwich’in city except smoldering ash and scorched skeletons.

Tears flowed from the queen of the ashes and a shadow fell over her. A black dragon cocked its head curiously and then swooped down for her.