Eoin has always known what was expected of him. He knew what path his life would take. He was a laochra. A warrior. When he was given his task, he fully understood that he might not make it back in one piece, or not at all. He had accepted that, accepted his mortality with grace.

If only that had been the case.

Instead, here he was, presented with a future that he had never considered. One that he would gladly trade his life to change. His nightmare.

Her body lay lifeless on the ground in front of him as he knelt in the wet grass. He could see the tell-tale signs of dark sorcery on her as black veins snaked their way up her arm to her neck and beyond. He reached out to touch her, almost recoiling as he was met with unnaturally cold skin.

”Ash? ” His voice trembled as he said her name quietly, almost as if speaking too loudly would disturb her. ”Ashling? Come on, wake up, will you? ” He didn want to believe it. He couldn .

He reached his hand to her face, turning her to look at him. Dull green eyes stared back. That was when it hit him. He had failed. He lost her, the one person he was meant to protect. While the implications of what danger the whole world faced at her death were not lost on him, that thought was pushed back for a more selfish one.

He had lost her. He would have to continue forward without her. He felt his soul breaking, his entire world being ripped from under him. She was his world, his heart. He loved her.

He pulled her into his arms, held her close to his chest, and buried his face into her neck. His shoulder shook from soundless sobs. Clutching her to him, he allowed himself a moment to grieve alone, hating the anticipation of telling her brothers and their friends that she was gone. How could he have let this happen?

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