Lies of Wolves by Rachael Ashdown

wolves75x99Final Episode!

In the previous episode, Karyna distracted Hallvardr before recklessly charging towards him, only to get knocked backwards, the dragon’s claw pinning her to the ground. As the readers suggested, Karyna will free herself from his clutches by stabbing him in the foot..

Episode 20

Karyna gasped in pain as she felt her ribs crack under the weight of the dragon’s claws. She could feel the life being squeezed out of her, blood dripping from her back as splintered wood dug into her soft flesh. But she still held her sword, and with a strangled cry she used what remained of her strength to plunge the tip deep into the flesh between the dragon’s claws, parting the scales and sending a river of blood gushing from the wound as she yanked the sword free. Hallvardr roared in pain and anger, releasing her from his injured limb. But before she could rise and crawl away, his tail whipped around and struck her sword arm, sending the blade flying from her grip as she was crushed back against the ruined building.

“Murderous wretch! I shall slay you and every last one of the miserable islanders!” the dragon roared, snorting a jet of fire at Karyna. She narrowly missed the blast as she scrambled behind a broken beam. Nonetheless, she felt the excruciating pain of the fire burn her arms and shoulders, not quite hidden behind the wooden timbers. Another scream of pain broke free from her lips as she fled from her hiding place, landing on her back in the mud as she fought to extinguish the flames blackening her flesh.

“Come out, little girl, and I will ease your suffering,” the dragon hissed, his yellow eyes coming into view. But miraculously, his eyes slid over Karyna without seeing her, his scaly body crawling towards her as he searched for his missing quarry. The mud and ash coated her form, hiding the red dress and mixing with her scarlet blood amidst the hazy smoke. Fate was on her side as Hallvardr the Ravager slithered directly over the puddle where she lay. As his eyes continued scanning the ruins before him, Karyna crawled through the puddle towards the fallen sword. Grabbing the blade, she rolled onto her back and thrust upward into the dragon’s underbelly, the sword splintering scales and driving into the beast’s chest almost to the hilt.

With a fantastic howl, Hallvardr fell to his side, scratching at the sword still protruding from his chest. But the dragon’s agony—his twisting and rolling through the timbers and flames—went unobserved by his slayer. She struggled to rise, to watch her greatest victory unfold, but Karyna had no strength left. She lay broken in the puddle, the rain falling heavily on her face, the smell of blood and burned flesh filling her lungs.

“I die a warrior’s death,” she said to herself. “I die with honor.”

“But not quite yet, Bloody Rose,” a voice said softly, echoing in her head, unhindered by the weather and sounds of the dying dragon. “Odin has plans for you.” The outline of a man appeared through the smoke, slowly turning into the familiar form of Einar. The elf smiled down at her, kneeling at her side. “You have proven yourself, Karyna. Your body may be dying, but you will live on. Odin has granted you a gift. When you wake, you will no longer be human. You will take Hildr’s place among the gods, as a Valkyrie.”

“How?” Karyna managed to groan, trying in vain to rise.

“You have defeated Hallvardr and foiled the evil plans of Freydis. Hildr has been granted mortality to escape her prison, and you shall replace her. Sleep now, child. This pain will be over soon.” As he looked down at her, lying prone in the rain, he smiled. “That red dress suits you. You do indeed look like a bloody rose. And though you have fallen here, you will blossom once more.” 

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