The monsters dug their dirt-stained teeth into his shoulders. They crunched down into his bones and pulled and tugged.
They abandoned his shoulders, moving on to his elbows and his wrists and his hands and his fingers.
They tore into him.
They ravaged his wings.
They clawed up his chest and stomach.
Isellta stared wide-eyed at the yellow-eyed monster.
He couldn’t breathe. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t breathe.
“Pitiful little creature. You’re just like the others I’ve devoured. So gullible. So incredibly stupid. You really thought I was Robin. Now, you’re too weak to fight back. I know you are. I can devour you without any fear. You can’t kill me the way you killed my mate.”
Isellta exhaled. “I. I…don’t understand.” He winced as his headache grew and pounded and banged against his skull.
“You…touched me. You made…made me feel. You. You made me…feel lovely. Made me feel loved. Everything. Everything you did…to me…” He inhaled a shallow, shaky breath. “…did it mean…” His headache banged harder and harder until he could feel his eardrums vibrate. “…mean anything to you?”
The nae bi sha tilted his shadowy head. “Does the spider love the fly it tangles in threads?”
Lines appeared in Isellta’s mind. Perfectly straight lines that ran alongside each other.
And he understood. “You kept me here.”
The nae bi sha smiled an animal’s cruel smile.
“I could have. could. could have run back to Jay.” For the first time in what seemed a very long time, Isellta could feel the magic running through his veins. He could feel it inside his palms.
It pooled inside his palms and waited.
“I…I wanted…wanted to run to him. You stopped me. You begged me to stay. You…you made me feel bad about wanting…wanting to run. You forced me to stay.”
“I don’t know what you’re complaining about. I didn’t tie you down. It was your choice to make and keep. You chose to stay with me. You surrendered to me. You let me kiss you and touch you and seduce you.”
“Only because I thought you were Robin!” Isellta’s hands glowed a soft white. “But you aren’t. You aren’t my Robin. You’re a monster.”
The nae bi sha snarled and swooped down at his neck with open mouth.
“YOU AREN’T MY ROBIN!” Isellta pressed his hands against the creature’s chest and released his magic with a furious yell.
Panic flashed in the nae bi sha’s eyes just before Isellta blasted him away.
Isellta lay there, panting. He looked up at the star. It was still there. The star was still there. “Robin.” He raised his hands to the star. “I wanna go home. Robin, I wanna go home to you. Let me go home.”
The star’s light descended in a tangerine-scented spiral.
Isellta smiled a wobbly smile and reached as far as he could. “Robin. Robin!”
It touched his fingertips and twirled down to his hands, his wrists, his arms.
“Robin! ROBIN! LET ME COME HOME!”
The light spun around his entire body in a gentle caress.
Isellta closed his eyes. His heart raced. He couldn’t breathe even close to fast enough. “Robin. Robin. Robin. My Robin. My Robin.”
The light held him in its soft touch and lifted him upwards.
Isellta opened his eyes as the light carried him up to the star.
“Robin.” Tears of joy fell down his face. “My Robin.”
The light overwhelmed his senses and Isellta fell asleep in its wonderful embrace.
He slept, happy and comforted.
And he was free.