He laughed quietly, not bothering to turn and face her. "You were so graceful once, Tiala. Have I taken that from you as well?"
"I wanted you to hear me." Her voice was steady, passionless, belying her exhaustion.
"To what end?"
"It's over, Tal."
He turned, smiling. Tiala, demi-goddess, first love - broken woman. Her eyes were hollow, her face streaked with blood, ash, maybe ever tears. Her arms trembled, hands tight on the spear she was leaning on. "It will never be over."
"Not with us alive, it won't."
He laughed again, mocking. "Have you come here to fall upon your spear?"
Her mouth tightened. "You first."
"Oh, beloved. If you couldn't convince me - naked, begging, on your knees - to spare your lover's life... why do you think you can persuade me to take my own?"
"That's not what I'm here to do."
"What, then? Have you come to execute me? You can barely walk, let alone fight me. I'll bet you can barely lift that spear."
"I don't need to," she said quietly. "I don't even need to touch you."
For the first time, he registered that she was alone. No honor guard. No Talthar Kithrayna. Just one girl.
One almost-goddess, who he had pushed far beyond her limits.
She looked up at him, into him, wide dark eyes of a being who helped create him, power gathering around her like a storm, dense and electric and breathtaking. "Yes."
"Then do it."
She nodded almost imperceptibly - and she entered him as brutally as he had entered her, setting every nerve afire...