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Astoreth’s breath came back to her in a rush.  The air was still hot, and it seared her lungs, but it was good and strangely savory and even the pain was welcome.  Everything hurt, even her eyelids as they fluttered open and closed frantically, even the skin under her fingernails as she clenched her hands in the sand.  The worried face above her was talking, and she blinked again and tried to understand the words above the rushing sound in her ears.

“…on, sis.  Astoreth, can you hear me?”

She tried to speak, but her mouth was dry and her lips cracked, so she nodded instead – a short, jerky motion that hurt as much as anything else.  Corael’s face was a sickening red, only slightly paler than the dark crimson skies behind him, and his hair still smoked… but he looked at least a little better than Astoreth felt, especially as a measure of fear faded from his eyes.  He’d stripped his plate armor off, and the recognition of that led Astoreth to realize that her robes, though scorched, remained largely intact; the magic she’d imbued in them had preserved them even as the flesh they covered had…

“Do you know what happened?” Corael was asking her then, and she nodded again.

“Fire,” she croaked.  “Deathwing.”

He placed a hand deliberately on her ribcage and closed his eyes, murmuring softly under his breath until glowing energy appeared to swirl around his arm and down through his outstretched fingers into Astoreth’s throbbing flesh.  The tingling sensation that came with the healing of the Light was familiar to Astoreth, but it was never entirely pleasant for her, and she winced briefly as the sting of reknitting muscles joined the overall aching.  But then both kinds of pain faded, and Astoreth found herself breathing easier.  When Corael asked if she was strong enough to sit up she nodded and did so.

“Good,” he sighed to her.  “Cear would have killed me if anything had happened to you.”

Astoreth had to laugh.  “Are you kidding?  She’d have killed me if anything had happened to you.”

“She’ll still kill me.  She’s a violent woman, your sister.”

Astoreth tentatively rolled onto her knees and attempted to stand, as Corael watched.  Her legs held better than she expected, and she straightened and attempted to stretch.  Corael’s skill with the Light was better than he gave himself credit for, but there was still only so much it could do, and her legs and back protested the exertion.  Still, it felt good to move.

“What now?” Corael asked. 

Astoreth looked up into the turbulent red skies, and frowned.

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