“You can’t be serious, milady,” Lord Arrin said.
“I am deadly serious. Stand back.”
“No ‘my dears.’”
“All right, milady. Save yourself and save your young’un. Join us. You can be my consort, my queen, the queen of nachtmagen.”
“I am already queen. Queen of N’yrthghar. I need no other court, no other kingdom.”
Lord Arrin stepped forward on the ice and swept a ragged wing toward half a dozen hagsfiends who were now closing in on her from above. “But this is your court.”
“Never.” And in her gizzard at that second, Siv knew that somewhere in this vast kingdom an egg was beginning to crack and a chick would soon hatch. And that chick was hers. A prince, the rightful heir of the N’yrthghar, was about to be born, and she would do all in her power to protect him for Lord Arrin and his hagsfiends who so desperately craved to possess him and the power that would be his.
“I ask you again, milady. Has the egg hatched yet?”
Siv remained silent.
“Where is the egg right now?”
Still only silence.
The egg was with Grank, somewhere far from Siv, and though separated from it, she still felt a deep connection. Lord Arrin’s question began to blur in her mind. She was in another place. Yes, the egg was hatching now, just as the night gre darker. A shadow began to pass over the moon. She saw Lord Arrin wilf slightly and heard the harsh whispers of the hagsfiends. Their fyngrot was being swallowed by an immense shade. They hovered in flight and then alighted on the field of sea ice. Their huge wings hung like dark rags on the gleaming white.
It is a magic greater than theirs, Siv thought, as the moon began to vanish and a thick darkness enveloped them. And yet not magic at all. They will never understand it. As the earth passed between the sun and the moon, an eclipse was beginning, and little by little the earth’s shadow bit slices from the moon. Within a matter of seconds there would be no moon. Just darkness, complete darkness, Siv though, and that will be my chance. But would her badly mangled wing be srong enough to let her escape.
At the exact moment of complete darkness when all had grown utterly quiet, there was an immense cracking noise, and then a roar.
“The moon’s shell is breaking!” one hagsfiend screeched.
Idiots! Siv thought.
It was not the moon. It was the ice. Svenka’s massive polar-bear head poked up through it. All became topsy-turvy as the ice began to tilt, and water suddenly flooded over the jagged edges, swamping the sheet of ice.
“Quick, Siv, on my back!” Svenka called.
Siv quickly hopped onto her old friend’s back and nestled herself deep in the ruff of fur around her neck.
As Svenka swan away, Siv peeked through the fur and saw one hagsfiend slide, shrieking, into the water. No one would come to its aid. Despite all their powers, hagsfiends feared one thing: water from the sea. The salt water saturated their oil-less wings making flight almost impossible. Siv watched as the hagsfiends tried to take off from the madly tilting ice fragment that was now awash with sea-water. Three managed. Two others, however, skidded into the ocean. There was a searing howl as a hag’s port wing was grabbed by the water. Siv blinked to see more clearly who it was. Then silently prayed, Glaux, may it be Ygryk! Let it be Ygryk!