She stood at the edge of Fool’s Bluff, overlooking a natural landscape, which no longer existed. Her silvery mane glistened at the end of each curling strand the way each pinion had gleamed, when she’d been a peregrine.
“Peregrine,” Kyra said out loud, naming her mysterious rescuer. The one who’d moved with the shadows, allowing them to swallow the gold which encircled Kyra’s throat, binding her to the Imperatrix. She could still feel the chains, weighing down her legs and wrists in her nightmares, but she no longer had to wake up to them.
*No longer*. A deep, melodic voice, half way between male and female caressed the inside of Kyra’s brain. *I lost that name and form. Now, I no longer know who I am.*
The horse cocked her head to look at Kyra with an all too expressive eye. A sorrowful, human gaze.
“Does anybody?” Kyra asked. Compassion welled up her throat, filling it with unshed tears. “It doesn’t matter here, in between realities.” She walked over to the horse. “Here, I can help you remember.”
“Don’t!” The horse shied away from Kyra, letting out a whinny of distress. *If you use your powers, even here, the Serpent will find you!”
“I wouldn’t even have powers, if you hadn’t removed the chains binding them,” Kyra said. All she had to do was close her eyes. She’d feel the weight of the collar, pressing against her skin. Pressing her inside, binding her rage within herself. Perhaps it had been for the best, but Kyra would never have known freedom, if Peregrine hadn’t dissolved that collar into shadow and mist.
Now, Peregrine herself was trapped within herself, within this horse form, but Kyra could release her as easily as Peregine had once released her. If she just reached for the power, coiled inside her. It hissed, undulating within to reawaken Kyra’s magic.
*Stop!* Peregrine pleaded, but Kyra lay a hand upon her flank. A low laugh, half woman, half hissing serpent shook the landscape, when the magic poured out of Kyra’s fingers.
There would be consequences for using Her powers, for the power was still a part of Her. Kyra hadn’t mastered the energy enough to make it her own. It was enough to release Peregrine from her horse shape.
Kyra felt fine, dark hair beneath her fingers, instead of horsehair. A woman with a hawk nose, keen gray eyes, and a figure lean with muscles knelt before her, shuddering, where the horse had been.
“You should not have done that,” the woman said. Peregrine barred her teeth in a fierce grin to keep them from chattering. Proud, as the hunting bird she’d been named for, Peregrine wasn’t one for showing weakness. “By the four directions and the source which unites them, you shouldn’t have taken such a risk!”
“Like the risk you took, freeing me from the Imperatrix’s slavers?” Kyra asked, but she grinned back. “I suppose we’re both at the mercy of our better natures, even when we should know better.”
Peregrine let out a short bark of laughter at this. She seized Kyra’s hand in her own, pulling herself to her feet.