Nakia ran from the portal, leaving Ewan and the unknown woman unconscious. She found herself surrounded by ruins and a burning red sky. The earth shook beneath her feet. She scrambled between pieces of rubble, downed columns and the buckled tile floor.
What had happened since she’d been here last? The palace had clearly been destroyed but how? She felt the immense rage of the Flaming Ruby thicken the air.
The Ruby’s power burrowed into her mind with a question. ‘What do you want here?’
“Safe haven,” she whispered.
“Liar!” the Ruby bellowed.
The Ruby fell silent for a time. Finally he spoke, “I think I will keep you. I can use such as you and perhaps if you serve me well, I will give you what you desire. Perhaps not.”
The ground disappeared beneath her feet and she fell into darkness. Rock closed above her. Nakia landed on her feet, crouched in a small, stone cell. Her leg hurt where a chunk of debris had fallen on it; the torn pants leg revealing a bloody gash. She knew where she was. In the dungeons beneath the destroyed palace. She tried to open the metal door, but the devastation above hadn’t weakened it enough. It stayed firmly locked.