His legs and arms hurt, as if bruised, and his chest was throbbing, spiking him with a sharp pain with each beat of his heart. He shifted, trying to get his bearings, and felt only rocks at his fingertips.
He rolled over, marveling that he still could. His chest felt sticky and wet, as did the floor under him. Everything seemed sharper, more real, as if someone had removed the veil before his eyes, or the gloves protecting his hands from his own work.
He opened his eyes and saw that he could still see, after a fashion. The cave-in of the temple’s underground chamber had taken out much of the ceiling, and the light of the moon was drifting down through the cracks.
He could just make out the wingtip of a gigantic creature, like a nathrezim, under the piled stones, and he knew that it was dead.
When he stood up, he was struck by a great emptiness inside. There was nothing there now, not the whisper of the Nathssysn, not the rush of his magic, not the glow of warmth he felt from time to time for his lover and family.
He unsteadily sat himself back down, his back against a boulder. He fingered the hole in chest and wondered if it would ever close over, or if he would soon die of it.
Then he looked up, to see the light glimmering in the green eyes of his imp. It sat perched, relaxed, on the pile of killing stones pinning the body of the nathrezim. It was just across from him, a few feet away. They eyed each other for a long moment, Seryth blinking slowly, as if seeing the creature with new eyes.
Slowly, with just the hint of wild mischief, the imp grinned at him, and extended its hand.