Katarina woke at sunrise, the heat of the May sun warming her skin.
She didn’t open her eyes right away. She lay there, splaying her hands on the ground, letting the warmth soak into every bit of her.
She’d never expected to see the sun rise again.
She wasn’t sure she had another sunset coming, but if the sun was up and her skin was warm, she was going to delay the moment as long as possible. She was going to soak up every bit of sun before she let herself see how bad her situation was — and how bad the world’s situation was.
The explosion last night had — no, not an explosion, that was far too small a word. The cataclysm last night — had shaken everything. It had knocked out power across, as far as they could tell, the whole continent. There was no telling about the rest of the world. It had shattered buildings, buckled roads, and left fields and rivers both burning.
Katarina had been pierced with a flying shard of stone, right between the ribs. Rough triage said it was non-fatal and quick self-inflicted surgery confirmed it. She’d survived the explosion.
She was not nearly as sanguine that she’d survive the men that had come for her. It hadn’t been her hand in the spellwork, but she had survived, when the ones who had done the deed had not, and someone needed to pay.
She opened her eyes. The world had survived, in a matter of speaking. For three, four hours there, she hadn’t been sure it would. But the sun was lifting over a burning horizon, and, for the moment, at least, Katarina was still alive to see it. She smiled.
Every sunrise was a blessing. And the men standing, armed, just behind her, they narrowed the focus of the day. All she had to do now was make it to sunset.
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