It should have been impossible for her to push herself to her feet, to stride across the ground as it quaked and rolled like the shoulder of a fly-plagued horse. It should have been impossible for her to stand calmly in the face of the storm, and yet stand she did, as surely as if her feet touched only solid ground.
And perhaps it did.
"Thank you," she said suddenly, her voice as clear and strong as if she stood close by his side, over the sounds of the world shuddering itself apart, clear and steady and calm. "Thank you. For staying with me until now."
From behind him, where her companions had fallen, came a desperate, shattering shout of outrage. "ORLANA! DON'T-"
She looked over her shoulder, a half-smile on her too-pale face, and he had the strangest sensation that she no longer saw them, any of them. Her mouth moved soundlessly, a quick twist of reddened lips, a flash of pale teeth, and she smiled again at them, beyond them, before giving her full attention to the dragonstorm that lay beyond them again.
Her arms spread wide in a swift, abrupt motion, long sleeves flapping in the roaring tempests, and all about them a star-bright lattice spread, and spread, and spread, racing accross the ground as if drawn by a giant hand with lightning speed.
For a moment time itself seemed to blink; reality faded, and the shapes of armored figures with shining cloaks like outstretched wings flickered eerily around that defiant slender form.
And then the lattice consumed everything, and impenetrable darkness swallowed the cold light soon after.