WaterRose, Meadow Mountain, Grier Country (six years after stars fell)
Six years of checking on the little Watcher girls had passed. Six years of watching the eldest, a redhead, grow to the tiniest brunette infant only born a few months ago.
Tonight, Sebastian woke to a nightmare. Marcus Teverius’ torn screams ripped through his mind. Agonized shouting for help.
Bast ripped free from the furs covering him, willing clothes to materialize around his body as he took the stairs. Joining Elsabet at the foyer door, he shouted to the bridge tower. The drawbridge lowered.
Elsabet was mesmerized by the flash of white in the darkness. The heavy loping of the albino beast shining in the moonlight.
“What is it?” She was breathless. Her eyes reflecting red as she squinted to see in darkness absent a moon.
Tev. But Bast strode past her to meet it in the bailey, leading the creature to the stables. Once within, Bast slammed the heavy doors and met the forlorn face of his brother at arms. Teverius was sweat soaked and covered in claw marks and cuts.
“What happened to you?” Bast demanded.
“Cimmerii.” He shook his head. “I fought them. I did. But they got it.”
“Got what?” Bast said warily, eying Tev in slow horror.
Tev stared back at him, one eye filled with blood, before saying so quietly, it was nearly inaudible.
“No. No!” Bast looked around. Spotting Sivikon.
No. I’m faster.
And I’m rested.
“We’ll get their first, Tev. We’ll get their first. Go!”
When the stables thrust open again. Elsabet squinted into the darkness and caught a black sheen and the glow of the white creature shooting across the bailey but they were too fast for her to identify. She chased after them, reaching the drawbridge to watch the movements across the meadow.
“What are they?”
She went to the stables to seek Bast but found them empty. She searched every stall and the loft, but all yielded nothing.
Bast’s huffing breaths sent up smoky tendrils in the frosty air. As he rushed headlong through the night as the panther. Well on his way to try and beat Radix to the tiny angels.
Please be there…
Warwood, Battling Country
It was too late.
Neither Knight knew Radix had recruited an exiled Dread, Udora Novavax. Too dark for even her own kind to claim.
Today she used Dread doors. Untraceable portals between the countries.
Radix used the map to guide her to the children.
She collected each in the dead of night. Returning to Battling Country through a flash of white light. Hiding the girls away in a rundown cottage where her ailing husband watched over them. Without sound, she walked in and out of the splashes of light. Bringing daughter after daughter, much to Radix’s delight.
The loss of the map could have rendered the Knights helpless.
But they remembered….
Remembered the home of every little girl they had carefully looked after. Checking on them month after month, year after year.
But everywhere they looked, the girls were gone.
Rounded up like cattle to the butcher. Sebastian felt like he was dying inside. Little ones…
“Those poor souls.” Tev’s face showed incredible pain. “I fought them. But there were so many. I failed him.” He spoke of the captain. “I failed them all.”
“We should’ve known he would come for the map eventually.”
“But we didn’t. We were so careful.” Tev shook his head. “How did he get to them so fast? I could find no trace of any of them.”
“Dread doors.” Bast felt the last vestiges of hope fade, knowing they would likely never find the girls.
Radix will torture them, use their skills for his benefit awhile, then do away with them. The realization was excruciating.
“What can we do?” Tev’s hand went to his face mournfully.
“Nothing.” Bast stared into the night sky filled with stars. Wishing they had known. If we were faster…Fast enough to save even one.
He shook his head in pain. Feeling his gut tightening. They came to help the Fallen. But with Radix consuming their souls they would never be able to come back.
“How will we tell her?”
“How can we?” Bast murmured.
“When she returns again. She will know.” Tev’s voice was pitiful.
“I will look everywhere for them.” Bast vowed. “For their light.”
“But it will dim as they age.”
“But grouped together it will last awhile. I’ll do everything in my power to find them.”
“I can’t.” Tev mourned. “I no longer deserve a role in this.”
Bast gave him a long look. But had no idea what to say. His mind worked fervently. Wondering where the old demon could’ve taken them. Too busy with his fears, to comfort his old friend.
He told me he no longer deserved a part in this…He spoke of our cause. And he must’ve meant it, because we’ve hardly seen him since.
His pain and yearning for punishment have driven him deep into the Netherlands. Nearly from our reach. I pray someone gets close enough to him to bring him back to us.
I won’t give up on him.
As long as that white panther haunts the night looking for redemption, he will remain my little brother…
From the Journal of Sebastian Bodane.