All Rights Reserved ©


There was a shrill caw and Chavias absentmindedly held out his arm for a heavy crow to land on.

The creatures are drawn to him now. Unsurprising since they were as black as he, with pitch hair and a cropped beard. Contrasting darkly in the dim light with Chavias’ gray-flecked blue eyes.

Eerie on a man so dark. Deragan observed.

“We chose to follow you.” Chavias ran a finger along the bird’s back. “We’re not children you led to a slaughter but grown men that chose to follow you into battle.” He was pensive before adding. “And that we still follow you, should be of note.”

“Many of these men will now outlive their families…Their children, if they have them.” Deragan murmured uncharacteristically morosely, chin hitching as he sighed.

“Few do.” Chavias tossed his arm, sending the bird into the air. Rounding to go back indoors.

Deragan walked with him.

“And they’ll long be able to watch over their descendants.” Chavias murmured as they reentered the Ballroom. Assessing the floor in their customary way.

The wisdom in that forced Deragan to ponder its depths.

“Where is Mardichi?” Chavias’ boots creaked as he shifted to view the entirety of the room.

“Damn him!” Deragan frowned. Shoulders slumping as he scanned the otherside of the massive dancefloor.

“He hasn’t had time for drink already?” Chavias asked incredulously.


They both groaned.


Chavias went out front and found Mardichi propped against the wall. Determinedly pouring a decanter of dark liquid down his throat. Chavias whooped twice to tell Deragan he’d found their brother. “What are you doing out here?”

Mardichi lifted a finger to shush Chavias as he chugged from a decanter pressed to his lips.

Oh, really? Chavias’ brow furrowed.

He’s drinking desperately.

“Whoa Brother.” Chavias reached for the vessel, only to have his hand swatted by the red-haired barbarian. Making him growl in his throat. “Don’t you think you’ve had enough?”

Mardichi finally lowered it, tilting it dramatically to the side and studying it. His blue eyes skid to Chavias. “I came out ’ere with a lass.”

Poor girl.

“A Lady?”

“Obviously not. She broke me bottle.” He grumbled.

Certainly, that makes her less a lady. Chavias thought dryly. Eyes slitting on his friend.

“Why?” Chavias asked reluctantly.

“I found me bottle-”

“That’s a decanter.” Chavias pointed out.


“Bottle. Glass.” Mardichi clinked a knuckle against it to make the tinking sound. “Bottle.” He lifted it pointedly.

Chavias rolled his eyes and took a staying breath.

“I had the bottle.” He reiterated obstinately. “Then the lass came over. Took me hand and yanked on me like pullin’ a kitten on a string.”


“Did you just compare yourself to a kitten?” Chavias choked a little.

Mardichi lowered the bottle and glared venomously at the black-haired man. “Do ye intend to lemme finish?”

Depends on where this is going…

“Go ahead, Kitty.”

Mardichi’s jaw ticked. “Were I not attempting to explain this bottle.” He pointed to it. “I’d wrap me hands round yer wee neck.”

Try it. It’ll amuse me.

“And I’d cut them off.” Chavias moved his overcoat to reveal his curved dagger riding his hip. “And feed them to Teverius’ dogs.”

Mardichi glared at him undeterred.

“Do continue.” Chavias gave a mocking bow.

Let’s get this grand story over with.

“Methanks.” Mardichi said with equal derision. “She jabbered somethin’ ’bout it being her ball and ‘er of age to wed. An’ somethin’ ’bout having set ’er sights on me.”

“Poor soul. And?”

“I decided I need more drink for this interchange.” Mardichi ignored the jab.


“The twit swatted it out me hand!” He pointed to the tilted bottle. “And cracked it.”

Chavias squinted and glimpsed the hairline fracture Mardichi perceived as a cardinal sin. “Where’s the girl?”

Mardichi shrugged. “I dunno. I worried fer me wasted bottle.”

Of course, you did.


“Bottle.” Mardichi tipped it up again. Dismissing Chavias.

It’s a bloody decanter! Chavias peered around the house and saw the streetlights on the cobbled road.

And took in a horrifying sight that stopped him in his tracks. “Mardichi!”

The barbarian startled, registering the urgency in Chavias’ tone enough to drop his bottle.

They rounded the corner together.

Chavias put a staying hand on Mardichi’s chest to stop him going further. No stay back. This is a trap!

A woman dangled limply from a tree.

A bone-thin, bearded figure tugged the end of the rope over a branch. Hoisting her up.

Why is he here?

How’d he know we’d be here?

“Radix Malorum.” Chavias hissed. “He’ll kill you. You have to stop.”

“He killed that lass!”

And if you charge over there he’ll kill you too.

“Is that the one you came out with?”

“Aye!” Mardichi shouted. Guilt written over his face.

“This isn’t your fault!” Chavias urged. Catching the chain at his neck with his free hand. Feeling the familiar points of his pendant. Pendants specially made for us. Constructed with magic to allow them to summon the others.

Chavias closed his eyes and sent energy through his chain. Out here. Now!

The withered demon stiffened. Feeling the outpour of magic in his vicinity, he slowly turned. Holding the rope by one hand, revealed he was much stronger than he currently appeared. His eyes lit on the two men huddled in the shadow of the house. Gaze flashing red under the street lantern. Lips peeling to reveal pointed yellow teeth. He opened his mouth slowly. Jaw dropping inhumanly to hang near his collar. He shrieked in an impossibly high voice. A woman’s voice.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.