“Mardichi.” Lucien called.
“You go! I have to make sure they can’t follow.”
Lucien nodded and hopped through. Trusting his brethren.
“Raese!” The barbarian called to the man generating the portal.
Raese turned glowing green eyes to him impassively.
“When you go through will this close?”
“I don’t know. I’m concentrating to keep it open. I think when I relax it’ll seal.” Raese explained.
“Go through. And don’t relax!” Mardichi ordered.
Deragan’s focus was on the road concealed behind a line of trees on both sides which broke and veered toward the dark. A carriage rounded the corner. The first of many. Deragan knew.
As it reached him, the driver refused to slow. Deragan stepped between the horses as they headed for him. Kicking the shaft and crumpling it into an accordion as he simultaneously shoved the horses apart. Snapping them free of their traces. The carriage lurched upward as the shaft dropped, bringing it to an abrupt stop.
Deragan put a palm up to it and leveraged it back to the ground with such force that the roof caved. Next, he ripped the metal apart as though it were no more than parchment.
The two men inside screamed so hysterically they hit shrill notes. Huddled together in one half of the carriage they fell sideways within. Crawling out desperately.
The crumpled carriage will suffice as a warning to slow the others. Deragan was steady, blue eyes glowing as he waited for more.
Mardichi’s eyes were on the Captain’s heaving back as he stood in the wreckage. “Ye two need ta go through and I’ll ensure they canna follow.” He shouted to Raese.
Raese didn’t move.
“Ye heard me!” Mardichi bellowed. He jogged toward their leader. “Captain, will you go with Raese?” Mardichi’s tone softened in question.
Deragan ignored them.
Mardichi went to him and reached for his arm.
“If you touch me, Mardichi I will snap your arm.” Deragan warned in a steady voice. “I can rip all those carriages apart. As you well know it.”
“I do know it.” Mardichi’s tone was respectful. “But there’s no need.” His hand lowered. Voice dropping to the same calm level as his Captain’s.
Deragan’s head turned to him.
“I can make it, so they won’t follow.” Mardichi assured.
“How do you intend to do that?”
“I’m goin’ ta burn this dock ta the ground, whether me make it through or no’.”
“If you don’t, you’re dead. They’re closing in. They see we’re not aging in this world. They don’t trust us, and they want us dead as bad as the demons do.”
Perhaps more so.
“The demons sway them.” Mardichi agreed. “What will they do? Burn me at the stake?” He jested.
He doesn’t burn. Deragan was well-aware.
Mardichi’s voice strengthened at his leader’s unblinking stare. “Captain, go. We need ye.”
Deragan tilted his head. “I told you to get through. Are you challenging me, Mardichi?”
“Ye know me not. Ye and Acharius are me only friends. Ye’re the Captain.” Mardichi confided. “I’ve no one ta mourn me.”
He’s saying his death would be the lesser loss. Deragan’s head lifted.
“Please, Cap. I can burn this dock down.” Mardichi assured.
He probably can.
Mardichi had never fully unleashed his power which seemed to be equally as great as his mammoth presence.
Deragan lifted his chin and gave Mardichi a long look before walking past Mardichi to the portal. He stepped through the light with the same smooth grace as he did all things.
Raese moved toward the portal but at the last moment turned back. “Hurry. I’m tiring. I can’t keep it much longer.”
Mardichi lowered his head in acknowledgement. He watched Raese go through before dropping to a knee to put a palm to the dock. Flames as vibrant as his hair shot up around his hand. Touching his shoulder. But failing to sear his skin as it bloomed around him. Hot enough to instantly dry boards and begin licking them with building heat. Mardichi’s hair floated in the heatwaves. Sparking at the ends. His eyes blazed like rubies. The inferno reflected there, as he watched it climb the levels of the dock. Stretching over a mile, to burn empty booths to cinders.
Mardichi stood. The flames rising with him, to reach his elbows.
The carriages poured onto the road in view of the dock. Men shouted as they yanked their horses to a stop. Staring at the raging fire.
Mardichi turned, body so hot from generating flames, his clothes had burned off. He walked naked to the flickering portal. Timing it and stepping through. Sparking hair trailing him as he vanished beyond.