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Lacey Marcelle, The Fallen, swayed Deragan’s hard heart in ways he hadn’t thought possible. She has my heart and all my longings wrapped in her tiny hands.

Every day one or the other of them made the walk on NightVille Road to the other’s Manor. Her chaperone forever in attendance, as expected.

But eventually I’ll have her alone. Despite his warm affections for her. Deragan's beast was starved. Wanting more.

Wanting her. Within her.

And at my side forever.

My mate. Deragan courted her relentlessly and she savored his attentions.

Smiling eagerly at his approach. Giggling each time, he pressed lips to her hands.

They walked the gardens of his home, talking and laughing together.

I can’t take any more of this distance.

She's the one. He could no longer resist asking her father for the endorsement to marry her.

A hard thing. For an alpha to ask another man for what he wants.

Blessings were given and the ceremony was small and beautiful in those pink and purple gardens they’d walked together so many times.

Then the Cimmerii changed their behavior. For first time they became aggressive instead of lingering to watch her, dark figures emerging to charm her.

The day of their wedding in the garden, Radix stormed through the onlookers. Leaving a trail of gray dirt over everything he touched. “If she is not to be one of mine,” He pointed a gnarled shaking finger at Lacey, watery gaze squinted on her. “Then she’ll not remain for yours!” His red-orange eyes glittered malevolently. His short nose wrinkled in rage.

He’s threatening to kill her? Deragan in his fine overcoat crouched. Tucking Lacey behind him. The other knights circled her and him in a protective ring.

Radix and his Cimmerii attacked but there were too many Forever Knights. His dark force was beat back. It was Radix’s first lesson that the knights were able to shapeshift into various creatures. Typically a primary shape such as a dragon, the winged beasts with razored teeth. And as a secondary shape, sometimes multiple, typically feline or canine in nature.

Their snarls filled the air and they ripped Radix’s little Cimmerii Nonis apart.

And they learned of Radix’s telepathic link to each of his demonlings. The feral cries of the Forever Knights splintered the crowd and sent them fleeing.

At least this time, we won. Deragan had been disappointed to see the overturned benches, crushed flowers and the decay that now touched everything that’d been decorated to celebrate he and Lacey’s marriage.

Deragan watched the retreat of the black skinned creatures. Sensing this would not be the last time he dealt with Radix. Now he sees us as a real threat. He’ll be more diligent. After all these years, I can spot another predator when I see one.

As Deragan tried to enjoy the days after his union with his beautiful wife it was constantly disturbed by Radix determinedly picking off their numbers at Deragan’s House.

It’s no longer a sanctuary. He’s going to keep whittling away at us.

Deragan’s anger mounted every time he found one of his pack dead out on the grassy borders of his home. His hunger for vengeance building. I’m going to get careless. That’s what he wants. Deragan could clearly see the tactic but it didn’t make it any less effective.

He summoned his knights to crowd into his foyer. He stood atop the stairs in the fading light. Lacey close to his arm, clinging to the rail with a tearstained face.

“It’s time to separate, My Knights. You will go.” He ordered. “Scatter. We can never again unite numbers unless circumstances necessitate. Unless approved by me. We’re easy marks when we cluster.”

With solemn nods and much reluctance, they took to the sky and land to vanish into the night. Heading to the far realms of Ardae.

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