Someone Watches Us
“Again?” Sebastian Bodane’s blue-green eyes lit as he flashed that characteristic grin. “Don’t throw your stones too soon, Brother. I’m happy to die next to men I trust but I intend to fight like a lion.” He tossed his blonde hair like a wild mane.
“You’re a child.” Alazareth said dully. Correcting, “A mad child.”
They often prod each other in times of stress. Deragan knew. The teasing offers a momentary reprieve from the tension.
“Bast is only half crazed.” Lucien Sabias stepped forward to defend Sebastian.
“That’s not true.” Bast waved a finger at him. “I’m quite Mad. On this,” He lifted that finger. “And only this, my brother is quite right.” He grinned.
“Well,” Lucien blew a long breath, gesturing above. “That’s good because the Pope’s men are undoubtedly atop these banks, in dense layers, ready to swarm in an ill-planned ambush.”
“As usual you’re the light of the festivities.” Bast commented dryly.
“You’ve already assessed the situation?” Alazareth queried.
“He can’t help it. He does it on reflex.” Bast said.
“They’ll come down this steep side.” Lucien confirmed, ignoring Bast. “It’s the narrowest part of the canyon, limiting any form of retreat. The best place for them to get at us…They’ll be coming soon.”
“Always methodical.” Bast laughingly shook his head. “It makes sense why the Captain named you his Second. Despite what Alazareth says...”
What Alazareth says? Deragan’s head momentarily whipped to look at Sebastian, despite his efforts to pretend he wasn’t listening. Seeing Bast’s huge grin, he realized the man was just being facetious. He refocused on the gorge they traversed.
And the silence overhead.
“Even now, Bast?” Alazareth called falling back. “Trying to stir dissension for your own amusement, even now?”
“He knows I jest.” Bast’s voice rose in good humor as he winked at Lucien.
Who’s close with both twins.
Deragan glanced up for the hundredth time. They all need to shut up so I can hear up there.
Lucien called back to Alazareth. “We all know it’s in his character to jest in trying times.”
“Loosening the mood.” Bast rolled his shoulders and cracked his neck. Drawing daggers from his waist to ensure he was ready. Sobering as he spotted their Captain’s stillness. “Is he ready to die?”
Deragan felt Bast nodding toward his back. Yes, I have been since this all began.
“He is. Has been since last night.” Lucien said gravely. “What’s he left to lose?”
Very little, anymore.
“Us. His brothers.” Bast gestured behind.
“He’s ready to die. For us. For our cause.” Lucien nodded.
He’s right. I am.
“He knows we’re ready to die in service to him.” Mardichi added.
“I won’t flinch.” Chavias vowed.
“None of us will.” Alazareth contributed.
I believe them. They’re fearless.
“As our Captain Commands!” Acharius declared.
Deragan who’d stared boldly through the canyon, now tossed a blue-eyed glance over his armored shoulder. Black hair shining in the ascending sun, face routinely unreadable. Unmoved by what’d unfold. He gave a gesture directing them to quiet.
They instantly silenced.
Enough talk for the day. Time to meet our end. He concentrated on the occasional sliding rock or whispered cough on the wind.
His chin lifted proudly. Grip on his restless stallion’s rein going white-knuckled as he welcomed the promised attack. It will be what it’ll be…
“What are you thinking, Elder?” Pope Clements III whispered to the ancient demon.
Radix stood in torn robes with a gnarled staff. Though frail with a hunched back, he was still tall. Thin gray beard whipping over his shoulder in the wind. Beady eyes narrowed on the scene in the canyon bottom.
His voice emerging a rasping hiss. “I’m thinking I like the sight of them, not at all. They should not be here!” Radix’s eyes flicked to his Commander, Okine, standing next to him.
Okine’s wrinkled face and ghastly pointed ears less noticeable than his mammoth size.
“But you said the Watcher you tortured a fortnight ago foretold of this day. You knew of these men!” Pope Clements muttered accusingly.
“Knew of.” Okine parroted in a voice which was, despite his great size, shockingly shrill. Grating on Radix’s already frayed nerves.
“Knowing and wanting are very different things.” Radix’s eyes were riveted below.