A Grieving Knight
Chavias appeared. “Can we have some respect, boys?” He nodded toward the distance where Deragan’s silhouette over his wife’s grave was visible. “Our Captain, our alpha, is in pain.”
“You know well we jest to cope with sorrow.” Bast said somberly.
“’Cept ye.” Mardichi slapped Chavias’ back. “Ye jest at nothin’. Ye’ve all the good humor of soured milk. If I’m the bully brother, ye’re our angry papa.”
Chavias’ steely gaze darkened on Mardichi. “I do not like you.”
“I know.” Mardichi nodded with a grin. It was apparent he was not pained any more than surprised at the announcement.
“But Chavias is right in this.” Bast said quietly, his gaze locked on their Captain. His shoulders slumped as his focus returned to Deragan’s head, bent toward the ground in sadness. Grief nearly tangible.
“How does ’e press on?” Mardichi wondered aloud. “’ad me the unfortunate luck to become besotten with some pretty maid, one me found my equal in all things…not so certain could let her go.” He said thoughtfully. Voice dropping. “I think I’d soon give up.”
“He presses on for her. And for all of us.” Bast murmured.
Rage fueled Deragan, forcing him to rise and start another day. I’m coming for you, Radix.
As did his promise to her. I’ll find you again, My Dear... Dropping to a knee he flattened a palm against the fresh dirt saying a final farewell to his young bride before wrapping his pain in anger as he prepared for the day to come.
Two hours before dawn Rhyers came with word. Radix Malorum had camped near the plains.
A day’s travel away...Unless we fly.
“We will.” Deragan assured. “We’ll have the element of surprise.” Pausing thoughtfully, he lifted his head to look at another of the Forever Knights. “Raese do you have the staff?”
“I do. It’s hidden but I brought it with me.”
“We may need it.” Deragan gave him a long look. “And you’re the only one that can wield it.”
“I’ve been training Tev.” He said quickly. “In-case anything should happen to me.” His eyes fell.
If all goes according to plan, he won’t have time to do anything to us.
We’ll overwhelm him in sheer numbers.
Deragan tossed him a quick look. “If anyone doesn’t want to join this battle,” He announced. “I do not require you to. Go home.” His eyes roved the line, but no one moved nor uttered a word of leaving. “I’ll harbor you no ill will.”
“We’re not going anywhere.” Tev gave his hatchets a meaningful twirl and offered Deragan a nod.
Chavias Derenoe and Sebastian Bodane exchanged a long look, only they understood.
Captain Deragan Black was the first in the air. Thin black wings unfolding from his body to spin out as he took the sky. Body expanding and thickening enough to support the massive head bulging from his shoulders. The horn flap loosened and whipped out to frame his square snout. Triangular teeth filled his mouth. Sapphire blue eyes turned molten white as he gave a deep groan at turning into the shape he’d avoided for so long. A Dragon.
Deragan should’ve seen it for what it clearly was. For what Rhyers had warned him. But he was blinded by hunger for vengeance. And burning agony tearing him apart.
The giant dragons coursed the sky, watching the sleek outline of Rhyers on the ground. Tracking at a run. Barefoot and shirtless with a bow strung over his chest.
As a flock, they coasted the skies. Remaining together to keep the only human in view.
When Rhyers stopped and stiffened, Deragan followed his gaze across the meadow.
Radix stood amidst a field of dark clover. Gray cloak mixing with the dull shade of his beard and the trail he’d burned into the growth as he’d walked into the field. Squinting into the sky he waited for the sun to crest the horizon. Pink and gold fingers clamoring over distant hills.
Through fog, Deragan saw Radix still as a statue in the center of the clearing. Motionless with his giant staff.
He let me find him. It was obvious. Rhyers was right.
The Cimmerii littered the ground around him. Small ones, large ones, all providing a wall around him.
The others, Sarabi, were as big as horses and circled him protectively.
Nonis shrieked nervously in bursts. Veined orange eyes wide.
Targue hissed, letting saliva lop from their spiked teeth. Backs shifting like canine’s prepared to pounce.
The bang of mighty wings flapping sounded like the snap of sails, setting Cimmerii on edge. Circling the cluster of Cimmerii, the dragons tightened their perimeter.
They all knew what would happen.
It’s a trap. Rage coursed through him. Fluid and hot. Controlled heartbeat pounding in his ears. Teeth bearing, he screeched at Radix Malorum.
I’ll rip out the demon’s throat. That fantasy calmed him. He needs to know agony. As he’s shown me time and again.
He felt the echo of hunger for violence in his warriors as their eyes flashed through fog.
Next to Deragan, Bast’s gaze was fixed on the Cimmerii demon.
Radix’s lip curled above his gray beard at the knights’ refusal to show fear as they all stared him down. He was surrounded by Cimmerii rodents, toad like things haunting his steps. Making it look like he crossed a shimmering black pool.
There are more concealed in the trees. Deragan knew. Radix would never so readily bait himself without being certain he could survive it.
Coasting overhead Deragan scanned the dense coverage of trees. But saw nothing beyond the green canopy. He’s far underestimated us.
His dragons began raining from the sky.