Radix laughed coldly. “Is this what you wanted Captain? Oh, how I am terrified. You’ve certainly taught me a lesson I won’t soon forget.” He mocked. “The choice is yours though.” Laughing again he sobered abruptly. “I’d make you a trade. This Forever Knight for you.”
Deragan ceased breathing. I will do it.
There’s no choice.
I’ve trained Lucien to lead them.
Chavias morphed into a man. Small under the crushing weight of the Cimmerii tidal wave. Sarabi, Targue and Nonis. Despite his vulnerability, he reached up to tear the pendant from his neck. Twisting the chain in his hand.
His pendant. For summoning us.
Chavias launched to his feet, using surprising strength to throw many of the creatures off.
Nonis still pulled at his arms and legs, shredding his skin to the bone as he moved.
“No!” He roared. “Not for me, Captain! Let me go.” Chavias’ roar as he threw the pendant high. His cry echoing over the empty valley. “No one will be left.”
It reached Deragan’s talons, which reflexively closed around the bit of metal.
He ensured Radix can never use it to call us to one place.
The other knights objected in shouts, whimpering cries and vibrating growls.
Chavias sighed in relief that the pendant was safe. Staring up at Deragan, Chavias’ eyes were dark and pleading. “Take them home.” He urged. “Protect the pack, My Alpha.”
Radix laughed malevolently, mocking them all. Squawking mirthfully. “Listen to him. So selfless...Shame to see such a warrior’s heart eaten, is it not?”
Bast roared in fury. Twining tendrils of fire pouring from his mouth.
“Go.” Chavias shouted. “Please! All of you!” He tossed his arm in a gesture for them to leave.
The Nonis were pressing him back into the trees as they swarmed him.
Forcing him to stumble back. “None of you come for me. It’s the one thing I ask. None of you!” He gave Bast a long look. “Serve your purpose and forget me.” The hard look on his face and his locked jaw making it obvious he meant what he said.
Slowly Alazareth Bodane gave a slight nod and turned to stare at the Captain expectantly. Another nodded and then another in assent.
He asks this of us. His last request.
They’d give him their word, make him a vow and do what they’d always done...
What has to be done. Deragan felt sick enough to vomit.
Chavias was drug into the trees by Cimmerii already taking bites from his body. “Vow it Sebastian! Vow!”
Teeth gnashing the gold dragon roared.
Deragan sunk his talons more deeply in Bast’s back and gave him a rough jerk. Give him this, Old Friend. He willed Bast.
Roaring in pain, Bast gave a sideways nod. The closest Chavias would get to the assent he sought.
They watched as he was drug away.
“Some great Protector!” Radix scoffed. Laughing as the gold dragon hung forlornly from the claws of the rest.
Deragan lead a heartbroken retreat. Collecting the crumpled, crushed bodies of their kindred they buried them.
Raese Merlinus was unaccounted for. No one could find a trace of him.
It gave Deragan hope.
And Chavias…Chavias’ body they’d never recover. They all knew that.
Warlock Grove, Warwood, Nightway
Sorrow silenced any words there might have been. This night was far hollower than the previous had been. Heavy with anguish.
But while the others were pensive, Bast was inconsolable. Pacing the camp restlessly. He paused only to kick the fire, sending burning logs in every direction.
Making the other knights dive for cover, shouting objections.
Uprooting a thick trunk, he launched it through the trees with a roar. The crack of its landing echoing through the empty wood. Before splashing into the bubbling wake in the heart of the grove.
Alive with fury he spun on his alpha, his eyes flaring gold made Deragan's gleam blue in response. Illuminating the dim light in a nearly white glisten.
Deragan snarled low in his throat in warning. Sensing Bast would be defiant in his pain.
“Why?” Bast demanded of Deragan. “Why would you not let us save him?”
“You know why!" Deragan roared. His booming voice echoing viciously through the trees. Making Bast toss his head as though Deragan had struck him.
Bast looked at the ground next to him but still stood. Waiting.
Deragan worked to control his patience.
"It wasn't our choice.” Deragan stared at the firelight coolly, his arms crossed.
“It was Chavias’.” Lucien cut in. Standing on the other side of the fire and watching the interchange.
Bast’s fury was blatant as he tore a path through the trees.
He’s in pain. Once far from the others, Deragan caught up to him. Snagging his arm and dodging the swing that followed.
“Sebastian.” His voice was soft.
This wasn’t your fault.
“I know you would’ve, if he’d have let you.” Bast cried. Excruciating pain written over his face.
“Then why are you so angry.”
“Because he told me. He told me what he’d do!”
He kept his word. Deragan sighed. That sounds like him.
“Do you remember the vow you took when we were knights?” Deragan asked softly.