“To protect them all.” He cried brokenly falling to his knees as the morning sun crested the mountains. Lighting his gold hair in a halo as he planted his sword in the ground and looked up at Deragan pleadingly.
“You can’t. Never could.” Deragan shook his head. Hand falling to Bast’s shoulder. “How many times did you pray God would save your brothers? That you wouldn’t have to bury another one?” Deragan recalled hearing the whispered words from Sebastian’s tent regularly.
“Countless.” Bast cried, his head falling to his palms.
“Did it ever occur to you, Old Friend, that you are what he sent?”
Hands falling Bast gave him a torn look.
“You wanted something, someone to protect them. To keep them from bloody death. You made your vow and you’ve fought like a lion. How many knights have we lost since you took it upon yourself?”
“I don’t know.” Bast said brokenly.
Trying to listen. But in so much pain the words make little sense right now.
“Far less.” Deragan supplied. “You’re the Protector. The warrior that defends the warriors. Chavias gave his life for yours. For that. Don’t deny him the one thing he could offer us.”
Deragan tossed a piece of glinting metal at Bast who reflexively caught it in an open fist. Knowing instantly it was Chavias’ pendant.
“Why for me?” Bast cried. “For anyone else. He should’ve done it for anyone else!”
“But he did it for you and I.” Deragan said firmly. “He saw things you can never hope to, Brother. Chavias was always wise. And he made a choice that was his and his alone.”
Not even mine.
Bast huffed in pain.
“I’ll not mourn him.” Deragan was tight lipped. “He was the finest warrior I’ve ever known. The fiercest and most noble. He died with honor. I’ll not mourn him.”
I’ll celebrate him.
“I’ll mourn him enough for us both!” Bast cried. Dropping his forehead to the hilt of his sword despondently. The chain of the pendant dripping from his fist to clank against the metal.
Marcus Teverius appeared behind Sebastian and dropped a hand on Bast’s shoulder.
As did Christophe Rhyers, followed by the others stepping from black darkness into the rays of light falling on the blood-stained grass.
One by one they’re hands settled on Sebastian comfortingly.
Sharing his pain.
Even Alazareth Bodane, Bast’s twin. And the man that liked him the least, joined their number to add his comfort. Understanding the depth of Bast’s pain as only he could. From knowing his brother their entire lives, and all their immortal existence.
Heads bowed the Forever Knights grieved the day’s losses in silence.
And we gave reverence to those that’d died in battle.
We hoped for vengeance.
For a reckoning upon the man that’d kill the Captain’s wife on their wedding night.
But what we got was too painful to imagine…
From the Journal of Sebastian Bodane.
Grier Country Outskirt
Dark descended that night. Finding them lying in piles as wolves. Recuperating from their physical and mental wounds.
The land was still yellow and dry from Fall descending. Though Grier was typically one of the greener countries, it currently reflected the desolation Deragan was suffering.
The ever-present fog, so common in Ardae, hung over the landscape. Making the stillness of the tall grass seem that much more ominous.
A few sentries watched as darkness descended. For fear of another bout of Cimmerii attacking where they hid in Warlock Grove.
Deragan was one of those sentries. His men urged him to rest first. Knowing he couldn’t strategize in the state he’d been.
They were right. I was too exhausted to be useful.
And truth be told, too remorseful.
I led them into disaster. Like a fool. Now he was awake and alert. Vowing to himself to never be so rash again.
As he sat, his furred tail circling his paws for warmth, a vivid slash over the night sky caught his eye. A burst of light bloomed before zagging a strange pattern from the starry night. Falling in twirling whorls as though spinning, careening off into darkness as it plummeted to Ardae.
His brows drew together. I saw something fall like that many years ago…
Another blast of light and a far-off popping sound. The spinning light followed by another and another. All shredding the sky in lightening tendrils as they fell in the same direction, cutting the night with their vivid luminescence.
Watch for the stars. She’d said.
Deragan’s eyes narrowed. “Watchers?”
A low howl summoned his men to wakefulness who now watched the lights with him. As they stood shoulder to shoulder.
Deragan straightened into a man. His eyes never leaving those stars plummeting down. “Teverius!” He called. Summoning the white-haired man from the band. “Chart them. Then find them. Make a map of where they are so we can protect them.”
Tev gave a quick nod and backed from the Captain.
Continued in BOOK TWO:
FOREVER KNIGHTS: Rise of the King of Assassins
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