FOREVER KNIGHTS: #3 Forsaking the Vanquished

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A Noni Watches

Gold hair curled slightly over his forehead not detracting from vivid turquoise eyes. Which were currently mesmerized by the afternoon light dancing through the tree canopy. Teasing through branches to stream onto flowered bushes. Showering them in a halo.

Aware a cold wind could descend on the mountain in a heartbeat, he savored the light. But if the cold kicked up, he was dressed for it.

These clothes Bast so often mocks.

Because I dress for practicality rather than attention. A glance down his form revealed a simple brown leather tunic cinched at the waist with customary black belt. Over brown leather breeches and matching tall boots.

I’m prepared. Bast can rot. Despite Bast’s urging, Alazareth refused the same frivolous shirts as Sebastian.

How can you efficiently wield a sword with a shirt flowing about? Countless times Alazareth had asked Bast such. Shaking his head at his brother’s idiocy he glanced over his shoulder at the holding behind him. As of late he had been staying there.

WaterRose. Just thinking the title evoked peace.

The stronghold. The only haven for his kind. The waterfalls shielded it from the demon’s detection. It was bound together by the magic of every Forever Knight. Each contributing their power to charge it.

It crowned the top of Meadow Mountain. Elaborate ramparts reached heavenward like hands opening to pour water down to the lower levels. Sending it cascading over the unseen barriers bridging the bailey. Flooding down the outer walls in rivers so thick they frothed. Pink and red rosebuds jutted out, untouched by the torrents. A dash of color against white foam and gray stone.

The water spilled into the moat circling the base of the castle and filled into the lower levels of WaterRose’s underground. The high sun made the blue water shimmer gold.

It will be safe without me. He nodded to himself.

The drawbridge closed, sensing his absence. The Captain entrusted the stronghold into the hands of Alazareth’s twin, trusting that Alazar himself could keep him reined in.

Just that thought made Alazar groan. Trying to control Bast’s movements is like keeping a whirlwind in a jar.

He sighed. I should go back and toss though the books of the old stories, searching for which of the Fallen’s favored locations she’s been reborn this go around...

If I do…The waters would separate, and the bridge would drop to offer him entrance. Glancing over his shoulder he looked longingly into Warlock Grove. Blue-green eyes sparkling in the sunlight. Draping a forearm across his forehead he shadowed his sensitive eyes to better see into the grove’s cool, dark depths.

She’ll crop up in one of her usual places. He assured himself after some careful thought.

Today is too beautiful to resist. It was the first sunny day after a fortnight of muggy ones.

It’s irresistible. He decided, heading in.

A decision that’d change him.

Warlock Grove, Nightway

Alazareth meandered in further, veering onto a path his frequent wandering had cut through the Wood. The trail had originally been the narrow step of some wildlife or another but Alazar had worn it wide and barren. Lured by the soft gurgle of Dread Brew Wake sloshing nearby.

Parting high underbrush, he peered at the wake. Burbling softly this morning. Fat bubbles swaying upward as they floated into the treetops. Smattering into drops as they touched the leaves.

As he stepped, Alazar noticed a track very near his foot. Eyes narrowing on it, he assessed the four claws parting from the indentation.

I know that track. A Noni. He lifted his head, willing tiny bones to realign in his sinuses so he could take in the smell with his more perceptive, canine senses. Despite missing the elongated snout, they became more sensitive. Taking in the stink of Cimmerii.

That made his stomach clench against a sickening urge to wretch.

So close to the stronghold? He followed the muddy steps.

Grateful the creature had opted to follow his trail since Alazareth typically followed his nose, not particularly skilled in tracking. I’m no Christophe Rhyers.

He saw the black wisping tail writhing behind a tree. Drawing his sword, he rounded the tree and lopped off its head in one perfectly aimed strike. The forked tongue lolled out flicking and the mouth continued snapping as the head rolled to the side, perilously near Alazareth’s boot. And I’d intended to have such a nice day.

What was it looking at?

Or better question, what was Radix looking at through its eyes? He peered around the tree and saw the shine of some silver fabric high on the boulders above the Wake, near Warlock Fall.

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