FOREVER KNIGHTS: #3 Forsaking the Vanquished

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Matthew Murdoch

Radix cheered them on now, adding his outraged shouts to the mix.

Thusly, Lucien now found himself, the dark Lord covertly walking the cobbled streets of InnerCircle, Mane.

Lucien was tugged back to the present by the roar of the murderous party behind him. A bloodhungry lot.

A glance down revealed the black cat moving into stride with him. Lucien smiled, recognizing the feline.

“Ah, I’m relieved to see you.”

It blinked questioning gold eyes up at him.

“Come Bast don’t look at me like that. You know the rules. When a young girl dies, somebody must be set to blame! Are we not the shadiest characters to set foot in InnerCircle?” He gestured around.

The cat lowered its dark head and gave it a sullen shake.

Lucien sighed. “They know nothing of the evils of Radix. He wanted the Mane people to blame me. His efforts are validated now.” Lucien cracked his neck. “Every time we come to this bloody country; he manages to chase us out.”

The feline gave a faint rumble in response. Much too deep a sound for a small cat. The snarl of the panther.

The sounds of their pursuers increased. Lucien and Bast exchanged a look.

It’s time. I’ve overstayed my welcome.

That cat, that’d been his companion longer than any mortal.

“Did my thoughts draw you, Old Friend?”

The feline’s long look told him it was something else.

“Ah. The Captain sent you. Well, whatever the reason. We must get out of here first. Radix wanted this to happen. He manipulated everything to this end.”

The feline blinked accusingly. “Yes, yes.” He admitted. Grudgingly nodding. “And I’m well into my cups…Let’s get out of here…”

A beggar on the street of InnerCircle fair lost his mind that third night of June. For as Matthew Murdoch lay in the alley shivering, he stared up into the depths of midnight. An endlessly star-filled sky.

The simple beggar was a simple man. And Matthew Murdoch had quite simply never seen anything so incredible in his thirty-two years. Surely his mind failed him, for it appeared that even the terrifying stranger’s little black cat seemed to be rapidly changing shape. The little animal distorted and began enlarging. Its image blurring now and again as if it were a mirage. Gasping, he realized the feline was now bigger than a dog, running beside the Lord.

A sound drew his attention. An eerie figure rounded the corner onto the roadway. The dark man wove the streets, as though the night were part of him. Movements fluid and as graceful as liquid from a glass. Dressed all in black, his eyes and hair matched the evening. Collar-length black hair waved from underneath a buccaneer’s hat to curl at his nape. His long cloak giving him the illusion of wings and his brisk step making him seem to glide. He pulled his feathered hat off and tossed it into the shadows. Stretching his neck, he ran a hand through his hair.

Matthew squinted to see the stranger’s face. Staring into the shadows to meet Matthew’s look, despite it was surely too dark to see. Matthew carefully scooted further into the shadows.

The noble’s black eyes illuminate until glowing gold. Shining like flames burned behind them. The stranger’s shoes ripped open. In the place of those highly polished boots, were gigantic taloned feet. Bearing hook like claws. His pants ripped at the seam from ankle to hip, exposing a black length of animal leg. A rasping hiss burned through the night, leaving the pungent scent of smoke.

“What dark magic is this?” He breathed.

The bleak stranger glanced at the feline stepping smoothly next to him. The cat rumbled so deeply the air around them vibrated.

“Yes, Bast. I’ll help spread his orders to the others. Will you advise those here in Mane? I’ll make my way to LandingTown to begin my search for her.”

The panther shook its head and ruffled its fur.

“No?” Lucien asked. “To WaterRose then?”

It rumbled softly in answer.

Lucien groaned and his head fell back. “Fine.” He sighed. “To WaterRose it is.”

The panther loping next to him ducked its head briefly in a gesture of acknowledgement. Turning to veer from Lucien’s course.

Lucien turned and watched the panther accelerate its speed until its long lope was a blur of movement. The black coat glittering ominously beneath the street candles. Twisting its head, its body tilted to follow. Giving Lucien one last gold-eyed look over its high shoulder before he disappeared around the corner. The sound of claws scraping stone dissipated.

The panther gave a feral roar to distract some of the mob in a different direction.

A direction that’d have them hunting Bast half the night.

Thanks, Old Friend.

Another feline cry cut the night, much further away now. Already he’s cutting the distance.

Lucien shook his head. Fast as I am. I envy his greater speed. None of their kind was as fast as Bast, Lucien supposed.

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