FOREVER KNIGHTS: #3 Forsaking the Vanquished

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Something is Coming

Hard for them both to distinguish when they couldn’t feel it.

Stroking his temple in circular motions Deragan studied the gilded vinework curving over every corner in the room. Winding over every frame. Above the mantle was the crowning piece. A single large metallic blossom. Winking brightly as flame-light danced over polished gold. His personal touches.

Things I did for her.

“White roses were her favorite.” Deragan stroked his chin thoughtfully.

Their smell on her was mine…

“I’m sure they still are, Captain.” Lucien offered.

Deragan’s hand dropped to the armrest. Encountering the book there. Laid open to the last page. Recognizing the feel of it he turned it into his palm. Vivid agony tearing through him at the sight of the familiar rounded script.

Lucien winced. He knew that book, knew the page his Captain always left it on. The one that spoke most to him.

Deragan didn’t have to read it, for the last line to rip violently through him. ’The Fallen is the key to everything…Find me.

Her sweet voice still vibrant in his ears. The plea a constant echo in his tortured mind.

Where? Roaring Deragan tossed it across the room despite Lucien’s shout to stop.

Lunging forward Lucien tried to stay him but already it skidded face-down over the floor. Grimacing, Lucien gave his captain a sympathetic look.

Staring at the folded open covers, Deragan felt swift remorse. What have I done? Closing his eyes, he blew out a shaking breath. Etched vines on the leather cover sent him back through time. To a place where he watched the petite hand carefully carving it, sparing no excruciating detail.

Shoving his hand through his hair he rose. Pacing before the orange lights of the fire. Energy coiling through him, fueling his sparking rage. At length he collapsed into the blue chair with a grunt. His entire body slumping. And exhaustion taking over his features as he stared at the book on the floor morosely.

Lucien watched him quietly.

“Come, Captain. Let’s get you some rest. You haven’t slept in nearly a month.” Lucien swept up the book and carefully laid it on the round table next to the jar of smoked nuts. He swept one of Deragan’s arms over his shoulders and helped the Captain up the stairs and into his chamber. He was just turning to the door as Deragan slumped to sit on the edge of the bed.

Deragan abruptly hissed an indrawn breath. Fine hairs rose on his arms and neck. Black hair lifting from his scalp inhumanly.

A moment later, Lucien felt it.

Deragan twisted and lowered into a crouch as he faced the window. Noticing Lucien moving to flank him to look out. Their animal senses alert, they watched apprehensively. Crouched for danger.

Something is coming. Something powerful. Deragan’s eyes narrowed on the meadow.

A bird like shriek rent the air down the corridor. The locked chamber door rattled fiercely as the creature tried to get out. Her sounds growing higher pitched.

Stepping to the window simultaneously with Lucien, their pupils tapered to slits and irises yellowed until he could see over the flat land to the dark trees. Lightening brightened the valley in a plume of silver. Frosting treetops and revealing skeletal branches reaching from the snow. Highlighting the animal loping through the tall grass. Skirting the trees of Warlock Grove and cutting into the meadow. Black as midnight silk he glistened under a layer of sweat. Veering toward the castle gate as another claw of lightening speared over him.

“Only one reason Bast comes like that.” Lucien commented.

A strange surge lifted inside Deragan. Something he barely recognized after so long. Hope.

“Sebastian never hurries.” Deragan concurred. His shout to the gate tower made the bridge begin descending over the moat.

Not fast enough.

“He’s not slowing down.” Lucien grimaced.

The valkyrie’s cry rose again. Louder.

She can feel his return. Deragan sensed.

Lucien eyed the wall separating them warily. “That’s why I lock that thing in when I’m here…”

And because she scares you. Deragan had no time to tease just now.

“Bast wouldn’t appreciate that.” Deragan commented without looking away.

“Yeah…But she terrifies me. I love a tough woman. But not one that can actually kill me…” He murmured. “And likely wants to.” Even Lucien silenced as Bast reached the bridge. Leaping to claw the peak of wooden planks, raking in front feet until piercing the wood. Tossing his body atop it, he took the downward slope at a breakneck pace. Tearing up clods of mud as he crossed the bailey to the front doors.

Come my friend. I need your news. Deragan willed him to move faster.

Throwing wide the chamber door, Deragan barreled into the corridor. Barely noticing Lucien on his heels.

Lunging through the front doors, Bast scraped across the marbled foyer, sliding as he caught footing. Shaking roughly, he tossed off heavy droplets of water.

Grip white knuckled Deragan stood at the railing of the second level, waiting for him to change. Speak to me.

Deragan waved an open palm over the foyer below which made the candles in the triple layered chandelier bloom and all the candle wall mounts burst to life brightening the foyer to the luminescence of daylight. Reflecting off the black and white marbled foyer leading to the dais where the stairs split into the dual cases wrapping both sides of the wall below in rich red carpeting.

Lurching onto rear legs Bast’s back cracked and twisted. Joints jerked into the smooth lines of a human. Crumbled strands of cloth knitted together into clothes covering him. Cloak billowing as its folds fluttered down around him to still against pale marble. Black clothes made him barely discernible and turned his face an ashen crescent in the darkness below. Rolling his head to brutally snap his neck into place, Bast looked up at Deragan.

“Where is she?” He clenched the railing desperately.

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