FOREVER KNIGHTS: #3 Forsaking the Vanquished

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Mardichi Has Given Up Drink

“I fear for her.” Rhyers admitted. Relating to Acharius’ concern.

Acharius confided. “I fear something happening to Chastain if she leaves the Merwood.”

“I don’t remember you having such reservations with Mags and Agatha?”

“I didn’t.” Acharius grunted. “I told them to leave. Often. But they’re now my self-proclaimed bodyguards.” He chuckled.

And they’ve probably saved me a handful of times now.

Without them I’d likely be dead. Acharius could admit that to himself. There'd been many nights when the two women keeping watch had alerted him that there were Cimmeriii perilously close to his den.

“But I didn’t sense the same manner of danger circling them as does this girl." Acharius explained. "She’s gifts Radix would predate on.”

Like making me see in color.

Growing flowers wherever she goes. Making animals want to be closer to her.

“Can you tell her to stay?” Rhyers asked simply. Cutting straight to the heart of the stress, as was his way.

“Never.” Acharius vowed. “Being near me and these caves is certainly not safe either.”

It puts her in line with Radix's minions. Acharius was aware that the nonis could sense the artifacts in the cave and that's why they were so often drawn to the area.

Making maintaining my traps critical.

“Mmm.” Rhyers murmured grudgingly. Voice rising cheerfully. “I could send Mardichi to offer some wisdom?”

Acharius’ eyes narrowed. “Don’t you dare. I can only imagine what dreadful shite would spew from his mouth!”

“It varies.” Rhyers argued.

“Based on how much ale he’s consumed today!” Acharius snorted.

“Have you not heard?”


“Mardichi has given up drink.”

“Are we speaking of the same barbarian?” Acharius blinked in shock.

“Yea high.” He gestured to the cave ceiling. “About this wide.” He stretched his arms as far as he could reach to ensure an apt description of Mardichi.

Rhyers nodded stiltedly.

“For what?” Acharius was stunned.

“For what else?”

“A woman?” Acharius supplied. “A mate?”

“Apparently. They’ve been together a mite now. He’s cheerful, laughing, and charming.”

“Are you certain we discuss the same man?” Acharius frowned. Skeptical again.

“That’s what I said until I visited, myself.”

“And it’s true?”

“It is indeed. They’re sickeningly happy. And he’s damn near pleasant to be around.”

“You’re certain?” Acharius bladed a hand in a sweeping gesture. “Same man?”

Rhyers gave him a chiding look.

“That’s dreadful.” Acharius said hollowly, feigning disgust.

Both men laughed.

Happy for their brawny redheaded brother despite all their jesting.

Finding one's mate is a rare thing.

They both knew that.

And in truth, we all yearn for it. But Acharius was no more inclined to admit to it then Rhyers was.

Rhyers left and Acharius was once more alone in the cavern.

He slumped back on his bed on the lifted dais. Scooping the back of his head in his palms as he leisurely stared at the stone ceiling. Looking around at everything in shades of gray and white made it all seem very drab in comparison to when Chastain was near and vivid color was nearly blinding.

But Acharius had begun to crave that like some manner of wicked addiction.

Like a bewitching. He grunted in his throat at the thought.

He closed his eyes and recalled warm barmaid with plump thighs welcoming him on his ventures away from the caves.

Ventures I rarely go on now.

Since Dearburn is gone. That thought immediately summoned horrific memories of what Chavias had done. Memories Acharius very much didn't want to relive.

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