FOREVER KNIGHTS: #3 Forsaking the Vanquished

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1719 DERAGAN - Guiding Nora to the Book of Immortals

Meadowbrook, Grier Country (The fallen found for two years)

DERAGAN

Wandering the vast library, Nora Bishop was drawn to a back shelf containing the classics such as Shamra and Luane. People she didn’t know.

But she knows they’re my favorites. Deragan enjoyed explaining to her why they’d been so poignant centuries ago. He was glad that hearing him speak of historical things made him seem more tangible her.

Tracing her fingers over weathered old bindings, she smiled when she felt his presence. That soft smile made his heart surge.

“Which one do you think?” She whispered excitedly. Pushing blonde hair from her face.

Yours.

Higher up on your toes. There you can see it. The big one.” She was unalarmed by Deragan’s disembodied voice. He directed her to the book he’d thrown across the library just a few years ago.

A book I put here, for her.

As she stretched to reach, she glanced between the shelves at the other aisles.

“Don’t worry.” He assured her. “No one is close enough to hear you.”

What’s this one?”

My favorite.”

She looked around.

“No one else can hear me, remember?” He reminded.

“I know.”

Pulling it from the high shelf she fumbled her grip and nearly dropped it in her face, somehow barely managing to catch it, she incidentally angled the volume. Unleashing a pile of dust from the surface.

Swallowed by the brown puff, she coughed and backed up, cradling the book against her chest.

He blew a relieved breath.

She looked down her body and saw the filth marring her dress giving a half shrug she focused on the book. Drawing it away to study its cover.

“It’s gorgeous.” It was thick leather deeply engraved with delicate vinework and small blooming roses. Each blossom perfectly unfurled and painstakingly shaded with a fine tip.

Yes, it is.

“It’s handcrafted.”

By you.

She ran a finger over the rough edges of the tan pages. “Well-worn though.” He nodded though she couldn’t see it. Turning it sideways so she could see the pages smoothed and whitened near the back.

By both of us.

“That’s weird.”

“What?”

“The pages change color here.”

You haven’t written those yet.

“Is that all?” He asked hopefully.

“It feels…” She mulled it over. “like it belongs in my hands…” She glanced at the clerk at the counter, gnawing her cheek.

She’s right to fear someone seeing it.

“It’s okay.” He assured. Customarily reading her thoughts.

Clutching it against her, she ducked out the door furthest from the clerk’s counter.


Reaching Anna’s carriage, she blew out a long breath. Gripping the leather like a lifeline. Relaxing her hold, she let it drop against her arms, to view the title. The Book of Immortals.

One of four copies. Deragan knew. This one is the original.

Nora glanced over her shoulder at the two-level stone Library. Known for its twelve towers bordering each side. And the exquisite Grier tea offered, to warm cold bones. Delicate leaves perfectly aged in Grier wine casks then heated to a frothing boil to for a perfect brew. Offering it a delightfully sweet and authentic flavor emitting the most exquisite aroma.

I just stole it…” She blurted in disbelief. Staring at the book wide-eyed.

You can’t steal it. It’s yours. Deragan thought.

What?” Anna asked as she joined Nora in her carriage.

“Oh!” Nearly jumping from her skin, Nora sputtered. “Were you trying to scare me to death?”

Sorry I-”

Nora twisted toward her, and Anna was cut off as she realized the filthy book was perilously close to touching her flawless white dress.

Don’t touch me with that. Ew! You’re filthy!”

“It’s just dust.” Nora tucked her chin to eye it.

“It’s foul.” Disdain wrinkled Valentine’s narrow nose.

“It’s lovely.” She argued, stroking a hand lovingly over the cover.

Anna stared at her askance.

But Deragan was hopeful. She feels it. Senses it’s importance.

That’s right. Come back to me Sweetheart…Closing his eyes, he lay in the bed of his rental and drew a long steadying breath. Hope swelling in his heart.


“You’re back.” Lucien Sabias commented.

Deragan sighed and rolled his feet off the bed to sit on the edge. Putting a hand to his forehead to slow the spinning.

“You were Spirit Running.” Sabias said.

As often as I can. The more I see her the more my beast calms. Deragan gave him a look.

“Your eyes were rolled up. And open.” Lucien shuddered. “That’s what you always do when you Spirit Run.”

Good to know.

Sounds like a charming look.

“Ah.” Deragan grunted.

“How long have you been doing it?”

Too long. I need to be closer to her. My patience is eating my sanity.

“Since her mother died.”

“What was that? About two years ago?”

Deragan nodded slowly. “Just after Bast found her.”

“What’s the purpose?”

My business. He decided to let him know a little for the sake of conversation.

“Getting to know her. Getting close to her. Ensuring she’s not lonely. Helping guide her away from Cimmerii.”

From Radix.

“Are we getting close to moving her yet?” Lucien queried.

To Rosewynn? No. Little more time yet.

“I believe Radix’s Cimmerii are closing in. I need them to not know I’ve set Rosewynn up as a stronghold to protect her.”

By reinforcing the walls with layers of magic.

“I need them to close in and force her to retreat to it.” He explained.

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