CHAVIAS - Raese's Marked
Phalanx Forest, Grier Country
The lot of them traveled by land, as wolves and panthers. Only a few hours before reaching Rosewynn Manor.
Sabine watched the way the men moved enraptured. They’d surrounded her and taken turns carrying her on their backs when she tired. They kept her in the center without even discussing doing so.
Instinctively protecting her. Chavias knew. Thankful to them. He walked next to her. Electing to remain human with her.
As men altered from human to panther or wolf, no one else seemed to notice or care.
Used to it.
“How can they seem so casual about becoming human or animal?” She asked Chavias.
“We’ve been doing it for countless years, Sabine. It’s as natural as breathing. And we’re all comfortable around each other’s beast.”
Some beasts left the pack to scout ahead.
“Why do the wolves not attack us?”
The wolves of Ardae were notoriously aggressive. Used to Firoque attacking them, they were innately defensive.
“We’re still us. Just in different shapes.”
“I’d never have thought there’d be so many.” She breathed. Looking around her.
“Far less then we used to be. The Great Battle cost us many. The man that fell and was never found, what happened to me. And all the others. Unfortunately, Radix’s army is growing and duplicating in ways that we cannot.”
“What about the one that was never found?”
“Merlinus? Radix thinks he’s dead.”
“But you don’t?” Sabine asked.
“I was there when the demon threatened Merlinus’ wife.”
She gave him a quizzical look.
“Calisto. He wouldn’t have been so desperate to recruit here if he didn’t think there was a chance Raese was alive.”
Bast joined them. “And the Captain wouldn’t have sent Merlinus’ little brother to look for him if he didn’t think there was a chance.”
Chavias’ head swung for him. “He sent Rodger?”
“Yes. While the battle was still in full swing. But that’s all irrelevant anyway. We know Raese Merlinus is alive.”
“How?” Chavias asked. Remembering the day he’d have sworn he saw him at the ball in Delacroix Hall.
“Tev found him.”
“Where?” Chavias stood. “We need to go get him.”
“We will.” Bast slapped a hand to his shoulder.
Calisto joined them. Her eagerness apparent. “I heard his name. Someone must take me to him!”
Chavias squeezed the black-haired woman’s shoulder reassuringly. “You’re out of the lair, away from the dampness. He undoubtedly feels your power.”
“It’s so good to see you.” Bast caught Calisto in a tight bear hug. “I missed you, Shortness.” He chuckled.
She feinted a punch to his gut. “Not that short, Bast.”
“Certainly not that tall, My Dear!” His teasing ceased and his face sobered. “I was afraid you were dead and that only spirit remained.”
“You’d all not get rid of me so easily.”
“Thank God for that!” He wrapped an arm about her shoulders as though she were some little sister he’d not seen in a long time.
“And Chavias.” She whispered.
Bast tossed him a look.
“He kept me safe in those caves. And fed.”
“Fed is a gracious term for it.” Chavias grunted.
It wasn’t much.
“You gave me all you had while you starved.” She whispered. “I’ll never forget what you’ve done for me, Chavias. You’re the very best of friends.”
He gave her a fond smile. Sweet woman.
We’ll find her husband soon. He vowed it to himself. If I have to hunt him down myself.
“Come to me.”
Raese could see the hazy lips of his wife whispering the words from far away. He floated over the Paladinian Mountains calling to her.
Raese sat bolt upright. “Calisto!”
He rolled out of bed. Hopping into breeches and tugging on a tunic which had been strung over a chair. Uncaring how clean it was. Waving his hand made his staff leaned on the wall behind the door, appear.
He grasped it and went downstairs.
When he pulled open the door, he found Rodger leaned against his carriage awaiting him. “You feel her?”
“Her power has awakened.”
“Or emerged where you can sense it.”
“It’s far more powerful then before.” Raese mused. Feeling vibrating surges of excitement.
She’s here. Somewhere.
He didn’t dare hope that somehow, she was freed. I just need to get to where she is.
“Where do you think she is?” Rodger asked as though sensing his thoughts.
“Somewhere in Grier but her magic feels almost like…its in motion.”
“The Stronghold.” Rodger surprised. Its power feels like that and I bet she’s there.
She could be.
It’s worth going to find out.
Raese hopped into his truck and waited for Rodger. My little brother.
It still seemed such a weird concept.
He was the face I couldn’t quite see. Raese now understood that his mind had not yet been ready to remember everything.
Rodger had said it was his subconscious protecting him.
I think he’s right.
Rodger directed the driver, and together they headed for Warlock Grove in Grier.