FOREVER KNIGHTS: #14 Broken Birds

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Tending To The Highwaymen

Everything was a flurry of movement. Disturbed by the presence of the strange beings.

Lucien twisted his neck. Bones cracked and moved as his body prepared to change.

Before he could, that leader was swallowed under a mass of tiny dragons. Swarming over him and flattening him to the ground under their united weight. Tearing at him with razor teeth and serrated talons. Their ferocity unparalleled. In a matter of moments there was little left save a few shreds of cloth and skeletal remains.

They consumed him where he lie. Resuming his human form, Lucien flinched away from the sight of what the miniature dragons were doing to the bandits.

Meralee watched in horror. Confused as the little dragons steered clear of her. Branching to go around her before they scattered into the foliage.

Cold scales brushing her leg. Damp snouts skimmed her skin.

Staring in terror, her body shook. She held fast. Fisting her palms in her skirts as she avoided the slightest movement that might draw their attention.

The remaining highwaymen’s voices roses in calls for help and shrieking.

Meralee was untouched. A rustle in the brush nearby drew her eye. A large shadow moved toward her. She was stunned when a striking man stepped from the shadows. Gold hair billowing around his face and his bared chest covered under a sheen of sweat. He was using a handful of leaves to wipe away darker staining.

“Who are you?” She asked frantically.

She doesn’t know if he’s just another knight trying to get her to the Lion’s Head.

He said nothing. Merely walking purposefully toward her.

She backed up a stumbling step. Unable to look away. “How long have you been here?”

He’s not going to answer that. Lucien knew from where he stood behind the concealment of high bushes watching.

Bast gave her an unreadable stare, before his attention eventually fell to something crossing his boot.

He’s trying not to talk. He doesn’t want to use the Voice of Persuasion on her. It made Lucien chuckle. He does not want to win this little race in any way!

“What are those marks all over you?” Her voice shook as she looked from him to the Figurine Dragon and back to him. She yelped when the small gold creature moved eagerly between their feet. It’s back spotted with drops of blood.

Likely a bandits. Lucien knew.

The stranger dropped to a knee and let the fledgling creature leap into his arms.

Scurrying up his shoulder to encircle his neck. Lapping his face like a puppy would a master as its long tail encircled his neck for balance.

He stood back up and it was cooing softly as it played in his hair, with its snout.

Perhaps I should explain some of this to her before she faints. Lucien stepped from the trees and instant recognition marked her face.

She scowled at him.

His posture and dress too immaculate for just coming from the woods.

“I thought, for a moment, you lost my trail.”


“I’d never lose your scent.” He sniffed pointedly. Tilting his head down to give her a dark look.

“You’re as persistent as a hound!”

Probably more so. When he stepped the brush parted to make way for his smartly polished boots. He strode straight for her. Predatory eyes unblinking as he watched her. Body rippling under his clothes. Tight with rage.

Seeing her eyes flicking nervously he shook his head. “I’ll be on you before you can bolt.” He lifted a finger to sway it at her. “And that’ll only make me angrier.”

Her fevered brain worked frantically.

“You’re so desperate to flee.” Amusement marked his voice.

Bast gave him a quick grin before averting his attention back to lovingly stroking the gold dragon on his shoulder.

“You’re a rogue! And your intentions are clearly sinister.”

Bast tipped back his head and laughed uproariously.

“Your instincts are reacting merely to something more powerful than you. Not something you should fear.”

“Or to someone conscienceless. Someone who’d dump a defenseless woman in the woods.”

Defenseless! He choked a little.

“For a defenseless woman you’ve remained unescorted much of the way…” It was nearly a compliment.

“Perhaps I have some defenses.”

Some? You’re venomous. His face didn’t change as he stopped to look down his nose at her.

She stared back defiantly.

“Well, I’ll leave you to it.” Bast called as he turned toward the trees. Pointing to Lucien over his shoulder. As he walked away the small gold beast was beginning to claw into his shoulder enough blood was pouring in rivulets down his back toward his belted breeches.

Bast’s version of saying ‘good luck.’

Meralee’s eyes drifted to Bast. Lingering on his bare back covered in red gashes which also wove over his biceps.

Dammit, Bast!

She can’t help it. Women can’t resist Bast’s appeal. Lucien hooked a finger under her chin and moved her face until her eyes reluctantly drew back to him.

He could admit it was pure jealousy. Wish I could have such an impact on her…

“You’re angry?” Her eyes widened in confusion at his palpable fury. “For what?”

“Of course, I am! You leave a man while he is sleeping.”

When you should be laying across my chest.

“I leave my captor whilst he dozes.” She corrected.

His eyes narrowed.

“What is that look?” She eyed him warily. “What are you going to do?”

I haven’t decided…

“What do you think I should do? A woman such as you must have a consequence for fleeing a protector.”

“Protector?” She expostulated.

“I’m considering a good thrashing.”

“You must be considering losing a hand then.” She blinked coolly.

His face abruptly softened and he relaxed.

Only making her more nervous.

A slow sneer crossed his features. Boding ill for her.

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