FOREVER KNIGHTS: #14 Broken Birds

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The Last Person She Expected

After speaking to Deragan, Savage had only one other stop planned.

And it’s doubtful it’ll be much luck. Still, he found himself atop Meadow Mountain, standing in the grassy separation between the castle of water and Phalanx Forest. He slowly approached the castle and was shocked when the bridge dropped over the shimmering green moat.

They’re lowering it? Not the best plan. He walked tentatively across it. Wondering if it would suddenly roll up or someone would come charging out.

He glimpsed hunks of gold stone glittering at the bottom of the moat. Creating a very striking impression beneath the frothing waters. As he passed the Bridge Tower he was astonished by the silence here despite the surging waterfalls pouring overhead and crashing into the water encircling the stronghold and washing down to supply the NetherRunnel with its magic charged waters.

The black-haired elf peered out from the Bridge Tower. “Who do you seek today, King of Assassins?”

Savage turned around and gave him a quizzical look. “You know who I am and that I have no business here. Yet you let me in?”

“I have orders to.”

Why?

“From whom?”

“Your father.” The elf said before ducking back into the tower.

Sebastian Bodane.

“He’s not-” Savage objected reflexively.

Maybe he is. I’ve no idea. He opted for silencing. Rotating he headed for the elaborately vined double doors, entering into the castle foyer. He entered the cold structure and immediately felt it was different. Eerily silent, darker and far less welcome than it had been before.

He suspected it was all for the same reason. He paused looking around and saw not a single candle burned on the base or second floor. Candles in the sconces long cold.

“He’s not here.” The feminine voice wafted down from the hall of the second floor.

Savage looked up. Eyes glowing gold around the pupil. Luminescing in the dark so he could see.

It’s her. The healer.

“I’m not here for him.”

Not this time anyway. Perhaps I’ll return another day to speak with him. After I’ve had time to process what I’ve learned.

That I’m allegedly his offspring.

“Why are you here?”

“To talk to you.”

“Why?” Her voice was cold. Unemotional.

“Might I come up?”

“No.” She said as she strolled leisurely to the bannister. Moving so smoothly it nearly appeared she was floating. She came down the stairs. Her step making the strange cloth of her wispy gray gown flow around her legs.

Too filmy to be silk. I’ve never seen its like.

She strode passed him and into the black Parlor. Not bothering to light a single candle as she expertly found her way in.

He assumed he was expected to follow her and did so.

She took a seat on a divan. He sat on the one opposite her. “I remember you.”

“I thought you might. We spoke at length.”

“I wanted to know about you.”

“Because you suspected who I was to him?”

To your lover.

She looked toward the window. Only evening light seeped in to frame her profile. “Yes.”

“I’d heard what happened.”

Her head slowly moved to meet his look. “And?”

“I came here for you.”

The only clue to her thoughts was the long moment her eyes closed before they opened again.

I know that move.

Steady yourself. Wipe emotion. Never let them see.

“Why for me?”

“Because I saw a kindred spirit in you. Because you tended me while I was dying and stayed by my side. Because there are few like you in this world.”

“Big words.”

“True ones.”

“Did he send you?”

Who?

Sebastian.

“No. I wouldn’t have obeyed if he did.”

I follow no man’s command unless I wish to.

“Good to know.” She resumed staring out the window.

“You’ve a right to be shattered.”

Your daughter was stolen from you.

She didn’t look back at him, but he saw her breaths slow. Pained. Profile revealing her eyes were suddenly crimson red.

“There isn’t much to check on.” She murmured.

Because your broken.

“I’d expect that. I can’t even fathom your pain.” He said sincerely.

“Not sure anyone could. How did you find out?”

Not telling you that.

“Can’t tell you that. I never reveal the sources of my information.”

“Fair.” She conceded. “I’d prefer others weren’t blabbing my business.”

Understandable. But I’ll not silence my people.

“We can prefer many things. But it doesn’t prevent what we don’t want.”

“No, it does not.”

He leaned forward and dropped his head. Looking at her from beneath hooded lids. “Do you want to be free?”

She didn’t even spare him a glance. “Only if he is the one to free me.”

A cryptic statement.

“I can respect that.”

“Then do.” She said coldly.

Done. He was faintly insulted by her obvious dislike.

I’m far from where I’m comfortable, being here.

He stood. “You’re a far cry from the woman who was factual and abrupt but had a tender hand and soft eyes.”

The one who was kind to me. Talking me through pain.

“I doubt that woman will ever return. My rage and hunger for vengeance know no bounds now. And I will have gratification. I’m merely biding my time until then.” She commented.

“Ah.” He acknowledged. “Well, when you go to fetch that, send me a missive. And I’ll watch your flank.”

Someone should be watching your back.

She gave him a sharp look then. “Why?”

Now I have your attention.

“Because I owe you.”

“You don’t.”

I’ll decide that.

“I do. And only I’ll determine when I no longer do.”

“Leave me.”

As you wish. I owe you that much. He tilted his head in assent and bowed from the room.

“Savage Jack?” Her voice reached him near the doors in the foyer.

What more could you have to say? Your dismissal has been quite clear. He stilled but knew he’d not have to answer her.

She knows I’m still here.

“Thank you for coming here. It does mean something.”

“We’ll see if it does. If you contact me when you’re ready to enter the den of your vengeance.”

“Perhaps I’m already there…”

“You’re not.”

Not yet.

The door clicked closed behind him.

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