FOREVER KNIGHTS: #14 Broken Birds

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SAVAGE JAXSON - Beckoning Targue

Near the NetherRunnel, Grier Country

SAVAGE JAXSON

Savage had crawled up into a tree and was sitting with his back to it. Resting before he continued his journey. He was letting the night settle in.

Dusk is when all the beasts emerge.

The image of Dimurah splaying her crimson wings was branded in his mind.

I fear for her. I don’t know what it means but I know it means she’s a destiny I may not be part of. And a part of him feared she’d outgrow him.

Savage was unaccustomed to fear.

He’d gone to Mane Country and verified that the tracker was well in hand there.

A tiny black-haired woman was tending him. Barking orders with all the ferociousness of the Commander of the Grier Guard.

From his spot in the tree over the river, Savage could hear the rushing of the water splashing over rocks. Dusting out any other noise there may have been. He liked to rest here because the smells were so varied, it was nearly impossible to catch a human scent. Between all the deer, wolves, driters, and quillers that came to drink from the river his smell was well masked.

The scent of wet dirt and damp trees from the river sloshing up into the nearby needle trees were the most prominent. And as the sunlight faded the pointed trees became a jutting silhouette against the orange sunset.

Pretty. Peaceful. Savage was comfortable in the tree. His ankles outstretched to cross atop the branch. His back perfectly nestled where a portion of the trunk flattened. Over the years he’d found many spots like this that were suitable places to watch everything moving below. Unseen.

He unbuckled the front of his tunic and hung it on a branch. Wearing only his breeches and boots.

His attention was drawn when he saw a man crossing the bridge a bit down the river from him. He was gray tinged and smelled of Cimmerii.

A Firoque. A decomposing one. Which meant that he was already deeply tainted with Radix’s magic if his body was dying. His shirt was shredded from wandering the trees and he’d worn away most of his shoes. He was headed toward Mane. In-fact he was wandering from the main path and drawing near the trees where Savage had come out.

Headed straight toward Marshall Manse in Mane Country. Which was where Savage had found the tracker, Rhyers, being tended by the woman.

Why is he going there? Interested Savage leaned forward.

Dropping from the tree he intercepted the man. “Who are you?”

The man blinked slowly. Huge brown eyes confused. His words were slow and dulled as if it was hard to pluck them out. “Samuel Marshall.”

His lids were heavy and he blinked slowly as he swayed. Seeming impossibly tired.

Samuel Marshall? Related to the girl?

“Where are you going?” He asked. Almost certain he already knew the answer.

“Marshall Manse.”

Savage grunted. He walked around the man and saw black festering in his chest where the shirt was torn and a similar spot where black veins clambered from a dead wound on his back. He died.

Savage was suddenly certain. “What happened?”

Samuel Marshall shook his head as if trying to toss out some of the haze dulling his brain. He looked at the ground a moment. “Stabbed. Gutted…I think. Then the old man-”

“He said you could live.”

“Yes…I have to take care of my sister.”

Savage shook his head. This seemed unfair. He made no conscious choice to be evil. He just wanted to live.

“I wouldn’t go back there.” Savage said.

“I’m so hungry. And I’m angry…” Samuel said as if considering the same thing himself. “But my friend…”

The Tracker?

“He likely won’t be your friend now, I’m afraid.”

“I’m afraid of that too.” Samuel swayed backward and forward.

But the Tracker can handle this mess for himself. Savage saw no danger to the girl as this man would have his most volatile reaction when he neared a Forever Knight. And if he was right and that was precisely where he was heading, both Samuel Marshall and Rhyers would soon be discover what Samuel was and if he was capable of fighting it.

Unlikely. He’ll instinctively be driven to kill Rhyers.

Well, he’s healed enough to defend himself. Savage shrugged and stepped from the man’s path.

Not my problem.

But Savage caught another smell. A more potent stink of rot intermingled with the sweaty smell of all the animals that had come to the river for drink. He heard a rough growl and knew what he was dealing with.

Targue.

“Come to daddy, pups.” A slow smile curved his lips.

I like killing Targue.

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