FOREVER KNIGHTS: #14 Broken Birds

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Learning About Shifting

But as the two bark-coated dogs strolled from the trees, Savage felt his skin warming. Uncommon heat coursed through him. Making his blood feel like it was boiling in his veins. He began to sweat as the Targue approached. He drew his hunting dagger from the small of his back.

Four Targue spanned out and began to encircle them.

His vision had changed without him bidding it to and he knew his irises would be glowing gold around the pupil. Swirling with light so he could see in the descending darkness.

But I didn’t will them to change. Something is happening. Using the back of the fist he gripped his knife with he rubbed away the sweat gathering on his forehead and was surprised to find it clinging to the back of his hand in a glittering gold smear.

His blood was getting hotter and it was beginning to become painful. The skin at his back began tearing and he turned abruptly thinking he’d been cut. It tore again and he twisted once more.

The Targue were slinking closer.

Savage blew several breaths through his nose, trying to calm. Too hot. Why am I so hot?

One Targue leapt at him. And when it did gold wings ripped from his back to span out on both sides of him. Moving of their own volition to float him upward several sweeps until the trees got to thick.

Cursing he tried to turn and see them as he flew awkwardly. Glimpsing one that was formed like a bat wing. Absent feathers and with sharp horns at the joints. But the entire thing glittered like a clean coin in sunshine.

Dragon wings? Savage dropped and landed on the back of one Targue. Straddling it as though he’d mounted a horse. He stabbed it several times in the back and side before reaching down and running a deep slit up the side of its neck.

When another dived toward him he dropped to the side of the one he’d sat on. The wings falling flush against his back before evaporating in an instant.

It collapsed the other way.

As the one went over him he lurched up to stab it in the stomach. Letting its own momentum carrying it over him drag the knife down its belly and spill its innards.

It huffed and gargled. Head hanging as it loped in circles. Sending intestine in a long trail behind it.

Disgusting. The smell was so abhorrent it was nearly unbearable. As if he’d cut open an animal bloated from many days heating in the warm afternoons.

Another one jumped over it and charged him and he rolled to the ground to stab it in the chest. Putting the palm of one hand to the bottom of its jaw so it couldn’t lower its mouth to bite him. When it lifted a paw to scratch him he swung his body around on the ground to get from its reach and planted his dagger in the other front foot. Making it howl in agony.

Dirt flowed up from his fast movements and when the final one came in for an attack, it had to jump back a moment and wait for the dirt to clear. When it did, Savage was leaping through it to ram the blade through the center of the top of the Targue’s head between his short pointed ears. Then he proceeded to stick the blade down one ear and the other to make sure that the brain was pierced in several angles. He slid to his knees and caught its head under one of his arms and ran the blade along its throat to ensure it would die.

It slumped from his grip onto its belly on the ground.

When Savage stood and looked around there were three human bodies in the dirt. Pale pink, naked and bloodied. A shame you were all wasted.

Savage kicked them over to the NetherRunnel and rolled them into it. Knowing the river would take them far down and away from the bridge. Where no constables would come calling at the Blue Lark.

Blue Lark Guild, Dread Hideout

Savage’s back ached where the wings had torn out. But it was more of an ache like he’d used a muscle he was unaccustomed to using. And I’m used to them all.

So though it made little sense, he understood what was happening. I’m evolving. The same as Dimurah is.

But why. There’s a reason for every evolution humanity experiences. What’s this one? He knew he was adapting to something.

He gave a double whistle and the gate guard lifted the inner grate. Giving Savage just enough room to enter between the mounted metal spears of the inner gate, with Delacourt. His boots and the horse’s hooves clacked on the wood. They hopped down the small step into the bailey and crossed toward where the courtyard began.

The sun was just rising for the day and Savage was covered in the gold sheen of sweat he’d been wiping away all morning. His body was still running hot.

Giving Delacourt a swat that would send him to the stable where the stable boy would recognize him and properly tend him, Savage made his way straight to the pond.

Circling around to the part where very few people went, he shucked his clothes and entered the water. The chilly bite of the water was a relief today instead of a startle.

Pleasantly cool on my hot skin.

“You’re back.”

He popped his head up and saw Dimurah standing at the edge of the water. Her arms crossed. “What are you doing up so early?”

She likes to sleep in since the alehouse runs late into the night.

“How else do you suppose I bathe in this guild?” She gave him a half smile.

“We’ve bathed together many times in the afternoon.”

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