What is My Captive
WaterRose, Meadow Mountain, Grier Country
When Sebastian awoke in the early hours, he sensed another presence in the castle lurking outside his door.
“Who are you?” He called.
Derenoe. He sensed the voice rather than heard it.
“Chavias! Let me throw on breeches and we shall visit!”
Please do. The voice dryly emerged.
“Fear you’ll be envious?” He called.
Hearing a wolf’s low rumble in response, Bast laughed as he emerged from the chamber. His guard easing as he welcomed the red-brown wolf waiting outside his door. Unknowingly dropping the magic sealing Elsabet’s chamber in his excitement to talk to his friend.
“How have you been?” Bast smiled down at the yellow-eyed animal as they automatically fell into step. “How does your search for a mate fare?”
The wolf grumbled and its head fell.
“Wish me to offer some aid?” Bast grinned. “I know many women.”
The wolf snarled as they reached the top of the stairs.
Chavias paused on the top step, straightening onto back legs, his head folding backward at a breaking angle. Fur dissipated from his shoulders, replaced with a long black overcoat unraveling to surround his feet. Which changed from furred paws to toes and skin with boots forming over them like molten oil. The same bleak shade as his hair and the whiskers surrounding his mobile mouth. A darkly tanned hand landed on the stair rail. And his back convulsed brutally as it straightened into a human spine.
Chavias shook much as a wet dog does before taking the stairs next to Bast. “So, who’s this captive I smell?” Chavias asked.
“You can’t have that one.”
“I’m interested in what she is. Not how beautiful.” Chavias laughed.
Easy to say when you haven’t seen her yet.
“I can see you believe you’ve a claim to her.”
“I intend to.”
“You remember, once I laid claim to a woman.”
“Calisto?” Bast scoffed. “You’d only ever seen her. Never even gathered the manhood to approach her.”
“She was a man-killer. She’d have likely flayed me.” Chavias defended.
“Only with women, does your back turn yellow.”
Chavias’ look turned scathing. “Careful, calling me a coward.”
“Only,” Bast corrected. “When it comes to women. Besides Calisto would’ve had none of you. She had eyes for only one.”
“Raese.” They said in unison.
Chavias groaned. “But I was besotten.”
“You were consumed with lust.” Bast corrected.
“You’re distasteful.” Chavias sneered before shrugging. “But accurate, nonetheless. The things this stallion would’ve done to that woman…” He patted his chest proudly.
Bast laughed. Sobering as he explained. “She claims to be a valkyrie. I’ll be researching what that is.”
“I’d thought that’s what she looked like.” Chavias looked impressed then his expression turned to a frown. “Best assure she eats.”
Bast looked at him askance.
“I believe a valkyrie must regularly eat to maintain its energy, if I recall correct.”
“How in Ardae would you know that?”
“My friends-and enemies are far reaching. I’ve learned much over the centuries.”
Bast shook his head. “You’re a man with many secrets.”
“I’m a man with many enemies.”
“That’s because your heart pumps straight war.”
Chavias grinned. Tossing his head toward his back. “That’s why I’m never without Frank and Ferdinand.”
“Just so you are aware…ridiculous names for swords.”
Chavias lifted a challenging brow.
Bast peered around to assess Chavias’ back. “I’d assume the sheath is nearly intertwined with your skin by now?”
Bast circled behind Chavias to check.
Chavias turned to keep him in view.
“Not a shred. I know you well. And your penchant for pranks. I don’t wish my swords, nor my personal affairs to become fodder for your amusement.”
“You’ve named them Frank and Ferdy-”
“They’re already fodder.”
“I’ll not play into your pranks.” Chavias reiterated flatly.
“Why does everyone say that?” Bast deflated.
“Because you meddle.”
“Everyone loves when I meddle.”
“No, they don’t.”
“They love the results.”
“But not because you meddled.”
Bast smirked in a cocky manner.
Chavias lifted a staying finger. “Do not meddle in my affairs.” Chavias gave him a stern look.
“Everyone says that too.” Bast grumbled.
A sound above them drew their attention.
There was a flash of long white hair disappearing into the corridor.
Not fast enough. Bast’s quick eyes trailed her movements.
“She is beautiful.” Chavias breathed.
“Back” Bast put a palm to Chavias’ chest to push him backward a step. “Off.” Bast twisted from the bottom step to see the top level, ensuring she’d returned to her chamber.
“Sneaky Little Beauty, isn’t she?” Chavias asked in awe.
“Dangerous would be the word I’d use.”
“A woman you fear?” Chavias blinked in utter disbelief.
Afraid is not the word.
“She does not favor me.”
“Then she is certainly not human!”
Bast shook his head. “She most definitely is not.”
If she were, she’d already be in my bed.
Only now did Bast’s hand fall from Chavias’ chest.
“So…What does she eat?” Chavias asked thoughtfully.
“I’ve no idea.” Bast stiffened.
“You may want to find out. Can you ask her?”
Bast gestured to the upper level. “Did she look in a mood to chat?”
Chavias grimaced, lifting his hands in surrender. “I was directed to back off, so I guess it’s not my dilemma to discern.”
“You’re a terrible friend.”
“Or,” Chavias lifted a finger. “An exceptional one.”
Bast glowered. “Have I mentioned there are days I could throttle you myself?”
“You mean days you wish you could?”
Bast eyed his dark friend. It’d be a great battle. His brow lifted.
He noted the scars crossing Chavias’ cheeks and the particularly deep one rolling over his collarbone.
Nearly a death blow.
He’s been in more battles then most men have heard of.
Sebastian was tempted to argue to spite his friend but decided to let it lie. Unwilling to disrupt one of Chavias’ rare shows of humor.
It was still dark when the chamber door was tossed open. At least in the valkyrie’s chamber.
She squawked in surprise. A noise so shrill it made his eardrums cry.
He shielded his face as he registered, she hung in the dark corner near the bed. Tipping his head to interpret her upside-down features, he blinked slowly. Noting she dangled like a bat.
What in Ardae is she doing?
“What are you doing! Do you have any idea what hour it is?” She spat.
“No.” She said slowly. “In truth I’ve no idea.”
“Yet you chastise me?”
Eyes the color of hot embers stared him down. She commenced hissing like a pile of snakes.
“Charming though you are, Little Harpie, I must ask you something.”
“Must?” She said dryly
“Must.” He said decisively. “What do you eat?”
Her head pivoted at an eerie angle. Releasing her grip with a clack she landed on bare clawed feet in a swish of gray skirts. Her valkyrie skin so dark it blended with the shadows. Her hair lifted in white fingers to plait down her back. Glowing like a bright beacon. She’d not bothered to conceal its shade. Her face was annoyed. Eyes glinting red and skin as dark as the wings folded against her back. Sweeping the ground near her ankles. She cocked her head slightly.
Like a bird assessing food.
“I’m going to destroy you.” Her certainty rang in her voice.
He smiled. “What do you eat?” He enunciated.
She blinked meaningfully at him. The implication not lost on him.
A sneer twisted his lips. “Take the shape of a woman once more, Harpie, and you may do whatever you wish to me.”
Huffing, she grabbed a vase from the dresser next to her to launch at him. “I’m above you, Animal!”
Her hair burned to brown as she flipped upside down with the help of her wings. Inserting her feet back into her downward perch.
“Above me, below me. Either way, matters not to me.” He murmured, even as he craned his neck. “Usually they’re underneath me...” He gave a slow smile, lifting his chin.
Her feet moved restlessly. Claws crunching wood. Showering splinters over him.
Unlikely an accident. He ran his tongue along his teeth as he mulled over the creature above him. “You’re obviously used to men quaking at your little feet. But I warn you, I’m not so easily bullied.”
I’ll rip you to shreds. She thought, glaring at him.
“Oh, do try.” His green-blue eyes turned a molten gold.
“I said nothing.” She gritted her teeth. “You’re invading my thoughts. How?”
He returned her dull look.
“I know you are.” She hissed. “I feel you crawling around here.” She tapped a long, brown claw against her temple rhythmically.
When he failed to answer she relaxed her body and willed her way into the depths of his mind.
Noticing immediately, he shadowed it from her view.
Plunging onward she bumped into some barrier.
“No.” His order was clear in her mind. His arms crossed his chest and he glowered.
Ignoring his command, she mentally skirted the obstacle. Forcing herself further into his darkness.
Again, her path was interrupted, the calm command rose again. Obstinately pressing on, caused his tone to harden. “Enough, woman!”
Still she does not stop. His eyes narrowed on her.
Abruptly the momentum she exerted protruding into his mind was forcefully thrust back on her. The sudden weight in her head overcoming her. Making her instantly dizzy. Her forehead began pounding as if it’d explode.
Her claws involuntarily retracted back into her flesh. Her hair frosting to flawless silver blonde in a blur of color. Body returning to pale perfection as she dropped limply from her perch. Landing at his feet as twisting silver jewels climbed over her. The only genuine ornaments she wore. She was too tired to conceal them in her weakness.
Gasping, she lay there. Eyes the stormy blue of a rainy day glaring up at him.
The kind of eyes that draw a man from across a crowded room.
He had pitched her out of his mind like dirty clothing. “Best learn to heed me, woman.” He stared down at her. No shred of empathy on his face.
Tongue to teeth she hissed again. Looking at him scathingly as she fumbled for a broken piece of ceramic still littering the floor. She hurled it at him weakly.
His eyes roamed over her restlessly. Finally spinning on his heel, he exited the chamber without a word.
Craning her neck, she watched him go. The door slammed behind him. At the sound of the lock turning her head fell back, and she blew out the breath she’d been holding. Her body slumped.
Fear polluted her thoughts.
He felt it as he stood outside the room, heard her wondering what’d gone so wrong she’d ended up here.
“No man in the world can keep me.” She shouted.
The instant response seeped from the walls themselves. “I can.”
Eyes shooting through the darkness she found him gone, yet somehow still here. Filling these walls.