RAESE - Scales
Whitehall, Harridan Hamlet, Paladines
Raese dreamt of her again. Endlessly it seems.
The season had changed since he’d seen her bathing in the lake. Leaves were now yellowed and the TreeCutters complained of the bite in the air.
When will I see her again? He was obsessed with the thought. Immune to the cold.
Now, here she is.
He busily worked a double saw with Benjamin, when he felt eyes on him.
He spotted her a distance across the clearing, sitting on the water barrel.
Perched on our rations?
His side of the saw drooped as he greedily took in the sight of her wearing riding pants and a black tunic. Posed quietly as she observed what they did. Her head turning to slowly inspect their camp.
Watching us work? To what end?
Hair black as a raven’s wing shined in the new morning light. Accompanied by dense black lashes surrounding eyes which seemed nearly violet.
Power rippled off her in waves.
She’s stronger than I first guessed.
She was utterly relaxed sitting at the border of their encampment.
Even though a guard could chase her off any moment. Cool and collected.
Her attention flicked from one end of the jetties to the next.
Like a scout assessing enemy territory. So bold she sits nearly among us…
So close she sits on our supplies! What if she had deigned to light them afire?
He tried to peer into her mind again. With no luck.
If I could, I’d catch her considering us fools, I’m certain. She’s considering our weak defenses…
We’re cutting wood! A tiny voice in him defended. Not the King’s Guard. We have no need of defenses. Or shouldn’t have. But he suddenly sensed they should.
Is she the creature I search for? The thought was startling. As he registered the likelihood despite the many times, he’d wondered this before.
She certainly doesn’t look a monster.
She got up and left as quietly as she came.
He assessed the camp with new eyes. Surmising, likely as she had, that his fears were founded.
I’m the only one noticing her coming and going. He felt a little ill.
What’s she after?
The night was an eventful one for Raese. He roamed his country home, WhiteHall, in Harridan Hamlet, Paladines. Pacing his vast solar. His favorite room. Covered in maps. The wide balcony doors were swung open and a slight wind twirled the curtains there.
He stared in the doorway thoughtfully. Watching the commotion below. His servants shouted as they fended off a wolf from the back door with pitchforks. They had mentioned the creature’s frequent presence to him. They told him they’d attempted to wound it several times, but it was ungodly fast, and they couldn’t get near it.
They’d told him the thing was adamant on getting to the scraps near the kitchen door.
Now it snarled below his window. Lunging at the three servants circling it. A growling snarling mass of fur. He watched until at length, they managed to chase it off. Cheering jovially at their success.
Raese stood and watched the sun descending near the horizon with a sort of weary acceptance. Soon it would be time for him to take to his chamber.
Will I dream of her again? Most likely. It was bittersweet in its frustration. Exhilarating and depressing at the same time. He never wanted to leave those dreams. Just looking at her offered a mix of excitement and sadness.
Things I don’t feel at endless balls. Or wandering the empty corridors of this house.
Or anywhere, for that matter.
And with the descending fog and bitter chill she materialized again just beyond their encampment. He spotted her toying with birds yet again. And certainly not dressed for the cold. His thoughts must have been written across his face because Benjamin lowered to his level and followed his eyeline.
“They say she doesn’t feel the cold. She’s come to town before covered in blisters from the chill and toes black. But in two days she’d completely healed and returned to the forest. She was young then and despite how close she’d come to losing limbs, they still had to remind her to take some shoes to cover her tender feet on the way back.” He chuckled at the insanity of the tale.
Possible. I don’t feel the cold.
“Do you suppose it’s true?” He asked Benjamin.
“Looking at her now wearing that, I can’t imagine it’s not true. Can you?”
Her dress was pale blue, and the straps fell off her slim shoulders. It was some expensive material scrunched into tasteful wrinkles. He could only see her profile next to a Wiltry Tree. The last of its purple flowers falling in the breeze. Petal by petal. She reached out and pinched a lump of them in her fingertips. Tucking them into the hair at her crown. She turned and he noticed she spoke to a little blue bird perched on her finger. The wind caught her hair and sent it swirling around her.
She stilled and lifted her head to meet his gaze.
There you are, my Dread Queen. Unable to resist, he frantically lowered himself on the pulley he dangled from. Moving groundward fast.
She watched with the calm quiet of a doe studying a predator. As he was just about to put feet to ground, he glanced up and saw her giving him a slow shake of her head.
Her long steady look was as if she was trying to convey something to him with her pretty blue eyes.
What are you trying to tell me?
Her mouth didn’t move but the word ‘help’ seemed to echo and to come from far away. And he instantly felt that this sound was not part of this memory.
Two worlds were clashing. Dragging Raese back to present day. In a haze somewhere between wakefulness and sleep.
“Raese.” The voice broke and echoed from far away. “Come back to me…”
He sat bolt upright. “To whom? Who are you?”
“Don’t…” The strange mechanical voice came from a dark corner of the room. He caught the flash of eyes which illuminated her hazy face in the shadows. “Forget me…I’m so…weak…” The image began to withdraw from his room. Subsiding into darkness.
“No! Come back!” He reached out a hand but couldn’t stop the wraith from vanishing.
“Calisto!” He cried reflexively. Barely realizing the name was slipping from his lips. Paralyzed in shock, his hand fell limply to the bed.
Where’d that come from?
There was one more flash of white eyes that told him she’d heard him cry her name.
“Calisto. Calisto. Calisto.” He said rapidly in concession, hoping to never forget it.
It’s her. She’s the one haunting my dreams. A woman he remembered seeing, speaking to, following…A distorted version of herself that appeared with him now.
Making him hunger for something just out of reach. What’s happening to me?
Suddenly Raese felt hot. Incredibly hot. That seemed strange.
In my dreams I do not feel hot or cold…
His insides began to quake, and he grasped his stomach and vomited on his bedding. Trying to alleviate the tightening of his body, he moved to a crawl. His back felt like it was curving upward then straightening. Crunching in his ears.
He began a low scream that grew louder and resonated through the halls of his rented mansion. Green flakes began to sweat from the skin of his hand, generating a glowing light.
Green scales jutted through his pores. Slowly creeping out until they laid flat along his arms. Clacking like metal fitting together. Turning into an armor that ran over his wrist and along his fingers. Spikes began emerging from his fingertips.
I’m still dreaming! I have to be!
But the pain was very real. What’s happening to me?
He reflexively began to slow his breathing. Willing himself to cool off. Closing his eyes to try and slow his heart rate.
Calm, Raese. He could almost hear her voice saying it to him.
As he cooled, his heart rate slowed. Eventually, he felt like he could breathe again. He was suddenly overwhelmingly exhausted. Feeling like he’d just won some tremendous battle with himself.
He was terrified and shaking. Is she doing this to me?
He swallowed convulsively. And collapsed to his side. He wrapped the arm that had started to malform up before him to examine it.
No scales. No spikes. Just an arm…
He could not resist tossing one more look to the corner where she’d been. Hoping to catch one last dim look at her.
Who are you to me?
Why can’t I stop thinking of you?