SEBASTIAN - Calisto and Me
WaterRose, Meadow Mountain, Grier Country
Quandary was at the foot of her bed when Elsabet woke this morning. Embracing him tightly about the neck she stared into wide golden eyes.
“Where have you been?”
He gave a low rumble in answer.
“He was keeping you from me, wasn’t he?” She accused.
What? No. Bast was beginning to wonder if anything he did was right.
Quandary stared at her before shaking his head and sending fur ruffling down his back.
Leaning into his face, she rubbed his cheeks and puckered her lips as she murmured lovingly to him.
“What about that master of yours?” She straightened, and Quandary slipped off the bed after her. “He’s rather strange is he not?”
Yet, devilishly attractive, admit it. He watched the swing of her hips as she walked in-front of him. Making his throat rumble as he sent a glance Heavenward. Willing himself patience.
Her barefoot step was silent down the corridor was soundless. “Well, let me tell you! I’m quite done with that man of yours telling me what to do. Thinking he lords over everything here!” She gave a wide gesture.
I do rule here.
“He doesn’t lord over me!” She proclaimed. She glanced at Quandary, in step with her. “In-fact were he here now I’d surely tell him so! That insufferable cad be damned!”
Quandary jerked to a stop and promptly sat in the corridor.
High tempted to duck into a chamber and emerge as a man, to see if she was truly as bold as that.
Elsabet sighed, gown sweeping as she knelt before him. “I meant no insult, Friend.”
He took in the scent of wildflowers and sweeping woman. Her skin still sweet from her slumber.
She gave his cheeks a scratch. “In truth I can see the appeal he holds for you.”
‘For you’, she says.
She stared into gold eyes which seemed to see through her. “I find even I’d be susceptible to his charms, were I not careful. All creatures seem drawn to him…” She frowned thoughtfully. “He’s a beast of many secrets. Secrets he’ll never tell me.” Rising she turned in a swish of velvet. The metal circlet keeping hair out from her face as she headed for the bench before the stained-glass window to stare out.
The panther rose and headed the opposite direction. She watched him disappear into one of the empty chambers down the hall. He often roamed through them all, patrolling the grounds.
She watched him thoughtfully.
“Don’t beat yourself up, Woman.” A feminine voice muttered in annoyance. “All women want Bast.”
Eyes narrowing, Elsabet peered down the dark corridor. Head whipping as she tried to find the source of the voice.
“Whose there?” She whispered unwilling for Bast to hear she spoke with someone new.
Switching her eyes red, she saw in the dark, flicking through shadows. Catching a hazy outline leaning on the banister.
“Who are you?” Elsabet hissed. Rising at the end of the hall. Elsabet marched closer to her. “I knew of no other woman here.”
“Territorial?” The other woman’s purplish eyes glowed in the darkness as she straightened to tower over Elsabet.
“No. Captive. Get me out.”
“I’m not here to do so.” She gestured to her length. “I’m Spirit Running. How are you hearing me?”
As Elsabet neared, she realized the woman’s outline wavered like a reflection on a pond.
“Ah.” Elsabet waved a dismissive hand. “You’re the shadow.”
“Shadow?” The taller woman cut in, offended. “My name is Calisto.”
“I’ve glimpsed you around this Castle.”
“I sense things.” Elsabet said dismissively. Giving the woman her back to go downstairs. She abruptly whipped around to call up. “Does he know you’re here?”
“Bast?” Calisto queried. Lifting dark brows. “I’m not sure if he does or not. I haven’t been able to speak with him in a long while.”
“You’ve spoken to him?” Elsabet turned the whole way around to glower up at the woman.
“Is that jealousy I hear in your voice?” She laughed.
“It’s okay, Woman. All of us love Bast at some point or another. Even I thought I did for a time before my Raese.”
Curiosity peaked, Elsabet couldn’t resist. “Whose Raese? Is he here with you?”
She sighed heavily. “If only…I’d give anything to be by him again.”
“Is he dead?” Elsabet climbed back up the stairs, head cocked. Intrigued.
“No. He’s lost. They can’t find him. How are you talking to me so long?”
“What do you mean?” Elsabet lifted a brow.
“People only lower their guard long enough to talk to me for small spans before the tipping of energy changes.”
“I’m not of your people.” Elsabet lifted her chin.
“I’ve no people anymore.”
“What are you?”
“A Water Dread once. But now, I don’t know…”
“I thought they were extinguished when Battlings took the Divide into Paladine Land.” Elsabet cut in.
The other woman’s expression showed admiration. “How old are you Girl?”
“Who are you?” Elsabet countered.
“I’m Calisto, Water Dread, Timebender. Who are you?”
“I was Serenade long, long ago when there were still Dreads in Paladine Country.” Her voice was tinged with pride as she lifted her chin to add. “I was the first of the Valkyrie.”
“I think I know that story…” Calisto studied the floor thoughtfully. “That’d make you at least two hundred or so.”
“And you?” Elsabet didn’t deny it.
Calisto shrugged. “About the same. My conceptions of time are slightly skewed now that I’m trapped outside of it.”
Elsabet’s confusion was written across her face.
“Would you tell him something for me when you see him?”
“Who?” Elsabet cocked her head.
Calisto gave her a look that clearly indicated she thought it quite clear.
“I prefer not to talk to him.”
“If you didn’t enjoy him so much, you wouldn’t try so hard to dodge him. He simply wouldn’t matter...” Calisto countered.
“Definitely. But magnetic just the same. With a raw animal appeal that’s nearly irresistible.”
“You say that with admiration. Why? How can you stand him? He’s crass, always making innuendos.”
Calisto’s purple-blue eyes widened. “Is he? Usually its women speaking such to him. I’ve never heard Bast do so. Are you saying he flirts with you?” There was nearly envy in her tone.
“He taunts me.”
“Mercilessly.” Bast emerged from the shadows at the other end of the corridor. His body slashed in darkness but his face clear. Turquoise eyes flaring with interest. “Who are you talking to Valkyrie?”
Trying to charm someone new into saving you? Or a secret form of communication?
Calisto cut in to answer. “Tell him Raese is staying in a mansion for a ball. Somewhere green where trees have pods and just now turn yellow.”
Elsabet gave her a confused look.
“Who do you speak with?” His head moved to assess her.
Tell me now.
She gave him a quick look. Her head going back to Calisto as she spoke again.
“He’s the only one still looking for my Raese, when everyone else has given up. I’ve no choice but love him for that.” Already Calisto’s image faded, beginning to quake.
“Where are you going?” Elsabet asked.
“Your energy has changed.” Calisto sobbed. “You’re no longer at ease.” She reached for Elsabet but there was a sound like broken glass and her agonized scream. And she was gone.
“Who are you talking to, Little Harpie?” His tone turned dangerous.
Don’t toy with me.
“There are no women in my castle, save you, Elsabet.”
And Elengard. The elf that tended WaterRose when Bast was away, she only traversed from the hut in the bailey. She doesn’t live in here.
Startled, Sebastian grabbed Elsabet’s shoulders. “You saw her? What did she say?”
“Are you so interested?” Elsabet lifted a haughty brow.
He felt her quiver slightly. Her body stiff.
Bast calmed, gently releasing her. “What’d she say Little Harpie?”
“Don’t toy with me!” He gave her a warning look. “Did she speak of him? Of course, she did! What’d she say?”
Realizing Bast’s urgency was towards the missing man rather than about the shadow herself, Elsabet relented.
“He’s at a mansion ball. Somewhere green with pods.”
“Pods?” Bast looked pained.
Elsabet spoke carefully. “Where trees have pods and just now yellow.” She nodded.
“The Paladines or the Isle of Wight! Good woman, Elsabet!” He pressed a fast kiss to her forehead.
She gasped, but before she could react, he was down the stairs in a flash.
“Where do you go!” She leaned over the railing, calling down as she eyed him in the dark foyer below.
“I’ll miss you, Elsabet.” He gave her a smiling salute from the lower landing. “I may be gone awhile this time. But I’ll bring back strawberries.” He grinned facetiously.
I may find him this time!
“It’d be a courtesy to me if you’d stay put, cease trying to escape, so I may see you again. I miss your face when I’m away.”
She snorted. “How long?”
So, you know how much time to formulate an escape? He was slightly wounded.
“I don’t yet know. But I’ll travel...Weeks. Perhaps months.” He said warily.
She bit her lip so hard he caught the scent of blood. Trying not to say anything further. Finally, she disappeared from view, stepping back from the railing.
“Yes.” She said quickly, flying back in a swish of skirts.
“I won’t be leaving Quandary behind.”
“He’ll be gone too?” Hearing the agony in her voice made him wish he could leave the bloody panther behind.