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A Dark Future

“I’m sensing her.”

“There a difference?”

“I’m only seeing her in my mind.”

“And watching everything she does.” Mardichi shifted in the seat. “Gad, blessedly women canna do that to us. That’d be dreadful. They’d know what foul creatures we are in truth.” His burr thickened as he grumbled.

You are.” Bast corrected. Earning him a black look. “Do you truly think they don’t already know?”

“Nay. They’re smart creatures.” Mardichi grudgingly admitted. Speaking awhile longer before growing certain Bast paid him no heed. Leading him to mutter about the deviled troubles with women as he closed the door behind him.

Bast focused on the chamber above him. Not revealing himself to her as he studied her movements from within his mind. She was conserving her energy. Trying to regain the magic he sapped from her.

Since her arrival he’d been careful to drain her energy now and then, keeping her weak enough to refrain from overcoming the walls he built around her chamber.

By day three in WaterRose Elsabet trembled and could no longer turn into the valkyrie.

“Do you intend to starve me now?” She cried.

No. Just hungry enough to swallow your damnable pride!

At the window she stared over the bailey. Empty and still as death. She watched water cascading the outer walls in ceaseless motion, creating a sacred place constructed and bound together by magic.

He touched her thoughts and found her desire for escape and plots for freedom, outweighing physical hunger.

She worried over only one real obstacle.


She studied him, felt his magic in the castle. But she’d been unable to kill him. Thus she was forced to consider other ways to get away.

To get around me.

Good luck.

She returned to slump onto the dusty bed. Lacking the energy to do much. Her stomach growled loudly, and she moaned. Biting the pillow, she stifled the involuntary sounds.

Let go of your pride. He was nearly snarling in frustration.

Far below. On the bottom level, Sebastian sat at the table. Propped back in his small wooden chair. Eyes glowing in the nearly black room. A lone candle burned nearly out, fighting for life on the table next to him and dancing over his face. A fur drooped loosely over his shoulders. He stared at the ceiling, thoughtfully rubbing his chin.

He watched her writhe on the coverlet clutching her stomach.

I can help you. Just ask.

But she won’t. He knew. Give up this ridiculous fight.

He enjoyed her fighting spirit and her righteous rage. But starving herself for the sake of pride seemed a bit much.

The soft yellow reflected in his unblinking eyes. He looked through floor after floor until it seemed no barriers stood between.

He watched her movements. A quiet presence in the room.

Her stomach growled. She was curled into a ball, clasping it. On the large four-poster bed, she seemed impossibly small. She groaned against the pain making the walls of WaterRose shiver as she unwittingly generated a wave of power in her discomfort.

He sighed, relenting. A sway of his hand generated shimmering gold flakes dancing in the firelight next to him. He blew on it and sent it dancing through the halls of WaterRose to seep under her chamber door. Floating on dancing currents as it hovered over the floor and curved to rise up onto the bed before flowing into her nostrils and stringing out into her body. There, you prideful creature!

It eased her pain and relaxed her body.

She sighed. The soft sound echoing hauntingly through every corridor of the castle. Caressing him with her relief and sorrow.

Shaking his head bemusedly, he thoughtfully rubbed his fingertips together. Heedless of the gold sparks slipping eagerly from between them. Turning into shining flakes that slid to the floor, glimmering in the darkness until subsiding into the shadows. When he abruptly opened his hand, the light erupted from it. Snapping loudly in a moment of chaos before folding into a ball and promptly crystallizing. He held an orb with the reflective shine of mirrored glass. Staring into its sparkling lights, he watched the images there.

Answers came to him from within those images. Chavias in chains. A white dragon ripped from the sky and covered in dark blood.

Bast blew out a heavy sigh and looked once more to the ceiling. Thoughtlessly, he let the crystal ball slip from his fingers. It dissipated into nothing just before it would’ve shattered against the ground.

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