After the Dance: Part Three
The court dancer followed Allan Darkfire up the steps and
into his room. It was very much like her room except that the quiver of arrows
and the bow were sitting on the bedside table. The lamp had been moved to the
floor to make space for such. The shadow Eyrie sat on one end of the bed and continued
to examine his medallion.
"I wasn't here by choice," he began slowly. "Actually,
it all began as a family vacation to Meridell with my parents, my twin brother,
my older brother and younger sister. We were together, enjoying ourselves…doing
the fun stuff. It was good, very good. However, just as soon as it had begun,
it had ended.
"The war began. The soldiers under Lord Kass
terrorized the kingdom, as you may have heard. They fought against the knights
of Meridell, while we decided to find a way to escape the battle without getting
hurt. My parents and siblings were able to get away safely back to our home
in Faerieland, but I wasn't so lucky. I was struck down by a stray arrow coming
from the Darigan side instead. They believed that I was done for and didn't
want to lose anyone else. My father didn't even come back for this medallion
when it fell off him as they went." Allan slung the chain over his neck.
Callista felt a slight twinge of guilt, as though
she had caused everything. But he went on.
"When I woke up, I found myself in this inn,
with a yellow Lupe's face staring down at me. Turns out that he had found me
fallen into the forest beside his unaffected village, and took me in. August
and I became great acquaintances, seeing that he has saved my life and that
you form special bonds with those who save your life." Allan blinked, and for
a moment the Aisha thought his eyes were watering. "Ever since then, I stayed
here, too afraid to return home on my own. The battle may have toned down a
bit, but it's still dangerous."
"Can't you use your bow as self-defense?" she
Allan shook his head. "No. Those archers out
there are much better, and even though I have the offense, I don't have the
defense. I had no experience in warfare. It may have been lonely staying in
the inn with only August to talk to, but better than injuries sustained outside,
where very few kind souls are willing to lend a hand during this ongoing discord."
He paused before adding forlornly, "I miss my parents. I miss my twin brother
Aiden, my elder brother Armand, also my little sister Arlene."
His comrade winced slightly. What he didn't know
was that Callie was having a few issues herself with her family.
"You miss your family?" she asked softly. "Why?"
"Because…well…they're those you can count on
any time," said Allan, a little more defiant. "I know that they will always
stand by me and will accept me for who I am. Don't you have a family of your
She sighed, forgetting about keeping her life
a total secret. Maybe the Eyrie was more trustworthy than she thought after
"I only have a mother," she said. "My father…well,
let's just say I prefer to not talk about it. See, she forced me into something
I really never wanted to do, but I did it anyway because of the fear of disappointing
her. I was her only daughter."
Allan made what sounded like a concerned noise
before continuing to listen.
"Now all that has led me here with you in this
inn." Callista took a deep breath, as though she were being hunted down again.
"Since you've entrusted me with this…well, I'd like you to do the same for me.
Promise me that you'll keep MY secret safe too."
The shadow Eyrie's amber eyes widened. "Are you…"
Slowly, the dancer finally lowered her hood.
Her scarlet orbs were quite a shock for him, and so was her appearance. A Darigan
Aisha had materialized in front of him. Not that Allan was afraid - it was a
surprise to finally see Callie's face. Two tears were already trickling down
"You're…you're not…the Court - "
"Yes, I am." Callista held up a paw to silence
Allan. "I can't deny it any longer. I can't keep hiding from my fears. Seeing
that you're perhaps someone who can help me, I've decided to shed the disguise
and show you the real me.
"I was never on Lord Kass' side in the first
place. My mother Morguss forced me to use my gift of dancing and magic as part
of Kass' plan to terrorize Meridell. But I never meant for anything like this
to happen…so I fled, I fled till I came here and that's how I got here. I never
want to see her ever again."
Allan whistled. "Whoa. I never really thought
you were evil, Callie. I guess you were just…misunderstood. But don't say anything
like that about your mother…"
"Why shouldn't I?" said the Aisha angrily. "It
was her fault that I got humiliated and chased by the soldiers as though I'm
a common thief, her fault that I nearly died trying to get out of the stupid
forest I was making my way through…"
"Get a hold of yourself!" The shadow Eyrie grabbed
her shoulders. "Listen…maybe parents aren't always right. Can't you think of
a reason why, maybe, your mother had your best interests at heart when she pushed
you to dance for the king?"
Callista blinked. She remembered the talk she
and Morguss had just before being summoned to Lord Kass. "I don't know…"
"There HAS to be," said Allan firmly. "If you
are absolutely, positively sure that she's got no sensible intention in her
head, THEN you may not return! Think! Think as hard as you can, Callie!" He
sighed after enunciating the important words so much.
"Erm…" The Darigan Aisha trailed off. "I remember
Mother saying something about a new life…better life with the new leader of
the citadel…but it turned out to be wrong in the end!"
"But was she wrong to begin with?" asked her
companion. "From the looks of this, I can draw the simple truth that she was
looking out for you. Even though she made quite a major mess-up when the castle
saw you for who you really were, your mom still loves you! She wanted you to
have a good life."
Looking up into his gaze, Callista spoke again.
"Are you…are you saying that I should return to her?"
"Besides, nobody can predict what happens next
in the wheel of destiny," added Allan serenely.
She nodded. "I must admit…I do miss her quite
a bit…You and August have both become good friends of mine, but nobody can replace
my last surviving parent."
Allan gave her an approving look. "Who knows?
When you return to Darigan Citadel, I bet she'd be waiting for you with open
arms…" He stared off into space, feeling as though he were talking about his
own family. Callista patted him on the shoulder, seeming to read his mind.
"Wait! Hold on…" The Aisha raised an eyebrow.
"How am I supposed to come home now? The war's still going on and August's been
telling us that there's no way we're getting out of this village till everything's
over. I bet Mother's given up all hope of finding me by now…Or if I DO come
home, she would tell me off about letting that stupid oaf Skarl find out about
"Don't be a pessimist," said the shadow Eyrie.
"When you show yourself to her I bet she would be even more relieved than you
"Are you just trying to cheer me up?" asked Callista
Allan shrugged. "Yes. And I'm also trying to
be truthful. AND I'm teaching you how to put your trust in your mother, just
as you put your trust in me and in August. Like you've said yourself, you can't
hide forever underneath that magic cloak of yours."
"I don't know…" The former court dancer raised
her head. "After all I've been through…"
Her comrade's hopeful, slightly pleading face
finally decided for her.
Callista's chest tightened. Was she doing something
right? She gripped a part of her cloak as she whispered, "I guess I'll try…"
Then the Aisha continued in a louder voice, "But if she's not…"
"Don't say it unless it happens," said Allan
She nodded again in agreement. Her lips trembled
slightly before saying, "I'm so glad that all this has finally been thrown off
my back. Now I really know I can count on you, Allan…you're such a great friend,
even though we've only known each other for a little over a week or so."
He winked. "You can count on me, Callie. I pledge
to never let you down. When you return to Darigan Citadel after the war, I could
even accompany you there myself."
Before she could thank the Eyrie for his hospitality,
a yellow Lupe's face stuck itself into the doorway.
"August!" Both of them jumped to their feet instantly.
"I see you two really get along now, do you?"
said August cheerily. "I hear tonight's going to be quite cold…I've got the
soup simmering and the bread baking in the oven. Are you going to wait around
here till you freeze without proper nourishment?"
To be continued...