Castalle Relimion:

Shadow in the Night

Part I- TracklessStep

It was one of those things that were so intriguing to Castalle. She was never someone to be around. Maybe that's why she never really understood true companionship with anyone other than Reiku.

Trust in another…that was something she never understood either. She could look at someone and let them put her life in danger. But she'd never put her life in their hands. She'd never let them get the chance to save her properly, because that would mean she'd have to pay them back.

She hated being indebted.

More than anything in 12th Moon, she hated to have owed someone her life and quite possibly her allegiance because that would mean, more than anything, that Castalle Relimion would have to do anything to get out. She'd be enslaved, because working for someone was slavery to her. That's why she stayed neutral more than anything.

She was enslaved, she believed, to find Calmengir, a lost city, hosted by Sky Elves. The half-dragon half-drow shuddered, not only was she indebted, but she was indebted to a bunch of tree-hugger pansies with wings.

And don't forget extreme mind powers, Reiku, her familiar, friend, and Black Panther reminded her. Castalle closed her eyes, fighting off the urge to scream out in frustration. The thing was Reiku happened to be very "funny" at the most inappropriate of times.

Like now, for instance.

Castalle sighed, annoyed not with her familiar, but for the fact that she was told not to sleep until she found the lost city. And so far, whenever she tried to rest, even a little bit, she'd end up halfway back the pathway she'd travel for the week.

She had every right to be annoyed.

Sensing her slight hostility, Reiku, quickly apologized, and knowing full well that he didn't have to. It was only by exquisite good luck that she had lived this long, considering that the familiar drained her strength every time he set foot on the material land. But it was necessary, for Reiku had to hunt for her, since she couldn't delay her road at all.

They were in the forest now, and a thick one at that. The trees, apparently redwood, stood so wide and tall that neither of them could see the sky. The trees were ancient, and full of wild magic that happened to suite Castalle well.

So far, Castalle and Reiku both managed to stay alive after a small encounter with two boars, about a dozen and a half orcs, a very hungry bear, and a skirmish with a human wizard, who apparently saw her half drow heritage through some magic. Reiku snorted, yeah, some small encounter…

She had more than every right to be annoyed. Reiku just didn't understand why that was all she felt, considering she, being Castalle, was far feistier and contained more anger than a madman ever could in life.

Castalle treaded the forest quietly, making sure that she never touched a single dry leaf, afraid that she would make too much noise. Disturbing a forest, an ancient one at that, was unadvisable and down right foolish. The panther didn't know why she did that, since nature seemed to be on her side.

Two more days to go and they'd be out of the thick woodlands both had somehow found ways to enjoy despite the urgency to continue. Reiku never fully understood why she hated working for someone. How she couldn't handle all the hardship and pains a few friends could give her…hardship and pain, along with love and trust. She'd done it before, and Reiku truly believed that she could do it again.

But he understood now that she kept to herself because she'd end up outliving all her friends. She was half dragon and half drow, and both of them lived exceedingly long lives. The other fact being that Castalle faced hate many times in her life, but love was something she wasn't used to having or giving. Hate was something she could avoid if possible, but if she gave her trust away to another, and he died, then she'd truly be shattered. Broken again and again, Castalle wouldn't be able to handle trying to give what she just couldn't anymore…

Castalle walked forward, Reiku, bless him, had decided to leave her alone for a while. The half-dragon groaned, taking off her cloak and putting it in her pack. Her muscles ached, her foot was sore and if she didn't stop her walking soon, she truly thought that she was going to die.

"Note to self: Geas spells suck and should never be used ever." Castalle muttered to no one. The Geas Spell is a spell that leaves you with two choices: live and do what they say until the spell is lifted, or die.

The half-dragon didn't care anymore, she had to get out of the forest, no matter how close to her home this seemed to be. She could not deny the fact that she wanted- no needed, and desperately so- the Geas and whatever other spell was cast upon her being.

Castalle flexed overly large and crimson dragon wings that were wrapped tightly around her bodice. Castalle pulled free her long white hair and closed her wing colored eyes before she tied her hair up into a knot. Bending her knees slightly, as if she were about to jump, she kicked off, flapping her wings.

She soared higher and higher until she passed the tops of the redwood trees. Castalle exposed her relief by blowing out the breath she didn't know she was holding in. It felt good to be in the air again.

Castalle continued her flight, until her wings were tired and worn out. Her breathing was becoming ragged; it was getting hard to do much of anything at the moment. She felt dead, or at least she felt alive but wished death. Her arms sagged and her shoulders slumped over in defeat.

Nine days. She'd been without rest for nine days, and her agitation was wearing down to downright weariness. Castalle never felt like crying more than she did right now. All she wanted was sleep, yet she couldn't even do that. Her will was weakening and she all she could do was let it happen.

The half-dragon sighed, still walking forward. Where were they? Those cursed elves. A new sort of feeling crossed her: desperation. She had no doubt in her mind that she was going mad. She was more than gratified by the fact that dragons could stay up or sleep for several days without being overcome by exhaustion.

The half-dragon took one more step before collapsing to the dirt floor. The trees had vanished; the flight had taken nearly two days off her walking perimeter. She landed hard on her belly, stealing her breath away in a single blow, and not being able to break her fall with her hands, ended up having a mouthful of dirt stuck in her mouth. She felt and heard a loud pop coming from her right wrist, and then some almost unbearingly sharp pain.

Castalle groaned, rolling over with her red eyes closed and coughing the wet dirt from her mouth. Could this get any worse? She thought indignantly. She opened her eyes quickly, the feeling in her hand was already numb, and she moved her arm across her chest, careful not to ignite her wrist into any further pain than it was.

The drow-dragon looked at the sky in dismay; it was going to rain. She felt Reiku reaching out to her, but she could hardly hear anything. It was the feel that she loathed right now. Tears welled up inside her, and she had not the strength to with hold it. She simply did not care any more. Blinking, she let the salty raindrops fall from her eyes.

It was some time before Castalle woke up. Surprised and wary, but rejuvenated, she looked around. She was not exactly where she remembered being.

Welcome, Elf-Dragon, to the city of Calmengir…