No prompts this week so lets get right into the story and find out what our boys are doing with a great big talking pussy
The cat’s purr thrums through my body and makes me smile for no reason other than that the warmth of its body and the warm, musky smell make me happy. I bury my face in its soft fur and sigh with pleasure.
Sensing Tian’s approach, I raise my head. He seems shocked but not afraid. When he hold out his hand, the cat butts it with its head, it’s purr increasing in intensity. Tian squats beside me and puts his arm around me.
Where did that voice come from? It was so strange. Almost as if…. I gaze at Tian who stares back, his eyes wide. “Was that…?”
“My name iss Malik Massterss. It iss my pleassure to sserve.”
“Tell me you hear that too.”
Tian nods dumbly. “Was…was it the cat?”
I jump when a hand touches my shoulder. I gaze up into the face of Tian’s mother. She smiles gently at me. “Is the cat speaking to you?”
“Yes. Is that normal here?”
“Normal? No, but not unheard of. Come, let’s get inside. You may bring your familiar.”
“The cat is your servant now, sent to guard you, to be your eyes and ears in the other world.”
“What other world?”
“I will explain everything as best I can, but we need to be somewhere safe.”
“Safe sounds good.”
The queen smiles and returns to her husband. Together they begin to walk down the slope, away from the cave. “His name is Malik,” Tian says. His mother glances over her shoulder. She seems surprised, but says nothing to him.
“The Goddess welcomes you, Malik. My home is your home.”
Malik raises his head and gives a strange yowl that sounds very much like an acknowledgement. Oh who am I kidding, of course it was. The damn cat talks to me in my head, of course it understands humans.
“Castien, what’s going on here?” my father asks as we follow Tian’s parents, with Malik close to one side, and Tian the other. “Fire and fire cats? I though I’d lost you and now…. Fighting, I know. Ruling, riding…. Magic is beyond my understanding. Forgive me if I am suspicious that this is all a trick.”
“To what purpose?”
“I don’t know, but I don’t trust magic. It’s tricky. You think you control it, but all the time it’s controlling you. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen good men turn bad, sane men taken by madness.”
“This is different. I don’t know how, but it’s the difference between using magic and being magic.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Neither do I. Perhaps we will find answers at the palace.”
My father does not sound convinced, and to be honest neither am I, but we have to start somewhere.
Malik trots silently as my side as we skirt the town and enter the palace through the back gate. Even so, there are plenty of people who point and stare. Most of them seem afraid, so I believe Malik is the one attracting the most attention. He doesn’t seem to mind. I, on the other hand, am extremely conscious that all I’m wearing is my father’s cloak. The smooth stones are a blessed relief to my bare feet. The thick carpets of the palace complex even more so.
Once inside, the king and queen hand over our care to servants and beg our indulgence in a small absence while they seek out information. How can we complain. Tian accompanies us, as does Malik, and we are shown to a well-appointed room, overlooking the lake. The servants are understandably nervous, and take their leave at the first opportunity with promise of refreshments. Shortly afterwards, more servants arrive with clothing, and just as quickly depart.
Somehow, being dressed has restored some of the equilibrium I had not realised I’d lost. It was as if a world that had been obscured by a mist now came back into focus, and with it an objective realization of all that has transpired. Standing in the window and gazing over the crystal waters, my mind is as scattered as the light.
“You are confussed Masster.”
“You could say that.” I have found the way to communicate with Malik without having to reveal to anyone, what is being said. I believe Tian can hear me, but that is no hardship.
“What conssernss you?”
“I’ve changed and I don’t understand how or why. Everything’s different but I feel the same. I just… I don’t know what to think. What to do next.”
“I undersstand, Masster. It happenss with thosse who are new. Sspeak with the Lady. Sshe will sset your mind eassy.”
“Where will I find her?”
“In the foresst, Masster. I will sshow you.”
“We should go.”
“What are you talking about?” Father frowns, his dark brows drawing together. He knows something is afoot. I feel bad for leaving him, but I know without knowing how that this is something I must do. The only clear answer I will get is from this Lady. I believe she might be the one who spoke to me.
“I have to leave for a little while I won’t be long. Wait here.”
“Leave? You’re not going anywhere without a guard. Where…?” He stopped mid-sentence when an effortless spell rolled over him and turned his blood to liquid gold. Comforting. Nourishing, but slow. His eyes take on a golden sheen and his lips curve in a smile. He is not aware of us leaving. I am happy to leave him relaxed and at peace. That is something I feel I will never be again, as Tian and I follow the cat from the palace and deep into the wood.
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