Short fiction about an enchanted castle full of secrets. Warning: there is some incest, but nothing physical.
Dance of the Invisible
Emerald eyes pierced through the old man's soul as he stared at the statue that had sharp grisly teeth and seemed to have something like fins coming from its head. The scaly tail connected a large mace-like ball to the end of its hide, and the claws it had could definitely rip right through stone walls. Surely it hadn't been there before, but how could such a large object be moved in so short a time. The old man thought he must be going crazy; statues can't move on their own, yet this one was clearly not in its original spot. Come to think of it, it rarely ever was in the same spot for more than a day. He was contemplating this when a young woman came out of nowhere. Still not used to her sudden appearances he gave a little start and was thrown out of his captivation when she asked what he was doing.
"I was just walking back to my room, and I noticed that this statue has moved since yesterday."
"Of course it has. You do not expect him to sit in the same place all the time do you? That would be terribly boring," she replied as if it was the most normal of occurrences, and she wasn't lying. It is very hard to tell with the guides to this castle, since they rarely talked, but from the matter-of-fact way she said it, he was positive.
"No one moved it, did they?" the old man inquired.
"What do you think?" she asked in return.
"I believe in many things most people don't," he replied.
She was satisfied with this answer and went on her way. The man followed seeing as they were headed in the same direction.
"You are Yana, correct?" The girl nodded in affirmation, "so, what exactly is that a statue of?" he asked.
"It is an Erratus Saxum. There are twelve in the castle. It is not likely that you have seen the same one in the same spot. They tend to move around a lot, much like the game Americans call 'musical chairs.'"
"Why do they look so fearsome?"
"They are cursed," she explained, "but it is a long story. I will tell you some other time... if I think you are ready."
"Fascinating," he nodded.
The old man was astonished that she even told him this bit of information, considering her cold nature toward outsiders. He wasn't really surprised by this since this minute country had only opened its borders about one hundred years earlier. These people had become set in their ways and traditions after so much time away from the rest of the world. On top of that, the harsh desert terrain and weather made it a difficult journey to the castle, which became a tourist attraction. Not a lot had been discovered about these people, but many of them grew up to be guides to and from the city, and they had beautiful gardens growing in back of the castle. The old man mused about what he learned so far and was about to ask Yana another question, since she seemed to take an interest in him, when her brother came around the corner. The old man took notice that whenever he was around, the girl's personality changed drastically. She straightened her posture and hardened her face as she took off at a silent, steady pace toward her destination. The boy glared at the old man and asked if there was a problem. The man said no, and went on his way, feeling the penetrating stare of hatred burn into the back of his grey head, and as he walked down the corridor to his room, he thought he heard something heavy move behind him.
Kienshi walked straight and around to the right, but just long enough for the old man to get far enough down the corridor, before he could double back and intercept his sister. She was acting strange and it had to do with that man, he was sure of it. He ran swiftly and silently through the halls right up behind Yana.
"What were you two talking about?" Kienshi demanded.
"He asked a question about the decorations in the corridor and I answered," she replied.
"You are lying."
"No. I am not."
"That is not specific enough."
"It is really none of your business."
"Oh, but it is, sister. You see, I am supposed to look out for you; we don't want anything unfortunate to happen to you... or one of our guests do we?" he asked with a sly look on his face.
"I am going to my quarters now. Good night," she said and disappeared down a hallway off limits to males.
"Damn it, what is she up to?" Kienshi thought to himself as he trudged away dejected and suddenly very uncomfortable.
"Why will she not talk to me? I am her brother; she should be able to tell me anything," but then Kienshi remembered that his sister did not feel the same way about him as he did her. He just wanted to protect her from being a social outcast, like him. Even though Yana didn't love him, he vowed to protect her to the best of his ability.
The old man woke up in the early hours of the morning as he had planned. He put on some clothes and crept out into the dark hall. He couldn't see anything in front of him, but felt he could probably find his way down the hall to the statue and back. He felt his way down to where he thought the statue was and sat. He waited to hear anything, any sign of movement from the statue, even though he wasn't quite sure if it was even there yet. After some time he began to nod off. Something startled him and he suddenly felt a shiver of fear go through his body.
"There is no way you will catch him that way."
It was Yana's voice; at least, he thought it was. He heard a small snap and there was something small and green illuminating her hands. He couldn't tell what it was, but it gave just enough light to make the eyes of the statue sparkle, though he was farther from it than he thought.
"You see, you were stumbling in the dark and did not make it even remotely close enough to know if anything was going on." She handed him a small bead, much like the glowing one he saw in her hand, "Here, I will give you this, but you need to promise you will go to bed now and not get caught doing anything you should not be."
"Understood, thank you, but when..."
"You will know when an opportune moment arrives," she told him, "Now go to bed."
She walked him to his room, and left him in the darkness to contemplate what his next move would be.
Kienshi watched from the shadows as his sister and the old man parted. He made a decision to watch the old man for now, but he needed to put an end to his games. Kienshi had no clue what this man was up to, but he didn't like that he was prying into the secrets of his people and the area in which they lived.
"Kienshi," said a sharp voice from the darkness; it was the woman whose voice plagued his nightmares. He heard the woman come nearer and he snapped a bead, like the one his sister had, and lit up the face of his mother.
"You wicked child, what do you think you are doing here?"
"I was..." he couldn't finish, he knew it wouldn't matter what his explanation was. He was a disgrace to his family and his people.
"Get out of here, and do not let me catch you anywhere near the guest rooms unless you are directly told to do so. You terrible child, you never can behave can you? I should have drowned you in the reservoir when I had the chance."
Those words stung. He knew that his forbidden love was one of the greatest taboos known to his people, but he wouldn't give up.
"Mother, I was not..."
"Stop it. I do not care, get out of here or I will have you thrown in the dungeon," she reprimanded.
He quickly ran off toward the staircase that took him to the highest tower of the castle. Winded and choking back tears he walked to the edge of the flat roof. He took a deep breath. He sat with his feet dangling over the edge and then he lay back, looking at the sky. The stars littered the night and the cool breeze blew his hair across his face. Yana always came up there when she was upset. When she played her flute from there, it could be heard practically all the way to the far side of the desert where the tourists came from. Kienshi wished he could hear his sister's flute now, but knew it was too much to hope for, especially after the scene with their mother that she most likely overheard in the hall. He stayed like that a long time before he went to bed. He made a decision that would be best for everyone.
The next day, everyone went along with their daily activities as normal. Yana went on the morning trip back to the city as usual, so she wouldn't be back until around dinner time. Kienshi kept a close eye on the old man, but stayed far away from his mother, which was difficult, because the woman seemed to be everywhere the tourists were. There was never a moment when the nosey man wasn't alone, but finally after dinner, the man went to the library and Kienshi seized his chance. He walked straight up to the man and asked him right-out what he was up to. The man answered that he was merely trying to read some of the ancient texts in the library. Kienshi became annoyed with this answer. He demanded to know why he was always sneaking around. The old man chuckled and replied, "It's because I'm curious."
Kienshi was taken aback. He had expected the man to try to come up with some sort of excuse, or deny that he was doing anything.
"You care for your sister very much don't you?" the old man asked.
"Leave my sister alone," Kienshi said harshly.
"I haven't done anything to your sister, nor do I intend to young man. I merely wish to be her friend and answer her questions as she has answered some of mine," said the man calmly.
"You want to see an Erratus Saxum move right?" Kienshi asked, "Well, I know that Yana gave you one of our glowing beads to help out. I think you are interesting so I will show you what you want to see. Tonight at one, meet me in the foyer, and bring your bead." Kienshi paused a moment and then added, "There is something I want in return... I want you to take me to America. I will find my own way once I am there; I just need you to say you want to take me with."
"I see. Are you positive this is what you want?"
"Yes, I have an aunt I can stay with, and I am sure you have already noticed that I don't really fit in here."
"Alright, I'll take you with me, and since I plan on coming back next year, I'll take you home if you decide America isn't for you," said the old man.
"Why would you do that?"
"I like you and your sister. She took the chance to let me into your world, if only a small part, and you, you are willing to change your entire life for the sake of others' happiness. I also understand that you are just trying to protect your sister."
Kienshi went over to one of the shelves, scanned a few rows, grabbed a book and handed it to the old man.
"This contains the basics of our language. It will help some if you want to read those books," he said.
"Thank you, and now, I think I will return to my research; we will talk later," replied the old man, and in a moment the boy was gone.
Late that night the old man crept out of bed and once more donned clothes and journeyed out into the dark hallway. This time he traveled down the steep staircases to the main entrance to the castle. In the pale light of his glowing bead he saw the youth's face.
"This way," Kienshi summoned.
They went into the next chamber, which seemed to be some sort of large hall, perhaps for dancing or a great feast. Kienshi led him to a wall where they were to sit and wait. After what seemed like an eternity, they heard something reminiscent of heavy footsteps entering the room.
"This is it," whispered Kienshi. The steps stopped all together, and then started again, but this time, in a rhythm. Kienshi snapped his bead and suddenly the old man could clearly see the shapes of twelve statues dancing. The normally gruesome exterior had been replaced by elegant pale-skinned men and women. They waltzed in couples across the vast hall to the music in their hearts. The old man felt that he could almost hear the music they were dancing to when he realized that there was a flute playing. The magical sound coming from the flute held the room entirely mesmerized. Yana played and the statues danced, and Kienshi and the old man looked on in amazement. Never in all of his years had he seen anything more beautiful. As they continued to dance, their bodies began to glow with the same light of the beads and their eyes sparkled like the night sky. It was all so enchanting, that when it finished, the dance kept on in the old man's head. He didn't even remember going to his room, let alone falling asleep.
Morning came too soon for the old man, but if he did not get up early, he would miss his plane back to the States, thus delaying to fulfill his promise to Kienshi. He packed his things, and strode out of his room still in a daze. He stopped where the statue had been the day before, but it was gone now. He met with the others down in the foyer, and a group of them made their departure with the only good-byes being from the other tourists. Kienshi did not even look at his mother as he left. Yana and a man named Janec lead them back to the mainland, where Kienshi said his good-byes to the few people that cared for him. He did convince his sister to let him hug and kiss her goodbye. The old man told her, "I've decided to write a story," he whispered, "It will be about the Erratus Saxum, and I'll have Kienshi tell me all about them on the way home," he winked and they started their journey, to the foreign land of America.