Casper turned the wooden wheel rapidly, his steady hands moving effortlessly. "Get in", he glanced over at Shiralee, pulling back up the bucket along the rope as Ezzelin and Clara were out.
She became distracted from her frozen gaze, which trailed after Clara in a look of concern and motherly care. "No, Casper, you'll be left behind!" she was blurting out the words before she even completely realised it.
He shook his head, urging her into the bucket as quickly as he possibly could. "It'll be okay. I'll find a way - just go!" he insisted, his yellow eyes blazing brighter than ever.
Biting down on her bottom lip, she nodded and climbed into the bucket, gripping the edges as she was sent down towards Clara, Ezzelin and Red, the sound of the rusty metal whizzing against the rope screaming in her ears.
As Casper pulled the rope again, the bucket returned to him, close enough to allow him to reach out and draw it closer. "I'll find you again, Cassie. I promise", he whispered in her ear, pressing his lips firmly against hers before helping her into the bucket. He then sent her down also by releasing his grip on the rope, turning the wooden wheel once more. The idea he'd never see any of them again - especially Cassie - gnawed at his heart, causing every bone in his body to ache.
"You didn't really think I'm gonna let ya be the brave ole' hero and let everyone go without ya?" It wasn't really a question, but more of a firm and insistent statement.
Casper turned slowly, his eyes fixing with Sulla's. "I'm not letting you stay behind if that's what you mean", he said, in a slightly colder tone than he had intended. She was like a mother to him, and he wasn't going to let her sacrifice herself for him. Of course, she wasn't going to let him argue.
"Casper, you get in that bucket right now or I swear to god I'll beat your ### s there for ya". Her eyes intensified, and her voice showed her words were more of an order than anything. "There ain't no way I'm lettin' you waste the rest o' your life. I love ya too much for that". She softened slightly. "Besides, a simple fire ain't gonna kill me. I've been around for the past hundred or so years and I plan to stick around at least another hundred more".
Casper couldn't help but smile faintly. She looked only in her late thirties or early forties, but that wasn't too surprising considering everything else he'd seen and heard in his life. "Promise me".
She watched him with the same round eyes he'd seen every day, since the day he was born. And she was looking at him like she had when he had just opened his own eyes for the first time.
Her voice was more of a whisper, then.
I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream. I know you, that look in your eyes is so familiar a gleam. And I know it's true that visions are seldom all they seem. But if I know you, I'll know what you do. You'll love me at once, the way you did once upon a dream.