Sulla calmly waited outside, still and steady despite the cold winds. She disappeared then, sliding into the darkness of the trees.
Casper soared over the woodlands, staring down at what dwelt below. "Here", he said suddenly, and stopped, recognising that this was the place the others must be hiding; he could sense them.
"Ezzelin?" she whispered, looking at the sleeping boy. "Ezzelin?"
"What?" he huffed getting up wit ha stroppy look. "I'm trying to sleep."
"What was that noise?"
"That? Oh, just the rats."
"Okay. They're basically mice, aren't they?"
"Yeah. Big mice. Now go to sleep."
"Okay. Haven't you got a cat?"
"I did, but they ate it."
Clara stifled a gasp and her hands flew to her mouth. "Will they eat me."
"Na, don't worry. You're under the net with me and Shiralee. Nothing can get you." He gave the little girl a reassuring smile and rolled over in his bed to clasp her hand and comfort her. Clara smiled, and soon drifted off to sleep. Ezzelin yawned, rolled back over and began to snore.
"Out this way!" he yelled, grabbing Clara's hand. She woke up hazily, rubbing at her eyes. "I feel so ill..." she said quietly. She looked ill. She was shivering, her skin was a ghostly pale white - almost green, and her eyes had dark rings around them.
"Shiralee!" Ezzelin yelled, looking for the older girl. "Help us! Clara's ill, and we have to get out fast!"
Shiralee felt every bone in her body tense as she heard Ezzelin shout out. Without so much as a half a second of hesitation, she ran back to the place, the scent of s mok e hitting her almost immediately. She reached her hand out to Clara, picking the young girl up in her arms as quickly as she possibly could. The flames licked at her ankles, threatening to burn and scar her white skin.
Casper beckoned to Ezzelin, urging him out of the burning chaos, and although he did not know the boy, he realised he must be a friend of Shiralee or Clara. His eyes had faded to an icy blue, but barely lost their extreme intensity.
"This way!" Ezzelin yelled, following the boy, who he presumed, was the boy named 'Caspar'.
He ducked out of the entrance, and into the caves again, leading them through winds and passageways, until the reached the bottom of what seemed to be an old well. Ezzelin grabbed a rope attached to the wooden crane above and looked at Clara. "You go first," he said. Clara looked up at Shiralee in distress as Ezzelin took her hand roughly and quickly, speedily fastening the rope around a wooden lever, and pulling the bucket down. He put Clara in the bucket and hopped in after her. "We can both fit in together, it's strong enough to carry us both. Caspar, if you wind this wooden thing around, we'll both go up, and then we can pass the rope and bucket back down to you two. The fire is speeding up, so we have to be quick."
When Clara and Ezzelin were at the top, Ezzelin threw the bucket and rope down without any hesitation whatsoever. Then Clara fell to the ground.
before she herself could react, Clara fell from the wooden things and almost crash landed on her. Instinctively, she caught the tiny figure hurting toward the ground and grunted as she landed. Despite Red's talents, her figure for hiding wasn't strng enought to support the falling girl and they both fell to the ground.
At least Clara had a slow to her fall, but Red didn't she got up quickly and ignoring the girl in front of her, she called up," Shiralee! Are you up there? "
~ "Oops, it seems I've said too much! Well it's alright, its just a tall tale anyway. Call me again and at the signal, I'll tell you an even stranger tale..." ~
7600th post 4/4/15
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.
Shiralee picked up Clara in her arms, hugging her tightly. She brushed the dirt from the young girl's blonde hair, staring into her wide green eyes. "Everything will be okay", she whispered, and the same, familiar flower, the one that had been created on the very day - the first moment - she and Clara met, blossomed in the palm of the small girl's hand; it glowed in the darkness, like a star in the black sky. "If you ever lose us, this will lead you, Clara. If you are ever lost, this is your compass". She glanced down at the flower, before returning her eyes to Clara's again. "Remember that".