It started with a scream, voice loud and piercing, hurting her ears. She never knew her voice could be so shrill, so panicked, and yet it’s volume didn’t compare to the thunder booming around them. It couldn’t be the sky opening up, the sound different in a way Romelle could not put her finger on. Not that she had much time to figure things out, the building was rattling all around her, floor shaking underneath her feet and when she fell against the wall, she felt the instability in it’s frame.
Something fell at her feet, tiny pebbles of plaster that had her looking upwards. To her horror she could see a crack in the ceiling, it seemed to widen under her gaze. She began to say something, a warning but she was still screaming, and couldn’t make herself coherent. She supposed if anyone else had been with her, they wouldn’t have been as alert to her distress, too lost to their own panic.
She continued to stare up at the ceiling, the pebbles becoming rocks, and then something bigger than the size of a man’s fists. With horror the ceiling split open, and she could see the framework and supports that existed between floors. And then they were falling, crashing down around and towards her. Romelle screamed even louder, too stunned to move, thinking death had finally come for her.
And then she was lifted up off the ground, a man’s voice rumbling in her ears, telling her it would be all right. She reacted to that voice, wrapping her arms around the body it belonged to, clinging to it in a mixture of relief and fear.
They were moving, and the ceiling was coming down all around them. Sabbath could see the far wall of the hall had been destroyed, allowing the mid day sun to brighten a hall that had become dark the instant the rumbling had started. His eyes were making the adjustment to the light’s change, Sabbath darting as fast as he dared through the rubble and bombardment of broken ceiling.
He skidded to a halt when a particular large piece landed before him, coming perilously close to him and the precious cargo he carried. The toes of his right boot actually stubbed themselves on it, and Sabbath reacted by jerking to the left of the path he traveled. The shaking was getting worse, what remained of the ceiling would likely fall. Sabbath knew he had to get somewhere safe, and didn’t know where.
The split in the ceiling seemed to follow his escape, chasing after his figure as he ran down corridor after corridor. Pieces continued to fall, many just missing him, and he inwardly bit back curses with each near miss. Romelle was in his arms, and she had grown quiet, just trembling as she clung to him. He tightened his grip on her, but there was no time to savor the fact that his mate was willingly in his arms, and holding him back.
The way became even more perilous, the rubble too much to easily navigate. Another curse growled through clenched teeth, and then Sabbath was jerking his body towards an open door. He had only seconds to notice it was a bedroom, Sabbath rushing to place Romelle underneath the large bed, hoping it would be enough to protect her.
Debris continued to fall, and then the split began cracking holes into the bedroom’s ceiling. Sabbath jerked away from the bed, looking for some place safe to stand. With his brawny build, there was no chance of him joining Romelle under the bed, the Drule was forced to do a mad tap dance to avoid the falling rubble.
Romelle wasn’t sure what had happened. One minute she had been in someone’s arms, the next she was in a cramped space, watching bits of the castle come falling down. She whimpered from underneath the bed, choking on the dust that was kicked up from the ceiling’s collapse. She wanted to cry, and yet did not dare, staring wide eyed at the messy state of the floor.
The castle’s shaking at last quit it’s rumbling, and she became aware that light had been restored part way. It still left her surroundings too dark, but it was better than being trapped in the absence of total light.
That thing she was under moved, Romelle realizing someone was lifting the bed up. A dirt strewn face looked at hers, expression worried as the man effortlessly held up the bed. “Are you all right?” He asked, and she blinked, slow to react. Her lack of response agitated him, she could tell by the tightening of the skin around his eyes. “Are you hurt?”
“N….no…” She stammered at last, shaking her head no. Sabbath seemed to sigh in relief, nodding his head in approval.
She realized she should spare him the task of holding up the bed, and yet she couldn’t will herself to move. Sabbath continued to stare at her, both hands supporting the bed, leaving her to wonder how long it would take him to tire. She took the whole of him in, noting how chiseled with muscles his arms were. She thought there was a chance he could hold the bed up indefinitely, and that made her afraid.
It showed on her face, Sabbath was alert to the change in her. “What’s wrong?” He asked, and she shook her head no.
“It’s nothing…” She wouldn’t admit that she was frightened of being alone with a man, a Drule, that could easily snap her in two with his bare hands. He didn’t look like he
believed her claims of nothing, Sabbath opening his mouth to say something else. “What happened?” Romelle blurted out, hoping to distract him with her question.
“Ceiling came down.” He said, stating the obvious. The simpleness of his answer annoyed her, Romelle frowning at him.
“I can see that!” She snapped. “I meant WHAT caused it to do that?!”
“You want my guess?” She nodded, and he said without humor. “Then I believe the Drule ships must have succeeded in breaking the castle’s shielding. No doubt they crashed something very large into the upper part of the castle.”
“No…” She gasped, then cried out as another realization took her. “Nanny! Nanny and the other maids could have been up there!” That thought got her moving, Romelle crawling past Sabbath, who slowly lowered the bed back into place. She got even more dirt and dust on her white dress, Romelle trying to stand. She shrieked when plaster suddenly fell from the ceiling, a heavy coating of it that kicked up a dust cloud.
Sabbath immediately grabbed her, pulling her against his body in a protective embrace. He couldn’t shield them from the dust cloud, both of them were choking on it, nostrils filled with plaster particles.
“Open a window or something!” his mate cried out, coughing pitifully.
“This room has no windows.” Sabbath said apologetically.
“It’s one of the rooms on the inside part of the building.” He explained, and she grumbled out a reply.
“Great.” A sigh then, Romelle trying to push herself away from him. He was tempted to tighten his hold, he wanted to feel her in his arms for just a few seconds longer. “Well…” She said, seeming oblivious to his inner struggle. “At least the shaking has stopped.” A glance at him, Romelle not quite smiling. “Let’s get out of here before anything else happens…”
He nodded, and walked past her towards the bedroom’s door. The floor was littered with rubble, and he paused to help her past pieces of it, Sabbath careful to choose paths that would keep her clothes from snagging on the debris. She didn’t thank him, looking exasperated by the extra attention he gave her.
They reached the door, and Sabbath motioned for Romelle to wait. He would not let his mate leave this room until he ascertained just how dangerous the situation out in the hall was. His hand reached for the doorknob, Sabbath grateful no rubble had fallen in front of the door. He pushed and he pulled, shaking the door knob, hearing it rattle weakly. It did not give in to his prodding, remaining stuck in place.
“What’s wrong?” His mate’s anxious voice came from behind him. “Why are you taking so long?”
“The door…” he said slowly and carefully. “It’s….stuck…”
“Stuck? Quit your kidding!” She sounded like she was forcing herself to be disbelieving. “It can’t be stuck!” She added, and Sabbath rattled the door knob once again. “You’re just not trying hard enough. Here, let me!” Romelle tried to shove him away from the door, as though her pitiful human strength would have more luck in opening it than him.
More than a bit bemused, Sabbath moved at her prodding, watching as Romelle tried the door knob. She shook it almost as forcefully as him, and was rewarded with the doorknob coming off in her hands. His mate stared at the knob in dismay, then dropped it to the floor. In a panic, she began to pound her hands on the flat surface of the door, even threw a few kicks at it.
“HELP!” Romelle screamed, and continued her assault on the door. “Someone help! We’re in here!”
“Romelle!” Sabbath rumbled out in a loud voice, trying to gain her attention. “Stop it. It’s no use. You’ll only hurt yourself…” He was ignored, the girl continuing to pound on the door, leaving him to fear she’d beat her hands bloody in the attempt.
Romelle was aware of banging on the door, and then arms were around her, Sabbath’s hands grabbing her wrists. She grew even more determined to break down the door, and if she was honest, a part of her would have admitted she panicked when wrapped up in that bear hug of his. She struggled with the Drule, legs kicking out to slam into the door, so hard she winced and let a whimper of pain escape her.
Sabbath didn’t turn smug, didn’t point out that she had proved him right in hurting herself. Instead he just carried her away from the door, and he did it so effortlessly, as though she was no more than a struggling mouse that it left Romelle sagging in his grip. How could she fight someone so strong, if her every attempt at struggle did no more than annoy him like the buzz of an insect’s wings?
Sabbath deposited his mate onto the edge of the bed, and it was with a sullen expression that she regarded him with. He tried not to be bothered by the look she gave him, instead radiating his concern for her foot. He knelt down before her, and reached for her right ankle. She actually tried to kick him once more, and only his quick reflexes kept her toes from planting in his face.
“It was this foot that made you cry out…” Sabbath talked as though she hadn’t just tried to kick him. “Yes?” He glanced at her face as he eased off her once pristine colored slipper. A nod was his answer, Romelle looking pouty as his fingers caressed over the top of her toes. She immediately hissed, and Sabbath grew concerned, forgetting to take joy in the fact that he was handling some part of his mate’s body.
“I don’t think you broke anything.” He said to her, relieved to see her cute toes weren’t so much as swollen or bruised. “You just kicked the door a little too hard.” His fingers lingered on her foot, Sabbath taking advantage of the situation to touch her more than he should.
“I could have told you that!” Romelle retorted, and gestured for him to hand her, her flimsy looking shoe. He didn’t reply, instead sliding the shoe back on her foot for her, cautious of the tremble in her legs that hinted his mate wanted to kick him again.
But she behaved herself, deciding to tune him out, and cast her glance back and forth about the room. He remained on his knees, just gazing up at her, drinking in his fill of her beauty. It was the first time he had gotten to just look at her, since the night he had startled her, Romelle waking up screaming to find him in her bedroom.
Romelle was aware the Drule was staring at her, the gold of his eyes dark with some unfathomable emotion. He wasn’t smiling though, she couldn’t handle it if he had been, Romelle uneasy and on the verge of flight though she had nowhere to go. Except maybe the bathroom, the girl noting that door didn’t seem obstructed by the rubble. If their luck would hold out, perhaps the other side would be clear as well.
Not that having a bathroom would do them much good in escaping. That room would be as windowless as this bedroom, and Romelle let out a plaintive sigh. “What do we do now?”
“Now?” A slow blinking of his eyes, Sabbath still staring at her.
“Yes, now!” Romelle snapped. “We’re trapped, the castle is in bad condition, enemies are poised to successfully invade…..” Her eyes widened, she suddenly felt ill. “Oh God!” Her hands flew to her mouth, and Sabbath sat up taller on his knees, hands hovering over her arms. “Oh God..we’re trapped, everyone;s going to leave without us, and then the Drule will come and find us!”
Sabbath started to say something, but she paid his words no mind, too busy working herself up into a panic. “They’ll kill us both! Or worse! Oh…Oh God…” She thought she might retch, so palpable was her horror. She remembered the lecherous guards that came to visit her and the other girls, their taunts and innuendoes, and blatant sexual harassment. They had wanted to rape them, and hadn’t been shy about the things they intended to do just as soon as they received their superior’s permission.
She had heard things, seen them do obscene gestures as they spoke in graphic detail. Some of what they had wanted to do was unheard of, things not even covered in those romance novels she so favored. It had chilled her flesh, and made her stomach turn with dread to think of those pigs touching her, and now she felt that same fear as she realized she might be thrust into their proximity once more.
His mate was in pain, expression twisted with horror, eyes not seeing him as she thought of things that only added to her upset. She kept muttering phrases, repeating words and shaking in on herself. She actually flinched when he put a soothing hand on her arm, Romelle opening her mouth to scream. He rose up to try and calm her, and she grew more panicked, kicking out with her legs, and striking his chest with her fists.
Her fists didn’t hurt, nor did her nails scratching claw marks in his flesh bother him all that much. He was more concerned with the sheer and utter terror on her face, the panic in her eyes. He tried to get her to stop attacking him, and it was a struggle to make her cease her movements without hurting her. He wasn’t use to handling someone as delicate and as precious as a mate, far too used to using brute strength to deal with troublemakers and enemy soldiers.
Romelle was screaming now, and if there were enemy soldiers outside their door, she would bring them running with her voice. He tried calming her with his voice, even as he struggled with her body. Her foot came perilously close to a very sensitive part on the center of his body, Sabbath grimacing at the near miss to his balls. With a bit more force than he wanted to use, he forced her down onto her back, only to have Romelle grow ballistic when she realized what position she was in.
Romelle no longer saw Sabbath when she looked at him, instead she saw the soldiers from the Drule warship. She wasn’t sure how it had happened, how they had gotten to her so fast, but she was aware that a Drule was on top of her, holding her down. She struggled even more, only to have his weight pin her legs, preventing her from kicking. She began to scream herself hoarse, finding her hands gathered up in one large fist.
She knew she was only tiring herself out, but she continued to fight, screaming out unintelligible words. Her throat began to hurt, and she was forced to lower her voice, and it was then that she realized the Drule was talking to her. Talking was too mild a turn for what he was doing, he was SINGING to her. She did not know the words, but his voice was a pleasing rumble, soothing to her ears.
Without realizing it, she had stopped screaming, voice coming out in soft whimpers as the voice continue to sing. A hand was in her hair, petting her over and over, and the touch relaxed her enough to stop struggling. Even when she went completely limp on the bed, the voice continued, fingers stroking through her hair, and the weight staying on her.
Sabbath held in a sigh when he saw the signs of his mate’s relaxation. It had been a gamble, but it seemed his song had calmed her down, taking away the panic of whatever had frightened her so badly. He wanted to know more about the fearful thoughts she had had, Sabbath wanting to learn how to combat them so she need never give into her fear again. He had an inkling of the kind of thoughts they were, gleaning knowledge from the things she had shouted at him. Someone aboard the Drule warship had scared her, frighten this strong, brave woman to the point she could go witless thinking of the Drule.
This knowledge left him feeling angry and helpless, Sabbath wanting to find who ever had terrorized Romelle and tear the culprits apart from limb to limb. He continued to sing, waiting until Romelle recovered, looking much like her old self minus the defiant spark he was so used to seeing within her.
“You have such a nice singing voice.” She sighed out, though she wasn’t looking straight at him. “Do all Drule sing so sweetly?”
“Not all. It is just like with you humans, gifts and talents varying from person to person.” Sabbath explained, still petting her hair. He didn’t want to get up off her, and she seemed in no hurry to shove him away.
“I see.” Romelle murmured. Then she asked a question she should have perhaps avoided, the girl turning her sapphire colored eyes towards him. “What do the words mean?”
“The words?” He hedge, growing flustered at her insistent nod. He wanted to say it had been a bunch of nonsense, something to soothe a troubled child without any meaning to it. But he didn’t want to lie to her. “I spoke from my heart.” Sabbath said at last.
“Yes.” He had let go of her wrists, brining that hand that had held them prisoner to his chest. He pressed his hand over where his heart lay, and looked at her earnestly. “The words…they just come to me when I look at you…” Her look said she didn’t believe him, and her doubt agitated him. “I love you so much Romelle…” He told her, trying to make her understand. “I want you….want a future with you. A family…”
She laughed then, her hands pushing at his chest, trying to move him off of her. “You want the impossible.”
“Why?” he demanded, not budging from his perch on top of her. “Why is it impossible.”
“You’re a DRULE.” Romelle said this as though it was all the explanation she needed. “And I am human….the two don’t mix together.”
“Lotor is Drule, and your cousin is human, and they mix just fine.” Sabbath pointed out.
“Allura is infatuated, but it won’t last.” Romelle said confidently. “She’ll sooner or later realize the mistake she’s making, and end this situation with Lotor.”
“You’re wrong…” Sabbath insisted. “They are mates, predestined by fate to be together.”
“Fate? Don’t make me laugh!” She continued to shove at him. “I think it’s all a bunch of lies you Drules make up to lure foolish human women into your beds.” His jaw dropped at that, he couldn’t quite wrap his mind around the thought of lying about one’s mate. Mating was a sacred thing, and only a fool who had turned away from love would lie and tamper with it.
“Will you get off me!” Romelle cried out, sounding annoyed. “I’m fine now.” She added. “I don’t need you to baby-sit me.”
“You may not need a sitter, but you do need someone to watch out for you.” Sabbath answered. “Especially now.” She fixed him with a look, and he slowly got up off her. “You’re right to be scared. We’re trapped, and we don’t know when or if the enemy will arrive.” She blanched at that, and he took her hand, placing it on the blaster on his hip. “But I will protect you…”
“How big is your charge?” She asked, seeming to tremble as she touched the blaster. “I mean….you can’t hold out indefinitely against them with just one blaster!”
“I will manage.” Sabbath insisted, and flexed his right arm. “I do not rely on lasers alone.”
“Your brute strength won’t stand up to heavy laser fire!” She sounded alarmed, and he almost smiled at the concern in her voice. “We have to get out of here!” She continued, standing up and turning away from him. “Isn’t there some way to force the door open?”
“You saw as I did that the door will not budge.” Sabbath replied calmly. “Is there not a secret passage in these upper floors, like the one your cousin said we would use to evacuate the castle?”
“If there is, I don’t know about it.” Romelle felt depressed, wondering if her last worldly moments would be spent trapped in this room, with only a Drule for company. She sighed out loud, and began pacing about the room, poking and prodding with her toe at stray debris. Sabbath sat on the bed and watched her, and she wondered what he was thinking even as she wished he wasn’t so alert to her every movement.
“Will you stop that!?” She demanded harshly.
“Stop staring at me all the time!” She clarified, and saw him blink slowly. “It’s making me nervous!”
“I do not mean to make you nervous…” he began, and she snorted.
“Oh don’t you? You’re always around me these last few days, always watching, always waiting.” She glared at him now, hands on her hips. “Just what are you waiting for Sabbath?!”
“You.” His honesty shouldn’t have surprised her, but she went speechless all the same. “I’ve been waiting for you. I’ve been waiting my whole life, just for the chance to meet you.”
“Meet me?” She blinked rapidly, trying to keep the flustered look from showing in her eyes. “I bet you didn’t even know of me until a few days ago! How can you say you’ve been waiting forever to meet me?”
“Because I have been!” he exclaimed passionately, rising from the bed. She was taken aback by his display of fierce emotion, Romelle staring at him from across the room. “I may not have known of you, or who you were, but I’ve been waiting every since I was a small boy for the chance to meet the woman who would be mine.”
“I’m not yours!” She said in a flare of temper. He gave her withered smile, pain tinting the corners of it.
“I know. You might never be mine, might never acknowledge what we have between us.”
“We have nothing.” Romelle told him, and he shook his head no, looking supremely agitated.
“Can’t you feel it?” he asked, and she frowned.
“The connection between us…the very energy around us crackles with force when we are near each other…” He started to walk towards her, and she immediately backed up, not liking when he stretched out his hand towards us. “We don’t have to touch for me to feel it…I know a human’s senses aren’t as strong as a Drules, but surely some part of you recognizes me!”
“No.” She shrank against the wall, trying to avoid his outstretched hand. He grew frustrated at her attempts at avoidance, and just hovered his fingers in place over her chest. Romelle thought her imagination overactive, cause she could swear she felt the energy he spoke of, just crackling slightly with anticipation. She told herself it was just static, and quickly slid to the right of him. “There’s nothing about me that responds to you.”
“You lie.” She glanced back and saw he had narrowed his eyes at her, looking fierce in the moment. She swallowed nervously, and continued walking away from him. “Every interaction we’ve had, you’ve responded!”
“It may not have been a favorable response, but you reacted. First with fear, than with anger, and then jealousy.” Sabbath listed for her, recalling how indifferent she had tried to act when those human females had pestered him to sing for them.
“ME?! Jealous because of you?” Romelle made a scoffing sound, but she didn’t sound as indignant as she could have been.
“Yes.” He hissed with a nod of his head.
“You’re insane. You’re absolutely certifiable!” Romelle exclaimed. “To think I would ever be jealous due to something you did! I’d have to notice you first to be jealous!”
“But you have noticed me!” Sabbath pointed out. “Else it wouldn’t bother you that I am always around, watching you!”
“Fine!” She snapped. “I noticed you. You’re kinda hard to miss, you annoying gnat! You’re always underfoot, and doing inappropriate things, never taking into consideration my feelings!”
He blinked, taken aback. “Inappropriate things?”
“Sneaking into my room, getting drunk and singing to me…!”
“I…That was my attempt to get closer to you!” he protested.
“Well, it’s having the opposite effect of what you intended!” Romelle retorted.
“It’s because you’re human…” he began, but she interrupted him with a hiss.
“Don’t blame this on me!”
“But it’s true!” Sabbath reached up to touch his hair, feeling the many thin braids that covered his head. “If you were Drule, we wouldn’t be having these difficulties!”
“Oh, and I suppose Drule females are just so easy?!” Romelle demanded, and he nodded.
“Yes!” He as agitated, stroking his braids with his fingers. “If you were Drule there would be none of this fear and uncertainty. We wouldn’t be fighting, you wouldn’t be avoiding me. We’d just be together!”
“Then go find yourself a Drule female and leave me alone!” sniffed a haughty Romelle.
“I can’t!” An anguished Sabbath said. “Don’t you understand? You’re IT for me? You’re my everything Romelle…my world, my life, my very reason for existing. You hold the key to my happiness in your hands, and instead you choose to let me die a slow death by refusing to be with me!”
She stared at him a moment, uneasy by his words. He looked besides himself with grief at the moment, enough so that she felt bad for him. She hadn’t really understood how hard the Drules loved when they found their mates, but she was beginning to get a small inkling of it now.
“Come on.” She said out loud. “One person can’t be all that to another…” She felt uneasy at the thought, as though she wouldn’t be able to live up to his expectations if he really saw her as the center of his world.
“They can to a Drule.” Sabbath immediately responded. “Romelle I would turn my back on my world and my prince for you. I would do anything, crawl on broken glass if need be, to get you to return even an ounce of my affection!”
“You can’t love me…” Romelle insisted. “You don’t even know me!”
“Not in the conventional sense, but in the spiritual sense, I do….” Sabbath told her. He refused to believe the mating aspect of the Drule life would tease him and give him a mate that would prove completely incompatible with him. “You’re my other half….my soul is complete with you by my side.”
She wore an odd expression on her face, one Sabbath couldn’t read. Her mouth opened and closed, lips parts on a sigh. “Sabbath…” Romelle began, then a sound was heard. Romelle gasped, excited. “Someone’s at the door!”
“Wait!” He advised, not wanting her to alert potential enemies to their position. Instead he approached the door, and began listening to the movements on the other side. Cautiously, he pounded on the door, and heard an answering knock.
It was more than Romelle could take, the girl rushing over to bang on the door. “We’re in here!” She called out, much to his annoyance. “Please! Get us out of here!”
“Romelle, caution!” Sabbath hissed. “It might not be friend that is on that side of the door!” Her blue eyes widened, the girl realizing the truth of his words. She immediately stopped her banging, and guiltily stepped away from the door. Sabbath also backed up, hand on his blaster, watching the door intently. If anyone tried to come in and they weren’t a friendly face, he would shoot them.
Luckily, or perhaps not, the banging stopped, the person on the other side of the door losing interest. It soon became apparent he wasn’t alone, Sabbath could hear screams, and the sound of laser firing opening. It sounded as though a small war had opened up on the other side of the door, and he could only pray that the victors of this battle would be an ally of Arus.
Damn this got long….
This interlude story takes place between chapters 44 and 47.
To Be Continued….