Sebastian's Spirits: Part Six
Seeing his daughter in so much agony and distraught made Fredrick break. "Endless nights have I thought of you, Carolyn. But do you know how many nights I cried myself, knowing that I would almost certainly never get the chance to see my daughter again?"
"First mother and then you! Gone from my life! And here I've been trapped in a prison with no means of escape and no will to live, don't you get it? I'm cursed to this wretched mansion! Vandor found some wicked sorcery that can confine my soul to this estate. He is still in love with me and believes that one day I will get over my hatred towards him and love him. Even though I'm miserable, he loves me and never wants to let me go. It's been decades and I can't go on like this, I just can't do it!"
"Do you think you are alone with all the pain that you feel? Look at me!" Fredrick roared. "You and your mother have been gone from my life as well! And I am cursed to that wretched jewelry box which has served as MY prison! I have been in such a horrific state for decades! Sound familiar? Our situations are near parallel, and Vandor intended for that to happen on purpose to remind us that it is he who is in charge, it is he who controls our fate, and it is he who is a heartless beast!"
Fredrick was about to speak further, but was interrupted by a shadow that cast in the dining room. Carolyn turned and stifled a gasp, for her menacing husband wore a dreadful look of scorn upon his wicked face.
"Fredrick..." Vandor's eyes widened with surprise, expecting to never face the distraught Gelert after the last time. "You've returned."
"Yes I have." Fredrick bit his tongue, unable to believe that he had actually spoken to the very creature that had cursed him.
"Where is that spitefully weak green Kougra from years prior?" Vandor scoffed.
"Anywhere but here!" Fredrick's reply was brisk. "You damaged him, Vandor, and he didn't deserve such treatment."
"He trespassed on my property and I needed to punish someone," the Eyrie chuckled. "I simply aged him to become too weak to ever perform any little scheme again."
"Lift the curse!" Sebastian demanded from out of nowhere. "Lift it, or else I'll make you!"
"Oh? Make me?" The Eyrie was a bit taken aback at the fact that he was being challenged, but he brushed the taunt off with a chuckle. "Tell me, just who do you think you are?"
"Sebastian," he answered bluntly.
"Fredrick is here, so that must mean one thing. I'll ask you nicely... are you the Holder of the box?"
Sebastian said nothing.
"Where is it? Where is the box?" Vandor grabbed the back of the Lupe's neck and hoisted him into the air, their eyes meeting at the same level.
"Vandor! Put him down!" Carolyn shrieked.
From Vandor's unfazed trance, Sebastian knew that even Carolyn could not stop the sorcerer. Sebastian's lips curled into a snarl. "You are the last person who I would ever tell."
"Nobody dares makes a mockery of me, especially the likes of you."
Without hesitation Sebastian pounced, snapping his sharp teeth inches from Vandor's face. Vandor jerked backwards and slammed the Lupe to the ground in anger, but Sebastian quickly rose and swiped at him.
"Vandor, stop! He's too young! Just let him go!" Carolyn pleaded with her husband who went on to ignore her. She tried to frantically pry his arms away, but the mighty strength of Vandor was too much. He shoved her away, and Carolyn stumbled back before grabbing the edge of the table to steady herself. Fredrick had rushed over to his daughter, only able to watch helplessly as she stared in horror at her husband that was swiping at Sebastian.
The chaos froze. Vandor's iron grip was wrapped around Sebastian's tail, who in turn had his teeth in a death lock on the Eyrie's wing. Standing in the doorway this time was Nikoli, the Zafara that was now holding the mystical box that fated the lives of Fredrick and the others.
"This is truly a magnificent piece of handiwork," he remarked, eyes remaining on Vandor.
"Nikoli?" Carolyn gasped, and Vandor hurled Sebastian into the wall. With a yelp, Sebastian's body went limp as his legs gave in and collapsed in a heap to the ground. He was no longer the prime concern of Vandor.
"Sebastian!" Fredrick cried out, but he kept Nikoli in his view. It was he who faithfully had a crush on Carolyn when they were younger.
"The carriage driver is intruding as well? What is the meaning of this?" Vandor roared, but he had snapped to attention at the sight of his sought after box. He raised his trembling arm and pointed at the mahogany craft, his beady black eyes fixated. "Hand that over this instant."
"If he opens that... Sebastian is doomed," Fredrick muttered.
But Nikoli did not comply. Instead he ran full sprint down the mansion hallway, refusing to stop for any means. The Eyrie blocked the dining room doors before he whirled around and faced the stricken Carolyn. "Stay here, my dear, and I'll return for you later." And with such force that shook Carolyn, he slammed the doors shut. She nearly tripped over her dress as she lunged for the doors.
"They're jammed! And Vandor will catch up to him!" Carolyn cried frantically as her trembling paws tried to pry the door open. Looking back over her shoulder she shrieked, "Father, you have to get Sebastian out of here somehow before Vandor curses him as well!"
The Gelert stepped forward. "I'm not leaving you, Carolyn."
A laugh of desperation escaped the Xweetok's throat. "I am bound to this estate and you expected to just wander here and free me? Tell me, have you thought absolutely anything through?"
There was a cough that did not come from either Fredrick or the weary Sebastian. "We had a plan, but with that Zafara I don't think it's possible anymore."
Her eyes widened at the sight of a shadow Hissi forming out of thin air, followed by the gypsy Ixi and Wocky. "Jerome? Ava? Viktoria?"
"Ah, you remember us?" Jerome grinned, feeling a tad bit nervous in front of the beautiful Carolyn.
"Now is not the time for a trip down memory lane!" Viktoria hissed. "Do you realize what will happen if Vandor or that Zafara opens the box? Sebastian will be cursed to the box along with us!"
With one look at the groggy Sebastian that was trying to stand up, Carolyn rushed over to assist him. Fredrick looked on as she carefully lifted his limp arm over her shoulder and helped him sit in one of the dining room chairs. Whether he was thinking about the fate of Carolyn or Sebastian was unclear. At this point, Jerome, Viktoria, and Ava could not tell. At this point, it did not matter.
Nikoli had been lurking in the shadows outside the dining room the entire time, listening and waiting. And while being in stealth, he had unfortunately stubbed his toe on the mysterious mahogany box tucked in the corner of a table. It did not take long for him to draw conclusions that this was the supposed box sought out by Vandor. He had heard Vandor rave about the box during carriage rides and how Fredrick and his crew were confined to it for all eternity.
He scurried up the winding staircase, gasping for air once he reached the top. Nikoli was blatantly unaware of the powers that the box possessed, but only preyed on the fact that it meant so much to Vandor. Almost as much as Carolyn meant to him. And that was the common bond shared between Vandor and Nikoli; Carolyn Roland.
Nikoli had first seen Carolyn on a brilliant summer's eve. One would think, when is there ever a brilliant day in Neovia? The area is constantly cast over by darkness, fog covers the streets daily, and one look from the citizens sends shivers down one's spine. But Carolyn was different. When her gorgeous brown eyes met Nikoli's, he wanted to melt. Her voice was angelic, her laugh was beautiful, and the way her violet hair fell over her shoulders and would sometimes sweep across her forehead was a lovely sight indeed. Nikoli had the privilege of befriending Carolyn, even though her father Fredrick was silently against it all.
But Vandor had appeared unexpectedly, and little was known at the time that his arrival would change everything. The Darigan native had waltzed into Neovia one day (why exactly was a mystery) and became quite attracted to Fredrick Roland the Third's daughter. It was not long before Vandor and gone off with Carolyn, an event which everyone did not even refer to bluntly as a kidnapping, because to them Carolyn and Vandor appeared to be in love. But it was only when Fredrick had completely vanished that Nikoli became suspicious. No one took his claim seriously, and years passed before Nikoli grew to become one of Vandor's servants out of sheer desperation for money. Vandor did not know how in love Nikoli was with Carolyn.
The box was important to Vandor like Carolyn was important to him. That was why Nikoli had no trouble throwing it into the blazing fire. And like an unsung hero, Nikoli vanished that very night and was never seen again. He would never come to know the turmoil that would ensue.
To be continued...