A Castle in the Sky

"Beware the thoughts of castles in the sky." The loneliness haunting the words she recited felt alive as if loneliness drew breath, sucking a small amount of life from her with every exhale. Standing before the lone window set in the castle's highest turret relieved or altered her desire to escape by showing her that reality such flight was impossible. The full moon's illumination eerily outlined rooftops a hundred feet below as the cool dry night air hurried across the surrounding mountainous valley. The young Countess remained before the open window. Her willowy body, topped with waves of hair the color of midwinter sun, blended with the shadows. She wore a thin white frock that draped the tops of her feet. She wrapped her arms across her chest covering her small breasts in an attempt to block the mountain breeze that ran frigid fingers across her flesh, through her hair. Dark brown eyes stared longingly at a distant scene she alone saw of her rescue. As she shook her head in defeat, a violent twisting moan exploded in her circular room. The Countess nearly jumped through window, her hands moving like small white birds, trailing wispy sleeves of long plumage as she struggled with her balance, having turned too quickly to see behind her. Carefully she sidled against the wall near the window, palms covering her mouth, her breath running rapid and shallow. A pinpoint of brilliant light grew in the middle of the room, expanded into a shimmering oval as large as a normal sized door. The noise grew as the light did and stopped abruptly when the oval stretched to its full height to hang as a living mirror, inches above the wood plank floor. The young Countess had memories of thunderous storms, the clashing of armored knights as they bloodied themselves, to compare to the sound she'd just heard. Although all three were different, they had the same effect on her. Her eyes remained frozen, wide, and filled with awe as well as fear, as she tried to convince herself that she witnessed the beginnings of a Holy visitation. She wondered, would angels appear to answer my pleas. As it is, she reminded herself, there is little hope I'll ever be more than...? She wasn't certain what. A prisoner or some distant Aristocrat's wife, she supposed with a forlorn sigh. Before her thoughts wandered farther, a hand reached, slowly extending from the center of the shimmering oval into the sanctuary of her tower room. The Countess tried to press herself closer to the wall. Deliberately she slid along the rough cold surface toward the door, her breathing loud frightened gasps. When a disembodied foot followed the hand, she nearly fainted. Her knees weakened, she sagged to the floor, and chanted prayers in a soft melodic voice, while gently touching beads that hung on a long string she collected from a small table she passed while trying to reach the room's exit. A man's voice interrupted her. "Warte eine Minute...Lasse mich diesem auf Haken..." Slowly she looked up pushing hair from before her eyes wondering that an angel would speak to her.

A tall man with long blonde hair stood in the center of the tower's room holding a small silver-color box in his hands. The box hung from an attachment on his belt, his fingers pressed a series of red buttons mounted on its side. He wore clothing of a fashion she didn't recognize, and certainly not, she decided, what an angel would wear. Though his diction was perfect, he sounded as if he spoke from behind a knight's visor. Wearily she waited as he had asked her to. However, the Countess did not feel even slightly at ease and since the invader suggested it, he hadn't made a move to threaten her. After all, she reasoned, an angel would not harm me. He spoke again. "Es wird beide wege ubersetzen..." The man looked at her face, his own lined with concern. "Bitte, ich werde dich nicht verletzen." Suddenly realizing the words came from the box he held, the Countess half rose to her knees. "Wer bist du?" She listened to her words echoed through the translation box into a foreign tongue. It said, "Who are you?" The man smiled. "I am called Seus, the name of my father's mother's family." She watched him watching her as the box translated. "That's a strange name for an angel." The box spoke her answer. The Countess, listening to the words from the box realized the other language was vastly different from her own. "Are you an angel?" The Countess had to know now. "Did you come to help me leave this prison?" She asked, heard the plea in her voice, and colored slightly. Begging an angel will never do. "Hardly that I'm a man nothing more." "Then, how did you get in here?" She waved one had at the small chamber. "It would require a considerable amount of time to explain my methods. Why not for now, just accept that I'm here?" The Countess's young face expressed concern and doubt. "I don't think I can just accept such a thing if you are not an angel." Seus inhaled deeply and slowly. "The air here is beautiful. It's so pure and clean." He glanced out the window. "How else could air be?" "You might be very surprised to discover how air can be when man and time have their way with it." "If you are a man, you're a strange one. You speak as if you don't belong in our lands, but you say you're not from above..." she glanced up. "I think you are trying to confuse me, test me maybe, but..." Her small hand pressed against her lips, then fell away. "You're not an angel, but you appeared from nowhere then you must be Sa..." "No, I am not him either. I'm just a man." Seus reached a hand slowly toward her. "Touch my arm. It's all right; I will not do anything to harm you. After all if I were...you know HIM," he pointed at the floor, "Would I have waited long enough for you to sound an alarm before devouring your soul." "Sound an alarm? Who would hear it? No one would." While she spoke, she reached out tentatively. Her fingers lightly played across the surface of Seus's wrist. "There, you can surely tell now that I am what I said, a man."

"Yes, I think I can, however, you must explain how...no?" She watched him shake his head. "Then tell me why you are here, at least." The Countess stood to cautiously edge along the wall until she reached an ornately carved wooden chair. Her hands acted as eyes, they settled onto its arm guiding her as if she were perching, her legs folding beneath her. "There's little I can say that you might believe, however I'll try." Seus tapped the pin on his lapel. "First I must close that." His free hand waved at the oval light. "What is it?" "We call it the Timeline Terminus. It's like a door to another time." He studied her face. "You may want to cover your ears." He finished speaking quickly. The young woman nodded and put her palms against her ears. The sleeves of her robe slid down exposing delicately rounded forearms. Watching Seus, the Countess saw him reaching for the lapel pin, shaped like a clock face without numbers and a pendulum frozen in motion. He shut the Timeline terminus by pressing and twisting his thumb on its ruby face. When it blinked out, he strode to where she sat, his eyes staying on her face. He seemed pleased that she showed little sign of fear. "Okay." He reached out and gently pulled her hands away from her ears. "You're a very beautiful woman." "I'm just a girl." Her voice remained soft and steady, yet her eyes shined reacting to the double compliment. "It's as if we're related, you and I." Seus still held her hands. He squatted in front of her. The translating device attached to his belt, remaining between them. "I've never seen you, nor have I heard about a man with so strange a name and such pretty hair." "Thank you." He smiled warmly. "All that would be true, however I come from afar. I'm one of a group of people who search historic truth." "I know nothing of history. You would do better to speak with father's scribes." Pausing to gauge his reaction she waited, then added, when he did not move, "how do you know about me?" "I read something you wrote." His voice sounded slightly awed as if suddenly warmed by a memory. "I wrote? My poetry? I don't write very much of it and I never let anyone read it." "I think that's unfortunate. You write...well I enjoyed reading your words. Anyway, that's how I found out about you. I had to meet you; you seemed so mysterious, so sad." "I am sad, but I'm no mystery. I am the youngest of fifteen and always in everyone's way. No one needs me so I spend most of my time up here." Her eyes took in the large circular room. Then she watched as Seus turned his head to examine it too. The room was well furnished; she knew and had the obvious touch of a young woman on everything in it. Gentle pastel colors wove through the solid yet, light drapery. The heavy, dark wood furniture seemed almost delicate because of it. "Certainly you want more from your life than solitude?" Seus leaned towards her. His hands tightened very slightly on hers.

"Of course I do. However, I need not be in too much of a hurry. My loneliness can't last forever, can it? After all," her eyes danced as a gentle laugh sprang from her lips, "I'm only eighteen. Oh, I know to some that's terribly old to still be unwed but, to me..." Seus let go of one hand to raise a finger. He opened his mouth to speak, someone pounded on the door interrupting him, and he froze, surprise and fear widening his eyes. "I cannot be seen here." The Countess stood, looking quickly around. "There," she pointed at the long drapery, "hide behind that and...don't make a sound!" Then her voice hushed. "Hurry now, if that's father, he will not be pleased to find me alone with a man. He might have you impaled or worse!" She waved Seus toward the drapery as she gently tiptoed to the large door. When she saw the colorful hanging settle in front of Seus, she pressed the latch and pulled the door back. "What was that awful noise?" The Count demanded without entering her room. The Countess demurely lowered her head, as if submitting to a more dominate person, knowing that it would soften her father's concern. She felt his hands gently touch her cheeks. "You're cold. Why do you insist on staying up here?" She looked at his eyes as he continued lifting her face until it tilted up to meet his. She shrugged, her hair falling from where it had lain in folds on her shoulders. "I like the solitude." Her brow arched as she heard herself remind him of the noise from the Timeline Terminus. The Count frowned. "What was that noise? I don't want anything happening--" "Nothing could possibly happen to me up here." She reached out slowly, and lightly touched his arm. "Unless the tower itself collapses." "Yes, of course and we know that's impossible. I do wonder what could have created such a sound. I'll have men examine this part of the tower tomorrow. I don't think anything could happen to it." He looked around. "It's best that you return to your rooms for tonight." Before she could answer, the Count turned and left. She watched him disappear as he walked down the winding staircase. Before the curve of the tower's wall blocked her vision completely, all she could see of him was his shoulders and head. Softly she closed the door, and then she ran to where Seus had hidden. He stepped out as she arrived. "Oh! You startled me." She giggled with a hand across her mouth. "As you heard, that was father. He won't return." Still smiling she stepped back a step. "Now, how are you going to leave without making so much noise?" "I'll have to wait until everyone is asleep. Then, I'll sneak out and when I'm far enough from the castle--" "That won't work," she interrupted. "Why not?" "Have you looked to see where you are?" "You mean where the castle sits?" The Countess nodded, a smile tugging the corners of her lips. "Ahh, I'm not sure what you mean. One look at your expression tells me you'll enjoy telling me, however."

"I'm sorry," she had to stop as another laugh escaped. "I haven't laughed so much since...well, I don't remember." She laughed again. "It feels so delightful, thanks to you." She felt an unexpected blush rise and looked at her feet. "You have a wonderful laugh, I would like to stay here and listen to it all night, but I must insist that you tell me--" "Why is it that men always must insist?" Her voice lilted, playful yet serious as she peered up at him from under waves of golden curls. "Do we always?" "Yes. A moment ago, my father insisted that I leave my favorite room, because of your noisy...whatever it was. Now, you insist that I tell you--" "Sorry, you don't have to tell me." Seus sounded defensive. "I will tell you. And I didn't mean to upset you." She reached up and touched his cheek. Her sleeve drifted along her arm uncovering it to her shoulder. She watched his eyes as he looked down at her. "Is something wrong?" "No, it's that you seem so frail, delicate. As if you're living porcelain." The Countess tilted her head to one side. She watched him wondering, do all men where he came from behaved as he does. At the same time, she felt a stirring in her chest, her eyelids fluttered as heat resumed its movement creeping from beneath her collar over her cheeks. With hesitancy she spoke. "We must think of what to do with you." Then reluctantly withdrew her hand from his face. Seus captured it before she could let it drop to her side. Gently he raised it to his lips, kissing the back of it just above her wrist. "Will you tell me now, what it is about the castle's location that's so funny?" The Countess felt her heart tremble, while her mind stayed where his warm moist lips touched her hand. When she spoke, her words whispered softly. "Yes, I'll tell you when you tell me what type of relative you are. Could it be you're a cousin? No? Then are you an uncle? No? You are an illegitimate brother? Hmmm, I give up then, what are you?" "Best friend to your grandson actually." Seus touched his lips to her palm. "Oh, so you're not really related," the words sounded strained. The Countess felt slightly faint as he ran his lips along the length of her arm, lingering at the bend of her elbow, the swell of her shoulder. She forced herself to continue the conversation, tilting her head slightly. "Yes, you did say you were from another time. Please, you shouldn't do that." Sweat beaded her brow as his lips pushed the sleeve past the edge of her shoulder. Softly she added, "I do think you should stop trying to distract me, sir." The small fire in her chest started to ignite unexpected passion, and the Countess sighed. "If I must." Seus continued to kiss her moving to the front of her shoulder. "Please." She touched the side of his head but did not attempt to stop him. "Are you sure you wish to hear more?" Seus spoke against her flesh. The Countess did not answer. The man's hands were slowly untying the laces at the top of her frock. Gently he pushed it off her shoulders, it settled at her feet to leave her wrapped by nothing but cool night air. She guided his head lower and gasped as his lips touched her breast, his hands

gliding down her spine finally stopped at its bottom to lift her, and gently lower her on top of her clothing. Much later, the Countess lifted her head from his chest and looked into his eyes. "You must finish telling me. How is your friend related to me?" Seus chuckled. "Persistent, I like that. Okay." He cleared his throat. "He is your twelfth great grandson." "What does that mean? Twelve greats? That's impossible, how--" "It's the truth though." The Countess sat up and covered her chest with her arms. She looked down then, over at his face. Suddenly her eyes filled with shock and went to the box sitting on the wooden floor, the one that had hung at his waist when he arrived. "That silver box makes it possible for us to understand each other?" "What about it?" Again, she examined him. "I think now I know that you are telling me the truth...and if you are that means I meet someone and marry and have children." Seus raised a hand, laughing gently. "Slow down." "Well, don't I?" She leaned over him to peer into his eyes. "Don't I?" "Yes, it seems that must be true." His smile softened by a laugh. "Now, what's wrong with my leaving?" He asked. She touched his bare chest. "I don't want you to. Sorry," she said and colored. "I suppose I must show you." She laughed again but louder, almost without control. When she felt his arm encircle her shoulders, pulling her against him, she stopped abruptly and looked at him. "Please, I am a Countess, sir." "And I your grandson's closest friend." "And we have made love. I hope God will forgive my sin." Tears filled her eyes. Seus smoothed her hair with great tenderness, kissing her brow. "It's my sin; I should never have taken advantage of you..." "Wha...no, I wanted you to, I could have insisted you stop, called for help. I didn't and I'm glad. I think...besides, it'll be all right." The Countess eyed him mischievously forgetting her worry. "Perhaps I'll have your child, and your friend will be his grandson as well." She shuddered then, and felt him hug her tighter, closer if that were possible. "Come, I will show you why you cannot walk away from here." They both stood. "To the window." She pointed at it while her mind concentrated on where their bodies touched. No one outside her family had ever held her. No one had ever touched...she looked at him. "It's okay." She whispered to herself. "What is?" "Um, to stand in the window undressed." The Countess lowered her arm as they neared the window she stood at when Seus first arrived. She pointed. "Now, look down." "Oh, I see the problem; we're on a mountain top. Is it like this on all sides?" "Except for the roadway, and you'd have to go through the gate to get to it, pass the guards--" "Well, there's only one thing to do." The Countess watched Seus reach for his lapel and smiled when he touched bare skin.

"You'll leave from here?" She stepped back from the window not wanting to think about the strange oval light. "Yes, it's the only thing to do. After all, they're going to examine the tower tomorrow anyway." The Countess quickly donned her frock then went to him as he dressed. "Will you come back sometime?" Deep sadness suddenly pushed against her chest as she tried to accept his leaving. "Perhaps, but if not just remember that I'll be somewhere in the future reading what you write." Wearily she smiled and went to him, reached up and pulled his head down. Suddenly shy she moved to kiss his cheek. Seus turned his head so their lips met, the Countess again felt desire flood through her. She moved closer so her body pressed tight against his. Finally, she forced herself to push away and saw the need in his eyes knowing that it reflected her own. "No, we cannot, not again." "I know I must leave." Seus's voice was a whisper. Reluctantly she returned to where she had stood earlier. "I will write a special poem for you." She lifted her hands to cover her ears. Her gaze remained on his face as if to etch it into her memory. The Timeline Terminus opened noisily. Seus reached inside his shirt, pulled something out, lifted the hand holding it, and waved. The Countess stared with wide eyes as she saw that he held a paper with her writing. It looked extremely old; the words she could read were barely legible, "beware the thoughts of castles in the sky." Her breath caught as she remembered the words she had spoken aloud earlier that night. Seus smiled. "Yes, you will write one." He mouthed the words in German as he disappeared through the wavering, silver oval. "Good bye." She whispered pressing the side of her hand to her mouth at the terminus closed. Then, looking about for her writing quill, her loneliness forgotten, she wrote the words she'd just read. With minimal hesitation she continued. "For within the source of your loneliness may lie; look out the window at a distant star, and know that love is never far." The Countess began creating the circle that she had just helped complete.
Copyright March 2002: Larry Schliessmann all rights reserved. This story is not to be shared. It is for your own personal use. If it is sold by you or given away by you in whole, or in part, that is an infringement of U.S. copyright laws. Violators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful