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   Chapter 21 Only death shall release you

The Curse of Kalaan By Linda Saint Jalmes Characters: 25893

Updated: 2018-05-18 10:27

Virginie and Kalaan waited until the others had gone to their rooms to meet outside and go down to the longhouse and spend the night there together. They made love passionately and voluptuously, after which they fell asleep, blissful in each other's arms.

The following morning, Virginie witnessed Kalaan's incredible transformation for the second time. He still couldn't understand why when he transformed in her presence, he felt no pain.

"Perhaps you should share this with Jaouen, " she suggested as they were leaving their love nest to meet Amélie and Isabelle for breakfast and above all to expedite the Duchess Delatour's departure.

Virginie couldn't keep her eyes off Catherine. She was magnificent with her dark curls dancing on her shoulders and her beautifully symetrical fine features. She was once again dressed in the men's clothing that suited her so well.

'Tis perfectly normal. She is Kalaan, after all. Virginie said to herself. Try as she might, she still couldn't completely accept that the man and the woman were one and the same. It was all just so… unbelievable! She told herself that, with time, she would eventually get used to the transformations, and she smiled when she thought how she'd been blessed by life because she would have Kalaan every night from now until the end of time and a real true friend in Catherine every day.

It took all morning to prepare the duchess' departure. She was her typical shrewish self, as usual. Yet, much to everyone's surprise, she seemed resigned to boarding the little fishing boat with all her bags and baggage and return to the mainland.

"I wager she's ill before reaching the ramparts!" exclaimed Isabelle who was following her departure through a telescope. Catherine, Amélie, and Virginie were next to her.

"And I, " countered Catherine, in her tinkling lilt, "Wager she is already feeling the effect." Lil' Louis would be able to confirm Catherine's prediction when he returned later that evening.

"Is it not a little cruel to make her travel on that nutshell?" asked Amélie, who was a charitable soul and knew a strong stomach was essential on that boat, known to pitch and roll on even the calmest of seas.

"Retribution mother, retribution!" Catherine sang out, "And don't worry about gossip. The old bat Delatour won't say a thing for fear I reveal she was friends with a murderer."

"With no proof, it won't be easy to bring Darius to justice, " Virginie said with a heavy heart.

"Let's put our faith in Vidocq, " Catherine replied, confidently. "We'll tell him about Josephe, as well as Georges Maltinard, when we deliver the scoundrel. It won't take the chief of the Parisian police long to bring him to confess."

"Let's hope so, " Virginie murmured again, taking Catherine's hand in hers.

"Isn't that Ar sorserez, ready to set sail?" Isabelle suddenly exclaimed. Catherine laughed and gave her telescope to her curious sister who grabbed it.

"Oh! Kalaan! You rascal!" she exclaimed before giggling. "Delatour is going to be furious!"

And for good reason. All of Her Grace's personnel had boarded the dinghies and were already passing her ship on their way to the luxurious frigate moored in the closed port. The crew had instructions to welcome her servants on board and to treat them like royalty, giving them the best crossing of their lives, all right under the duchess' nose.

"Such a scoundrel. You will never change, my son, " Amélie said, amused by the story when Kalaan explained what he'd done.

"My lady buccaneer, " Virginie laughed, looking at him with her beautiful gray eyes sparkling with joyous love.

Everyone went about their business after dinner. Dorian and Catherine went to see Jaouen, Amélie and Isabelle oversaw their staff's move back into the castle, while Virginie helped Gwendoline move her belongings. It was a calm and peaceful day especially knowing Darius was well guarded, under lock and key in a stall at the stables.

Virginie was coming up from the village where she met many of the islanders all of whom were warm and friendly and very happy to be living on Croz. She was smiling as she breathed in the salty sea air brought in by the cool wind. In the distant blue sky the gulls were flying in groups, whirling and swooping, calling out to each other in screams that sounded like laughter. Then they would plunge down behind fishing boats probably heavily loaded with fish.

This isle is a true paradise, with its fertile green land surrounded by a sea that goes from bluish gray to turquoise depending on the weather. Today the waters were a lovely dark blue capped with ribbons of white foam where the currents met. Virginie was breath-taken by the majestic beauty of it all. The sun would be setting in an hour and her heart was full of joy thinking that should finally be with Kalaan again at the longhouse; but she then blushed, berating herself for the provocative thoughts that crossed her mind.

"Mam'selle! Mam'selle!" called out the breathless and hoarse voice of a young boy she recognized right away.

"Oh, Gerald! You look upset, " she said, noticing his distress. He avoided her eyes by searching for something his bag.

"I'm so sorry, Mam'selle! Mama boxed my ears earlier to punish me, but I didn't do it on purpose, honest!"

"What are you talking about?" Virginie asked with curiosity. She frowned as Gerald brought a large crumpled envelope out of his bag and held it out to her.

"I was to give it to Clovis with the other letters, but later I saw I'd forgotten it. Then it was the cap'n who returned from Egypt with my papa and I completely forgot about it, until this morning when my mama told me to clean the mess in my bag."

Virginie's head was spinning and she held her breath. She recognized the distinctive handwriting on the cover as Georges Maltinard's. Quaking inside, her trembling hands took the letter from Gerald and she felt a sense of hope coming back to her. Could he have sent her proof incriminating Darius in her father's death before he was murdered?

"I'm really sorry Mam'selle." Gerald repeated, feeling very guilty. "I can see 'tis very important to you."

"I'm not upset with you my boy." Virginie spoke softly to him, lifting his chin and looking him in the eyes. "In a way, it was good that you forgot this letter because it is now that it has a precious value."

If the letter had arrived earlier, it could have made things more difficult, if Darius had searched her belongings and found it before she had a chance to talk to Kalaan about it, it could have been her body they found instead of the sheep. Now that danger was out of the way, the letter could only bring more support for what was to follow.

"True?" Gerald smiled.

"Oh, yes!" Virginie exclaimed, flashing a wonderful smile before leaning over to kiss the boy on the cheek. "Run along now. You're a hero!"

He took off down the steep slope into the village, running in his wooden clogs, which made Virginie worry he might fall and hurt himself. But the boy was used to running that way. He whooped in joy as he went along, raising his hands to the sky.

Smiling, Virginie opened the envelope and began to read Georges' letter. She quickly leafed through the four pages he'd sent, getting paler and paler as she read.

"'Tis worse than I thought, " she gasped, her hand on her throbbing heart. She had to find Kalaan, right away!

When she reached the broken circle, he was there. He had obviously taken a detour on his way back from seeing Jaouen and, as she had earlier, was admiring the view of the sea, which was even more beautiful on this side of the island.

"Kal... Catherine!" Waving the letter from Georges Maltinard above her head, Virginie c

e you again, my brother."

"I would have missed you too." Kalaan was deeply moved by Dorian's expression of fraternal friendship. "And Borgas? He was going to… Virginie, are you all right?"

"Yes, my love, " she replied, amused at his sudden solicitude. Her face clouding over, she turned to look at Dorian. "Then the standing stones started shining almost as radiantly as the moon … but I'm not sure of everything I saw tonight. Dorian was different. He… he had a ball of fire in his hands and threw it at Darius who was literally consumed alive before falling over the edge of the cliff. So, gentlemen, do you not think it's about time you told me everything?"

Just then Skedaddle started barking happily as if to greet someone he liked and they heard people shouting as they approached.

"Kalaan!" Amélie, Isabelle, and Lil' Louis who had just returned from the mainland, were coming towards the broken circle.

"My lord!" called out Clovis, who was with them. All four appeared in the circle and stood transfixed by the enchantment.

"Ohhh..."They all gasped in unison, turning all around to admire the magical phenomenon of the luminous stones.

"Thank you, I'm doing well and Virginie is too!" Kalaan said, as the two of them laughed.

Amélie was the first to see him lying on the ground in Virginie's arms and went to him with a worried look on her face."Darius has escaped! What are you doing lying there on the grass?" she asked, in surprise, but then returned to admire the shining stones again.

"I died. Well Catherine did. And I was resuscitated, as myself, as Kalaan."

"What?" Amélie gasped, her legs almost giving way under her.

"Would the three of you please tell my family and friends what happened here? I'm far too tired to do it." Kalaan murmured, closing his eyes while Virginie lovingly stroked his hair.

And so the young woman told Darius' insane story, about the Poisoners' Guild and why he murdered her father and Georges. She also described his murderous rage when he tried to shoot Catherine. Dorian and Jaouen took over from there, telling them about the magic, the young highlander's background, that he was a child of the gods and how he'd killed Darius.

After a long moment of silence, Kalaan finally asked Jaouen, "Why didn't I feel any pain when I transformed in Ginny's presence?"

"But because you are soulmates, of course!" the druid explained, blowing smoke from his nose. "'Tis as simple as that. I told you, son, your destiny is preordained!"

The story was slowly revealed and the stones lost their radiance plunging the group in darkness.

"Did anyone think to bring a lamp?" Kalaan asked laughing, "Because I can't see a thing! Nothing, nada, rien du tout3, netra4!" He was amused by the fact that his night vision was gone, which could only mean one thing; he was no longer under the curse.

"Ya! To be completely certain we'll have to wait 'til tomorrow morning, so don't be so cocky!" Jaouen replied to his unspoken words.

"Stop doing that!" Kalaan fulminated, making everyone laugh. "Dorian, could you light our way back to the house with your magic?"

"No, I am sorry, but I'm too tired for that."

"What if we built a campfire and spent the night here? I've always wanted to do that!" exclaimed Clovis, who had dropped his eternally disdainful attitude.

"Hurrah for the campfire!" Lil' Louis agreed, "but we need light to look for the wood."

Again, everyone laughed together happy that everything had ended well and to be surrounded by loved ones. Guided by the weak light of Jaouen's tinder lighter, they managed to collect branches and start a fire. They were sitting down nestled close to one another to keep warm when Clovis returned dragging an enormous tree trunk. He shrugged at his companions teasingly telling him he could have brought a bigger piece of wood and put it on the fire anyway.

"At least this will last all night!" he chanted before sitting down next to his brother Jaouen, and the two men began singing a song in Breton.

The night continued in the same spirit; very few of them slept and no one was cold, thanks to Clovis' tree trunk. In the wee hours of the morning, eyes burning from lack of sleep everyone held their breath and watched Kalaan, waiting for the sun's first rays to appear.

The sun came up in the sky, shining its light on the sea and the cliffs and finally caressed the faces of Kalaan, Virginie and the rest of the small group with its gentle warmth. There was no transformation. Catherine was gone forever, freeing Kalaan of the curse, through his supreme sacrifice.

"Kenavo5 Catherine, " Kalaan whispered with emotion, thinking of the lady pirate.

An adieu spoken in Breton, homage to the wildcat, now gone, that the whole grouped joined in saying. Even Skedaddle howled with them, muzzle pointed to the sky.

"Demat6, Kalaan, " Virginie murmured lovingly in his ear before the kissed passionately, while the men whistled joyously and Amélie and Isabelle laughed.

At that moment Isabelle's eyes met Dorian's and a very special and unique current passed between them, a current that only exists between soulmates.

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