After the Crusaders most recent mission former General Astral and Commander Rosalie have yet to make direct contact with each other. Locked away in her room Rosalie receives a soft knock to her door, the moon looming among the clouds outside, half concealed and particularly gray.
“Roselee?” A tired voice spoke against the large door.
Rosalie sat at her desk for what felt like years, but she knew it had only been a few hours, if perhaps a few days. Her nose was red and dark circles lay below her eyes, but the illness that kept her away from the Crusaders this past mission was the least of her concerns. She stared blankly into space; she mechanically reached for her second bottle of wine since Jeremy the Intern came a-knocking. The cork was already removed, somewhere in the abyss that stretched between her desk and the door.
But not even the strongest brew arvirs could buy could make up for this betrayal. Oh no.
She fought for him; she sang his praises; she gave him chance after chance after chance. She gave him all the opportunity in the world to be honest with her—can you handle this job? Do you want this? Can I depend on you? Will you do the right thing even if I disagree? Will you do what’s best for the group? Do you care about these people? Will you be my general?
Yes, he said, to every single one of her questions. He swore his loyalty. He swore his devotion. He swore, he swore, he swore.
And every promise lay in shambles. Rosalie’s best friend betrayed her. He was a liar and a coward and she never wanted to see him again.
Rosalie was about to murmur a slurred “go away” until she realized the knock was too gentle and too soft to be any of the Crusaders. No, this was the timid knock of a child, the only child that Rosalie would get up and answer for.
She reached for the lock and turned it, it clicking out of place. She tentatively opened her door, trying to put on some kind of face of normalcy.
Sinder barely reached Rosalie’s knee’s, the calico cat Felis desperately trying to rub the sleep from his eyes.
“Roselee, where’s Astral? I woke up and he wasn’t in bed. Is he on a mission?” The boy asked innocently, a yawn escaping his lips as the sentence ended.
” Astral doesn’t like me going outside when its dark, but I wanna know” In the process of speaking Sinder made way into Rosalies room, dropping himself in the corner he commonly played.
A breath caught in Rosalie’s throat. She hasn’t seen Astral since before the mission, since before he resigned. If Sinder doesn’t know where he is…
Rosalie swallowed, “No, sweetling, he isn’t. Not that I know of. He didn’t leave a note or anything?” She walked over to the corner with him, pulling out the set of blocks that she carved him. They had letters in both common and Sylvan on each side, each meticulously painted a different color. “I can go outside with you, if you want. Or you can sleep in here tonight if you don’t want to be alone.” Her voice was uncharacteristically gentle. She had no idea why, but this child wormed his way into her heart, something she never thought possible, as children essentially were 50% snot.
Sinder huffed a bit, obviously bothered by the fact that Astral was missing and his sleep was interrupted.
“If he’s not on a mission he will be back, but now I have to yell at him!” Sinder said with his best roar, knocking over a block with his paw. The two sat together for about an hour until the Felis could no longer keep himself up, curling into a ball on the floor.
As Sinder slept Rosalie was left to her own thoughts, the breeze outside beat against her window, it was cold tonight. As the clouds swirled and shifted the sky resembled a storm, one without rain, without lightning, without sound, but brewing overhead. The Felis tossed and turned, letting a key slip out the pocket of his shirt. Astrals bedroom key.
Rosalie opened a chest of miscellaneous things that she kept for the child. She pulled out a fuzzy quilt and draped it over his little form, tsking at the fact that the boy forgot his shoes again. She was surprised he hadn’t gotten hurt yet. And then she shook her head, dispelling the maternal thoughts. She was not one to really give a shit either way. It was really freaking her out.
So she returned to her desk and her wine and watched him sleep. A shiny key slipped out of his pocket, falling underneath the little blanket. It glistened in the light of the torches keeping her room lit. She took a long draft from the bottle.
It was wrong. It was so wrong. It was absolutely illegal and inappropriate.
But she picked it up, slipped it in her pocket, and left a note for the boy to stay put. She left her room and swiftly, carefully, without alerting anyone, slipped into Astral’s room, her heart beating frantically in her ears. What she found, however…
Empty. Absolutely empty. The windows locked, the bed in shambles thanks to Sinders exit, the torches still put out with only the moons light gleaming through. Arvirs lay stacked on the Lupus’ desk along with an equally organized pile of books. The room was silent, so silent that it actually hurt to stand in, not a sound being exuded aside from the crackle of burning wood. Rosalie stood there, bathed in the windows light, the little that remained as the clouds swirled in a fierce rage.
Rosalie held her breath, for she didn’t want to interrupt the eerie serenity of the empty room. Her heart beat faster—she knew she shouldn’t be here, but she was paralyzed, looking out into the storm brewing. The silence echoed straight through her. Numbness spread from within.
Did she know Astral at all any more?
He hadn’t said a word to her since before the mission. Weren’t they family? They were best friends, partners. They told each other everything. They could communicate with just a look. They were completely vulnerable to each other—what changed in one simple night?
Even so, he left Sinder without any indication of where he went. Why would he abandon a child? That was unlike him, especially since he was so protective of those he cared about, especially innocents.
The Commander begun to tremble. Cold rushed over her. She crossed her arms and turned away from the empty room. It hurt to look at. It was torture simply being there.
So she left, desperate for fresh air, and didn’t care in the slightest about the rain.
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