In time, both of them had their fill of wild fruit and they rested from their meal in the relative comfort of Karolina's room, in the upper section light house. Fortunately, it was still in good enough condition to not have any leaking water from the storm outside, not even through the edges of the metal hatch at the top of the ladder to the roof. And yet, the shovel witch found Bali-la staring up in that direction repeatedly.
"Listening to the storm?" Karolina asked, not thinking about anything at the moment. She found she tended to become lethargic in those few times she experienced eating well.
"Well... partly," said Bali, rather cryptic. "You don't hear that?"
Karolina yawned and stretched. "No. Just the rain on the stone. Why, what do you hear?"
Bali didn't immediately answer. Her face slowly grew focused and serious. "Not the storm..." she again answered vaguely.
"Geists?" asked her host after an idle moment of trying to make a guess. "Don't worry, they can't get up here. For whatever reason, geists don't climb. Or they can't. I don't know." It was a useful tidbit of information she learned early on in life. Those shadowy beings that plagued Xibalba inexplicably did not climb. And as long as they couldn't breach the main door downstairs, there was nothing to worry about concerning them in the light house. She was fairly certain they were intimidated just by its existence, too.
Again, Bali concentrated, offering little back. "It sounds like... the clinking of metal. Chains, in particular."
The blood sank out of Karolina's face and she nearly coughed up her dinner, before becoming still of body and donning a haunted expression. How? How did the Xibalban hear 'that'? High above, under a hatched roof, and in the middle of a rainstorm, no less! This was bad. Very bad. No one was supposed to know. And it had slipped her mind only for sake that she hadn't had any guests after all this time. The shovel witch felt sick to her stomach, suddenly wishing she hadn't eaten so many apples. But that nausea was a distant concern. The reality was far more troubling.
Then she caught Bali-la looking at her. It wasn't the smile she had been offered all this time. Instead, it felt... accusing. Karolina felt herself withering under the Xibalban's gaze. If she had the presence of mind, she wound have hidden one of the greatest skeletons in her closet. But she was caught off guard and the Xibalban woman seemed to pick up on the vibe the witch had now surrounded herself with. Neither said anything to the other.
After a short period of time, Bali-la stood up and padded her way to the nearby roof access ladder. "I'm going to head up top, if you don't mind. I'd like to get a better sense of whatever I heard."
Karolina couldn't meet her gaze, instead burying her face in her shirt. "Uh, I'd rather you didn't... it's a bad storm outside. Probably just some loose, um, debris out there, you know..." It felt insincere as an excuse. Her words trailed off and she mumbled to herself. She couldn't even fake her anxiety. "I would, uh... just... can you not do that?"
"Why?" Bali asked with quiet firmness.
Karolina badly wanted to suppress the issue. Somehow, some way, anything to make this stop. But the Xibalban merely observed her and found the witch could not give her a proper answer.
"Coming?" Bali asked, as she began to ascend the iron wrought ladder. Karolina grit her teeth and winced, sighing audibly. Nodding, she followed behind the barbarian woman. She could only now hope the Xibalban woman would cease the suspicion she exhibited and forget the matter entirely. But Karolina knew it couldn't be that easy. She wondered if the Xibalban could see just how dirty her working hands were. There were some stains that one simply couldn't wash away, after all. And Karolina, as long as she had been alone, had managed to carry the guilt of her foolishness in relative discretion.
Woooh, boy!!!! Amazing page. But the unsettling text has sequestered fantasy. CRAP!!!!