Knights of Stone: Calum by Lisa Carlisle
Calum needed to fly, to escape the claustrophobic confines of the pub in Inverness. Only flight could provide relief from the stuffiness closing in around him. The stale stench of beer and perspiration tingled his nostrils. The din of voices around him reverberated in his head. The Knights of Stone, the band he and his brothers had created, had played until midnight. Although the lassies surrounded him after their set, as they often did, he avoided their attention to head for the exit.
“You’re not leaving again, are you?” his older brother, Gavin, asked.
“I need air.”
“It’s the third time in a fortnight. Something’s definitely off with you lately.”
Maybe Gavin was right. Calum’s usual restlessness had shifted recently. Instead of chasing the lasses after the rush onstage as front man of their band, he’d been escaping to the wide-open space of the night skies.
He searched the shadowy area behind the brick building for a hidden spot where he could shift to his winged form. Humans were out this evening, but none were attracted to the dark alley.
Calum cloaked himself before shifting. He flew away from the club up toward the crescent moon, which was clouded by a swirl of mist. Nothing like soaring through the night to invigorate him. Flight calmed him, as it did for most gargoyles. While he spent much of the day restoring his energy in stone form under the sun, at night he came alive. He’d then pursue one of his three favorite activities — flying, performing, or—entertaining. He smirked. He and Gavin relished the female attention, especially after their three brothers had found mates. Since their brothers had placed bets on who’d be next to find a mate, both Calum and Gavin pushed to the extreme to avoid it.
Although Calum still burned from the rush on stage, something was missing. He had everything he thought he’d wanted with the band and living with his brothers in their small clan on the Isle of Stone, yet he sought solitude in flight more often.
Why he did plagued his mind as he sought the clarity during the flight. A short break had turned into a longer flight, full of introspection. Calum soared farther than he’d planned, along Loch Ness and then inland. The shadowed mountain peaks ahead framed a foreboding entryway under the lingering fog that clouded the night.
He paused, hovering in the air. His gargoyle instincts flared. Something was off. He engaged all his senses, listening for a sign of distress, anything to identify the source of his unease. He flew deeper inland, the rolling fields darker than emeralds under the stars, and the disturbing sensation heightened.