Bash was standing in the corridor when he recognized a familiar face. Bash approached Nostradamus with curiosity. "Why did you come back? Why now?" Bash asked.
Nostradamus looked at him with eyes that contained the same horror and pain found in Bash's own eyes. "I can't escape who I am. None of us can. I was meant to be here, I know that now."
"But Catherine is gone, banished."
Nostradamus almost smiled. "I serve the crown, just as you do." They paused as a group of young nobles passed them, laughing at a joke, happy that the day was saved. "You and I will never be like them—nobles, barons, lords, and husbands happy and content with a normal life. We've seen too much of the darkness, the other world that lives right outside of our reach: ghosts, shadows, curses, true evil."
"People can be evil too. People can be cruel and selfish, heartless, and manipulative. I'll never understand it."
"I see the Lady Kenna is no longer at court," Nostradamus placed a hand on Bash's shoulder. "I am sorry…truly."
"If she truly loved me she wouldn't have deceived me." Bash laughed. "I seem incapable of finding a woman who will love me completely and not for a title, name, or wealth, but for me."
"May I be frank?" Nostradamus asked. "Years ago as a widower I never thought I could ever feel for anyone the way I did for my wife, yet I found love again. But I was afraid of losing someone I loved for the second time, so I pushed her away, and because of that I missed the opportunity to be happy once more…I drove her away, but when I finally realized that I truly loved her and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her…I was too late."
Nostradamus looked down at his feet with tears in his eyes. "I did not reach her in time…" Bash patted the older man's shoulders to comfort him. After a moment Nostradamus continued to speak: "Don't run away. Do not run away from your life, your responsibilities, do not run away from the ones you love…no matter how much pain you feel now you would do best to stay and cherish the love you do have in your life."
"My mother left me without so much as a goodbye, my wife deceived me, my father went mad, and Mary abandoned me without a second thought—"
"Francis. You love your brother more than anyone in the world and he loves you. He trusts you. Go to him, be his brother again. Do not spend the rest of your life hiding in the woods. You don't have to walk alone. You have your family and they love you—your brothers and sisters. And from here on out you have me as a friend, a mentor. Stay at court and spend your time with the ones you love because you cannot waste your life focusing on hate and darkness, ghosts and spells. A life alone in the dark is no life at all."
"You want me to open a window?"
Nostradamus nodded. "I believe we have much in common and I could use an assistant, a protégé, but most of all: a friend."
Bash smiled. "I'd like that." Somewhere a window opened and suddenly the room grew brighter.