Wow. It's been nearly a year since i've updated. This fic is actually complete – I finished it last year. But I guess a lot happens in a year, so you just kind of put these things off and forget and hmm … i'll spare you all the details, and I also apologise for the great delay and the lack of review responses. I hope that some of you are still reading, and still have faith in me, and thankyou to those who've stuck by me. It means a lot. I'll hush now, and I promise that I'll have review responses next time. Thankyou again.
.thieves of samurett
Twigs broke beneath her feet. They were shards of glass and they ripped through the soles of her shoes. She was running as fast as she could and yet every movement felt like an eternity. Everything was an endless bath of darkness and trees and screeching owls. She twisted round them, took any route that offered emptiness, less to bump into, an escape route, anything. Saber's cape whipped around her and she felt it catch on something. She was suddenly jerked backwards and then she slipped and fell back.
Polly felt the blood pump through her veins, her head, like an incessant drumbeat. There was a shrilling call at the back of her ears and inside her stomach jerked something up. She looked back, stumbling, and tried to wrench it off the tree but by then the creature was before her. The growling intensified, teeth bared, and she looked up at it – unable to move, breathe, speak. Tears began to well up in her eyes and then it was upon her, a vision of splattered white that shivered like frost under the moonlight.
It was above her, her arms pinned down to the floor, and eyes were like crystals, just staring down. Where was she? She closed her eyes and felt that she was laid out on her bed. It was winter. There was frost, bleeding all over her window ledge. She was inside. It was warm, and beside her was a table, a mug of something hot. The steam wafted up into her lilac hangings and from outside there was a shout.
A heap of snow, splattering across her window.
She opened her eyes to watch it.
Above her, the beast was growling.
It bent its head down, nuzzled her cheek slightly. Testing her, maybe? Teasing her? Playing with its food. Its claws tightened over her arms, nails digging, ever so slightly, into the whiteness of her wrists. She felt herself squirm, the delicacy of someone unused to pain. There was a stinging and it moved down to nuzzle her neck. Wetness and fur. The tears began to well up in her eyes and she felt a push, the heaviness of her chest. Thick, rasping breaths, as if breathing would alert it, make it move suddenly and do something. Anything. She didn't want it to do that anything.
She wanted to close her eyes again, to go back to the bed and the frost and Timothy banging on her door telling her to wake up, Polly, wake up. No, she wanted to go back. She wanted to go further but the frost was fading, dripping down the burning painting and seeping out of her hollowed eyes. All she could feel was the fire and the heat and the wet muzzling of the massive creature as it gently, gently, pushed itself against her. There was no past. There was no future. Just a stark present and her churning stomach as it suddenly bared its teeth in an almost feral smile.
She closed her eyes again, tightly, and waited. Nothing. There was a weight, lifted off of her suddenly and then it was gone. Nothing. She opened her eyes, sat up, and it stood at the base of a tree in the distance, watched her for a moment. Its eyes shot white, glinted like crystals, and then it turned and ran, back into the darkness.
Around her, the night grew colder.
Polly watched after the place it had last stood, a vision of white and frost and crystals like the snow that splattered across her window. She felt the need to remember it, memorise its every detail, and then the cold around her rustled. Goosebumps crinkled across her flesh like biting needles and she was suddenly aware of her loneliness, the wind above her, the endless night.
Where was she?
She'd ran so much and so far that she no longer remembered the way that she had came or where she was going. She was lost, and with this realisation came a sudden rush of sickness, panic, and the inability to move. If she moved, walked, would she get lost even more? Was it best to stay still and wait, sleep, wait for daylight when things were warmer and safer? But then what if the wolf was only gone for a little while? If she waited, would it come back – or, even worse, would Caleb somehow find her?
With all of these thoughts milling through her head, rocking back and forth in her mind like a little child or the horse it sometimes sits on, she moved back again, gently easing the cape off the tree branch. Luckily, it didn't tear and for that she was thankful. She didn't know what was going to happen, or where she was going to go from here, but somewhere inside of her there was a small sense of responsibility – traits built within her from childhood, the need to return that which was not hers.
As a result of the fall, her foot had snagged on something sharp and dark which she couldn't quite make out. It was stinging now, a hot, searing pain and she could feel the blood running down her ankle, into her tattered shoes. If the wolf came again, she wouldn't be able to run. Polly tried to stand up but every movement sent a spasm shooting up her legs. She clung to the trees for support, slowly sifting her way through layers and layers of foliage. If she kept walking in one direction, it was only logical that she would, somehow, find her way out of the forest to some more open place, and then, eventually, that open place would lead to civilisation. It was logical. It had to be.
With that in mind she kept moving forward, frequently thinking of her mother and her father, Timothy, and her lilac bed hangings, her swinging dresses, hot drinks in the winter and the fat man who drew their family portrait every summer. There were only a few months left until summer. She wondered what dress she would wear this year, how the man would make her stand – would he use oils, like he normally did, or would he take mother's advice and try something new, fresh? Now she could feel herself in one of her new dresses, the raw silk with the lace and the bell sleeves and the square neckline for which she needed to get some sort of locket or necklace. It was swishing around her feet, touching the tips of her toes and it felt slightly awkward because she wasn't too keen on raw silk – she preferred georgette, satin – but it was pretty and the tailor had said that the design only worked on this material; it just didn't look right on anything else. And it had to look right. The tailor knew what she was talking about far better than Polly did and it was best to do it her way because she didn't want to wear a dress that looked pretty but wrong. It was like Layna's dress two summers ago at Annabelle's ball with the swishy brown skirt and the v-neckline with the black lace underneath and the black cuffs. It looked pretty but the colours were wrong and every girl in the hall had talked about it up until the end of winter.
She didn't want to be talked about up until the end of winter. It was more than enough that they always talked about her friendship with Timothy.
Time was slipping past like a breeze or dripping water. With no contact to civilisation she was unaware as to if time was moving quickly, or slowly, because it wasn't doing either. It just sludged past, something unknown like the piles and piles of trees stacked up before her. Her eyes were wide open, raking the darkness, and then she saw light – a faint glimmer of something in the distance. It was muffled yet white, stark, real.
A sudden queasy feeling at the pit of her stomach – happiness, excitement, relief, maybe? – pushed her forward. Feet that raked against the edges of tattered rock, mud, broken twigs touched the edge of a clearing. She peered out between a gap in the trees to the source of the light. Before her was a small stretch of grass, rocks and a river. A single tree perched in the water, surrounded by rocks, and then on the other side was another stretch of grass and more trees. Polly watched the water's surface, climbed out into the clearing. It let off an eerie glow, a soft, almost undiscernable shiver of light. It was enough, though. A beacon in the darkness. She stumbled to the river's edge and then collapsed in the grass. Her breathing was heavy, raking, and she pushed herself forward on her knees, then, when she was close enough, she slipped off her shoes and dipped her aching foot into the water.
An intake of breath, and a stinging pain cut through her leg. Water stained scarlet and bleeding ripples cascaded out, then faded, into the glowing river. She tried to slow her erratic breathing. Inhale. Exhale. It quickened with each gasping breath and she clamped her eyes tightly shut, tried to think. Think. Think. Of anything.
Thrashing sunlight. The edge of a grassy hill and a black bird, circling into the air. A young boy, a few years her senior, standing at the edge. Light hit him like angels beating their wings. She watched him, wishing he would fly.
He turned then, looked at her, and smiled in that unreadable way that he always did.
"I've got a present for you."
"Close your eyes."
She opened them.
A little girl was sat before her, staring.
The girl suddenly stiffened. Her skin was white, glowing in the same eerie way as the river. She was bent over on her knees, one leg on either side of Polly's foot. Bleeding ripples brushed her white knee caps and her hands were placed flat in the water. She began to crawl forward and Polly stopped screaming, suddenly frozen to the spot. Her whole body, her mind, was numb. The girl carried on crawling until her body was pressed up against Polly's, their foreheads touching.
Her eyes were cold. Grey.
"Yaya, my pyari little one, is that any way to welcome our guest?"
Grey eyes blinked.
The voice continued. "Look at the poor bacchii, she's practically wetting herself. Please do come back here and play with your toys."
The girl frowned a little and her forehead creased. For a moment she seemed to contemplate something and then suddenly she slipped backwards into the water as if something was sucking her in from behind. For a few seconds only her head drifted above the water's surface, surrounded by Polly's fading blood, and then that also disappeared.
Polly's heart was thumping so hard in her chest she felt it would explode. Part of her wanted to look around to see where the voice had came from but an even bigger part just wanted to sink into the grass and disappear.
"Hey," his voice pressed through the air. "Hey, bacchii, over here."
She looked around. Nothing.
"The tree, darling."
She looked up. Hanging upside down from the tree in the water was what looked like a massive bat. She squinted a little, then let out a sigh of relief. It was Eclipse, the boy in the black bandana from the night of the ball: the nice one.
"Can you see me?"
The glow from the river traced the edges of his features. He was grinning but, as he was upside down, it looked like a frown. He swung his arms a little and then flung himself up, spiralled, and was then sat, legs folded, on the tree branch.
He cocked his head to the side.
She creased her forehead. There was a silence and it unnerved her. She shifted a little. He carried on watching her.
"Aren't you going to talk?" she asked.
He grinned a little. "Do you want me to talk?"
She nodded a little.
"Okay then," he said and then added, "As you wish, my lady." He half bowed at his vantage point. It brought a smile to her face and he smiled back at her. At that moment she felt something that she hadn't felt in days, what seemed like years – a sudden warmth, security. She knew, somewhere inside of her, that she was safe with him.
He seemed to consider for a moment, and then he playfully grinned. "And what brings you to this part of the wood?"
"I –" She shrugged, "I got lost."
She wanted him to ask why she was in the wood in the first place so that she could tell him everything. He didn't. "Oh."
There was another silence. She pulled the cape tighter around herself. She wanted him to talk to her so badly. The darkness was making her numb.
"So," she started off, and then she hesitated, then spoke, "where are the other two?"
He shifted a little on the tree branch and adjusted his legs, letting them swing over the side. "Who cares, yaara? We're here, aren't we?"
"Come on. Talk."
"My foot's bleeding."
"O ho, ye thaw bohat buri baat heh yaara. Kya huwa?"
Polly creased her forehead.
"What happened, my dear?"
"I tripped," she explained. "Or something like that."
"That's no good."
"Does it hurt?"
"Yes. A lot."
He seemed to contemplate for a moment, pressed his hands against the tree branch and then swung his legs a little more. Then he cocked his head to look up at the sky – clusters and clusters of distant stars and then the moon, a single white disk glued onto a black mattress. Polly followed his gaze, curious as to what he was thinking.
Then, suddenly, he jumped.
There was a massive splash and water careened into the air – a whirlpool of white crystal. In moments he was sat at her feet, bleeding foot cupped between his hands. Polly watched as he traced his fingers over the cut, then gently began to massage her: first the sole, then the sides and gently, ever so gently, around the ankles. A warmth crept up between her toes and she looked down, feeling suddenly shy.
"Talk," he said. She looked up and he was staring straight at her, grinning cheekily. She looked down again and his fingers traced back to the sole of her foot. "Feeling any better?" She vaguely nodded. "Hey –" He began to tickle the bottom of her foot.
Polly started to laugh and then he stopped.
She looked up at him, grinning a little, and he grinned back.
"Now talk about something." He put her foot down, gently, onto the grass, then he pulled his knees up to his chest.
"Where am I?"
He cocked his head to the side.
"You ask deep questions."
"You're in a wood, by a river."
She frowned. "You know that's not what I mean."
He grinned a little. "Can I ask a question – that is, if you don't mind…"
"No." She shook her head. "I won't mind."
"Why are you still wearing Saber's cape?"
"I fell asleep in it," she explained.
She shifted a little in the silence. "Why?"
"Why did you ask me?"
He tugged at his bandana. "Just wondering, is all."
"Well…" He paused for a moment. "I think you should give it back to him, you know. He's been complaining about it ever since you took it and it doesn't really look good, if you get what I mean."
"I don't understand."
"Well, how do I explain this…" He contemplated for a moment, then looked back up at the sky, then met her gaze and smiled a little. Polly smiled back. He continued, "I'm just saying – when you borrow something of someone else's you obviously have to return it. Normally you'd return it in your own time but if the other person keeps complaining about it not being returned, well, it just doesn't look right, you know? It makes you look bad."
"I'm telling you this because I can tell that you both don't really click," he continued. "So I don't want you to get along any less than you already do. I mean, that is if you do ever end up seeing each other again."
Polly nodded vaguely. Her head was starting to hurt now, a slow, shifting ache that drifted through her temples. She brought a hand up to her forehead and gently pressed. Masked eyes followed the direction of her fingertips.
"Your head hurts?"
"Do you want me to massage it?"
"No, no," she shook her head. "I'm okay. Don't worry about it."
He muttered under his breath. "That's easier said than done."
She vaguely caught his words. "What?"
"Oh, nothing, yaara. Now tell me, how did you cut your foot?"
"No." Polly shook her head. "I want to know what you said."
"It's not important."
"No, tell me." She'd heard, just barely, and she didn't understand what he meant. She had to hear him say it, or explain.
"I didn't say anything. Now does your foot feel any better?"
"Yes – thank-you. You massage nicely."
He dramatically bowed. "Always glad to be of service."
Polly grinned, happy for the first time in days. "You're quirky," she informed him. "I've never met anyone who ... gestures ... the way that you do."
Eclipse didn't reply, only stood up and brushed imaginary dust off his clothes. He was tall, incredibly so, and she at once felt tiny and shadowed: unsure. It was as if she would never reach him; no matter what she did she'd never come close to his height, his majesty, that simple, erect way he poised himself like the very moon itself. The moon, swathed in darkness.
He bent over slightly, gave her his hand. She took it. They both knew that he wasn't the one pulling her up. He was only the support, the friendly gesture. When people gave you their hands if they truly pulled, it would hurt your arms. She had to support at least three quarters of the weight herself. Once on her feet, she was momentarily wobbly, her foot slightly sore from the cut. Not terribly sore, though. Not sore like before. She regarded it, confused. How had it stopped hurting so easily?
"Let's head back then," Eclipse's voice snapped her out her reverie. "Back to the house, so that you can get some rest. We've had enough fun for one night." He offered her another boyish smirk, warmth that tingled through her veins. She was tempted to take it, draw it, in. She felt safe, warm, comforted. She felt that if she went with him he'd wrap her up and take her home and nothing bad would ever happen again. He'd make her forget. Fire threatened to creep in from the edges of her mind. She wanted so badly to forget.
Polly forced her next words, wanting to say the exact opposite, "No, I can't go back to the house."
She wanted him to argue with her, tell her that she had to and that he'd be the one to look after her. Instead, he immediately perked up, "Where shall we go then? Deeper into the forest, the mountains, past Samurett and across the seas to the lands beyond..." He dramatically gestured, "or we could just go to the nearby town and break into people's houses."
She laughed a little, unsure. "Why would we do something as...something like that?"
She thought that he was joking. One look at his face told her that he wasn't. He was giving her a funny look, as if she were stupid or naive to even ask such a question.
"You're not serious, are you?"
He shrugged, suddenly colder – but only slightly, only subtly, "Where to, then?"
Polly shuffled her feet, stretched her toes inside her shoes and somewhere marvelled at the way that they now felt completely fine. "My father," she hesitantly began to explain to him, "I need to find him. He would have been the first person my mother would have gone to when the fire happened. She's probably with him now and they are all probably searching for me. I need to be re-united with them." So that I can finally be safe, she wanted to add, but she didn't. To say so could possibly offend him.
Eclipse was now playing with the ends of his bandana, tying and untying it at the back of his head. She longed to see the hair underneath, catch a glimpse of the colour in the vain hope that she would somehow discover his identity. He seemed disinterested in what she was saying and only offered a muffled, "Hmm" in response.
"Does that mean you'll help me?"
"I'm hungry," he deadpanned, "can we get something to eat first?"
"Of course. Whatever suits you. I don't have any money on hand though. I'd be very grateful if you would buy me something and I shall pay you back later as soon as I locate my father."
"Of course," he half imitated her. The gesture would have made her annoyed if it weren't for the grin that accompanied it, the grin that made her want to instantly giggle. He flamboyantly offered her his hand, "My lady?"
Polly couldn't help herself. She broke into a fit of giggles and took his hand, mock curtseying. They began to calmly walk through the forest, hand in hand, and unlike before she felt safe. There was a warmth about Eclipse, a boyish web that tangled itself around her. Unbreakable, impenetrable.
The forest around them was dark, an eerie Prussian blue yet moon-light was so stark that it highlighted edges. Trees tangled in black shadows like clawing hands and the air was still, still unless she listened. In her mind she saw the boy on the snowy mountain with his white blond hair and his arms stretched out to embrace the sky.
"Listen," he whispered. "Just listen."
"I wish I could see things," she told him, "and hear things and feel things the way that you do. I want to breathe it all in, just like you."
He looked back at her, over his shoulder, and the eyes penetrated. "You can." He gave her his hand. "Take it, and I'll show you."
"Take what?" Eclipse's voice snapped her out her reverie, and then he added, half laughing, "What are you offering?"
"Nothing." Polly pulled her hand away as if burned. He casually walked out in front of her, shoulders shaking from laughter. She watched him duck into gaps between the trees, push away branches with his long fingers. It was hard to make out his outline in the darkness. The blackness of his clothes melted into the night. Her irritation was only short-lived. If she stood standing there annoyed, she would lose him. He was making no move to slow down for her. "Wait," she shouted out, running forward. "Wait for me!"
Jagged roots pulsed out the grounds. She stumbled, half regained her balance and his hand shot out from the darkness to grab her wrist. Without him, there was no balance. She would fall.
"You need to be careful," he told her. The shadows made it that she could no longer see him, only feel his hand on her wrist. A disembodied voice in the night. "You have to walk slowly, otherwise you'll fall over and break your foot instead of only damaging it. Now –" His hand slipped from up her wrists, looped through her fingers. "Don't let go of my hand this time. It only gets darker."
She nodded, even though he could not see, and stayed close. His body heat emanated around them, the soft texture of his fingers relaxing, almost massaging, her. There was a calmness about him – so then why did she keep panicking? Why wouldn't she just relax when every muscle, every part of her body, was just telling her to let go? Polly breathed in, closed her eyes, and let him guide her, control every movement and every direction that they went. She let him take control.
Eventually, she opened her eyes again, and at first the darkness was a shock. Then gradually her eyes adjusted and after walking for what felt like less than a minute – even though she was sure it had been at least an hour – the branches overhead began to clear, the shadows sink back, allowing the moon-light's bone-white glow to rain down from the sky. Now she could see images, outlines, and she was beginning to see things beyond the light, search for things hidden, blanketed, beneath the darkness.
She wanted to hear him tell her that there wasn't much time left. That soon, they would escape the forest and enter the town. As calm as she was, she was steadily growing uncomfortable. His voice, though – she didn't want to shatter the silence. She was trying to hear something, remember something, but she wasn't quite sure what and his words, any words, they would destroy that.
"Wait here for a second." It shattered. He stopped walking, catching her off guard so that she half stumbled and just about manage to regain her balance. "I'll be right back."
His hand slipped out hers and he began to walk ahead.
"Where are you going?"
Eclipse looked to her and she caught his smirk. "Where do you think?"
"I don't know."
"You can always come and watch. I don't mind."
Realisation dawned. "Oh my."
"Want to come?"
"N-no," she spluttered. "Of course not. How –" She wasn't used to men speaking to her in such a crude manner. It caught her completely off guard and she was speechless, but at the same time she felt that she had to say something, which resulted in what would have been blabbering if Eclipse had not quickly cut her off:
"I'll only be a few minutes. And I'll do it far away. We don't want your delicate nose to be polluted by the smell now, do we?"
She was still speechless and managed a shocked, appalled, jumble of words which he probably didn't hear – or, at least, if he did hear them he chose to ignore them as he did not respond. Eclipse sank into the darkness in a moment, as if he had never been separate from him and in that simple moment she was once again on her own. The loneliness, the fear, and the sheer emptiness of the forest swept over her in ice cold breaths that jarred against her skin, whispered words that hissed against her cheeks and fingers that clawed around her ankles – she tried to breathe – and she closed her eyes. Opened them once again. The sky was hollow. Night was all around her. There was no sense of direction, only the uneasy need to wait.
So she waited. And waited. Around her, the air grew colder and she shivered in the moon-light – a trembling shard of frost enveloped in its white light. There were no tree branches above her, only the clear, starless sky and she made no move to enter the trees. At least here she had the comfort of light. But was it a comfort? Her mind inadvertently trailed back to the red-hot flames of all those nights ago, the burning light and choking smoke that coiled, twisted, pressed, pressed, pressed at her insides and her lungs until she could not breathe. The memories flashed and she trembled and looked about herself feverously. She didn't want to be on her own. She wanted her father, her mother, Timothy, even Eclipse. She just wanted Eclipse to come back because she didn't feel safe on her own.
She pushed the memory of the fire out her mind and then whiteness took its place, trembling fur, and she remembered its hot, wet breath as it breathed down at her; the eyes; she did not remember the eyes. All she remembered was the way that it felt and the hot, saline taste of the tears that slipped in between her lips. Polly looked up. Still no Eclipse. Only darkness. She craved more light.
"Eclipse," she called out his name in the darkness. "Eclipse, where are you?"
No answer. The darkness trembled. How long had it been? All she knew was that time was slipping past like sand in an hourglass that she'd tipped upside down once, twice, over and over again. With startling clarity and the sense that something had grabbed her insides, tightened, she realised that he wasn't coming back. She was on her own, stranded in the middle of the forest. She'd been on her own before, though, when she'd escaped the house and she'd been fine then. But that was before the wolf, and the girl in the water – but no. That wasn't the reason. That wasn't the reason that she was trembling and her hands were cold and her insides were frozen with fear. No, it was something else – the absence of warmth ached more hollow than when there had been no warmth to begin with.
So what next?
Polly closed her eyes and listened.
Nothing. She remembered his figure, the image shooting through her mind with startling clarity over and over again. Why did she keep remembering him? What was it about this place that brought back memories, thoughts, that she hadn't considered, even vaguely dwelt on, in years?
She heard something. Polly's shot her eyes open, looked around, and she had to shove a hand over her mouth to stop herself from screaming. Screaming would alert whatever was out there, the logic at the back of her mind told her, but the instinct let out a drowned sound which she had to muffle with her hand. Polly tried to calm herself, stepped back, and watched.
Cut straight through the darkness was a circle of whirring light – a hot yellow. It swirled, round and round, emitting a soft buzzing sound and after the initial shock she was at once mesmerized. It emanated no light, though, highlighted nothing but the inches of air around it and it was moving, she was sure it was moving, but in such unity that she could not fathom where it began and where it ended.
Moments passed and Polly could feel her mind and body be swept with an eerie sense of calm. Her breathing was soft, barely a sound, and there was something dreamlike about the air around her. Movements were separate, something at the back of her consciousness and her mind felt as if it were floating with the circling light. She reached out a hand and her mind did not register the movement – but it was there. She was moving, and light broke off and ricocheted toward her. She didn't move back, just waited, and it rested on her hand. Little white eyes peered up at her and she shifted her fingers, let them feel the air, then turned her hand over. The creature jumped up in a spiral of light and landed on the back of her hand, the little eyes still focused.
Polly breathed, exhale, and a buzzing began to steadily surround her, a soft mutter that rose, rose. She was surrounded by light. Little shapes ricocheted in spirals, beads of dripping light all around her and she reached out her hands to touch them. The creature on her hand was now before her eyes and there were more, ten, twenty, thirty, and army of little yellow bodies with big white eyes and wings like glass feathers. They fluttered in, out, moved backwards and forwards in a never-ending dance and the buzzing became a whisper and then words, soft yet hushed.
The light at once moved back, further away in a ball of luminescent yellow and then it began to spiral off into the forest. Instantly panicked, Polly chased after it, desperate to not lose its ambience, the sense of eerie calm that encompassed her like a drug. She was watching them, breathing them, chasing them and she felt at once like a child tumbling through fields of wading grass, Timothy's hair bouncing before her in a blur and, You'll never catch me. You're too slow.
She reached out her hand and they moved further away, the whispers dancing with the wind.
Follow us. And we'll show you.
They were pushing through trees, bushes, roots that clawed out the ground and for some reason she did not stumble but danced across the ground as if it were air and she were flying, glass wings on her back like the angels before her. The forest around her was muffled and all she could hear were their lilting voices and all she felt was the aching need to touch them, to hear them, to let them show her.
They stopped at the mouth of a cave. Her ears caught the sound of gurgling water – water from the river from earlier. It probably led into somewhere nearby. Trees stood on the sides, their branches hanging down, obscuring the darkened entrance. The little angels lingered there, no longer a circle of unified light but now small separate entities that regarded her, tilted eyes ever-playful. Then they turned and began their descent into the cave. Momentarily she was hesitant and she stood immobile and waiting, considering, but the craving inside of her was too strong. To resist was painful, a defiance of her very body and instincts.
She gazed inside. The entrance was narrow and she fingered the cape around her shoulders, remembering Eclipse's words from earlier. Already, Saber did not like her and there was something about that – the idea of someone who was displeased with her – that made her feel sad and uncomfortable, desperate to make amends. To take the cape with her could have possibly ruined it – it could have gotten caught on the branches or dirtied in the cave. With this in mind, she gently slipped it off her shoulders and hung it carefully over a branch. Then, without a further thought in mind, she began to climb down into the cave.