Cyndi's feet were sore. She had been running for days without sleep or food. The weather was now warm and damp as opposed to the snow up north from where she came.

She wished she had taken more food with her when she left the Manor, but she was in a hurry. She had to get to the castle before he did or everything would be ruined. Everything her family had worked so hard to get would be for nothing. They would be hunted and no one would even care. Marcus had left four hours before her, but even he wouldn't be able to fend off some of the traps her family had set up for him. Still, he was fast; Cyndi knew he hadn't been caught. Once he was she would know, they would send her the signal and then she could slow down and gain her strength.

She came to a clearing in the forest; from there she could see the walls surrounding the castle. She hadn't been to the castle since she was four, but from here it still looked the same. The huge grey walls were only penetrated by the five massive towers emerging from the centre of the courtyard where the Castle was. From here it looked as if the Castle was nothing more than these spires, but Cyndi knew better. She knew that once she entered through the surrounding wall and walked through the town, she would see the hundred steps up to the Castle. From her memories; the Castle was a mismatch of circular and square buildings, only disturbed by the towers. It was the most beautiful tower she had ever seen and she couldn't wait to see it again.

She was loosing energy. Her feet were dragging and her eyes closing. She could hear a thumping in her ears that was getting louder every step she took. Wait, she thought, the thumping was more of a running noise and since her pace had slowed to a very slow walk, she knew someone was following her.

Cyndi whirled around and found Marcus standing right behind her. He had a look in his eyes that told Cyndi she was about to die.

"Hello Cyndi," he snarled and he lunged for her.

She turned and ran but her clumsy legs tripped over a rock and she went down. Marcus jumped on top of her. He punched her in the stomach and she gasped for breath. Cyndi tried to kick out at him but he was to strong. He put his weight on her legs, held both her hands in one of his and punched her once more in the stomach then he hit her hard across the face. Cyndi could hear noises in the back of her mind.

He leaned in closer and whispered in her ear "this is for what you and your family did to my family," he pulled her head back by the hair as she tried once more to break free "I'm going to send you back to them in little pieces."

He removed his right hand from her hair and reached back to retrieve a knife from the waistband of his trousers. He held it high above her head.

This is it, she thought, this time he is really going to kill me. She closed her eyes; she didn't want the last thing she saw to be his evil face hovering above her. Suddenly there was a long whistling, then Cyndi felt something damp splatter her face. She opened her eyes and stifled a scream. There was an arrow produced through Marcus' chest, his eyes were wide in a silent scream and blood was pouring from his open mouth. His hands went limp and he fell back. She pushed him off her and stood up. She looked around; over a hundred feet away there were four men on horses, one of them had a crossbow held in his right hand, but what she noticed the most was that they were all wearing the royal colours; red and gold.

Cyndi knew she had to send the message to her Mother before these men came any closer. She pushed the dead body of Marcus off her and stood up. She ran to the cover of the trees, back the way she had come. The Royal horsemen stopped, all of them looking shocked. Cyndi ignored then. She kept running for the trees. She had only ever sent two messages like this before. They were very easy to do once you knew how but they used up an awful lot of energy and you had to be at least twenty feet away from another human being or else their thoughts would transfer along with your. Cyndi looked around at the horsemen; they were far enough away now, but they were starting to move again. She knelt down on the forest floor and placed both her hands on the ground. She tried to find the places where everything connected; were the earth beneath her corresponded to the earth her mother walked on. How the air surrounding her connected to the air around her mother. She got the connection. All she had to do now was open her mind to her mothers.

She had to hurry; she could already feel herself getting lightheaded. She cleared her head and thought of only two words… he's dead.

Cyndi tried to hold on for her mother's response but her vision was going black and her head starting to droop. She was about to let go when she heard her mother's voice in the back of her mind:

Good girl

Then everything went black.

XXX

Cyndi woke in a high ceilinged room with marvellous paintings and sun shining in through the numerous windows. She tried to sit up but small hands pushed her shoulders down.

"You must lie down Miss, you have not yet regained your strength," said a small voice from beside her head. Cyndi turned her head and winced at the sudden sharp pain that shot through her. Beside her was a petite girl with long blonde hair and pale skin. She was wearing a knee length pink and white dress the fell out like a bell below the waist. It looked expensive. The girl seemed to be about eight or nine.

She looked up at Cyndi and smiled "my name is Alyssa, and I have to take care of you," she didn't say it like it was an obligation but rather that it was her own decision to take care of Cyndi and she was very pleased about that. "Do you know where you are?" asked Alyssa.

Suddenly it all came flooding back to her; the long journey, Marcus dying, the men on horses and her message to her mother. "I was in the forest," she said "and there were men there. They were on horses."

Alyssa nodded as if she could see the exact memory Cyndi was talking about "that was my brother and his friends. They were about to go out on a hunt when they saw you being attacked by that man. My brother shot an arrow through him but he said he must have scared you because you started running for the woods. When he reached you, you had already fainted. They took you here to the castle to get you taken care of," she smiled now "I checked you over for injuries from your attack, but other than exhaustion and hunger, you were fine. Actually, that reminds me; I was supposed to give you this when you woke up," she helped Cyndi into a sitting position and placed a tray on her lay. On the tray were two freshly baked rolls and a large bowl of soup. "And you are not allowed out of bed until you finish every last bit," she said putting on a stern voice, then laughing.

Cyndi liked the Alyssa, she seemed sweet. She started to eat her soup. Cyndi didn't realise how hungry she was until she heard the hollow sound the food made as it hit her stomach. She had the whole thing finished within five minutes.

"Wait a minute," Cyndi's mind was racing backwards "did you say we are in the Castle?" she gasped as Alyssa nodded her head.

Alyssa did a little curtsey and giggled "allow me to introduce myself properly. My name is Princess Alyssa Leighton Blair Gabelle of Castellum."


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