Oh goodness. I haven't updated this story in ages. And I must say I'm not that pleased with the quality of my writing this time around, but please bear with me while I get back into the rhythm of things. Thanks for reading and please do leave me a review (:

17. Fawn

As time turns,

Men will hunt each other.
Will you forgive me,
If I turn on my brother?

Emmy wandered through the stark corridors of Silverthorn castle, letting the weathered floorboards beneath her groan as the gales from the sea moaned and howled around her. The whole building seemed to have been neglected for decades, and unlike Metheus' mansion, no one had bothered to maintain it and now it stood almost bare to its skeleton of rough grey stones. Its windows reminded her of weeping sores that the ill children at the orphanage had sported. It was strange that Lord Silverthorn had not repaired his house, for with some care and time the castle could have been a magnificent fortress. Perhaps he did not care for the place, but it did seem odd, as Lord he was a proud man and kept his home in the capital in the best of conditions. Even the servants here were sparse and the maids who had come along with Aurelia and Emmy had had to do all the work, instead of just combing their hair and help them dress. Metheus and the other men were now almost used to saddling their horses themselves instead of waiting for the single stablehand to do it for them. But none of them had dared to ask Leidon why her household staff was so thin and why her house was in neglect. It was not that they did not have the courage to ask her, for Leidon's sharp tongue was usually just all bark and no bite. It was that they did not want to know. For surely some great tragedy must have happened and its ghosts must still linger and haunt the place.

Thankfully they were only to stay shy of a week, as Aurelia often told her when they met for meals or took strolls through the wild grass that grew like a forest around the building. Yet Emmy somehow liked the place and secretly hoped that their stay was longer. The bleakness of the landscape and the howling of the wind somehow made her feel more at home. The threadbare sheets and fireplace that sputtered black soot in her room comforted her, because somehow they seemed more real than any of the silken cushions and golden carriages that had been plied on her since she became a Blythe. But she could understand why Aurelia did not like the place. Aurelia was too polite to say, but she could tell that she hated the small cramped room Leidon had stuck her in, and missed her queen-sized bed and the slew of handmaids that usually waited on her. Aurelia took no pleasure the way the wind howled at night, like a lonely monster lost and wounded at sea, and abhorred the chill that seeped in through the cracks in the windows and holes in the walls.

The lords had taken it upon themselves to ride their horses far and hard through the surrounding land and came back only when dinner was served. Emmy had taken to reading some of the books she had brought along from Metheus' house or taking long walks along the cliff. Metheus often joined her and together they explored some of the delightful little rock pools scattered nearer the edge or walked all the way down the road to the bottom of the cliff where a small beach lay. Today Emmy was on her own after Codan had cajoled Metheus into riding with them, because Codan wanted to see whether he could ride faster than Metheus, as he had already beaten the others. She had decided to walk down to the beach again for something about the spray of the sea on her face and still of the beach was oddly pleasant. As she walked along the cold hard sand, the noon sun was only just beginning to draw the dampness from the beach and she picked up a small few seashells and placed them in her pockets.

Just as she thought that the sun was finally going to warm the air and dry the sand she felt the first few drops of rain kiss her forehead. Emmy looked up to the skies and saw grey clouds hovering overhead and soon a thin mist of droplets rained down on her. There were no clouds coming from the inland so she was not worried for a storm. As she scanned the skies once more her eyes caught a small movement in the tower of the fortress. It was hard to see through the rain but she could clearly make out a small pale face in its topmost window peering out towards the sea. After a moment, she realized that it was Leidon, who had let her hair down and it tumbled out of the window like a golden vine growing against gravity. Leidon's silver blonde hair was much longer than Emmy remembered, for it seemed to snake a third of the way down the tower, or perhaps it was because she was looking up at Leidon from a hundred yards and the rain distorted everything. Absently wondering why Leidon would go up to the tower but bar them from it, Emmy hitched up her skirts and made her way back up to the house before she got soaked through.

Back in the Silverthorn manor, it was quiet and empty, and only the soft pitter patter of rain could be heard echoing throughout the halls. Emmy soon found her maid and asked her to draw a hot bath. In a new dry dress she left her room and decided to try and find the library, if the place had one, for she had finished reading all the books she had brought, and other than walking around and exploring there really was nothing else to do. As she made her way down a drafty corridor the sound of the rain seemed to fade away and the air grew warmer, which made Emmy glad for her hair was still a little damp. But as she rounded another corner she regretted not looking for the housekeeper first, because she had no clue where the library was actually located, if it actually existed and there seemed to be more corridor and rooms than she had first imagined. Suddenly Emmy thought she heard some voices and with relief she headed towards them.

As she got closer to the room where the voices were coming form she paused, and listened carefully. The voices seemed agitated and angry and to her shock she realized that she could not recognize their owners. Giving in to curiousity she quietly crept closer to the door which stood slightly ajar and listened with her breath held. From her crouching position she could make out the long shadows of two people.
"You will do as I say." a cold female voice demanded, Emmy saw the smaller, slender shadow point at the other in anger.
"You may be my Lord's wife, but you cannot command me to commit a crime." the lower voice of a male replied, "Especially when it is against my Lord."
"I will reward you handsomely. You will have everything you want and need. Perhaps you can even become one of the King's lords yourself." the woman said, this time adopting a softer silky, more persuading lilt.
"I cannot, my lady." the man or boy, his voice was not that deep, replied, "I cannot murder an innocent girl, no less the daughter of the lord I swore my loyalty to and serve." There was a long pause during which the woman's shadow retreated to the back of the room
"I thought you might be reluctant. You young men these days are so… so noble."
"I did not think that was a quality that my lady would find appalling."
"Then you hardly know me at all, Casius." the woman said with a soft voice that sent chills down Emmy's spine, "Luckily I have insurance. That girl you so adore – oh don't look so shocked, really, everyone can see the way you moon after her – she is currently locked in the tower. Bring me the heart of my husband's wretched spoilt daughter, or else I will serve you your beloved's heart on a silver platter. Or perhaps her head. You may choose."
"You're absolutely depraved!" the young man cursed, "How do I know that you haven't killed her already."
"Go check the tower, you'll see her peering out of the window." A long silence followed and Emmy clutched at her skirts and started to slowly creep away as the male's shadow walked towards the door.
"If any harm comes to her, my ax will have your head instead!"

Emmy gasped, who were there people and what were they doing plotting murder in Leidon's very own household. It seemed absurd, and yet Emmy felt clammy and cold with fear and her heart was pounding so loudly that she feared the occupants of the room would hear her. She wanted nothing more than to turn away and run back to her room or find Aurelia, but she knew she had to see their faces, it would be only way to save the life of the poor girl they were intending on killing. As quiet as she could she crept forward again and inched the gap in the door a little wider and pressed herself against the floor. The room somehow did not seem to fit with the rest of the building for it was richly carpeted and thick velvet curtains hung in front of the windows. Plush chairs and couches littered the room and there were decorative vases of flowers and small gold figurines on low tables and shelves. It seemed like the private parlor of a lady. As her eyes raked the room and travelled towards the fireplace where the two shadows had been cast from she found it empty. Emmy blinked a few times and then looked around the room again, but there was not a soul in sight.

"Emmy! What are you doing?" Metheus' suddenly voice called out and Emmy jumped in fright and scrambled to her feet.
"I heard people talking, about murdering someone." Emmy began uncertainly, and Metheus gave her a serious look, his hair was still wet, although Emmy thought it had stopped raining ages ago.
"Where?" he asked plainly and she pointed at the door she had been eavesdropping at. Metheus quickly strode over and pushed it open before Emmy could stop him. It creaked on its hinges as if it hadn't been moved in a long while and to Emmy's shock the room was bare. There was not a single piece of furniture in sight and the ground was covered with rotting floorboards. The fireplace, too, was crumbling and light filtered through broken boarded up windows, illuminating specks of dust that floated serenely in the air.
"I swear…" Emmy began, hardly believing her eyes, "I heard two people, talking about murder. I saw their shadows, Metheus. And the room – it's, it's changed. It's different."
Metheus looked about the room for awhile and then back at Emmy. His gaze was probing and she felt her face grow hot and her astonishment turned to irritation.
"Metheus, I know what I saw." Emmy said with a quiet determination. Metheus gave her another long look.
"This place is strange, Emmy." he finally said, "I suppose there are reasons why Lord Silverthorn never visits, perhaps it is best not to wander around too much."
"You don't believe me." Emmy said flatly, glaring at him.
"I do believe you, Emmy. Really I do. I believe you think you saw and heard something. But whether it actually happened is quite another thing. Come let us go eat, I think it is nearly supper time."

As Emmy lay in her bed, the howling wind somehow did not sooth her. Instead of lulling her into a soft dreamless sleep, it pricked at her nerves and made her feel like there were monsters prowling the castle grounds like hungry predators. Her irritation with Metheus' dismissal of what she encountered stirred around in her mind After hours of tossing and turning she fell into a deep sleep.

Emarin was perched at the foot of the staircase patiently waiting for her father to come down from his study. It had finally stopped snowing and her governess said that she could go to the woods if her father allowed it. Finally he emerged from his study where he was discussing things with some of the neighbouring lords. As he made his way down the stairs she rushed up to meet him and clutched his arm eagerly.
"Papa! May I please, please go to the woods!" she gushed, "I have finished all my reading tasks and there's a baby deer that I want to see. Cook gave me some apples to fee it! Oh please!"
Her father smiled down at her fondly and picked her up and gave her a peck on the cheek.
"Sure my little Snowbell!" he chuckled and set her down, "But wear your fur cloak for it is still very cold and take Casius along with you. You are not to go wandering off on your own."

"CASIUS!" she yelled and ran towards the stables she knew she would most likely find her father's steward's son. She found the older boy brushing down one of her father's horses. She quite liked Casius, for he was always friendly and did not tell her that she could not do things just because she was still ten. He had even on occasion let her comb the mane of her father's large black stallion.
"Casius! Casius!" she cried excitedly, "Papa is finally letting me go out to the woods, but you must come with me! Please! I want to see the baby deer!"
Casius smiled at her and then put away the brush. His movements were a bit stiff and Emmy wondered whether the cold was hurting his joints too like they hurt Cook's.
"Let me get my coat, and we'll be off." Casius said, and she skipped happily after him.

When they got to the small clearing where she had seen the baby deer and his mother a few days ago she looked back to tell Casius to be still and not the frighten the animal, but instead she found him with a large knife in his hand, his face pale.
"What are you doing?" she asked, frowning, "You can't kill the deer. Father says not to hunt until summer!"
The knife in his hand trembled and he looked at her without saying anything. Emmy became a little frightened, he was much taller than her and she didn't want him to hurt the little deer.
"Casius?" she asked tentatively, and she sighed with relief when he let the knife drop limply to the floor.
"Snowbell." he said softly, "I'm so sorry, but you have to go. Run away!"
"What? Why." she stammered, "But Papa, and my dolls and my books."
"Your father's new wife wants to kill you Emmy. Please just leave. Run away!"