Chapter 1

"Hazel I need you down here." Hazel lowered her legs off the table and slammed the book on her desk. She was much more like a grown adult than a child of eighteen. She was always doing jobs around the house, going around the village running errands and having to go to school five days a week for a living. "Now!" She made her way out of her room and down the step ladder.

Her Father, Tom, a stocky, middle aged man stood in the middle of the kitchen with his back to Hazel. "What?" He turned his head, folded his newspaper in half and dropped it on the kitchen table. He turned his body around and folded his arms.
"Those bed sheets need to go on in the spare room."
"Not another one..." She groaned at her Father.
"Now I don't want any of that. It brings the money in."
"We own a tavern, we get enough income already!" This was the eleventh time that Tom had put up their spare room up for vacancies for any passing traveller. Hazel didn't like sharing her home with strangers. She couldn't get into the raceme of having people in and out, having to show them around the village every time. "Do you even know what they are?" That was the key detail that bothered Hazel the most; she needed to know what their visitors were. With rumours travelling around saying that the Snake's army was getting larger each day and could overpower any of the other three factions.
"Go and make the beds, I don't want any more fuss." She picked up the bed sheets, unsatisfied but made her way back up the ladder to make up the bedroom.

That night as told by her Father there was a knock at the door. Hazel was sat at the desk downstairs finishing off her last piece of homework, with the fire burning brightly on the other side of the room. Her Father shouted her from the kitchen, "Hazel!" She sighed and threw the ink pen at the table in frustration. As she just walked into the kitchen her Father was just opening the door to the pub and inviting the two gentlemen in. The oldest one walked in with a large suit case, he took his hat off looking around the small back house to the tavern. He was a quite handsome bloke, with golden brown hair and a strong stern body. The next one walked through the door, also taking his hat off, revealing his wild nut-brown thick hair and two gorgeous pair of eyes which gazed at Hazel as soon as they entered the room. However Hazel knew her place and knew she could never get too friendly with any of the guests. They would soon move along and then the next travellers would come to their small house.

"Well, welcome to our small village, we hope you enjoy your stay and now Hazel, my daughter, will show you to your rooms." Tom turned to look at Hazel, handing the responsibility over to her. She walked over to the two gentlemen.
"Hi, my name is Richard." The eldest stretched out his hand and waited for a response from Hazel. She eventually held out her hand, stunned at his introduction, she hadn't met someone so like him before who had stayed here. He was so relaxed and he was already kind towards Hazel, something that she hadn't experienced all that very well. He then turned to his left and introduced his younger brother, "This is my brother Cedric." Cedric gave a large smile and also shook her hand.
"S-should I show you to your rooms?"
"Yes, thank you." Replied Richard.
"I'll take your bags, it's a bit tricky going up the step ladder."
"Thanks." She picked up Richard's large suitcase but Cedric had a small bag around his shoulder so she assumed he would be fine carrying that. Hazel led them to the wooden ladder she had been complaining about it to her father for years now, she turned around to him. Tom was sat at the table, with his feet up. Hazel started to climb the ladder with the large suitcase in her hand, trying her best not to slip.

She slid the case onto the floor of the upstairs and then climbed through the small gap. She stood the suitcase against the floor and then stretched her hand down the gap to help Richard up. Cedric seemed to be able to manage by his self. Once they we all stood upstairs in the hall way Hazel started her tour. "This is my room," Tapping the door on her left. "The next one is my Father's and then it the room where you will be staying. There are two single beds, two wardrobes and a mirror. The door at the end is the bathroom and you are welcome to place your things in there. If you want anything else you come and find me, I'll be downstairs or later tonight I'll be in the tavern serving where you came in." She gave a sweet smiled and the turned to make her way back down the ladder.
"Err... Hazel?" Richard called out. "My brother, he still acquires his last year at school, do you know a local school where he could attend?" Hazel replied,
"I'm in my last year of school as well actually, all the children here attend a school in the city not far from here, and we take a train that leaves in the morning at seven o'clock. You are welcome to come and I'm sure our teacher will find you a place."
"Thanks Hazel, I appreciate it." Cedric said. She gave one last smile and then headed downstairs again.

She found her father in his usually position laid about the house. "We don't even know what they are, father."
"That has nothing to do with it." He looked up at Hazel from his newspaper and pointed for of his fat fingers at her. "And it's none of your business so don't bother them." He then returned to his stationary position.
"Father... Of course it is my business they are the ones who are staying in our home. We have a right to know."
"And they have a right to leave if they want, and we don't want that now, do we?"

Hazel soon found herself that night working double shifts because one of the waitress' had been ill all that week and she had to stand in for them. Hazel didn't hate anything more than working double shifts. It was the time when she was serving drinks out at the bar when her good friend Seth walked in and came and sat at the bar. "Hey Seth."
"Hey, you said you were coming out tonight."
"Oh my gosh, I totally forgot. You're having a party on the canal as well."
"Can't you try and sneak out?"
"You are not going anywhere Hazel. You are staying here until you have finished your shift and then you can go out with your friends." Her Father spoke in a low voice from the far corner. She hit the wooden surface of the bar with her fist, she turned to her father and snarled at him,
"But Father I don't finish for another four hours."
"Well then you will be four hours late to the party."
"Father!" He moved the newspaper closer to his face. Hazel turned around to Seth and gave a shrug. "Tell Eva I'm really sorry."
"We were going to have great fun tonight as well Hazel." Seth walked out of the tavern, giving a look to Tom which he wouldn't be forgetting anytime soon. Seth disliked Tom greatly; he knew how he could be so cruel to Hazel, how after a night drinking far too much he wouldn't hold back a thrash or two at Hazel.

That night Cedric was at the bar quite a lot. He hadn't drunk that much but at least two pints. When people were flooding in the tavern on that Sunday night, everyone getting drunk, fearing that gruesome Monday morning.

Around one o'clock most people had left the tavern by now and Hazel was coming to the end of her shift at the bar. Her Father was asleep at one of the tables. She went over to him and kicked his leg. "Time to lock up now." Tom grunted and then stood up slowly and started to clear everyone out of the pub. Hazel untied the knot at the back of her apron, hung it up and made her way to bed.

Early the next morning Hazel woke up. She got changed quickly into a white shirt and some braces. She then also threw on a brown jacket for a cold Monday morning.

When she made her way downstairs she found her Father still sleeping in the same position as last night. As she walked past him she kicked the side of his leg and he jumped up awake. She walked over to the cupboard and started to prepare breakfast for the household.

More or less than ten minutes later Cedric came downstairs, ready for the day of work that lay in front of him. "Here, I made you breakfast." Hazel passed him a plate with a few pieces of bread on and a small bunch of grapes on the side.
"Thanks." She smiled but then she saw her father eyeing her very suspiciously and so she returned to her own breakfast. Cedric also noticed Tom's disapproval of Hazel's kindness towards himself.

Still in the early morning, Hazel and Cedric set out into the misty streets, walking to the train station. The village was quiet with the exception of a few school children also making their way to the station to get a good seat with all their friends.

When they finally reached the station Hazel bought two tickets for the whole week, which would supply the chance for Cedric to attend school each day this week if he so for chose. Just after it turned seven o'clock the old rusty train dragged into the station, making itself being known. Hazel and Cedric managed to find a cabin to themselves, which then was intruded by some of Hazel's friends. Florence, Seth, Seth's little brother, Oscar, and Eva. Introductions were held and then the five teenagers and one little boy started their journey into the city. Eva tuned to Hazel. "I'm sorry you couldn't turn up to the party last night Hazel, it was good fun."
"I know, I'm sorry Eva, maybe sometime you could pop by the tavern and we could have a drink or two."
"Yeah, thanks."

After that most of the journey all the teenagers talked to one another and getting to know Cedric a bit more.

Once the train arrived in the city all the school children made their way to the school through the busy Monday morning streets. Once seated in school Hazel introduced Cedric to her teacher and then Mrs Hardley found him a place to sit and gave him the required equipment.

For Hazel the day dragged on for an eternity, she was working double hours again tonight for her Father in the tavern, and it wasn't her most enjoyable hobby.

However for Richard he had a very productive day. That morning he set out around the village looking for a free house around the village which he and his brother could rent out for the time they were staying in the small village. He started by walking from the tavern and walked across the square, where a fountain was built in remembrance of the first old Lord of Cathshone. He carried on up the street, past the bell tower, looking for a spare house.

His mornings work were unsuccessful, he had found a few houses or flats which were perfect for his work and hospitality however it would have been extremely high prised or the landlord would have turned him down. Richard was a doctor, recently qualified and his work surroundings were very important if he wanted to open a new surgery. He had a meeting with the mayor of the village the day after tomorrow, he was a young man of good organisation and wanted to show the mayor that he was up to the job and he would not disappoint him to serve the village to great expectations. After a day's work out in the fresh air, searching for a suitable residence in the village and meeting new people Richard made his way back to the small tavern.

Hazel and Cedric were home from school at this time and Hazel had made a lovely meal. They all sat around the small dining room table and she quickly made a space for Richard as well when he came through the door. She poured him some soup into a bowl and handed it to him. The atmosphere in the dining room / kitchen was very low, Tom being slightly drunk than normal, Hazel in a bad mood and Richard put down slightly from his unsuccessful attempt today. They all ate their dinner in silence.

Afterwards Hazel, Richard and Cedric all retreated to the living room for some warmth from the fire. Hazel had sat straight down at her small desk and started writing. As Cedric and Richard sat in the armchairs they soon broke the silence and started a short conversation. "Any luck today, then?"
"No, all the places I've looked are quite expensive if I got talking about prises that far into the interview without the landlord rejecting me at first sight." Richard gave out a sigh and picked up his glass of whisky and gulped it down. "I'm just hoping that the Mayor might be helpful in suggesting a place where we could find a home." Hazel's ink pen soon stopped, she turned around in her wooden, squeaky chair.
"You're looking for a house in this village?" Both the lads looking up at Hazel.
"Yes." Answered Richard.
"Why?"
"Well hopefully I will be the new doctor by Wednesday."
"S-so you're staying here? How long for?"
"I don't know, forever I suppose."
"Is there a problem?" Cedric asked.
"N-no, I err..."
"Hazel!" Tom came into the living room. "Don't you think it's time that you showed our guests around the village before it gets dark?"
"But I haven't finished my..." Tom left the room, but shouted back,
"Then when you are finished you can help me out in the bar again." Hazel's head hung down and gently hit the back of the wooden chair. She then raised herself again and looked at the two honoured guests who were staying in their shack of a home.
"Actually Hazel if you don't mind I would like a tour of the village." Cedric spoke out; Richard lowered his head and shook.
"Okay, well then let's get this over with."

They both entered the cold air of the evening, it had started to grow darker but bright enough to manage. Hazel walked slowly over to the fountain and sat down on the edge facing the tavern once again. Cedric soon came out of the tavern from getting his jacket and came and sat next to her on the cold stone. Hazel seemed to be in a different moment for a while, she was there sat down but not fully connected. "Anyway. ... Down there is just the train station where we went this morning. If you follow me then I'll show you the village." Hazel stood up and walked around the fountain. Cedric walked beside her, he looked up to the large bell tower standing over him, without any knowledge of Hazel's plans for them to travel up there and get a bird's eye view of the village. She walked up to the small house attached to the side of the bell tower and knocked three times on the wooden, bolted door. A groan came from inside and then the door opened.

"Hey Terry, do you think I could go and show my visitor up the tower?"
"Another one? I thought your Father had stopped." Hazel looked down at the floor, she had also thought the same. "Go on then." Terry hooked the key off from behind the door and handed it to her.
"Thanks."
"Just come in and put it back on the hook when you're finished."
"Okay, Terry." He shut the door and gave another groan. He was an old man whose leg wasn't in the best condition, since his wife died he wasn't in great shape. Hazel took over the responsibility of visiting him now and then, but even she could tell that his leg wasn't going to get any better. She had tried to take him to the doctor but when he left and the village was without a doctor for a while Terry had convinced himself that there was no point. He predicted that the new doctor that would come to the village would be young and inefficient. Hazel knew if she told him who the doctor was going to be he would turn his nose up at him, she didn't even know if Richard was any good.

Hazel turned the key in the lock and the door opened. They both stepped in. Hazel took the key from the lock and then shut the door behind her. "It's quite a long way up to walk unfortunately. You're not scared of heights are you?"
"No." Cedric answered with a grin. They began their walk up the windy staircase.

Once they reached the top Hazel went and sat down in the arch window. Cedric sat down amazed at the sight that lay before him. "Down there is the tavern and all the streets around there is just houses and small shops. And then behind us, the street we would walk up past Terry's house, that's just the same, full of houses. We don't really need to walk around them do we?"
"No."
"Okay then. We'll walk up to the village hall which is behind us at the moment."
"Wait. What does that path go to?" Cedric was talking about the path which runs from the fountain in the square out into the trees.
"That's the Mayor's house. You won't be able to see his house from here but it's in that forest somewhere. Oh, and you can see the river, where that bridge is there. That river runs all the way up the village to the village hall and police station, then on to the next village north from here. A lot of parties are held on the river, once one of the canals broke free from the side and then all the people drunk having a party in it ended up four villages south before they found out." They both broke into a cackle of laughter. They sat there for a moment watching down below. "Why did you come here? To this village?"
"Richard wanted a job and there was one free here so we took the opportunity."
"I'll be honest it's not the best time to have come."
"Why?"
"Can you see down there?" Hazel pointed to a burnt down house in the street next to her house. Cedric turned his head and followed her finger. "There has been two fires lately, both households dead. That one there which you can see and then another house further north. People are scared that it will come again and that more lives shall be taken." They both stared at the burnt house for a while. "That one there," Hazel pointed to the second house that had caught fire, house number 18. "That only happened yesterday evening. A newly wedded couple lived there." She paused for a second, a picture of the couple had gotten in her head and she couldn't remove it. "They were nice, real nice people." Cedric looked up at Hazel, he saw the tears in her eyes, the sadness that had filled her. Hazel sniffed up suddenly and then smiled. "Father thinks that the fire will hit the tavern. You see the fires are getting closer, but I always tell him we shouldn't worry for our own future it is the people how have been lost that we should think of." They both stared down at the town and then Cedric interrupted the silence.
"Should we have the rest of the tour?"
"Yeah."

They walked down the bell tower and Hazel hung the key in Terry's house and carried on with the tour. "Down there is just some more houses." They walked back to the fountain and turned down the next street on their left, heading towards the village hall.

"It's just up here." They followed the around a harsh turn left and then the street opened up into the main square and market place. "That's the village hall there in front of you. To the left next to the village hall, that's the Police station. To your right you have the local press, they print every story worth telling, be careful of your actions."
"I will." Cedric then walked up to the statue in the middle of the square. Hazel slowly followed, watching people walk past her. She was interested in everyone, looking at what they were doing, and their body language to one another. "Who is this?"
"Can't you read?" Hazel stared at the plaque on the statue clearly stating who this man was and some basic information about him. "He was the first mayor of Cathshone, he was a friendly man and very caring." Cedric slid his hands in his pockets and turned around, looking at his surroundings.
"Is that a theatre?" Hazel spun around, matching Cedric's view.
"Oh, yes. I forgot about that. My friends and I used to go there often."
"Used to?"
"Well we still do but I've been busy lately helping my father out with the tavern and everything, I really haven't had time to go out." Hazel then started to walk back down the street, Cedric behind her, now looking at the tall buildings surrounding him.

As they walked back down the street, the tavern now in view, Hazel turned to her left. "Down that street you can find the Baker just there."
"Okay, useful." They carried on walking and soon Hazel had pushed hard against the wooden door to the tavern.

As they entered the busy atmosphere inside the tavern Hazel's father shouted to her from behind the bar, "Hazel, come help me serve!" She turned around to Cedric.
"If you need anything else or want a more in depth tour later just come and ask me."
"Thanks." She turned to her father, he looked at her impatiently and she walked briskly over to him.

"Put this on." He handed her one of the white laced apron and then went back to doing his own job. She quickly tied it around her waist and then started her work for the night.

Cedric made his way through the back door and then into the living room where he found his brother asleep, in front of the armchair looking comfortable sat in one of the armchairs in the room. Cedric took the bottle of whisky out of his hand, placed it on the table next to him and then sat in front of the fire himself.

Half way into the night Hazel was already getting tired but she was under to eye of her Father and couldn't escape. Seth had already come into the tavern asking again if Hazel wanted to go out but she had to decline his offer once again. It was another long night that dragged for Hazel but she had no knowledge of what the rest of the night would bring for her.