Turns out the Beast didn't like daylight.
Mabel wasn't sure if it hurt him or he just preferred the concealment of darkness. It would look more than a little bizarre-(ignoring the entire weirdness of the Woods)- to just see him walking around. Light, especially daylight, didn't work on him. He was just a weird walking silhouette.
The entire aversion to daylight meant that Mabel could get away from him for a little while. She was probably being stalked in the shadows, but it beat being hovered over. She needed the space to think.
She had just died after all.
It still hadn't hit her yet. It was probably due to the shock. The true detail that tugged on her heart was that she was alone. (Except for the Beast, but he didn't count.) Mabel had started the journey with Lennox and then Audrey had joined their group. One way or another, their goal had been to get home.
She was the "Wayfarer". A wayfarer was someone who traveled on a journey. Well, most of her journey's goals were completed- Lennox was home. Audrey was probably home and human again.
Mabel still felt terrible.
The pack and ax were uncomfortable, being not holstered and tied comfortably. The pack contained a few glasses bottles, a metal funnel that she guessed to be a sap spile, and what looked like a stone to sharpen the ax. There was no hand grinder- she had dug around and had come up empty. The Woodcutter had turned the old mill to be able to grind Candlewood, but she and her brother had torn it to pieces fighting off what they believed was the Beast.
And with that thought, Mabel stopped.
She had been attempting to walk through large patches of clear land, just to get some privacy with her thoughts. She wasn't sure where she was- on a large dirt path that ran through a meadow. Wasn't this the route to the Fulton-Kent manor? They had traveled at night, so she really wasn't sure.
She hefted up the lantern to stare at the flame. She hadn't felt anything, like the Beast warned her about, so maybe she didn't have to worry about oil yet. Good. Mabel could work on her problems for the time being-
Her free arm- the injured one- was suddenly pulled up painfully behind her back. A knife landed on her throat.
"Your money or your life."
Mabel let out a grunt. She had bound up her gash with a piece of ribbon she had unwound from her dress. She hoped that the wound wouldn't reopen. "I-I don't have any money!"
The robber placed his knife closer as a warning. "Put the lantern down and open the pack."
Mabel absolutely did not want to know what would happen to her if the lantern got stolen. "I can't!"
"Wanderer, you are not in a position to call the shots! Put down the lantern!"
The gruff voice snarled. "Listen, dearie, when I say-" He whirled her around, knife aimed at her throat. He abruptly stopped, blue eyes blinking in surprise. "Oh. It's you."
Mabel blinked. She recognized the blue Regency era nobleman's coat. "Dainty Highwayman?"
The handsome man nodded, loosening his composure but not putting the knife down. "Yeah. You're...the Wayfarer or the Flower Girl or whatever they call you."
"Yeah...yeah, that's what they call me."
"Didn't recognize you."
She frowned. "You didn't recognize the stupid person wandering around in the snow in a dress?"
"You could've been anyone dearie."
He had a point. Mabel decided not to argue the issue further. "Yeah. Well...it was...interesting to see you again." The knife was still pointed at her. Why was the knife still pointed at her? She attempted to take a step back. "I should really get going..."
"Not so fast. We still have a score to settle."
How casually could someone unhook an ax from a belt?
He loomed over her. "Since you stole my horse."
Looking back at how eager Dale was to steal from Kent's mansion, Mabel could see how he was the Highwayman's horse. "I didn't know he was yours! He talked so I assumed that he was his own person...horse?"
The Dainty Highwayman sighed. Finally, he put away the knife. "Dearie, that horse is as stupid as a brick. He needs guidance, which I provide." He paused, noticing the lantern. "Why are you carrying a lantern around in the middle of the day?"
Mabel paled, glancing at it. She probably should've considered how carrying a lantern around in broad daylight would look. She quickly searched her brain and what came out was "Good luck!"
She froze. The man was staring at her incredulously and she couldn't blame him. Did that just come out of her mouth?
"You carry a lit lantern around in broad daylight...for good luck."
No, it holds the soul of the physical manifestation of despair. You remember the Beast- yeah, the one everyone at the tavern fears? I traded my life to fuel and protect his lantern so I could save my brother and he's probably watching us in the shadows right now.
"...Yeah. Found it on the road- keeps away the bad stuff." Maybe he would go easy on her if he thought there was something mentally wrong with her. Mabel tried to help him along to that idea by smiling. When he still looked baffled, she decided to change the subject. "You want to know where your horse is? I know where he is!"
"Yeah! He works at the Fulton-Kent tea company!"
Dainty looked incredulous and a little bit sad. "He...has a job now?" His features suddenly changed to blankness. "Never heard of them."
Okay. She wasn't used to his sudden emotion change. But everyone at the tavern she had met him at had been like that. "Well, I can take you to him."
"Lead the way Flower Girl."
The two started walking. Mabel glanced back to the shadows to see a familiar silhouette, staring straight at her.