Part 9.

Aetatis suae

Fiona ran on, her legs like jelly and her heart pounding against her breast bone so hard she was afraid that it was going to shoot right out of her. Hewie was ahead, running in wide arcs as to scan the area for any potential danger. So far there was none, but who knew what Daniel was capable of; for all Fiona was aware of he very well may have sent a few ahead at an earlier time to try and cut her off from escape.

"Hewie!" Fiona whimpered.

She didn't want to be alone on this lonely pathway, completely out of her comfort zone. At least in Belli Castle she had tramped around its many floors enough to know her left from her right, but out here the woods where most definitely not to be used for her benefit. Daniel and his rabble however would certainly have the upper hand if she ventured too far in. Besides Fiona had a feeling that the path would lead to her salvation of freedom, after two long days of torture and anguish.


CRUNCH!

The sound of Daniel smacking the elderly woman across the head was enough to even make the most hardened woodsmen hold in their stomach contents.

"Where is she!" he bellowed, his fist cracking against the side of the old woman's jaw. Blood flowed freely from her mouth, with little white fragments of tooth flowing out along with the crimson goo. From a broken jaw the elderly woman simply said:

"My name ish Arshiana Hoobertshon," she stopped to spit out more blood and teeth. "And you barbariansh will never find my Fiona." Fiona's grandmother, Ariana was certain that they hadn't heard her. After all, she had just lisped and spat her way through a sentence that not even she could make heads or tails of, and it was her saying it. The look on Daniels face terrified her however, he had turned a venomous mauve and his eyes bulged from out of their sockets.

"You stupid, stupid, decrepit fool" he hissed, landing his heel cleanly in her jaw. Another sickening crunch sounded and Ariana was certain that it was broke. It felt loose and hanging, with a cold wind circulating around her mouth. Her mouth felt dry and she tried to lick it, just to moisten it up. It was useless though. She dared not move, lest Daniel take that as a hint to beat her even more.

'How did this happen?' she thought. 'These people… they used to be my friends. Now look…' her eyes scanned the crowd around her, spitting and looking at her with hatred.

'Why am I so different from them? Is it because I cared too much for Ayla, I wasn't the only one to lose a daughter.' She now looked at Daniel and Catrina, who were hunched over on the ground.

'Maybe it's because I dealt with my grief emotionally rather than violently. I never rushed up to Belli Castle to demand my daughter, I always knew deep down she was either out of reach or dead.'

Daniel stood once more, an axe swinging loosely from his hands; his face contorted in the most frightening way.

'Perhaps they are all the monsters here, no better than the Belli's…'

Daniel raised his axe. Ariana closed her eyes, picturing the most beautiful blonde haired girls standing side by side; smiling at her. "Fiona…Ayla…"

The axe came down.