Kate gripped her knife tightly and closed her eyes. They were no use anyhow. The darkness clung to them like a child to it's mother, and the shrieking that surrounded them was the only indication that they were not alone.
"What are they?" A voice whispered, scared.
"Fae." Kate heard Jem answer in a hiss. She could tell that Jem did not like being this far out of her comfort zone, and recalled that Jem had always hated the darkness. Not the night because she loved the moon and the stars, but the complete pitch of a dark enclosed space had always terrorised her dreams.
"Creatures from hell." Someone else whispered.
"The same has been said for us," Kiara's voice replied, strong and brave. Kate wondered if she was only faking her brevity. "They will not hurt us. We are well protected, and good fighters."
"Kiara's right." Kate replied, not believing it herself but putting on a convinced voice. She had been away but she would be a strong leader once more. A better leader now. "we have to just make it through the night. Griever will bring the children back and we will go home."
There were murmurs, people did not seem convinced, but Kate felt the mood change. They were hopeful at the thought of home.
Throughout the night, Kate drifted in to thought, shaken in to full awareness by the occasional loud shriek that sounded closer than the others. Whenever that would happen several of the group would shriek back, and the sounds would recede.
Kate thought about Corin. She could not help it. With nothing to distract her, and no way of sleeping amidst the yowls, she had a wandering mind. She began to think of how to kill him, began to fantasise about sinking a dagger in to his chest, shooting him with arrows, but these images began to sicken her. So instead she focussed on when she had first seen that he too was being led to the hangman.
A guard appeared and opened the door. Two other guards pushed their way in and grabbed her before she had chance to put up a fight.
"Mmm, shame there isn't more time huh Derek?" The one who held her said as the other tied her hands together.
"Aye she's a fair piece. Wouldn't mind getting some time in before the hangman's noose wraps around her pretty neck."
He stroked her face and grabbed her chin roughly. She went to bite him and he slapped her across the face. She reeled from the blow, the chainmail had jarred her heavily.
"Wild little thing. Wonder if she'd be the same after we'd had her every which way." Derek grinned, grabbing her chin again. "Shall we give her a parting kiss?"
She was saved from his slobbering jowls when the sheriff appeared.
"So, the day has arrived when you will swing from the rope and I will feed your corpse to the pigs." He rasped, grinning as the guards hurried to move themselves out of his way. He got so close that she grimaced at the smell of his breath. "I bet you're wondering where your knight in shining armour is aren't you?" He chuckled.
"My friends will come." She spat.
"I have no doubt they will my dear." He mused, twisting a ring on his finger in admiration of it's colour. "But I was not speaking of your friends. I was speaking of the marshal, who so caringly bandaged your feet." Kate stared at him incredulously. The Marshal did not care. "Well my dear you'll be delighted to know that your Marshall will be swinging next to you on the stand."
She stared at him again. Why? But she would not give him the satisfaction of hearing her ask that question.
"Nothing?" He said, staring at her maliciously. "Don't you want to know why?"
She spat at his feet and received another slap across the face. This time it was the ring on the sheriff's finger that gave her cause the wince.
"I'll tell you why." He spat savagely. "Because he is too soft with you. Something about you stops him from hurting you as much as he has hurt other people. I have suspicions that he might like your face, because he would not hurt it. Even when I wanted it. So whatever spell you have waved over him witch bitch, it has led him to his death. Something for you to take with you to hell." He smirked and then turned on his heel and gestured that they should all follow.
Kate was pushed roughly along the dank stone corridor that led out of the prison, and one savage push at the end sent her sprawling in to someone. She flinched, expecting another smack, but nothing happened. She glanced up and found she was pressed against Corin. He was looking down at her with mixed emotions, and for a second, before she was hauled away, she thought she saw sadness in his eyes.
Another shriek ripped through the air and Kate was dragged from her thoughts. She glanced around and realised that the sun must be coming up. The Her surroundings were no longer an empty blackness, but a grey haze. She could just make out her group of friends around her, Jem nearest her. Jem was looking at her, and she had a look on her face like she wanted to kill everything in sight.
"Jem. What is it?" Kate whispered.
"Your face. You were in so much pain. And I couldn't help." She said, pursing her lips, and Kate realised she was trying not to cry.
"It's alright now though. I'm safe, with you. My feet will heal in no time."
"What about your heart Kate?"
"There's nothing wrong with my heart." She lied as it twisted in pain.
"You were tortured. The Marshal is a monster; I will kill him myself."
"No!" Kate cried hurriedly. Jem frowned. "No. I want to do it." She continued. Jem's face relaxed.
The sun was now over the edge of the earth, and the shrieks and yowls had stopped. There was an eerie stillness.
"Come on. We should make some food, a fire-" Kiara said. She was cut off by a strange ripping noise, and in the air, a few feet from them, a portal appeared. And through it, a few moments later, Griever, Ali and Norida appeared. Norida was followed by another girl, around the same age.
"Quickly ladies!" Griever said. "We should leave before something else happens."
"What has happened?" Jem asked. "Who is this girl?"
"No time. Let's get out of here." They all hurried to follow his orders, and Kate limped with them towards the tunnel that led out. As they raced down it, Kate supported by Jem, a fierce shrieking called out behind them. They tumbled thankfully out of the tunnel in to their forest and Kate collapsed on the floor, wincing.
"What happened?" She asked Griever, who was breathing heavily but keeping an eye on Ali. The girl was strangely quiet.
"Those things chased us. We should get back to the camp, get some food. Let us leave this place alone. I think it may be a place we should not disturb again."
Jem looked like she would question him further but Kate saw sense in his words.
"Alright. Let's go. What about the girl?" She pointed to the new arrival.
"She's alright. I'll explain when I have some stew in my belly." Griever replied, a glimmer of his usual self shining through his exhaustion. Kate nodded and he helped her up, and the group made their way back to their home in the forest.