The boy turned on his heel and ran, his heart thudding painfully behind his ribs. Between his ragged breaths, he heard the girl moving after him.

"Get back here!" Saria hissed into the darkness. The slapping of the boy's feet did not slow against the cobbles of the old priory.

The boy whipped his head around and peered over his shoulder, into the darkness; the light waned and his head still bobbed chaotically as he ran, but he was sure there was no sign of the strange girl behind him.

He turned his head back and stopped abruptly, unwillingly letting a shocked gasp escape from his throat. The girl stood before him in the narrow stone hallway, her hand reaching out to rest on his shoulder.

The boy fell backwards and pressed himself against the cold wall.

"I saw nothing! I swear it!" He clenched his eyes shut, blocking out the image of her wide, peering eyes.

"What is your name?" Saria asked calmly.

". . . Bram," He answered cautiously.

Saria held her hands out to him now, turning them over before him. "You see, Bram? No marks or burns. I'm different from the other girls." Bram nodded in agreement.  She smiled then, not wicked, like before, but kinder and warm. "I can trust you. But you musn't tell another soul!"

"Tell them what?" he asked curiously.

Saria leaned closer, whispering into his ear, "I'm running away from this old abbey and I'm going to find out where our creatures have been disappearing to." She smiled again, triumphantly. "And I'm going to stop it."

Bram was lost for words. He recalled all the talk around the priory and the abbey of late, but everytime he seemed close enough to eavesdrop, the nuns would hush themselves and move elsewhere. There were rumours of important meetings being held between the bishops about what was going on as well, but none of the children were ever lucky enough to find out.

"Hurry back to your room now. You don't want to fall alseep in your lessons tomorrow." Saria began skipping away, back towards the flame in the small alcove at the end of the corridor.

Bram stared after her, not knowing what to think. Just as he was turning to leave, Saria whispered back to him, "We will speak again!"

The End

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