With a slow creaking groan the door swung open, the stocky form of Beth outlined by the light from behind. "Ah, I thought I'd heard something from down here" she said as she descended ponderously into the cellar.
Reaching the bottom of the stairs Beth moved towards Dawn and glared down at her huddled form, eyes narrowed "Get up" she said, emphasising the demand with a nudge of her foot.
As Dawn struggled to her feet she saw someone else descend the stairs, squinting to see past the glaring light from the doorway assaulting her eyes she saw the emaciated figure of the village vicar, Father Wilkes. Had it been almost anyone else she may have felt relief but the priest had always seemed to her to be a strange and foreboding figure whose presence seemed to radiate a mix of hidden mockery and cruelty that no one else seemed aware of.
"Hello Dawn, I hear from your dear step-mother that you've been causing trouble again" Father Wilkes said as he looked at her from his deeply sunken eyes.
"Oh yes, just like usual, I do hope you can help me deal with her like we discussed before her father returns. It would be so nice to have a peaceful home for him to come back to" Beth said.
"I'm sure there is something we can do to help this poor disturbed child, while it is hard to fight against the bad blood in her, with the right methods i am certain we can make her a nice obedient girl" He replied, the corner of his mouth twitching as though trying to hold back a mocking smirk all the while looking at Dawn with his dark glinting eyes.
Anger at the things they were saying and implying stoking Dawns courage she glared up at them. "I'm not disturbed and i've done nothing wrong, she's the one who needs help" she said pointing at Beth.
With a growl Beth moved forward, hand raised to strike her only for it to be intercepted by the vicar. "Now now, don't let her provoke her, striking her won't help just now. I think the first step is to starve some of the attitude out of her" he said.
Visibly calming herself Beth looked at him and said "Yes yes, your right of course, lets see how she likes a day or two down here alone with no food"
Turning she started up the stairs after one last malice filled look at Dawn.
"I shall join you shortly, I just need a little word with Dawn first" Father Wilkes said without looking at Beth.
Once they were alone he approached Dawn and crouched down. As he looked her over he gently stroked her cheek and whispered "Oh you poor little thing, you should be thankful that I am here to help you fight the taint of your dirty mothers blood" "I am so glad Beth asked for my help, I do enjoy helping girls like yourself" he finished with a rasping chuckle.
As he was about to rise to stand and leave he stopped suddenly with a low gasp as he saw the pendant hanging around her neck.
Grasping her chin he forced Dawn to meet his glaring eyes "where did you get that?"
Trembling with fear and cold "I found it in the woods" Dawn replied.
"Does anyone else know of it? Did you put it round your neck yourself?" He said.
Dawn could only nod as tears dripped down her face.
Eyes staring deep into hers he seemed to be almost searching for something within her when suddenly he let out a bark of laughter and released her.
Rising to his full height with a twisted smile on his lips, he shook his head.
"Hmph, well I was not expecting to see one of those again, the others must be told" he said to himself.
Turning away he strode up the stairs without a backwards glance slamming and latching the door behind him, leaving Dawn alone in the dark, cold cellar wondering just what he meant and where he recognised the pendant from.