Claimed *Completed*

"I'm already living on borrowed time. When it comes to it, it will be my time to go."

500 years ago Cathy should have died, but she didn't. She was saved by the Devil.

"I agreed to something ... Something that cant have been important then, it seemed too far away.
I'd agreed, after five hundred years, to hand myself over to the Devil, to become his."

Now her time's up, but back in the city where it all started, things are far from over. Cathy finds out that there is more to the Devil than she ever thought. A new boy, a best friend and a deadly enemy, things are about to get complicated...

"No one's that good or bad, it's not that simple, nothing's that black and white. It's more grey."

*Hi, this is my first Movella, so I'd love some feedback and constructive critsism! Thanks :)

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12. Thursday, 14th July 1518

Thursday, 14th July 1518

 

 

 

 

 

  The log falls out of the fire place and quickly eats up the bear skin rug placed in front of the hearth. It’s not enough though, so I dislodge a few more burning logs. The fire spreads to a near-by chair, and, satisfied, I look around to check nobody’s watching. I quickly hurry off back to the kitchens.

  The cooks are busy preparing lunch for the Lord and Lady, and the kitchens are as hectic as usual. I weave my way through servant’s running back and forth in the steaming heat and I take my place at a huge fire over which a huge pot of soup was boiling. It looks like a witch’s cauldron. It is my job to tend to the fire and keep it burning, it’s a tedious job, but I know I am lucky to have a job here at all.

  It has taken me six long years to track Elizabeth down, and I have finally found her here.

  Mother had told me that they’d had to sell Elizabeth off as a servant, but to who she had been sold, she refused to tell me in fear that I would find her and buy her back with what little money we had left. I’ve searched far and wide ever since to find her. At first I simply wanted to see her and assure her that I’m okay, and not dead as she’d been told. Now, however, it’s about more than that.

  The way they treat her here is dreadful. Most of the staff here are paid workers, so they’re treated with a certain respect, but Elizabeth is considered property of the Lord of the manor, so no such respect is paid to her. I’ve seen her roughly beaten many a-time for minor things, such as spilling a drop of tea.

  I know it’s no good to interfere with the beatings, I’ll only get myself sack, and then I’ll be no use to anyone. So I’ve come up with a plan to get Elizabeth out. I’ve not told her because I fear she’d have the truth beaten out of her. She doesn’t even know I’m here.

  I scan the kitchens, they’re steamy and hot, but I’m almost certain the fire in the surrounding house will soon be noticed. At least, I hope so. My aim is to cause chaos and confusion, just long enough to get Elizabeth out; I have no wish to cause death and destruction.

  Suddenly, as if on cue, a maid bursts through the doors to the kitchens, and shouts, “Fire!”

  The one word causes chaos, just what I wanted. People start running in different directions; some are in a hurry to find the quickest escape route, others are carrying buckets to try to put the fire out, their jobs mean too much to them - if the manor goes down, so does their only source of money.

  I dodge nimbly in and out of the confused tangle of people and emerge at the bottom of the narrow staircase that leads up to the servants’ quarters.

  I know that in the evenings Elizabeth and the other seamstress’ assistants are allowed a short break before returning to finish the nights work. Elizabeth spends the time she has resting in her dormitory.

  I run up the stairs and along a short corridor, I push her door open, but to my horror the room is completely empty.

  I swear. Elizabeth could be anywhere in the manor. My plan was heavily based on the fact that, everyday, unfailingly, Elizabeth came here. Why did she have to choose today to break that habit?

  I’m still cursing as I run back down the stairs, but it goes unnoticed among all the other profanities being shouted by the jumble of people below me.

  I run quickly from the servant’s side of the manor through to the grand rooms of the Lord and Lady. The first place I can think of to look is the seamstress’s rooms, which are quite close by. Maybe the Lady Isabella needs a dress to be urgently finished. The rooms, however, are eerily quiet, but I can hear the panic from other parts of the house.

  I rack my brain in frustration, where else could Elizabeth be? A sinking feeling starts to weave its way into my stomach. I’m never going to be able to get her out now...

  A thought strikes me; the Lady’s quarters. Elizabeth has been sent there now and again to present her Lady Isabella with a new garment. It’s my last hope of finding her before the fire is put out and our only chance of escape is gone.

  The sinking feeling, however, continues to the pit of my stomach. The Lady’s rooms are on the opposite side of the manor, terrifyingly close to where I started the fire.

  I sprint along corridors and around corners until the air around me becomes thick with smoke. I pull up the hem of my skirt to cover my mouth and nose and continue to run in the same direction. After a few more corridors the smoke becomes so thick that I can’t see more than a few feet ahead of me. My eyes are watering and it’s getting harder to breath, even though the material of the skirt. I can feel the heat of the fire now, so I know I must be close.

  I put a hand to the wall to feel my way along the remaining corridor. I reach a door and as I peer through the smoke I see that I’ve make it to the Lady’s rooms.

  I push the door open in relief, but the feeling soon disappears with the wave of heat that hits me from the room beyond the door, so powerful it nearly knocks me off my feet. I cling to the door frame and squint into the room.

  Flames rise through the smoke on one side of the large space, eating up the extravagant furniture. Fuelled the oxygen I’ve brought in from the corridor, it rears up, more powerful than before.

  I drop to the floor where the smoke is thinner and crawl on my hands and knees across the ash-covered carpet. I have to close my eyes against the smoke as it becomes too much. I keep close to the wall and follow it along, still hoping against hope to find Elizabeth.

  I make it to another door which I push open and I can make out a hazy chamber. The smoke is not as thick here, but eyes are still streaming, the widest I can open them is in slits.

  I close the door behind me in an attempt to keep out the fire a little longer. I shuffle across the room, intent on getting Elizabeth out, but another, rational part of my brain screams at me, furious that I’m not running as fast as I can to safety. Instead I’m trapping myself in a room that the fire will probably burn in a matter of minutes.

  Unfocused outlines of furniture jump out at me, but nothing I can concentrate on.

  Then I spot a different shape among the rest: a body.

  Elizabeth.

  I scramble forwards to reach her, but her body lays still and unmoving on the floor. I shake her desperately.

  She can’t be dead, she can’t!

  In my hurry to reach her my skirt has fallen away from my face and the smoke closes in on me. I cough and splutter as tears roll down my face.

  “No, Elizabeth, no, wake up! Lizzie, Lizzie, please, stay with me Lizzie! Don’t go...” I mean it to come out as a scream, a shout, but all I hear is my own choking voice, croaking desperately through the smoke.

  The fire is crackling right outside the door, rapidly heating the room up.

  I have to get away from here. It’s a thought triggered by the wistful hope that Elizabeth might still be alive, she must be, she has to be. Lizzie’s made of tougher stuff than this.

  Convincing myself she has only passed out I pull her up into my arms. She’s heavier than she used to be, but I don’t notice. Adrenaline is coursing through me.

  I shuffle to the window and push it open with one hand, when it doesn’t budge I lift up a leg and kick the glass so hard both the frame and glass tumble to the ground. As I look after them it I realise that we’re on the first floor, which means I can’t just step out of the window and onto the grass.

  I glance back at the wooden door, which has now nearly been eaten through by the fire. I’ll have to jump.

  I’ve never much liked heights since my night on the bridge, let alone jumping from a height, but right now I don’t really have a choice.

  I clamber up onto the window ledge, Elizabeth still heavy in my arms. I try my best to ignore the fact that I can’t feel the rise and fall of her chest and I close my eyes.

  As my foot reaches forwards into nothingness I feel gravity take over and pull me down to earth. It all seems to happen so slowly, and I’m reminded vividly of the night six years ago. I can feel the panic rising in me.

  But Elizabeth in my arms settles the panic. I open my eyes and watch the ground rushing towards me. I bend my knees to soften the landing, but I still feel the jarring impact of the ground through my body.

  I set Elizabeth quickly down. I listen for any signs of breathing, and when none comes I check her pulse.

  I wait and wait, no heart beat comes. I refuse to believe that she’s gone, I try to pump the life back into her, but I know it’s hopeless.

  The tears come thicker and faster, leaving trails down my sooty face. I let them come.

  Elizabeth, my dear little Lizzie, is dead and it’s my all my fault.

 

*

 

  A voice pushes its way through the darkness.

  It’s a satisfied voice, and this time it’s louder, stronger, familiar...

  “Oo... that’s right... cry...” it laughs, “Oh I’m getting stronger! Keep crying Catherine...”

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