At the same time Cassie was led into a sheltered and isolated part of the gardens. It had high hedge walls and red roses that harboured huge thorns. There was a pretty white bench in the middle of this place. Stewart took her to it and they both sat down.
“This is my favourite part of your castle your majesty,” he commented surveying the surroundings.
“Yes I do see why, it is one of the places nature can truly be admired.”
Stewart coughed nervously and began to rummage round in the pockets of his jacket. As he did this he said.
“You have a very unusually close relationship with your protector.”
Cassie was taken off guard and quickly answered. “I can be friends with my protector if I want to.”
“Yes,” he agreed vaguely. “I need to make something happen for me and you.”
She looks at him strangely, she thought about the comment and unfortunately she came to the conclusion that Stewart may propose to her. His nervousness and questions indicated that. She suddenly felt hot and trapped. All she could think of was Jake. Before panic overcame her Stewart produced a mirror. Cassie breathed a sigh of relief.
It was oval with a long handle like a hand-held mirror but the red and black jewels that patterned its edge glowing. The glass looked like it was rippling slightly at the edges. “That mirror looks strange.”
Stewart didn’t reply he just adjusted the mirror at various angles. He set it down beside him, a grin tugging at his mouth he looked satisfied.
“Do you know why close relationships with protectors are forbidden?”
Cassie played with her hands, staring at her hands to avoid eye contact.
“Is it because it is unnatural?”
Stewart shook his head. “Not quite, it’s to make it harder for demons to control you and your protector.”
Cassie glances up in confusion by his answer but cries in horror. She scrambles away but Stewart’s hand darts out and clamps around her wrist. He grins manically, his skin was rotting away, and the greenish grey skin was carved with harsh symbols that had turned black and purple. Maggots moved underneath his skin. A disgusting smell of rotting flesh stung Cassie’s eyes making them water.
“You shall both serve our master!” the corpse shouted.
Cassie pulled her hand away in vain, but he had tightened his grip to the point her bones might break. She saw the mirror laying on the bench, she quickly grabbed it and smashed it into Stewart’s decaying face. He screamed and let go of her. She falls backwards onto the ground. She pushes herself up, turning just in time to see Stewart lunge forward. She kicks out and hits him square in the chest so he steps backwards. Cassie sees a jagged piece of broken glass, she takes it into her hand. She plunges the shard into the Stewart’s eye popping it so the fluid ran down his cheek. He screamed in pain and fell to the floor covering his face.
Cassie taking advantage of this grabs another piece of glass and runs in search of Jake, knowing he was in terrible danger.
She runs through the gardens, she can’t hear Stewart running after her yet but it wouldn’t be long.
She rounds a corner to where the fountain stands. She sees Jake on his knees facing it. Blood is dripping down his side, his head is thrown back, and his mouth wrenched open into a silent scream.
Pain immediately slices through Cassie’s head causing stars to fly across her vision. She stumbles forward when something whacks her around the head, making her head snap violently to the side. As she becomes unbalanced Cassie noticed the piece of glass in her hand had the reflection of some creature. It was galloping towards her. She sidesteps it, the creature had fallen because there was a sudden uprooting of grass. Cassie using the glass ran forward to Jake, she saw the reflection of another creature, a demon who looked to be chanting. Too absorbed in the task ahead the demon was unable to react to Cassie throwing herself at it. The demon was knocked off balance and released Jake; who collapsed to the floor. She struggled against the invisible force, she swung the shard down in a stabbing motion. The struggles of the demon slowed, the glass became bloodier.
A hand touched her shoulder, she swung round in defence. It was Jake. His sword was covered in the same blood as the glass shard.
“Cassie it’s dead,” he murmured, breathing heavily and was clutching his side. She went to his aid.
“They- cut me-with-that blade,” he struggled to say.
“Jake it will be okay,” Cassie said, she had placed her hand on the wound to stem the bleeding.
Jake shook his head. “I’m sorry, that- was a demon blade- it’s poisoned-me.”
“We will get medicine for it, help or something,” she replied in a desperate tone.
“Demon poison changes you.” Jake took a ragged intake of breath. “It will turn us into them.”
Jake loses consciousness without warning, plummeting to the ground.
To be continued…