“Jake, Jake,” Cassie cried, holding him close.
His eyes fluttered open, a moan escapes his lips and his head snaps up. He sat up and could taste blood in his mouth. He glances at Cassie his eyes wild with terror.
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” Cassie said, hugging him. Sobs escaped her throat.
“Cassie,” he whispers, closing his eyes.
She looks up at the fountain and around the garden. It was eerily quiet, the monsters must be elsewhere it wouldn’t be long before they came running here. Cassie saw a shattered piece of mirror and grabbed it.
“We have to get out of here before others arrive,” she said and started to get up. Jake slowly followed gripping his side. She held him, his arm draped over her shoulder as support.
“We should get to the horses,” Jake said.
Cassie nodded. “Of course then we will get help.”
“Cass I don’t think-“
“Shut up Jake I will get help and you will be fine,” she snapped and he closed his mouth knowing it was hopeless to argue.
The gardens had many paths leading to different places decorated in honour of heroes, royalty and stories, each was unique with statues and flowers to mark out the place.
They both went into the war heroes’ garden where rows upon rows of blue and silver flowers twisted themselves up and down the white brick walls on either side. The smell was sweet and delicate, not too overpowering to the senses. Cassie loved to walk down here on an evening sometimes, towards the main circle where you can watch the sunset. She remembered the orange glow on the walls and the flowers seeming to shine. She and Jake often talked comfortably to each other about everything without the thought of guarding their tongues.
Now the path was flecked with blood as they came closer, the rubble of a statue which had been smashed covered its surroundings with white powder.
She tightened her hold on Jake who squeezed her hand in comfort. He was feeling heavier, his feet dragging more on the path, his breathing becoming more laboured.
Something stumbled into view.
Lifting its head Cassie saw with sickening dread that it was one of her maids Georgiana. Her clear skin now a mouldering green, her eyes completely black and wild with hunger. She howled and ran forward.
Jake momentarily forgetting his wound pushed Cassie to one side. He swung his sword forward, it cleanly removed the head from the shoulders. The head dropped to the ground and the body fell forwards with blackish blood leaking from the stump of her neck. His hand flew to his side.
Cassie was frozen to the spot, fear contorted her features.
“Cass we have to go now!” he said with urgency. “Cassie!”.
She looked at him and whispered “She’s dead, oh god she’s dead.”
“I know I’m sorry we have to keep going,” his voice becoming strained and he clenched his jaw.
“Yes of course.”
She took out the mirror piece and angled it to see if the maid's protector was nearby- although probably dead - before she moved forward. She took Jake’s arm over her shoulder.
The path widened, opening up to a wide expanse of lush green grass stained red. Cassie and Jake hid behind the tall shrubbery and watched.
Two figures stood in the centre both of which were dressed in strange robes covered with symbols. One was a woman whose hair was tied back into a bun, she had tattoos swirling on her face and eyes that were oblivious to the carnage around her. The man opposite was exactly the same although he stood slightly taller and was bald.
“The princess has escaped with her protector,” the woman said. “The demon failed us although they are marked.”
“Yes they would not have escaped the gardens yet, most likely they are lost, the boy was greatly wounded,” the man replied. “We will find them.”
Cassie felt the blood chill in her veins. She began to retreat when Jake whispered to her.
“We should go to them,”
She turned to him.
“What do you mean?”
He took a ragged intake of breath. “They say they will stop the pain, can’t you hear them?” His eyes rolled back in his head. She felt his forehead which burned to the touch.
“Don’t listen to them,” She said firmly.
Jake ignored her. “Go to them,” he mumbled as he began to lay down on his unhurt side. Tears were running down his face. His eyes were not seeing her, his ears unable to hear her voice. He was becoming delirious and needed help fast.
She looked around quickly the panic striking her. She looked at the people who were busy talking.
“Come with me,” she said.
“They’re over there Cassie,” Jake murmured. “I’m not going anywhere else.”
Cassie feeling the panic increasing more bit down on her lip. She had to keep calm and figure out something.
“Well we need to be prepared to meet them Jake,” she lied “So if we see them on horses they will be surprised and impressed.”
Jake grinned. “Really?”
She needed a distraction to smuggle Jake out in case he decided to do something stupid. Cassie saw some birds in the trees further ahead and knew what to do. She got a small pebble and threw it into the trees. It startled the birds who flapped their wings making the leaves shake and squawked loudly as they flew away. The people turned their heads to watch the birds.
During this Cassie quickly dragged Jake up by his uniform and pushed him down the pathway. Hoping to god that there were no demons.
It went smoothly, the getaway, too smoothly in fact and soon trouble came not in the form of demons but Jake.
She knew where to go, the old pottery shed that was at the corner of one of the gardens. It was left to rot away because it added some character to the otherwise perfect garden.
Cassie stopped outside and said, “Jake I need you to slash these vines for me.”
“Why should I?” he asked, he was shaking.
“We need something from inside.”
Jake shook his head and snarled “You are lying, you are taking me away from them!” He pointed back from where they came from. He began to stumble backwards.
“No Jake there is something we need,” Cassie pleaded trying to calm him. “When have I ever lied or let you down, just do this for me and I promise we will be going to them.”
His feverish mind pondered on the deal.
“Yes I will.”
He stepped forward swaying with the sword in hand. He threw it down and it sliced the vines open. The sword embedded itself in the grass and the strength in his arms seemed to have deserted him as he struggled to lift the sword up and put it back into its scabbard.
Cassie grabbed hold of the rusted handle and yanked it, the door swung open after the third attempt and she fell backwards. The rust dyed her palms orange.
“Jake go inside and retrieve something for me,” she said pushing herself up from the grass.
“What is it?” He asked although he was already standing in the entrance.
Cassie came up behind him, the smell of damp earth and rot hit her nostrils.
“Go inside you will know it when you see it.”
He stepped inside and she followed, gulping down her nerves and waiting for the right moment.
“Keep going probably hidden in the back,” she said.
He leaned forward, peering into the gloom. She looked at the rusted racks of broken equipment and spotted a broken piece of wood most likely a chair leg. Cassie grabbed it feeling the rough splinters against her hands. She turned, the piece of wood outstretched, Whack!
It hit the side of Jake’s head and he crumbled under the blow.
Cassie was breathing heavily and bent down to see if he was okay.
He was still breathing that was a good sign.
“I’m so sorry,” Cassie said “I had to stop you from doing something stupid.”
She looked up and spotted some old rope.
A few minutes later she had tied Jake to the leg of one of the racks and had tied a gag around his face- which was made from the ripped hem of her ruined dress.
“I’ll be back soon I promise,” she said and kissed him lightly on the forehead.
All she had to do now was get a horse, come back, get Jake and get out of this place without being captured. A plan that could go terribly wrong.