Cassie moved to the entrance peering out she turned the glass shard so the reflection of the garden could be seen.
Something crawled along the mirror’s edge, she tilted it and the demon came in view. Writhing horribly and reminding her of a centipede, it seemed to scorch the earth as it moved. The exoskeleton glinted in the light, it scuttled across the lawn and Cassie held her breath.
Once she was confident it was gone she crept out into the garden. Angling the mirror there was no sign of any demons or half-maddened corpses.
Dawn was starting to dull down into the blackness of the night and she needed light to find her way as safely as possible. She gulped down the terror and adopted the powerful princess she pretended to be in front of her people, it was the only way to keep going.
Her footsteps were light and quick as she went down the path, careful not to scatter the white pebbles in fear of someone hearing it.
Cassie eventually saw the stables ahead and went to move forward but her legs were frozen. She started to feel the panic rising, the familiar panic she felt before giving a grand speech to the people. She always froze but Jake smiled to reassure her she was going to be okay. He was not here.
She held onto the tears that threatened to be released and brought up the image of Jake’s smile to her mind. It managed to stem the terror and she pushed forward.
The mirror in her hands revealed the dead form of a demon outside the stables, a great boar with spikes piercing through its vertebrate.
Blood was smeared on the wooden post. Beside it was a knight sprawled out with his silver armour slicked with blood and his eyes stared blankly like those of a dead fish.
Cassie kneeled beside the knight recognising the old worn features.
“Sir Flynn Heron,” she whispered mournfully, as memories of the knight came to mind. He had protected the royal family since she was born and had been a friend.
His sword was left beside him and Cassie knew she had to take it in order to defend herself. But a knight’s sword was to be buried with him and to take it would be a dishonour, yet this was the time for survival.
“Sir Flynn Heron, a courageous knight and a good friend,” she whispered, closing his eyes for him. “May your spirit go into the afterlife, and I promise I will bury your sword with your body when I return.” She picked up the sword, it was heavy and the muscles in her arm complained. “I hope that your sword will protect Jake and me as you protected us.”
Cassie stood up holding the sword in both hands and swung it in a slow arc. It felt unsteady but luckily she knew how to wield a sword to some degree, having been taught some basics in sword fighting in case of an attack. She smiled slightly as she remembered her mother’s shocked expression at seeing her little girl donned in armour for the first time, and more dismayed at how her little girl enjoyed it more than learning to be a proper lady.
Cassie advanced forward the sword held tightly in her hands.
There was the dead stable boy beside a dying horse.
She pried his cloak from his shoulders feeling disgusted at the action like an immoral thief as she pulled the rough material over own shoulders. She whispered her apologises and prayers to him as she closed his eyes.
The horses had been slaughtered saved for the one in the last stall, the old one that was whinnying in distress.
"Hush, hush," she said to the horse calmly, grabbing the reins. "There, there." She stroked its grey nose and it huffed loudly but was relatively calm.
Cassie released the horse and climbed onto its bare back; there was no time to fix a saddle onto it. She kicked the horse and it lurched forward then into a steady trot.
“One shot to get out of here,” she thought, before causing the horse to go into a gallop.
Cassie wrenched the shed door open and rushed over to Jake who was still half-delirious. His eyes focused on her and he mumbled her name behind the gag.
“We are getting out of here,” she said, as she removed the gag and untied him.
“You’re covered in blood,” he said.
She touched her face self-consciously aware of the blood that decorated her face.
“We have to go,” she replied, and pulled him up. He groaned, clutching his side. They got outside, it was dark now and she groped for the horse’s rein to pull the animal closer.
“Hold the rein Jake.”
He did and she pushed him up onto the horse breathing heavily once he was on. She quickly swung her leg onto the horse and pulled herself up. Cassie grabbed the reins from Jake, who had collapsed against her with his breathing becoming increasingly laboured.
She turned her head and saw the silhouette of one of the robed people stumbling forward.
“Killer, killer,” they screamed, and the silhouette crumpled.
Cassie quickly rode away.