"Don't move or I'll cut her down!", the swordsman warned again, while his companions slowly stepped back from their enemies and started to surround the carriage. Looked like they didn't want their target to run away.
Katherine was furious. How could anyone threaten the weak and timid Hazel?! The death of her parents, beheaded by the sword of their king, invaded her mind again and made her breath heavy. She couldn't loose another important person! Didn't she tell Hazel to be careful and not stay as the weak girl she was? Shouldn't she stay as far away from this fight as she could? And how come she, Katherine, still went against her own logic and felt so much for a maid, who couldn't protect herself?
"Don't hurt her!", she yelled and tried to make her way through the guards over to Hazel's side. However, the guards were much bigger than her and blocked her with their wide bodies. Though they felt pity for Hazel, it was their duty to protect the aristocratic girl traveling with their master, not the poor maid.
Fighting against the hands that held her back, Katherine screamed: "Don't you dare hurt her! I'm the one - "
"Stop!" A big hand pressed her down and interrupted her speech. Katherine struggled fiercely, but the hand wouldn't move. Just when she was about to ignore it and start yelling again, a serious voice warned her quietly: "Don't, Milady. You're wasting all her afford."
Katherine stilled, and with wide eyes turned her head to Pete, who held her. What did that mean? Did they plan anything? Did they place Hazel as a bait?
Seeing that she understood somewhat, Pete gave her a tight-lipped smile and let go of her. With a whisper, he added: "She volunteered. Didn't want you to get hurt."
Gratefulness washed over Katherine and made her eyes wet. This foolish, sweet girl! She couldn't even protect herself, but already wanted to protect someone else. And not just anybody, but her, Katherine. How did she deserve such loyalty?
After forcing her emotions to calm down, Katherine asked eagerly: "So what is your plan? What will she do? How are you going to rescue her?"
"You'll see.", Pete answered lightly and let his gaze wander to the other side again. He looked a bit concerned, which let Katherine instantly question if they even had a real plan. What if Hazel was just a pawn to them so that she, the real healer, wouldn't be hurt? Would they even be concerned if Hazel died?
But no, the one who made that plan wasn't her cousin, she reminded herself. It was not even the earl, whose cruelty she would never underestimate after she knew of his dungeon master. The earl wasn't here, so the one in command was Sam. And Sam was too nice to sacrifice someone, right?
When Katherine looked over to the old man with his sharp blue eyes, she wasn't that sure about it anymore. Yes, Sam was a servant himself and he always treated her well, but would he really not sacrifice anyone to get to the outcome that was best for his master? She didn't know. She really didn't know.
The tension began to build up in Katherine again. What would happen now? What if they didn't deem Hazel's life worthy enough to be saved? Would she have to watch another of her beloved ones die? Her hands clenched to fists once again.
"Tell your leader to come out here", the attacker demanded. "We know he's inside the carriage! And that he's injured! You better do what I say, or this girl will die. Who else will treat your leader than?"
The phrasing confused Katherine. 'Your leader'? Though she knew the patient was the earl's brother and most likely had the highest status here other than her, how was he the leader of their group? Or would he be the leader if he was awake? As long as the earl wasn't there, it was plausible. Most likely, the earl would have ordered Sam to follow the patients lead as long as he wasn't there, for his status was bound to be higher than Sam.
At first, only silence followed the demand. Than the old butler cleared his throat.
"Excuse me", he said in an unnervingly polite tone. The speaker turned to him with a dark threatening look, but Sam didn't flinch. No - it was better to say that he looked like he didn't even notice the hostility directed at him. "Excuse me, dear sirs, but what will you do if he comes out?"
The speaker stared at him, than he let out a mocking laugh. "What do you care, old foggy? I wanna talk with you leader, not a shitty servant! Bring him out right now!"
He harshly pulled on Hazel's hair, who gasped when the cold sword slit into the skin on her throat. A pearly red drop rolled down.
It was only a tiny scratch, but Katherine suddenly felt her knees tremble. Not again. Please not again! In her mind, the hand on her shoulder turned into several strong and hurtful grips that made her skin break as she fought against them. Her throat was dry of screaming her parent's names. She was crying for the king to hear her out, but his cold, pitiful glance was etched into her soul.
"What a poor girl, getting insane over her parent's imprisonment.", the crowd whispered.
"I heard she was always unstable, that's why they didn't introduce her to the high society.", a noble lady shared behind her white handkerchief. Her eyes were full of scorn. "What a pity."
"Justice for princess Bellatrix!", a young man yelled. "kill the murderers! Kill the traitors!"
"Fools!", Katherine yelled back. "You're the murderers! They didn't kill her! You're all being fooled by this bastard!"
When she called him that, Ethan finally stuffed a cloth in her mouth.
"My dear Kitty", he giggled by her ear. "Don't you see they won't believe you? You are too weak to change anything. Stop embarrassing yourself."
Stop embarrassing yourself.
Yet again, she was embarrassing herself. Yes, she was too weak. So weak, she couldn't even stand upright when looking at the sight in front of her! Again, she couldn't do anything, needed to stand by and watch while someone else played with the lives of the persons dear to her. And they wouldn't let her go through this barricade of guards to help Hazel. She just wanted to help!
With all her might she fought the tears that threatened to fall from her eyes. She was weak, but the least she could do, was not to embarrass herself. So she ignored the concerned look Pete threw her and straightened her legs.
With all the fear in her heart, she was going to meet the situation now upright and with a straight back. Not cowering like a coward or screaming like an insane wench. Both didn't change anything. Whatever came her way, she had to meet it with a firm stance. After all, she was a lady. Her dignity didn't allow her to embarrass herself again.
Just when she'd collected herself and wanted to get into the conversation of Sam and the attacker again, the swordsman screamed: "I don't wanna hear one more word of you! I'll count down from ten! If your leader isn't out by than, you know what will happen! Ten... "
Katherine, who knew that the patient was half-awake, looked anxiously to the carriage. Would the patient come out? But what would that bring? The enemies most likely wanted to kill him! As much as she didn't want Hazel to die, she didn't want to sacrifice anyone else either! And would they really not kill Hazel if he came out? No, as soon as she wasn't worth it anymore, they would slit her throat.
So was there anything that could really save her maid?
"Nine", the enemy said.