At night, Malphus left the house, turning himself to a ghost as he walked seeing both the siblings asleep. It didn't seem like the witches were going to pull anything and therefore he had decided to leave.The night was quiet and deserted, dark and cold. The townsfolk in slumber while his footsteps went unheard on the hard ground.
His hands in his pocket, he walked. Away from the town.
The closer he got towards the border of the south empire, he felt his body entering exhaustion. His ghostly spirit turning into his human form. An owl hooted above him as he passed through the leafless tress. With his human form reaching the west empire would take time. Just as he took another step forward he fell back on the ground with a thud.
Grimacing with the impact he landed on his back, he stood up quickly to see a shadow pass by from the corner of his eyes. No sooner he turned he saw another one from the opposite side.
Hearing the rustle behind him, he turned around to see a dainty looking woman with an anxious expression.
"Please help me!" she whispered softly but Malphus knew better than fall to the woman's trap.
He had heard of how the black witches used their beauty to lure people before killing them. It was the most common method they used. Underneath the beauty lied the sinister intentions and the witch would be a fool to think he would believe her.
When Malphus pulled out the gun, the woman's expression began to change. Her skin turned dark and cracked like a land without water. Soulless eyes staring at him with the elongated tongue out of her mouth.
She laughed as her sister witch joined too but the man began to shoot the women and when one fell down the other turned out furious before slipping out of darkness. But the witch hadn't left him alone. Malphus ran past the trees understanding the importance of time. But a human body had its limitation.
It was as if the witches were waiting for someone to pass by the borders at this hour of night. He had to get out as fast as he could from here, thought Malphus to himself.
The following day Katherine stayed in the house waiting for Malphus to return but he didn't come back. Three days had passed since he had left and neither did she or Ralph know why he hadn't come back yet. She was worried.
The fourth day arrived and still there was no news of the man. Katie had promised him to stay in the house until he returned and she had stayed to avoid any unnecessary trouble.
On the fourth day after preparing dinner, Katie waited for her cousin to get back home. Looking at the pocket watch in her hand, she noticed that he was late than usual. Going to stand near the window she saw if there was any sign of him when she heard the front door bang loudly.
Walking to the door she opened it to see Ralph fall forward with a groan. She tried supporting him and helping him sit but he was too adamant. It was when she saw something sticking in his stomach and the blood on her hands that she realized that he had been stabbed.
"Ralph! Who did this to you?!" she asked frantically but his words came out in groans and gasps, "Please sit," she helped him sit straight up on the ground and went to get a clothe to clean it but felt him stop her.
"No...time K-Kate," he spoke with great difficulty while gasping for air.
Katie could already feel her eyes turn watery, "Who did this to you?" she asked trying to help him ease the pain by taking the head cloth she had on her head to press it gently on his wounds. Ralph had been stabbed more than once and with the amount of blood that was flowing he wasn't sure if had enough time.
"Norman," he gasped, "The m-marking isn't complete and is yet t-to be compl-completed. You need to remove d-the link. It is in-the mansion. Everything is there," he said taking her hand shakily and smiling at her, "You need to s-survive. Hide," Katie shook her head, tears streaking down her face.
"I am not leaving you anywhere. We need to get your wound treated," she said trying to remember where should could get medical help.
"Go..." she heard him breath his last words and she cried, "No! Please no!! Please don't leave...Ralph!" her eyes blurred with the tears as she held his hand in hers.
After wiping her tears from her face, Katie went to touch the wound and the knife that was still pressed into his flesh. Unfortunately at the same time a woman walking by caught sight of Katie touching the knife with a body lying dead on the ground. The woman screamed 'Murder!' out of fright that lead to many of the folks around to gather around the house. More and more people crowded around the house but none getting it. Whispers and hushed tone passed by them denoting the woman in the house to be a black witch.
Katie had been too shocked to notice the number of people who had gathered around the house. When the Mythweald's official guards came to see who was causing the commotion, they caught sight of a woman sitting near the dead body with blood on her hands.
The Mythweald's officials were as reputed as their Lord. One of them pulled her up and when she refused to let go of her cousin the guard raised his hand and slapped her hard across her face to silence her.
Katie cried and begged to let her go, telling someone had killed her cousin but there was none to support or believe her. She was all alone.
"She must have killed him."
"I heard she's a witch. Didn't you see her mutter the whole way while she was on the street?" Another said.
"Witches are meant to be burnt! Burn her!"
"Burn the witch!"
Came the angry voices as opinions fueled one over the other. The mob turning a blind eye to the truth and facts, instead following each other like a heard of cows.
Katie thrashed when the guards caught her, trying to pull her out of the house, away from her cousin. She tried defending herself but four guards with the hateful eyes of the townfolk wasn't easy.
Seeing that she wasn't obeying a word they were instructing one of the guard hit her head hard enough for her to lose consciousness before they took her to the common cells of the south empire where prisoners were held.
When Katie opened her eyes after some time, she found herself in a dark cell with scarce amount of light in it. Her left leg was shackled to the wall in a rusted iron ring. At first she tried pulling, pushing and doing everything possible to get rid of it but nothing helped. Her attempts only echoed back from the walls.
She didn't know what to do. She felt her life was collapsing, slipping through her fingers with every passing second. Her cousin was killed under Lord Norman's orders.
Why!? He hadn't done anything! Why...she questioned to herself.
"I see you are finally awake," she heard someone speak when a guard came up to unlock the cell, revealing Lord Norman and his son Silas behind him.
"Let me go. I didn't do anything," she said making the south Lord laugh at her words but Silas answered her.
"Of course, I know that, Katherine," he responded and sat on the stool in front of her which the guard pulled for him.
"Why?" She questioned him, "Why would you do that?! We didn't do anything, we were minding ourselves," she questioned him for answers.
"Are you sure that you were minding yourselves?" Silas asked her sweetly with an underlying cunningness, "I don't think entering the restricted part of the library can be considered as minding your work."
She felt heart rate drop at his words. The Norman's knew about it. He knew that they were on the witches case.
"You forget that this isn't Valeria but Mythweald," Lord Norman spoke, "We run the south empire with an iron fist. We get every report of what people do," he said and when Silas leaned forward to go to smoothen Katie's hair she moved away from him, "And your cousin had already turned problematic. If he had just follow through the plan we designed you wouldn't be in this situation," he said with an unhappy face, "You should blame him and now it doesn't matter if you do as he is dead."
Katie heard a couple of footsteps from afar, and as it got closer two guardsmen carried a man inside the cell next to her before dropping him. She heard the man groan with pain in the dark. The guardsman locked the cell and left.
When the man finally sat up straight, squinting his eyes, the little amount of light falling on his face to show deep dark bruise formed over his cheek and a split lip, she felt her eyes go wide.
"My son, Silas has been considerate and thought you could you use some company. Let me introduce you to him," she heard Lord Norman speak and when the prisoner's grey eyes met hers, he looked at her shocked,
"This is Malphus Norman. My eldest son," Lord Norman spat the words with disgust.