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Into The Woods by eitherangel
Into The Woods
Inspired from my old painting "Goblin Market" I painted 2007.

MORNING and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
"Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpecked cherries-
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheeked peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Crab-apples, dewberries,
Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries--
All ripe together
In summer weather--
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;
Come buy, come buy;
Our grapes fresh from the vine,
Pomegranates full and fine,
Dates and sharp bullaces,
Rare pears and greengages,
Damsons and bilberries,
Taste them and try:
Currants and gooseberries,
Bright-fire-like barberries,
Figs to fill your mouth,
Citrons from the South,
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye,
Come buy, come buy."
Chapter 21

The air around the towers was thin and cold. Dark red clouds rolled soundlessly over the castle and the small town under it, twisting into one another and sometimes with flashes of lightning. but the usual whimpers, screams and mourning you should hear in the towers, especially in Christopher Carrion`s own tower was silent tonight.

And the silence was becoming a little oppressive.

Leaning back in his armchair, Carrion stared down at the small book in his hands. Looking deep in thought over something while Letheo, standing at the doorway gazed down at the floor, wishing to be somewhere else than this cursed room, he didn't dare to interrupt Carrion`s daydreaming or rather nightmare dreaming, or else he would have only his head out in a second. He had been summoned by him, but the moment he arrived, Carrion only gave him a slight nod and said not another word to him. It didn't seem to be any madness or hostility in his aura tonight. Perhaps plotting over next strategy in his "Absolute Midnight", but the fact that he had been sitting in silence for the better part of the whole night was making Letheo uncomfortable.

Something had happened to Carrion? Letheo couldn't put a finger on it, Carrion just didn't seem be the same. His patience, typically thin at best to begin with, was practically nonexistent now.

Letheo couldn't understand what happened, though he had a few hypotheses about it.

Perhaps the constant meetings with his generals and assassins, or his grandmother, Mater Motley? She's been a constant pest these past weeks after what happened in Wormwood, perhaps this was turning Carrion crankier and silent than usual.

Or it was a girl...again.

"All you can hope for is that he still is into Candy and not changed his mind to someone else," Letheo thought bitterly. "I have no taste for another girl chase!"

It had taken Letheo a long while to claw his way up to his position, putting his reputation at risk again for something as silly as that girl would be suicide. It wouldn't be easy this time because she was both guarded and his feelings for her haven't changed.

And speaking of girls, his uncle invited him for dinner tonight. His uncle, his cousin, their guests, that sarcastic blond headed "thing" will be all together at the stupid bookshop and he was, without question, to join them.

"Letheo," Carrion suddenly said with a soft voice to him.

Letheo immediately shook himself awake from his own thoughts, "Yes, my lord?"

"Is all women of Hereafter complicated?"

"My lord?"

With his eyes still down in the book, Carrion continued, "Is it because their time cycle are different from ours? That they don't have any need to move to Island after Island to be in right time, but all they have to do is to stand in the same spot and wait when the time comes. What do you think?"

A shiver climbed up his spine. Faint, unintelligible whispers started to stir in the back of Letheo`s mind, "I-I don't know My Lord."

"The councillors has given Candy and her family a temporary protection and have hidden them from us. As a result, this girl's behaviour seems all the more ominous, like nails` against the chalkboard of my psyche and it makes no better that we don't know where they are."

Carrion's face had been relaxed for a moment when he looked into the book, but speaking of Candy and her allies, his eyebrows drew down and his whole face became tight with displeasure. Then, an angry Carrion stood up and tossed the book hard into the fire. "They don't trust us!" he spat. "Well, they have actually never trusted us, but now by that damned girl, they finally know we are planning something, knowing about our hunger for "Absolute Midnight"."

"You will have your time to kill her, but for now we must 'play it safe' as they say, understood?"

"Uu-u-understood, m-my Lord," Letheo stammered.

Carrion looked up from his hands, temporarily frozen in place. Letheo bit his lower lip and shrank into himself a little when he saw Carrion staring at him.

"There is something else you wondering about?"

"Wondering about what?"

"You know what I mean."

Staring at Carrion hands, fearing he might clip off his tongue with the starting, rattling of his teeth if he ever opened his mouth.

"Well?" Carrion demanded. "Out with it!"

"W-w-with your permission, I wish to visit my uncle tonight."

Carrion watched him for a moment and then he gave a short laugh, "That's all? a family reunion? I didn't know you have an uncle?"

"I have My Lord. I've been invited to join him for dinner. It will be a short one I promise."

"Is that it?" Carrion said softly, making Letheo shudder as if a large, ice-cube moved down his back.

A dark clothed creature, half of his face covered, moved or rather flew his way around the stack of books at the little bookshop, then made his way to the counter. A tall, thin girl with long, black, braided hair in two loose pig tails stood behind the desk. Sitting with her legs stretched out, boots right up on the desk, she was occupied drawing something on a piece of paper and seemed first not notice the huge creature approaching her.

"I'll take this," said the creature, setting the book heavily on the counter.


"Well…everyone has different tastes."

"I`ll take it anyway," the creature said ashe put the money on the table, picked up the book and, hide it quickly under his cloak.

"A man who has written a book about another world that is even crazier than his?" Carrie said as she picked up the money and placed it in the register. "You need to understand his world before you can analyze this Wonderland or else you will turn crazier than the Mad Hatter himself."

"Lori! Come in here for a second!" Leila called out for her from the kitchen. Taking the opportunity, the strange, dark cloaked figure rushed out from the bookshop. Shrugging over the oddness and for not giving her any tip, Carrie headed down into the kitchen.

Leila had just dropped two bags of grocery over the table and started to pack it up.

"What did I tell you about talking to our customers?" Leila said tiredly.

"You got pretty good hearing."


Carrie rolled her eyes, "I know, I know! Do not talk if it's not necessary. Give them the best service without being sarcastic, sulky or be a b-i-t-c-h."

"And most importantly, don't spoil the plot of the books!" Leila added.

"I didn't spoil anything, just giving my opinion. That book has never been a favourite of mine."

"When a customer needs help you either call me or grandpa."

"But I find very odd that some of them acts like they were buying porn instead of children books."

"Your books are odd," Leila sighed as she looked through the items on the counter. "But I'm more irritated that grandpa gave me such short notice that Mr. Rettel and Mr. Cero are coming for dinner tonight show their latest collection. I won`t have enough time to prepare, then you got the nerve to invite Mr. Masper to join us too."

"Don't blame me, Lothario himself asked him."

"Which I found very odd. We barely know him and grandpa invites him for dinner. I don't know, but he gives me creeps."

"What's this dinner about?" Carrie wondered as she picked up some kind of purple apple from the bag and took a bite from it.

"Mr. Rettel and Mr. Cero are colleagues of grandpa. Just like him, they are collectors of rare books and paintings."

"Hmm...That doesn't sound so bad? What's the problem?"

"Aren`t I always on my guard?" Carrie said between chews.

"Your tongue isn't always on its guard and whatever you do, keep that "Snake" tucked inside. If grandpa hadn't invited Mr. Masper, you would have stayed in your room, pretending to be sick."

"Sure, sure, I will hold my tongue and be a good girl."

"You better be, because our "dear cousin" Letheo is coming too."

Carrie stopped chewing and raised both her eyebrows at Leila. "… I'm sorry, did you say who was coming?"

"Letheo. Grandpa begged him to come."

"It's not good to not wearing that scarf everywhere. I have been sweating like a pig and about to pass out."

"It looks like a perfume bottle or something to keep genies in," Leila said as she looked closer at it.

"Genies, spirits or, toilet-water, doesn't matter, it works."

Carrie was silent for a moment as she examined the bottle. "I almost had a heart attack, the way he held it with his bare hands. It was...creepy. I can't really buy that he might be immune to horror and he knew through the Carrions, how to handle nightmares like these."

"After you`re done preparing the vegetables, do NOT under any circumstances move near my oven," Leila said firmly, as she opened the refrigerator and shoved the frozen things in it.

Carrie gave her a short laugh and rolled her eyes in response, "I won't set your house on fire again."

"It's not me I am worrying about. It's the house. You will be forbidden to enter the kitchen while I`m preparing the dinner."

"Fine, just give me something I can use a knife to cut or hack and I promise not to lay a finger on your precious oven."

"I`ll hand you a butter knife, that's all I would dare to give you."

"It's so good to see you again. We have missed you."

"Yeah, I missed you too," Letheo sighed and hugged him back.

"How's it going with the Carrions?"

"Hard, but very...instructive. I really don't want to talk about this tonight."

"Of course," Lothario said kindly and gave him another hug.

"And where is our dear house guest?"

"You mean Lori? just a second. Lori!" Dr. Lothario called her name as he rearranged some of Letheo`s greasy curls. "Come down here and greet your hero."

A few moments later they heard heavy footsteps coming down from the stairs, but instead of Carrie, they was greeted by Leila`s sulky face as she entered the kitchen.

"Well, it isn't you," she said as she crossed her arms, watching him gloomily.

"Hi Leila," Letheo muttered, sharing the same air as her.

Letheo scoffed and answered, "I have been busy thank you very much, but haven't murdered anyone...yet."

"Then what are you doing these nights in the Carrions?"

Puffing out his scrawny chest like a little pigeon, Letheo replied, "Top secrecy you know. Details known by only a few highly placed people. Like me."

"You mean only you know how to make Carrion`s boots shine brighter?"

Letheo glared at her, "If you must know, I'm one of the best apprentices he ever have."

"Then you certainly know how to lick his dirty boots spotless," Leila snapped back at him.

Dr. Lothario closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose tiredly. "Not this again. We've been over this a hundred times already. Literally."

"You don't understand." Letheo says slowly, "I might-I might have found a cure for my disease."

For a moment both Dr. Lothario and Leila were silent. Slowly, Leila moved a little closer to him, "You have? How? Has Carrion given you a cure?"

"It's a long story, I can't tell you right now," Letheo sighed. "Where is that girl I sent to you? Is she still here?"

"Lor- Carrie?" Dr. Lothario said.


"No, Carrie, but we call her Lori for the sake of protection," Leila corrected him. "We are telling our friends that she is our niece from Yebba Dim Day."

"Great, that's what I need. Another cousin to pester me around," Letheo muttered as he moved towards the cauldrons on the stove and looked down into one of the bigger ones.

"Smells good. Are you preparing cooked Octopus?"

"I just arrived and you want me to clean? Since when do I take orders from you?" Letheo shouted, standing face to face with Leila.

"The moment you walked into this house," she replied. "We are having guests tonight and I want the dining room spotless like Lord Carrion's boots."

"You will help or you can forget eating with us."

"Fine," Letheo growled, "Where do you want me to clean?"

"In the dining room. Just remove the books and place the cloth over the table. Even a baby can do it."

"Perhaps the baby needs a hand?"

All three of them turned around and saw Carrie leaning on the doorframe with a cloth in her hands.

"Oh, it`s you. Hello "cousin", "Letheo said dryly to her.

"Ha, ha, ha," Carrie said as she moved closer to Letheo.

"Nice wig. New?" Letheo pointed at her newly braided wig.

"Almost a part of me. I think I will cut my hair a bit to make it fit better."

Letheo rolled his eyes and then he looked curiously at Carrie`s bare throat. "Where is that creepy thing of yours?"

"In here," Carrie said and picked up the blue bottle under her blouse and showed it to him. "So you can relax a bit, I won`t throw it at you."

Letheo looked at the necklace doubtful, "I'm surprised that you're still alive. This island isn't exactly a holiday resort. "

"Yes and thanks for dropping me here," Carrie snorted back.

"You're welcome and at least a small thank you for saving your life would be great."

"Only the regulars, but Lori is bringing home her boyfriend tonight," Leila said nonchalantly with slight smirk on her lips.

"He's not my boyfriend!" Carrie shouted, giving her a venomously look as she picked up the stack of clean plates from the table.

"What?! A boyfriend?!" Letheo barked.

"The two of them met a couple of weeks ago during her little "walk", Leila continued.

"You two ate dinner together at that restaurant couple of nights ago." Leila winked at Carrie.

"It was business, nothing more."

Letheo gazed skeptically at her. "You're hiding in the most dangerous Island of Abarat and you have the courage to bring your date to dinner? Who is the idiot that has a crush on you?"

"His name is Mr. Ma-"

A loud ringing from the door bell broke through their talk and reality set back in. Quickly, Carrie tossed Letheo and Leila a "You both pay for this later" look, pressed her lips together and headed up the stairs. "I'll take it."

Carrie adjusted her wig, though it was more habit than anything before she opened the door and found herself looking up at a pair of grey eyes that belonged to Mr. Masper himself.

"You're early," Carrie said by way of greeting, crossed her arms, and made her signature pose by leaning on the doorframe.

"Better to be early than late." He smiled down at her. Carrie didn't return it. Instead she moved so he could enter into the tiny hallway and closed the door after him.

"Yes, it finally lost the grip on me," Carrie said calmly and picked up the necklace and showed to him, "May I ask, how did you get this?"

"By a salesman in the market. Nothing fancy and I thought it might be better for you."

"You didn't have to and why haven't you-?"

"Some things are meant to be alone and I believe you have a lot on your mind you wish to keep for yourself right now."

Carrie eyed at him for a long moment. "You're weird person Mr. Masper. I wonder if Gorgosseum is really the right Island for you or not? "

"This is my home Island and that will never change."

"No questions you wish to give me to satisfy your curiosity? exchange?"

Mr. Masper shrugged, "Like I said, it's not my business."

"Hmm, then let me help you with that," she said as she took his coat and hat, and placed them on the hat rack. Mr. Masper had put on a clean sweater for the evening, removed the dirt on his hands, glasses, and face to give a better impression.

"You really cleaned yourself up," Carrie said as she eyed his clean face and hands, "I don't know what kind of people the other guests are, but be sure they haven't been digging any graves lately."

"I'm pretty sure that they won't mind me at all. Are you doing the cooking tonight?"

"I burn water, Leila is the headchief."

"I see."

Carrie gave him a small shrug, "Its best that I have the responsibility to be a good door hostess as possible."

"You're doing a fine job."

"Well, the food is soon to be finished, the dinner table is arranged perfectly, the flowers are exactly as Leila specified me to place and the menu couldn't be in better hands than hers. Everything is going to be just fine and-"

The door of the kitchen behind them swung open, startling them both as Letheo popped his head outside. "Oh, there you are. We were worried you got lost or kidnapped by a Stichling," he said and then noticed Mr. Masper, towering over Carrie.

His golden eyes are darting from Carrie too Mr. Masper slightly confused, but then smirked, "Is this your boyfriend? Didn't know you like old men, how nice."

"Again, he's not my boyfriend!" Carrie hissed, her face becoming blazing red and Mr. Masper couldn't help to smile teasingly at her reaction.

Suddenly there was another knock on the door and this time as Carrie open it, the man standing there was round as the moon itself, together with round cheeks and enormous red whiskers. His coat was, Carrie really didn't know what to think about the monstrosity that looked it once crawled from somewhere in Efreet.

"The weather's turning," Mr. Rettel added without replying to Carrie`s question, "It's much colder than it should be."

"Yeah, it's pretty cold ton-"

"It's been so long since we've gotten together like this," Mr. Rettel continued, as he pulled off his coat and tossed it into Carrie`s arms like she was some kind of maid, then held out his hand at Mr. Masper and said cheerfully, "I didn't know we were having more guests coming tonight. I am Mr. Rettel."

For a moment Mr. Masper just stared at Mr. Rettel`s smiling face before he grasped his big hand briefly, "Mr. Masper," he said shortly, and then dropped it.

"You must be Lothario`s niece. Lori I presume," Mr. Cero said shortly as he handed the package over to Carrie already full hands so he could take of his own coat. "I have heard so much about you."

"Only the positive ones I hope," Carrie muttered as she tried to balance the heavy package and the (not really dead yet) red coat.

A wolfish grin pasted on Mr. Rettel face as he last took a closer look at Carrie and drank in the sight of her slim figure. "Definitely, but I don't think he's ever told us how pretty you are."

"It's nothing to brag about," Carrie said coldly.

and was now blinking owlishly. His golden eyes darted from Carrie to Mr. Masper. A smile curled up from Mr. Masper thin lips as he looked back at him, though it was neither warm nor friendly.

That seemed to snap the boy out of whatever weird trance he was in and without greeting their guests, he quickly started to walk fast towards the kitchen.

Unfortunately Leila stopped him as she entered, "Don't even think about running," she said and tossed a bowl of salad into his arms. "You will place this bowl on the table and then you're going help me with the octopus."

"But, but-" Letheo`s face was pale as a ghost, but Leila ignored his plea or his look.

"No buts! Your butt is mine tonight."

Another grin pasted on Mr. Rettel face when he saw Leila's curvier figure. "Hello Leila, good to see you again."

Rolling her eyes Leila helped Carrie with their coats and hats, then shepherded everyone to the dining room. After the greetings and comrade hugs between Dr. Lothario, Mr. Rettel, and Mr. Cero they all took their seat down at the table. Dr. Lothario took the head chair, Mr. Rettel sat on his right side. Letheo awkwardly sat down beside Carrie as Mr. Masper took a seat beside Mr. Rettel and just in front of Letheo. Mr. Cero took a seat beside Carrie. Leila, as the main hostess for the evening, sat on the other end of the table.

"Dinner is served," Leila said with a cheerful voice, "Hope you'll all enjoy it and don't you dare leave the table with an unfinished plate or you will have to deal with me."
The Nightmare Catcher ch 21

I wish to say thank you YGP for your great support and for never ending patient correcting with my grammar, tenses mistakes and your meaning suggestions. You`re Rock!

And I wish to say thank you to Abaratfan, Meg Meg, c3lpht1tl3d and so many others for your kind reviews. It`s means a lot to me and I`m happy that my ideas and suggestions how to build up a good story and characters development like the problematic Carrion really helps.

Enjoy the story and don`t forget to review.

The Nightmare Catcher

Creature and the Maiden.

Chapter 31

"Wake up, its time."

John sat up slowly, rubbing muscles stiff from sleeping in his uncomfortable position on the floor. "Time for what?"

The guards entered the room, performing their routine observation to check if there were some hidden tools or weapons in the corners or if John had something in his pockets. When they were finished and had built up enough courage to unlock John`s chains, they forced him up from his sitting position and moved him out of the cell.

Prepared for another barrage of thousands eyes and insulting comments, John was surprised, when shoved forward by unseen hands, to find himself instead stumbling out of the back side of the building and into daylight.

The bright sun appeared behind some small clouds, shining down upon the gathered crowd and John`s miserable form. Bewildered by the brightness of the sun that almost burnt his eyes, John starred with teary eyes at the crowd of people.

Had they decided to move the show into a bigger public space? No, it wasn't a show. His "public" didn't seem to be in the mood for a laugh today.

His eyes continued to wander around the scene, stopping on the gallows. His mind felt as if it had turned into ice, and while he stood still in frozen horror the guards led him closer and closer to it.

A large arena had been constructed on the right side of the gallows. Not massive, but big enough for the higher class to sit and watch this whole spectacle. John`s eyes turned to the boxes where the elites sat and saw Mayor Rochester. His brow was deeply furrowed as he looked straight at him. John looked back too, without giving away his fear, anxiety and hate.

The executioner stood waiting as John walked up and took his place in front of the rope, which was twice as thick as usual. It looked strong and sturdy, perfect to break his thick neck or at the very least, strangle him long and hard.

"Monster, or so called 'John'," one of the judges said with high, clear voice, "you have been found guilty, for two counts of thefts, eleven counts of working with forbidden magic and being "the Witch" Laura Dubois' accomplice in the severe injuring and death of the Mayor's son, Pierre Rochester. For these crimes and others still unnamed, under the authority of the judges and Mayor Rochester, you are hereby sentenced to death by hanging."

Hearing that Pierre was dead, Johns turned towards the judge in surprise.

"Pierre is dead? How? When?" And how in hell or heavens name would he ever done this crime when he had been in prison all the time? Did it mean that...Laura had escaped? That she had somehow managed to run away?! Was it possible? John's heart skipped a beat from pure joy, but at the same time he dreaded knowing what had happened.

John's eyes went back to rest on Mayor Rochester, who was so tense that it was a wonder he didn't snap.

"But the Mayor Rochester has agreed to spare your life if you tell us where Laura Dubois is hiding or any information about where she could be."

The words hit John like a ton of bricks.

"So this is what my end will be?" John thought bitterly. This was a show. A show to tempt him into telling them where Laura was and betray her. A trap to lure her out because she would never let him die. Surrounded by a crowd that either hated, despised or felt indifference to him, seeing him only as a monster and not a beaten, injured human being. They wished to see his body hanged and would cheer at the sight, and then search for Laura to give her the same punishment.

"Any last words?" the judge asked.

Oh, the temptation to scream out his anger and hate like he did in that wretched place. Show them what he was capable of. Tell them who the real monsters were! He could, in his final moments, protest this injustice, make an attempt to set himself free, injure or kill a guard or two. Act like the monster they wanted him to be. He could scream out Laura's name, calling in a desperate attempt to see her, even it was only for a brief second or the slightest hint that she was here. He didn't know where she was or if she knew he was going to die. His heart foolish wished that she was among the crowd; his mind hoped she was far away from this cursed sight.

Far away, safe, with the chance to be happy again, even without him.

But having learned his bitter lessons, John didn't voice his anger and hatred. Instead he said: "I don't know where Laura is! I have done nothing wrong," His voice was loud and clear so everyone could hear him. "I'm innocent and I know nothing of Pierre's death because you all had me chained all thi-"

"Silence! The evidence proves it was you and Laura Dubois who caused his death."

"What evidence?" What kind of evidence do yo-" John was interrupted by a hard hit to his stomach by the executioner. The pain stopped his breath for a moment, but he continued, head still bowed, with a slow but clear voice so the whole audience, even those in the back, could hear him.

"I'm innocent and I will always be. No matter what you have done to me or what you will do me this moment. I'm innocent."

Although he could still hear the insults, the shouting and the hundreds of glaring eyes, there were some who looked a bit insecure and ashamed over this spectacle. Like they were realizing what they were doing to him was both inhumane and barbaric, but apart from this realization, there was little or no change in their behavior over his tallness and ugliness. That is how humans behave, following the pressure of the group mindlessly in an attempt to fit in and survive.

Mayor Rochester snarled, breathing heavily through his nose. When it didn't seem like he was going to do anything, John raised his chained hands and touched his chest. "Do what you want with me. I'm ready."

These were his last words as the hangman put the noose around his neck. He tightened it until it squeezed tight around John's neck and then stepped back. With a grunt, the executioner pulled the lever, and the trapdoor fell open.

John now stood on air, and then he fell.

For a moment everyone thought this was the end of the monster as the rope tightened around John`s neck. Seeing how his eyes turned into surprise of this sudden pain and bewilderment, it seemed as if it were finally going to happen: a long strangulation until his body could not take anymore and let his spirit went back to wherever it came from.

Then the rope suddenly broke over his head and John fell helpless down through the trapdoor. The entire action had taken mere seconds; then chaos erupted.

"Get him!" Mayor Rochester was the first to scream at the top of his lungs.

The guards ran down to the underside of the gallows to check where he could have gone. A moment later, a young, redheaded boy appeared from the back side of the gallows where there were less people. Holding the gun in front of the people, he made a clean line heading for the boy and John, who also had a gun. The crowd was too shocked and too afraid do anything, so John and the boy seized the chance, and turned around, fleeing for their life.

After hauling himself to his feet, his throat aching from the bite of the rope and could barely speak, John too held up his gun towards the stunned people and simply followed the boy, who strangely enough was holding his hand as they ran as fast as they could through the streets. John's inhuman body was still weak after the time in the prison, but he had strength enough to run away from the chasing guards. He wondered if he was dreaming. Was he hallucinating? Had he finally gone crazy or this was another dream created by that strange woman? The boys clothes looked to be a little bit oversized and the hat was covering half of the his face.

But the air about him. The way he moved, his scent, the colour of his hair that stuck out under his hat. It could be no other than...

"You know you're going to be arrested for this."

Moving his head up, Laura's bright green eyes and freckled face looked up at him and gave him a big smile, making John's heart almost jump up to his throat.

"Someone needed to do it," she said simply, tears coming from her eyes.. "You're one in a million, you know that?"

The rapid approach of stomping feet behind them sang a warning to their ears as she quickly guided the two of them, all the while holding hands, through the narrow streets and alleyways of the city she had once called home. They hid in the shadows or in dark corners when the mob, the police, or Mayor Rochester's men came close by, trying to keep out of their sight. It felt like a game of cat and mouse.

But they weren't quick enough and suddenly, as John and Laura turned to another street, they were at the back of a small army of men, together with Mayor Rochester. They thought this was the end of their journey, but fortunately the group didn't see them, as a large man with a blood-stained apron was talking to them. It was the butcher. He had no problem seeing them from his view, standing there like frozen statutes, not knowing what to do.

Run, get caught or fight?

"They went that way!" the butcher said and pointed with his large finger in the opposite direction. The men nodded and one moment later they all followed the man and his direction.

Laura sighed in relief but John had difficulty breathing; his lungs burned and his feet that hadn't touched bare ground for a long time were sore and bleeding. "Laura, I don't know if I have enough strength left. I think we need to split up."

"No we won't! I won't lose you again. I got a backup plan."

"And what is that? Hide in one of the houses? There might be people inside, and they will stop us." But the discussion was soon irrelevant, as they suddenly heard horse hoofs echoed through the alleyway. John and Laura jerked their heads up, startled by the sound. Someone was coming straight towards them.

Had the men discovered the butcher had lied to them and were now coming back?

Laura tightened her grip on Johns hand, refusing to let him get dragged again away from her sight. Holding her gun up towards the upcoming enemy, she was going to make sure of it.

"Stay back!" Laura screamed.

But to her surprise and relief it was no other than Adrian, riding on a big, grey horse.

"The guards will be here in a few minutes. My dad is misleading them for the moment so be quick," he exclaimed with a note of panic in his voice. He glanced around, checking the environment before he climbed down from the horse and gave Laura the reins.

"It's okay, John, he's a friend," Laura said reassuring to the pale-faced John who had pointed the gun at Adrian. She lowered his gun and then gave Adrian a small huge." Thank god, we thought it was Rochester."

"He will be here any moment. Be quick."

"John, this is Adrian," she introduced him to Adrian. "He's a friend and has taken care of me after what happened in the mansion."

John eyed at him for a moment, then gave him a short smile and dipped his head low. "I am forever grateful."

"Well, you better make it worth it," Adrian gestured nervously to them to climb up on the horse. "You only have few minutes before Rochester will be back. Turn to right and take the small alleyway on left side you will be out from this snake nest and then just run straight, down to the river-bank. Esther is waiting for you there."

Laura nodded, and mounted Adrian's horse, pulling John up onto the saddle with her.

"Thank you, Adrian," Laura said softly. "Tell your father that we are forever grateful." And with that, John and Laura took off, leaving Adrian to deal with the consequences of their actions, knowing that they would probably never see him again, yet that they would always be remembered.

Bolting out of the town and away from the mob, was exhilarating beyond words. Those who saw them and tried to stop were hopeless against the horse`s speed and strong legs. Soon John and Laura were close to the river, just in time to see Esther in a small boat, waving at them. The anchor of the boat was pulled up and it was beginning to move. Not far away from them, Mayor Rochester and his guards were closing in, only few, short minutes away from catching them. The boat was a few centimetres off the dock, and the only way of escaping now was to jump.

Without thinking, they climbed down. Laura pushed John towards the boat, causing him to jump and catch onto the opening of the boat. His weight almost sunk the side of the boat, but once he was completely in, it was stable. Laura jumped on as well.

"You got in just in time. I was worried if the plan had failed," Esther yelled to them as she now rowed for her life.

The boat lurched and bucked and John thought he was going to fall, but Laura's arm around him was strong and sure. "Here, sit," Laura said gently, and guided to sit at the front of the small boat. Tired to his bones, John placed himself on the boat floor and let his burning lungs take deep, long breaths.

"I could use some help here if you don't mind," Esther grunted and to lessen her burden, Laura quickly sat beside Esther, took one of the oars and began to row as fast as possible.

By the time Mayor Rochester reached the shore, the boat was too far away to reach. His and his guards' horses stopped before they would splash into the river.

They all three could hear Mayor Rochester's screaming and swearing, confirming that they were now out of his reach. But even though they were far off, both Laura and Esther rowed and rowed until their palms started hurting and their shoulders aching, making their way across the icy-cold water towards the unknown, all the while keeping their eyes on the shore until they could no longer distinguish the forms of their enemies.

When the danger was over and seeing no one chasing them either from a boat or at the shore, they could finally take relax and slow down.

Esther patted Laura's arm. "It's alright now, go and sit down beside him and give him this." She handed her a bottle of water.

Esther may have been ignorant of many things, but she could tell what John needed right now, as he lay shivering in the hard wood-floor, was comfort, food, warmth and love. Unable and unwilling to stop their relationship any longer, Esther turned her back as Laura moved and sat beside John so they could have some privacy and concentrated on rowing.

"Slowly now," Laura hushed as John fumbled with the flask, trying to drink. It wasn't easy when his hands were sore and shaking. John's strength was gone after the running and his long stay at the prison. But feeling her slender fingers stroking gently through his sweat-stained, greasy hair, he managed after a moment, taking long gulps of the cold, fresh water.

After drinking and soothing his throat, John's hands grabbed Laura's own, entwining them as he drew her closer until there was no space between them anymore, and then embraced her. In that moment, simply being alive and together again was enough for them.

John couldn't hold back a broken sob as he buried his grey, face in her short hair. "This is a dream," he said while sobbing, "I thought I would never see you again."

"Me neither, when I heard how they treated you-" Laura's voice broke too, coming out as a high, trembling whimper, "They all should be imprisoned, not you."

"I-I was ready to die."

"I know-I know. We were taking a great risk."


"The butcher, the one who helped us, had some connection with the executioner. I don't know how he did it but he managed replace that rope with a weak and worn-out one instead. Easier for your weight to break, but until the very end I was so worried. Standing under your feet, hearing your death sentence and your...last words made me pray for all the holiness in the world that it would work. Or else...or else-"

She cupped his cheeks and gently caressed his pale skin and tugged one of his black curls behind his ear. "I would never forgive myself. How did you bear it, without going insane? What made you say these last words?"

"A-a dream told me to be patient and hold on."

Laura frowned. "A dream?"

John smiled, but felt like more like a grimace than a smile. "Another time, not now. But this dream saved me from becoming a monster."

"John," Her voice broke and started to sob again. "Is it over?"

John wiped her tears from her face as carefully as if she were made of porcelain. "I don't know. Where are we going?"

"Don't worry your little heads about it," Esther replied back, "We're heading towards a secret place."

John started to say something, but Esther held up a hand. "Not now. I'm already have my hands full here."

John moved gentle fingers through Laura's hair, stroking and tracing its length two or three times. "Pierre gave me your hair. He told me you were dead."

"I was so sad when I awoke and discovered it was gone."

"Your hair must been your pride and joy."

"Except it's red." Laura smiled sadly, and then took his hand and pressed it to her heart, squeezing his hand hard. "But it's nothing to worry about; it grows back." She guided his body so his head was placed on her lap, and with a low and soft voice she began to sing a small lullaby to him.

Smiling back at these two lovebirds and trying not to feel too embarrassed about it, Esther shook her head, rubbing her eyes to prevent herself from dozing off from the song.

Soon, Laura's voice started to sound muted to his ears, sleep beginning to cloud his mind as his eyes drooped.

The cold, fresh breeze from the river whipped at his face. It was wonderful compared to the foul odour from the cell he had stayed in not so long ago. The sun was sinking low into the sky, and the air grew colder. As John began to shiver, Laura put a worn-out blanket over him and herself.

Goodness, even when his body was aching, it felt he was in heaven. It was a commodity, a rarity, a fairy-tale – unheard of, in his short life, for it to be walking around in the flesh and warmth. But Laura was his light, embodied in this small and warm body he felt after such a long absence.

Slowly Laura's hand rose to his face, placing it on his cheek and turned his face up to hers. "I love you." And just to rid him of any lingering doubts, she cupped his face, moved down, and gave him a small, tender kiss right on his lips.

Dont forget to review!
Creature and the Maiden ch 31

Thank you ShadowPillow! For helping check and correct my grammar and tenses mistakes. It is not easy sometimes to see the errors even Microsoft Office Word works perfectly and even double check with

Thank you all for your wonderful reviews!

Deep down in the underworld by eitherangel
Deep down in the underworld
I got inspired after I read H.P Lovecrafts horror novel "Pickmans model". The story tells about mad, crazy artist namned Pickman, who got a passion creating horrfying and brutal paintings in his studio. And the worst thing is that the references he use for the creatures in his paintings are real.
It`s a good story and being a artist myself my fingers craved to make something from it. This painting, only A4-format and in watercolor are called "Pickmans Model model". A poor maiden surronded by his monsters. Ready to eat or not to eat her.

+Plus I was inspired by Daenerys Targaryens beauty and lovely hair (Even it`s just a wig.) and her strong will.
My name is eitherangel/Veronica, born and living in Sweden with a great passion in drawing and writing. 

As you can see in my gallery, there are many different styles and quality in my work. Everything is inspired by Classic, Fantasy, Gothic and Modern Art. 

   As a Founder to the group :iconfrankenstein-club: , I prefer to blog there about the latest news, contests and discussions in the relation to the novel "Frankenstein".

You`re warmly welcome to visit this Group anytime!

Any questions about me or my art you`re very welcome to send me a note or a message.

Best wishes eitherangel!
  • Mood: Joy
  • Reading: Frankenstein
  • Watching: Once upon a time
  • Playing: Slender

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CapnSkusting Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2015  Professional General Artist
Thanks from the Cap'n by CapnSkusting
Barinn Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2015  Student General Artist
Thank you for the fav!!! :D (Big Grin) :D (Big Grin) 
Ka-ren Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2015
Thank you for the fav )
PsEmotion Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2015
Many thanks for the fav :-)
E-Ocasio Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2015   Artist
Thanks for visiting my page, have a llama badge. :aww:
katherinebolan Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2015   Digital Artist
Thank you so much for the fav!
deviantwin15 Featured By Owner Edited Dec 21, 2014
Helt underbara målningar! Är det olja eller akryl? :)
eitherangel Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2014
de är kombination. Några av målningarna som jag gjorde under 2007-2010 är målade med olja. De senaste är akvarell och torrpastell och när jag fick min digitala ritplatta har jag experimenterat med digitial art. Tack så mycket å ha en riktigt God Jul. :)
deviantwin15 Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2014
WOW! Du har en helt underbar stil och vilket mångfald av talang du har! Och god jul du med :)
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