Her Fated Haunting

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Chapter 10

“Hold on there, young lady!”

Madame Tildi yelled from the kitchens, making Elyse cover her ears. The orphanage’s head chef’ voice could wake the very dead from their eternal sleep. She threw the door one last longing look and stopped her tiptoeing. Darn it, she had been so close.

The floor creaked heavily behind her. She turned, innocent eyes big in hopes of getting off easy. Madame Tildi’s lips where pursed tightly as the heavily-bossomed woman swayed the ladle in one hand while assessing Elyse with that shrewd look.

“Where off to, young lady?” The woman’s thick accent seeped through.

“To the market,” That’s it, Elyse. Keep your answers short and you have a chance, the girl encouraged herself. Cerberus, the hound guarding the damned souls from escaping hell, had nothing on the woman guarding the gates of the orphanage, both in and out.

“What to purchase? Sister Ann had clearly recommended rest in bed for you. Some persky illness that would not go away, she said.” Elyse congratulated the HeadMistress for the well-worded phrase. Technically, the Sister had not lied. That was if one considered said illness a demon with a penchant for wreaking havoc and taking her soul.


“What vegetables?” She inwardly cursed. In the wake of Sister’ Ann advice, Madame Tildi’s overprotective instincts were at an all time high. Hence the interrogation. Elyse shifted on her feet and blurted the first vegetable that popped to mind. “Carrots!”

The chef expectantly crossed her arms in front of her generous chest, tapping one foot on the ground. “Have plenty sacks of those down in the basement.”

Darn it! “Uhh, I meant turnips,” Elyse laughed, crossing her fingers behind her back.

“Those are out of season and moreover you are allergic to them, Elyse,” the older woman shook her head, the colourful scarf tied to her forehead askew.

Her shoulders dropped in hopelessness. “Potatoes?” The blank look she received told her the suggestion was yet another wrong answer. Madame Tildi’s hazel eyes softened as they took in the dejected look in the girl’s face. “Elyse, you should not overexert yourself. You are still recovering.”

“Madame Tildi, I cannot stay confined to the same four walls for days. I need to go out, feel the sunshine on my face, breathe some fresh air. Otherwise, I shall go insane here, please. I promise to help you more in kitchen.” As much as she could.

The chef raised her gaze skyward. After a long pause, she finally nodded. “We both know you are walking disaster in the kitchen, young lady. But, alright. Though, do not wander off too far! And certainly not with that troublemaker Samuel,” Madame Tildi waved her ladle threateningly again, probably recalling her friend’s failed attempts to get inside the orphanage’s dormitories.

Ah, if only Madame Tildi knew Elyse was actually the more troublemaker one of the two ...

“Thank you, Madame Tildi!” The blonde scurried towards the entrance before the kind chef had any second thoughts. Her joy was small-lived though. A solid hand stopped her merry walk before she could even pass the threshold.

Today is not my day.

The girl was sulking when she again faced the older woman handing her something. “You forgot you crutch, Elyse,” the chef’s eyebrows were raised.

She grabbed it sheepishly, a mortified blush covering her cheeks, and watched Madame Tildi sway her hips back to the kitchens, grumbling about absent-minded teenagers.

Looking back at the crutch, Elyse knew her reason for forgetting it. She simply no longer needed it as much as she had in the past. For the last weeks, the ache in her right leg had been somehow muted, no longer sending mind numbing shocks to her joints. At nights, sleep had always evaded her for hours until the pain dimmed away to allow her some rest. Now, night was the only time when her bad leg was most comfortable.

Of course, that was also the time Azrael began his nightly stalking of her dreams. Her talk with the fortune-teller had caused nought but turmoil. Nothing made sense anymore. It seemed to Elyse that the more she found of the red-headed demon, the farther truth eluded her. On one side there was Sister Ann warning her away, and on the other Alora encouraging to explore her bond with him.

Last night, she had avoided sleeping on purpose, staying until the wee hours of morning knitting the patches in her blue shawl and reading. Today, long yawns already escaping her mouth, Elyse knew her body would not bear another sleepless night. And with Azrael’s presence ever closer in her dreams, it was hard to predict what the cost of sleep would bring.

At least to herself, she admitted she was a coward.

The capital’s market was as bursting with life and colour as ever. Products from all across the kingdom were displayed while merchants were shouting the praises of their goods to any even remotely interested customer. Elyse raised her eyebrow disbelievingly when she came across a stand selling so called ‘eternal life giving apples’. A quick look assured her the fruits were as ordinary as the apple she had for breakfast. She raised it even more at the absurdly long queue of customers the obvious charlatan had.

Her blonde tresses swayed as she shook her head. Sending a prayer to those costumers’ soon to-be-empty-pockets, she moved on.

Where is he?, she thought impatiently. Amid the mass of people crowding her, something then bumped her foot. She looked down, expecting the worst.

The beady eyes of a goose stared at her, before it threateningly quacked, biting the tassels of her shawl. Elyse yelped, clearing its path.

Tripping some merchants, a few escaped geese joined it, running for their lives and leaving a trail of grey feathers behind them. Soon, Someone shoved his way out of the crowd – a panting bearded man, obviously the animals’ owner, and chased after them, swearing like a sailor. “Bloody birds! I shall make a soup out of all of you!“.

Elyse giggled. She watched the geese’s owner cross the main road, where passing carriages and caravans made it hard to track him farther and learn the poor birds’ fate.

Loud bells began ringing loudly, announcing midday. The young woman puffed her cheeks out in frustration. Samuel was running late. Again.

After almost half an hour spent eating the various sweet samples offered to her, Elyse finally spotted her friend. He was coming back from the direction the goose man had disappeared to. Good. Perhaps with some luck, he would have witnessed how that story ended.

She watched how his eyes lingered on a statuesque woman’s décolletage. Her eyes rolled. What a pervert. At only fourteen, the hormones were running rampant in that boy.

She smiled and waved at him. She knew the moment he finally noticed because his eyes lit up mischievously, like he already had an amusing tale to confess. Finally emerging from the crowd, Elyse waited for him on the side of the main road.

“You will never guess what some savage geese did to a poor man!” Samuel yelled his lungs from across the street, earning some glares.

“Keep your eyes on the street, Sam!” she scolded him, trying to raise her voice above the buzz. Neighing sounds were gradually getting louder, a sign of another carriage approaching. Around the corner, a fast moving cart, filled to the brim with fruits, was indeed coming, with no sign of slowing down.

“Wait, Samuel!” Elyse tried to catch his eye, waving pointedly towards the incoming cart. Her friend just grinned, either not hearing her or simply not caring. He continued to jog, stepping onto the paved street and moving towards her side of the market.

On her left, the cart was seconds away.

“Stop!” Frantic, she dragged her right leg behind her, now frustrated more than ever with her inconvenient condition. She moved to haul her idiotic friend out of the way of the horses.

But, it all happened too fast.

Booming horse whining echoed in her ears as she watched one stallion crash Samuel to the ground and stomp on his form. The trashing animal escaped its reign and ran away, leaving her friend lying like broken china doll on the now colourful wet pavement. Upon impact, the cart toppled, spilling hundreds of coins worth of fruits on the street.

Without thought, she kneeled near Samuel, ignoring the biting pain the position was causing in her leg and brought his head into her lap.

“Samuel!” she inched her arm, lifting his shirt and assessing the damage. The massive animal had opened a gashing a wound on his torso, the blood flowing freely and mixing morbidly with the fruit juice on the hard stone.

Samuel’s pained gaze still held a spark of confusion in it. “I never, I never saw it coming,” he gurgled as a trickled of red liquid flowed past his lips.

“Shh, you will be alright, do not speak” she automatically whispered, tearing part of her dress hem and tying it around his chest as best as she could. Dark bruises were already beginning to purple his skin.

“Someone, please help me carry him!” she yelled. A crowd of onlookers were pointing at the massacre of strawberries, bananas and pineapples in the middle of the street, but none were lifting a finger to help the real victim.

Someone snorted, angrily muttering near her. “Do you happen to know how much this is worth, girl? The little vagrant jumped in front of me and now the chancellor’s delivery is smashed beyond recognition on the street. What I am to tell him now?”

Elyse threw the cart’s driver a disgusted look. With much effort, she managed to lift the still conscious Samuel to his feet, letting his slumped form rest heavily on her shoulder.

“I need help,” she called out for someone.

A shiny red apple rolled to her feet. Elyse looked up and found the charlatan from before, the one selling the eternal-life-granting fruits, wink at her cheekily while looking her up and down.

“It might work for your chap there, I can accept some other way of payment for you, dear.” She bit her tongue. The lousy vendor was lucky her friend’s wound was her priority for the moment. Anxiety was building in her heart as Samuel’s rapid pants filled her ears. He was hurting badly, his unusual silence was sign enough.

Aid needed to be found fast. Had she been able to, Elyse would have carried him herself back to Alora’s tent. However, his body already had her legs shaking unsteadily as she tried to hold him up.

Suddenly, a familiar blonde stepped from the parting crowd, earning a few bowed heads in his wake. “Let me take him, Elyse, ” Mathias’s calm voice rang out, quickly understanding the situation.

Surprised, Elyse watched how with such ease, the muscular man took Samuel off her shoulder, carrying him like one does a sack of potatoes and earning a grunt from the wounded boy. For a noble’ son, Mathias was made of more brawn than one would expect.

“We need to take him to Alora’s tent,” Elyse said, meeting his gaze. She also noticed the disapproval tightening his features. The chancellor’s heir would not like to be seen in that part of the capital – the one where the poor, the misunderstood and the outcast souls of the society dwelled.

Mathias nodded moodily and started towards the fortune-teller’s home.

Before joining them, Elyse picked up the apple lying at her feet. Taking a bite out of it to spite its owner, she then aimed it the unsuspecting charlatan’s head.

Perfect shot.

Pleased with herself, she caught up with Mathias, the vendor’s furious yells behind her slightly appeasing the concern escalating in her heart.

Halfway to Alora’s tent, Samuel had fainted. Even his anguished groans of pain were better than the overwhelming silence. Dimly, she wondered if she was a bad friend for thinking such as she paced outside of the tent. When laid upon the bed, an abundance of blood had seeped from the provisional bandages and soaked the sheets around Samuel. A part of her had been astounded at the sight of how much a human being could bleed.

Her stomach revolted even now remembering. Next to her, Mathias stood silent, stature slightly uncomfortable surrounded by all the dirt and misery in the alley.

She bit her nails. Waiting for the physician’s consultation to end was pure torture. She was already worried that Alora would even ask for the help of one. The fortune-teller was quite good at healing, succeeding through her obscure spells and abhorring the local physician whom she called a ‘greedy bastard’. The very fact Alora would call for the ‘greedy bastard’s’ aid and the panic detected in the woman’s gaze upon seeing her wounded nephew spoke volumes to Elyse.

Before she could tear the cuticle off another finger, Mathias spoke from behind her.

“Elyse, I have been meaning to talk to you about something,” the chancellor’s son had a calculated look in his pale green eyes. Azrael’s eyes are more captivating though. Elyse internally slapped herself.

“What is it?” she asked, looking again at the tent’s entrance for any sign of the doctor.

“An offer,” the man said. “Given your status, an offer that is quite generous.”

Back stiffening, Elyse arched her eyebrow. She should have known his unexpected help would come with a price. The chancellor’s inclination to machinations was a family trait apparently.

“My friend is seriously injured and this subject of all came to your mind?” she turned exasperated to Mathias.

The tall blonde shook his head, as if not comprehending the inner turmoil she was going through. The crease between his eyes showed his displeasure at being denied. “I shall return then when you are of a more calmer disposition. Good day.” He cast the tent a last look of open distaste before marching towards brighter parts of the city.

Elyse watched his broad back disappear between the maze like streets, pondering yet again on how her younger self could have been so infatuated with Mathias.

Voices behind her snapped her out her thoughts. She wobbled her way back inside the tent, her gaze seeking Alora’s. The woman was clutching the physician’s white coat, torment clear on her face. The physician calmly took her hands off of him.

“It is what it is, Alora. The facts do not lie. Regarding my payment, I shall be lenient and extend a few days due to your tragic circumstances,” the physician swiftly grabbed his satchel of instruments and left before the fortune-teller could say more.

A moment later, a slipper was thrown in the direction the physician had taken, the disturbed beaded curtain at the entrance swinging wildly. “Greedy emotionless bastard!” the woman hissed.

Elyse gave Alora a moment to calm down before she anxiously stepped in front of the distressed woman. The fortune-teller’s shoulders were shaking.

“Tragic circumstances? Alora, the physician said ...” the girl gulped a huge knot in her throat. Her vision was getting blurry. “How is Samuel? What did the doctor say?”

The older woman finally raised her dark gaze. A dark gaze so much like Samuel’s it hurt, a gaze that was usually shining with inner strength and serenity.

Now, it was an abyss swirling with hopelessness Elyse could not look away from.

“He is dying, Elyse. The wound is too deep. He is dying.”

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