Lizzie stumbled into the light.
“Why didn't you leave the fire bright like you usually do? I can't see anything in here!” She said. Sadon tried to stuff the dagger back under his bed without her seeing it, but she noticed. “Did you forget I was coming?”
“Yes, I did. Sorry, I'm just lost in thought.”
“Whatever, just throw some more wood on the fire. It's freezing out there.” Lizzie sat down on the cot leaning forward into the light as Sadon dropped a log on the small flame.
He sat next to her, close enough to feel the slight warmth of her body. They sat in silence for a short moment, Sadon’s eyes on her. The firelight bounced off her face, making her blue eyes glow. She was beautiful and he wanted to tell her, the desire grew everyday he saw her. But they were just friends, and he feared ruining what they had. She saw him staring and turned towards him.
“What?” she said so quietly it was almost a whisper.
Sadon quickly jerked his eyes away from her and looked straight down, hoping it was dark enough to hide the redness of his face. Lizzie knew him best out of everyone, and he feared what she may have seen in his eyes. “Nothing.” he said softly. “You wanted to talk, did you not?”
“Oh, yeah. Ms Lawson, she found a husband for me,” Lizzie spat.
“What? No… I mean—.” Sadon had to hold back the urge to curse. “How do you feel about this?”
“How the hell do you think I feel? I don't want to be some household slave for the rest of my life! This feeling, it's terrible. My life has been decided for me, and there is nothing I can do.”
“Who is this guy?”
“Gareth, the tanner by the gates,” she said with disgust. She threw a stone into the open furnace angrily.
“We both knew this would happen, I just wish it wasn’t so soon.” He turned to her, and put his hand on her frigid knee. “I’ll stick with you, no matter what happens.”
“Thank you.” Lizzie sighed, sliding under the blankets. “It's so cold.”
Sadon lay down next to her and shared the blanket with her. “I know. This winter is going to be harsh.”
They continued to talk for hours, about everything from the weather to the events of the day. Until, they both drifted to sleep.
They awoke to screaming.
“Elizabeth Everbright! How dare you? Sneaking out to lie with a man who is not your husband! Shame! Shame!” Ms Lawson’s shrill voice pierced their peaceful slumber—an icy dagger of bitterness and disgust. “You're going to end up working the streets!” she scolded. “Just like your whore mother!”
Sadon opened his eyes and saw Lizzie staring straight at him with eyes wide with fear. The same look a child has when he's caught with his hand in a jar of sweets. She was silently mouthing one word over and over: “Shit!” She pushed herself up to address Ms Lawson. Sadon leaned up and saw sun just peaking over the buildings through an open window, but the streets were already flooded with shoppers. Lizzie and he both lived in the market district.
“I'm so sorry! I only meant to come down for a chat. I just got so tired and cold, I must've fallen asleep.” Lizzie said stammering on her words. At this point, Mr Williams came out of his hut and was walking towards them, looking tired.
“You're meant to be married in a month! What makes you think this is--“ Tears were beginning to form in Lizzie's eyes. She had never been able to take yelling well. Sadon interrupted Ms Lawson.
“Be silent woman!” He roared, snapping to his feet between Lizzie and Ms Lawson. Ms Lawson and Mr Williams stared at the young man, shocked. Lizzie flashed him a quick smile. “She said she was sorry. Do you honestly think anything happened? You know we've been doing this since we were kids.” The tension was palpable. Ms Lawson was breathing heavily and her lips were tightly pursed. Everyone’s eyes were on Sadon and he was feeling confident, but apprehensive. Mr Williams simply smiled approvingly.
“It was inappropriate then and it's far worse now. She will be wed to Gareth soon and I'll not have her seen as the town whore, not like her mother. Furthermore, I'll not argue with you, child!” Ms Lawson snorted before heading off across the street towards her home, with Lizzie's arm tightly in her grip.
“I’m proud of you, boy! You’ll make a fine man yet.” Mr Williams laughed. “I would tread warily around her though, that woman is a hurricane.”
Sadon nodded and sank back down onto his bead, letting out a sigh of relief. His timid nature rarely aloud such outburst—he was almost as surprised as everyone else. He looked across the road and saw Lizzie following Ms Lawson inside their home. She turned and looked at Sadon miserably. They both hated the city, but they knew of no life that could be led outside its walls. They were trapped.
Lizzie and he shared this waning of an escape through their gazes as she was closing the door. Then a scream tore down the road. Sadon and Mr Williams stepped out of their shop to look—as did Lizzie followed by a very annoyed Ms Lawson.
A crowd was gathered around the home the woman had been trapped in the previous day, but they were keeping their distance and pointing to an upper story window. The wooden slats that had once filled the opening in the stone wall were now being torn apart. A grey slender arm was pulling the wooden doors of its hinges and a woman’s head was protruding. She resembled the woman from the day before, but a stream of blood was coming from her eyes—as if she were crying tears of blood and her face lacked its prior colour.
The two guards were gazing up at the window and having an argument with one another. Eventually one of the two sprinted off down the road towards a guard towers stationed outside the market. The other watched his comrade go with much envy, but quickly diverted his attention back to the woman.
“Sadon, I don’t think it wise that we stick around for this,” Mr Williams remarked.
“Wait. I want to see what happens,” Sadon responded. Ms Lawson and Lizzie watched the spectacle as avidly as the crowd.
The woman was growling and reaching out the window. The guard was growing more anxious and backing away little by little. She finally over reached herself and tumbled out the window. She hit the ground the ground head first with a violent splat. Blood splattered onto the guard’s armour and face. He stared at the lifeless corpse in front of him as he fruitlessly tried to wipe the blood from his face.
The wound on the woman’s head was pouring out blood and showing no sign of relenting. Her body twitched and the wound was foaming. She was trying to push herself up. The guard approached her—sword in hand—and placed it on her throat. He was about to apply force, but began to cough violently into his hand. He dropped his sword and fell to his knees coughing. He toppled to his side and extended his arm toward the crowd, managing to utter one final word: “Run.” He died in the street.
The crowd was silent for a minute. The citizens of the city were not used to such dangers, so they only stood and watched curiously as the woman’s body shook and the man was drained of colour. Then the bell at the guard tower started ringing. The woman’s body stopped shaking and the deceased guard began to cry blood. Both corpses pushed were pushing themselves up. It was then the crowd finally decided to disperse.
Those who could not get through the crowd were attacked first. Like savage beasts, the guard and woman jumped at the citizens. The citizens tried to escape, but the two were too strong and were on top of them and biting before it could be stopped. It was slaughter.
“Lizzie, bring Sadon up to your room. I'll not have you two exposed to this monstrous disease, or whatever this devilry is that has been sent upon us.” Ms Lawson said momentarily forgetting her prior anger with Sadon. “You come too, Ulric, my house is a lot safer than your hut.” Mr Williams hastily agreed and pushed everyone through the door, barring it behind him.