"Did you hear that?" Maggie patted Drake's arm.
"What?" he responded sleepily.
"That." She hesitated. Long seconds passed. "There. Hear that?"
"That scratching sound? Probably just mice." He rolled to his side and punched lightly at his pillow, then laid down his head.
"Shhh. There's someone at the door," she whispered. She sat up and nudged him.
He pulled his tired feet to the floor. Worn from a long day of gardening and goat keeping, the old couple had retired early, but Drake knew there'd be no sleep until he put his beloved's fears to rest. He grabbed his pants, thrown over a chair at the side of the bed, and slipped them on. He strained to hear the sounds he now agreed came from outside the door.
"Shhh," Maggie whispered again, pulling up on the quilt.
"I'm sh-shhhing." He lit a lamp. It cast a soft yellow glow.
The door burst open. A group of savage looking men exploded into the room. One rushed toward Drake, a knife in his hand. His black eyes narrowed. His breathing came hard and fast. "Where are they?" he demanded to know.
Maggie trembled. "Who? Where's who?" Her voice shook.
"You know who! We tracked them here. Where are they?"
"Slow down. Slow down." Drake motioned with his hands. He nodded at Maggie in an attempt to comfort her, then looked back at the intruders.
The leader addressed one of his men. "Hold him, Simon."
"Got it, Gadon." He held Drake from behind.
A knife sat on the table. Gadon picked it up and handed it off to one of his men, then grabbed the front of Drake's nightshirt, staring at him, so near that Drake could smell the intruder's sour breath.
"Where are they?" Saliva flew as the man shouted.
"Sir, we have many visitors here at the edge of the glen. If you'll tell us who you're looking for, perhaps we can help you."
"Wayne, over there." Gadon gestured toward Maggie who now stood trembling, her fingers fretting with the ties at her neckline. "If we can't get the old man to talk, perhaps his woman will do as well." He grinned menacingly.
"Please sir, just say who you're looking for and we'll help you," Drake pleaded.
Wayne pulled one of Maggie's arms tightly behind her back, then placed a knife at her throat. Its steel glimmered in the dim light. When he added pressure to the tip, a drop of blood spilled down her throat. He laughed when she froze in fear and her eyes widened in terror.
Drake tried to pull free from his captor.
"That's right, you'll tell us if you want to save your woman here." Placing the point of his blade below Maggie's eye, Wayne drew the knife down with just enough pressure to break her skin. Blood flowed freely across her face and neck, then dripped down and onto her nightdress creating a grotesque crimson spiderweb design.
Gadon watched on. "Show them, Wayne. Show them what happens to those who don't cooperate."
Wayne placed the tip of his knife at the base of Maggie's throat. Clearly, if he did not get what he sought, he would plunge it into the soft tissue.
"Drake!" she cried. Her tears spilled.
The old man pulled at his restraints. "No!"
"I'm only going to ask you one more time. I'm out of patience," Gadon threatened. "Keep stalling and your woman will die. Where'd they go?"
YOU ARE READING
An Oath Sworn. A Struggle Engaged. A Sacrifice Required. When Mara, a trained Oathtaker, is drawn by the scent of the Select to battle underworld beasts summoned by powers of evil to destroy the guardians of life, she swears a life oath for the prot...