Chapter Three, Part 2

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Some of the familiar here, but a few changes as well. Enjoy! :)

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His eyes opened slowly, taking in the sight of his surroundings.  The room was tiny. It was lit by several candles and a fire in a corner hearth, small and made of stone. Looking up, he saw the thatched straw that was ceiling, and looking around, he saw the rough-hewn timbers. There was one window opening in the wall, although it was shuttered, and resting on the sill was a black cat. Guy felt a twinge of shock and fear at seeing the little beast. It examined him with yellow eyes, calmly flicking its tail. It was studying him, it seemed.

An instrument of the devil, Guy thought.

For the first time in what seemed like an eternity, he realized he was coming awake with a clear head. Albeit, a head throbbing with pain, and a foot he would have seen chopped off, if it meant it would stop the torture it was causing him. Why was it hurting so?

In a flash, it all came back to him. He recalled being thrown from his horse, his foot being twisted in the stirrup. And he could still remember the icy water. He gave a shudder at the thought of that frightful darkness. But beyond that, what had happened? Why was he in this shabby little place…this grey, dim little room with barely enough space to contain the bed he lay on? Why was he not at home, or in the castle? Had his men abandoned him here?

Worthless cowards. They will pay dearly for their desertion.

Then, another memory suddenly came to him.

Marian.

Had he really seen her? Was it she who had held his hand through the night, comforting him in his dark hours? Frantically he looked around the room, searching for her. But besides himself, and the cat in the window, there was but one other occupant in the room.

A young woman slept in a corner chair. She was slender and pale, with long dark hair. It was easy to see how he could have been mistaken. She certainly seemed a lot like Marian.

But she was not Marian. And the thought tore through him, making him furious in his despair. To have her back for those few precious moments, only to wake up and find it had only been his imagination. It was like losing her all over again. He was alone once again, except for the woman sleeping there in the corner. His lip curled into a sneer as he looked at her. A peasant girl obviously, judging from her simple russet dress and the plain linen cloth binding back her hair. On her neck, he could swear there was a dark spot.

The mark of a witch!

His mind raced with such dark and fearful thoughts. Had she cursed him while he slept? Would she use some manner of black magic to torture him? How was he to defend himself against a servant of the devil? Searching the room, he looked for something to use as a weapon, but there was nothing that would serve should he need to defend himself. He would have to confront this mistress of the devil entirely on his own. His hand shook as he found the water pitcher on the bedside table, and with what strength he had, he threw it at the wall near her head. At the shattering sound, she jumped with a startled cry.

Just that simple act of movement, that brief outburst of anger, was enough to drain every ounce of his energy. Falling back against the pillows, he gasped for breath, even as he turned raging eyes on the girl.

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