Outisde The Manor:
Breaking into a dead run, Kyra raced down the narrow path into the woods. Her heart was beating out of control and she felt a morbid sickness invading her soul. Something instinctive told her there was no time to waste. Cassandra's faint cry in the distance sounded broken, almost as though she was being physically restrained in some way. Kyra's hope was sinking fast as she continued to run. She stopped every few seconds, listening intently. She could hear nothing now.
She was deep in the woods, far from the manor. In the distance, she saw a series of dilapidated cabins. Only the rooftops remained visible from where she was. The buildings had long since been overgrown by thick vines and ferns. She imagined this must have been used as added housing for the soldiers in training at some point, but it didn't look like this area had been used in years.
The sound of a slamming door erupted in the silence of the woods as she stared off toward the little houses. Edged on by adrenaline, she started forward and ran to the first cabin in the row. Behind the thickness of the barred door she could hear Cassandra's muted cries for help. So far from the manor, Kyra was certain no one from the party would ever hear her. She stood rooted for a fleeting moment. Indecision held her there. She searched the ground and the woods but could think of nothing that would help her enter the cabin. Panic-stricken that there was nothing she could do about this on her own, she decided to run back to the manor. She had to find Serena. She had to find help. Praying she was not making a foolish mistake that could cost Cassandra her life, she balled up her fists and turned away from the door.
With her lungs screaming for oxygen, she ran as fast as her feet would allow. As soon as she hit the side door of the dining hall, she flung it open wide and ran through the room. She saw none of the mystified stares of the guests as they watched her racing towards the entrance hall. The blood coursing through her veins seemed to dizzy her as she frantically searched the crowds for Serena. Gasps of shock and protest followed her as she moved, shoving people out of her way to let her pass. Oblivious of them, she offered no apologies and continued onward. Where was she?!
Kyra searched from room to room, seeing Serena nowhere in sight. Thoughts for Cassandra's safety were overwhelming her. Returning from the ballroom, she stepped into the hallway once more and spotted Caleb standing by the doorway. She immediately released a pent up sigh of relief. Then her mind began to race. How could she possibly tell him about Cassandra?
Her eyes flew about the hall for some answer. Then she saw the small correspondence desk in a corner of the room. Within seconds she'd run to it and dipped a quill into the large ink well. As best she could, she scribbled her needs across a square of parchment. It read, Find Serena!
She threw down the pen and raced over to Caleb, uncaring that he was in the middle of a conversation. She shoved the note in front of his face.
Caleb flinched for a moment and pulled back from her. Irritated by her abrupt interruption, he demanded, "Kyra, what is the meaning of this?"
Kyra felt the bite in the tone of his voice, but she could care less than to deal with his anger now. Ever more insistently, she shoved the note to him and frantically gestured that he should read it with haste.
"All right," he nodded in resignation and none too gently grabbed the note. "What is this," he asked impatiently after reading the coarsely written words. "Do you realize I was just in the middle of an important conversation? I don't have time to play nursemaid for your friend."
Halted, seething for his sheer blindness to her, Kyra would have screamed if she'd been able to. How could Caleb be so ignorant of her urgency? She could hardly believe that he was actually turning away from her once more to speak with his companion. She felt like hitting him then and there with both fists. What would it take to gain this man's attention?
Nearing a point of hysteria, Kyra turned and ran over to a table filled with assorted platters of food. In a fit of rage and despair, she swept her hands across the surface, bringing the contents of the table crashing to the floor. Objects of every sort shattered on impact. Shards of fine china sprayed across the room, showering the stone floor in food and wine. The last to hit the ground was a beautiful antique vase. It shattered on impact, as a wave of water rushed over the floor, landing at Caleb's feet. Time seemed to stand still as her defiant eyes rose to meet his. She watched his mouth open in slow motion and he bellowed at her from across the room.
"Kyra!" He raged. The entire room was silenced by the insanity that had erupted. Not a whisper could be heard for an endless moment as a thousand eyes surveyed the damage done.
Immediate embarrassment enveloped her and her face flushed to a deep shade of red. The gasped whispers and angry stares of so many people gaping at her stole the breath from her throat. Then Caleb rushed at her. She instinctively jumped back from him in fear.
"What in the hell is wrong with you," he roared.
Her eyes widened madly in fright as she glimpsed the murderous glow in his eyes. As tears of frustration welled in her eyes, she pointed to the note he was still holding.
Caleb could scarcely find the capacity to respond, so great was his shock for what she'd done. A haze of red covered his vision as he looked down on her. Before he lost control completely though, he turned to see Jacob descending the stairs. With a deadly hiss, he commanded, "Find Serena, now!"
Kyra was breathing heavily, overcome with the need to run from Caleb. She could only count the endless seconds until Serena was finally brought forward.
"But, Jacob, what is'"
Kyra couldn't run fast enough to meet her. Grateful to see her entering the room, she relayed what had happened as fast as her hands would allow.
"Oh my Lord," she shouted in horror. Turning to Caleb, she despaired, "A man has dragged Cassandra into an abandoned cabin in the woods. Kyra says she was screaming but no one could hear her! It's down the hill from that side door," she motioned, pointing into the dining hall.
That was when all hell broke loose. The chaos in the manor was instantly maddening. Ever the warrior, Blake had already ripped the sword from his side. He was heading out the door as Caleb turned to his brother seething, "Bring the guards and follow us!" A murderous glint lit his eyes as he brandished his own sword from its scabbard. Within seconds he and a dozen soldiers were racing through the dining hall to make it down to the cabin.
Kyra tried to follow them as well, but Serena took hold of her arm. Harshly shaking off the restrictive hand, she argued, "I have to make sure Cassandra is unharmed! It is my fault that she's in this danger."
"But, there isn't anything you can do to help right now."
"Serena, I have to go," she insisted. She wasn't going to be put off.
Unable to hold her there, Serena released her arm with a sigh. At last she was forced to relent, but with a stern warning. "Not until the last of the guards has gone. We will follow them from a distance," she insisted.
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