There was a foul stench in the air; it was a gnarly smoldering odor abounded with the burning sizzle of torch fire and forest smog. Added to the odor was a noxious mix of misty glacial air and unpleasant scent of spoiled earth.
It was a night unwelcoming of the twinkle of stars or any wandering visitors.
It was a night most cavernous and most shrouded in darkness.
The black sky blanketed the landscape made of tall, spiked trees, patches of rustling bushes, and the creeping of lurking nocturnal creatures. Only a sliver of grey moonlight tried to brighten the somber black and blue lands.
But it was not enough.
The scrawny moonlight was nothing, and for her, it could never be enough.
The night was long and smothering. For it endlessly stretched, and it endlessly grew. It was like a hungry beast, claws out and mouth wide, ready to consume everything into the darkness. And, tonight its appetite was insatiable, but the desperate woman running in the night's stomach landscape sought for escape.
The night was hungry, and she was desperate; she ran as fast as she could run. She dashed, she sprinted, she trembled, and fell.
A jagged rock cut her cheek, and her blood leaked. For a moment, she winced, the pain sharp and deep—like a knife twisted in her back or a chain strangling her air sac. But it did not, and it could not deter her.
To any onlooker she was like sprinting specter in the night. She was ghastly appearing and ghostly fairing. Sporadically, she pounded her feet and thrashed her arms. With every crack and whip of her neck, she watched the moving shadows and growing trees. Her ashen dirtied skin was the color of bloodless rust. Wild, mangled, frizzy strands of grey and copper hair sprung into the speeding air. Darkness crawled along the bends and folds of her ripped satin blue sleeping gown, and the speed of her flailing limbs moved so fervently she appeared to float on the damp sodded soil. Trailing behind her was a tail of splattering leaves and splintered twigs. Dirt sludge rammed between her blistering feet, and thick fog air forced its way into her heaving lungs. Under her frantic stomps, the muddied earth and dirt sludge scattered, the pitter-patter of her heart hammering against her ribcage.
She was in flight, melding into the night, and she hoped with all her might, that she might make it---make it before he could break it. She pressed onwards, aware of the crimson blood dyeing her garment and staining her skin. There was still blood on her hands, and indescribable pain ruminating throughout her shivering body, but she made no attempt to slow her speed. Rather, she ran deeper into the thick black forestry.
It was imperative for her to make it. Or perhaps more than imperative. It was a matter of life and death. She had to outrun the distant encroachment behind her.
In the sky, she could vaguely see the trail of smoke cutting through the wind. Alongside the smoke, there were alarms blaring in her ears. It was the sounds of carnal howl from the search dogs, the thunder of galloping horses, the jingle and shrill of the metal of the saddles, and the shout and urgent yelling of men far behind her.
Those shrieking cries beckoned and demanded that the hairs on her neck stand upright, for they were calling her, and mandating her return.
But she refused to stop.
Tomorrow was not guaranteed. She needed to make the night count, no matter the consequences or the mortal threat.
So, she ran. She ran like a madman.
Frantic, she toiled on to flee from the carnal howl dogs, the thunder of galloping horses, the jingle and shrill of the metal along with the saddles.
She had to flee from them and him.
Among the screaming, seeking voices, there was a voice that followed tightly. It was his voice, his blood-draining shrieks that followed her.
It seemed no matter how far she ran, she still heard it and felt its constrictive hold.
There were other voices permeating inside of her, but his voice was most distinguished. Even if she ran faster and further, his voice refused to leave her.
So, she ran. She ran because it was the only, she could do.
She continued sprinting until the only thing left pursuing her were the haunting souls of the night and the specters of the past.
Her heart fluttered in anxious panic, and she shuddered at the gush of dead air. She wanted to make it, and she knew she had to make it.
Before, she was afraid.
Before, she thought, would never be possible.
Before, she wouldn't have run.
Before. Before. Before.
Now, she accepted the blood dripping down her leg, the burning hellfire in her chest, and the wrath of consequences that waited for her. Eventually he would capture her, because no matter the chances, it's impossible to escape her own name, her own face, her own body, and her fate.
It was all unavoidable, even as she scrambled away. She knew that, and she accepted her fate.
But nevertheless, she would not stop running. No amount of fate would stop her tonight. She ran and ran until what was forest became road and stone because tonight, everything ended—and everything began.
Only when the seconds had faded into minutes and the minutes into hours did her bloodied feet hesitate and her heavy eyes precipitate at the familiar sight. Before her was the towering height of metal gates illuminated solely by torch sticks.
She stepped forward, crimson footprints staining the stone walkway.
"Who is there? This is a private estate." A man brandishing polished armory, a sword, and a torch came out from the shadows. He stood on the other side of the large gate, looking around as the obscured figure of the bleeding women drew close.
He brought the light of the torch towards her, revealing the distraught and frazzled appearance of the woman. In his widening eyes, he took sight of her; dark red blood seeped through the fabric of her ripped garments and gushed down her legs and arms. She was barefoot, with a deranged look boiling in her cloudy eyes. She strained for breath, and in her bloodied fist she held a single statin purple pouch.
"Let me in," she said in a weary whisper, placing her shaking freehand on the gate.
"Princess Sabina?" he stammered.
"Let me in," she said again.
"My royal highness," he replied, slightly retreating. "Why are you here?" He swallowed, looking around anxiously. "Is the royal prince not with you?"
"Let me in!" She pulled on the gate with mad intensity. "I have no time!"
"But Lord Sutherton will not be wake at this hour."
"Let me in!" she shrieked with a cracking voice. "They have to know! They have to!"
He only needed to look at simmering determination in her weary eyes before he caved.
"Yes, my highness." Without another word, the man tugged open the gate locks, allowing her to rush past, fleeing with the draft of air.
Again, she took to running until she reached a place that brought a fragile smile to her worn face. In front of her were two wide, pearl white, magnificent arch doors. She raised her bruised hands.
With every step she took, she was certain that her tomorrow slipped away. Yet, for a long time, it was like that. Under his control, the future meant nothing to her.
But she was awake now.
She was awake, and she was going to make sure that everything ended, and everything began.
A drizzle of blood fell from her arm and crashed to the ground as she raised her hand higher, and without hesitation, she knocked on the doors.
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