Cold Blood on a Snowy Night by Luminae
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.|
"Are we the only ones left?"
Agatha's head jerked up, shaken from her silent contemplation of the devastation around her. "Oh, Katya..."
She rushed over to hug the younger woman, wrapping her in a discarded cloak to ward off the bitter cold of the mountain air. Kristoff's cloak, Agatha realized with a pang. The weight of the thick grey wool was familiar under her fingers. She'd knit it for him herself.
Well, Kristoff was gone now. As were the others. She and Katya were the only ones left. The younger woman's voice had been tremulous and disbelieving, and Agatha held her tightly now, stroking her blonde braids and forcing herself to murmur soothing words. She reminded herself that Katya was young, still a bit fragile, and that she would have to be strong for the both of them in the days to come.
Broken glass crunched underfoot, and ashes gusted past her ankles. The attackers had arrived so suddenly. Brutal men in mismatched armor. Their weapons were crude, but there had been so many.
Kristoff and the men of the family had sent the two women to hide in the caves as they rallied to defend their home. The bodies of their fallen attackers were nowhere to be seen, but splashes of scarlet on the flagstones showed they had not escaped unscathed. The sight of the blood set Agatha's heart to racing, and she quickly looked away.
But they would have to find food. And shelter. Even sections of the roof had been pried away or smashed in by those savages. It would not be safe to stay here.
This old lodge, half hidden in the mountains, had never been a luxurious or even very comfortable place to live. But they'd had no family, no friends in this country. They didn't know the customs. With few other options, the five of them had settled in this isolated location, keeping to themselves, hoping to wait out the troubles back home. Despite everything, they'd made a home of this place. And now it was all destroyed.
"Come Katya. We can't stay here."
Katya sniffled and wiped her eyes. "But where will we go?"
"The valley. We have no choice," Agatha said. Then, feeling the younger woman stiffen in her arms, added hastily, "I know that's where...where they came from. But others live down there too. We'll find a farmhouse with some honest, simple folk. Somewhere out of the way, where we can recover a few days and be safe."
The stars glittered overhead, cold and indifferent as the two made their painstaking way through the snow. The moon arced gracefully across the sky, no emotion marring its marble face.
Hours passed. It was nearly morning, and Agatha rubbed at stiff and half frozen fingers, knowing they couldn't keep going like this. They'd have to find shelter.
Then, she saw it. A ruddy glow in the distance, half hidden among the trees.
"Katya, this way!" Agatha grabbed her hand and pulled her along.
The light resolved itself into the warm and welcoming glow of firelight against a cabin window. Breathlessly, she rapped on the door. "Is anyone home? Please, my sister and I need help. We've been attacked!"
There was a light clatter from inside, then after a long pause, footsteps. The door swung open to reveal the somewhat suspicious expression of a red-faced, broad-shouldered peasant woman. "What's this now? What's going on here?"
Agatha knew the two of them huddled together looked a pitiful pair, and she saw the woman's face gradually soften as she explained their plight. "Please madam, may we come in? If only to warm ourselves and be on our way. We've been walking all night."
The woman stepped back and held the door open. Agatha waited, holding her breath. "A'right," the lady of the house said, "Guess you girls better come on in. But my lands you gave me a fright, I've heard all sorts of tales of what comes out of the mountains at night..."
She chattered away as she turned to gather up an armload of firewood, and Agatha caught Katya's gaze and made a silent gesture, remaining where she was to gently push the door shut while the younger woman moved on light feet toward the fireplace. "Let me help with that," she offered, reaching out to take a length of the heavy wood, then swinging it against the side of the peasant woman's head in one easy motion. There was a cracking sound, and the body crumpled to the floor.
Katya in her youthful eagerness had already hauled the body halfway up again and bared the throat in preparation to feed, but Agatha gestured for her to halt. "There will be others. Let's find them before they wake. "
A quick search revealed a snoring middle-aged man, and a toddler in a cradle, both silenced with speedy efficiency. The final room revealed a young, fair-complexioned man, fast asleep in bed. Katya moved to break his neck, but Agatha again held up a hand to stop her. "Wait. Not this one."
Agatha had already snatched up a skein of yarn from the main room. "Hold him," was all she said, then began rapidly binding his arms and legs. The youth awoke halfway through and began to struggle and shout, but of course the two women were stronger, and there was no one left to hear.
She bent to brush a stray golden curl from his forehead, breathing in his scent. "Shhh. There's no sense in fighting. You will be my new Kristoff."
Understanding now, Katya smiled at the both of them from where she stood in the doorway, no longer bothering to hide her fangs.
"You see, my love? It's all going to be all right. Soon we're going to have a family again."
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