She Swears an Oath - Part 6

Content Warning: Child traumatization

The crew cried out again in terror as the ship yawed to the left, back out into the open lake, and she grinned as she saw the Vogt cast a startled and furious glance up at her. Rolling to her knees, she watched for a brief moment of triumph as the waves took the tiny craft once more, then she darted away from the edge, toward the welcoming darkness of the forest beyond.

When she reached the eaves of the trees she turned again and looked down at the lake. The ship was still plowing forward, and the waves seemed to be growing smaller. She looked up at the clouded night sky. The storm had nearly run its course, and the crew stood a good chance of winning through to their destination. She must hurry. She plunged into the forest and began to run as fast as her feet would carry her, a shadow under the moonlight.

As the trees flickered past her, vague shapes in the darkness, the image of Walter’s face drifted before her consciousness—his face, weeping in bewilderment and fear as they dragged her away from him and bound her before his eyes. Thrusting back the memory, she allowed herself only the hope that he had heard her last instructions, shouted to him over the tumult of the angry crowd and the cries of the soldiers. For now, that hope must suffice. She urged her legs forward to even greater speed, and flew on into the night.

The storm had cleared, and the moon had long since risen over Küssnacht, but within the cleft of the rock leading up from Immensee, few enough of the pale rays illumined the path to the prison itself. The tall faces of stone on either side of the gorge sloped up into the light, but on the ground below, only dead, empty darkness waited. In the stillness, though, the tramp of heavy boots, marching in step with one another, began to rise up from the ground. It echoed off the close-looming walls to either side, and the occasional muttered command bounced from rock to rock. At the mouth of the gorge, the resounding footsteps heralded the approach of a small party of men, but until now not even a formless shifting in the shadows had shown itself.

All at once they appeared, striding two abreast through the narrow passageway and out into the flats beyond, where the stony ground reflected the waxing moon into a chill mockery of daylight. As the foremost of them showed his face in the moonlight, his eyes fell upon a mark scratched in chalk-white upon the rocky ground at the mouth of the gorge. It stretched from wall to wall, a short, stunted arrow pointing to the right, with a few malformed shapes inside the head.