Elias was still dealing with the inner turmoil of deciding whether he should take Oweynn and Louis and just go check on Samuel, Marta, Molly and John. He KNEW something wasn't right and the more he thought about it, the more upset he became. He had grabbed his cloak from off the hook in the kitchen and was about to head out and ready Horse when there was a sudden knock on the door. Normally, it might have wounded his ego that Elias jumped when someone knocked on the door. He always knew when someone was on his land, but he's been so on edge since Isolde left for her Father's that even he had to admit his senses are off and he didn't like it. What was wrong with him!?
Peeking out the window by the front door, Elias could barely make out the silhouette of a man. He didn't feel threatened by the dark figure at his front door, but with his senses off, he wasn't sure he could trust himself. Grabbing a knife he'd used earlier to cut some bread for Oweynn, Elias cracked the door open just enough to be properly heard.
"Can I help you?" Elias asked just above a whisper, he didn't want to wake Oweynn who was sleeping on the floor in front of the fire with Louis.
"Elias, it's Samuel." said the dark figure.
Elias grabbed the candle he'd left on the table when he grabbed the knife and held it up above his head, "Step forward."
The man took two small steps towards the front door, the candle barely illuminating his features, but just enough that Elias could see it was indeed Samuel, but why did he risk breaking the law to come out to the farm. Elias had to laugh at himself internally for thinking this when he was just about to do the same thing except take his son with him! Which was worse than Samuel coming by himself.
"Samuel, I've been so worried." Opening the door for his good friend to enter, Elias continued. "Isolde wrote that Marta and Molly had been attacked on their way to here."
He sensed Samuel's hesitation before he saw it. Fear flooded Samuel's features. No, not fear. Death.
"What happened?" Elias asked.
"Elias.." croaked Samuel. "Those men... those men beat Marta until she fainted, but that's not even the worse of it all." Samuel dropped into one of the dining chairs in the kitchen and ran his fingers through his hair. His whole body shaking as he started to sob.
"My Molly... My Molly." was all Samuel could say.
Elias's insides went cold. So many questions ran through his mind, but only one repeated itself.
'Was Molly dead?'
Elias stood leaning against the front door quietly watching his friend. Peeking into the sitting room to make sure Oweynn had not woke, but otherwise remaining where he was. He'd never seen Samuel so distraught before. He felt twisted up inside. Wanting to demand the truth from him, but knowing that Samuel must be putting on such a brave façade back at his house that he needed the release now to be able to go on living.
"They raped her, Elias. Those men beat and raped Molly." sighing Samuel rubbed his face with both hands, leaned back and looked up at his friend. "What do I do, Elias? She won't let me near her. When she comes out of her room, she strays from me. Flinches when I speak as if I raised my hand to her. I've never ever raised my hand to my wife or daughter."
"Did they catch them?" Elias asked.
"Two of them. According to Marta, there were six. Marta witnessed some of it, but by the time she came around, Molly.." Samuel suddenly lunged to the side and threw up all over himself and on the floor. Sobbing harder than before, it didn't take a genius to know that those men took their turns with Molly. Elias felt like he, too, might throw up.
"Sam.." it's all Elias could say. How do you tell your friend that everything was going to be ok when you knew in your heart and in your gut that it wasn't.
Sighing, Elias walked over and sat across from Samuel, tossing him a cloth to clean himself with. "You risked being killed coming here in the dark just to tell me this?"
"I'm telling you this because Isolde is at our house right now caring for Molly and Marta. Cooking, cleaning, caring for John." pausing to sigh and take a slow deep breath, Samuel continued, "She's a godsend, but I need her to come home. I need Marta to come out of her room and face me. So I can tell her it was not her fault.. No, so she can tell me it wasn't mine. If I had been there.."
"If you had been there, Samuel, they'd have killed you and possibly killed John, too." Elias interrupted his friend's train of thought.
"Or I could have saved them." Samuel muttered, sounding defeated. "Enya?"
"Safe and sound with her foal in the stables..." Elias paused, staring at Samuel for a minute before continuing. "Samuel, has Belle came by your place?"
"Belle? No.." Samuel sat up a little straighter. "Why do you ask?"
"Well, the other night I noticed.. felt really, something was off. I thought I saw something in the Wheat fields, something big, and I took Belle out to check it out. That's where I found Enya and her foal.. she'd given birth probably half hour before I found her. Belle and I split up though and she hasn't come home. It's been almost two days." Elias tapped his fingers against the table. "I don't think it was Enya in the Wheat field, Samuel. I... I think it was Tristen."
"Tristen!" Samuel stated, rather loudly, gaping at Elias. "You think it was Tristen? Elias, Tristen is dead!! He's been dead for over a year.." Samuel sat there shaking his head, staring at the table as he contemplated what his friend just shared with him.
"I never told Isolde because I knew how upset she'd be, but not too long after we'd buried Tristen and Bash.." Elias sat forward, crossing his arms in front of himself, looked Samuel dead in the eyes. "I'd noticed the grave had been disturbed.. Upon closer inspection, I saw that Bash's body was still there, but Tristen's was gone. I think that the beast that killed him, turned him. I think he's what his killer was."
Samuel could only stare at Elias. He was utterly shocked. Elias was too, for several days after he couldn't even look at Isolde let alone speak to her. She'd taken to visiting the graves of her dead husband and son once a week. Tristen disappeared the day after her visit. Or later that night. That had to be it! Tristen was a beast. He'd turned and dug himself out of his grave. Whether he could take human form he wasn't sure, but he also didn't want to know either.
"Elias, are you sure that Tristan is a Beast of the Wood? You sure that maybe something just didn't dig up a fresh grave looking for food?" Samuel pointed out. "He was dead. You were absolutely sure of it. I mean, did you not take measures to make sure that both your nephew and your brother were indeed dead before you buried them?" he asked.
"I did.." Elias said quietly.
"Then we must dig up the grave." Samuel stood, throwing the cloth into the buck of wash, turned on his heel and headed outside to grab a shovel. Elias, checking on Oweynn, followed after.
Neither of the two said a word to one another as they slowly dug up Elias's nephew and brother's grave. "Here." Elias whispered. "It's not much further." Both men put down their shovels and began to slowly dig with their hands. Covering most of their faces with their shirts to block out the smell, Elias brought the lantern down closer to view the grave.
"Sebastian?" Samuel asked, looking up at Elias who nodded his head in answer.
"Then..." Samuel pointed to what was left of Tristen's body. "This is what is left of Tristen? Someone dug up their grave and took his head?"
Elias was frowning. He'd heard of such rituals where in case of revenge, or in honor of someone passing, it was said that the head be collected from the person(s) who'd killed your loved one. He knew the beast that killed his nephew and brother, but he didn't understand. Tristen had stabbed William a few times, but Elias is the one who had struck the final blow that killed him. Or shot, he should say.
"We'd best right their grave before Isolde comes home." Elias said quietly, not waiting for Samuel to join him, he began shoveling piles of damp earth back onto Tristen and Sebastian.
"Are their any Hersh's alive?" Samuel hesitantly asked Elias, not bothering to look at him as he began to shovel earth back into the opened grave. After several minutes, Elias finally answered Samuel's question.
"If rumors are true, and I'm beginning to think most of them are when it pertains to the Hersh family, then Eliza was raped by their Father.." pausing Elias took a deep breath, "She was also raped by William when he became of age. Repeatedly, if I'm not mistaken. It's partially why Eliza supposedly wasn't all there in the head. Anyways, later on and she birth to a child. Whether it was a boy or a girl and who the Father was, I'd never heard, but I'm betting that's who did this. The reason why is beyond me." Elias smoothed the now filled grave, placing freshly cut flowers on top as a sign of love, apologies, and respect.
Both men turned and headed to the old barn to wash up when they heard a horse approaching from the East. Ducking down and into the shadows, they watched as the person on the horse tied it off at the hitching post and walked inside the house. Not waiting for Samuel, Elias took off at a dead speed, running towards the house all the time thinking to himself, 'kill Louise, kill!'
Elias burst through the door, coming to a dead stop as he stared at the person that stood before them. Samuel, seconds behind, ran right into Elias knocking both of them down to the ground. Footsteps and then two feet stood in front of Elias and Samuel as they tried desperately to untangle themselves from one another.
Samuel, seeing Elias's expression, turned to look up at the person who'd entered the house.
"What.. the.." Samuel whispered.