Rosalyn held up the candle. Her hands shook as her head spun. Her chest hurt and it was hard to breathe. She took a moment to steady herself and then went looking for her children. The faint light was just enough for her to see by, though she couldn't see much in the way of details. She took a few steps forward. Her foot caught on something. She looked down.
Fergal groaned and sat up. “That hurt,” he mumbled, still more than a little dazed. Rosalyn left him to gather himself as she went in search of the others.
She found Tristan next. His breathing was fast and shallow, and his skin was cool to the touch. But he was alive, and that was the important thing.
Allegra and Johanna were lying in a heap together. Both of their eyes were open but there was no sense in their faces. Rosalyn made sure to untangle them before resuming her search.
Rosalyn searched every corner of the room but didn't see her youngest daughter. “Fergal?”
“I'm here, mother,” Fergal said. He staggered over to her, a candle in his hand. He lit it from hers.
“Caitlyn's not here,” Rosalyn said. “I'm going to look in the other rooms. Keep an eye on the others.”
“Yes mother,” Fergal said.
Rosalyn held her candle high in the air. She searched room to room on the first floor of the strange house but she still couldn't find Caitlyn. Dread clutched Rosalyn's heart in an icy grip.
A small whimper to her left turned her steps towards the stairs. The light from the flickering candle fell on a bloody, mangled body lying on the steps. For a moment, Rosalyn was reminded of a doll lying broken and discarded on the nursery floor. She let out a strangled cry and knelt at Caitlyn's side.
“Mother?” Fergal called.
“Stay with the others,” Rosalyn said again. She pulled her scarf off and carefully wiped the blood off Caitlyn's face. Caitlyn whimpered again. “It's all right, kitten. Mama's here.”
The entire right side of Caitlyn's upper body and face were torn, like she'd been raked by the claws of a wild beast. Her eyes were open but her pupils were mere pinpricks in a sea of green. Rosalyn reached again for her magic. It refused to come. She had nothing left.
Rosalyn carefully lifted her injured daughter into her arms. She carried her into the room where the other children were waiting. “What's happened?” Fergal asked.“The gods have abandoned me,” Rosalyn said. “My magic is spent and Caitlyn – Caitlyn is hurt.”