Erna passed Tara Square a little after 5.
She had a wide brimmed bonnet and a hooded cape, but they did little to protect against the wind and the rain.
When she finally got to the fountain, she rested the suitcase on the railing and took a breath.
It wasn’t the weight of her burdens that made her short of breath, it was this cursed wind and rain.

   “Just hang on a little longer,”  Erna kept muttering to herself.

   She hoisted the suitcase and pressed on once more, stopping only once she reached the carriage stop.
The umbrella was pretty much useless in this wind and had already broken several times.
Each time Erna coaxed it back into shape, only to have it blown out again.

   You look like your mother. Walter Hardy had said before leaving her in a mess in her bedroom. I don’t know how that old man raised you, but here, you make a mistake, you get punished. He looked down at Erna, who was like a broken rag doll on the floor.
He walked away casually.

   Lisa came to her side and wept for her mistress.
The strange thing is that Erna was no sad.
It was going to be alright, she thought, it was going to be all over tomorrow, she kept telling herself.

   Erna let Lisa tend her injuries and took the medicine she brought.
Erna didn’t skip dinner, being sure to chew thoroughly and swallow.
She wanted to make sure that everything went as it should so that she could leave safely.
She didn’t want to think about anything else.

   The sound of approaching horses made Erna dip her head and hide her face, but the carriage was empty, people were very reluctant to venture out in the rain.
She crouched down in the far corner, keeping herself as well hidden from outside view as possible.
She remained hunched up in the corner like this until the carriage finally stopped at the old clock tower neat the station.




“What’s going on?” The panic in Pavel’s voice made the words seem more forceful than he intended.

   “Sorry sir, a rockslide is blocking the tracks, we are going to be stuck here for awhile.” The conductor replied, seemingly ignoring Pavel’s harsh tone.

   “How long, do you think?” Pavel said, worry lines wrinkled his forehead as he heard the news.

   “It’s hard to tell at this point, we will get moving as soon as we can, don’t worry, sir.” The conductor said, pressing past Pavel to inform the rest of the trains passengers.

   Pavel gave up pacing up and down the carriage and returned to his booth.
A middle-aged man was sat on the opposite seat, reading a newspaper.
Pavel looked out the window and saw the drenched work gangs going by, the work was going to be too slow.

   “There’s no point stressing, my dear boy,” the old man said while still looking down at the paper.
“Landslides are quite frequent on these parts.
Why not occupy yourself with dinner, I was just about to go myself.
Care to join me?”

   “No thanks,” Pavel said.
“I’m not hungry right now.”

   “Suite yourself, but don’t get too lost in your head, or you’ll miss dinner and that wont be healthy for you.”

   Pavel was left alone in the booth and the silence only grated on his anxiety.
He couldn’t believe his luck.
It thought it was good, when the train arrived nearly an hour earlier than the allotted time, but soon realised it was bad.
This was crazy enough to make him think someone was purposefully trying to sabotage him.

   The old man came back from the dinning cart.
Pavel was brought out of his despair and hadn’t noticed that all that time had passed.
He looked at his watch, it was fast approaching the appointed time.

   “I suppose you have an important engagement to get to?” The old man said.

   “Yes,” Pavel said dryly.
“Do you know if there is a village near by?”

   “Oh, it wont be that long, no need to look for a place to stay, if that’s what your thinking.”

   “No, not that…” Pavel looked out of the window with desperate eyes, he had never broken a promise before and Erna will be arriving at the meeting spot right now.
“I need some where that might have a station wagon that can get me to Schuber.
Or maybe I can rent a horse.”





The result was always the same, the Grand duke took the pot and Leonard and Peter were left feeling a lot lighter.
If you’re going to play against Bjorn Dniester, you’re going to lose.
It has become a very solid saying in the social club.

   “Oh, you’re going already?” Peter said as Bjorn rose from the chair.
“I was feeling lucky, I have not lost nearly as much as I normally do.”

   “Why not stay longer?” Leonard added.

   “You boys really want me to run you into the ground?” Bjorn pointed at Peter and Leonards significantly reduced pile of chips.

   They exchanged profane jokes and laughter as Bjorn collected up his winnings and tidied up his jacket.
Once he left the smoke filled room, his mind cleared up a little and he found himself thinking of Erna again.
What ever happened would have happened by now and a part of him felt loss thinking she might be on her way back to Buford.

   “Take me by the station.” Bjorn ordered the coachman as he stepped into his carriage.
He knew it was a dangerous curiosity, but he felt the desire to see it through.

   “You’re not planning on taking the train, your highness? I hear there’s been trouble down the line.” The coachman said, adjusting his coat to defend against the rain.

   “No, just drive me past it.”

   Bjorn felt something niggle at the back of his mind at hearing the news and he stared out at the passing lights.
He looked bored of the gloomy city, but inside he was trying to work things out.
He only knew that Erna was running away tonight, he didn’t know for sure she was going to take the train, not to mention which train they were going to catch.


   Bjorn whispered the name to the rain streaked window, seeing her face reflected in each droplet.
It had been a week since he had last seen Erna Hardy.
Her eyes were as big and bright as a lost little child.
Missing in action.
A sad little girl who’s forgotten how to cry.

   He didn’t feel any longing, his eyes were blank as he looked out into the world.
Recently he had been feeling that something was off, like he’d brushed off a helpless child wanting comfort.
Not quite like guilt, but like he was being sloppy.
He kept asking himself where this feelings comes from, but he can never find an appropriate answer.

   The carriage came to a stop outside the train station and the sudden jerking brings Bjorn out of his thoughts.

   As expected, the train station was bleak and empty.
No doubt the news of the trains not running because of a land slip forced everyone to find alternative means of travel.
There were a few people milling about, but Bjorn doubted Erna would have hung around like a tramp at this hour.
She might have found some where else to stay for tonight.
She’s sane enough not to return back to the Hardy Mansion.

   Bjorn laughed it off.
He was being immature, trying to chase down a woman he had no interest in.
Just as he opened the carriage door to tell the driver to take him home, he noticed a figure struggling with a trunk at the far end of the plaza.

   The small, slender woman waddled her away across the plaza to the old clock tower.
She stumbled along, dragging the trunk behind her and Bjorn felt for sure she was going to fall a couple times.

   Just as Bjorn was getting annoyed at the rain falling on him, the woman looked up at the rain, knocking back the hood of her cloak.
She still wore a wide brimmed bonnet, but he was sure he could make out the face and the tumbling brown hair.

   “No way.” Bjorn muttered.

   He looked at his watch, it was some time after 11 and Bjorn couldn’t believe his premonition.
This was not the time for the pair of them to be roaming around in the rain together and as quiet as the streets were, there was always a witness.


He whispered the name.

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