Hearing the metal door creak, her uncle turned his head to find his missing niece standing there with a bag in her hand. Heidi was too shocked to move. She dreaded at the fact of what was going to happen as her uncle's eyes fell upon her who was standing barely a few feet away from where she was.
"Heidi! Oh dear, we have been looking for you all over the place!" she heard Uncle Raymond exclaim with relief in his voice. She looked at him confused and in fear while she clutched at her bag tightly.
"Uncle Raymond, the owner said she was- Oh you found her!" her brother Daniel said finding his uncle standing in front of Heidi.
"Daniel will you please get the carriage ready?" their uncle asked to which her brother nodded his head before giving a silent look towards her, "Are you alright?" he asked her placing a hand over her back making her flinch. She did nothing but nod at his question. When they came to the entrance of the inn, both Heidi and her uncle met the lady at the inn.
"I knew this one was a runaway," the lady commented knowingly to her husband who looked at them walk towards the carriage which Daniel had got prepared.
When Daniel got into the carriage, Heidi stopped at the door. She didn't want to go back. She wanted them to leave without her. Finally out of shock, she decided to speak and turned to look at her uncle,
"I don't want to go," she said her voice quiet.
"What?" Uncle Raymond responded by bringing his neck forward as he thought he misheard her.
"I-I don't want to go back," she repeated with a stutter but firm with her decision.
"My dear, what are you saying?" he smiled at her.
"I want to stay here for some time, uncle. I want a little air for myself. Please," she pleaded him with her brown eyes.
"Do you even know what you are saying? I don't think you are in your right mind. It isn't safe for a single girl to walk and live alone. You must be homesick," he placed his hand gently on her head but she didn't reply to him. She knew he wouldn't do anything in public but that didn't mean she wasn't scared. Too scared to even speak with his hand on her head, "How about we go back home and discuss it, yes? Come on now."
When he went to take her arm, she stepped back in denial. Seeing her unwillingness to get inside the carriage as he expected her to, he spoke in a low voice, his patience wearing thin.
"Don't cause a scene and get inside the carriage right now, Heidi. You don't want to cause trouble to people for your selfishness now, do you? Howard has been in quite a state since you left," hearing this she felt her throat go dry.
She tightened the grip on the bag she was holding on to, conflicted at what to do. She wanted to run away but not at the expense or harm on anyone. Her freedom was so close yet now it looked farther than ever before.
"Step inside the carriage. Now."
Reluctantly, she got in and Uncle Raymond followed after her, closing the door he asked his coachman to start the carriage. On the way, they made no stops and continued their journey in silence. Neither did her uncle or her brother question her as she sat in silence. Her uncle had said they could talk once they arrived back home but would it really happen? None of them showed any sign of anger and she didn't know if it was a good sign. Were they perhaps upset that she left abruptly? No that couldn't be, she thought to herself.
She didn't know how they had traced her so easily. She should have known that her uncle had good connections when it came to finding out things in Woville. She regretted staying at the inn for a long time. Now that they had found her, there was no saying what was going to come at her.
Once they reached the town, Heidi noticed that they passed the street where their house was located and instead they were going elsewhere. She glanced towards her uncle who didn't speak a word seeing her questioning look.
The carriage stopped after nearly half an hour at a huge mansion which she had never been to before. The mansion had barbed wire fences with two guards standing outside the main door. The scene reminded her of something which she brushed away while she followed her uncle cautiously into the mansion. They were received by a maid at the entrance who led them to the holder of the house. When they stepped into a room, Heidi felt her palm sweat seeing that her father and her sister were already present with a well-dressed man. The man seemed to be in his early thirties, his black hair parted at the side due to which a part of his hair fell over the round glass he wore that rested on his delicate nose.
"I see you have retrieved your niece back safely," the man spoke pleased looking at Raymond and the girl next to him.
"So I did. I don't go back once I have given my word, Duke Scathlok."
With the way she had heard her uncle speak about the Duke previously she had thought that the Duke was an old man like her uncle but he was young.
"I should say, at first I thought you wouldn't be able to find her. You did well," Duke Scathlok walked to where Heidi was and asked her, "Why did you run away dear? Please feel free to tell what you hold in your mind without a worry."
Heidi had her mouth sealed, terrified with the number of people who were in the room. It was apparent that her father was angry but he was containing it in, her sister's eyes darted from Heidi to the Duke and back to Heidi again.
"What do you think I must do with her Mr Curtis? Has she turned dumb that she is unable to talk anymore?"
"I leave her in your care Mr Scathlok. Please do as you see fit with her," her father replied in a clipped tone not looking at Heidi since she had stepped into the room.
The Duke turned to the servant who was standing in a corner and indicated him something to which the servant left the room. Heidi stood there quietly as minutes passed until she saw the servant drag a beaten Howard along with him. The man was beaten badly, bruises covering his hands and face where the skin had turned black.
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