He reached the gate just as the sky overflowed, the new storm broke in the form of a huge bone-rattling boom of thunder. Raindrops as big as pebbles began falling at a rate so fast it was like peering though a veil.
The figure he had seen fighting its way up the flooding river toward the church was struggling significantly more as they neared the wall – their energy was clearly waning. The water had reached waist height.
There was a hunting call, and seconds later a group of soldiers broke through the forest across from the draining grate. They drew up short as their heavily booted feet slipped on the steep embankment.
The figure in the cloak stumbled and cursed as they looked back at the soldiers. The head of the group had a deep purple cape, turning almost black as it absorbed rain and mud – a leading officer.
But who was the figure in the river? He watched as they took their last, lunging steps toward the grate, pouring out the last of their strength. Thin, graceful hands gripped the bars, they looked in at him, his hand on the winch to raise the grate.
They were covered in filth and grime, and now closer to him he could see blood. As he peered at them, they became a she. Her eyes were a dark swirling brown, they were possibly warm another time, but now were cold enough to freeze hell.
Otto couldn’t move, her outline was blurry with rain but her eyes shone through like beacons of frost.
“Sanctuary,” she croaked. “I seek sanctuary.”
Her knuckles were turning white. The river was flowing faster now, brushing fingers along her legs trying to coax her into giving up.
“Please. I fear for my life.”