Aislinn gasped as a sensation of coldness washed over her. At that moment, the woman doubled back and veered onto a path near the fountain. As if sensing Aislinn's scrutiny, she suddenly paused and raised her eyes. Their glances locked, and a hostility beyond description emanated from the woman's gaze. Bolting off at the sound of shouting, she somehow lost her footing and fell onto a sunny part of the path. Witnessing the spectacle below, Aislinn clasped the railing with white knuckles.
"There! On the path!" she cried out, the breeze carrying her voice downward to the guards, spurring them into action. Snared by the sunlight, the woman struggled to rise as though stunned. Her reactions were sluggish. She glared balefully and tried to bolt from the contingent of approaching guards, but stumbled again.
Dylan returned a moment later. "It's okay. They won't get away. The guards have been on alert since yesterday's incident. These two have actually been spotted before, but managed to get away."
Aislinn frowned at the woman's increasing agitation. She stumbled with the uncoordinated movements of a drunkard.
A guard advanced on the disoriented woman while a second jumped her from behind and tackled her to the ground. The woman fought the men with unbelievable viciousness before her body abruptly slackened in their grip.
"Watch yourself!" Aislinn cried out to the guards, again sensing the woman's malevolence.
Almost on cue, the woman exploded into a frenzied resistance. The second guard was caught by surprise and barely missed her flailing fists. It took both a supreme effort to subdue her. Aislinn watched in horror as the woman's fury transformed into agony. Writhing in the sun, she began screaming and clawing at her face, the epidermis peeling off in shriveled, parchment-like strips. Even from a distance, Aislinn could see revulsion in the guards' faces as the woman savagely gouged her flesh. Muddy fluid jetted from the wounds, and despite the intervention of a third guard, none could stop her self-mutilation.
Aislinn shook her head as if to banish the ugly scene. "Dear God, is this what we're up against?"