It had taken nearly a week before she could move properly but Caroline had managed to secure a method of getting around where she would not be detected. It was hardly ideal but it had become a method that was reliable and considering how hampered she’d been by the weather previously, this was entirely more than she could have done before. It had become taxing to be so cautious and it had become even more so since she had started seeking out the means to find better alcohol in this wretched town. It was necessary though. Being on her quest alone, she needed something to give her strength and she would need all she could get if she was to defeat her enemy. She knew that she could not rest until she knew that Vivian was dead. It was always her duty to preserve her family name and their legacy but she had once squandered the chance. She knew that she should have taken care of this horrid family before but she had convinced herself that it was good enough. If only she had done what she had meant to do when she’d had the chance before. If only she had made good on her promise to herself and her family then. This all could have been avoided. This all could have been saved for happier days that were never to come now. Oh how she hated herself for this. She could not and would not allow this to stand.

Caroline walked out into the snow, her footing seeming unsure but that was all part of the play. She didn’t want to stand out too much and as it was, there were too many eyes about, waiting around to find her. She knew that was how this would play out. Thankfully, they rarely took the time to look at the downtrodden and here she had found refuge. The street cleaners were a strange bunch and most of them looked the part of broken people. People left to do the jobs that no one wished to do. It had appalled her initially to find out that the general public had no idea how often the people on the streets here simply did as they pleased. Her disgust with their behavior was short lived, however. Caroline quickly found that being able to blend in with them, she was able to move into new circles and find new ways to hide. It was a far cry from the woman she was when she arrived and some nights, she’d been reduced to tears of agonized rage at how far she’d fallen. How much had been stripped of her since she came to this forsaken county. It was a trial to keep herself going but she knew she must. She would not rest until she’d gotten her revenge and made certain that those children were in the ground with their wretched mother.

She must not think of them like this. They were not those beautiful boys that she had dreamt of. They were not beautiful at all. They were the product of that harlot and she could never allow them to be. They weren’t even born yet. Not children at all. They couldn’t be but just barely formed yet. Victor had only been dead less than a month and she knew that Vivian was injured well enough that she would have been needing her strength. She could not have done the dastardly deed much before she murdered her lover if Caroline remembered properly the state that she’d left her in. That was months ago now. Oh how she sincerely wished that she’d finished her then. That she’d had come through and saved Victor from himself. There was so much that she wished that she could erase and make better. But that was not to be and she had wasted too much time on such fruitless pursuits. She pressed on, keeping her head low and her thoughts quiet. She could not risk getting caught by the street cleaners as acting peculiar and being cast out. She needed this cover. She needed to be invisible because it was the only method for making sure that she might find her way to that house. That she might yet find a way to exact her revenge.

It was a simple plan but one that required work first. Sadly, simple, in this case especially, would not mean easy. The work itself that she was forced to do was common labor and she was sickened by how much she was forced to do. Still, it had the side advantage of being able to pretend that she was destitute and that had been working well in her favor to getting people to tell her the information she needed. The street cleaners of this town were in everyone’s business and she soon found that through a few very easily guided questions, she could find a wealth of information about things that might otherwise be kept a secret from her. The street cleaners were a temporary part of her plan and she knew it but they had access to many of the things she needed desperately needed right now. The first thing they had that was more tangible than gossip was a reliable network of methods for travel. They were able to find their way around the streetcars and they did so without paying most of the time. It was an easy and preferable method of getting by. Their connections to the people who ran the cars had come in handy too. What was also helpful was that they were connected to the people who supplied the alcohol in this town.

A lesser woman might hope to gain favor with the young ruffians who controlled the flow of alcohol in this town but she would only want them around for one thing. They were all convinced they were dying for the good fight. Living too fast to get too old for their liking. In a way, she could understand this. When she had first been struck by the sheer horror of seeing the signs of her youth draining from her body, she couldn’t bare to look. Was it so surprising that these young bucks would think to do away with the curse of aging into obscurity? Oh, they probably were of a bit shorter sighted mind but deep down, she envied that restless spirit. But she also knew that where these men went, death followed. If she were of the mind, she would find a way to send one of these wretched youngsters to the Kent’s door and let him bring about the downfall of their cursed house and everyone in it. It couldn’t be done that way though. Leave the boys to play with their guns on the trails out of town. She knew that she had to do this herself. She wanted to. She would not rest until her hands were stained with the furious rewards for her retribution.

Therein, the plan needed to become more solid. So far, she had managed one small element that might allow her a chance. Blending in with these wretches on the street had been the first step and they had taught her so much more than this. In her silent observations, she had managed to find out more about this world. It was one that she loathed and was sorely looking forward to casting aside once she was able to properly do so but it had been more valuable than she could have ever counted on. They had shown her the way to move amid the people who might ignore them. They had taught her to talk in a language of lowly people in a manner that might have once made her cringe. It worked, though. It made her invisible to others. It made her capable of moving like a ghost in the streets and those that might be her contemporaries would not look at her twice. She missed her status dearly but she was starting to see why the wretches of the gutter felt the way they did. She couldn’t dream of staying this way with no choice and watching the good people of the world look down on her. People with more money than any of these cleaners would see in a year, if they lived to see the next day. She knew they could be evil and the cleaners did too. They knew ways to make them pay. She was learning so many valuable tricks.

She’d found that retribution was something that was common on these streets. Granted, some of it was childish. There were those who indulged in their more petty need for revenge and their imaginations remained limited. Some would attack the grand cars when they could, making a point to find certain ones and putting dents and scratches in their flawless surfaces. It was a popular revenge plot but not as common as the finding of dog droppings and getting more creative about their placement for certain houses. It was a baser mind that might think to do this but she had to admit that it was effective. It wasn’t quite the calibre of revenge that she’d been looking for. Thankfully, there were those who had sought out a bit more serious plots and found the means. There were those that she walked among that would easily find their way to certain houses. Suddenly children would go missing. Suddenly houses found themselves occupied with vermin and the kinds of pests that made one’s house a nightmare. Suddenly, there would be bloodstains on parts of the homes that rarely ever saw light and there were people who just disappeared. There were ways to make this happen in town and she had even seen it a couple of times. Her resounding silence on the matter had helped her to find the right people who might assist in her true aims eventually. For now, she was content to learn. She was confident that she would not lose her chance as long as she kept her wits and did not wait for too long. After all, with the house in the forest ripe for the picking and the curse of a name Kent was in this town, she sincerely did not want anyone to beat her to that home before she struck her final blow.

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