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Saturday, April 7, 2012

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Night Wanderings {4::2}

It might have been around noon when Maun finally reached the village gate. Fell was more likely it. She was so exhausted she couldn’t walk, even without the broken ankle.

Eagle carried her over the gate, past the guards…Maun must have fallen asleep, because she found herself in a warm bed. A velvet evening was flushing the sky through her window. Cloth covered every measly cut, and her skin was practically bathed in ointment. The ankle was held in the correct position with fabric-covered wood splints. A cool rag was pressed on her forehead. Finally…she could rest. She was safe. She could taste food and water again, and wouldn’t ever have to go into that forest once more!

The door opened, and in came her nurse with a smile, but faded into a grimace. “So, they found you. Looks like I have to take care of you again.”

“Water,” Maun rasped.

“Fine, fine. Here is your water.” She took the mug and dumped it on her face. “While you are still weak, I think I will take a nice rest. I still get my pay.” The nurse left.

There was nothing the girl could do. She could barely talk, forget calling for assistance. No one will check on her. That was the nurse’s sole duty.

She weakened even further, and took on a temperature, for inside her a fever raged. She worsened…chills, and pains. When she started vomiting on her bed sheet, she wondered if she was truly better off home after all.

***
The small boy was playing with pebbles collected from the bottom of his favorite river. He was completely alone. Soon his mother would be hollering at him to come for dinner. As he set down his stones for the last time, discarding them on the edge of the alley, something stirred just beyond the line of his vision.

It was nothing really. Probably just a cat; how his sister would laugh when she heard he was frightened by a little kitty!

But as he started home the thing followed him. He walked a little faster, then sprinted. The boy barely turned onto his street when he let out a horrible scream. He never again returned to his impatient mother.

***
Maun’s fever died down after five in the morning. The nurse checked on her as a restless sleep woke her. Couldn’t let her die, could she. The girl uttered not a word, for she was but a scrap of skin and bones, and her eyes glazed over. She was so different than her usual snooty self, the nurse noted.

The woman finally fed her properly. There must’ve been strength still in her jaws for she consumed the entire platter of food. She hesitated a great deal over the matter of replacing the dirty bed linens. The maid would do that.

The nurse padded down the stairs contently from her easy chore, and overheard snippets of converse between the master and one of the townsfolk.

“…many villagers seem to be missing, master. Not quite sure of what we could do.”

“Well, these unpleasant disturbances should not be allowed to continue further. I say to find the criminals who are committing these plundering and hand them.”

“But, begging your pardon, that is the problem! Not a trace whatsoever can be found of who actually did these crimes.”

“Then keep looking! No one can get away with it forever.”

“Not who. What…”

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