"Well... That's one book I might be better off burning."The lady of the house, whose name I'm afraid I missed in all the hubbub of moving in, took us in like her own. I was afraid her husband's sour mood was directed towards us, but he seemed much happier once we were all sat down around the table. He even offered Circee some candied berries after overhearing her complaints of being homesick. That night, I scolded myself with a smile for assuming such fine people would be mistrusting of outsiders. I thought, no matter what the experiences of others, I knew the truth. There was goodness and purity in Westerwood.
Selma woke me in the middle of the night. Our hosts were in the corner of the room they let us occupy, helping Circee pack her things into an old bag of theirs. 'Horsemen in metal masks are looking for Oronians. They think you're sick,' they explained, and I went to find my gutting knife. Selma heard voices outside, then a yell rang out, and the front door was blown off its hinges. Ser ran to meet them and started yelling, demanding to know who they were. But they didn't answer him. Their leader brushed past, and Ser threw a punch at the side of their head. In no time, they had him in his favorite chair, and the men got to work tying him down. Selma ripped the knife out of my hand and threw it into the dark of the room. I knew why. The strangers were soldiers, and she'd have no manner of heroics from me.
They took us, bound our wrists, and piled me and my family into a dirty shack with a great number of familiar faces. The people we spent weeks with on our way here, our people. We were the last. The leader stepped back inside to face us one last time. 'I need to do this,' she said. It seemed like she was trying to convince herself more than anything, looking back. Then a commotion spewed out from the surrounding woods. We couldn't see them, but her men were fighting someone else. A lit torch was handed to the leader, but she was stopped by a knife through the shoulder. It was a soldier wearing Westernwood colors, who looked utterly mortified after unmasking the leader.
We heard later, after the soldiers rescued us, that the leader was the Head of their Royal Guard. The trial ended with her banishment. Many of us expressed that this wasn't enough, but I suppose it was enough of a sign of good faith that she was punished at all. Her excuse, they said, was she was afraid that we carried the plague to Westerwood. I know not where she is now, but I wish her dead. May Rega Priestley suffer at the hands of the plague she feared so much.