There are no answers.
Where did the raiders come from? Did they take our people hostage … or as slaves? Did our loved ones flee to Porlese to escape the raiders? Why would anyone seek to raid Grenmassin?
There is only one way to find the answers.
We will go to Porlese.
“Let us see what supplies we can find,” Damin mutters as we enter the abandoned village. “Meet you at your house in an hour.”
Nodding, I walk on while he tethers our mount at the water trough. There is a cellar under our house usually filled with food gathered during the dry season. If the raiders have not discovered it and if the water has not either, we should find enough for our journey south. I grimace. At least we will be heading south at last.
It is cold inside the only home I have known. The hearth is unlit and every space in its emptiness accuses me. My mother’s bedroom is tidy, as if she intends to return. Nothing appears to be missing. Horin’s room is a mess as always. Trust my little brother to never change. Mine has a waiting feel, as if my mother prepared it for my return.
They did not intend to leave.
Swallowing back tears, I unlock the cellar door.
And then I am screaming.
Damin crashes in above. “Lyra!”
A pile of bodies, by the stars. I see my mother. I see blood. Terrible wounds. There is Henry and Jimmi, Altin and Moana and …
Damin grips me from behind and forcibly turns me away. I feel the rapid thud of his heart, the quivering shock in his every muscle. “No,” he whispers.
Together we stumble out into the grey light. It has finally stopped raining. Clutching each other, we have no words.