Saturday, August 27, 2005

We arrive in Rhundveld (part 6)

As we neared the town of Rhundveld, the forest began to change.

It grew darker. The trees looked sick, and dried out. The bushes along the sides of the road all looked dead. The air smelled stange and unpleasant.

"I haven't been here in several months," Nicholas said. "It's gotten worse."

"The poor people," Anna Kristina said.

I felt guilty. I had been so concerned with staying about my home and Kringlesburg that I'd not visited the nearby towns and villages.

I'd had something else on my mind.

"It was not like this before?" I asked.

"Well," Nicholas said, "Rhundveld was never a very happy place. But it was never this bad."

We came to the edge of the forest. Many of the trees here had been stripped of bark.

Then we came to a large field of tree stumps.

"Oh my, the poor forest," Anna said.

I knew my elves would not be pleased. That explained a little why they had not looked happy when they had returned this morning.

We passed a farm. The fields looked bere except for a few straggly plants. There no animals in sight except for a dog lying near the gate. He had clearly been a large dog. Now he just looked thin.

He looked up at us, growled weakly, then put his head down.

"Stop," Anna said.

She jumped of he cart, and approached the dog.

He eyed her cautiously.

Anna bent down, and reached through the gate to let the dog sniff her hand.

He growled again, but then sniffed. He wagged his tail ever so slightly.

She slowly and carefully began to pet him.

The dog wagged his tail weakly again.

She then cupped her hand and poured some water in it. The dog lapped it all up.

She then gave him a bit of bread.

He chewed eagerly.

She gave him a little more water, then returned to the cart.

"I know I should have saved the bread for the people," she said.

"Animals need to eat, too," I said.

We entered the village a few minutes later.

There were a few people about. Most of the shops were closed even though it was the middle of the day. The fountain in the town square was dry.

Even before we climbed down from the cart, a man in a uniform came over to us. He was holding a club.

"What brings you to Rhunveld," he said in a harsh voice.

"I am Nicholas, the son of Jakob the Baker in Kringlesburg. I have done business here before. We heard that there was illness here. We came to see if we could help."

"We don't need your help," the man said. "You better leave town."

"We would like to help," Anna said. She pointed to me. "My friend here is a wise man who has some ideas."

The man sneared and said to Nicholas, "You let your women speak so openly?"

"She is my sister," Nicholas said.

"Just the same. Move on."

"NO!" a voice bellowed.

We turned to see a tall, thin priest approaching with a man dressed in rags.

"Arrest them," the priest said. "She is accused of being a witch."


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