Piece IV

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The Smith apprentices, except for Rowan, gathered around their master.

        “Is this a raid?” Clover asked.

        “How are the others?” Celia asked. “I'm worried about my family's safety.”

        Questions came stampeding that the master blacksmith became annoyed. “One at a time!” he hissed.

        “They said that the Obsidia were first spotted at the southern side of Lush Mountains,” the master started explaining. “Raid ensued. The perpetrators were after Lord Petrarch.” He took a quick glance at Rowan who fell asleep on his mother’s side.

        “Did the raiders get the vassal?” the master blacksmith hushed Leon. 

        “Who were the raiders?” Clover asked.

       “I said one at a time!” the master managed to half-whisper. “There are still no word about our vassal. The raiders came from Grimly Swamps.” The town of Grimly Swamps belonged to Mire, a silent, neutral kingdom southeast of The Land. 

        “Are they sure?” Borin said. “Previous raids came from The Smokey.” The Smokey was a small kingdom south of Mire.

        “They said the raiders’ garments were caked with black stinky mud,” the master said. “ and, they wielded crude stone tools.”

        “What about the rest of Greendale?” Celia asked.

        “They don’t have an answer for that,” the master said. 

The reinforcements, driving the wagon, had to maneuver through thickets even at night. Their superiors had ordered them to bring the refugees to Soleil as quickly as possible. Some soldiers on foot illuminated the way with oil lamps, while others created a path. Those on horses looked out for wild animals, monsters, raiders or bandits.

       Clover and Leon had a hard time sleeping. Rowan and his family were in the same state. 

       “I reckon you can morph too,” Leon said to Clover in a low voice. The girl, sitting in front of him, was surprised.

       Leon left his spot and sat beside Clover. “They are nobles anyway. Sure, they are not used to discomfort.” Leon looked at Rowan. “But you. You’re a peasant.”

     “Wha-” Clover almost said out loud if Leon had not covered her mouth. Rowan, exhausted and stressed, did not notice what his fellow apprentices were doing.

        “A,a! You are sensitive to your surroundings, are you not?” Leon said. “That’s because you can morph. You did great with the swan back then.”

       “How?” Even if Clover had seen the figure from afar, she guessed that that person would be bigger than Leon.

        “You will see,” Leon gave a smile Clover cannot see. 

     The wagon reached Soleil safe and sound early morning; four wagons of different sizes followed. Celia and Borin were elated and relieved to see their family disembark from them. The refugees were gathered in the town baths, and ordered to change into beige colored garments. Afterwards, they were summoned to the town court.

One could see his or her reflection on the floor of Soleil’s town court. The cross-shaped marble structure served as a hall of justice and venue for festivities. With a trial still ongoing, the refugees were told to wait on one side.

      “You are sentenced to one day of public humiliation,” the judge’s voice echoed. “For not wearing the prescribed color of clothes.” In Soleil, almost everything had a rule. Peasant clothes should be in shades of beige or gray. Noble clothes should be azure or pastel yellow though it may contain any color of embroidery except for red. The vassal’s family were the only ones allowed to wear red garments. Their clothes mostly had draping. If ever they wore white, it would have golden or silver draping.

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