Sherry cleared the snow from her friend’s grave. It was slow work with her little paws, but her friend’s memory deserved it. It was quiet on the peninsula. The snow seemed to dull the sounds of the ocean and the Yew woods. When she was finished, she climbed on top of a nearby rock. Her whiskers trembled, but Sherry refused to let herself cry. It had been a long journey, for a mouse, from Britain to Yew, but she needed to say goodbye.
“We all miss you. We tried to take care of everything you cared about. Virtuebane is gone. Magincia is free and rebuilt,” the small mouse shivered as she spoke.
“It wasn’t enough though. The castle feels cold and empty without you. The servants walk through the halls in a daze, and chores do not get done. The city is worse. There was a riot last week when the baker ran out of bread. It wasn’t this bad after the king left us. It feels hopeless.”
“I thought it was just the city, but everyone I met on the road coming here was so scared. No one knows what to do, but we all know a storm is coming.”
The wind shifted, and Sherry’s sensitive mouse nose smelled the acrid scent of smoke. Then she heard the shouting.
“Fire! Empath Abbey is on fire!”
Sherry jumped down from the rock and scampered back toward the Abbey. When she got closer, she saw the town militia struggling with a man in rough clothing. The guards managed to push him to the ground just before he tossed another firebomb into the winery.
While he was dragged away, the people of Yew started a bucket line from a nearby well. Sherry climbed the wall to get a better view. She watched the listless people splash water on the small fire. After ten minutes, the fire was extinguished, and the people of Yew drifted back to their homes. Sherry did not like the sound of their murmurs.
A man in a white robe bandaged the hand of an elderly monk named Matthias who had let her sleep in a nook of the Abbey the night before. The two were talking as Sherry came closer. She asked if the monk was badly hurt.
“It is nothing. A minor scrape. I cut my hand when Warren pushed me to the ground,” Matthias replied, his kind eyes filled with tears.
“Who is Warren?”
“Warren was the man the guards took away. He was angry after his wife was killed in the raid a few weeks back. He came to the Abbey to demand I explain why if love was so powerful it could not protect her. Nothing I said could calm him down.”
“Raiders in Yew? Does that happen often?” Sherry asked.
“They used to attack people on the road from the safety of the forest. The raiding bandits are getting more aggressive. There was a time when they never would have considered attacking Yew directly.”
Sherry gasped, “Something must be done. Should we send a letter to Britain?”
The man in white frowned, “This has been happening everywhere. It starts with angry words in a tavern and grows into something worse. True, something must be done, but, my dear Sherry, have you not yet noticed that there is no one in Britain we can write to?”