The carts moved so slowly! The drivers drew bumps and jolts out of the road at a snail’s pace, so that the turbulence was almost unnoticeable. It was as though they wanted to encounter lurkers, to dispose of their charges – their burdens – early. Did they know about the arrangements of their superiors, or were they mere ferrymen?
It seems that all the Bechians know at least something of what is happening, though. Guards and soldiers leered and joked as we passed them on the road. Townspeople stared and spat. Farmers yelled obscenities. They can’t know the truth; I don’t believe they are so evil as to wish refugees to be fed to the lurkers. Someone must have told them something terrible about us. Lies. Poor fools.
Thick clouds obscured the sun and the sky all day. It didn’t rain, but there was an occasional flicker and shudder of lightning and thunder. Cold wind clutched my throat when I inhaled. I buried my nose in the sleeve of my woolen shirt. Others in the cart did likewise.
I tried talking to the people around me, and asked them why they had come to Bechia, and how Silencia – especially Acacia – was faring. I wanted news of Eliana, as unlikely as it was that they’d have any. “King’s orders” was the only answer I got before the driver turned in his seat and told us to hush. He said we’d attract lurkers if we talked. As if he cared about that. I lowered my voice and said that Bechia was almost as bad as, if not worse than, the mainland. The closest man to me frowned and muttered that the king had said they would be safe here; a woman further up the seat spat, in a harsh whisper, that he was a fool if he believed a king’s word. The silence resumed.
It’s wrong that they can’t trust their king. A king should be the person his subjects turn to for guidance… for wisdom… for security.
We stopped at a camp just before nightfall. The drivers made everyone climb off the carts, then turned and drove their carts away. At first I thought we were to be abandoned for lurkers. Shadows were growing around us, and the tents were ill-kept. To my relief, a Bechian captain and his men were in the camp. I don’t think the Bechians will leave their own people so close to us when they invite lurkers to tear us apart.