The thief fell from the tower’s upper window. She had lost her precarious grip on the pitted brick. She remembered that she should roll herself up into a loose ball to protect her head and neck. But by the time she remembered, she had already struck the first branch of the tree in the orchard below. Then she struck another and another. Scratched and thrashed and bounced about, she finally reached the ground, thankful that the soil was soft. She lay there for far too long a moment. The breath had been knocked out of her. And she feared moving for fear she might discover that she could not.
“I’m going to bring her back.”
Deka’s father looked up from his now-cold bowl of soup. It was the first time in over a moon that his father had truly looked at him. And Deka observed his father. His father’s face was striped by the tracks of dried tears. His eyes shot with blood from night after sleepless night.
His father’s gaze left his face and noted the pack over Deka’s shoulder, the waterskin by Deka’s hip, the hardy boots made for travel over rock and gravel, not the soft grass and dirt of their gentle homeland.
“Where are you going?” his father asked.