A Missing Sheep Part XVIII

“Who?” asked Fin. He looked at his father. They? Did he mean the old town healer? But Mama had already taken care of most of his sister’s wounds. Well, maybe he just wanted to check if Mama had done everything right.

After Papa’s words, his mother’s expression changed. She looked out the window into the dawn. “Maybe they haven’t felt it,” said Mama, still holding Arthema in her arms.

His father sighed. “Elna…”

“It could be! Arthema was way out in the woods! Maybe, with all the trees…”

“Elna, the bloody dogs can smell magic from over a hundred miles away! You remember the boy from old Faran, down at Churchmill?”

What were they talking about? Fin wrinkled his forehead and petted Ira. What dogs? And which boy? Churchmill was a day’s riding away. He had been there once on the fire festival. He remembered the fireworks. They had lightened up the night in many different colors. And the sweet fire apples! Their taste still lingered on his tongue. They were even better than berberries he thought. But he couldn’t remember seeing dogs. Nor did he know anybody named Faran.

“I know!” Mama suddenly shouted. Fin flinched and Ira barked. “I just thought…” She looked away.

A few moments later, Arthema looked up. “Mother?” she said.

“Everything is going to be alright, sweetie,” Mama said. She was smiling again. “But now we have to pack up and leave for a while. Do you remember why?”

Arthema hesitated. “Yes,” she said after a moment.

“I’ll help you, sweetie. Fin, go get your stuff. Just pack up the most important things and a few clothes.” Fin wanted to speak up but his mother continued, “Warm ones.”