Part One: Petty Justice The cell in Yew was comfortable, much more comfortable than the dirty little hovel the Meadowlark siblings had endured as children. The floor was stone rather than dirt, the rats didn’t nibble at you in your sleep, and there were no cockroaches or ants to speak of. If it wasn’t for the gate and guards outside Serene could have made a content little home out of the place. Instead she was arrested for some petty crime. Assault? I barely touched the fragile little trollop. The Humanist cause had advanced quickly, they were everywhere. The progressive policies of King Blackthorn were thought to be dangerous by most people in the Kingdom. Orcs allies of the Kingdom? The idea of it was ludicrous, but the King was the King and his will be done. Out of respect the Humanists had stayed out of the way, left the Orcs alone. Yet still the war band was seen marching toward Minoc on the night of her arrest. Fools, the Orcs were obviously pawns! So many Orcs, Dwarves, Elves and Gargoyles walking, flying, skittering along the streets of Britannia. The sight of it was unnerving, humans were being bred out and crowded out of existence. For that reason alone, both publically and privately the Humanists had gained support among the nobles and the peasants alike. Even the Lady Amandine had expressed concern, and their greatest ally of all had simply disappeared from Sosaria. The funds and support had been easy, colonists and experienced soldiers willing to abandon their lives to begin settlements in Ilshenar had been hard. Many spoke up for the cause, many more gave funds. So few had the courage of their convictions and were ready to live it! One hundred men and women had just begun the colonization of the ruins just outside of the Chaos gate. Then the Knights of the Crux Ansata had swept in and murdered ever last one of them. Such a waste. Then there were the non-Sosarians, which posed an even greater threat than the Orcs. Serene felt as if she could see through their groupthink and collective hive mind. Precursor to invasion, they are scouts! The Humanists had their militant wing, their action squads, every political and sociological group had their zealots. They had taken one of the non-Sosarians for what they called ‘an interview’ but had really been a fruitless interrogation. Serene had always tried to keep her brother from being too militant, too violent. Even the most just of causes can be soured in the minds of the people by too rash or harsh of action. She worried with her imprisoned she may not be able to contain him, and with everything else going on he may feel provoked. God help them if he feels provoked… “Mayor Meadowlark?” a voice whispered from beyond the locked gate. “Yes, I am here.” She said in reply. Her guard stepped forward and removed one of his gloves, on his wrist a woven bracelet of green and purple. Humanist colors. “We are everywhere.” He said. Serene smiled, it was nice to have one of her people guarding over her, even here. “You are being released today, King’s orders. The Governors of Moonglow and Vesper petitioned the King.” The man said. “What of my brother? What of Jacobi?” “No word miss, he has simply disappeared. No one has heard from him since your arrest, before that he was in the Blue Boar recruiting people for the cause. Since the protest and your arrest, it has been hard to keep the news of the massacre in Ilshenar from spreading. Our numbers have doubled.” “Can you get me out, I’m being released anyway right? I have to find Jacobi before he does something we will all regret.” “I cannot Mayor, the Captain of the Guard has to release you or you are marked as a fugitive from justice. Should be soon though, maybe lunch time?” The guard resumed his duties, counting prisoners. The first crack of dawn had lit up the hallway outside her cell. Serene could tell, today was going to be a bad day.