There were dozens of small igloos, situated close together and circled around a crystallized tower that emerged in the distance, with a pathway leading straight to the Guardian’s Tower.

They passed through the tower’s massive ice doors that groaned open.

When she reached the maroon brown floor that marked the birth room, two men waited, as large as the Guardian. The Commanders each grabbed a side of the cloak and lifted it onto a block of ice. Though the Commanders were also Guardians, Ko’Dral liked to own the title.

The Guardian was composed as he grabbed a piece of rope and tied it tightly around her body.

“Is such force necessary for a little one?” one of the Commanders asked.

She could tell by the shifting of his eyes that he didn’t like the way she was being handled. He must be the only sliver of good left in the Village, she thought.

“It is, Commander Dres.” The Guardian grabbed a cloth, which he handed to the other Commander. It was an off-white cloth that smelled of body odor. “The last time you went easy on them, she left with the child when we found out it was a girl, remember?”

“Yes.” His tone was soft and calming.

“That could have cost you your life.” The Guardian wiped his hands with another dirty rag. “What if she were the one they’re looking for? If the Kingdom finds out, they’d make you find her. We know what that really means.”

Though her eyes were swollen, she caught a glimpse of Dres’ hands trembling so much that he clenched them together. Something was holding him back as if he wanted to say more.

© 2016 by LOE.