|A debtor on Fleet Street (public domain)|
The prisoners of the Detention Center are released. Ony'a finds Erut in the midst of the crowd. She also manages to get to her brother. He tells her that their father died in the prison.
Amidst a crowd of others rushing out of the Detention Center and into the arms of freedom, Ony’a walked the few steps that separated the Center from the surrounding landscape. That background reflected the gloom and abandon of the building it held: it was nothing more than the burnt out remains of what was once one of the largest and most beautiful provinces that the land once called Rishivon had known. Here the dipda trees had grown to their mightiest height creating a ceiling twice as high as those of any other province. Their mighty branches reached out across the sky like the arms of parents welcoming home their children. There was plenty of room for them to grow so a dense forest of the trees developed in great clumps large enough to house multiple families. The kova vines, too, had been thick here with some leaves so large that people often used them as hammocks.
That had all changed when the Kevutians arrived. They first approached from the east of Lukva province and turned that great forest into a raging tinderbox simply to demonstrate to their new captors that they could. The high ceiling made them decide to turn that entire province into their own military base complete with a landing port for their ships. That port was the gateway for the Kevutians and, even now, a warship with two escorts from the home planet was on its way into the port to deliver an important passenger.
The invaders built up the fourth province for their own needs but did little to return it to its original beauty. Naturally, the residents were upset with being displaced to other regions and when they rose up to challenge the new occupants of their province, they were quickly put down and a detention center was built to house and question them. All that remained of the great forest were charred remains. None of that mattered to the former occupants of that detention center. They had been given their freedom. For what reason? They did not know, nor did they care.
Ony’a looked out across that landscape. Much of it was obscured by the waves of people that flowed out of the center and into the sunlight. It was a scene full of stark dichotomy. There were people moving about in joy and excitement, joining and embracing their families after the extended absences. There was life. Against that commotion stood a bleak background of burnt trees and low hanging vines. What made it even more so was the muted light of the sun. This was one of the last few days when the sun continued to send its light across the land but that light was weak and feverish and it gave the countryside a jaundiced appearance. The sepia light mixed with the images of the depleted landscape. There was death.