The fire-pit was reduced to cold ashes and the footsteps of marching wardens was audible from afar. Standing at the bottom of the stairway, Willow looked over at the door lying prostrate on the floor, still pondering how it had possibly been unhinged. He took quick strides to the doorway with the idea to hurry to the northern trail, a couple of kexion stowed in his satchel in case he needed to bribe his way past the border guards. He had stepped onto the door when a voice stunned him.
“A knew yu’d go.” Will span around and saw her, sitting solemnly on the rightmost sofa, her eyes glittering sadly like varnished black marbles.
“I – I was just –,” he stammered, fiddling with his satchel strap. “I’ll be back before call. I just – I just want to know –,”
“Course yu do,” Wilmina nodded, her head downcast. “Yu never listened t’me when a told yu not to think ‘bout them lot, or what they’s c’n do. S’natural yu want t’know more.” She looked up at him. “I’s love yu, yu know. Yu may not believe me, I’s not show it like I s’pose I shud…but I’s do,”
“You’re talking like you think I’m not coming back. I told you, I’ll be -,”
“T’ain’t that,” she said, shaking her head. She moved towards him, her head only as high as his chest. “Yu’s gonna talk to ‘em, an they’s gonna tell yu things. After th’t, I’s know yu’ll ‘ate me. Yu’s deserves to, but I needed to tell yu all th’same,”
Willow looked down at her, puzzled. Did she know the magi he was going to visit? What had she done that was so awful? He wanted to ask, but his throat closed up every time he tried.
“I – I’ll be back before call,” he repeated, his voice flat,
“Yu’d better,” she murmured, waddling to the kitchen corner, turned away from him with her head bent low. Willow considered comforting her again, but as he glanced out of the door and saw his neighbours beginning to emerge, he knew he had little time to slip away. His eyes locked to the ground to try and seem invisible, he left the house, walking with an eager pace towards the northern trail.