And some more:
EXT: OUTSIDE ROSCO HOG’S SHOP - NOON
Ragen moves down off from the wagon and hauls the mail satchel over to Rosco who is standing out in front the door to his shop. Rosco is about 60 years old. A big man and obviously strong, but going soft around the middle. His white apron is spotless, as always.
RAGEN: You Rosco Hog?
ROSCO (nods): That doesn’t look like salt and I doubt I have that much mail.
RAGEN: Selia is occupied, and won’t be able to distribute the mail and read to those that can’t. She volunteered you for the chore.
ROSCO: And how am I to be compensated for spending my business hours reading to the townies?
RAGEN (his voice goes from friendly to hard): She says the next time folk decide to string you up for a cheat….you’re on your own...unless you do your part. There’s plenty on the far side of town suffering worse than having to read the mail.
Rosco nods his agreement
ROSCO: Did you bring a Juggler?
RAGEN: I did.
ROSCO: He’ll see more customers here than hopping farm to farm. Tell him he can perform here in the square at high noon tomorrow. Arlen, you spread the word and I’ll let you watch for free.
RAGEN (to Arlen): Help unload the rest of the supplies to cellar.
EXT: ON THE WAGON HEADED BACK TO ARLEN’S PARENTS - LATER
ARLEN: Tell me about the Free Cities. How many have you seen?
RAGEN: I’ve seen five, but Krasia is by far the strangest.
ARLEN: What’s it like?
RAGEN: I only visited Fort Krasia once. The Krasians aren’t welcoming to outsiders, and you need to cross weeks of desert to get there.
ARLEN: People live in a desert?
RAGEN: Oh, yes. The Krasians used to be even more numerous than the Milnese, but they’re dying off.
RAGEN: Because they fight the corelings.
ARLEN: You can fight corelings?
RAGEN: You can fight anything, Arlen. The problem with fighting corelings is that more often than not, you lose. The Krasians kill their share, but the corelings give better than they get. There are fewer Krasians every year.
Arlen notices something dangling from a tree ahead of them.
ARLEN (pointing): What’s that?
Ragen swears and sends the horses into a gallop.
ARLEN: Uncle Cholie! Help! Help!
Arlen jumps from the moving cart and runs for Cholie. He tries to get under Cholie’s feet and lift, but gets kicked and knocked down instead. Ragen pulls a spear for the cart and throws it at the rope, cutting it and knocking Cholie to the ground.
Ragen runs to Cholie and pulls the rope from his neck. Cholie is still gagging and clawing at his throat. His eyes are bulging and his face has turned purple. He gives one last tremendous thrash and then lays still.
ARLEN: Why? Why would he fight so hard to survive last night, only to kill himself now?
RAGEN: Did he fight? Did any of them really fight? Or did they run and hide?
ARLEN: I don’t…
RAGEN: Hiding isn’t always enough. Sometimes hiding kills something inside of you, so that even if you survive the demons, you don’t really.
ARLEN: What else could he have done? You can’t fight a demon.
RAGEN: I’d sooner fight a bear in its own cave, but it can be done.
ARLEN: But you said the Krasians were dying because of it.
RAGEN: They are. But they follow their hearts. Deep down, men want to fight. They want to protect their women and children as men should. But they can’t, because the great wards are lost, so they cage themselves in their homes, hiding terrified through the night. But sometimes, especially when you see loved ones die, the tension breaks and you just snap. I’m sorry you had to see this, boy.
Arlen reaches out and closes Cholie’s eyes.
ARLEN: Have you ever killed a coreling?
RAGEN: No. But I’ve fought a few. I was always more interested in getting away than I was in killing any.
EXT: SMALL FARM CLUSTER - LATER
Arlen and Regan are showing Cholie’s body to Jeph. Silvy notices the body is that of her brothers and she throws herself on top of him. While some try to pull Silvy away, Ceila pulls Jeph aside.
SILVY: The sun will be going down in a little while Jeph. It’s time for you to go. I’ve secured places to stay for most of the survivors, but I’m going to need you to take Norine Cutter and Marea Bales. They both lost kin last night, but they should come around in a few weeks.
Jeph begins to load the two forlorn women into his wagon while Arlen waves goodbye to Ragen and in the background, we see Cholie’s body being tossed into the funeral pyre.