When the people had all gathered, Lord Andor addressed them. “For the first time since we left our home, a terrible crime has been committed, by one of our own people against another. Now we must decide what to do with the one responsible for this crime.”

“Death!” shouted Ethina. “She should be put to death!”

“My sister speaks the truth,” said Arralor. “What she tried to do should be repaid back to her. None of us are safe while she is among us. She deserves death!”

“I don’t disagree that she deserves death,” Arnol interjected. “But I do not wish to cast such a judgment on her myself. I think we should show her mercy, and spare her life. But she cannot remain among us. Let us exile her, to go wherever she will, as long as she does not come near any of us again.”

“No, I beg you, do not send me to wander alone,” cried Elma. “That would be no different from sending me to my death. I have not the knowledge nor the strength to survive on my own.”

“Quiet, killer!” Ethina yelled heatedly. “The one being judged has no right to vote on the judgment!”

“Still, she is right,” said Eveli. “She would have difficulty finding enough food by herself, and there are other dangers. She can’t survive on her own.”

“There are also wild animals,” added Anson. “There is strength in numbers, but alone she would be vulnerable. If we send her away, we may as well put her to death ourselves.”

“If we don’t put her to death or send her away, there is only one other option,” Lord Andor answered them. “I agree with Arnol that we should show her mercy. This is my proposal. Let us allow her to remain with us, but bind her hands and keep guards watching her at all times. She will not be allowed to go near Arnol again, nor anyone else who wishes it. At night we can bind her feet as well, so that she cannot sneak away from her guards. Also, if she dares attempt anything like this again, or breaks these rules in any way, she will be facing a penalty of death or exile.”

With the exception of a few grumbling dissenters, most of the people agreed that this was the best thing to be done. “Then this will now be considered law,” declared Andor. “Also, know this. The thief’s fate will be the same, when we catch him or her. Whoever you are, come forward now and this punishment will be waived or at least reduced. But if you don’t give yourself up willingly, we will find you eventually. When we do, you will be subject to this same punishment, or even a worse one.”

Silent in the midst of the people the thief stood, betraying nothing about his true nature. He knew that this threat was hollow, just a ruse to try to get him to give himself up. He wasn’t very worried. He was too clever to let anyone catch him.

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