The ever-growing lines of prisoners stumbled to the westernmost edge of the Northern Forest a few hours before dawn. Melanie cradled her rounded stomach as it growled and cramped with hunger pangs. Her eyes burned from the endless stream of tears that plagued her, thoughts of Joseph always playing out in her mind: the touch of his callused fingers on her face, the smell of fresh earth on his clothes, the sound of his whispered adorations, the sight of him running through the forest with Tilly laughing on his shoulders.
When Thetis called the party to a halt, she lowered herself to the ground with a sigh and some assistance from Brent, giving her aching feet a much needed rest.
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