“I didn’t think about it,” Loti said. “I just reacted. My brother was being whipped.”
“So what!?” Bokbu, the village elder, yelled at her. “We are all whipped, every day. But none are so foolish as to fight back—much less to kill them. You bring death upon us all. Every one of us.”
“And what of the Empire?” Darius yelled out, beside her, defending her. “Have they not broken rules as well?”
The villager, falling silent, looked to him.
“They have the power,” one of the elders said. “They make the rules.”
“And why should they have the power?” Darius said. “Just because they have more men?”
Bokbu shook his head.
“What you have done today, Loti, was stupid. Very, very foolish. You gave in to your passions, and it was short-sighted. It will change the course of our village forever. Soon they will come here. And with not just one man—with one hundre