Rayden, a newly reinstated Kobo protector, was patiently waiting for Sam to arrive at Kobo’s entrance gate. Kobo had changed drastically in his eyes since Sam and Lottie had been away. Grant who was now in charge, ordered the protectors to chain Nestor to a post by his arms, so that he could do no more harm. Mercy, the witch and the ruler of the Vamps Declan Mortis III took over the village of Ash. Asher and half of her people were forced out of the village. The other half were turned against their wishes into vamps themselves, creating a larger vamp population. The Ashians escaped to Kobo, the nearest village, and found their temporary asylum. Donavo, Agnes’ half human, half werewolf brother arrived in Kobo to warn Nestor and Agnes of Declan Mortis III’s plan of invading Ash because of their sale of garlic. Donavo was surprised to find Nestor in such an undesirable position and to learn that Agnes had died. Donavo was extremely upset that Nestor didn’t keep his sister Agnes safe but he’d have to wait to tell him since Nestor was in a coma for awhile after having an upsetting vision that caused him to have a violent seizure. Most of the people in Kobo didn’t mind that their Ash tree loving neighbors had moved in. Yessenia one of Kobo’s oldest residents couldn’t believe that she was seeing the arm of ash in Kobo. She reread the treaty over and over again but read no statement declaring that Ashians are to stay in Ash. If they had an object of black magic, they had to be freaks in her mind. The treaty clearly stated that no freaks only the humans were allowed in Kobo. Everyone had turned a blind eye to the fact that Nestor was a freak, perhaps because he was born human. Rayden knew that Kobo’s identity was in danger of being erased. He would have to deliver all of the bad news to Sam, Kobo’s chief builder.
Rayden quickly opened the gate. “Sam, Nestor told me that you were near. I’m glad you are alright. We were worried sick, it’s been too many moments. Why didn’t you tell someone you were leaving?”
Sam stared straight ahead.
Sam pointed at the arm of ash tree. “I’m going to get my tools and destroy it. This is what you let into Kobo?” Sam tried to walk away. He lived close to the gate. “You can help me get rid of it. I thought you and your lot protected Kobo.” Sam continued to walk towards his home. He noticed that two protectors were waiting out front. “I know, Nestor is still trying to climb up Asher’s tree, so he finally let her move in with us?”
Rayden jumped in front of Sam. “Nestor didn’t decide anything.”
Sam stopped. “This is me you’re talking to. Nestor decides when you eat first meal in the mornings.”
“If you had been around, you would know that Grant is in charge of Kobo now. The Ash village was attacked by the vamps, so they had no choice but to come here. While you were busy playing God in Logoff with Lottie, we were watching the sky, the gates, the fields and our necks. We could’ve used your help.”
Sam felt a ping of guilt. “Sorry. Thanks for explaining all of that to me. It was a long way back. I’m going to rest.”
Rayden grabbed Sam’s arm and then hugged him. “You are not going to your home. You have broken code. Your offenses may add up to treason.” Rayden let go of him as Oberlyn and Teffani, Kobo protectors joined them.
Sam laughed. “You can’t be serious. You can’t just throw around the word treason. Lottie needed help so I helped her. If it wasn’t for Nestor breaking code, she wouldn’t have been here in the first place. What did Nestor tell you anyway from his vision? He might have exaggerated. I didn’t harm Kobo.”
Oberlyn smiled. “I live for these moments.
“Oh, shut your tongue. This is not a good thing,” Teffani expressed.
Rayden gave Oberlyn an evil eye. “Sam, you knew Lottie was a Punishere of Bristol and didn’t tell us. You left for 60 days without warning. You changed the fate of a Punishere. You told Zee that a Punishere had been hiding in Kobo. You let Zee mutilate Hettie’s dead body. You let him put the blood of your own in a Punishere. And worst of all, you left and gifted a Punishere to a crazed warlock. Who I might add is creating man-eating fish. None of this was done for Kobo now was it?”
Sam shuffled his feet. “I see your point. I don’t like it when you are so serious. I failed to use good judgement. ”
Teffani placed her hand on his shoulder. “Grant is a kind man. He will understand that you made a mistake. You are always helping someone Sam. ”
Sam sat down at a rectangular table next to Rayden. Grant and Yessenia appeared to be in charge now like Nestor and Agnes had been. Even Asher was present in the room but no Nestor in sight. Grant didn’t speak at all which was strange for a leader. Sam thought that maybe his heart had silenced him.
Yessenia stood up at the table and continued to speak. “Sam, first son of Kobo, you have broken many codes to help a Punishere of Bristol. You watched as her blood was drained out and replaced with our sister Hettie’s. I’m not sure which is worse, you telling a warlock that Kobo hid Lottie or the fact that you left Lottie Punishere with a warlock.”
Sam fixed his posture in his chair. “Look, she wanted to stay with him. She didn’t believe that Nestor would let her stay here if she was no longer going to be the next Punishere. She didn’t want to live out her life as a Punishere like her brother had. Nestor wanted her to undo his curse. Stop his visions.”
Yessenia sat back down. “And still no mention of Kobo. I think we are done here. Everyone else is dismissed. I hope a lesson was learned.” The witnesses left leaving Rayden, Oberlyn, Teffani, Sam, Grant and Yessenia in the room. Rayden was fighting to stay awake.
“I want to talk to Nestor.” Sam was deeply embarrassed by the meeting.
“He’s a little chained up at the moment,” Yessenia informed him.
“It’s that what we do here,Grant? Is this the type of leader that you are to be?” Sam questioned Grant. “You broke code by letting the arm of ash on our soil. This place barely looks like Kobo since I left.”
Grant broke his silence and slammed his fist down on the table. “Maybe, you should have stayed here, then. You will not make fires for us to put out. As soon as we can, we will warn Callahan about the man-eating fish. I’ve heard all that I want to hear today. Sam, first son of Kobo your actions were without a doubt against Kobo’s best interest. We love you, but you do not love the village of Kobo enough.”
Rayden’s loud snores lessened the impact of the moment. Teffani shook her head and his shoulder. “Wake up, you fool.”
Rayden yawned. “Sorry, what happened?”
Grant whispered something to Yessenia and then they both headed for the door. Sam turned around to see his eyes. Grant looked one last time at all of their faces and then left.
Sam laughed. “That was quite an exit.”
Yessenia walked up to Sam and held his right hand. “You are being exiled. You are to follow Teffani and Oberlyn past the berry fields. Everything you owned will now be the property of Kobo. You are no longer a Koboian. If you refuse your tools will be used against you to kill you. The land is getting more dangerous. Your mind has put Kobo at risk. Good Luck, Sam.” Sadness slowly consumed her eyes.
For the first time in his life, the sight of the plentiful berry fields sickened Sam. Rayden had excused himself and gone to sleep instead of exiling Sam. He felt that he had done his duties for the day. Sam for some reason still felt that Nestor would have forgiven him for his mistakes. It was dark and breezy outside. Oberlyn as advised, carried a large threatening shovel in one hand.
Teffani shivered in the cold and looked up at the sky periodically. “I don’t like being out here like this.”
“Like what? Exiling someone?” Oberlyn asked.
Sam complained. “I should’ve been allowed to nap before this. I’ve had an exhausting day.” The three laughed together in unison but stopped as soon as they heard a disturbing foreign giggle. Sam felt a flash of fear. “Didn’t Rayden say that the vamps were in Ash?”
“Those freaks went back to the Crescent where they belong,” Teffani responded.
“Are you sure?”
Teffani pushed Sam playfully. “We are almost at the crossing. We can’t take you back with us.”
Malta one of the children that Hettie brought back from the orphanage ran by laughing. “So that explains it,”Oberlyn smiled. He caught up to Malta and picked her up. “You were supposed to be with the twins tonight.”
Oberlyn spoke to Joshua, another orphan who was running through the fields. “Why aren’t you in Kobo? It is not safe out here.”
Sam noticed Joshua’s bloody hands. “What happened?”
Joshua stuttered. “Missa said we picked a bad fish… from the Black Rip Sea. The fish is bleeding. We wanted to help with last meal. Missa kicked us out.”
“Why didn’t you come to us?” Teffani asked.
“We wanted to return the fish to the sea. It’s still alive.”
“It’s dead honey, they need water to live.” Teffani grabbed Joshua’s bag and dumped the fish into the grass. “See.”
Oberlyn saw movement in the fish’s fin. “That’s weird I…”
“It’s alive!” Sam forgot about the others and ran towards Kobo.
The piranha sprang upward to take a bite out of Oberlyn’s face. It chewed on his nose as it fell back down to the grass. It quickly reattached itself to Oberlyn’s face again.
“Run and catch up with Sam,” Teffani yelled to the children. Teffani picked up the shovel and steadied herself. The fish stared at her, opened its bloody mouth and flashed its teeth. “This is why we stay in Kobo, too many sets of evil teeth out here.”
The man-eating fish took ten hits from the shovel before it died. Teffani cried as she placed the empty bag over where Oberlyn’s face used to be. Even while she cried hysterically, she was still ten times stronger than Sam.