But Rose was going back, after all. However, it was hard and scary. They had to go through the swamp to get there, turning this way and that, endlessly. A horrifying beast with a row of eyes and a mouthful of fangs pursued them at their heels everywhere. They even talked to it, and it would answer them. They had to run without let up to keep from being bitten, but Rose never got out of breath. Instead, she felt wave after wave of burning fear. As they were about to leave the swamp, the beast caught and ate Lukus. He was quite calm about being eaten. As his insides were being gobbled up, he told her: “Be sure to say hello to Mother and Father for me.” She could feel herself sobbing, by her shaking insides, but she wasn’t crying.
From there, she walked up the castle steps, feeling sadder than she had ever known. When she told Hebraun and Minuet what had happened to Lukus, they snarled at her with the same voices as the beast and blamed her for his death and disowned her. They sent her from the castle in shame, ordering her to go back and live with Ugleeuh. They said since she had allowed her brother to run away with her in the first place, her crime was as bad as Ugleeuh’s had been and that the two of them were no different in their eyes.
Hebraun and Minuet’s voices were now familiar again, but they were Fuzz and Lukus’s voices, instead. Why weren’t they talking about her exile any more? “Drat!” she mumbled as she flopped over, giving her blankets a yank that exposed her feet. “I don’t want to know the piddly things about their fire and the victuals from their packs. I never will get the sleep I never got.” Somehow she couldn’t cover her toes without sitting up. As she did, the dawn sun shone right into her eyes. “Very well then!” she grunted as she stamped upright and jerked her blankets off the ground into a wad. She bore a horrible feeling. She hesitated as a shudder ran up her back. She hoped she never had another nightmare as long as she lived.
(Ch. 25, The Collector Witch)
Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps