The trio consisted of two men and a woman. Their leader was an elderly man with small, dark eyes and a beard. When he was nearer to Yona and the others, he said, "Young lady, you should come away from there."

Jae-ha tensed. He knew the voice. He had heard the scathing remarks for years.

"Don't let him escape. He has no place in this world. That monster is a danger to us all."

The village elder. The clan's chief. Jae-ha never thought the old man would still be alive. The hair was whiter, and the figure stooped lower with age, but there was no mistaking that voice.

"Run!" the voice in his head screamed again.

Oh, how he wished he could.

"What happened to this person?" Yona asked, gesturing to the bones, "Who was he?"

"You need not feel bad for it, young lady," the elder said, his voice low and whispering like an adder's hiss, "It was only a monster."

Yona didn't like the sound of that. Hak and Ki-ja were frowning as well, and the white dragon was careful to keep his claw concealed as he now felt these people may not take it too well.

Yona looked at Yun, who seemed just as confused and concerned, and she asked the villagers, "What do you mean by that?"

For only part of a second, the man and woman exchanged a glance. Jae-ha saw it and frowned, still keeping to the back of the group.

"It's…not something you need to be concerned about," the village elder assured her. "You and your friends should move on. There is little in these woods that would interest travelers."

"Uh, well…we…aren't just travelers," Yun stuttered out, "We're entertainers. And we've come a very long way already. We would gladly perform for your people if you could give us lodging for the night?"

Another imperceptible glance.

The elder hesitated for a moment, but finally said, "I think we have a place you all could stay. Come with me."

When the villagers turned, Yun looked to Yona, and she nodded once. There was something very strange about this town. It wasn't at all like the others. As long as they were inside, maybe they could find out what the problem was and fix it.

Reluctantly, Jae-ha followed Yona and the others into the village. A chill ran down his spine as they passed through the entrance. He was back on the inside of the wall. Everything was exactly as he remembered it.

The homes and people were just as isolating as the wooden wall. All the doors were shut, all the windows drawn. The few villagers they saw as they walked through the center of the town looked at them with distrust or disdain.

"Welcome home," he thought ruefully.

The elder and his two attendants lead them to the edge of the town. He stopped in front of a small building made from stones so mismatched it seemed to be put together by a child. It was a wonder how it stood on its own.

"You and your friends may stay here," he said to Yun, opening the ancient wooden door with a creak.

Jae-ha had been looking back at the people they'd passed. Some he remembered, some he didn't. There was even a pair of children that looked to be about five years old. Because his eyes had been elsewhere, he was not prepared for what he saw when he turned around again.

The elder had stepped inside and was gesturing at the small room within. He was speaking to Yun, but Jae-ha's hearing had suddenly failed him again. He was looking at his room.

There was the basin he and Garou had kept water in. There were the few dishes the two were given to use. These items were rusted or dirty now after over a decade without use. On a shelf in the corner lay the small collection of books Jae-ha remembered flipping through, his only glimpse of the outside world. The thatched roof cast everything in darkness. There were no windows.

And dangling from one wall were the chains. They were broken from the day he escaped, and hung limp from the stones. They trailed over the dusty floor and torn mat he recalled sleeping on each night.

Shin-ah was watching him while the others glanced around the room with some concern. He wanted to tell the other boy not to worry, but he couldn't speak. He could hardly breathe. He was afraid if he opened his mouth at all he would vomit.

But the man and woman were starting to eye him suspiciously and so he forced himself to step inside with the rest of the group.