Chapter Twenty-Seven

One evening, as Gray Dove was returning to his sleeping place he came upon Thorn Blossom Fox and a group of children. They were seated around a campfire singing a song, and he stopped to listen. It was a song that was a favorite among the children....
2 "Gonna build me a Temple, not made of stone,
3 Gonna build me a Temple, of flesh and bone,
4 Gonna build it mighty, gonna build it strong,
5 Gonna build me a Temple They'll be glad to call Their own!"
6 When the children were done, Gray Dove started clapping, and several of them jumped in surprise. "Well, look who is here," cried Thorn Blossom, "our brave Warlock, leader of our fighting people! Perhaps, now that he is here, he will answer some of those questions you are always asking me. Could it be, sir? Could you take some time to speak with your young admirers?"
7 "For those that give The Lords such a happy song," Gray Dove replied, "I can surely spend a few minutes with!" He seated himself in the circle between Thorn Blossom and one of the young ladies, and looked around the circle.
8 "Well," he exclaimed, "if no one asks any questions, I can't answer any."
9 "Come, come, children," Thorn Blossom urged, "daily you ask me questions about him! Now that he is here before you, does a cat bite your tongue? Yawning Turtle, you have a ask first!"
10 The boy looked terrified, but finally spoke. "You are said to be our best fighter, the bravest of our Warlocks. What is it like in battle?"
11 "It is terrifying," Gray Dove explained. "The noise and confusion is terrible. Often good friends are being hurt all around you. Men are coming at you from all directions. When you are a leader, you are the first one they try to kill.
12 It is a frightening experience, and as soon as it is over, you want to forget about it. But there is also a strange sort of excitement that seems to fill you when you are fighting. Mostly you want it over and done with. You want to get out as swiftly as you can."
13 One of the other boys politely raised his hand. "Speak, Screaming Boar," Thorn Blossom told him.
14 "You are afraid, Lord?" the young man asked. "You go on the battlefield with fear?"
15 "Of course," replied Gray Dove. "Only a fool goes into battle unafraid. If you are not afraid how can you be brave? Bravery is overcoming your fear, facing your enemies."
16 "Thank you, Lord," the young man answered. "I have often thought I was a coward because I was afraid. But if you, the bravest of our Warlocks, is afraid, then surely there is nothing wrong with my fear."
17 Thorn Blossom looked around the circle. "Gray Blossom Turtle," she said, "now, I know you have a question!"
18 "Lord," the girl asked, "what is it like to kill a man in battle?"
19 "In the heat of battle," Gray Dove continued, "you don't think about it much. The enemy is coming at you so fast, you can only think to fight, warding off each blow, and returning them. It is only afterwards that you see the dead, sometimes the faces of those you have killed, and your stomach turns. You want to be sick, but it is a sickness inside, a sorrow that you cannot reach or deal with.
20 You have not wanted to bring death, but to defend your people, and, yourself, you have had to. That does not make the killing any easier. If it does, you had better resign. You must simply learn to deal with that you have had to do. For some men it is easier than others. For me, it is never easy."
21 "Perhaps it would be better," said Thorn Blossom, "if we asked some questions about other things."
22 One of the girls looked mischievous and without even raising her hand, spoke. "Lord, why haven't you taken a mate? Don't you like girls? My sister says you are the most attractive man in the camp, and every eligible girl wants you. But you do not look at any of them!"
23 "Yellow Blossom Crow!" snapped Thorn Blossom, "It is not polite to ask such questions!"
24 The other children laughed. Gray Dove raised his hand and they all became silent. "It is not an unreasonable question," he said. "Since I have left the temple of Tr, where I was pledged never to take a mate, I have been so busy that I have not had time to keep company with a woman. And, it is not proper to speak for a woman unless you have kept company with her, courted her in a proper manner.
25 A man does not walk up to any woman and say 'Will you be my mate?' They must know each other for awhile, learn each-other's likes and dislikes and know if they would be happy with one-another, before they commit themselves to a lifelong union."
26 The children nodded in agreement. The girl sitting beside Gray Dove glanced around him. "Why don't you ask Thorn Blossom?" she questioned. "My brother says you have kept close company with her, even wrestling on the ground!"
27 Thorn Blossom jumped to her feet. "That is enough!" she cried. "Our Warlock trained me for battle, that is why we wrestled on the ground, for no other reason. Now, it is time for your beds. Bid each other good night, and depart!"

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