Chapter Thirty-Two

For seven years The Children of Spirit prospered and built their cities. Then, one day, Strong Wall appeared in Northern at the end of the spring harvest, with tragic news. "My people request," he said, "you send all your payment this year in cattle and grain, for a great catastrophe has befallen our people. A blight has struck most of our grain. The crop looked beautiful, but when the harvest began, it was found the meat inside the grain was rotten.
2 Almost our entire wheat harvest is gone! And, to make matters worse, an epidemic has hit our cattle. Their feet turn pussy, and rot; their teeth fall out. Thousands have had to be slaughtered and burned, whole herds destroyed. The few that survived will have to be kept for breeding stock. If we do not get more food, come the summer most of our people will starve."
3 The Old Fox called in his clerks. "What is the word," he asked, "on the winter harvest? What is our surplus?"
4 When the clerks told him, The Old Fox asked Strong Wall how much food they needed to see them through the next harvest. When Strong Wall told him, The Old Fox's heart sank. "It is not enough," he sighed, "even if we strictly ration all we have, and the fishing is good all summer. It will not be enough."
5 One of the clerks came forward. "Lord," he announced, "the people in the south, below the desert, have had a great harvest. Their bins are overflowing. If we could reach them, we could buy enough grain to see us through."
6 The Old Fox shook his head. "There is no time," he said. "The summer dust storms will start any time. A caravan could not make it there and back.
7 Swift Boar, one of the Warlocks in the hall came forward. "But a group of men," he argued, "travelling light, with sparse provisions and carrying the gold, could make it through. They could buy animals and carts in the lower lands, and be back before storms hit. I will volunteer to lead the group and have my men ready to go before nightfall."
8 "It is extremely dangerous," argued The Old Fox.
9 "What choice do we have?" the Warlock announced.
10 The Old Fox nodded. "Go to the treasury," he told the clerks. "Have the payment prepared for the Giants put in small purses and readied for the Warlock's group. And may The Lords be with them!"
11 So Swift Boar and two-hundred-fifty men boarded ships in the harbor and sailed south. The wind was with them. They reached the lower docks and disappeared down the desert road.
12 Anxious days started to pass. Daily, runners brought word of the weather. Each day the heat grew worse. Dust was starting to rise, but there were as yet, no great storms.
13 The Old Fox ordered ox carts loaded with water sent into the desert, to meet the returning caravan. By all reckoning news should have reached them of their reaturn, but no word came. Finally a weary runner entered Northern. "They made it!" he cried, "They made it! The caravan's back! I have a letter from Swift Boar."
14 The Old Fox took the letter and read it. "First Speaker," it said, "and Supreme Warlock, I report a successful mission. When we arrived south, we found the people there more than anxious to sell us grain. So generous were they, they even loaned us ox carts to bring it north! So most of our money went for animals and grain. With our ox carts heavily laden, we started north, but two days into the desert were attacked by a vicious group of bandits.
15 For three days we fought a pitched battle until finally we tracked them to their camp at night, and destroyed them. We have brought their women and children with us. We could not leave them in the desert to die. I am sad to report I lost twelve men and have many wounded, including myself. But the tally of the grain is here. I pray it is enough."
16 The Old Fox handed the tally to his clerk, who went over its figures. "If the fishing is good," he announced, "it will be plenty. And even if the fishing is poor, it will be enough. We will make it until the harvest next spring."
17 The Old Fox sent word to Strong Wall. "There is enough food," he explained, "but transportation is going to be a problem. So we ask your people, those that can, come stay with us for the summer. Spread your tents by our door."
18 And Strong Wall sent answer, saying, "Many of our people are herdsmen, who spend summer by the the cities. They will gladly come south. Also, we are sending with them many of our children and women. We know they will be safe in your care. The rest must stay to tend what is left of our flocks and to prepare the ground for the next planting. My people bless their neighbors and will not forget their great kindness."
19 So it was, as ox carts moved north with provisions, many of the Giants moved south, and by land and water dispersed through The Land of Spirit. In every city and village they were welcomed. Many a friendship that would last for many lifetimes were born in these desperate days.
20 Some good news came from the north when the Healers of Animals found a treatment for the disease, and also a way of preventing it by dipping the cattle and sheep in a huge tub and killing the bugs on them, they were able to keep it from spreading. And many of the affected animals they were able to cure.
21 Also, it was found that the the Giants used a slightly different kind of wheat than did The Children Of Spirit. The grain that had been brought from Tr was not affected by the blight, though it grew side by side with the affected grain. Come the new planting, the Giants would use Tr wheat. The blight should disappear.
22 Come the next spring, the Giants' herds were healthy and strong again, and their bins full of grain. It was a

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