Chapter Thirty-Three

Now, The Children of Spirit prospered greatly. They had been in their land twelve years. The story of their journey and, how they had become weathy and prosperous, had reached The King of Tr, and he was pleased. But others were not.
2 When The King died of a fever, his son looked to the east, to The Land of Spirit. "These people were once my father's subjects," he said, "but they deserted him. They stole the wealth of our land, went to this new place, and used that wealth to become richer still. By all rights, that wealth is mine. They were my father's people....they should be MY people! They should pay me taxes. I will raise an army and go into this Land of Spirit, and take back what is rightfully mine. My father was weak, gave in to rebellion, but I will not! Call in the Priests of Tr!"
3 When they had entered, he told them, "I wish to make war on The Children of Spirit to conquer them and take back what is mine! Raise the people against them, tell them that when they left our land, they stole from their masters, and, the poor. They kidnapped children and women, to convert into their religion. Whatever foul deed you can acuse them of, do it. Make the people hate them."
4 Now, this was a mission the Priests of Tr did not mind. Long had they sought revenge on The Children of Spirit. So it was, their campaign of lies began.
5 The King drove all The Children of Spirit from his land, seizing all the caravan posts that The Children of Spirit had constructed, up to the entrance to The Valley of Shadows, saying he needed them for military posts. Then, he closed his borders. He wanted no one to see him raising his army, doubling his strength. He wanted his attack to be a surprise, but late one night the guards at The Valley of Shadows were attacked, and a small group of travelers slipped through into The Land of Spirit, and two of them hurried towards Northern.
6 When they reached the capitol, they asked to see The Old Fox, and were quickly brought in. Though it was late at night, the servant listened to the message, and fetched his master. In a short time The Old Fox spoke to the men while they ate in his kitchen.
7 "I am Gray Boar," the spokesman explained. "This is my brother, Red Boar. We were leaders in The King's Army of Tr. But a sickness has come over our land, a foulness I do not understand. Our King has gone mad. He is accusing your people of all kinds of despicable evils. Anyone that spoke in your favor has been either imprisoned, or assassinated. The leader of our own garrison was killed. When that happened, we decided we had had enough, gathered as many of our family members who would come with us, escaped, and came to warn you.
8 The Army of Tr was ready to march when we left. They may already be on their way. You must raise your army quickly, and get to The Valley Of Shadows before it is too late. Every hour that passes the danger grows."
9 The Old Fox rose. "We have virtually no army," he announced. "We have not fortified our cities. We have spent our time and our money improving our trade. We have a small fighting force and the rest is all militia."
10 "Well, you've got two more leaders," Gray Boar told him. "If you can find some men for us to lead!"
11 "Right now," continued The Old Fox, "you need food and sleep. You will get your men. We will turn down no offer of help. We will need all we can get. I will send immediately for Gray Dove, and the Warlocks of our other cities. From the garrison here, I will send scouts north to keep us advised on what's happening."
12 So it was The Army of Spirit gathered. As soon as Gray Dove got the word, he gathered as many men as he could, commandeered every boat they could find, and set sail, ordering every village to send in troops as fast as they could, and have them sail north. Also, for all provisions that could be spared to follow after them.
13 The land around Northern could not supply such a vast number of fighting people. By the time he reached Northern, perhaps one-third of the army was gathered there, along with many volunteers. If the reports he had heard of the enemy's armies were true, he would need far more, or a miracle! When he reached the city, he went directly to The Old Fox. "What has been happening?" he asked.
14 The news was not good. By the time the scouts got north, and warned the shepherds to withdraw south, for some it was already too late. The army of Tr had already come out of The Valley of Shadows and raided several encampments. There were no survivors. As far as the scouts could tell, the enemy was unaware of their presence, or if they were, paid them to heed, but stayed close to the base camp they were building.
15 "Well, there is no worry about first blood," announced Gray Dove. "They have struck first, and those they have slaughtered were basically unarmed. I cannot wait for the rest of the army. I must go north now, with what I have."
16 The Old Fox agreed. "Study your position, plan your assault. The rest of the army will be following you as fast as it comes in. More ships arrive every day."
17 "They do not arrive fast enough," moaned Gray Dove. "I wish they had wings, and could carry my men thorugh the air."
18 "We cannot ask the impossible," answered The Old Fox.
19 Gray Dove took what he had, and marched out. It was a sombre march, his people already feeling the anger of their innocent dead. The Trns had made a mistake attacking without cause. They would soon come to regret that mistake deeply.
20 When Gray Dove reached the base camp the scouts had set up, he met Swift Turtle, the Warlock The Old Fox had put in charge of the scouts. Resting a day, he then had the scout lead him swiftly but silently. They passed a

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