Mrs. Voidus

Paidiá - Game

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The stars of caution shone from the red belt of Paeus and the moons of the giant Qintarxes were aligned asymmetrically. It had not rained in three weeks and smoke drifted carelessly day and night from the distant shore to the East. The New Operatives had been gathering with the elders during all eight phases of the moon and the Revered Mother had requested that only the Waxing Born men would visit her that week.

 

As a first born, Teon's understanding of these events was confused and frightened. But his sister Euthalia, third born and exalted chanter was a comfort to him as they walked naked in silence, collecting the buds from the Dark Flower of May and painting the sap onto their bodies and bald heads as they went. At the end of the night, they would be presented to the tribe as the night they were born. Side by side and marked with red, foretelling of the great stampede which would have destroyed the sacred font. 

 

The pair had been treated with due respect for their 168 moons and their presentation tonight would be what they had been told by their mother as a most honourable occasion, though no more information was shared. This unsettled Teon more that his limited ability to read the skies and his schooling through entrails divination combined. 

 

But Euthalia marched on, pausing every seventh step to pinch the earth and grind it into the sap bowl, seeming content and proud. Teon swallowed nervously and followed along, it may be the only night in the year that does not hold more than one birthnight celebration, he thought, but never has a 168th moon been surrounded in so much secrecy.  

Edited by Mrs. Voidus
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Saril watched the Chiskreven rummaging through the sacks. Not that it was necessary; they had a contract with the Istans, meaning he could tell exactly what was in which bag, but Hech enjoyed it. His small fried finally pulled himself out of the sack, holding a small potato. He started eating it. Every time it was Saril´s turn to meet with the Istans to exchange goods and set the next terms, Hech hopped on the cart used to transport the goods. From what he claims it´s to help him fight in case they found some kind of hole in the contract and attacked, something he would undoubtedly do. Judging from his behavior however it seems more like he really likes potatoes.

 

Once he finished his meal, Hech jumped from the cart and climbed up a tree. Only when he jumped between two far away branched did some of his black feathers peak out of the thick ceiling formed by the leaves.

 

Leaving his friend to his own devices, Saril brought the delivery to the warehouse. He was greeted by Sala, a young blonde woman in charge of the stocks. Granted young was relative. In this live he wasn´t any older but he still can´t help but feel older when he´s in his last live.

 

“How did it go?” She asked as workers started to unload the cart, Saril deciding to help them.

“As expected, although they seem to have troubles with their neighbors, so we might want to try and reduce the tension. You can also add one of the potatoes on my tab.” He said while lifting one of the potato sacks.

Sala quickly made a note for the potato, “Couldn´t we just make some demands for them to be peaceful, maybe setting prices higher?”

A small mouth escaped Saril, “I fear we don´t have enough leverage to make any grand demands. Granted, with the contracts set up as they are right now we can almost guarantee peace in this region or at least quickly subdue trouble, however, once we start to get greedy or arrogant the other tribes can just wait until all of their contracts have expired. After that it´s only a small step for them to also decide to attack us, against which we couldn´t do anything to defend ourselves.”

 

With the work finished he left Sala alone to mull over the problem. Shortly after he exited the building Hech glided towards him and landed on his shoulder. “Let´s go fishing,” Hech asked and Saril went along. 

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Chyra didn't want to get up. Of course, no Pathonian wanted to get up, these days. These days. However much Chyra wanted to lie on the floor all day and never have to face the way too long day, the curing taskmasters would come. They would come with the pain. She groaned and rolled over, her thin blanket falling off. She was lucky to get that, she supposed. Still, the rage was hard to push down. Curing Zericans. Zuricians? Chyra never bothered memorizing the proper tribe adjectives. There were some Pathonians who, well, before... Chyra shoved those thoughts aside and pulled herself up. 
"Everyone who is not out of bed and lined up at the door in three minutes will be punished." The crisp accent of Zericans, Chyra decided it was Zericans, echoed from outside. Chyra stood up and stiffly walked towards the door. Ever since the Destruction many years ago most of the Pathonians acted like the life had gone out of them. Chyra supposed she did too. It was just so hard to be strong when Pathos was... gone. Chyra brushed away that thought too. He couldn't be dead. The Pathonians knew-mostly-that he would come back. Someday. Chyra touched the only thing she owned. Most Zericans would take her piece of stone from the Patheka, home, away if they knew of it. They didn't know. So Chyra kept her piece of home. Her piece of home and Pathos. Someday you will lead us home. Chyra thought towards Pathos. Someday we will be free again.

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Sacletes bounded through the desert sands, scouting for his tribe. The time for the Soratians to journey into the world had come. The desert could no longer provide enough sustenance for them. Without the constant warring with the other tribes over the best Oasis or the breeding grounds for the giant Scantlen the Soratians tribe had continued to grow. The desert was simply not fertile enough to feed them all, not even with the Scantlen, the giant lizards, to help.

Returning to the main group he smiled as he watched them, hardy men and women all, even young Jathoras, not yet 5 years old, had a pack slung across his back as he struggled against the scorching winds.

They would see how the soft northern tribes in their lush lands would fare against the might of the Soratian hunters.

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“Many people say different things about the stars. Some say they surround our lady because they worship her, others say they are there to guard her.” He rubbed his fingers together, making the fine sand glitter as it fell back onto the ground. “Still others believe them to be our ancestors, living in the heavens above. All we do know is that we won’t know until we die the final death.” He clenched his fist, stopping the flow of Sand. Around him, the village maintained a quiet chant. praising their gods

 

“These two will be as the stars.” He gazed out at the approaching twins. “We know they are, and will forever be important. Vital to us, But we don’t know how or why.” He opened his fist, turning it over, letting the sand slip out, glimmering in the moonlight. “But like the stars, They will be Everything. They will define us.” He knew the twins could hear him as they continued to approach. That was planned. Euthalia would no doubt be excited, knowing she would be given such great opportunities. Teon would be more nervous, wishing to know everything about what they were going to do. But then, didn’t they all?

 

As the Twins finally reached the Fire, Cormic stood, raising his other hand, which held petals of the  Light Flowers of May. Counterpoint to the Twins dark Flowers. He opened his fist, and abruptly, everything went quiet. Even the Forest went quiet. The only sound that could be heard was the crackling of the fire, as the Light Flower petals were burned away.

 

He raised his voice, so that all could hear. Not yelling, just talking. “People of the moon. We gather to celebrate the 168th Moon of these young people. We gather to see what they have in store for the future. We gather to honour of Gods.”

 

“Euthalia, Child of the Moon. What is in your Future?” This part was Ceremonial. No Child had ever been able to correctly predict their future without training, though some had gotten lucky guesses.

 

The Young Woman stepped forward. and Spoke, clearly and confidently. “My Future holds service to the Goddess.” Cormac nodded, neither confirming or denying what she said, just accepting it.

 

“Teon, Child of the Moon. What is in your Future?” the young man stepped forward, glancing nervously about him.

 

“I will, er, I mean. My Future holds protection of the tribe?” He looked hopefully at Cormac. The boy had always hoped to be a New Operative.

 

“Children, no, you are not Children any longer. Adults now. You’re futures hold everything.” In the corners of his eyes, he could see the tribe members frowning. He had never before given Everything as a response. “You two will live until the end of the gods.” This caused several people to cover their mouths to prevent gasps. “You two shall guide this tribe to great Prosperity.” He stepped forward, over the low fire, feeling its heat on his legs. He rested one hand on Euthalia’s shoulder.

 

“Honoured Daughter. You have been revealed as the Revered Mother. The most honoured of all women.” This actually did evoke some gasps. Never before had there been two revered mothers at the same time. Euthalia herself looked Shocked. “And yet, you have also been chosen for the priesthood, and you are to be trained as a New Operative in order to protect our Tribe.” Leading, Protecting, and Serving. all three roles.

 

He turned to her twin, and laid a hand on his Shoulder. “Teon. You have been revealed as a protector, and eventual leader of the New Operatives.” The boys, no, the man’s eyes widened in joy. “And yet, you have also been chosen for the Priesthood.” The joy froze, and gave way to panic. Cormac stepped back, so that the fire was nearly licking his legs.

 

“The two of you have been chosen to Lead this village, to Protect this village, and to Nurture this village. You two have been chosen above all others. Do you accept this Calling?” Teon looked close to panicking. If he was alone, he wouldn’t accept the Calling, luckily, he wasn’t.

 

“I will.” Euthalia stepped forward, chin up. radiating Confidence. that gave Teon pause, and steeled him as well. He stepped forward next to his sister.

 

“I will also serve.”

 

Cormac smiled. He could still see the village, desperate to talk amongst themselves after these revelations. Never before had this happened. He’d reacted the same way when they’d deciphered the signs.

 

“Very well then. I name you full members of this tribe, and welcome you into the Council.” He turned, stepping back over the Fire as the Crowd dissolved into a hubbub of noise and talk.

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Klixoae gathered the bones from the circle around him. As Elder Councilman it was his duty to say the rights when a great beast had finished its journey into the Otherworld and its bones collected for ground meal and structural building. The death of this creature was a great loss the Feracusians, and they wept openly at Klixoae's ululating song. Glanad, as the creature had been called, was the oldest, and largest of the male Baluch, and he and his herd had wandered the Southern Plains of Amanor for a hundred and twelve years. He had protected the Phororhacus for the tribe, and had kept the fearsome Sabres at bay. To say little the honour shared by Baluch and Makar, the defender who gave his life to join Baluch in battle and peace permanently.  


 


The pair had now truly been released, and reincarnation could begin. 


A breeze blew through the canopied branches of the airing space and shook the thin woven fabrics which covered the faces of everyone present. It gained in intensity then calmed, and with it came the cry of the Bull horn, slow and long, then fast and unrelenting like the pounding hooves of a raging stampede. Seemingly endless, and as frenzied as the larger creatures, trying to barge a path through the thick throng of a panicked rampage. 


It was the horn of oncoming besiegers, come to steal the free animals and the bountiful harvest of rice and wheat.


 


"Find the other Elders," Klixoae shouted. "Flank the sides and rig the netting. Memex, grab the Younglings and Firstborns and hide them beneath the nesting grounds. Kantar," the woman ran forward. 


"I want you to lead the third born, ask the Blue Winged Spitters if they will aid us. We need to know how many have come this time." 


Kantar growled in obedience and excitement, eager for her first true connection. 

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I hate rain. It was an odd thought, considering how wonderful the gift of water from the heavens was, how it sustained life. It also made one miserable, though. Sal's clothes were soaked, and the water had saturated his skin, now running off his chin like it would a leaf. Would it ever stop?

 

You hate everything.

 

The voice was in his head. Always in his head. The voice of a god. The voice of a friend. "I do not," Sal mumbled. Having Theron as a constant companion was a boon and a bane, two sides of the same leaf. On one side, he always had a second opinion. On the other, he always had a second opinion. It took a while to get used to it, for Sal had not been a shaman of his tribe, and until that fateful day, his head had only been occupied by one person.

 

I am pretty confidant you do. Be sure to avoid entering the forest.

 

Sal looked to his left, a great forest looming a short distance away, the sound of stampeding water accompanying it. He had been tracking a herd of gazelle along the forest's edge for a few days now. As they neared the river, he would strike. An adult gazelle would be a good meal, and he'd have a good two weeks or so to get another kill.

 

The forest always gave him chills. Being unable to see the sky, how did one navigate? How did one breath, with tress packed tight around you? Not to mention the creatures within. He had hunted boar a few times during his three lives, but they were some of the more tame creatures.

 

A raindrop beat into his eye, causing him to flinch. "Maybe I wouldn't hate it so much if it would rain in the areas I'm traveling to, rather than the area I am currently in."

 

You'd still hate that it made the ground muddy.

 

Sal grunted. True enough.

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Sacletes hunted through the northern forest, his senses were bombarded with an array of strange new sights, sounds and scents. In his desert home any creature that made more noise than a whisper would be dead within minutes, the sound carried across the sands easily and predators were always hungry in the desert.

Predators including Sacletes and his tribe.

It had taken them days of trekking through the sands but they had finally reached the end of the harsh desert winds, the arid ground which had refused to yield any crops to the Soratians. What awaited them was nothing short of astonishing. In all of his lives Sacletes had never seen anything like this 'forest'. He'd heard of them from other, now vanquished desert tribes but seeing one was entirely different.

Plants bloomed everywhere, beast and bird climbed the great towering trees, the birds then launching themselves off in search of other, still higher branches, the beasts sitting peacefully in their leafy homes, idly foraging the trees around them for sustenance. Food was everywhere. Noise was everywhere, the birds sung to each other and seemingly there were no predators to catch them in their folly.

Sacletes smiled. This new hunting ground could support a tribe dozens of times larger than the Soratians current size, the wood here could build countless homes, the fish in the rivers and fowl of the air would provide rich new foods to feed the next generation of Soratian warriors.

And the surrounding tribes would provide sport for their hunting.

Prowling stealthily through the forests he reached his Second hunter, Jorat. Jathoras' father had a skill with the bow beyond any other hunters, managing to fell stray Scantlen with a single shot. He was the tribes second deadliest hunter.

"Jorat, tell the tribe that we have found our new home, speak to them of the wonders that await them at the end of todays march. We will feast tonight my friend, the first of a great many to come."

With a smile, Jorat departed, effortlessly adapting to his new environment he had vanished in seconds.

Sacletes began hunting, joining his other scouts in felling many forest beasts to prepare for the arrival of the tribe. Tomorrow the Makers would fashion them a host of new traps and weapons for their new home, the Builders would adapt to their new materials and begin construction.

And the Hunters would teach any other nearby tribes that this was now Soratian territory.

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“They will be Everything," Cormic had announced. But what did that mean?


Teon stood over the pulpit with the mid day sun on his back, as the unsubtle tang of gizzards rose from the hard stone.


"You two will live until the end of the gods," The man had said. I am a protector.


 


High Priest Jenox pressed his notched staff into the ichourus goo that burst from the exposed bladder and swung the staff beside him, sending the stinking droplets to the earth.


"Teon," he said. "Tell me what this would read if Kallis was reigning."


The boy carefully stepped around the grey splatter and sang the prayer for clarity. He made three circuits of the pattern then turned back and repeated the process in reverse. 


 


When he returned to the alter he replied to his teacher, "the markings would tell us that there will be unusually high tides to the east. There would also be heavy rain along that coast line, and land slides would be a great risk."


Jenox nodded. "And what would that mean?"


 


Teon thought for a moment. "It would mean that there would be an increase in oppourtunities for the fishing tribes to gather much higher quantities of food, and the kelp would grow thicker, giving them warmer clothes for the winter. But it would not be without cost, as the unsteady surface would lead to many drownings and broken bones. But I fear,"


Teon broke off for a moment. 


 


"What do you fear Teon?"


"I fear that the shore tribes' hubris will make them ignore the danger, as the temptation for growth and increased catches would overshadow their caution."


 


Jenox put his hand consolingly on his young pupils shoulder. "What reason do you have to think that they will act in such a way? You have not traded or feasted with them, and an envoy has not come to us in many a year."


"I think it will happen," Teon responded "because the pattern fell too close to your feet, and more than twelve pieces of gravel were hit, which rules out successful hunting. And," Teon looked bashfully to the ground.


 


"What is it?"


"And, I may have overheard a New Operative talking about the king of the shore tribe selling all of the kelp to their inland neighbours, when we were about to go through a sudden cold this month, and that he has been seen drinking his weight in wine each night."


Jenox laughed heartily. "Then I see your training in all fields is going well. It brings me great pride to be your tutor," Jenox said. Your skills are higher than even the third born students.  

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This is too easy. Sal sat crouched in a bush, watching the herd of gazelle as they approached the river. The water had calmed by this point of its trek, lapping up against the bank softly. The animals were wary of predators lurking beneath the surface, which would make a kill easier than usual. They were usually really easy. As a hunter of Theron, Sal was the best of the best, he could probably hunt in his sleep if he tried.

 

Don't get complacent now.

 

The warning was welcome, but not necessary. Sal was fully engulfed in the hunt, his predatory instincts taking over his body. He lifted his bow and took aim. Feeling the breeze on his skin, his enhanced sense of touch told him the exact speed of the wind, and he shifted his aim appropriately. All else was still around him, the world falling away as Sal's focus locked into place. He would eat well tonight.

 

Hunting is usually a gamble. Often times things don't go quite according to plan, and the hunter is left empty handed. As such, being a tremendous hunter, though improving one's chances greatly, does not mean one can account for everything. Sal didn't account for the heavy rains this area had experienced for the last week or so.

 

On this day, the sky was still a dark gray, clearly more rain was coming. It was currently not raining, though, but the land was wet. The grass glistened, the dirt near the river was moist, and the canyons on the other side of the river were stained, the forrests at their tops dark from the rain as well.

 

As Sal was about to release his arrow, the air trembled as a chunk of the canyon accross the river ripped out of the wall, plummeting to the water below. The herd panicked and began to flee. Sal responded immediately, dropping his bow and arrow, taking off at a sprint towards the herd. He ripped his knife from it's leather sheath at his waist. Normally, no human could keep up with a pack of gazelle. Sal, though, had the power of Enhanced Physical Prowess and Abilities. His muscles pumped him at speeds most men would never know. He weaved between the herd until he found his target.

 

Most predators target the old, or the sick, as those animals are easier to kill, increasing the chances of the hunt's success. That was not the case for the Theronosus tribe. Sal focused in on a strong male in the middle of the herd, which was beginning to stampede at the increased threat of Sal. That didn't matter though, Sal just needed to get this stag on the outside of the herd to avoiding being trampled.

 

Sal positioned himself beside the male, and began slowly moving towards him. As expected, the stag bolted in the opposite direction, and Sal followed. Once the stag broke the edge of the herd, the rest fo the gazelle broke away from Sal, which played right into his hands. It was now just he and the stag, running side by side. Sal slowed a little and then leaped, knife brandished in his hand. Tackling the male gazelle, it was a matter of moments before the beast was dead.

 

----------------------------------------

 

The food felt great in his stomach. Sal always enjoyed the spoils of a successful hunt. He had taken the beast back to his campsite, recovering his bow along the way, and cooked the meat. He'd eat as much as he could so he could survive the longest in the event of no other kills, make use of the various parts of the beast that he could, and then drag the carcass away from his camp for the scavengers. He'd probably need to wash himself off at the river as well.

 

Do you intend to stay in the grasslands for long?

 

"I see no reason to leave."

 

You are the product of Nomadic culture. You will leave. It is in your blood.

 

"Perhaps that is true. There is food near the river though. More so than on the plains to the south."

 

There is also danger here.

 

"Then perhaps I may die sooner than I had hoped."

 

Your jokes aren't funny. You would wish death upon me?

 

Sal sighed. "Of course not. You are the reason I killed today." Sal threw a chunk of meat into the fire, a gesture thought to supply Theron with food, a form of sacrifice to worship his god. The divine being went silent for a while at that, as if showing respect to the small ritual. Sal looked to the south. Though it was true these grasslands held more foor for him than the plains did, he was truly more afraid of confronting the memories of his tribe than he was of starvation. Theron was right, though. The river held dangers he didn't face in the plains. The boulder falling from the canyon wall today was evidence of that. He feared going north as well, though, for it would mean navigating the forest.

 

Sal shivered at the thought. He hoped it never came to that.

Edited by Blaze1616
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Irina stretched as she got out of bed, the scent of fresh chopped herbs immediately filling her nose. She quickly got dressed before double checking the various pouches in her gown for their supplies and topped a few up from the larger pouches, jars and vials stored around her hut. At only 30 years of age she was one of the younger Zericians since this was also her first incarnation. She'd always wondered how it must feel to awaken into your second life in a completely different body, did they remember how death felt?

She started her daily rounds, checking the slaves for any infections that could hinder their working and setting a few broken bones. The other Zericians working beside her found the work degrading and treated the slaves with thinly veiled contempt for the most part but Irina always considered the work to be just another way of worshiping Zerix.

After having checked the slaves for injuries she set them to gathering some herbs for the Zericians, giving them all a description of what they'd be looking for before setting out with them. The Pathonian slaves couldn't be trusted to work alone, they'd just try and escape and Irina shuddered to think what could happen if they ever regained their tribes former might.

She kept a careful eye over her charges as they went about their gathering duties, they did seem tamed now and it had been many years since the Zericians had attacked the Pathonian homeland and enslaved their entire tribe but if there was anything that Irina had learned in her years of studying the mysteries of medicine it was that the most resilient organ of the human body was the heart. The Pathonians had much to be angry about, and however well that anger had been suppressed over the years there was no telling when it would come raging out again.

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Chyra waiting as the Zericians checked her for injuries. She disliked it all. They were touching her. Filthy Zericians. The morning inspection was the part of the regime that Chyra most hated.

Many Pathonians considered it the easisest part of their day. They didn't have to hide their only connection to life and freedom every day. When she took off the necklace with the simple stone on it, she felt dull. Lost. Abandoned. It seemed as if all of her hope went out of her.

The piece of Pathos was her hope. It was her faith. Her will. Her determination. It all came from Pathos.

"She is fit to work." No injuries, that is. Nothing that would hinder their precious work. But if she collapsed from exhaustion, well. There were always more Pathonians to do the precious work.

The herbs they were sent to gather were difficult to get. They had to pull it out of tough ground, yanking it out of the soil.

Chyra did her work silently, putting the herbs she had gathered into the pack on her back. As always, it had a metal ball in it. Chyra wasn't sure what it was for. Probably just to make the work harder.

A taskmaster walked by. Her eyes were like disks of diamonds. Beautiful, flawless, and hard. Cruel. Those eyes critically searched out every inch of Chyra's body. They dismissed her as nothing. Not a threat. Not even capable. Worthless.

That was it. Chyra felt as if her last string snapped. Holding her down to the ground, holding her here. So what if they kill me? They've been killing me slowly all this time! Chyra thought.

Better to die in a burst of glory then to be smothered.

So Chyra turned, crouching down. She looked the Zerician in the eye and leapt at her, necklace glowing slightly. Faith. Strength. Determination.

Life.

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The night's air was cool, the wind licking his face. Kantern stood atop the roof of a shack in a small village, the night sky vast and silent above him. He loved the night. Everything about it was perfect. Quiet, dark, and solitary, the night allowed him to be himself

 

The village sprawled before him. Hosting around 30 people, this night's kill was going to be easy. So easy, in fact, that he didn't bring any back-up. The village was small enough that they shared only one well. All Kantern had to do was pour the contents of his poison pouch into the well, and tomorrow the whole village would be dead. Kantern enjoyed the easy jobs.

 

Hopping off the shack's roof, Kantern landed silently. He strolled over to the well, gave one last look around the area to make sure no one was watching, and popped the cap on the poison pouch. Holding the opening up to his nose, he took a big whiff. Scent-less.

 

Holding the pouch over the well, he tipped it, pouring it's contents out.

 

 

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As Klixoae ran to the gathering point behind the town gate, he observed the cacophony of sound bursting through every woven seam and glued frond of the fences. This gate was never built to withstand much force, but it was built none the less to act as a visual preparation for the mind; a gateway to another existence was always difficult to cross, and harder still to understand.

So the sound of shouting, of crying, and of the bursts of shattering wooden shields under iron weapons pressed through and the aged man had to shout to be heard.

 

"For too long the people of these grasslands have poached our brethren, scorched our crops, and stolen our women."

A roar rose above the clamor.

"These people of Iron cover themselves in the burned and tortured ruins of the earth they so readily tear up in the name of their cruel god. And now they have come to burn and torture and destroy us, and everything which we are sworn to defend."

The gathered crowed shook their bone tipped bolas and nets in angered agreement, though a few looked with furtive and hurried glances through the narrow grass edged slits in the wall.

 

"Call upon your blood link and do what the great Feracus created us to do. GO! Protect!"

 The crowd shouted as they ran, some singing songs of protection, some of caution, some of bravery, but all melded together in a strong choir like symphony which rose in the wind to Feracus. By the time the protectors had reached the gate, several of the familiar beasts had joined the charge and were running beside their partners. 

 

Klixoae cast out to his sea bird and called her to him. The winged creature had not been used to linking for most of its life, but when many of the grassland tribes had died out, she found herself being called more frequently.

It would take some time for the huge, feathered beast to arrive, so Klixoae led the charge on foot.  

The gates were pulled inwardly by waiting oxen and through the growing opening Klixoae saw his enemy for the first time. 

 

Bold, tall men and women, painted in a red earth and brandishing gleaming metallic spears and daggers were surrounding the smaller of the territorial saber hounds and goading them cruelly towards a waiting cage. The larger of the pack howled and snarled at the attackers as the first of the Feracusians loosed their first net, catching a woman poacher and dragging her away from the other fighters. 

From overhead there came many screeching  flocks of the blue winged spitters which descended in a circling whirlwind of black around two of the spear men, and the frightened pups grew calm. 

 

Their eyes changed and their posture straightened; the elders had found their positions and had begun implementing their battle plan.

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