Reader Warning: Contains men cuddling and swearing.
The sun sets and the camp falls into silence as many go to sleep and a few remained awake to watch for danger, Urzoth walks through the camp quietly, Black Flame hanging from his hip. Tullo runs over to him, grabbing his arm “Urzoth, we have a problem.”
“What kind of problem?” Tullo pulls him to the east side of the camp “Tullo?”
“Remember that army I said could be out there?”
“Look.” He points, far in the distance a few small orange dots flicker atop a hill. “They’re coming.”
“How many do you think they’ve brought?”
“I sent Muk to find out, he’s the fastest and quietest we have.” Urzoth nods.
“Good choice, looks like that feast helped you be more of an adult.” Tullo frowns and jabs the chief in the side making him gasp and laugh “Gods damn you, Tullo.” Urzoth pouts while Tullo chuckles softly.
“Sorry, but you know I’ll never grow up, friend.”
“I can tell.” Urzoth’s frown vanishes and he looks back to the lights. “I hope those are torches and not fires.”
“Their too small for fires, unless they are very far away.”
“Keep an eye on them Tullo, send Muk back to me when he returns.”
“That might not be till sun up.”
“That’s fine. I’ll speak to the Reader, then the elders before going to bed.” Tullo nods and turns to stare down the small flames while Urzoth quickly and quietly passes through the camp to the Reader’s tent, kneeling before it. “Reader, Reader are you there?”
“Unfortunately, child.” She grumbles, sleep clouding her voice.
“There are men coming from the east. What do the gods desire of me?”
“Defend the people, keep them safe.” Urzoth nods.
“Reader, Reader do you sleep?”
“Yes, now go away.” Urzoth chuckles softly and stands up, walking to the elder’s shared tent.
“Elders.” He steps in “Wake up, we have issues.”
“Urzoth?” One grumbles, rubbing sleep from his eyes while the others toss and groan. “What is the meaning of this?”
“An army approaches from the east. Muk has been sent out to count them while Tullo is watching their fires.”
“So? Consult the Reader.”
“Do as she says, we have lost all power thanks to you.”
“Thanks to me? You poisoned me and nearly killed me. You should be grateful I do not turn you out into the cold to survive for yourselves.”
“You wouldn’t, tradition-”
“I spit on your tradition. I would and you know I would but I wont because you’re all to old to waste my time on.” Urzoth snarls, turning and leaving, but he pauses in the entry way. “You all will be the last Elder Council we will have, I’ll be sure of that.” The tent flaps shut behind him while the elders grumble and attempt to return to a peaceful dream state. Urzoth looks out over the camp before returning to Tullo. “I hate those old bastards.”
“Hmm?” His friend looks over at him “The Elders?”
“Yes,” Urzoth looks at the flickering lights so far away. “Do you think its an army?” Tullo shakes his head.
“No, three lights, no matter how large, would not be enough to light an army.” Tullo sighes, “Muk is coming back now.”
“How can you tell?” Urzoth stares into the dark but cannot make out any movement.
“I’m Tullo, I know many things.” Tullo turns and walks away, Urzoth grabs his arm.
“What’s bothering you friend?” He asks softly.
“I did something bad after the feast.” Urzoth releases him.
“I betrayed my wife…” Urzoth shakes his head and pats his friend’s shoulder.
“I’m sure she understands, it is a feast after all.” Tullo shakes away. “Tullo, what is eating at you?”
“I slept with her sister… Her married sister…” He turns “Her married sister, Urzoth. What kind of scum am I? I can’t get anything right…”
“You aren’t scum Tullo, you are a man, and a man makes mistakes.” He shakes his head, and sighs.
“Her husband caught us… Urzoth he will kill me… It’s his right…” Desperation oozes into his voice “I’ll die soon, maybe not tonight, maybe not tomorrow but he’ll use his right. He’ll use his right and I’ll die like the scum I am!”
“Tullo, Tullo, slow down. Slow down.” The chief grabs his friend’s arm “Enough, shut up. We will talk about this tomorrow, ok? We will sit down away from everyone else and figure it out.”
“What if I don’t have till tomorrow?” He looks at his oldest friend “Urzoth, I’m scared… I don’t want to die… What if she isn’t waiting for me?” Urzoth falters never having seen his friend act like this.
“She won’t be there… She saw what I did…” The chief shakes his head and releases his friend.
“Tullo, my oldest and dearest friend, you are not scum. You drank to much, celebrated to much, she understands, she is there waiting for you, and she loves you. You are not scum, you are misguided and odd but not scum.”
“Hush, come along, you’re staying with me tonight.” The chief leads the man back to his tent and somewhat awkwardly lays with his friend, the smaller Tullo’s back pressed against his broad chest.
“What about Muk?”
“He knows where to find me, now sleep.”
“Hard to do when you’re pressed against me.” Urzoth chuckles.
“Relax, Tullo. This isn’t the first time we’ve ended up like this.”
“I know but I’m always the one pressed against you.” He protests, Urzoth yawns.
“Yeah, cause you’re smaller. Now I’m going to sleep, you can stay up contemplating how lucky you are and how many women will hate you tomorrow or sleep as well.” Tullo just smiles and huffs softly while closing his eyes and forcing his mind into restfulness.
Sleep is short and sweet, it is not long after falling into the land of dreams before Muk comes calling upon them. “Urzoth, Urzoth.” His whispering is enough to rouse the people within the tent.
“Hold on Muk,” Urzoth yawns and pushes Tullo out of the tent.
“Da?” Lana rubs the sleep from her eyes.
“Go back to sleep, sweetest. It’s just Muk.” She nods and lays back down, falling back into her dreams nearly instantly. Urzoth crawls out and stands up. “How many?”
“Numbers, man, numbers.” Muk glares at Tullo
“Fifteen, a scouting party I’d bet. Coming to see where we are.”
“We take the fight to them then, drive them out and hopefully keep them out.”
“So says the wielder.” Tullo mumbles, walking away.
“Not yet, sunset tomorrow, the sun will be on our side then.”
“That’ll give them all day to advance.
“And us all day to prepare.” Muk nods in agreement “Muk, you will keep an eye on them, when they stop moving for the night come back to us and let us know.”
“Yes, Urzoth.” The man runs off into the dark and Urzoth sighed looking to Tullo.
“Wake the warriors, we’ll need at least twice what they have.”
“Alright, I’ll wake the best we have.”
“Thank you friend. I’ll stoke a fire by the Elders tent.” Tullo chuckles “What?”
“You must really dislike them, to keep up such old men all night.”
“Their fault, they tried to kill me and question my every move. It’s only fair to bother them in return.” The two men part ways and soon they reconvene by a snapping fire outside the Elder’s tent, the thirty men sit and speak quietly for a few minutes, passing around small cups of mead and laughing at inside jokes. “Warriors,” Urzoth speaks at last “Enemies approach from the east, I have sent Muk to watch their every move and to report back to us. Tomorrow at sunset, when the sun is on our side, we’ll send them to the afterlife. This is our land now, we will defend and repel these people. There are only fifteen, so the thirty of us will be more then enough to send them away. Be ready, we’ll start with arrows, killing as many as we can before having to fully engage them in battle, I don’t want to lose any of you so be safe, there is no honor lost in needing help or giving help.”
“Are you sure its only fifteen?” One asks, looking into the fire before glancing at his chief “Not to question the Wielder but if there are more we’ll need to be prepared.”
“That was the last count from Muk, I will have the rest of our warriors prepared and waiting, if they hear our war drums they will come, because I cannot be sure there will only be fifteen when we meet they on the battle field.” The man nods “The enemy will most likely camp on a hill, as they are doing now, and while it will make our fight harder it will also make their ability to see us poorer, everything is a trade off and we will use our end of this fight to lead us to victory.”
“Here, here.” Some men grumble raising their glasses to their chief.
“You woke us for this?” Another grumbles standing up, towering over the seated men “You had that little fuck interrupt our sleep for this?”
“Sit back down, I am not done.”
“Why not force me to, protector of scum.” Urzoth shoots up, still very much shorter then the standing man.
“Sit back down, Margon.”
“Why should I?” Urzoth sighs and looks to Tullo, the man hangs his head in shame.
“If you don’t want to then leave.” a fighter stands up beside his chief, followed by another and another. The man, while larger looks around and while still annoyed he slowly sits back down.
“Thank you, warriors. This is not a time for infighting that can come later once we drive back our foe.” The men, one and all, seem to agree with that and raise their glasses before finishing off the mead with in.
“Now what?” One asks, looking around.
“Now what? Go back to your tents and those that can make love to your partner, and those that can’t hold them close.” The men grin and saunter off leaving only Tullo and the largest warrior with Urzoth. “Now, you two, we will sort this out.”
“He is scum, he slept with my wife.”
“I was drunk,” Tullo offers weakly, hanging his head.
“I know you were.”
“I thought she was my wife…” Tullo can not look up at the large man, Urzoth look between both men who are obviously hurt, saddened, and angry either with the other and with themselves.
“Margon, look upon him, is he not your brother?”
“He is a betrayer.” The man is fast to spit out before relenting with a sigh just moments later “He is my brother.”
“Does he not deserve your pity?”
“What he did was wrong, what your wife did was wrong, but he was under the influence of sadness and drink, is that unforgivable?”
“That is forgivable. But my wife is not.” Urzoth gives him a confused look Margon sighs. “She did not drink at the feast.” Tullo looks up at Margon
“She… She didn’t? But then why?” His eyes widen “That’s terrible!” Margon looks into the fire as though that holds the answers he is seeking at that moment.
“I will grant you leave of your marriage if you so desire it.”
“I couldn’t do that… Not to my kids, not to her, not when winter is so close at hand.” Urzoth nods and stands, walking around the fire to the man’s side.
“At winter’s end if you still desire it I will grant you leave.” Margon looks up at him and gives him a short nod. “Now, let us rest. We have much to do tomorrow.”