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Forest Bower V

Sun Oct 03 2021 04:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

After a few long days of travel the lad and his party arrived at a great crossroads. At the late hour the wood was a buzz with activity. It was full of persons of the same race as his followers but divers dress and customs. Then the Queen addressed him.

"Behold the meeting place of our peoples! Here we meet with our cousins of the West. Pray that they remember our the friendship of our blood!"

As the party entered the clearing a great shout went up. "Othale!" To which the newcomers replied: "Lamathe Othale!" This was the formal greeting of this people. It means something like "Welcome Sir" in English.

As the two peoples mingled, the lad was led by the queen to the leaders of the Western clans. He found them deep in debate upon the fate of his own followers. Some favoured welcoming them with open arms, while other pled that they had no room, and no food to spare. After all, the raids we're increasing on them all! Though they wished to have compassion, they needed no more defenceless people.

"Not true, not true" the lady whispered to him. "What we lack in iron clad warriors, we possess in woodcraft and archery!" One of the speakers had a particularly harsh invective. Not only did he argue against allying with the refugees, he insinuated that, willingly, or not, they were driven into the west by the raiders to stir up trouble.

When he finished his rant, our lad felt himself obliged to defend his people. "Firstly, we come with malice to no-one. Yes indeed, we're driven here, but only by the sheer destruction of the raids. We do not come only as refugees, but as brothers, moreover as brothers at arms. Though we are not clad in iron, we can have many means of aiding your own defences.

"However it is clear that you do not want us here, and wish to face the foe alone. Though my people are in their hour of need we do not need your hospitality. There are other lands with kinder men--or none at all! And we have no claim on your aid, other than the ties of blood. Let us only pass through, for my people have no home but the road ahead."

This was met with remonstrances from the more welcoming party as well as the lad's own Queen. But the lad turned to the Queen "I see the hardship of your . . . of our people, but we need peace and we cannot find that here. Unless the mood is changed." Then with a bow, he left to mingle with his people.

Despite the harsh council, many of the western natives were on good terms his people. A few sympathetic westerners even joined the party as guides. The others refreshed the travellers for a few days, then re-supplied them and sent them on.