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24 June 2018 @ 08:17 am
_Gates of Hel_ part 9  

Adrasos distributed all his weapons, then shaved points on poles. He led all the men out beyond the staked out animals and held a drill on breaking cavalry charges. “I don’t think they’ll risk their horses, but if it’s being considered, just seeing these might dissuade them.”

///Talks with Cinnamon about land available in the area, draws in others to talk about the possibilities of a small town.

Quiet night.

***

Next morning. “They’re waiting for either the water situation to break us, or the Full Moon.” Rob must have seen his puzzlement. “They are possessed by demons, and on the nights near the Full Moon, they grow horns. They become larger, fiercer, stronger. They will attack, fighting to the death, and put everyone who faces them to death.”

Adrasos frowned. “In Greece, men who merged with cattle, sheep and goats during the Grand Overlap, sometimes will become more animal-like at the full moon. The combination of their poorly controlled attempts to avoid morphological change, and panic can start criminal behavior. But by and large, the men are either honest, or not, according to their ways, not changed for those few nights.”

Miles and Rob both faced him, glaring.

“No, I don’t change, but Yainni, does, sometimes. But he is still Yainni, and still loyal to my family. You are much more threatened by my lecherous, thieving stepfather than you will ever have to worry about poor dumb Yainni.” Who is not really simple, and no longer mute. I need to remember that, and stop thinking like the rest of the family who have pitied him and used him for so long.

Rob snorted, but nodded. “We’ve a few irregularities ourselves, and you are right, it is not the moon changed that are the problems. Laru Hillbert is a coward, and a weakness in our defense. Cinnamon is a sensible, hard working young woman, a good neighbor.”

Adrasos retreated, with a few things to chew upon. Honesty had indeed been the best policy, and Yainni might be bound for a few nights, but it didn’t sound like he’d be killed or ejected. Although I much rather he be at my side, armed. Perhaps if I put a little illusion over him, it won’t come up.

He led Tisse and two of the chestnut mares out and staked them to graze the green grass along the creek. Yainni went back and forth, bringing the rest, and the cows, twelve, including their own. Only Preston had a horse, bringing the total to seventeen.

They started out a ways, and gradually shifted the animals back closer to the barricade. Adrasos kept watch as much with his inner sight as his outer.

They’ll raid again, soon. Perhaps wait until we have the stock out too far to get them back before we’re cut off.

Cinnamon brought him lunch, and stayed to talk. “We need more rain. The grass has sprouted, and the hills will all be all green, soon. We count on that, all winter. We don’t bring in enough hay for a siege.”

“I doubt they’ll be very patient. And long before we get desperate, I can take the lads out for some raids.” How do they feel about battle magic? How much can I use, without getting the family in trouble? Odeil has said so little about anything like magic, and most of it negative.

“You’re very brave. Have you fought a lot?”

“Yes. Back in Minos I was in the stratos.” He felt the right word in her mind and it transferred effortlessly. “The army. We fought bandits, raiders from other city-states, rioters and drunken brawlers. Fortunately our . . .” Don’t say god! They have a different religion!

“Our leader, our king, wasn’t ambitious. We besieged a town two years ago, until their king promised to cease his raids, but that was the worst of the battles that I have been in.”

“Are you nobles, rich?”

“We were noble, my mother’s family. But any money was long gone before I was ever born, and the family talents much reduced. I’m a bastard.” Adrasos hesitated. Some people were odd about parentage and marriage. Well, he’d already opened his mouth.

“Tisse’s the only thing my father ever gave me. She’s one of the finest bred horses in Minos. And Minos is known for it’s fine horses. They’re Tekei, from the high steppes. They can outrun and outlast any other type of horse in the world. She’s bred to one of the few stallions I consider her equal.”

“She looks like she could outrun the wind. What happened to horses during the Great Change?”

Adrasos translated that without a problem. “We called it the Grand Overlap. Other worlds overlapping and temporarily merging with ours. The horse farms were out on the flats, and the nexus, the point where the overlap was the strongest, was in the foothills between Minos and Safeia. So the horses were mostly all right. Just a few riding horses that were within a few miles of the place. I was near. There’s an Akademi to train young . . . people. I was seventeen, and thought it quite a lark.

Cinnamon touched the curl of hair that showed from beneath her scarf. “The creek dried up, it was such a hot dry fall. We all moved, drove the cattle and sheep, we put the hens in cages on top of the hand cart. We camped temporarily down where there was water and grazing, south of here. About thirty miles or so. The Change was very strong there. We joined with sheep and wild goats, and bison and cattle. I remember being a deer, a lamb, a coyote. Another little girl, who spoke a strange language. I almost feel like I ought to understand your language. My hair is all colors, most likely I’ll never marry. My dad . . . he started growing horns on the full moon. He got restless, went exploring up in the hills, thinking there was gold up there, too. Then the bandits started raiding. The demons with their horns. Dad fell off a cliff. I think he was afraid he’d become like them. I think he jumped.”